Category Archives: Ulcerative Colitis

Certain events ( and of course the impending New Year) have brought question to my mind about friendships and what they really mean. Some of us have loads of friends, big groups of them, friends for every occasion and in every corner of the globe. Some of us have just one group of friends, friends that were formed at School or University and have stayed with us. And some of us have a few select friends or friend that come and go as life changes.
What matters is not the number of friends you have but the meaning of those friendships. In the days of social media it’s all about ‘friends’, ‘fans’ and ‘followers’ that I think it is easy to forget what true friendship really means. It’s easy to post a status and get ‘100 likes’ or several positive/sympathetic/advising/inquisitive (delete as appropriate) comments that our egos are fed and we feel popular (or unpopular when a status only gets 1 like, if you’re lucky!) But it isn’t necessarily a good thing, who knows if the comments are genuine or for show and we shouldn’t get fooled or measure our worth on social media ‘friends’.
A lot of people agree a true friend is someone you may not see or speak to for months, but when you get together it is like you have never been apart, or you know they would be there for you in an instant if you needed them. My friend Lisa is exactly one of these types of friends. We’ve known each other since we were 2 and have always been friends. I think it is easy to remain friends with people because they have just always been in your life regardless of if they should really be there or not. But Lisa needs to be in my life, I can’t imagine not having her there! We hardly see each other, yet we live round the corner from one another, we are always saying we should catch up, yet neither of us makes the effort! I guess we are both a little lazy and maybe we just take for granted that we will just be there. But I would rather have someone like Lisa in my life than a dozen acquaintances that I didn’t feel secure with. When I was ill in hospital , Lisa was always there, even though we hadn’t seen each other for ages, she helped me clean my teeth when Mike was coming to see me, she brought me jelly babies round when she knew I needed to eat them (I promise that is genuine!) and we gossiped over our love of strong Ribena!
When we were younger, we used to see each other every weekend until we both got bored and said we didn’t want to spend as much time with each other, neither of us got annoyed, we just somehow knew it was needed. Approximately 3 years later, I went on holiday to France with her and parents, even though we hadn’t spent much of the previous years together but it was like we hadn’t been apart!
When you have a debilitating and often invisible illness it can be incredibly isolating, you don’t always tell people you have it and many people just don’t understand. It is not their fault but people cannot understand that you are actually really ill, yet managing to hold down a job and function day to day. They don’t understand when you don’t want to or can’t go out, or that you are not being lazy you just really, really need to sleep. It is also hard to form friendships or even keep them when you are so consumed with ill health, it sometimes seems as though you are being selfish or self-centred but actually it is self-preservation and just trying to get through the days the best way you can.
So for me, having been through what I have been through, the friends I have are more precious to me as they are the ones that have been there with me, have seen the tough days and know what I went through.
They are the girls of the world, like Hayley, who kept my job going for me and has been in my life since, Ivana, who despite losing her own mum in 2010 whilst I was in hospital, never stopped being there for me, endless hospital and home visits to see me & far too many M&S biscuits! Plus not forgetting the girls who I have a great time with (the Butlins babes to name a few!) who completely understand about my ostomy bag and still listen to me talk about it even though they have heard it 1000 times!
Then possibly the most precious of all (apart from Mum of course!) is the lasting friendship I have with my sister. No-one can possibly replace that bond that close sisters have, no-one is ever the same and the best times in life are those spent with her. It would have been very easy not to have made other friendships as at times it felt like we didn’t need anyone else but each other. But those other friendships, whether friends with Leanne first or friends with me first, have just enhanced our times together and given us more precious memories. It’s a bit of a shame as we don’t spend as much time together as we used to and I miss that more than anything. We used to phone & text each other constantly, see each other every weekend and were always out together and that doesn’t happen as much these days and I miss it. But, we both have boyfriends and full time jobs and we live in different towns (this is much worse than you can imagine) so things change, but one thing that will never change is that we will always be best friends.
To me, it doesn’t matter how many friends you have (and I am sorry to the friends I have not mentioned, you are not forgotten) but what those friends mean. It is ok to have friends that you know wouldn’t really be there for you or that you know may not be in your life for ever, but for now they make a good Friday night drinking buddy, or love knitting as much as you do, or can get you a discount at Karen Millen!
But if you have just one or two friends that you genuinely know would drop everything for you and be to you in a heartbeat if your life got turned upside down, then you are richer and more fulfilled than anyone! And I am lucky and blessed because I do have those friends and a bonus friend in my sister and not many people can say they have a bonus friend!

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Spread a little Christmas love………

These past few days of Christmas have got me thinking. These modern days are unfortunately, so full of consumerism and greed, people are queuing for the sales at 5am on Boxing Day and poor retail staff are barely getting a day off to enjoy Christmas. At what point did the material things in life outweigh spending time with loved ones? For those who have lost loved ones, I am sure they would trade all the presents in the world if it meant one more Christmas day with them, so why are we still so fixated on ‘getting a bargain’ rather than personal time? Would we rather spend Christmas day glued to our phones waiting for the next sale item to pop up, before going to bed at 10pm ready to get up at 5am to hit the sales than spend it ‘in the moment’? I know I would rather turn my phone off for the day and enjoy the time with my loved ones, playing silly board games, laughing, having to dive through 3 black sacks of wrapping paper because someone thinks they threw away a gift voucher, not arguing over the best chocolates in the Roses tin (as I am the only one who likes the creams, yay for me!) and deciding who’s turn it is to make the 10th cup of tea of the day. I am not going to deny my love of shopping but I know when to draw the line and when family time is priority. I could harp on for hours on this subject as it makes me so cross that everywhere is consumed with greed, shouldn’t we just incorporate some simple measures back into our lives? Far better to have a lived a life full of love and friendship than be surrounded by gadgets, clothes and a cold heart.

Christmas love

A lot of my Christmases’ were marred by my Ulcerative Colitis, rushing to the toilet in between trying to eat a bit of turkey all whilst plastering a smile on my face for the sake of my family. When you have a debilitating illness, part of it is putting on a front as you don’t want others to know how unwell you really are, partly because you don’t want to worry them or spoil their day but partly because you don’t actually want to believe it yourself.  In 2010 I spent Christmas eve in hospital but luckily wasn’t admitted, in 2011 I was really excited for Christmas as it was 4 months post-op and I knew I would be able to enjoy it. Unfortunately, a hazard of having no large bowel is the risk of blockages, (comes with the territory, especially in the early days, you learn to manage it). A bit of steak on Christmas eve resulted in immense pain and a blockage on Christmas day (my sister had even removed the fibrous parts from the parsnips so I could enjoy them and I never got to eat them!) so off mum and I went to A&E, but I only walked around the car park for a bit as I really didn’t want to go in! Eventually I decided I was well enough but had to spend most of the rest of day sleeping. Christmas 2012 was ok but my 2nd op in early January was looming upon me so played on my mind a bit. Then in 2013 I came down with a dreaded virus, I knew I wasn’t right when a bottle of champagne I opened on Christmas Eve lasted me for hours! I luckily got through Christmas day and just about managed Boxing Day before succumbing and spending 4 days in bed.

Despite all that, I still consider myself incredibly lucky as having no bowel and an ostomy bag has meant I am here to enjoy the time with my family and friends and there are so many people out there who don’t get that opportunity. I am also determined that this Christmas there will be no A&E, no steak, no virus and the champagne will slide down a bit quicker!!

If you are having a hard time this Christmas, for whatever reason, try and take what good you can from it and have faith that things can get better.  And for all of us, put down the phone, spend a bit longer with loved ones, go back to basics, argue over monopoly and the purple sweets and how about giving the sales a miss on boxing day and snuggling up with hot chocolates and silly films instead?

And on that note, all that leaves me to say is, whatever you are doing and wherever you are,  make it a good one and have a very merry Christmas and New Year! x

Snowmen

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

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

 

I have never been on a diet……

Or at least that is what I have spent years convincing myself of, as it turns out, it seems I am always on one! I have only realised this recently, but because I don’t do juices/pills/shakes/cabbage soup/grapefruit or any other ‘fad’ or ‘quick fix’ I can convince myself I don’t diet. Whether it’s the 5:2 or low carb/high protein or just long term ‘clean eating’ I am always trying something different. I tried to cut out carbs once, I lasted about 4 days but it made me crave donuts and I never crave donuts, so I thought perhaps that wasn’t the plan for me! I did do a two week detox at the start of January, which basically saw me cut out everything except protein and greens, the hardest bit was waving goodbye to my Tetley but I made it through, I’ve never done it again since, I can’t cope with it!
We all know diets aren’t the answer and that a consistent and healthy approach to eating and exercise is the long term solution, but it doesn’t stop us trying out a new regime to get the body of our dreams.
Unfortunately for me, the body of my dreams will not come from a diet of pizza and wine and this is rather disappointing. I go through phases all the time, for a few months I will eat really, really well, be so disciplined and work out regularly, this leaves me in a cloud of smugness as I see the positive effects this has on my body, but it also leaves me a teeny bit miserable as I find this way of life difficult. When I tell Mike that this regime is about to start, he balks a little as he knows what is to come (tantrums, grumpiness and a very difficult Sherrill to live with!). Why does such a healthy lifestyle have this effect on me – aren’t we supposed to feel invigorated, full of energy and extremely happy when following the ‘correct’ lifestyle path? But I am actually at my happiest when I am eating healthily most of the time but allow myself a (god forbid) sandwich now and then – yes a sandwich, not just any sandwich but a forbidden white bread sandwich with butter and mayonnaise – yum!

cupcakes

There seems to be so many food police about, every time you switch on the TV, look at Facebook or read a magazine, the sugar police are telling you to ‘cut out sugar for good’ or the carb police are advising a ‘high protein lifestyle’ and whatever else is in fashion. I do understand the principles of these ways of life but I can’t bring myself to follow them 24/7 even with promises of a body to rival Cheryl Cole. I admire people who do follow that lifestyle, so much willpower is required, but to me only being allowed 1 cheat meal a week (that’s 1 meal not a whole day of cheats) is quite frankly too depressing, a life without Cadbury’s, Prosecco and Pepperoni Pizza is just way too dismal. Having to check everything I eat, watch every mouthful I consume and spend hours in the kitchen preparing, is not the life for me. Life is too damn short not to enjoy the things you love now and then.

Hopefully it isn’t just me that feels guilty over the non-healthy food I eat and is secretly happier when eating a sponge pudding, or that has a constant internal battle between eating the ‘right things’ consistently to get a leaner body and not eating them and suffering the wobbly bits. I am sure I need to just accept myself as I am (especially after going through so much trauma) and sometimes I manage it, but for now I am starting a new plan tomorrow that doesn’t involve wine or pizza!

funny-diets