How we tackle embarrassment with personal stories on The Poodcast

17 February 2021

As they head into season two, we spoke to the team behind The Poodcast. It's a podcast that explores bladder and bowel conditions through an informative, light-hearted exploration of people's most embarrassing moments.

On New Year’s Eve in 2018, we drunkenly regaled stories of when we had not reached a toilet in time.

These shared stories often ended in fits of laughter, followed closely by one friend after the other (including one of our more reserved companions) having the courage to reveal a time that they had done the same. Through this new level of affinity amongst the best women we knew, we felt lighter than we had in months. Evie has a gluten intolerance and Claudia has irritable bowel syndrome, which by the standard of many chronic bowel and bladder conditions, isn’t much. But living with some of the most unpleasant symptoms had worn us down; the crippling embarrassment we felt about some of the situations we had been in made us feel pathetic, weak and degraded.

So, that day in 2018 was when the idea for The Poodcast was born, a podcast where we share stories of toilet or medical misdemeanours, drunken accidents and speak about our experiences of bladder and bowel conditions. Experiencing these lows alone was never fun, but once shared we discovered it was an anecdote. The strength of people within the bowel and bladder community never ceases to amaze us and hopefully by us launching this platform, people with conditions or even those without will never feel humiliation or shame. After all, it’s just a body and they are all nothing short of remarkable.

When we spoke to some of the incredible guests we had on, we had the same perspective as the audience.

Host of The Poodcast

Our first season seemed to fly by. The imposter syndrome for us never fully went away; we are two women who live without Crohn’s or Colitis. Were we the right voice for this? Could we do these topics justice? As the season went on, we found that perhaps this was to our advantage. We didn’t know what it was like to live with a chronic condition and neither did many of our listeners. We wanted to find out what it was like to live with these conditions and ask some of the questions our listeners would have. We found the most important thing of all when considering disability and illness is to listen intently and shine a light on how we can adapt everything we do to make life more inclusive. 

We tried to feature a wide range of topics and health conditions throughout season one, although at times this proved difficult as often, and understandably, those with invisible illnesses do not shout from the rooftops about the struggles they are going through. Consequently, we had the pleasure of interviewing such wonderful people with a wide range of health conditions that affect their bowel, bladder and gut. These conditions included Crohn’s and Colitis, as well as interstitial cystitis, pelvic floor dysfunction, Fowler’s Syndrome and obstetric anal sphincter injuries. 

Social media is a fantastic hub and community for many people with chronic conditions looking to connect.

We had some wonderful responses, mostly people expressing how much they’d learnt or what they’d never considered before. Hearing from people who felt lighter and freer of embarrassment having listened to our podcast has brought us so much joy and determination to continue. We also received some correspondence on conditions we had yet to hear of: a woman messaged us about bile acid malabsorption (a new condition to the both of us) and we made it our mission to cover it in season two. 

What pushes us to continue to make more of The Poodcast is when our listeners express to us that a particular episode has urged them to get diagnosed or have more assertiveness in asking for support.

Host of The Poodcast

Some of the topics we discussed that particularly resonated with our listeners in season one were those of misdiagnosis, medical misogyny and a general feeling of despondence when it comes to health. As the hosts, we were quite shocked to hear how many times people have been misdiagnosed or had not known themselves that they were experiencing a health risk. But the interviews of our wonderful guests also included a sense of hope. Not only did they share their pre-diagnosis troubles, but they told us of their success stories: whether it was finding the right healthcare professional, cutting out things from their diet and lifestyle or finding that they now had somebody they could text and laugh about the things they had once found embarrassing.

We must also mention a huge topic that kept listeners returning to The Poodcast and that was our Toilet Tales. Each of our episodes ends with a story from either ourselves or one of our listeners of a toilet mishap: these have ranged from loss of bowel control up Kilimanjaro, a medical marvel of a smear test or having ‘to go’ in front of a queue of people in a Sainsbury’s car park.

Whenever possible, sharing and laughing can help dismantle the stigma and shame for those with bowel and bladder conditions.

So now we have launched season two and are so excited to share with everyone what we’ve been cooking up. Season two includes topics of coeliac disease, being a performer with a disability, the science of poo and chronic illness in the workplace. Plus, our toilet tales are back in a big way and have kept us in hysterics. We’re also particularly excited to interview an employee of the amazing programme Irise, who are a company working to deconstruct period shame and poverty. We really hope you will come and join us for an episode soon, whether it be because you need some support, inspiration or a really good giggle. 

@the_poodcast can also be found on Instagram and Twitter.

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