Let’s talk about poo.

Firstly – if you’ve managed to make it past the title – well done! This blog is about something that’s pretty yucky but I promise there will be no graphic details or emojis or photos.

I’m writing today about IBS – irritable bowel syndrome. A quick internet search suggests that up to 1 in 5 people in the UK suffer from IBS. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition that affects the digestive system. It causes symptoms like stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. These tend to come and go over time, and can last for days, weeks or months at a time. The severity of the symptoms vary from person to person.

In many ways I’m quite lucky – yes, I have IBS, but its a very mild form that is only really an issue during times of stress. When there’s a lot going on in life (like, I dunno, supporting your mum through a social services referral) I become really unsettled. Luckily I don’t experience too much pain but it is definitely uncomfortable and inconvenient – today I had to pop to the loo 5 times.

This is probably a good time to take a quick TMI break. I’m writing this blog not because I want to talk about my toilet habits, but because I was thinking today about how lucky I am. I have some excellent colleagues (including at least one who is in the same boat as me) who don’t comment when I pop in and out of the loo. On top of this I have a boss who has gone above and beyond to be supportive (not that we have ever discussed toilet trips).

And today I was thinking about how lucky I am here. We’ve all heard horror stories about limits on using the toilet in factory jobs (see for example https://www.theverge.com/2018/4/16/17243026/amazon-warehouse-jobs-worker-conditions-bathroom-breaks). There are lots of people who don’t have the same freedom that I have. And it made me realise that if I was working in a factory I could well be unemployed right now. Given that a lot of my worries are the potential huge financial burden caused by our country’s social care crisis (take our current mortgage payments – and then double them) this is a terrifying idea. It reminded me just how close we all are to coming off the bandwagon at any time. And my level of IBS is right at the mild end of toilet-habits-impacting-on-work. It’s not hard to find stories like this (thanks, Wetherspoons).

So, I guess this blog is just to say – we all have our own things going on. For some people this has an impact on our day to day life – but it isn’t that hard to create an environment that is supportive, allowing people to focus on their number one problems (like social care) – and not their number twos*.

*My wife, without a trace of irony, commented that this was a good solid pun. I pointed out that this wasn’t always the case.


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