author / blogger


Back Once Again with the Ill Behaviour

Recently I received an email from a man who wanted to get in touch to tell me he liked my book. [I cunningly deduced his sex as he signed off with ‘from Dave’*]. Not massively uncommon, which is GREAT of course; lots of people who’ve read my writing reach out to tell me they’ve liked it, just to ask questions about IBD, or have someone to tell about their own experiences. All lovely and a very nice position to be in, where people feel they can share and open up with me about their own thoughts and fears. The point of my books is to help other so I am very grateful that they’ve had any form of impact on anyone!

But back to Dave.

Dave began his electronic correspondence with a compliment, as most initially charming idiots do. He told me he liked that I was funny and was able to joke about serious conditions without being offensive. He said he’d read my book and followed my blog. Lovely!! Then things took a strange turn. Dave told me he was uncomfortable with me talking about bowel disease. Strangely enough this criticism is one I’ve received upwards of 10 times now. It still continues to baffle me every single time. My first book is about living with Crohn’s Disease. Therefore the subject of bowels is pretty impossible to ignore. In fact if I were to ignore the area where bowel disease lives in a book about bowel disease I would have to channel Sister Patricia who attempted to teach us about sex at Catholic school without mentioning the word ‘sex’ or any relevant body parts. Quite the skill.

The idea that Dave is unhappy about bowels being spoken about in a book about bowels is hilarious to me. I love imagining him flicking through the pages, sheer disgust spreading across his face, but physically unable to stop due to his intense and overpowering love of my puns. Poor Dave. It’s almost as if he has no choice but to read my writing. When I finish writing this blog I’m setting up a crowdfunding page to offer some sort of support to men like Dave who suffer from this increasingly common infliction where they can’t help but read books they are disgusted by. It must be awful. I do know what he’s going through to a certain extent; I once almost made it through The Da Vinci Code before realising I was in charge of my own destiny and could actually just burn it instead.

I don’t mean to mock the afflicted like Dave. Well I do a little. But I more want to remind people that a book about bowel disease may contain information about bowels. When I talk about bodily functions it doesn’t make me less of a ‘lady’ – it may shock some of you, but women have the same requirement to expel waste as men do. I know, disgusting, but try to keep your lunch down and stick with me. For men like Dave who view women through sepia-tinted glasses in a sort of Downton-Abbey-corseted-frock-wearing-be-seen-not-heard situation I hate to break it to you but women have as much right as men do to discuss their bodies. In fact when we bottle it up through shame and embarrassment we delay potential diagnosis, we put our health (and potentially lives) at risk.

So I’m sorry Dave, but if me talking about bowels makes you unhappy but helps one other person talk to their doctor, then I’ll make you miserable til the toilet stops flushing. Or you could just read The Da Vinci Code. I hear its 100% bowel-free.


*Names haven’t been changed to protect identities because Dave is a massive prick

Kathleen NichollsComment