Shakespeare, Hamlet, and IBD…

Times change and people change with it.  Living with Crohn’s Disease can force you to re-evaluate a great many things in life.  It can put you outside the comfort zone of the general population who consider talking about Inflammatory Bowel Disease as something to be avoided.  Over time, I have discovered that whilst I still respect people’s conversational comfort zones, I will openly, fully and unashamedly discuss IBD if the topic is brought up.  After all, if someone opens the door, it’s only polite to step through – no?

That said, there are many ways that one can integrate IBD into a conversation and they are largely contextual.  By that, I mean you have to choose the most appropriate medium for your audience.  In this regard, I tend to follow the example of Ben Morrison and use humour to connect.  This is not to say I am making light of Inflammatory Bowel Disease – I am merely using humour to bring the subject into the comfort zone of your “average” person who will be blissfully unaware of the horrors of IBD.

As an example of this (and because it’s his birthday this month) I give you a parody of the words of William Shakespeare himself.  Well, let’s just say that if Shakespeare had IBD, Hamlet may have turned out differently:

Hamlet“To poop, or not to poop – that is the question.

Whether ‘tis nobler in the bowel to suffer the bowel prep and colonoscopies of outrageous examinations,

Or to take up arms against a sea of symptoms, and by medication, end them.

To poop, to sleep – no more; and by poop to say we end the bowel ache and the thousand un-natural shocks that the bowel is heir to.

‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

To poop, to sleep, perchance pain-free.

Aye, there’s the rub,

Hamlet2For in that troubled sleep, what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal toilet, must give us pause.

There’s the respect that makes calamity of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

For who would bear the butt-wipes and toilet paper of time,

The diseases wrong, the Doctors examinations,

The pangs of despised bowel cramps, the diagnosis delays,

The insolence of bathroom and the pain that patient merit of the unworthy takes, when he himself might his clenching end.

With a bare infusion, who would these troubles bear?

To grunt and sweat under weary procedures, but that the dread of something after treatment.

The undiscovered examination cubicle from behind whose curtained wall, no blood sample ever returns, puzzles the will,  And makes us rather bear those symptoms we have, than to fly to other Doctors we know not of.

Thus symptoms does not make Crohnies of us all, and thus the native pallor of our face is sicklied ‘oer with the pale cast of anaemia and drugs of great cost and side-effect, with this regard their efficacy turn awry and lose the name of remission.

Soft you now, the fair Nurses, Consultants and all thy staff,

Be thou all my stool samples remembered.”

PS:  The above is a parody of the dialogue in the “Nunnery Scene” of William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. In the speech, a despondent or feigning Prince Hamlet contemplates death and suicide. He bemoans the pains and unfairness of life but acknowledges the alternative might be still worse.  These are subjects and concepts that many with IBD will have pondered.  So it just goes to show that – when used appropriately – humour can bring a lot of pertinent / serious information about IBD into the conversational comfort zones of “normal” people.

Editor’s Note: Stephen Dempster is a monthly contributor to our blog. You can find Stephen on Google+ and on his blog Behind the Times. Stephen also is the creator of the Flipboard Magazine: A Little Behind The Times

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