Title: Sh!t Bag

Author: Xena Knox

Pages: 362 Pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group

The Blurb

‘Come along with me on this sh!tty ride or bail out now. It’s your choice . . .’

When Freya collapses and wakes up with a temporary ileostomy bag on her stomach, her dreams of the perfect summer go down the toilet. Instead of partying in the Algarve, she’s packed off to ‘Poo Camp’ – a place for kids with bowel disease to ‘bond’.

And things can only get worse. Someone has started calling her ‘Sh!t Bag’ . . . and it’s catching on.

Freya decides to live up to the nickname, raging at her friends, her ex and the world. Only her campmate Chris seems to see past her new attitude . . .

Can Freya get her sh!t together or will she end up with just her bag by her side?

A fresh, fierce and funny story about what happens when life literally goes to sh!t.

The Review

Representation matters.

Sh!t Bag is the story of a teenage girl who due to complications with ulcerative colitis had to get an ileostomy. Me. I’m that girl.

Okay, I’m not the protagonist of this story but like 1 in 300 people in the UK I have a stoma. However, in my lifetime I have only read 4 books where the character has a stoma and if I am honest 2 of them weren’t positive. Therefore, it is great to read a book that shows the positive impact having a stoma can have on a person’s quality of life.

Sh!t Bag focuses on Freya, a teenage girl who feels like her world has been turned upside down when she has to have emergency surgery to remove her diseased intestine. Every negative thought a person can have about having a stoma – she has x10. However, through the story Freya learns that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and she begins to see how empowering having a stoma can be and the positive impact on her lifestyle.

Honestly, Sh!t Bag was the book that I didn’t know I needed. Even though I am absolutely happy and content with my stoma (which by the way is called Paloma) it was amazing to read such a positive story and one that was so accurate in detail (loperamide, anyone?).

I am grateful to Xena Knox for writing this story.

Sh!t Bag by Xena Knox is available now.

For more information regarding Xena Knox (@XenaKnox) please visit he Instagram page.

For more information regarding Hachette Children’s Group (@HachetteKids) please visit www.hachettechildrens.co.uk.

Title: Entyvio Tablet – A Prescription Medicine Used in Adults with Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease

Author: James Lee Anderson

Pages: 96 Pages

Publisher: Amazon Media

The Blurb

“Although, your health condition may impact your everyday life, do not let it define who you are.”

ENTYVIO is a prescription medicine used in adults: (a) with moderate to severe active ulcerative colitis (UC) when certain other UC medicines have not worked well enough or cannot be tolerated, and (b) with moderate to severe active Crohn’s disease when certain other Crohn’s disease medicines have not worked well enough or cannot be tolerated.

Thanks and may you have a good understanding about this product—ENTYVIO. You may want to share this book with your family and friends who may be in need of help and would want to use this product. Take care, and as always, be well!


The Review

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in November 2012 and since then I have had a few setbacks. I have flared up and been seriously ill, hospitalised and also – thankfully – been in remission. Sadly, I am back to square one having an awful flare up (at the time of writing this review May 2018). I

Because of the nature of this illness and how much a person can help them self to get better I am a firm believer that knowledge is power so I have tried to consume as much information regarding Ulcerative Colitis as possible. What I have learned is that knowledge can also be a terrifying thing.

I read Entyvio Tablet because it is the new medication that I will be having (by the time this review is live I will be on my fourth infusion) and I swear I wish I had the blissful ignorance that I had before. The side effects are freaking scary. I know that you have to be warned about these things and that they don’t happen to everyone but in other cases of medication going catawampus I have tended to be the exception, not the rule.

I am glad I read Entyvio Tablet. I know what to expect and what to look out for but I do worry that reading it has made me hyper aware and may have turned me into a bit of a worrier.

Entyvio Tablet – A Prescription Medicine Used in Adults with Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease by James Lee Anderson is available now.

Conquer ColitisTitle: Conquer Colitis Now! How to Treat Colitis &n Live Pain Free for Life(The Doctor’s Smarter Self Healing Series)

Author: Dr Brad Turner

Pages: 32 Pages

Publisher: Create Space Independent Platform

The Blurb

Learn how to treat Colitis and live pain free for life by following the guidelines in this easy to read format. Your pain and your symptoms can be controlled by using hassle free techniques that Dr. Brad Turner has outlined within the pages of this book. Everything from avoiding trigger foods to using natural remedies to make the pain bearable are within the pages of this guide. Stop your suffering now and use a plan that works for you.


The Review

For those living with a chronic illness such as Colitis, you, like me will know that knowledge is power. It is the reason that I read as many books as possible about Ulcerative Colitis. I want to know what I am dealing with.

Unfortunately for me, Dr Bad Turner’s book (whilst being out of date – no fault of Dr Turner) didn’t offer me any information that I wasn’t already aware of. Furthermore, the book, whilst aimed at the patient came across as very clinical at times. Medical terminology was used and not explained to the laymen.

Hopefully, a more updated version will be released with new information and advice to help the person with the condition.

Conquer Colitis Now! How to Treat Colitis & Live Pain Free for Life(The Doctor’s Smarter Self Healing Series) by Dr Brad Turner is available now.

2 Stars

So despite the glib title to this post it is actually accurate. Since the 23rd of March I have left my house but a mere four times. Three of those outings were medical related. As some of you may know, I have Ulcerative Colitis and since mid-March I have been flaring up.

Ulcerative Colitis is a form of IBD. It is less well known than its sister disease – Crohns. I like to think of it as the Kim Kardashian of the IBDs circa 2004-5 when Kim K’s friend Paris Hilton was the better known celebrity. One day UC will be as famous as Kim K’s derriere…which I guess would be a bit ironic being that it is a disease that can affect the ass.

I’m pretty sure I had the disease for a long period before diagnosis. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and looking back I can see many periods of my life that could have been considered as having actve disease; excessive bouts of diarrhoea, stomach pains, blood and mucus in my stool (sorry for the over share). Throughout college and university, I never left the house without Imodium. Looking back that probably should have been one of the first clues.

During this period, I worked in a call centre. They had toilets away from the floor I worked on and if I was having what I now refer to as a ‘Colitis moment’ I would use those bathrooms. This was fine until one day a sticker was posted on the toilet door saying if you have frequent bouts of diarrhoea and there is blood or mucus in your stool go to the doctors. This could be a sign of cancer.

Jib that! I was terrified. So I did what and normal, terrified person would do. I ignored the problem and hoped that it would go away.

It didn’t.

They say that flare ups can be triggered by stress and before I was diagnosed I was going through a very stressful time in my personal life. The symptoms were getting worse. I went on a trip with work. It was an outward bound trip working with GCSE PE students taking them gorge walking and camping and I genuinely don’t know how I got through that trip physically because I was in a mess. When I returned home the diarrhoea started again. I went to see my GP who booked me in for blood tests, gave me some medication and requested my first colonoscopy. It turns out I was severely anaemic and had to be put on iron tablets and also B12 shots every three months.

But I was still getting worse. Needing the bathroom up to 20 times a day is exhausting especially when you are passing blood every time you go. Sorry if you are squeamish but it isn’t a little blood. It is a full on Carrie moment down your toilet. I used to live on the third floor of my house and some nights it was easier to bring my quilt and pillow down to the corridor and sleep outside the bathroom rather than having to run up and down the stairs so much. I was once found by my mother doubled over in the bathroom, unable to stand up straight. She threatened to kick me out unless I went back to the doctors.

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in November 2012 to very little fanfare. I didn’t really know what it was and my fiancé (then boyfriend) was the one who explained to me that it was a chronic condition with no cure. I was diagnosed by having a colonoscopy which showed the damage to my large intestine. There are many different forms of colitis and mine happens to be Pancolitis which means that my whole large intestine is diseased.

Since diagnosis, I have been medicated with various drugs. The main one that I have to take every day is Pentasa. I take 4000mg per day. I have also had to be medicated several times with Prednisolone steroids (these bad boys are not fun) and I have suffered the horrible side effects – mood swings, insomnia, headaches, shortness of breath, massive weight gain, thinning of my bones and hair loss. My doctors have also tried me on a variety of different medications that have had some pretty bad effects on my body.

I was treated with Azathiaprine after my first serious flare since diagnosis which caused me to develop Sweets Syndrome and Pyoderma Gangrinosum and my chin fell off (I kid you not. For photos please look at the One Year Later post).

I was then medicated with Infliximab which is classed as a biologic. This is medication that is administered intravenously initially over a six hour period and after a loading dose you have to have an infusion every eight weeks. I loved Infliximab. I felt amazing after taking it. Sadly after 10 lovely months I grew immune to it and had an anaphylactic attack when being infused. Fortunately though, Infliximab put me in remission.

I spent three happy years in remission. Sure there were still small periods of feeling yuck but the majority of the time I was fine, just mainly tired with sore aching joints. But I was, for all intents and purposes, fine.

In May 2017, I started to feel a bit rough. It was just little things: tiredness, dicky tummy, fatigue. It steadily got worse and by the end of August – after trying a new form of steroid I was back for another short stay in hospital. It took several weeks to get the flare up under control and even more than that to get my strength back. Little things, such as standing up to heat up soup, would leave me shaking for hours afterwards. Being sick really does knock it out of you.

Since November 2017, I have been back at work and for the most part I have been fine. This recent flare up has come completely out of the blue. There is no rhyme or reason for it and I can honestly say that I didn’t welcome it. After the last flare up my doctor decided that he wanted to be pro-active. I asked to see if I could just stick to the Pentasa for now and if a flare up happened again then I would go for new medication. He advised me to go onto another biologic but was happy to wait to see if I maintained having no active disease but because I am flaring up now I have to take hospital advice and will soon be starting infusions of Vedolizumab (or its brand name Entyvio). This again will be administered intravenously in hospital once every two months after a booster dose.

To say I am sceptical is a bit of an understatement. I guess when I have had so many medications either eat away at my own body or for my body to grow antibodies towards it I am just not filled with confidence that it is going to work. Is it wrong of me to feel that way? Probably and it is completely unfitting with my otherwise sunny disposition. I just can’t help but feel like the medication or my body is going to let me down.

If Vedolizumab doesn’t work then from what I have researched the next step would be surgery. This would potentially mean having my colon removed and having my intestine coming out of my stomach (think Alien but less angry) and my waste be collected in a bag. Now people tend to think of this as the worst thing but over the last two flare ups I have come to the conclusion that it really wouldn’t be the worst thing.

Ulcerative Colitis has robbed me of more than the last 28 days. I used to do things. I used to go to music festivals and eat out and be able to get public transport without counting the minutes between stops and trying to figure out where the nearest accessible bathroom is. I could learn to drive or ride in a hot air balloon (although to be honest a hot air balloon ride does not appeal to me in the slightest) I could get stuck in traffic and not have a panic attack or I could even just go for a walk. Things that I took for granted before having Ulcerative Colitis symptoms.

So I guess the point of this post is this: I’ve got a sore colon but I’m still rollin’. Ok, no it’s not that. I guess the point of it is just to vent or to discuss what I have been going through and to make people that little bit more aware of invisible illnesses or to take the poo out of tabpoo – that last one didn’t really work did it?

Ah well.

That’s me, folks, diseased bowel, intestines, and a weird sense of humour.

Lisa x

My Flare LadyTitle: My Flare Lady: A Handbook for Today’s (Diseased) Dame

Author: Kathleen Nicholls

Pages: 136 Pages

Publisher: Amazon Media

The Blurb

Chronic illness is used as such a ‘catch all’ phrase these days. It covers a myriad of illnesses, diseases and disabilities. But then couldn’t all of those words be used in the same vein? Don’t all chronic illnesses ‘disable’ us in one way or another? Make us feel ‘diseased’?

It’s hard being a sick girl in a modern world. But fear not, My Flare Lady is here to help you thrive AND survive! You look great!

The Review

You know what feeling when you are sick and you pray to every available deity in your previously religion free life that if you can just get back to normal you will be much more grateful for your everyday life? Well imagine knowing that being sick is going to be your normal. Forever. That is what people with a chronic illness (like Kathleen Nicholls and myself) have to live with everyday.

We both have delightful illnesses under the umbrella of IBD. Nicholls has Crohn’s and I have Ulcerative Colitis. It sucks having IBD. It really does.

Personally, I have felt so alone and isolated because of it but when you find someone that gets it (because they have it too) it opens up this world of possibility and opportunity and – in a weird sense – freedom.

Having read Nicholls first book Go Your Crohn Way I knew that here was someone who was in my age range who is dealing with the same things I am: anxiety, weight gain, hospital visits. The whole shebang. Don’t get me wrong, I have read other books about IBD. I am a firm believer that knowledge is power. But here was someone talking to me in a non clinical way about things that I thought I was going crazy thinking about.

It was therefore imperative that I bought and read Nicholls new book My Flare Lady: A Handbook for Today’s (Diseased) Dame by Kathleen Nicholls. A book that was targeted at me even more. I have a vagina, hurrah! Once again, I was charmed by Nicholls grace and humour in the face of such a crappy (pun intended) illness. You read this book and you feel like you are talking to a friend. It is really comforting. I urge anyone with IBD or anyone that knows or loves someone with IBS to read both Go Your Crohn Way and My Flare Lady: A Handbook for Today’s (Diseased) Dame by Kathleen Nicholls. It will give you a better understanding of what we go through on a daily basis and might make you a little bit more understanding when we answer most questions with “I’m fine.”

My Flare Lady: A Handbook for Today’s (Diseased) Dame by Kathleen Nicholls is available now.

For more information regarding Kathleen Nicholls (@kathfantastic) please visit www.kathfantastic.com.

For more information regarding Crohns and Colitis UK (@CrohnsColitisUK) please visit www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk.

4 Stars