Category Archives: Running

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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Woooo I did it!

That was the 10K run on Sunday, where Mike and I ran for Beating Bowel Cancer in the Run to the Beat event in Wembley. It was our second 10k of the year, which in itself is shocking, as I never even thought I would do one, let alone 2 but it was a good goal to work towards. Now, I certainly wasn’t as fit or in as good shape as I was for our Bupa 10k, the training kind of fell by the wayside over Summer as I preferred to drink bubbly in the garden than go out and exercise, but I was pretty confident I could run the course.

That was until we received the race pack only to find out the course had some hilly parts, I was actually relying on a nice flat course thinking this would get me round quicker, but nope, wonderful hills awaited us. But still, I thought I could still run the 10k with hills, if a little slower.

On the Friday and Saturday before race day I had been to Surrey for work, so lots of travelling and walking (you can see the excuses forming!) and no time for short training runs. On race day, we were up at 5.30am to ensure we could get to Wembley in time. A quick banana and some water en route and we’re raring to go. A quick toilet stop for me (all Portaloos) only to discover my bag had leaked, this is a fairly rare occurrence, stoma appliances are pretty good and tend to be quite hardy. However, every now and then a leak happens and you just have to deal with it as best you can. Always having a change of bags and a clean pair of knickers on your person is usually a good idea (a clean pair of knickers is never a bad idea even if you don’t have a stoma, that and a toothbrush, you just never know!). Fortunately I had caught the leak before it got too bad and had a change of bag. Changing my bag in a Portaloo toilet is not something I wish to experience again, not particularly easy but I managed. I think it affected me psychologically though and something seemed to switch mentally despite my positive pep talk to myself. I also had a foot injury from a run the week before but was determined to run anyway as it didn’t feel that bad.

So, the race starts and we’re away, Mike is in a different group to me (the faster ones!) so I know he is well away before I have started. I did the first 1k ok, as it was all downhill and then it all just went horribly wrong. I had a stitch, I had to stop at 5k for first aid because my toes were covered in blood, I would like to be dramatic and say it was a huge gash in my toes caused by fast running but it was just a tiny cut that bled a lot! Then after that point it seemed to be all uphill, horrible steep mountains which just felt impossible. But I hobbled, jogged & walked and eventually got round. Perhaps if someone had yelled that there was a bottle of champagne at the finish line I may have got a sprint on, but it was just a few cheerers trying to encourage us slow ones (it’s a bit embarrassing) across the finish line. But at least I can say ‘Wooooo I did it!’

Mike did incredibly well, me, not so good, but I was determined to finish the course no matter what. I actually hated every minute of it but I think I may do it again next year, just to improve my time (which won’t be hard) and because it will also seem like a good idea at the time.

You will be relieved to hear that the champagne came out upon arriving home, followed by a very delicious burger, so all was not lost. Now, I have 7 weeks until the next 10K, and I am DETERMINED to do this one well!

homer

The running bug hasn’t quite caught me yet..

I am participating in my second 10k event this Sunday, which isn’t bad for someone, who until this year, had barely taken a brisk walk, let alone a run. However, I did it (just check out my previous blogs) and I have decided to do another one. This time it is Run to the Beat in Wembley, apparently there is a hill in the route, I was rather banking on a flat course as, let’s face it, it is much less traumatic to have a continuous flat path.

I am in nowhere near as good shape as I was back in May and have let the running slide somewhat. After getting back from holiday in June, I spent weeks thinking about getting back to it but decided a cold glass of bubbly in the garden was a much more inviting idea. So I signed up for another 10k to get me motivated again. Everyone says that you get the running bug, especially after your first event, so why I am still waiting to catch it? So, I have also signed up to a local 10K at the start of November, I figure having another one to do will keep me out running and prevent me from lazing on the sofa. It will be 3 in total this year which is a great achievement for me. Mike is also running both of these too but he is much more motivated and sporty than me.

You may think that I must have caught the running bug to have signed up to a further two 10K’s but I really haven’t. I don’t particularly enjoy running and I am not really that good at it, so why am I doing it? I think I am still hoping I may catch that elusive bug, but it also goes hand in hand with my continuous diet and desire to lose weight. Even though I dislike it and I pant and puff my way around and want to stop at every moment, I do feel good when I’ve done it, I like the achievement of having improved my time or had a run that didn’t feel like I was going to die at every moment. Sometimes, it’s just enough to know I have overtaken the walking people.

For now, I will aim to my complete my next 10k as fast as I can (hills pending) and will let you know how I get on and if the running bug manages to catch me.

Running

 

Hooray, hooray it’s a happy holiday……

So I am off on holiday, I am very excited as hopefully you will remember from my previous posts how much I love holidays!

But before I talk about this I must first celebrate my success! Yes, I did it, I completed the Bupa 10K run in London on Sunday! I was so chuffed, I got round in 1 hour 8 minutes which was ok for my first one, I also managed to run the whole thing (no walking!) although I did have to stop 500 metres from the finish line to throw up a little bit – but I carried on and made it through! I also cried when I got to the Marquee where all the others were, I could feel myself welling up as I crossed the finish line but I held it back until I saw Mike and the Beating Bowel Cancer team! It doesn’t take much for me to cry at the best of times but I think this was just such a huge mental achievement after the last few years that all the emotion came out! In April last year I was sat in the Surgeons office and I was given the all clear, but I was also feeling fat and unfit and never dreamed I could run 1km let alone 10km – so I am really proud and showing everyone who is facing something similar that you can overcome your obstacles! Everyone was so generous and supportive, we managed to raise £1010 in sponsorship money for Beating Bowel Cancer which is amazing and will really help to raise awareness and save lives. Thank you to everyone who has sponsored or supported us.

Once the run was over it was time to get into holiday mode, starting with a celebratory bottle (or 2!) of champagne that afternoon/evening and then on the Monday, Mike and I had a lovely two hour spa experience booked complete with full body massage, it was bliss and well needed. I nearly didn’t make it due to the champagne hangover but I soldiered on. A lot of people with Stoma’s worry about things like swimming and spas but really it is ok and no-one needs to know you have it.  Massages are fine and just the same as before and as for swimming and the spa – well those gorgeous high waisted bikinis come in handy again (I still can’t stop buying them).  I have to say, that I think my sister may have needed the spa more having just completed a 100km walk (yes you read that right, 100km!) with her boyfriend that weekend. They did theirs for National Rheumatoid Arthritis Association as Leanne has Rheumatoid Arthritis unfortunately, so hats off to both them but especially my fabulous sis who also has her own battles to overcome. So we have both done our bit for charity, and if you notice a gorgeous blonde walking wonky alongside a limping man then you know it is only Leanne & her boyfriend still recovering from their walk!

I really should have blogged twice these past couple of weeks as so much has been going on but it’s also been difficult trying to fit it all in (I am BZ remember?!) so I will try not to talk for pages and pages but I have a glass of bubbly in hand as I type (I am officially on holiday) so I may chat lots.

So, back to the holiday – woo hoo, I am off to Turkey tomorrow for two whole weeks with Mike, I cannot wait, it has come at exactly the right time too, after the run and with lots of great stuff happening at work, it is really time to chill and recharge. We are going all inclusive and to a hotel with lots of entertainment. We both love it, you’ve got to have a bit of the ‘Benidorm’ on holiday and evening bingo and stage shows are where it’s at 😉 We also love the daytime activities, well Mike does, the activity I like is choosing which cocktail to have and turning over on my sun lounger. Mike joins in everything, so we don’t see much of each other during the day, we reconvene at lunch and when I am demanding a drink from the bar but we both have fun! We are both very similar on holiday and like pretty much the same stuff which is great, makes it much easier. I have had a boyfriend before who liked to do ‘trips’, I can’t think of anything worse than being stuck on a coach for the best part of a sunny day trying to find culture in Mallorca, so when forced to compromise (it’s good for relationships apparently) I am not the happiest – cue arguments and tantrums. So to have a relationship where we both enjoy the same is great.

A quick bit on holidays with a stoma – you can still go on holiday and enjoy it the same and do all the same activities you would as before, I find my stoma behaves on holiday (i.e. not too active, knows when to be quiet), I don’t know if this is because of the heat, being relaxed or a combination, but because of this I feel it is my destiny to holiday as a full time job! The only difference with holidaying with a stoma is the amount of supplies you have to take. You must make sure you have absolutely enough of everything and extras ‘just in case’ and take it all in hand luggage in case your suitcase goes missing. The advantage to this however, is being able to have extra hand luggage allowance due to a medical condition so I am able to use my carry on to stash a few extra clothes too! Of course I am also being cautious, making sure I have something to change into in case of a leak but it is also handy to stash a few bits to get me through a couple of days, so in the terrifying event my case goes missing I don’t have to parade around in an ‘I love Turkey’ T-shirt and a Speedo swimsuit!

What I would like to know is if there is anyone out there who has actually mastered the art of packing light? We all read about it in magazines and how one sarong can magically be dressed three ways (although why would I wear my sarong round the pool then drape it artfully around my neck come the evening, I would be so paranoid a boob would pop out) and how you only need a white shirt and a pair of shorts and you have a weeks worth of outfits, but has anyone actually done this? Isn’t part of the ritual of going on holiday to take too many clothes and shoes in the event we may just want to wear it and to come home having worn barely half, saying ‘I took too much, I can definitely pack light next year’……

So I am signing off, ready for the stress of the outward journey, only to relax once through customs with a Duty Free carrier bag full of purchases I don’t need and a glass of bubbly in hand as I am ‘officially on holiday, again’ (besides there are no time zones at airports or on planes so bottoms up!).

See you in a couple of weeks all! J

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