Why it doesn’t hurt to lie when you have a pouch

Darren FletcherSometimes we face situations where we have to be a little sparing with the truth with our friends and work-mates, as Manchester United footballer Darren Fletcher discovered.

However honest and upstanding we pouch-owners may like to see ourselves, there are moments when a little bit of, how shall we put it, economy with the truth is the best way to get on with our daily lives.

Take the story of Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher. He first noticed he had ulcerative colitis in 2008 but carried on playing Premiership football regardless and was even selected for Scotland during his illness.

Darren’s one remedy was to take medication to help control these tricky spells. Sometimes it meant lying to his teammates about why he wasn’t playing at his peak. “I found it very difficult making up stories; reasons why I wasn’t at training, why I was looking ill and why I was rushing off to the bathroom… Basically lying to people’s faces,” he told The Independent newspaper recently.

He says: “I stayed silent until around 2011 to 2012 because it’s not something you generally talk about, the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. My close family and friends knew, but nobody else knew at the club,” said the 30-year-old international who has played for Scotland 62 times.

Part of Darren’s problem was that as a professional footballer who had captained his country he felt invincible. He also believed his condition would eventually get better.

“I was going to the toilet anywhere between 10 and 30 times a day without much time to get there, losing a lot of blood in the process as well,” he said. As Darren’s condition worsened he had to seek specialist medical help and at the end of 2011, took an extended break from the game, eventually having colon surgery in January 2013.

After second and third operations later in the year, the midfielder returned to play for Manchester United in December 2013 and has kept a regular place in the side since then.

Fletcher recently joined up with Lewis Moody, the former England rugby player who has suffered from uc for years (as featured in the Christmas 2012 Roar) to launch a United for Colitis dinner for the Crohn’s and Colitis UK charity.

Now that he has “come out” about his uc, Darren says his teammates are happy to joke about it. “They’ve almost been a bit like ‘oh right, OK; you’re not dying are you? So get on with it,” he told The Independent.

“Once I started talking about it [uc] and making it public knowledge it was such a relief. It was the best thing I did,” said Darren, who is the father of seven-year-old twin boys.

“The surgery was a success, I’m better now and I’m living a normal life… Though there are no guarantees with surgery, it has enabled me to be back playing for Manchester United and feeling great.”

Celebrity News

Though probably only a celebrity to us in the Red Lion Group and her patients, three rousing cheers for Zarah Perry-Woodford, St Mark’s Hospital clinical nurse support specialist, who won a distinction in her recent MSc master’s degree on Pouch Failure. Zarah’s research covered five main themes:

  • Managing patient expectations
  • Feelings of loss
  • Lack of information
  • Maintaining interpersonal relationships
  • Merging timelines (where periods of illness and feeling better start to merge and blur).

The Red Lion Group can bask in just a glimmer of Zarah’s reflected glory as we contributed £500 towards her master’s degree.



More newsletters available in the archive

Not only have the latest issues of our newsletter Roar! been uploaded to the website, but an additional 15 issues prior to 2004 are now available. The latest issues can be downloaded by clicking on the links in the Roar! Archive box on the left, or click More to access all issues that are available. We hope to upload the remaining 9 issues in the near future. In the meantime keep your eyes peeled for issue number 41 which should be out in time for Christmas.

My Catheter Conversion

I’ve just had to pay a large fine for wasting hospital time – or at least I should have done. That’s the view of a stomacare nurse when I told her I’d started using a Medina catheter for the first time.

“Just think, you’ve spent twelve years hanging around in hospital waiting-rooms, going to appointments with puzzled consultants and making worried phone calls about your troublesome pouch when all you had to do was use a catheter,” she told me.

And she was quite right of course. For in 1996 I was given one of these long thin plastic tubes by a nurse specialist at St Mark’s to try and clear my reluctant pouch.

Read more: My Catheter Conversion

Water, Water, Everywhere

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink. These words from Coleridge’s The Ancient Mariner almost came true for Red Lion member Emma Edwards and family when their water rates rose so high that they nearly had to cancel their annual bill.

Emma’s problems started when her supplier Thames Water fitted a meter to her family’s household supply and they found their water bill rose by £130-a-year. She wrote to Thames Water and pointed out that she had a medical condition that meant she had to go to the loo 10-12 times in 24 hours and thus used more water than most people.

Read more: Water, Water, Everywhere


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The 2018 Information Day will take place on Saturday 12 May 2018 at St. Mark's Hospital, Harrow.

Download 2018 Information Day Poster

2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the invention of the Pelvic Pouch at St. Mark's Hospital, and we are delighted to have Professor John Nicholls one of the pioneers and foremost experts on the subject as keynote speaker giving his personal reflections on 40 years of the pouch operation.

You can download the  Agenda by clicking on the link below.

Download the programme for 2018 information day.

You can download a Registration form by clicking the link below.

Download a Registration form for 2018 information day.

Last years event was a great success attended by 54 people (excluding Committee members and Presenters).

Recordings of presentations from last years Information Day can be viewed on the web site. 

Please note, the latest edition of ROAR! contains an incorrect date for the information day.

The correct date is Saturday 12 May 2018.

For further information please contact

Susan Burrows
Membership secretary


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