I am a 40 something woman, with a love of champagne and Chanel and a lover of the gym! I had Ulcerative Colitis for many years before having emergency surgery to lose my large bowel but save my life., almost 10 years ago now. I want to give hope and inspiration to others who may be facing bowel surgery but also hope everyone else will enjoy my updates. I am just trying to navigate my way through life, with an honest and positive outlook and show that life doesn't stop just because you have a stoma. I hope you enjoy that journey with me.
To the gym that is! Thanks to a friend who invited me to go with her, I dragged my sorry arse out my house and into the pit of exercise and weight lifting. It’s been a while, I had no idea what my stamina levels or fitness would be, but it actually turned out to be ok. I mean yes I almost collapsed a couple of times but I survived, I took it easy, didn’t lift too heavy but the best thing is that I remembered how much I loved it.
It’s really got me back into the zone, I mean tonight, I was contemplating a takeaway then realised it was quicker, cheaper and healthier to knock something up myself so that’s what I did, I think maybe I am turning a corner 😉 My one day of eating healthy and exercising has made me remember how happy it makes me lol!
I have even bravely said I will cook for ‘Jump the Queue’ guy tomorrow, which is terrifying ha ha but despite my lack of love for cooking I’m actually pretty good 😉 Talking of him, I released a photo of us together, I figured it was about time, he deserved to be shown off.
Right now, I feel like I have this group of women being my cheerleaders, telling me ‘you got this’ and wanting to see me do well and it is the best feeling. The woman I went to the gym with, said I was in my ‘bitch cave’ living my best life and I just love that – ‘bitch cave’ hell yeah it is!! But I am seeing support from women I haven’t seen in a long time and I think that it is because I am genuinely radiating happiness and contentment. So to all those women, thank you!
Can you believe it has been 10 months since my life was so unconceivably altered and everything I knew was snatched away from me? It’s incredible how time passes and you get through it all. I mean, this time one year ago, I had no idea what was to come…..
But, I am finally in a place where I want to be, the life I had craved for so long, I am finally building and I have a sense of freedom that is quite frankly, liberating.
It has been a roller coaster to get here (and I am sure there will still be some bumps), grief is not linear, I didn’t process my grief in the beginning, it comes in waves, something will hit me, and I’ll feel it all over again. We can’t all just deal with it in a neat little 4 week period and then tuck it away in a compartment never to be dealt with again. It’s healthy to work through your feelings, however long that takes, to feel everything, no matter how hard, as when you come through, you come through a better and more healed person, open to so much more that life has to offer.
I had got quite insular in my past life, and rigid and restrictive and right now it is nice to live without constraints. I have been having the best time lately, making new friends, socialising more, working on my holiday business (https://www.instagram.com/champagnetravellifestyle/), blogging, I have my full time job, my family, ‘Jump the Queue Guy’ and of course Ms Binky Zazzles. I would like to add the gym is in there somewhere but that seems to have not happened yet!
The newer friends are people I have known a long time but haven’t actually been ‘out’ with, it has been really lovely and I have been having a great time, plus there are the established friendships. It feels so good to be getting out there. I think I have laughed more in the last two weeks than I have for ages. I know I am dating, but I feel that when we are thrust into the single world, we should be on the hunt for friends not romantic partners!
It is still going well with Jump the Queue guy and now we can go out and about we have had a few dates which has been so good. Plus, I am super excited as we actually have a few days leave together next week, our schedules are opposite so we haven’t had a whole day off together for so long! We just laugh all the time, we talk all sorts of rubbish, but just have fun and oh my paws (as binky would say) it is good to have fun. He is also very emotionally supportive, he understands my need to grieve sometimes and empathises with that. He also has my back which means a lot. We are in a really great place, and can you believe it’s been 6 months, (I only went on Tinder through boredom and for an ego boost, not to have my waistline increase because he’s a top-notch chef 😉).
But my biggest epiphany I guess was the realisation that I have absolutely no pressure for anything. I am happy living alone, I love my house, I am financially independent and working to enhance that. I don’t need to stay in a mediocre relationship because it’s better than being alone, or it’s ‘last chance saloon’, I can hop, skip and jump away, knowing I had a great time. (It’s ok JTQG is safe for now 😉!)
So, life is definitely on the up, up, up and I am finally heading towards the life I had dreamt for myself. I have said this before, and I won’t lie, but if it will be a huge hurdle to climb, change isn’t easy, it won’t be a breeze and sometimes it feels easier to stay stuck – but get your boots out the mud and march on – it will eventually be worth it.
Up pops a Facebook ‘memory’ from one or two years ago. Picture of me in gym gear, or my apple watch stats, or some healthy plate of food with a caption – something along the lines of….’up at 5am, fasted cardio, great weights session, followed by healthy breakfast, all before 8am’. I would like to punch past me in the face and if you have felt a little like slapping smug Sherrill then I get it now!
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be healthy, to work out, to have goals, but why did I need to plaster it everywhere (clearly to show how smug I was 😉) as it’s only coming back to bite me on the bum….
Right now, I am what I call, Feral Sherrill, as since living alone, I have almost gone the other way. I have lost my mojo and motivation for exercise, a healthy food regime and a semblance of routine. At first, I gave myself a break, time to enjoy the freedom, but it’s 6 months later and I am still living like a 25-year-old. I can’t be arsed to cook, I don’t want to get up early, I can’t face exercise….Some days I have a sandwich for dinner, some times a takeaway, every now and then I eat a vegetable. Every week I tell myself it is going to change and yet here we are.
I am of course ‘finding myself’ again, determining who I really am and who I want to be. I had got myself into a place of rigidity, strict routine and heaviness that I forgot life was also to be enjoyed. I mean just the fact I had no idea what ‘real food’ tasted like anymore, shows just how many years I had become accustomed to substitutes and really healthy food – chicken sausages and protein cheese anyone? (Jump the Queue Guy, unsurprisingly, refuses it).
I am slowly, slowly finding my balance and I am sure it will all come, lots of people feel they too have lost their mojo, this pandemic has so much to answer for. I will get back to the gym and will find a (less restrictive) routine and will eat more than one vegetable a week, but these things take time and I am trying not to be harsh on myself.
When I do eventually make it through to the slightly less feral side then I vow to not keep posting smug posts but just enjoy it without the need to tell everyone, I am hoping I will find that elusive ‘balance’ but for now I am going to make the most of being ‘Feral Sherrill’ because quite frankly it is fun!
Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t, I don’t think it is cut and dried. I think someone can be the love of your life but you’re not with them, for whatever reason.
A couple of years ago I went to the cinema to see ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ when it came out, in the film Freddie sang ‘Love of my Life’, I don’t recall having heard the song before then, but when I heard that sweet melody, it made me cry. It doesn’t take much to make me cry at the best of times, so a sentimental song is bound to set me off. (I cry at the Dumbo song, I told you, it takes very little 😉)
A couple of years later, I had the most harrowing of break ups (read my previous blogs for that intel!) and it was, naturally hard, there have been so many grieving processes. But a few weeks ago, I was feeling really low (this will eventually pass but there are a lot of lows I have to process but I do also get a lot of highs), my ex was over and it came up in convo that I had watched BOHO and the song ‘Love of my Life’ came on and set me off and he said ‘oh, yeah I get it’ (as in he got why that got me, which just made me sad again – why? Because after a decade you know a person).
And it made me think, can someone, not in your life, be the love of your life? Maybe you’re not right for each other anymore and it is right you are not together but can they always be the love of your life? Or more importantly, can they have been a really important and special part of your life (not the love of) that can live on in your memories. If you are lucky, as I am, that person can remain in your life as someone special and you can carry those memories with you.
You need to know that you can go on to have other important and special relationships that mean something, be it fun, serious, romantic, a mix… You don’t have to define it, it just has to feel good and right in the moment. Just don’t try to fill a gap or a void, you know, your relationship ended, the house feels empty, so you get someone who can make you feel a little like you used to…. Don’t do that, it’s not healthy for either of you.
This is in no way a ‘I’m not over my ex’ post, far from it, it is knowing you can have this myriad of feelings, even 10 months down the line and it is ok, anything can trigger it, it has been a decade of togetherness that I need to process (alongside the total upheaval of my life as I knew it). If you are in a similar situation, know it is normal and ok.
I think the love of your life should be YOU (and in my case, my sister 😉). Don’t confuse utter fondness/love/desire for a soulmate. If you’ve got that, great, but you can have all those things with more than one person.
Make YOU the centre of your world, make YOU the love of your life, rely on YOU.
So, now things have opened up, myself and Jump the Queue Guy (JTQG) went on ‘our first official date’. I mentioned in a previous blog how the pandemic has caused us to ‘date in reverse’ and I will admit to being apprehensive about dating after lockdown, would it be too comfortable, would the excitement not be there, would you feel ‘too domesticated’ too early? One of the fun parts about dating (under non-lockdown circumstances) is the unknown, the flutters, the nerves, wondering if you’ll get to a second date, it’s all part of it. But when you’ve been seeing someone for a few months, you are already comfortable, so what happens when you finally date?
JTQG and I have been in some sort of a ‘ship (call it what you will) since January, so we are now at a stage where we are really comfortable with each other, so I was always dubious if we (or indeed others in similar situations) would actually bother with the dating stage. I mean, would you both enter into ‘not necessary’ mode and click a takeaway app or would you want to go out in the big, wide, scary world? So it was really nice one evening, when he told me he had booked us a meal for 6pm on Tuesday and not to make other plans. The advantage of dating a chef (ooh, have I mentioned his profession before?!) is that they know the good places to eat and want to eat at them. So, we both wore nice clothes, did our hair, I put a bit of extra make up on and even wore a (shock, horror) heeled boot (actually I wore 2, one on each foot) and off we went. He also organised the taxi and when we got there, we chose what we wanted but he took control of the ordering and wine choice (however, I still felt my needs and wants were taken into consideration but I basically just had to turn up), so it already felt really nice.
I know the above seems a bit basic – ‘whaaaattt he booked it all?!?!’, but, how many times as a female, have you found yourself doing the booking, the ordering, the choosing, because if you don’t it won’t happen? Being the grateful person that I am, I asked if we could delay (covid anxiety and all that..) but it was booked up for a month so he just wanted to get us in, and well, quite frankly, I liked that decisiveness! (BTW it was all perfectly safe and covid compliant, he took that into consideration, knowing my anxiety – aww).
We ate tapas, drank wine, had good conversation and then went for some cocktails after (not a good idea on a school night but hey ho, here we are). After the meal, it did feel a bit strange not to be in our PJ’s, but we were determined to power through and we made it (just).
Here is the thing, it felt just the right amount of perfect, we were comfortable enough with each other to just be ourselves and relax, there were no awkward ‘so…..what music do you like’ moments and nor were there the ‘please don’t let me spill my food’ prayers, but equally, it was still exciting, it felt new and fresh and we could just have fun and laughed a lot! Now, I cannot tell if you if he came in for coffee or not, after all it was just our first date, so you will have to keep reading if you want to find out… ;_)
I can, and when I look there are minimal differences, like in those really annoying spot the difference puzzles! But, I can pick holes in both. This isn’t just about the aesthetic (I am fully aware I have privilege when it comes to ‘how a body should look’ and this is not about a cry for compliments), I can see it emotionally. TBF, figure wise, I prefer me, on the right, (probably because I conform more to societies standards of how ‘women should look’) but – oh boy, is that shit hard, it’s getting up at 5am, it’s lifting heavy, it’s coming home to a protein shake and eggs on toast, it’s then planning meticulously the food for the day….protein sausages, veg, snack on cucumber and protein cheese and so on. I am not saying there is anything particularly wrong with that but it’s when it becomes disordered it becomes a problem. Especially when you just want to faceplant a croissant (which interestingly has less calories than a bacon sandwich, but at least there is protein in the bacon 😉!)
Right now, I love my life, but I am in a place where I am struggling to get back into exercise, have put on a few pounds (which for me is very difficult to deal with), can’t seem to get back into a healthy routine and I don’t know if that’s lock down fever, happiness of breaking free, the pleasure of ‘Jump the Queue guy’ or just a general ennui.
I mean, I love eating real food and remembering what that tastes like (I haven’t decided if I should be happy or annoyed with Jump the Queue guy?!) but I do also like to be healthy, only so I can give myself the best chance at life. But, as we all know, it’s balance, and I am not someone that does balance. But are any of us, really? Now, at the risk of sounding smug, I can have chocolate/sweets/biscuits etc. in my house and they will be there for months BUT put some wine in the fridge (not so smug now) and that baby will be gone in seconds.. wine is my weak spot in life!
It’s cliché, but I think I am just trying to discover who I am at the moment. I was always ill with my Ulcerative Colitis, then hospital, then operations, then I got better but had to live with a stoma bag, then a second op to sew up my bum (please ask any questions, I am not shy about answering!), then I just wanted some drama free years, I in no way regret my relationship but I am only now getting to know me and myself with the bag and what that means. Am I a 6 day a week gym going Sherrill, am I lazing on the sofa, eating pizza, drinking wine Sherrill or somewhere in-between? I have no idea at the moment, all I know is that I need to delete the food delivery apps and perhaps sign up to a greengrocer app or something? Or maybe just take my lazy arse out for a walk, but I shall keep you posted! 😉
So as a single being (sort of lol. Jump the queue Guy is still very much in the picture!) I want to increase my social circle. Admittedly, this is something I will openly admit to being really bad at, no matter what my circumstance.
My absolute best friend Lisa and I have a typical ‘best friend’ relationship, don’t speak for months, but if you need each other, you are there in a heart beat, or, you don’t speak for months but when you get together nothing has changed. (She has cleaned my teeth for me when I was too ill to do it myself and in childhood, always wore the green nightie from the dress up box as I insisted on wearing the red one – that my friends is true love!!).
But over the last couple of years, I realised I had started to become insular and made less effort to make friends. My job entails me working from home, so I don’t even get ‘office banter’. I have been really lucky that my work colleagues are more friends (and I have said before) have helped me through these last few months, but we don’t live near each other so I can’t just pop to a garden for coffee.
I 100% wish my work peoples lived nearby as I know we would have an amazing group, but we don’t so hey ho! I didn’t go to uni, so don’t have those ‘life long friends’, I was bullied at school, so fuck keeping in touch with the wrong people (although I am in touch with some school friends, Laura Jones by far the best!) and I haven’t had kids so no school mum friends. Also, working from home makes it hard to meet people, although I have a very good relationship with the characters from Grey’s anatomy and the Chicago trilogy!!
So I am doggedly determined to meet new people and form new friendships. There is no Tinder for ‘friends’ (and why not??) so how, in this day and age do you meet people? But, have you ever asked out a woman (platonically) and been ghosted or kept on hold so to speak and it is sooooo much worse than if a man does it. Why? I am not sure but I am nothing if not persistent and I will keep exploring options. But, whilst I appreciate I need to make an effort, I will not be rejected more than once, for any sex, so I will keep you updated on my quest to find female friends! Finding men is easy, but finding your ‘crew’ is not easy but in the end so worth it! 😊
My last blog I spoke about the adoption of a cat, so what’s happened since I can hear you cry!
So ‘jump the queue guy’ is still very much in the picture, the meals he cooks me are epic, he even makes extra for the family and my ex (is it weird that my new squeeze makes food for my ex and his new GF?!). I mean neither of us think so, we are all benefitting ha ha.
I have said before, the ex and I have a great relationship which is really fab. It’s nice we are still in each other’s lives in such a lovely way and I always appreciate that as it can be really hard to have a good relationship after a breakup.
I am also working on my holiday business which I love so much, I have my Greek that I continue to learn (plus my fellow Greek group friends), my blog, my family and I am making much more of an effort to be with friends (albeit, facetime, walks or social distancing coffees). I still need to work on this bit as I tend to get a bit lazy but it’s so important to me to do this and expand my horizons.
I do still have emotional days, it’s been 8 months since the breakup, but I avoided processing anything for a good few months, so, yes, it’s going to hit me here and there, it’s fine, it’s all part of the process. In fact, a couple of weekends ago I spent the whole weekend crying. It started with an episode of ‘The Good Doctor’ and ended with a ‘Star is Born’ (if you are feeling emotional, then go all out and watch something that makes you cry until you can’t breathe!).
So, ‘Jump the Queue guy’ phoned me on an emotional night, he wasn’t feeling well, but here is the lovely thing, he listened to my woes, didn’t try to take over the convo (in that competition type way!!) gave me loads of reassuring words and I came off the phone laughing and feeling better. He didn’t even try to do the ‘man logic thing’ of trying to solve the problem, he actually listened! So not only can he cook, but he also listens. I guess what I am trying to say is that he is patient and understanding, it’s refreshing.
As you know, I also have Binky Zazzles, she is now venturing outside like a brave little solder, first time she went out I was having many panic moments, but she comes home, so we’re ok! We have completely bonded and are incredibly happy! She is definitely my cat soul mate!
So my update is this, life is really bloody good, I am so happy, I am doing so much that I avoided before, I have everything I want/need, yes I have emotional/grieving days, it’s natural, but they will get less but on the whole life is good.
If you want to change something in your life, whatever that is, it is going to be soooooo hard and that is probably what is stopping you making the change, but nothing worth having is easy. It will be hard but you will come through it – it is so worth it! So, if you are thinking about – just do it, the other good side is waiting for you! 😉
For those that have followed my (very varied!) journey will know how much I miss my cats, or ‘the babies’ as we referred to them. Now, bear in mind there would be no cats if it was not for me (long story), but the ex is very caring and loves them as much as I do that it made sense for him to have custody (fyi, their birth certificates are in my name 😉!). But I don’t need to worry about them as I know they are in great hands and I get visitation rights 😉. Of course, leaving them broke my heart, it still does, but knowing they are well looked after helps.
Anyway, I moved into my new house, got it all redecorated and refurbished, it’s pristine, beautiful and just so, so lovely. I was adamant I would not get a cat, I mean, I have paid a lot of money for new carpets, furniture, etc. I need a while before a cat comes and scratches it all……
I love living alone, I forgot how nice it was, how I sleep so neatly my bed covers barely move, housework takes 45 mins because there is hardly anything to clean, I only remember to put a wash on because I have run out of socks….but it feels a little empty. I remember renting many years ago and being desperate for a cat but couldn’t get one (due to said renting) but knew it would be fab to have a little furry purrer! Fast forward to meeting the ex and we had an adopted cat (you know, the neighbourhood one that touts its paws around town!) then we got kittens (aka ‘the babies’, still known to this day as the babies even though they are 7!).
Then, there I am, minding my own business when a friend messaged me on Facebook asking if I would consider rehoming her cat as she was moving and couldn’t take her, she wanted to know she would go to a loving home and thought of me! I asked for a couple of days to think about it, but within the hour I just said yes (I mean, I could have pretended to think for a day or two, but we all know I was going to say yes!).
So up turns Binky, the most gorgeous, sweet little thing, (there were tears on the doorstep from myself and owner, my god is that hard but she also gets visitation rights 😉!). She is doing very well and is super confident already. (The cat, not previous owner!).
I have given her a middle name, ‘Zazzles’…. Why you ask? Well, myself and ‘jump the queue guy’ as I have mentioned, love The Big Bang Theory, there was an episode where Sheldon adopted loads of cats (he couldn’t understand he was feeling emotion so replaced his feelings with cats!) and they were all named after scientists, except one cat he names Zazzles because ‘she’s so zazzy’, well for some reason that tickled us so much and I said, if I get a pet I am calling it zazzles, so it was just apt that Binky got a middle name!
My fab work colleagues have heard all about the cat and they all refer to her as Zazzles which makes me laugh and is very apt! None of them were surprised that I adopted one either! Also, Binky Zazzles and Jump the queue guy have bonded which is a good sign and he really likes her lol.
So, I feel life is complete, new home, new start and now a cat which is my purrfect (sorry!) match as she is very chatty, needs attention and likes the mirror – sound like anyone you know?! 😊
There is a story circulating on social media (I will not link to it as I don’t think it is healthy to bring your attention to it, especially if you are facing/new to a stoma) about a woman who hates it as she experiences so many leaks and bag changes per day.
This is not the norm – it is a daily newspaper looking for headlines, for shocking stories, for making ‘disabilities’ appear so horrific we could not possibly cope if it happened to us. I would like to say with stomas, this is not the norm, you have options, different bag choices, stoma nurses to speak to, adhesive bands and removers, this woman’s problem seems predominantly to be a an adhesive one. I hope she can get it sorted, find a product that works for her, but I would just like to say it IS UNUSUAL.
Most of us with bags, don’t want them, (obviously) but find something that works and generally deal with them. Yes, there can be leaks and inconvenient moments, but on the whole you deal with it, move on and realise it happened because of an anomaly.
To roll out headlines about how horrific it is, just isn’t helpful. When I faced mine, it was almost 10 years ago (wow, where did that go!!), I knew so little about it, there was no social media about it and I genuinely thought I was dealing with the most horrific thing known to man, I thought I would be wheeling that baby about on one of those drip poles for the rest of my life!!
If I had known it wouldn’t be like that, that I could still wear the clothes I like, have sex, date, swim, wear cropped tops, lift weights, run (pushing it now…!) then I may have considered it before it was life threatening. I might not have been so ill, so near death, may have been saved from blood transfusions, life or death surgeries and many, many medications, then, I may well have considered it. (we’ll never know, I was never given the choice).
I have said before, nobody wants a bag, we don’t, if we could do anything but not have one we would. I miss some things about not having one (mainly my ability to eat sweetcorn and that’s about the only thing that springs to mind 😉!). Look, of course, there are things that change, but doesn’t life change anyway? Things happen to us that change us. Yet we adapt. I miss certain stuff, but, if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s we can bloody well accept a change in life!
I have also said this so many times, but if a person you are dating can’t accept it, move on, if they are struggling to deal with it, chat to them, have an open conversation about how you can both accept it and move on (but always, always get rid it they use it to make you feel less then you are, have they been through what you have – no – so hello and goodbye!!).
But if we look at stoma’s (still in 2021 AND in a pandemic) then what hope does that give to people maybe facing a stoma or just living with one. And it is not just an ‘old person thing’ it really can happen at any age. Mainly due to debilitating bowel conditions (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, which usually happen in teenage/early twenty years as well as bowel cancer, to name a few)
It’s so hard to be out and proud with a stoma, but here I am, nearly 10 years down the road, I refuse to not walk around naked in front of someone, I refuse to cover it up, I refuse to not wear a ‘normal bikini’, I refuse to be silent about it, I refuse to try and ignore the sounds it likes to make, I refuse that someone won’t be intimate with me or not like me because of it.
Ok, it’s not all plain sailing, but we all have stuff that isn’t ‘plain sailing’, so can we stop with the sensationalist headlines and give people confidence that they will live a good life, they will find a ‘bag fit’ and facing a stoma really isn’t the worst thing it can be.
Surely, I am proof of that – I mean if you haven’t read my other blogs or followed me on social media (then why?!?!) then you will see just how much can be achieved and I beg you, do it, live your best life, don’t let that fashionable little accessory stop you 😉