Tag Archives: Ulcerative Colitis

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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Ostomy’s go viral – let’s keep it going

Yesterday was a big day for Ostomates and IBD’ers which is great news and all thanks to a couple of lovely young women. BBC Breakfast did an interview with Rachel Flint (http://adventuresofthebaglady.wordpress.com/) about life with Crohn’s and the fatigue it causes, Rachel spoke openly about her Stoma and how it changed her life for the better, a very positive view on something lots of people see as negative. Unfortunately, the interview was marred by a consultant inferring that Crohn’s is caused by a poor diet (but more of that later). This ‘surprise’ element of the interview was handled very well by Rachel and David from Crohn’s and Colitis Uk http://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/ However, overall Rachel gave a positive view of living with a stoma and at least IBD was brought to the forefront and about time. Rachel’s story and her feedback on the diet issue went viral with so many shares and likes and others offering their experience.

The second positive story of the day was a young woman called Vicky who posted a picture of herself sunbathing on the beach in a bikini with her ostomy bag on full display – good for her and to date the picture has generated over 200,000 likes and goodness knows how many shares but it is more good news for Ostomates. And well done to brave Vicky who also happens to have an amazing body! So all in all a positive day of showing Stoma’s in a positive light and maybe giving hope to others who may be facing life with a stoma for whatever reason.

It has also raised awareness of IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) and hopefully the general public are now more aware of the effects of these types of diseases. Unfortunately I feel that Ulcerative Colitis has become the poor relation, it doesn’t get as much press as Crohn’s and seems to get brushed under the carpet at times. Of course, with Crohn’s getting press other IBD’s will naturally also get an upsurge in awareness but it is a shame that UC isn’t discussed as much as Crohn’s – but still, it’s all baby steps and it’s still good publicity. The difference between Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis is the amount of digestive tract that it affects. UC affects the large intestine (right down to the rectum and anus) whereas Crohn’s affects the whole digestive tract (throat, mouth, stomach, small and large intestine etc.). However, both diseases are debilitating, excruciating and embarrassing.

I mentioned the inference that diet could cause IBD and I would just like to say (as many others have) that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to back this up. Many people with IBD have led a healthy life, I grew up on homemade dinners, we didn’t have takeaways and I was an active child. I had symptoms from the age of 16 and yet it took 10 years for me to get a diagnosis, by this point my intestines were so ravaged that the disease was only going to get worse. The problem in my opinion, is not diet related but lack of early diagnosis. Perhaps if doctors would take our symptoms seriously and not send us away with a diagnosis of piles or Irritable Bowel Syndrome we may get help sooner. If my diagnosis was made earlier on then I would have got medication sooner and maybe my large intestine would have stood a fighting chance and maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t be living with a permanent ostomy. This does not make me bitter, I am still glad I have my Stoma, it has changed my life for the better and I am no longer chained to a toilet. But for a medical professional to insinuate we have brought these diseases on ourselves with a poor diet, is quite frankly insulting. Of course diet affects us and our bodies, we should have a healthy balanced diet, with plenty of fresh fruit and veg and the treats limited but we shouldn’t be made to feel that the odd trip to a fast food restaurant caused us to have a debilitating condition. IBD is an Auto-Immune Disorder, this means the body turns on itself and attacks healthy tissue, there is yet to be more research done to know what does cause it.

So all in all, despite the ‘diet’ issue, yesterday was a great day for people with IBD and stomas and I want to keep that going, let’s share the blogs, the pictures and the posts. Let’s quell the idea that stomas are for old people (I used to think this too, I used to joke about having a bag when I was older because of my UC) and let’s give hope to people facing having to have one, it’s not just people with IBD but people with Bowel Cancer may face a stoma too.

And you know what, you can wear whatever the hell you like, as those who follow me and read my blog know, I have never been shy about sharing the fact I wear a bag and often like to show people! The only reason I don’t share so many bikini pics is not because I am ashamed of my bag but because I am no supermodel, I don’t have a rocking bod, and no matter how much I work out and eat well I still feel I could be a good half a stone lighter (and I certainly look nowhere near as good as the beautiful Vicky). But my body got me through a tough time and I try to be proud of it but when faced with pictures on an hourly basis of people with amazing bodies it is hard not to have a negative body image (ironic that it’s my figure that bothers me not the stoma!) But as I bleat on about raising awareness and being proud of what you have then I should practice what I preach and show you what I have! Sherrill Bikini

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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Holiday Blues

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since my last blog, where does the time go? But I have been a little busy, mainly with running in prep for my Bupa 10K next weekend but also with a girl’s weekend away.

I love holidays, they are my favourite thing in the world, even a little one night break counts as a holiday in my book, in fact I might not bother working if it wasn’t for the fact I need to pay for holidays! 😉 When I was ill I didn’t get a holiday for a couple of years, not even a mini-break, well that’s a lie – I did get two summer breaks courtesy of the NHS, even food was included! My sister and I also had a ‘staycation’ too which was amazing and sort of counts as a holiday, despite being on home turf. Holidays with a Stoma can be a cause of concern for some people, but I can tell you that it is absolutely no problem, in fact everything happens the same, you just have to remember to pack enough supplies and then spares and then spares for the spares…..but it’s all good. I will talk more about holidays and the Stoma but that is for another day.

So, back to the holidays, yes I love them but I also get horrific, indescribable, miserable post-holiday blues. I always have done, right from my first holiday abroad with my best friend Lisa, we went to Corfu, I fell in ‘love’ with a Greek barman (has to be done) and decided that I would go back out there to work the following season, I didn’t, we went on holiday to Turkey instead and I fell in ‘love’ with the Turkish entertainer! Upon arriving home, our mum’s were eagerly (that’s mine and Lisa’s, not the Turkish entertainer’s) waiting our arrival and I burst into tears stating I didn’t want to come home. Eventually I decided I couldn’t keep getting the blues like this so did a season abroad for Thomson as an entertainer, my summer of 1999 was spent in Cyprus – where you guessed it, I fell in love with the Cypriot porter!! Coming home this time was even worse, Lisa and her mum picked me up from the airport at the end of season and all I did was cry all the way home, mind you it didn’t help that Lisa had picked up a CD for the Journey called ‘Best Movie Power Ballads’ (or something like that). You get the picture, I go on holiday, fall in ‘love’ with a local and then get the blues. Fortunately, my last few holidays have been with Mike, so there has been no falling in love (much to his relief), except for maybe with my own reflection in the shiny cocktail glass!

I mentioned a girls weekend, well the weekend just gone, myself, my sister Leanne and 3 of our friends (Vicky, Lisa, Jo and Kelly, they all deserve a mention) all went to Butlins. And I don’t mean Butlins of the ‘take your kids for a family holiday’ variety, I am talking the adults weekender. This one was an 80’s themed affair, we went in September for a 90’s style one (S Club Party anyone?) and it was so good we had to instantly book for our next one. The weekend is just so much fun, responsibilities are left on your doorstep and all that ensues is 3 days of fun, alcohol, dancing and dressing up. We dressed up every night in something different, the Sunday we did pyjamas, all I can say is it is very liberating & very comfortable to go out in pyjamas and your feet appreciate the slippers! So it’s a great weekend, with a pool party, a fun fair and lots of great girlie times. My sister is amazing at organising girls nights and weekends and she had got us personalised totes made with lots of goodies and t-shirts inside plus loads of games to play before our nights out, so there wasn’t an unfilled moment in the whole weekend!

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Weekends like this would have been a worry for me with my illness, but now with a Stoma it is easy. Everyone knows I have one (and probably a few people at Butlins now know!) so I don’t have to worry about sharing rooms or anything, and I can wear anything I like and go swimming and enjoy myself and generally have a good time. So a Stoma isn’t so bad.

You can probably guess that I am now suffering with the post-holiday blues or post-Butlins blues, we all are, we’ve had so much fun and then it’s back to reality. We all want to go again, we keep saying this time last week…..we all want to go to the pool party, we don’t want to be at home and working when we could be having so much fun! Still, it is not so bad for me as I go on holiday again in two weeks, I can’t wait. I won’t be falling in love with any locals but I can guarantee I will have a severe case of the blues upon return and may be a nightmare to live with.

Still I guess I will just have to book the next Butlins weekend to give me (and the girls) something to look forward to!

By the way, if you fancy sponsoring my 10K you can do so here! 🙂 http://www.justgiving.com/Sherrill-Hawker

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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

Did you say poo??

I was at the Brighton Marathon on Sunday, nope not running it, just the thought of that makes me feel a little bit sick, but supporting the runners that were running for Beating Bowel Cancer. Brighton is one of the areas I cover so it was nice for me to go along and cheer the runners on as they pushed themselves along the gruelling 26 mile course. I am full of admiration for Marathon runners, it takes so much dedication and training and must be, quite frankly, exhausting. My mum volunteered to come and support the charity as well so it was great to have her there. One of my friends took part (she is also doing the London one as well – crazy!) and she waved at us as she came by at the halfway point – she looked fresh as a daisy, how?? If that was me I’d be crawling by that point, I won’t even look like that halfway through my 10K! In fact my goal, other than completing the course is not to throw up at the finish line as I did when I took part in a 5K many years ago! The Marathon had a fantastic atmosphere and I was glad to be a part of it in some way and it’s great that people are running for us at Beating Bowel Cancer.

Bowel Cancer is the UK’s 2nd biggest cancer killer and yet it’s a cancer that still does not get the exposure it should. People are still too embarrassed to talk about their bowels and yet they shouldn’t be – early diagnosis is the key to saving lives. I can totally relate to the embarrassment factor but once you poo into a bag attached to your stomach it’s suddenly not so embarrassing anymore! This month is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and at work we have a #LiftTheLid campaign which is to get people talking and raising awareness of symptoms http://www.beatingbowelcancer.org/liftthelid. I hope I can encourage people to talk about their poo and bums and help people to realise it’s not so bad.

Yesterday I was at Channel Radio on Who Cares Wins radio show talking about the Charity and our work, the presenters were really supportive and it was a great opportunity to promote Beating Bowel Cancer. I also love a microphone so any excuse to talk into one! But if you fancy a listen then you have until Monday http://www.channelradio.co.uk/listen-again-Monday/ and pick the Who Cares Wins section.

I have always said that when you go to hospital you leave your dignity at the front door and if you are lucky you pick it up on the way out! When I was admitted in 2011 (before op) I was given a side room for a couple of days. Anyone who has been in hospital will also know that the doctors do their rounds once a day and you don’t want to miss them, it’s your only chance to discuss your illness and treatment. So in a side room you only need to be in the loo to miss the rounds, I was often in the toilet due to the nature of my illness, and on one occasion I heard the doctors come in – so I shouted “please wait, I won’t be long”, I exited the toilet to be greeted by three very good looking junior doctors! Oh the shame, I couldn’t believe it, I was stood there in my moo cow pyjamas knowing these doctors knew I’d been for a poo! But I got over it – you have to, and have never been embarrassed since, even when Dr McDreamy (as my sister referred to him) had to question me on the frequency of my stool movements! So you see, it’s not so bad! So talk about your poo, read up on the symptoms, listen to your body and get checked out if you are not sure.

Oh and if you want to encourage my little 10K then text SHER78 £5 to 70070 and not only will it give me a boost it will also pay for a ‘Just Diagnosed’ information pack to go out to a worried bowel cancer patient.

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Time to go shopping!!

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When I was first told I would need a stoma I cried, yes a little bit of it was because I was worried and nervous, but the main reason I was so sad was because I had just been shopping to Bluewater and thought of those lovely clothes that may never see the light of day!! There are parts of my hospital stays which are blurry, but I definitely remember saying, through a barrage of tears “but I, I, I.have just been shoooppping” – cue more tears. I think probably most women will understand this, it is such an important and necessary part of our lives. Shopping is to us what football is to men, unfortunately we don’t have regular 90 minute programmes about it which is of course why we must therefore, shop in person regularly instead. As it turns out the stoma didn’t stop me wearing any of the clothes I bought, it was only the cropped tops that had to go (only joking, I haven’t worn a crop top since I was about 20!!). It was a lovely excuse to go out and buy more clothes that were suitable for my recovery, then there was the ‘I am fully recovered celebration’ shopping spree, the ‘I am going on holiday’ shopping spree…you get the picture. 

I am very fortunate that in my life I have two wonderful people who positively encourage my shopping. One is my mum, sometimes referred to by my sister (who is also wonderful but that will always go without saying) and me as ‘Bank of Mum’. Oh it is so wonderful and envied by many, we go shopping with mum and she says to us to “put in on my credit card as it won’t need paying for x amount of time” (usually a good payday away). We question an item and what colour should we get it in to which we hear the joyous cries of ‘get it in both you can put it on my credit card’. Yes it is wonderful and fantastic for the wardrobe, not so wonderful when payday actually comes around and you have to pay for the 2 tops in 2 different colours you are now bored of! Mum taught my sister and I well in the art of shopping, perhaps she could have better prepared us by teaching us the art of buying property, but as mum says “when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping”!

The other wondrous shopping companion is Mike, also handy with his credit card (I even get away without paying it back – crafty) but what is more fabulous is his love of high heels (not on himself and not in weird foot fetish way, well not that I know of!) and his surprise that us girls can get them at such bargain prices. He also positively encourages my shopping and doesn’t bat an eyelid when I proclaim that I must have a new dress, he just tells me to do it – isn’t that fantastic?

My latest obsession (apart from dresses and high heels) is bikinis and swimsuits, River Island do an amazing range and I can’t keep away. Great for us girls with a stoma, now just because you have a stoma doesn’t mean you can’t wear ‘normal’ bikinis, I am not ashamed of my stoma and am happy to have it in the open. However, on holiday, when swimming and sunbathing, I just feel more secure with a high waisted bikini or a cut out swimsuit. I love the swimsuits that look like a bikini from the back but cover the tummy and I am so glad all the high waist clothing is in fashion. Trouble is I have enough swimwear to last me a month’s holiday but I still can’t stop buying it every time I see a new suitable garment, always coupled with the excuse that ‘I should get it whilst I see it’ (a mummyism). 

Despite the fact that mum and Mike make good shopping companions, I love a good shop with my sister, this is usually because a shopping trip ends up with cocktails in a bar. Unfortunately we get more reckless – not with the shopping (isn’t tipsy shopping great?) it’s usually the fact that we are surrounded by bags that we decide a few extra pounds on extravagant cocktails and ‘oh we may as well just get the champagne, it’s no more expensive’ can be justified, as after all it won’t make much difference to the overall spending!

Of course none of this is great for my bank balance or my bulging wardrobes, but who cares, shopping it is too much fun to stop. So I must sign off as I have a code for free next day delivery and I have seen a dress I really need…..

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The curse of the busy and the superhuman

It has come to my attention that there is a little competition going on. We will have all noticed it, maybe you noticed it years ago or maybe there are just spurts of it and you notice it now and then. Maybe you’ve even taken part in this competition. But it’s a phenomenon, a curse of the modern day woman. It’s the art of being busy and superhuman and telling everyone about it. Not content with just going to work each day we must also have been up since 5, cleaning & preparing that night’s dinner, tend to the babies, work out, then come home and bake a cake and paint a wall, and all on the 4 hours’ sleep we managed to get. Social Media is of course to blame, before the days of the likes of Facebook & Twitter, we didn’t know what each other was up to, we were living in ignorant bliss that everyone else was also at home lazing on the sofa.

So ensues the ‘who is the busiest, competition’. Is it all entirely honest?  Probably not, are we trying to prove something? Maybe. Either way, I think it is definitely more of a modern day woman problem – after all, how many times have you seen a man post that he was up at 6 doing the housework before leaving for work? I’m not saying some men aren’t doing their fair share but they don’t feel the need to tell everyone, they are far too worried about the football scores. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve certainly been guilty of the odd ‘busy’ post or bragged about the fact I worked out, I’ve even posted the fact I’m up at 6 for the gym or work (albeit disguised as “yawn, too early” seems less like a boast somehow?!) why is this, do people really need to know this about me? Am I just feeling a need to prove I’m not, god forbid, actually in bed sleeping? Although I have never done the housework at 6am, I draw the line somewhere!  I also have honest posts where I talk about lazing on the sofa all day or doing nothing but watching TV in my pyjamas. In fact, some of my fondest memories are not of being BZ, ( I have abbreviated, I am too BZ to write it in full!) rushing around doing 16 hour days, they’re of times my sister and I went to a bar for a cup of tea and rolled out 6 hours later, several glasses of bubbly down, or of lazing on the sofa with mum eating Easter eggs and watching Ben Hur, or blissfully dozing off at 3 in the afternoon whilst a bit of diagnosis murder plays in the background! These are the things to brag about surely (yes, even Diagnosis Murder, I am not ashamed!)  The social media friends I love are the honest ones, I have one who makes no secret of her desire to nap (we’ve been friends since we were two, she’s never been any different!) and another one who talks about eating hob nobs in her pyjamas! Both these women are wonderful people, funny, kind, they have jobs and kids yet still find time for the pleasures.

These are the posts we should be embracing. I love these people! Imagine if we were competing against these people. So instead of “I’ve been up since 5….blah blah” followed by someone else trying to beat them, stating, “up at 4am, 10 mile run, made lunches, took kids to school, did a 28 hour day before coming home to cook dinner, lift weights and reeeelax (posted at 2am)…..wouldn’t it better if we saw “up at 8am, took kids to school, had a nap, ate 5 hobnobs, had another nap before picking up kids……” Followed by someone else posting (the competition is hotting up now) “had 12 hours sleep, bit annoyed as I normally get 14, ate two packets of custard creams, watched ‘this morning’ had a 3 hour nap’. That’s the sort of competition I could get involved in! Wouldn’t we all just feel better about ourselves if we were a bit more honest? Why have we got to be so busy anyway? And why, as women are we so hard on ourselves. I remember when I was ill, I was still firing on all cylinders, and it wasn’t until I got to hospital that I would give in to the rest. Now don’t get me wrong, I would never wish anyone be in hospital and nor would I wish for those times back, but I remember feeling it was the one time I could lay in bed all day watching TV without the overwhelming guilt of doing nothing. Why does it have to take a major illness or hospital admission for us to permit ourselves some rest time? Let’s just enjoy the restful moments, the quiet times and when a spare 15 minutes is offered up, how about napping instead of jobbing. And what intrigues me is that we are all soooo busy yet we manage to find time to let everyone know on social media!!

So I’m taking my own advice and I’m off to have a little nap and eat a biscuit, I may even partake in some Diagnosis Murder napping!

 

 

Little Miss Busy

Weekend boozing and a Monday run

I have to start by saying I was completely overwhelmed by the response to my first blog. So many people shared it and there were so many lovely and supportive comments. It really means a lot and I do hope people continue to gain something positive from my posts.

Back to the present day and it has been a busy weekend, a good one but a busy one. When I was ill with Ulcerative Colitis (UC) busy weekends would fill me with dread, I enjoyed being social but the thought of leaving the safety of my own home and the privacy of my own toilet would just send me into panic mode. It didn’t stop me having a social life, I wouldn’t let it, but secretly I would much rather have been curled up in bed, near my toilet and with a concoction of pain killers than out. Fast forward to the present day and having a social life is what it should be, fun, something to look forward to and one of life’s pleasures.

Friday night we were round some friends to plan a future Come Dine With Me style competition, which also involves my sister and her boyfriend (plenty of room for some healthy sibling rivalry!).  Saturday we were round some other friends for what was a very sophisticated dinner party. I may, however, have made it somewhat less sophisticated by consuming far too much champers! I have been wondering at what point, I grew up enough to take part in such civilized evenings – I don’t feel like I’m ‘there’ yet. Still it’s better than a couple of weeks ago when I was on a girl’s night out, and I left at 10pm because I was too drunk – we had only just got to the bar!

So although I have a stoma, I am still able to drink and eat and go to dinner parties. In fact, all of that is easier now. We are told when we first get our Stomas to be careful about what we eat and drink and fizzy drinks in particular aren’t great because they can cause the bag to blow up because of excess gas (who said champagne was glamorous?!). However, I will not stop drinking my bubbles and actually find them no problem. I generally eat what I like too, but more of that in future posts. Socialising is much easier now too, as I don’t have to leave halfway through a conversation to spend 30 minutes in the toilet!

So, I mentioned running in my title, now I am not a natural runner, I don’t even like it that much, it’s hard! But, I decided that I needed to challenge myself, you see I have never been able to do this, so I have no idea just what my body can achieve. I have always been too unwell or recovering from operations. As I work for a charity it seemed an ideal time to do something to raise money for them. So Mike and I have entered into the Bupa 10K for Beating Bowel Cancer. It is not until May 25, so I have plenty of training time. So I had a little lunchtime run today of 5K. I am managing 7 minutes per km, so I am quite pleased with that for now. But I often feel like a slow runner, and by slow I mean, I am sure the person walking behind me will soon overtake me! I went for a run with Mike last year, it was just 2 miles, but we got back to the house, I was red, sweaty and puffed out, and Mike announced that he was “going for a run now”. Yep, definitely not a natural runner, but I am determined to give it a go.

If you feel like sponsoring me then you can http://www.justgiving.com/Sherrill-Hawker or just keep following my blog and see me as I struggle to get up to 10K!

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