Monthly Archives: March 2014

The curse of the busy and the superhuman

It has come to my attention that there is a little competition going on. We will have all noticed it, maybe you noticed it years ago or maybe there are just spurts of it and you notice it now and then. Maybe you’ve even taken part in this competition. But it’s a phenomenon, a curse of the modern day woman. It’s the art of being busy and superhuman and telling everyone about it. Not content with just going to work each day we must also have been up since 5, cleaning & preparing that night’s dinner, tend to the babies, work out, then come home and bake a cake and paint a wall, and all on the 4 hours’ sleep we managed to get. Social Media is of course to blame, before the days of the likes of Facebook & Twitter, we didn’t know what each other was up to, we were living in ignorant bliss that everyone else was also at home lazing on the sofa.

So ensues the ‘who is the busiest, competition’. Is it all entirely honest?  Probably not, are we trying to prove something? Maybe. Either way, I think it is definitely more of a modern day woman problem – after all, how many times have you seen a man post that he was up at 6 doing the housework before leaving for work? I’m not saying some men aren’t doing their fair share but they don’t feel the need to tell everyone, they are far too worried about the football scores. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve certainly been guilty of the odd ‘busy’ post or bragged about the fact I worked out, I’ve even posted the fact I’m up at 6 for the gym or work (albeit disguised as “yawn, too early” seems less like a boast somehow?!) why is this, do people really need to know this about me? Am I just feeling a need to prove I’m not, god forbid, actually in bed sleeping? Although I have never done the housework at 6am, I draw the line somewhere!  I also have honest posts where I talk about lazing on the sofa all day or doing nothing but watching TV in my pyjamas. In fact, some of my fondest memories are not of being BZ, ( I have abbreviated, I am too BZ to write it in full!) rushing around doing 16 hour days, they’re of times my sister and I went to a bar for a cup of tea and rolled out 6 hours later, several glasses of bubbly down, or of lazing on the sofa with mum eating Easter eggs and watching Ben Hur, or blissfully dozing off at 3 in the afternoon whilst a bit of diagnosis murder plays in the background! These are the things to brag about surely (yes, even Diagnosis Murder, I am not ashamed!)  The social media friends I love are the honest ones, I have one who makes no secret of her desire to nap (we’ve been friends since we were two, she’s never been any different!) and another one who talks about eating hob nobs in her pyjamas! Both these women are wonderful people, funny, kind, they have jobs and kids yet still find time for the pleasures.

These are the posts we should be embracing. I love these people! Imagine if we were competing against these people. So instead of “I’ve been up since 5….blah blah” followed by someone else trying to beat them, stating, “up at 4am, 10 mile run, made lunches, took kids to school, did a 28 hour day before coming home to cook dinner, lift weights and reeeelax (posted at 2am)…..wouldn’t it better if we saw “up at 8am, took kids to school, had a nap, ate 5 hobnobs, had another nap before picking up kids……” Followed by someone else posting (the competition is hotting up now) “had 12 hours sleep, bit annoyed as I normally get 14, ate two packets of custard creams, watched ‘this morning’ had a 3 hour nap’. That’s the sort of competition I could get involved in! Wouldn’t we all just feel better about ourselves if we were a bit more honest? Why have we got to be so busy anyway? And why, as women are we so hard on ourselves. I remember when I was ill, I was still firing on all cylinders, and it wasn’t until I got to hospital that I would give in to the rest. Now don’t get me wrong, I would never wish anyone be in hospital and nor would I wish for those times back, but I remember feeling it was the one time I could lay in bed all day watching TV without the overwhelming guilt of doing nothing. Why does it have to take a major illness or hospital admission for us to permit ourselves some rest time? Let’s just enjoy the restful moments, the quiet times and when a spare 15 minutes is offered up, how about napping instead of jobbing. And what intrigues me is that we are all soooo busy yet we manage to find time to let everyone know on social media!!

So I’m taking my own advice and I’m off to have a little nap and eat a biscuit, I may even partake in some Diagnosis Murder napping!

 

 

Little Miss Busy

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Fitness, always a pleasure!

It’s been over a week since my last blog, I never intended to go more than a week without posting but it’s been one VERY busy week! I am not complaining, it’s been ‘good’ busy but I have realised that maybe I should cut down on my Criminal Minds box set marathon and I may find more time! Still, we should all be able to enjoy guilt free TV marathons from time to time and be able to include these as part of our busy lifestyles. (I count mine as a hobby, that way at least I can say I have hobbies if i ever get asked).

So, I have mentioned that I am trying to discover fitness and am also training for the Bupa 10k run for my Charity (Beating Bowel Cancer) which is in 2 months (eek!). I say ‘discover’ fitness and I suppose what I mean by that is discover it for me. Due to my Ulcerative Colitis, exercise was never a priority nor something that my body could really cope with. At the time, I used to feel guilty for not exercising, but I can look back now and wonder why I gave myself such a hard time when my body was trying to cope with such major trauma. If it hasn’t been illness it’s been operation recovery (there were two major ops in 18 months, one of which was emergency) which has held me back. Just under a year ago I was able to start exercising again and with no looming operations & no illness I knew there was nothing stopping me. I won’t tell you all about my year of exercise, well not in one post anyway, (unless you wish to drop off to sleep quickly?) but in a nutshell, I joined a gym and also take classes. I desperately want to increase my core strength, as obviously, two major abdominal operations will weaken the area. Due to my stoma, I will always have a hole in my tummy which means that the area will always be weaker. Therefore, I am more prone to hernias, I definitely don’t want one of those so I wear a support belt, I don’t like wearing it but it is better than the possible alternative. But I can do all types of exercise, including core ones such as sit ups and planks, us ostomists can do everything non-ostomists can do, we just have to be a bit more aware and slightly more careful.

The last two Monday’s I have taken part in a Legs, Bums & tums class, I am hoping the leg part will help with my running training too. It is run by Fitness with Naomi, and it is a pretty friendly class, everyone seems nice and we have a bit of a giggle at our sometimes lack of co-ordination! During warm ups I feel like I am keeping up quite well yet somehow I feel like an excited 5 year old jumping about the dance floor at a family party – I just don’t feel elegant at all! Still, who cares what I look like – at least I’m doing it, albeit a bit ungainly. So the exercise and the running training continues on and I shall update you on my progress along the way (if you feel like donating you can here; http://www.justgiving.com/Sherrill-Hawker).

I haven’t just been watching Criminal Minds and being all ungainly in my fitness classes I have truly been busy. There was an overnight trip to Birmingham for work, I do love an overnight stay and a train journey. It may seem odd, but I quite like the ritual of it all and having a night to myself, and not having to suffer yet another football match is always a pleasure. I am an organised traveller, in fact I am the sort of person that means other people get to travel light as they know I will have all the necessities and more on my person – one never knows when a lime green highlighter and a currant bun will come in handy. The first time I stayed overnight anywhere after my op was 6 months after. In my previous job I had to go to Manchester for work, it was two nights stay and was probably the most nerve racking thing I had done in ages. But I packed enough spare stoma bags & supplies to last me a week and all was OK. Travelling with a stoma gets easier the more you do it, it’s just a case of increasing your confidence until it is totally natural again.

There has also been a work related presentation to a group of Stoma Nurses, a trip round Medway Hospital to meet some Colorectal Nurses and the obligatory weekend festivities, the continuing fitness classes & runs, oh and not forgetting a bit of time for some Criminal Minds along the way!

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It’s what I call fun

Such Fun

Thursday night I went to see Miranda Hart at the O2; I have waited 1 year and 1 month for this. (I am hoping that some of you reading this are Miranda fans too, or you may go in a minute!).  You see, Mike bought me the tickets for Valentine’s Day last year. Mike is a wonderful boyfriend (he’s reading, I may get a present for saying this!!) but he is not ‘outwardly romantic’, he shows his love in the things he does but is not one for grand gestures. This is fine by me (most of the time!) as sometimes it’s all mouth and no trousers as my Nan would say. Anyway, last Valentine’s day, he hid my card in the cutlery draw (I was bound to use it at some point) and then I was told my present was hidden. I searched all day until I finally had to give up, as said present was lurking behind the iron!!! The IRON??? I didn’t even used to own an iron, I pay someone to do my ironing, how would I ever have looked there?!?!?! Turns out it was tickets for Miranda, so Mike can be romantic after all! I am a huge fan of Miranda, I love her sitcom and her book, “Is it just me?” is hilarious. In fact, I think she is my role model. She is unashamedly, resolutely proud of who she is and makes no apologies for herself and I just love that. I remember reading her book on the train and I was laughing out loud,  I could relate to it so much. If you haven’t read it, go and do so.  I could write a whole blog on her book and what I could relate to, but I won’t – it would take too long! But I will say that when I had finished reading it, not only did it inspire me to do a forward roll (you’ll do one too if you read it), I felt like it was better than any self-help book you could ever read, it isn’t a self-help book, but somehow it made me feel ‘normal’ and that life is there to be enjoyed.  Miranda also got me through some tough times. Many a Friday night in a hospital bed or ill at home and I would watch Miranda on TV and be instantly cheered. I remember after my op, my fabulous Mum, moved in with me as I was so weak and needed so much help, but we watched a lot of TV. There was one episode that made us hysterical with laughter, not good when your tummy has been slashed just one week earlier but great for feeling mentally better! We kept rewinding the part that made us laugh so much, even though it hurt to laugh, it was too funny to stop watching!

Anyway, I digress (clearly a Miranda fan!). Pre-stoma and with my UC illness, a trip to somewhere like the O2 would have been horrific, in fact I tried to avoid those sort of situations, but now, it is really easy. I know I am travelling and going to a venue so I eat light and foods that won’t make the stoma too active (you learn what works and what doesn’t for your body over time) and take a couple of Loperamide. Loperamide is basically Immodium, it slows the small intestine down and the idea is that I am not ’emptying’ too often. The small intestine works all the time, it’s not like when you have the large intestine and you go to the toilet maybe once a day, it constantly works, there are periods where it is inactive but you don’t always know when this will be. But, like anything, you get used to it. So a trip to somewhere like the O2 is now a good experience. Well aside from suffering from Vertigo – how high is that place!!

The night was “what I call fun” and a really great present, Mike was even sweet enough to get aisle seats for us. When I was ill I couldn’t sit mid-row, what if I had to get up suddenly to run to the loo? But even now I am, “what I call better” in my head I am still the girl that needs an aisle seat! Something’s just never leave you.

I was going to write this blog yesterday, I was planning on being very efficient. I had the day off work so I had decided I would get up and got to a class at the Gym which is at 7 am, then I would get home, shower, breakfast and still have the whole day ahead of me, smug in the knowledge I had already been up and exercised. I would write my blog in the morning and then efficiently go about my day. The reality was that after too many glasses of wine at the O2, I was feeling a little worse for wear, so I lounged in bed watching crappy, American sitcoms until about midday, when I finally surfaced, took a couple of Alka Seltzer ‘just in case’ and then ventured out to meet my mum and sis for lunch before returning home for more lounging! One day, I will be that person that just has a small glass of wine, gets up early and gets lots done, but until then, I will just continue to lounge thinking what I would do if I was that woman!! 

Weekend boozing and a Monday run

I have to start by saying I was completely overwhelmed by the response to my first blog. So many people shared it and there were so many lovely and supportive comments. It really means a lot and I do hope people continue to gain something positive from my posts.

Back to the present day and it has been a busy weekend, a good one but a busy one. When I was ill with Ulcerative Colitis (UC) busy weekends would fill me with dread, I enjoyed being social but the thought of leaving the safety of my own home and the privacy of my own toilet would just send me into panic mode. It didn’t stop me having a social life, I wouldn’t let it, but secretly I would much rather have been curled up in bed, near my toilet and with a concoction of pain killers than out. Fast forward to the present day and having a social life is what it should be, fun, something to look forward to and one of life’s pleasures.

Friday night we were round some friends to plan a future Come Dine With Me style competition, which also involves my sister and her boyfriend (plenty of room for some healthy sibling rivalry!).  Saturday we were round some other friends for what was a very sophisticated dinner party. I may, however, have made it somewhat less sophisticated by consuming far too much champers! I have been wondering at what point, I grew up enough to take part in such civilized evenings – I don’t feel like I’m ‘there’ yet. Still it’s better than a couple of weeks ago when I was on a girl’s night out, and I left at 10pm because I was too drunk – we had only just got to the bar!

So although I have a stoma, I am still able to drink and eat and go to dinner parties. In fact, all of that is easier now. We are told when we first get our Stomas to be careful about what we eat and drink and fizzy drinks in particular aren’t great because they can cause the bag to blow up because of excess gas (who said champagne was glamorous?!). However, I will not stop drinking my bubbles and actually find them no problem. I generally eat what I like too, but more of that in future posts. Socialising is much easier now too, as I don’t have to leave halfway through a conversation to spend 30 minutes in the toilet!

So, I mentioned running in my title, now I am not a natural runner, I don’t even like it that much, it’s hard! But, I decided that I needed to challenge myself, you see I have never been able to do this, so I have no idea just what my body can achieve. I have always been too unwell or recovering from operations. As I work for a charity it seemed an ideal time to do something to raise money for them. So Mike and I have entered into the Bupa 10K for Beating Bowel Cancer. It is not until May 25, so I have plenty of training time. So I had a little lunchtime run today of 5K. I am managing 7 minutes per km, so I am quite pleased with that for now. But I often feel like a slow runner, and by slow I mean, I am sure the person walking behind me will soon overtake me! I went for a run with Mike last year, it was just 2 miles, but we got back to the house, I was red, sweaty and puffed out, and Mike announced that he was “going for a run now”. Yep, definitely not a natural runner, but I am determined to give it a go.

If you feel like sponsoring me then you can http://www.justgiving.com/Sherrill-Hawker or just keep following my blog and see me as I struggle to get up to 10K!

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Hello World!

This is my first Blog – ever! I have said for ages now that I would do one, but somehow just never got around to it. So it’s now or never.
What am I blogging about? Well a variety of topics, but mainly, life with an Ostomy. I will talk about everything from drinking champagne to getting fit, so it won’t revolve entirely around my Ostomy but will show how life goes on.
So what is an Ostomy? I will go into more detail as the posts go on but basically an Ostomy is “an artificial opening in an organ of the body, created during an operation such as a colostomy, ileostomy, or gastrostomy; a stoma.” For me, I have an Ileostomy, which is where my small intestine has been brought through my stomach and the waste from it is collected in a stoma bag. Stoma comes from the Greek word for opening or mouth. It looks sore but actually has no nerve endings so is painless.
There are around 100,000 people in the UK currently living with a stoma, it is relatively uncommon yet there are more of us than you would realise.
I have mine as I has Ulcerative Colitis (UC). UC is a condition for which there is no cure and is a debilitating bowel disease. Sometimes it can be kept under control with medication but in my case, after years of suffering, there was no other choice but to remove my large bowel as it was perforating and therefore life threatening. I will elaborate on my story in later posts but for now will keep it brief and simple.
So in August 2011 I awoke after emergency surgery to discover that I had  stoma and bag attached to me and so my journey began. I intended to start blogging then, as I could talk about my recovery and my acceptance, but as I say I never got around to it!
I am writing this blog as I want to help others who may be facing their own bowel surgery journey and are worried about what will happen to them or for those that live with a bag and struggle with it. But it is also to try and break down some of the taboos and stigma attached to stomas & bags and let people know that it is nothing to be ashamed of and nor does it mean your life will stop. I hope that I can inspire and help people.
I won’t just be blogging about the stoma but life in general, for example, my love of champagne and my road to fitness. I will be honest & it will all be my own word and will be from the heart. I don’t claim to be a writer or a comedienne but I hope there will be humour and fun along the way. Hopefully, even those without a stoma can relate to some of my posts and those facing or living with a stoma will take inspiration.
There is also another reason for me starting this blog, I work for a marvelous Bowel Cancer Charity, called Beating Bowel Cancer. I only started there last year, but it has really inspired me. I recently ‘came out’ by doing a presentation to the staff about living with a stoma, so now everyone knows there really is no excuse!
So that’s me and my blog in a nutshell and now I have given you some history I look forward to telling some more stories!Lace dress