Category Archives: Money

Then and now…..

Today is the 4th anniversary of my stoma and of course it’s a day I will never forget so I think it is appropriate to mark the occasion. It was the day that would change my life for ever

Sometimes, the truth of it is that having a stoma does get me down now and then. It is hard for friends and family to understand (as great and supportive as they are) as they just see me as being healthy now and that is all that matters. But, despite the positives, having a stoma is bound to have an effect on how you feel, your body image and the problems that can come with it. But, rather than talk about being down, I figured why not compare my life to pre-bag and post-bag and see the difference?

Now, I am not saying that some of the things I have now I wouldn’t have had anyway, but a major life change can cause you to reassess your life and for things to change in ways you never though possible! So here goes…..

Pre_bag (during my Ulcerative Colitis days and before 2011)

  • I had an incredibly stressful job that took up a lot of my time, didn’t allow for me to look after myself physically or mentally and I worked a lot of hours.
  • I was unfit, exercising was off the table when one wrong move could cause me to poo myself, plus the general exhaustion from being unwell made it difficult.
  • I ate what I was able to not what was necessarily healthy.
  • I was on a concoction of strong medication, painkillers and was self-administering twice daily enemas (how glamorous!).
  • Relationships were tricky and let’s just say I didn’t always make the best choice, so I was either single or in a not so great romantic liaison.
  • Travelling/going to social occasions (e.g. concerts) was a minefield and far too stressful due to the constant worry of an accessible toilet.
  • I lived in a rented flat
  • I drove an old car
  • I didn’t have pets
  • I hadn’t been on a holiday since 2009 and didn’t have many weekends/days away

Fast forward to post-bag (and after 2011) and this is what I have

(A few pics of me now)

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  • A job that I love, where I work from home and travel around the South East, I get the best of both worlds, there is a good work/life balance and because it’s a bowel cancer charity I can offer my experiences as well as fight for a very worthy cause.
  • I am so much fitter than I have ever been. This year I have managed to run a sub 60 minute 10k and a sub 30 minute 5k, plus I have been lifting weights since January and the amount I can lift has increased. Working out has become a part of my daily life and I feel so much better for it (my body has had some nice changes too – bonus!).
  • I eat whatever I want to, but am choosing to eat healthily and I have never felt so good, with so much energy. In fact, I never thought I would see the day, but I have almost gone off pizza, unfortunately the same can’t be said for my wine habit 😉
  • I don’t take any medication at all, apart from the odd Alka Seltzer after a night out ;). Or the occasional ibuprofen for normal niggles.
  • I have an amazing boyfriend, we had only been on a handful dates when I was taken into hospital, but he stuck around and 4 years later we are still together. We have a lot of fun, respect each other, make time for each other, he looks after me and I look after him and it is a GREAT relationship.
  • I have had holidays (yay) and weekends away, spa days/weekends, concerts, theatres, parties, girlie holidays, day trips and so on and I couldn’t be more appreciative. In fact I am off on holiday next week and I can’t wait.
  • I now live in a house with my boyfriend Mike and we have another property we rent out.
  • I have a nice new car.
  • I have two very cute and very mischievous kitties.

Of course my wonderful friends and family haven’t changed and have been there through it all which I am most grateful for.

So, it really helps to look at all the good stuff and what I have been able to achieve, things that once were so difficult or seemed impossible are now just part of my life. If you are going through a hard time or having to face something difficult, just remember, as much as life can change for the worse in a blink of an eye it can always change for the better just as quickly.

So, happy anniversary to me and the stoma that not only gave my life back but improved it too.

 

Cheers!

Life change

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An honest account of a woman without children

I decided to write this as my sister tagged me in a great post today about celebrity women who don’t have children and their ‘quotes’ about the situation. (Read it here Here). It got me thinking, I have touched on this before but it is a subject that never really goes away. So I thought I would write about my situation.
I don’t have children, I never wanted them either, I was quite sure about that decision  but I definitely felt a pressure from society to have them. It’s as though my desire to stay child free means I am lacking in someway as a woman. By the time I hit my 30’s I was so god damn Ill with the bloody ulcerative colitis that children were the last thing on my mind. I remember a surgeon worrying about sending me for yet another X-ray as the radiation can affect fertility and I told him not to worry I had been through enough pain I wouldn’t be having a child!!!  
Of course health became more important, better to live a life without children and be healthy than constantly ill (or dead) but with a brood of toddlers. The operations I have had can affect fertility, and in particular the 2nd operation to make my stoma permanent (they remove the rectum completely), they prefer to do after you’ve had your children. But I didn’t have the choice to wait until I had or hadn’t completed my family, I needed the op. My surgeon did say everything looked perfect down there (I’d expect nothing less) but until the point comes of trying for a baby I won’t know if my fertility has been affected or not. 
I am now in a great relationship and who knows whether children will become part of our lives (through choice or not) but I do know the only pressure I feel is that of society. I am 36 so I think that means I only have 3 eggs left, I’ll be an older mum, I don’t want to regret not having them, they give you so much joy and pleasure etc. etc. 
I love that women are becoming more honest about what hard work children are, but of course that’s really scary for us in the undecided camp. Yes everyone says the rewards outweigh the not so good, but do they?? I love sleep, more than anything, I’m not sure I will ever ‘get used’ to 3 hours a night or being jumped in in the morning at 7am, or having to do stuff when I just want to watch tv. 
I like only having to worry about sorting out myself and I won’t apologise for the fact even if it sounds selfish. I like leaving the house when I want, going out for dinner, spending my money on me, having my hair and nails done and taking spa days and holidays. 
Of course there are times when my heart breaks a little at the fact I don’t have children. I see the cute little chubby babies and my heart melts, I see parents talking about the bond, the love they feel & the great times they have with their children. My heart breaks a little when I see the relationship my sister has with her daughter, they are really close and have a kind of secret language & special bond, the sort my sister and I used to have, that’s slowly being taken over by her own daughter. My heart breaks a little when I see all the mums so pleased with their little homemade gifts and cards on Mother’s Day. Yes to be child free has so far been my choice but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt sometimes or tug at my heart strings when I wonder if it’s something I’ll have (or want). Maybe if illness & operations hadn’t got in the way, life would be different, but those things did happen so now I have to deal with it. 
I am also a little obsessed with ‘one more holiday’ before children (apparently you can still go on holiday with children but I’m not sure it’s ok to drink from midday to midnight if you do!). I’m not sure I’ll ever have enough adult holidays!! 
Both my partner and I are very nurturing, we look after each other really well and we have our two little fur babies who we love dearly, but as they are young cats, we can leave them while we go out/go away, I’m not sure that’s acceptable when you have children!
So, my reasons for not having children aren’t cut and dried, just because I haven’t had the longing doesn’t mean I don’t get the heart tug, and just because I love living my life as it is it doesn’t mean I am missing out by not having mini me’s (although how can I deprive this world of another me!!). Some women just don’t have children and that is ok, whatever their reason may be, just please don’t ask every childless woman when she’ll be having babies, it’s not always that simple. 

P.S this kid free bingo made me chuckle, have a glass of champagne for each square, after all you don’t have to get up tomorrow!! 😉 Kid free bingo

The important things in life……

Over the last couple of months, there has been lots going on in my life and yet I still seemed to have had writers block and not been able to come up with a post, despite always saying I would definitely write weekly! But certain things have taken place this week and it has made me think and given me some inspiration for my blog.

There was a lot of negative press over Black Friday and people pushing and shoving and shouting over reduced price TV’s and I had to wonder, when did we all become so materialistic? I have made no secret of my love of shopping, but I simply cannot be bothered to attempt going out into a bull ring full of aggressive shoppers determined to snap up a bargain. I cannot say that I have not been guilty by the tempting pull of the material stuff, I mean I am still searching for the perfect travelling outfit (It’s nearly there, but must consist of comfort yet class and glamour) and I keep finding the next item I simply must have. But, I do not let it consume me.

There are people in life that would be happy with a safe home, running water and food on the table and want for nothing more, the last thing on their mind would be a bargain TV. Yet we seem to forget this. I work in a job where I am surrounded by sadness, it is hard to work for a cancer charity and not feel it. Because we are still a small charity, we often get involved on a personal level, this is really nice as people fundraising for us can see how much we appreciate it, however, it also means being affected on a daily basis by the complete sadness that comes with people suffering from cancer.

Because of this, I am constantly appreciating what I have in life and being grateful for waking up each day and feeling healthy. But I also know, first hand, what it feels like to feel you are not going to make it and I also know how quickly life can change. I never in a million years ever thought I would have to wear a bag or have a permanent stoma. That was never part of my life plan and certainly not something I would ever have chosen. I know that in an instant, life can change so dramatically it will never be the same again. We take simple things for granted, like having an unblemished stomach, all of our limbs in tact or a body that can help us to live each day, we never expect to have these things change. And as much as people may admire my grit when it comes to living with a bag, I bet each one of them will be feeling so glad it is not them.

Just yesterday I was out with Mike, my sister, her boyfriend and some friends, we were in a pub when I realised I need to empty my bag but the worst happened and I felt like it had leaked. Upon a visit to the toilet it had leaked, now not wanting to go into too much detail, it was very watery, which made it near on impossible to deal with. Fortunately, I have a wonderful sister who came to my rescue and helped me and we got me sorted. I was determined it wouldn’t ruin the rest of my evening and carried on. Yes I got upset but that’s natural. Unfortunately, a bag leak knocks your confidence but you cannot let it stop you getting on with your life, there are worse things that can happen. I have always been honest about how I actually appreciate my bag as it gave me life back, but at times like yesterday I can really hate my bag and feel a bit down that I have it. But I will never feel sorry for myself because, I am alive. I also have so much to be thankful for, a nice home, a good job, lovely friends, an amazing family and a great boyfriend, sometimes I have to pinch myself that life is treating me this well. But as I said earlier, it is so important to appreciate every moment as it can so easily be snatched away, hopefully it won’t but it’s still better to be grateful.

I remember being in hospital before my operation and feeling so dreadfully ill that I actually thought I was dying (In a way I was, the op saved me), and I also remember feeling at peace with it, I always assumed if you were dying through illness it would be really distressing but there was something peaceful and accepting about it. However, all I cared about and all that mattered was knowing I had love in my life and just hoping my family knew how much I love them. There were no regrets, no ‘I wish I had…’ it was all about my loved ones. Nothing material even crossed my mind. Although, I do also remember thinking it would have been nice if I had managed to get in one last glass of champagne (well, this is me!). Fortunately I lived to tell the tale and got to drink  my champagne, so I can’t hate my bag, despite the leaks. But I can also appreciate that when all is said and done, all that will matter are your loved ones.

So whatever you are doing, make sure you give your loved ones a big hug tonight, appreciate everything you have and be thankful you get to wake up tomorrow and enjoy life all over again.

Thankful

 

When did my ovaries and marital status become public property?

I am an odd human being, you see, I am in my 30’s (been in them a while) and I do not have children and nor am I married and this seems to warrant much bewilderment among, well, everyone. It seems it is very unusual indeed to be this person, I don’t think it is, but the way people act you would think that it is as unusual as an Alien landing on Earth. I have a boyfriend and we live together but it seems this isn’t enough in the world of people. I am sure there are many women out there who can relate to this, but I am ALWAYS being asked, ‘when are you getting married?’, ‘do you want to get married?’, ‘do you think he will propose?’ ‘does he want to get married?’ ‘do you think you will have children’ ‘do you want children’…..you get the picture.

Of course it isn’t just me that suffers with these questions, married women without children are asked the child question, married women with 1 child are asked if they want more children, pregnant women are asked when the next one will be. Men do not have this problem, men talk to men about football and boobs and computers. Have you ever seen a man get into conversation with another man and ask him, ‘so then mate, when you having children?’. I am not saying it doesn’t happen but certainly not as frequently as it does for us women.

It seems that you hit your 30’s (I don’t remember it being a frequent problem in my 20’s) and your ovaries are suddenly everyone else’s business. Why do complete strangers feel it is ok to question my marriage and child preferences? Those who have read my blog or who know me, will know that I am not a secretive person, I am very open, perhaps a bit too much sometimes. I would love to be one of those mysterious types, the sort of person others find intriguing because I am such an unknown entity, but sadly I just like to reveal stuff about myself whether or not people want to know!

I am not saying I am completely innocent, I have probably been guilty of asking women myself in the past, but since I have been the subject of much interrogation I am very aware of it and do not ask unless it seems it is appropriate. Plus, who knows what a woman may be going through, how do you know she isn’t trying for a baby but is having difficulty conceiving, bringing up the subject could cause a great deal of upset and hurt.

But what baffles me the most is people’s incessant desire to know such things, is it because they are a bit stressed with their brood and want you to be too, or are they indescribably happy and want you to have the same happiness, or are they just plain nosy? Whatever it is, it drives me crazy and I don’t know what the fascination is. It just seems that unless you are married with two children over the age of 5 you are not immune to the questioning on marriage and children.

What I will say is that I am not married (or engaged, noooo of course this doesn’t bother me ;)! ), but it also means I am not saving for a wedding and can instead spend my money on shoes, clothes and lovely holidays. I will also say that currently I do not have children which means that I can have lovely lie-ins, I can go on holiday on a whim (I would never do that, I can only cope with planned spontaneity, but I could if I wanted!) I can go out to dinner any day of the week without planning it, instead of buying toys I can buy more shoes and clothes and best of all I can drink my beloved bubbly any day of the week if I want to and if I have a hangover, the day is all mine!

Marriage

It’s all about the knickers!!

I have said for a couple of weeks now that I would talk about my knickers and I really don’t wish to disappoint anyone as I am sure you are all very excited for this 😉

It’s amazing how much publicity there has been recently around girls and guys wearing Ostomy bags and hi-lighting Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), encouraging people not to be shy and to proudly talk about their bags and/or their IBD. I think this is great and it really is a taboo subject that we should all be more open about. I work for a bowel cancer charity and we are all about raising awareness and encouraging people to talk poo.

But there are times when you might not want to have your bag on show or you may need to cover it up, so what do you do then? Sometimes you just need to keep the bag under control and not have it all wild and free!

Well, like I say it is all about the knickers!! We all wear them (well some may not but that’s up to them!), we all need them, (if nothing else, then just to protect our modesty) and they are an integral part of any outfit. We all know we need the right pair of knickers to make an outfit look good, in this day and age of assorted knicker shapes, vpl’s (visible panty line’s) are inexcusable. How many times have you seen a lovely looking girl with a fab figure wearing a beautiful dress, only to glance at her derriere and realise she has ruined her look with the wrong pair of knickers, the elastic is digging in, she has the dreaded vpl and yet she doesn’t seem to have noticed (good for her, I am not criticizing – well maybe a teeny bit 😉 but if she’s happy then so what?) But the right pair of knickers would just finish off that outfit. This girl obviously wanted to go for sexy thong over Bridget knickers but we all need the Bridget’s at some point!

For general outfits (i.e. no special underwear needed) in my pre-ostomy days I would throw on a lacy thong or some other teeny pair of knickers, without a care in the world, well that was until half way through the day when I wished I hadn’t thrown on the thong with such abandon and had gone for comfort instead. But, knickers weren’t really something I thought about, they were something I would wear (my mum brought me up well) and had to be clean (obviously) but I wouldn’t go and spend copious amounts of money on them. I HATE spending money on underwear, I don’t care how beautiful it is, how wonderfully that bra sits or the matching knickers just look gorgeous, I do not want to spend £50 on them, I would much rather purchase a dress with that money. Let’s face it, yes wearing expensive & matching undies may make us feel wonderful, but only for about 5 minutes before everything starts to dig in and we are yearning to take them off. And if we are wearing the matching set for a nice little boyfriend surprise then again how much value does it bring, where men are concerned, the bra is usually first off before they have even so much glanced at your carefully put together beautiful matching set. Life isn’t like a film, where we find ourselves in several situations which require us to strip down to our underwear, so always sporting sexy co-ordinates isn’t such an issue for everyday life.

Now I know I sound slightly contradictory as I have stated that it is all about the knickers, whilst in the next sentence saying they’re not that high a priority but what I mean is that you need the right knickers for certain outfits but I resent spending lots of money.

However, now I have my Ostomy bag I have become more obsessed with knickers than ever before. I still want to wear tight dresses & tops and other nice clothes and do not wish to be restricted by my bag so the secret is in the knickers. There are a couple of specialist websites for underwear for Ostomy’s here and here which are great but I have also found some fab knickers from Triumph, Littlewoods and Primark. Most days, I can still wear ‘normal’ knickers, having a bag doesn’t stop that but when you want to feel a little more secure and want to flatten the bag and hold it in you need a special knicker! I found some amazing ones in Triumph which were high waisted thongs, so perfect, they even had the matching bra, the discovery of these knickers meant I could wear all my lovely tighter dresses without the vpl safe in the knowledge my bag was secure, even better, they even looked nice, slightly 50’s style, so I didn’t have to feel frumpy either! Unfortunately getting a few pairs has set me back about £150 but I think it is worth it. I cannot believe that I am now willing to spend so much on knickers, but it is important to feel good, and I think whatever your situation, if something makes you feel confident, sexy and happy then it is worth every penny! But if you don’t have a spare £150 hanging around (Mum’s credit card came in handy!) then Primark have fabulous shapewear that is great if you wear a bag and even if you don’t have a bag the knickers are fab anyway, we all need everything to be sucked in sometimes!

Of course there are times when I miss my days of carefree knicker wearing moments, it would be nice not to have to worry about which pair suits which outfit, if today’s dress needs a special pair or if I can wear a pair of jeans and vest without having to wear the more unattractive bigger variety just to have smoother line over the torso, but it is still a small price to pay for being healthy. But, when you wake up tomorrow, still slightly sleepy and just grabbing a pair of knickers from your underwear drawer, spare a moment to feel grateful that you can pick your knickers with such wild abandonment!

And one last thing, is it just me or does anyone else ever pack waaaay to many knickers when going away? I always like a few spares (of course from a practical perspective, I need a spare in case of leaks) but I am definitely OTT with the amount I take, I always have been, I am not sure what I am expecting to happen or why I should need so many spare pairs but I just cannot bring myself to pack ‘just enough’. Men do, if they are away for two nights then they will pack two pairs, exactly what they need, they don’t feel the need for a spare pair, clearly they shouldn’t need them, they are old enough not to have accidents but why do they not feel the need for a ‘just in case’ pair? How can they be so confident and carefree?

So, for now I shall continue to over pack my knickers, run around buying every high waisted thong I see and hope that if you are walking behind me then you are not checking out my derriere to see what knickers I might be wearing!!

Knickers