January 16, 2012

Review: The Foul Bowel

“As I felt the anesthetic-induced blackness swimming into my brain, I had no doubt I was checking out permanently from the hotel of life,” wrote 54-year-old John Bradley, a ‘Crohnie’ for the past thirty some of years.

The Foul Bowel, a 261 page guide on how to survive Crohn’s Disease, is not just a helpful handbook to fellow sufferers, but one man’s journey through life’s hardships and how he took ownership of his diagnosis learning what it truly meant to be successful at living with Crohn’s Disease.

Bradley spent seven years in and out of doctor’s offices before he was diagnosed at age 23 with Crohn’s Disease, a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines, though that description is putting the specifics of this illness more mildly than most might. The Foul Bowel follows his expedition from diagnosis day to the present and what an adventure he weaves.

Bradley’s storytelling technique is not only informative, but innovative and charismatic. He manages to delve into delicate areas with no holds barred, but does so in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling queasy or uncomfortable. By sharing his experience step by agonizing step, the reader learns what can be expected when living with Crohn’s and also how to deal with the obstacles that are thrown at you.

With humorous anecdotes and several sarcastic one liners that transcend the written word bouncing off the page at the reader, The Foul Bowel takes you to a place that is gritty and real. Bradley doesn’t skirt around the issues and even offers readers a warning on page 20 that this book is not for the faint of heart.

The detailed accounts of doctor’s visits and procedures help the reader get into Bradley’s mindset and display the trials and tribulations that every person affected by this disease will at some point go through. It showcases the good, the bad, and the ugly, but also leaves the reader with hope, showing them they are not alone in their fight to control Crohns.

Throughout the book there are illustrations courtesy of Rose Hutchings that depict scenes of key moments, which I found myself chuckling at more than once. Another detail that makes The Foul Bowel unique is the way Bradley incorporates 101 tips for readers weaving them into the story between longer blocks of text, breaking things up and giving the reader a main point to focus on within each section.

Though all the tips incorporated serve their own purpose and were very equally helpful, my personal favorites were tips; Three: Think like a spider, Seventeen: Know yourself, Forty-three: Learn from those around you, and One hundred: Illness is not an aberration, it’s a part of life. The Foul Bowel was written to help guide those who have been diagnosed with Crohn’s through the endless nightmares of healthcare.

But, personally, I’d recommend this book to anyone currently participating in a tug-o-war battle against their own health. “I often hear people say things like, ‘At least I have got my health’ or ‘Good health is everything.’ No it isn’t—that’s just something healthy people say before they get ill. I haven’t had good health since I was a teenager and I do not feel that I have lost, or been denied ‘everything’,” wrote Bradley.

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