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Book Review:Confessions of a Professional Hospital Patient

Confessions of a Professional Hospital Patientby Michael A. Weiss. 1stBooks, ISBN 0 75960 473 8, 2001.

Confessions of a Professional Hospital Patient: A Humorous First Person Account of How to Survive a Hospital Stay and Escape with Your Life, Dignity and Sense of Humour is a guide to spending time in hospital of value to first timers and veretans alike.

Aimed primarily at people with an imminent hospital stay and their families/supporters this book should also interest medical staff working in grastro-enterology who want to develop their understanding of the patient perspective.

I was delighted to receive my copy of ‘Confessions’ direct from the author, and when it arrived I was pleased to see that the book was well put together, with a good binding, nice readable typeface and a good size to carry with you into hospital.

The book is divided into chapters beginning with ‘Pre-admission preparation’ and ending with Weiss’ perspectives and opinions on healthcare in the US. Weiss is generous in the amount of material he makes available to others to help them deal with the administration side of the US healthcare system – this was fascinating to a UK based reader like me. Weiss supplies proforma letters, along with sound advice about what to copy and file.

The author has had over 50 hospitalisations so within the text there are plenty of lessons learned and tips which are based around a varierty of his own experiences. I’ve had quite a few hospitalisations and you do soon realise that some of the more perplexing aspects of hospitals aren’t down to your mirunderstanding, it is the system or a lack of communication. Some of the more common areas of confusion are explained carefully and tactfully, such as in the case of catheter removal – unless someone tells you, you don’t realise that you have to show the nurses everything you wee otherwise they force you to have the catheter replaced!

There is a plentiful appendix full of extremely useful outlines of things such as living wills and powers of attorney. I really appreciated the author addressing these issues as they can be easily overlooked.

It was really intersting to see that the hospital day, and general management of wards was virtually the same in the US and the UK. Then disheartening to read that dismissive treatment in accident and emergency also occured, albeit, very rarely.

(WordPress ate this section of the review, I will rewrite it tomorrow!)

In conclusion I think that this is an excellent book for anyone who has just been diagnosed with a chronic disease and expecting to spend some time in hospital. I also heartily recommend it to anyone in the medical profession who wishes to gain a patient perspective. I think it would particularly suit patients in the US who are trying to get to grips with the medical and insurance interface as I am sure that Weiss knows all the tips and tricks by now!

You can buy ‘Confessions’ from Amazon . Happy reading! Disclosure: I was delighted to receive a complimentary copy of ‘Confessions’ from Michael A. Weiss to review for my blog.


Am I stressed? Symptoms of stress

This is the first post in a series about stress. If you have chronic disease, it is important to understand stress becauseĀ  it can make many chronic diseases worse, and can lead to other symptoms un-related to your original condition.



These symptoms can be confusing, can be confused with other ailments, and can increase / decrease depending on what is happening in your life.

You might not have the mental machinations of stress and anxiety such as thinking about a situation all the time or feeling stuck, but you might be experiencing it all the same.

The following list is a range of symptoms which might be related to stress and can be used as signs from your body that you need to make some changes to become less stressed.

If you experience any of the symptoms below you should get in touch with your Doctor to discuss them immediately, as they could be a major emergency:

If you experience any of the following for longer than a few days it is worth talking to your Doctor about management / treatment options:

The following are mental rather than physical symptoms:

What symptoms do you experience when you get stressed?

Ways in which Crohn’s Disease causes pain

If you have Crohn’s Disease you are familiar with pain. Not just a ‘pain’, but the whole repertoire of pain sensations that the human body can manufacture. Sometimes you might be treated to a solo rendition that can be quietened down with over the counter meds, but more often than not Crohn’s pulls out all the stops and decides to delight you with a symphony performance that inclues the equivalent of timpani drums and death metal guitars. You might think that the pain is limited to bowels (it is after all Inflammatory Bowel Disease) but oh no, if Crohn’s can drag in other parts of the body, it will!

There is:

  • Cramping of bowels – this ranges from ‘Oh that Jalfrezi was probably a little hot for me’ through to whole body spasms that are akin to extreme forms of food posioning
  • Aching of joints and muscles – some mornings it takes me about 10 minutes moving around and a warm shower to get going
  • Needling of nerves – this can occur if you suffer from abscesses related to crohn’s – the abscesses fill with fluid and press against nerves, sometimes feeling like the nerve is trapped against other organs or bones – the pain seems to transfer to them too.
  • Lemon juice in a cut type feeling – crohn’s causes ulceration and inflammation of the GI tract – and sometimes it really does feel like getting lemon juice in a cut, or eating crisps when you have a mouth ulcer.
  • Fainting – Sometimes the cramping and the needling can be so painful that I zone out for a second, feeling a littel faint – sometimes can faint slightly.
  • Battlezone feeling – sometimes it feels like my bowels, uterus, bladder and pretty much everything in my lower abdomen is engaged in some kind of battle, twisting and squirming around causing a difficult to define but wide ranging pain. If you have children, it is a little like the sensation of a baby moving inside you, but very painful.

As well as the pain, your body brings in some other bits and pieces:

  • Headaches – all sorts of reasons why these might occur, but one reason is that your body builds up so much tension when you are in pain = tension headache
  • Sickness – possibly as a reult of the cramping, causing your stomach to churn or just beacuse crohn’s affects you there as well.
  • Tiredness – can feel like a little fatigue through to utter exhaustion which causes you to fall asleep the moment you stop.

And how does this manifest itself externally? People with Crohn’s may:

  • Seem a little distracted when they are trying to get through a spasm of pain
  • Carry out self soothing behaviour, such as absent mindedly rubbing or holding sore spots on their belly
  • Look like they had a very indulgent and intoxicated evening the night before and have come straight from the party without bothering to sleep – sadly that probably isn’t the case!
  • Not want to eat or drink
  • Want to be left alone (because being in this much pain can reduce tolerance levels for other people)
  • Not want to be on their own (it can be scary being on your own andĀ  in this much pain)
  • Look very flushed
  • Look very pale
  • Go quite a spectacular green colour

I’m interested in how you describe your aches and pains and how do they manifest themselves externally?