Happy World Ostomy Day

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Today is World Ostomy Day so it seems only fitting that I write a little blog post. Many people live with an Ostomy, young and old and for all sorts of reasons, bowel diseases, bowel cancer, bladder conditions are just a few. But I thought it would be appropriate to write about living with an Ostomy and 10 things you should know!

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1) You won’t be dragging a bag around on a set of wheels ( which is what I thought, you know a bit like the drips you get set up on in hospital!), it will be discreet and some are quite small.
2)You won’t smell, despite your fears of aroma de poo hanging around with you, you honestly won’t smell any different to normal ( which hopefully is shower fresh!) and people won’t back away from you as though you’re Pepe le pew (ha ha remember him!)
3) Only you have to know about your ostomy unless you choose otherwise, nobody has to know ( apart from the surgeon who performed it of course and the stoma nurse that helped you!).
4) Yes it’s bloody agony, especially if you had open not keyhole surgery ( although keyhole still hurts!) and whilst after a few weeks you will feel better it can take a good 6 months to feel completely better, don’t rush it, don’t compare yourself to others, it’s your recovery, but don’t be afraid to push yourself a teeny bit each day.
5) Athough it’s agony, it will pass and if your surgery was due to something like UC or Crohns then I promise you, you will feel so much better instantly.
6) You will be able to exercise, travel, dance, sing, work, go clothes shopping, swim and have sex and anything else you did pre-surgery, in fact you may find you are able to do more (more shopping – yes please!)
7) You will still be found attractive, and if you are single you will meet someone exactly the same as before surgery, if it’s taking a long time it’s not because you are the proud owner of an ostomy it’s because dating is hard and can suck sometimes, but it can also be fun. (Believe me, I’ve tried to put men off by confessing about my bag, it didn’t work!). The bag is really insignificant to most people.
8) You won’t always have to cut out nuts, seeds, mushrooms, corn, drinking through straws and fizzy drinks. Sensible advice you are given at first but you learn what you can and can’t have. And I’m sorry, but there was no way I would give up bubbly! Be careful though, I ended up in A&E due to a parsnip but can now eat them no problem!  🙂
9) You will not be able to blow off in the conventional sense, that satisfying fart (I hate that word!) when you have a tummy ache – thing of the past, but you also always know, it definitely wasn’t you!
10) Your life will not be over, it will not end or be worse, it may even be better. You will be amazed at what you have coped with and if you can deal with a bag attached to your tummy that you have to poo in then surely everything else is a doddle!

So happy World Ostomy Day!

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Holiday confidence, my stoma bag and the reactions…..

Tomorrow is Monday and it’s back to reality, back to work and the gym all the other day to day stuff we do. I’ve had just over two weeks off, 11 days of that spent on holiday in Crete and I almost feel like a new woman. Yes, I’m relaxed but it is more than that, I have gained more confidence this holiday then ever before.

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To those who know me, and those who follow my blog and Ostomy page on Facebook will probably already see me as confident and for the most part I am. But having an unexpected major op, all your large intestine removed, scarring, a bag and everything that come with it, does knock your confidence a tad! It’s a long process, hard work, determination and a strong mind to stop yourself from falling into a pit of despair and why me.

2 major operations, years of weight loss/weight gain, steroids & other strong medications, take their toll on your body. And whilst I’m grateful to now be alive and healthy, I have been left with some body issues (I will write about this in a future post). So in January, I made the decision to try and help myself and get in the best shape I could, cue 8 months of hard work, gym sessions, walking, healthy eating and the cutting down of my beloved bubbly.

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So, I turned up on holiday feeling fabulous and slim ( not feeling like that now after 2 weeks indulging 😂) . I had booked a swim up room for this holiday (as I’m always after that elusive, luxury, ticked every box vacation!) and boy, was it worth the extra money! I think one of the advantages of a stoma is not feeling guilty for spending a little extra money than normal becaus ‘I deserve it and it makes me feel better’! Expensive underwear – tick, expensive bikini – tick, ooh lets upgrade to a swim up room! But it was worth it as I didn’t need to think about how often I would need to empty my bag as I was outside my room, the pool was quiet so I could show off my bag with no worries, and obviously i could pop yo the fridge for as much bubbly as I wanted!

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But what was great, was the amazing reaction of other people. Everyone was so supportive and positive and only had kind words. Most people were reluctant to ask but would try and bring it up someway in conversation, others would wait until I had mentioned it, but everyone was amazingly complimentary. Plus, pretty much everyone I spoke to could relate I some way, to the man who has crohns, the woman who had small bowel cancer, the nurse who works in endoscopy and her ex husband was a gastronnsurgeon, everyone has their own story and in fact will open up because I do. If showing off my bag means people start talking about their bowels, then that’s just a a good thing. Or even, to the people who admired me but had their own confidence issues that then felt more confident because of me, it’s totally worth it. And the best thing was swimming in our lovely pool with my bag on display and just living it!

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So, whatever your issues may be, I say go forth and be proud, strip off the layer that’s holding you back, take a deep breath and go for it, you may be pleasantly surprised!

As for me, I am off to research swim up rooms with waiter service, inclusive bubbly and central location on my iPad!! 😜

P.s. To everyone that gave my facebook pics a like or a positive comment, thank you, because it’s people like you that help me feel ok and better and people like you make the world a kinder place 💕😘

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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

World IBD Day

Once again it has been some time since I have blogged, but as today is World IBD Day it seems fitting that I would resurrect my musings!

300,000 people in the UK are living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and yet it is still a lesser discussed subject. It’s all still a bit taboo and uncomfortable, let’s face it, bowels are hardly glamorous and nobody really wants to admit they poo, let alone 20-30 times a day, which is the reality for IBD sufferers. That and the blood, the pain, the fatigue and the medications that come with their own pesky side effects, doesn’t really make for great dinner party speak. But we cannot be afraid to talk about it, we mustn’t hide away in embarrassment and we should encourage others to be more open.

Approximately 4 years ago saw the start of my hellish and downward spiral which would lead to my emergency surgery that would leave me with two bags (why have just one when there is the option of 2?!)

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But now, in 2015 I have proven that you can fight back from IBD. Yes I now have a permanent stoma and will forever poo into a bag, but I no longer have to worry where the toilets are, I am not in pain (unless I eat peas, but that’s another story!), I am no longer on any medication (apart from medicinal champagne of course!) and best of all I can live my life. Not that I ever let IBD hold me back, I still went out, worked, went on holidays and had a social life but there was always an underlying tiredness and pain that I just didn’t feel I could really tell anyone about. Even the fear of pooping myself in public wouldn’t stop me from doing things, I once poohed myself in a supermarket in Italy, such was the urgency, but we move on and get over it (and I can now tell the world about my embarrassing incident!).

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Roll on 4 years and I am helping to break the stigma of bowel diseases, both with my blog and I am fortunate enough to work for a great bowel cancer charity (find out about them here ) where I hope my experiences can help others. I can also do all the things I love to do without the fear of pooing myself or the permanent and lingering fatigue and pain, such as going on holiday, travelling and being with my friends and family. I have also taken part in several 10K runs and regularly lift weights at the gym.

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It’s funny to think that I have my IBD to thank for a lot of things, I am quite sure I wouldn’t be where I am today or have the great life I do if I hadn’t experienced such ill health and difficulty. But I live to tell the tale and I hope you appreciate my stories and can share them to help others.

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So for World IBD day, wear purple, show your support and if you want to make a donation then please do! For Crohns and Colitis UK click here and for Beating Bowel Cancer  click here 

 

My kind of clubbing…….

So, tonight it’s Friday and I have already been clubbing and am about to devour a kebab and it’s only 9.30pm! You must be thinking that either A) I am a lightweight for being home so early (not totally unbelievable), or B) I have been to a really lame club that starts and finishes early or maybe C) that I am a saddo who goes to clubs unfashionably early. Well, the truth is that this was an exercise class! Think Zumba’s big sister but with leg warmers and glow sticks. It was also in the dark, with a few disco lights thrown in, which is great as nobody can see what you’re doing, so it doesn’t matter if you are not following the routines or if you are just in your own clubland world, you can let yourself go.

This is the first workout class I have smiled, rather than grimaced my way through and I didn’t actually feel like I was working out. In the 45 minutes the class lasted I even burnt almost 500 calories, so it’s an awesome workout. Our instructor Naomi was full of enthusiasm and led us through the choreography with fun instructions and even some whoop whoops! We danced along to tracks such as ‘Push It’, ‘Rythymn is a Dancer’ and ‘Let me be your Fantasy’ all reminiscent of 90’s clubbing days! 

The best part is that it is Friday night, yet I feel like I’ve had a bit of a night out but I’m home before midnight and my feet don’t hurt as trainers are the footwear of choice! So, yes you could say this is my kind of clubbing! And to think, I did it all without the aid of a glass or two of bubbly! As I also went with my sister, it felt like even more of a night out, just me and her dancing the night away, if we hadn’t driven there certainly would’ve been some bubbly involved (after of course, not during, well not this time ;)!) 


Get info Here if you’re interested in the class, it also runs on a Monday but I am not sure if I can go clubbing on a school night!! 😉 

Disclaimer: officially my kebab is healthy as its a chicken shish, so I am not undoing all the hard work, but a kebab after a night out is the rules right?! 

  

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 6 Most Shockingly Irresponsible “Fitspiration” Photos

A great article, talks a lot of sense!

Reembody

The Reembody blog, up to this point, has been a thoughtful exploration of human movement, a subject about which I am extremely passionate.

Today, however, I’m mad and I’m going to tell you why.

I have been planning a blog post for a while on fitness misinformation, and it was originally going to be the same kind of thoughtful deconstruction found in my other installments. But then I read this and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever found in my newsfeed: so beautiful, in fact, that the rest of the health and fitness propaganda floating around Facebook like turds in a pool started to really, really piss me off.

So thoughtful deconstruction has been postponed for another day. Instead, we’re going to take a good look at a few of those turds and get pissed off together because, when someone preys upon your insecurities in an effort…

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