Channelling pain through poetry
Ulcerative colitis

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I am not a superman… asking for help is not weak

Channel pain through poetry, singing and song writing... discover Mr. Chipps story.
Ulcerative Colitis can be a restraining condition, but even if for Keith it means being more concious of his body, it doesn't stop him from giving an amazing example by volunteering, singing, writing poetry...

Hello mr. chipps, could you introduce yourself in few lines?

I am Keith, but for my profile I am Mr  Chipps, because I am an amateur poet, singer, song writer. I sing in several choirs and a folk group. I am retired and do voluntary work for a couple of charities and the N.H.S, which will be supporting Veterans, as I am a veteran myself.

How did you find out you had ulcerative colitis and how did you get your diagnosis? (was the diagnosis quick or was it difficult to get?

I began having lots of diarrhoea, which lasted several days and eventually, I was having annul bleeding and found it hard to eat and sleep etc. My Doctor did an internal examination at my home, after about 5 days he said it was a bowel infection and should soon clear up. 

Several weeks later things were not any better and I saw a hospital consultant, who did a sigmoidoscopy, an internal camera inspection of my bowel. I was told I had a bowel disease but nothing more. I eventually was admitted to hospital, with several rectal bleeding, dehydration and diarrhoea, which turned pink, due to my bowel bleeding.

I remained as an inpatient for 3 weeks and diagnosis could only be partially be confirmed due to my bowel being badly inflamed and infected. I had to wait for several months to have a colonoscopy, of the large, which confirmed the extent of the inflammation, which was over 200%

What was your reaction when you found out you had ulcerative colitis?

My initial reaction was utter shock and disbelief, because I was also told I could have died due to the extent of my dehydration and bleeding. I was further diagnose as having diabetes type, as a result of me having to take medications, over several years for other medical conditions. I was kept in hospital for 3 weeks and discharged, to see the consultant in 6 weeks, or if things did not settle down.

(I had to take steroids, which affected my whole life and emotions etc.)

What have been the major impacts of the disease on your everyday life? (the relationship with your family and friends, complications…)

My life and lifestyle are dictated by my Ulcerative colitis, because like irritable bowel syndrome it can be very unpredictable and my bowel can flare up at very short notice. I have had at least 3 flare ups and they can last for several weeks to months. If I have really bad flare up, I can be confined to my house. I feel weak, irritable worn down and cannot concentrate, or plan my life. But if I am having a stable period, which can last several months, or years, I can lead a normal-ish life. But I am always having to check my bowel motions and look for blood from my rectum, so basically Ulcerative Colitis rules my life. I get lots of bloating, stomach cramps, and sometimes constipation and aches in my bones

There are several down sides to living with Ulcerative Colitis, and they can be as a result of the medication, I have to take to control it. They can also be brought on by the stress of constantly monitoring my bowel motions and bloating. my friends accept my medical conditions and treat me as a normal person and support me and help  me to cope, when i am having a hard time, because of a bowel flare up . At times it can be hard for me to drive and my friend drives me, or does my shopping.

As for today, how do you manage your life with ulcerative colitis? What practical advice could you give to other patients on how to cope with this condition?

Today I mange my life as best I can and have come to learn that, there is no cure for my Ulcerative colitis, or some of my other health problems. So I do my best to lead a normal life and keep busy with my hobbies, my singing in choirs and voluntary work. I have done over 30 years voluntary work and get a lot out of it, because even though I have poor health which can at time debilitate me and keep me housebound. It can never take away my self-esteem, will to have a happy and possibly full life.

Doing what I do and meeting others worse than me, teaches me to be positive, look forwards and be grateful to be alive. Yes if I have bad days I get a little down. But I never give in and start whinging, as it does no good and it upsets my friends. It also upsets me when I meet miserable people, who are living with their poor me syndromes. 

I have learnt to use my skills, education and personality, for my own and other peoples benefit. Last year I played Santa on 2 occasions for charities.

"However I am not a superman, simply a man who like millions of others has faced many traumas and got on with life, no matter how hard it maybe some days"

What positive message would you like to share with our readers? 

The only positive advice I can offer people living with traumas, poor health or depression or mental health is,

To take each day as it comes, to you, accept that it is not a curse sent to you

you can also scream and shout, or do yoga or exercise, to let your stress out

let the tears fall, if it makes you feel better, or like me try writing a new poem or a write an email letter.

Take each day as it may befall, and on good days make your life a ball

let your family and friends sometimes know how you may feel

because asking for help is not weak or a big deal.

Try to always think of the good times, when you feel sad

Because then soon your heart will lift you up and make you feel glad

Mr Chipps, the poet man

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on 10/27/15

Hi Keith,

Like your story; well written and informative with a positive outlook on life.  like most men of a certain age; (myself included) we get on with our problems; always with a smile, while battling against any long term illness or adverse condition,  although always on the lookout for something that might ease the pain or lessen the disability we suffer from.

  No moans or groans; always saying "I'm Fine" when most of the time we struggle to cope; no-one can see that we suffer inside, admitting our weakness would diminish  our pride; so, when asked how we're doing?  we always reply; I'm doing OK, and Im feeling fine.

BTW,  My Daughter calls me ; Mr Chips.   Her affectionate name for me;  I quite like it..