Tag Archives: fashion

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

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This seasons must have accessory……

I can confirm that this seasons must have accessory is……an Ostomy bag!! Ok so maybe we’re not quite ‘there’ yet but Ostomy’s are really on the radar at the moment and so they should be. I have always spoken of my desire to raise awareness and reduce stigma and lately this is happening in droves. All thanks to some very brave ladies posting pictures of themselves in bikinis with their Ostomies on display, one has even become an internet sensation.

It’s all great news and every time I click onto Facebook I see another picture of a proud wearer of an Ostomy bag, to the point where I feel it is almost becoming ‘normal’. Perhaps I see it as I am a member of many Ostomy related forums and so it is more prominent, but I do really think that it is becoming a little bit fashionable! (Dare I say that?!) Soon enough everyone will want one, they will become the ultimate accessory, fashion magazines will feature them and those who don’t have them will be a teeny bit jealous.

Ok, so I am exaggerating but it certainly feels as though society is becoming more geared up to the fact that many young people have an Ostomy. It is all just fantastic. And should you be a person (young, old or middle aged) facing an Ostomy then isn’t it great to see so much positivity and realise that life isn’t over because you have one. I said before, when I was facing my operation to have an Ostomy, there was none of this publicity and I know it would have made me feel better if I had seen it.

So it’s all good news, however, when I started this blog it wasn’t going to be totally focused around my Ostomy, (there are plenty of very good ones out there for that) the intention was to talk about life in general so that hopefully everyone could relate to it some way and maybe I could take reassurance that as a 30 something year old woman, I wasn’t the only one doing what I do!

So I will be blogging again in the next couple of days, this blog will be about knickers among other things (I hope this subject will intrigue you and draw you back!)But for now I just wanted everyone to know that I, not Vogue, had said it first, what this Season’s must have accessory is!!

Why I love my stoma……

Ok so the truth is I don’t always love it but most of the time I do. It’s a hard thing to believe, after all who in their right mind could love something that is essentially a bag of poo stuck to their belly? But for me, like a lot of other people it saved my life.

For some people, a stoma comes as a shock, it is the result of a freak accident, a sudden diagnosis of IBD or perhaps cancer. Sometimes (and not in all cases) the stoma is unwanted and incredibly difficult to come to terms with. But I consider myself lucky. My stoma ended years of suffering, illness, fatigue, hospital admissions, strong medications and embarrassing accidents to name a few. Nobody, no matter how sick, would wish or want to have a stoma, wearing a bag is the last chance saloon, something that perhaps you see as a possibility in the future but not something inevitable that will come at you in your prime. The truth is, we never really know what is round the corner or what fate awaits us.

This time 3 years ago, I was very sick, you wouldn’t know as I still worked full time in a stressful and full on job, had a social life and to the outside seemed normal. What people didn’t realize was that I was consumed with a mouth constantly full of ulcers, it hurt to eat even ice cream, I couldn’t even contemplate taking on the day unless I was stuffed with as many painkillers as I could take and just getting through the day would muster every ounce of strength I had. I would plaster a smile on my face, wear my high heels and then cry in secret when I took a painful bite of one of the only things I could bear to eat (banana),only for seconds to pass before an emergency dash to the toilet to expel what little was left inside me. I was constantly starving, I was so hungry I would cry and yet just the smallest morsel would send me into spasms of pain and hours on the toilet. But even then, the thought of a stoma terrified me, in fact I didn’t really know anything about the ‘bag’ (3 years ago there wasn’t the positive publicity we now see) I assumed it would be like a hospital drip where you had to carry it around with you on a pole on wheels!! So when I was told I would be receiving infliximab by the Gastro Doc I was over the moon. Infliximab is so strong and powerful with so many potential side effects that you have to have tests for TB, Hepatitis and a myriad of potential underlying diseases before it will be administered. I was told there would be an 80% chance of not needing surgery. So when days later I was told surgery was my only option I was distraught. How could I wear a bag, it would be awful.

However, by the time the surgeons came to see me I was in so much agony I distinctly remember saying to them “I don’t care just get the f***er out”! Eventually I awoke from Emergency surgery with two bags (one was a mucous fistula, more of that in later posts) but instantly felt better. I was in agony from the op but could tell that my ravaged, poisoned intestine had gone! It was days before I was allowed to eat properly again, which was torture but when I could it was absolute heaven!

So why do I love my stoma?

1) I can eat anything I want without fear of mad loo dashes, except sweetcorn, it’s the devil for me, I love it but it’s a small sacrifice (missing the large intestine means certain foods can be more difficult to digest and can cause issues but it’s all individual).

2) I can exercise again – ok not so much of a love as I don’t really like exercise but there’s no excuses and the sky’s limit if I want!

3) I can wear white and whatever else I like (yes with the aid of some amazing albeit expensive knickers!) but I can still wear those things. I mean who would wear white if the fear of sh*****g yourself was always at the back of your mind?!

4) I can have a relationship, yes you can date with a stoma, it doesn’t seem to put people off. But the best thing is no longer (as happened to me) having a date over for dinner, excusing yourself to use the loo only appearing half hour later, pale and weary! Emptying the bag takes seconds so no embarrassing ‘you’ve been a while’ moments.

5) I don’t have to find a nice toilet to poo in! Obviously nice toilets are a bonus, but it’s not like having a poo, where (especially us ladies) would rather do in private and comfort, but a practical task, that can be done almost anywhere. Oh, and no more waiting until I’m home to poo, nope it’s on the go now!

6) Travelling – I can travel, on planes, trains and automobiles! No worries of being on a plane, feeling an urge to go and yet seeing a dreaded queue. As yet, I have not had to empty on a train toilet and I hope I don’t have to, but I still could, no fear about being stuck in a god-awful train toilet for ages and risk missing my stop! Before travelling I make sure I empty, eat light before hand, take a couple of Imodium and away I go!

7) I am free of medication, fatigue and pain which is just amazing. Ok, so occasionally I don’t chew properly or I eat something that’s difficult to digest and I may get a ‘blockage’ which is painful but manageable yet it’s still better than before.

There are several more reasons but I realize I’ve chatted enough so maybe I’ll leave you wanting more! 😉

But as I said, I am lucky, suffering for so long made me appreciate my stoma. But if anyone is facing a similar situation, it isn’t all bad and you can have fun with it (yep you can, but more on that later!)

So I love my stoma, really for the freedom it gave me and the fact I can now enjoy life – which is really the important thing 🙂

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Running, tantrums and bumbags….

So, it is now less than 4 weeks until my Bupa 10k – eeek, how did that come round so quickly? I am very nearly at 10K, my last ‘long’ run was 8.87km so I am getting there. I have upped the training, courtesy of a company called Fitness Fondue, they gave me a great training plan and it has really helped so I am feeling positive. The last time I ran was 6 years ago when I took part in a Race for Life 5K, I completed the course and promptly threw up at the finish line! My goal with the 10k is, NOT to be sick! As I have mentioned, Mike is also doing the run, however, he wants to achieve his own time goal so won’t be running be with me on the day. He has been out on two long runs with me recently, which has helped massively, it has definitely increased my speed and distance, but what is a hard run for me is an easy one for him! I have said I don’t like running with him but I discovered it was actually ok, until Sunday when we went running and ended up having a little argument as we neared our finish line….First of all he clapped me!!!! Why is this so bad?? I don’t want to be clapped at mid run!! Then he told me not to get out my phone, I shouted at him, dropped my phone and then swore at him! Poor Mike, only trying to be supportive and I have a little tantrum at the end! So it is probably a good job we are not running together on the day – it probably wouldn’t look too good if I stamped my feet mid-way! I have also come up with a practical solution to store items when I run, obviously the weather is getting hotter & my clothing doesn’t have pockets. I like to take my phone for music, a tissue (just in case), my lip gloss (not for vanity, I don’t like dry lips & well, I love lip gloss), £2 (for emergencies) and my key. This amazing, lightweight, practical item is a bum bag!! Yes, a bum bag, all the way from the 80’s. It’s from B&M Bargains and was only £1 – assorted colours too. I have one in pink and one in red. I am seriously rocking this bum bag and have even started wearing it to the gym – I am not even ashamed. In fact, my friends are all asking me to get them one – it may be tricky, those babies are flying off the shelves! It did make me wonder though, at what point in life do we stop caring what people think and do what pleases us, it’s a much happier way to be, or have I just got to the point when practical is overriding glamour??? (This cannot be happening, I will always prioritise high heels). It’s all a bit of a turn around as roughly this time least year, I was sat in my surgeons office and getting the sign off (yay) but crying because I disliked my body (operations do that to you, funnily, the stoma bag was never an issue) thinking I would never get fit or lose the bit of weight I had gained whilst at home recovering. Now 1 year on I am running a 10K and almost enjoying it. You really never know what is round the corner and when life feels hard or you are despairing, just remember, a year can change everything. And for those who may be facing a similar journey, it turns out you really can run, hop, skip and jump with an Ostomy (if the desire takes you)! If you do fancy sponsoring Mike and I and helping a great cause in the meantime then you can do so here  http://www.justgiving.com/Sherrill-Hawker 🙂 bumbag