This book should be read by any-one who suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or who knows any-one with this debilitating illness.
Sophie tells of her battle with IBS from childhood, through her teenage years and on through adult life with a leavening of spiky humour, which, as she says, she is allowed to use as she is the sufferer. As one myself, I understand that sometimes, especially when looking back on it and writing, we can find it in ourselves to salt it with irony or satire, though at the time, there is nothing remotely funny about it.
Sophie details diets, doctor's visits, medications she was prescribed or bought over the counter, and how at last, she found a combination that has alleviated her symptoms. The book is worth reading for those tips alone, because people with IBS are willing to try almost anything to cure or at least control their illness, and frequently do. Every person with IBS is unique and what works for one will not work for another, which is why it is so very difficult to treat, as it is often a case of trying many, many treatments until we find something that helps.
I found myself grimacing in dreadful sympathy at the descriptions of Sophie's pain, anger and despair as she forced herself to go on trips, to university, and hold down full time jobs, all in pain, suffering in silence and telling scarcely any-one. One can feel her sense of being isolated from the normal world where people are not tormented by their bowels on a daily basis, because when one suffers IBS, it does feel as if we are being tortured day after day, year after year. IBS pain is the default setting of our lives, and even when we have a spell of relief (often not knowing why) we are always terrified of it returning. Sophie puts this across very well, not flinching from what seems to be a deeply ingrained embarrassment among the general public to talk about anything pertaining to bowel movements, noting how IBS receives little sympathy from many GP's and work colleagues. I have experienced the latter many times.
People do need to talk about IBS, it demands publicity, though there is certainly more now than there was when I was diagnosed with it. Books like this help to bring it out of the closet of taboo. This illness, which is often chronic, agonizing, and can limit and control our lives to a degree impossible to understand if one is on the outside, does need to be recognized by the world. It is not a shameful thing, (no illness is) and we don't have to make excuses for it. It affects us both mentally and physically, because when one is constantly pulled down by pain, it is impossible to be cheerful, to put a brave face on it for years and years. (Although Sophie did, and I salute her for that, and I am sure many other IBS sufferers do.)
Sophie has produced a very readable book here (she has a degree in English Literature, and it shows; she is a natural writer with a flowing easy style to follow.) which every IBS sufferer should read, and I would recommend it also to all people who live with, are related to, or work with a victim of IBS, to foster greater sympathy and understanding.