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More Than Meets The Eye

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A sufferer's attempt to spread awareness about Ulcerative Colitis (UC), a painful autoimmune condition of the colon (the long intestine).

Synopsis

Have you ever used Dr. Google to diagnose your own illness? I have and trust me it doesn't work.

How about taking it a step further and researching your own treatment for that same self-diagnosed illness? I have done that too and it doesn't work either. The problem is that sometimes when you need help and nobody seems to know the answers it's the only logical thing left to do. Well, after years of self-diagnosis and multiple doctors visits, I was finally and officially diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Having never heard those words before, never mind understanding what it was, I was left a little bit clueless.

My problem was that every piece of information I was given was medical-based and I couldn't find a single thing that was personally relatable, nor anything to prepare me for the psychological stress, social awkwardness or unforeseen accidents that were about to change my life forever.

So I have decided to share my story, in the hope that someone who is suffering from Ulcerative Colitis can find some comfort that what they are going through is normal, can be overcome and that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Liam Robertson's book, More Than Meets The Eye discusses practical, day-to-day issues encountered by people suffering from Ulcerative Colitis (UC), a painful autoimmune condition affecting the colon (the last part of the digestive system).


UC is one of the group of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) that includes Crohn's Disease. It is characterized by repeated attacks of sudden painful stomach cramps. One feels the urge to visit the toilet immediately to empty the bowels. A lot of blood, and sometimes air too, is passed out with the stool.


In this book, the author recounts his experiences with UC since age 21. He seeks to help others by spreading awareness about it. 'Auto-immune' implies an abnormal condition in which the body's immune system attacks itself. There is no permanent cure for UC, which falls under this category. Immunosuppressant drugs and lifestyle changes, particularly restricted diet and exercise keep it in check. Managed well, one experiences remission for long periods but there is no guarantee that flare-ups will not recur.


Living with UC is a big challenge indeed. While it need not necessarily ruin your career and quality of life, it forces you into a life of silent suffering and stress. You have to be continually alert to the recurrence of its symptoms. Then comes the need to learn to handle socially difficult situations. For example, if you are talking to someone when an attack occurs and you want to rush to the toilet, you have to force yourself to wait patiently until you can politely excuse yourself. You may also have to prepare yourself to cope with emotionally dark periods when nothing seems to work well for you.


Public awareness of UC is low presently. Being a serious health condition, making people everywhere aware of it ASAP, is extremely important. Among other benefits, spreading awareness will prepare us not to be overwhelmed if confronted with symptoms of the disease at any time. New sufferers would also be able to find comfort in knowing that medical treatment exists and there are fellow-sufferers in the world who are already coping very well with UC. Another thing, enlightened employers would be enabled to treat affected employees fairly. Due to its relevance, I recommend this book to all readers in general. I also recommend this book as a vital read for policy/decision-makers in Government and/or industry/private organizations, NGOs, HR managers, and the like.

Reviewed by

An engineer and part-time IT Consultant based in Bangalore, India. Part-time copy editor/reviewer. A deep thinker and innovator. Highly analytical, clear, accurate, and thorough. Worked with OnlineBookClub since June 2018. Nearly 25 book reviews published to date.

Synopsis

Have you ever used Dr. Google to diagnose your own illness? I have and trust me it doesn't work.

How about taking it a step further and researching your own treatment for that same self-diagnosed illness? I have done that too and it doesn't work either. The problem is that sometimes when you need help and nobody seems to know the answers it's the only logical thing left to do. Well, after years of self-diagnosis and multiple doctors visits, I was finally and officially diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Having never heard those words before, never mind understanding what it was, I was left a little bit clueless.

My problem was that every piece of information I was given was medical-based and I couldn't find a single thing that was personally relatable, nor anything to prepare me for the psychological stress, social awkwardness or unforeseen accidents that were about to change my life forever.

So I have decided to share my story, in the hope that someone who is suffering from Ulcerative Colitis can find some comfort that what they are going through is normal, can be overcome and that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I suppose sometimes in life it’s easy to take things for granted. To get lost in your own world. I mean, why shouldn’t you? It’s your life after all. You just float along, wrapped up in a tight cocoon of self-importance and a belief in your own superiority, aiming to please yourself each and every day. Although it sounds negative, I believe it’s actually a good thing in many ways. It is what drives us to do better, to succeed, to win and to enhance our lives in some way or another. I imagine this selfishness is what has driven many, if not all, the most successful people we know or have heard of throughout history. Now if you are anything like me, you’ll probably be guilty of this too from time to time. And if you haven’t noticed it before, then you are probably more tightly wrapped up in that cocoon than you realise. Regardless of that, I would like to think you will probably be able to relate to this pretty well. 

When I was growing up, maybe not as much a child, but certainly as an early teenager from the ages of 14 and up, I remember feeling an enormous pressure to look or be a certain way. Society tells us that we must have good skin and perfect teeth. We must go to the gym regularly and eat healthy meals, as obviously body fat is a big no-no. We must have the latest brand name plastered across our T-shirts and on-trend trainers. And if you don’t, then you should be embarrassed and banished to the realms of the un-cool or socially awkward. Sound familiar? Well, I think that at least for me these pressures got even worse as I grew older. I can remember quite distinctly as I entered my late teens and early twenties these societal demands grew stronger, drastically more expensive and quite frankly much harder to achieve. It went from clothes, trainers and the type of music I chose to listen to, to cars, property and luxury holidays. There was a sudden shame placed upon still living at home with your parents or being unable to drive or not owning a car or whether or not you can afford to go to Ibiza and buy €15 bottles of water. 

I feel as the years went on the momentous rise in social media had a massive effect on this. If I were to say most people I know spend almost all day on social media, I would probably be understating the issue. In fact in the first 20 minutes of writing this opening few paragraphs I have already checked my phone three times. The problem is that it can cause us to disconnect from the people and events around us and consistently creates perceptions of what life should be like or how it is for other people and it makes us obsessed about material things. Again, similar to our naturally selfish desires it is not necessarily a bad thing. If it inspires you to train harder or work harder or educate yourself more, then I am all for it. However, there is a fine line between a hunger for more and an underappreciation of what you already have or what’s really needed. The problem is most people only learn this the hard way and I was unfortunate enough to be one of them. 

At around the age of 21 I started getting quite ill. It mostly consisted of really strong stomach cramps and quite severe bloating. This led to multiple visits to the doctor and hospital on a regular basis. Then at the prime age of 24 years old after two or three years of progressively feeling unwell, my problems finally came to a head and my world was turned upside down. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. If you have never heard of this condition before don’t worry because neither had I. I spent a lot of time researching the disease and educated myself as much as I could. My only problem was that most of the information I read online was based on medical facts. Although there are forums where people can speak about their condition, I never really found anything that truly told the story of what it was like to live with this horrible condition. Suddenly all of my material desires faded away. Everything I used to believe about life changed. I quickly realised just how little importance anything in life has if you haven’t got your health. 

I decided to write this book to share my experience and to give hope to anybody else going through this or something similar – there is a light at the end of the tunnel. This is the story of my journey through sickness, diagnosis and treatment to a new-found wisdom and understanding of life that I will otherwise never have experienced, from my lowest point all the way to where I am today. There is always more than meets the eye. 


About the author

First time indie author of 'More Than Meets The Eye - Living With Ulcerative Colitis'. The personal and true story of living with an auto-immune condition, including the psychological stress, social awkwardness and unforeseen accidents that reflect life for many sufferers. view profile

Published on April 20, 2020

Published by

20000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

Reviewed by

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