An American doctor experiences the NHS. Again.

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Another interesting take on the NHS by an American doctor.

Dr. Jen Gunter

WIth my cousin WIth my cousin

Two years ago I wrote about my experience in a London emergency department with my son, Victor. That post has since been viewed > 450,000 times. There are over 800 comments with no trolls (a feat unto itself) and almost all of them express love for the NHS.

I was in England again this week. And yes, I was back in an emergency department, but this time with my cousin (who is English).

This is what happened.

My cousin loves high heels. As a former model she makes walking in the highest of heels look easy. However, cobblestone streets have challenges not found on catwalks and so she twisted her ankle very badly. Despite ice and elevation there was significant swelling and bruising and she couldn’t put any weight on her foot. I suggested we call her doctor and explain the situation. I was worried about a…

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A surge in coverage

So in the last few weeks there has been a sudden surge of coverage of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and related issues in the media.


First off we had the news that two Olympic medal winners have IBD – both silver medalists in the pool. Siobhain-Marie O’Connor of Team GB has ulcerative colitis, and Kathleen Baker of the USA has Crohn’s Disease. They are not the first Olympians with IBD – Sir Steve Redgrave off of rowing is a CCUK ambassador, as is Ali Jawad, Paralympic Weight Lifter. There followed a couple of good articles over on The Mighty about how that might make other IBD patients feel – you can see those here and here.

For me, I say hats off to them. I don’t think I could ever have been an Olympic level athlete before I was ill, and certainly not whilst I have been ill, so it is testament to them that they have achieved so much whilst being ill – long may they have continued success. It also motivated me to finally go and do my first Park Run at the weekend – I walked it, but it felt good to finally be doing some exercise again.

Nights Out

unfortunately the next story that popped up was less positive. An IBD sufferer was on a night out, and had a sudden need to use a toilet. He went to the (open) McDonalds restaurant in Huddersfield to ask to use the toilet, showing his ‘Can’t Wait’ card to security and staff, but he was then asked to leave – you can read more here.

Now I don’t do night’s out very often, but it seems very sad to me that there was no flexibility for this young man to be able to use the facilities despite being able to evidence that he had a need. Perhaps the staff didn’t think that someone with such a requirement should be on a night out at all? I think that this is one of the areas that needs awareness to be raised – we might not be ill all the time, but we sometimes need a bit of extra help!

More Toilet News

Supermarket ASDA (favourite of my sister in law) have taken a great step forward with the signage on their disabled toilets – reminding people that not all disabilities are visible. This is great, although I’ve never had an issue myself, it took me a while to build up the confidence to use a disabled toilet without fear of the stare – and I think having a bag gives me an extra weapon to flash if challenged. I’ve needed them in particular in the last few years when I’ve been wearing inco pads – although not all disabled toilets have disposal bins. If I was in charge, all toilets would be accessible toilets with proper disposal bins. And all car parking spaces would be parent and child sized!

Down With the Kids

Our final piece of news relates to a perhaps ill-advised MTV blog about the movie Sausage Party in which it was suggested that a possible sequel – Colostomy Party – could be a hit. There was some real anger on the various Facebook groups and on Twitter from people with IBD and colostomies that once again these devices were being presented as comical, rather than life saving. This follows on, apparently, from recent references on Eastenders and Hollyoaks to them being something that only old people have, and resulted in a very positive piece in Metro by Hattie Gladwell.

There was a counter argument that it allows for some education and challenge (the saying being no publicity is bad publicity) and personally within the context of the blog I don’t think it the worst thing I have ever seen – however for some people it will reinforce their thinking, so lets hope they also see things like the Metro article.

If you spot any IBD news, do let me know by commenting or dropping me a Tweet @doobarz



Goodbye Pint of Poetry!


A photo posted by Charley Genever (@charleyfarleyha) on

On Wednesday it was the 10th birthday, and also the final night of A Pint of Poetry & A Dash of Drama – a spoken word open mic night I co-founded back in Peterborough with my friends Mark & Summer (pictured). Although I left in 2010 I’ve been back a few times, and was honoured to return and perform and compere part of the evening. You could tell I was a bit rusty when I introduced one of the acts with the wrong gender…

I’ve got a lot of very fond memories of PoP, which started me writing poetry. Now I don’t pretend to know any of the rules or forms, and most of what I write is pretty light-hearted stuff, but with everything that has been going on with my health I decided to write something inspired by that. There is a link here to a very rough recording I made of it – it’s called ‘Stand Up Wee’.

I really enjoyed getting back in front of the mic, and am definitely going to try to build it back into my life along with getting fit. What I’d ultimately like to do is put a spoken word show together – The Ballad of Gutless Dick. So watch this space.

Thanks to everyone who came along over the last 10 years and made PoP so very special. There wil be a new night soon from some of the team, and the scene has really grown. I’m off to track down some nights in Bristol…

What are you wearing?


On Friday I put on a shirt. This in and of itself is not that unusual. It was, like many of my clothes, something I’ve had for a while. I tend to keep my clothes until they are falling apart, much to the horror of my niece.

As I slipped this shirt on I noticed there was a lot of room in it. Now, it is is an extra large, and I tried to remember why I had bought XL. It could have been all that was left, or in the sale. It could of been that I needed it for the length (I’m 6’2″ and mostly body rather than leg). Or was it that I went oversized because of my bag?

Now on this occassion I really can’t remember which it was, but it did make me think about my general approach to buying clothes, and there has been a definate pattern of going slightly bigger than needed up top. So I guess I must be more body concious than I realised- or at least have been. So as I approach being healed and ready to start exercising again, next time I buy some new clohes, perhaps a slightly tihter fit is required…

A bit of awareness raising

So yesterday I called into a BBC Radio Bristol phone in item on a recently set up Facebook Group – Love Your Bowel. It has been created by two local women who met in hospital, and wanted to create a space to give support to others with bowle issues.

You can listen to the program here and the section starts at 2hrs 11. The host is really good, and I do think he really was overwhelmed by the response. I am on from about 2hrs 40 and talk about my own condition, as does another group member. Let’s see if they do a follow up!



DofE Diamond Challenge Update


A little while ago I told you about the DofE Diamond Challenge that I have signed up for. Events have disrupted my time table some what, so I now present the challenge options – which should I do?

The challenge needs to be completed by the en dof December, and will be used as an awareness raising/ fundraising event fo rthe Duke of Edinburgh Aeward scheme’s 60th anniversary.

  1. Eating Challenge – suggested by uni friend Laura of Wholeheartedly Healthy

Laura got in touch via Snapchat and suggested something – but the Snap has gone – sorry Laura! I think it was cutting out something bad – fizzy drinks would be very tricky for me! I can’t imagine she would suggest a Man vs Food style challenge, so we’ll go for being fizzy free for 60 days!

2. Expedition Challenge

This one was suggested by my wife. She reckons I should walk the White Horse Trail in Wiltshire. It’s a jolly 90 mile trek which I’d probably have to tackle in sections, but might take a few days off work and do it one. I’d need to dust off my walking boots from previous adventures, and might need some new kit if I decide to camp out.

3. Running Challenge

I’m not talking marathons here. Given that my current running level is 0, I think I should aim for 60km – which would be 12 ParkRuns (I have registered but never taken part!). Now I had intended to start running as part of a bid to return to fitness, but hopefully you don’t think that this would apply!

So, should I:

It’s an honour just to be nominated…

So I was excited today when this popped up in my Twitter notifications:

I have now complted a profile, and would love it if you could make additional nominations via the WEGO Health website – my profile is here – you do need to complete a form to do it, but it’s pretty simple.

I’ll let you know how I get on!