An update from Hattie, post-reversal surgery!

Finally, what you’ve all been waiting for – Hattie’s first update since her reversal surgery!

I’d first just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who supported me during the time I spent with an ostomy. It was both a huge learning curve and an inspiring time for me. I found so many great people through a variety of IBD groups who inspired me to keep going, and who also made coming to terms with my ostomy easier.

As you’ll all know, on the 20th of October of last year, I underwent reversal surgery.

Because I’d had my large bowel removed but obtained my rectum, I had a straight re-join reversal, in which my small bowel was connected to my rectum.

I was told the operation and recovery would be easy – but boy were they wrong. It was a truly gruelling process. The 3 days I was supposed to be in hospital turned to 11, and I was unable to eat or keep any form of liquid down for 9 of those days, meaning I lost an entire stone during that week.

The way I felt was horrendous. I had no self control. No control of my bowels nor my stomach. I was in a lot of pain and I felt sick the entire time. I worried I’d made the wrong decision.

But, each time I looked down at my stomach, I cried…with happiness. Not necessarily because I no longer had an ostomy bag – but because my new stitches were a reminder of how far I’d come. I felt a little sad, that my journey had come to an end. I’d spent so long writing about life with an ostomy that I worried about what I’d do next.

Fast forward 6 months, and here I am. Sat at my laptop, with a healed stomach, drinking a glass of cider. I only note what I’m drinking, because it’s something that I wouldn’t have been able to drink before. Since my reversal, I have been able to eat and drink what I want with no issues.

Sure, it was hard at first. I was using the bathroom 6-8 times a day and for a couple of months I feel I regretted the surgery, because I had to take a few months out of my new job as I was constantly suffering with cramps, and I couldn’t rely on my stomach to behave. I was also really, really sore going to the toilet. But hey, who wouldn’t be after not going for 9 months?! I personally am really pleased with my reversal.

I think the key is to wait it out. Don’t get upset. Things take time. In the space of 6 months, I’ve gone from using the toilet 6-8 times a day to 3. The only thing I rely on is Imodium.

If you’re opting for a reversal, don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself time to heal. Allow yourself that time to come to terms with things and understand that things don’t get better overnight.

There are definitely parts I do miss about having a stoma bag – not being on the toilet for 20 minutes at a time is one of them. And I don’t think I’d be upset should I ever need one again. But having the reversal, for me, has helped me gain some control back over my body. And I’m glad to update you all that I now couldn’t be happier.

Morethanyourbag.com had an amazing 2015!

WordPress.com automatically prepared this 2015 annual report for this blog. (Note from the  sponsors, CliniMed and SecuriCare : Didn’t Hattie do amazingly in her year of blogging and juggling her stoma surgery / recovery?)

We thought you might like to share the statistics…

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 500,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 21 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Goodbye everyone!

So today is – hopefully – the last day of having an ostomy bag. With my operation coming up unexpectedly fast (it’s tomorrow?!), it’s the day I’ll be saying goodbye to the late nights up changing my bag, trying out different coping methods whilst also looking for the most fashionable way to stay comfortable. Though I’m sure I’ll be looking for extra comfort over the next couple of weeks, but for a different scar this time! So with saying goodbye to the bag that saved my life, it’s also time to say goodbye to the blog that saved my mental health.

Today is the last day that I will officially be running this blog. From here on in, my blog will be managed by my wonderful sponsors SecuriCare Medical & CliniMed.

It’s been a wonderful year being able to write and embark on my journey with you guys but I feel the blogging comes to an end for me, here. I know that after my operation, I will have a great support network of people around me, and I’m quite excited to begin a new journey privately.

My blog helped me in a number of ways – more so than I’d ever imagined. It kept me strong, it kept me sane. It allowed me to speak openly on my experiences whilst introducing me to wonderful people with wonderful stories. I couldn’t be more grateful for everything it has given me.

I can’t believe this little online diary turned into something so positive. It all started from this one picture.

My hands trembling as it uploaded, I never expected a hundred people to see it, let alone 14,000.

My blog allowed me to do what I love best – write. I just can’t believe how quickly it blew up to such a huge audience.

Over the past year www.morethanyourbag.com has been viewed by over 420,000 people. So many of youhave consistently returned to offer me your support and share your stories. And I couldn’t be more appreciative to those that have done so. It’s such a lovely feeling to know people have trusted me with their scariest, yet most emotional life saving experiences. And it’s also been an amazing feeling to know I can relate.

Although this blog was initially made to help me get through this, it’s done so much more. It’s shown me I’m not alone. And a wise person once said (my best friend) that the greatest feeling you can ever receive is the feeling of not being alone. And he was right. I couldn’t have gotten through this without you all.

But not only this, my blog has made me a stronger person. It has shown me I can get through absolutely anything, with the right attitude. It has changed me as a person. I depsise the person I was before my surgery. All I cared about was my image and what people thought of me. Now, it couldn’t be more different. I have accepted my scars, I accepted my bags. But most importantly, I have accepted who I am as a person.

This blog has been a huge leap into a career I’d only ever dreamed of. I can’t believe that at 20 years old I am now able to say I created an international blog. I filmed a pilot for ITV with Davina McCall, I was interviewed by The Kyle & Jackie O Show, I’ve freelanced for The Huffington Post and The Debrief, I was featured in several of the UK’s biggest publications and now I’m actually writing for one. I’m so proud of all of my acheivements, and can only look forward to what the future has to offer from here on.

Now, for the most important part.

I want to say thank you, to all of those who have stuck by me throughout this past year.

To my gorgeous boyfriend, thank you for continuing to love and support me through what has been the toughest part of our relationship so far. Thank you for making me believe in myself and believe that I can still be attractive with a disability. Thank you for sticking by my side, throughout everything.

To my loving family, thank you for being the most loving people I know. You have done nothing but remain strong for me throughout this entire experience, and I couldn’t have gotten through those first couple of months without you. We are such a close family, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have been surrounded by such amazing people. I love you all so much.

To DJ, thank you for making some of the most amazing things possible. You have helped me in so many ways, you’ve taught me so many things. You made it possible to create some beautiful films. Films that I’ll look back on in years to come, to look back on this experience. To remember how far I’ve come. Thank you.

To Hollie, the only girl in the world that I know I can trust. You have been the best friend I could have ever wished for. You’ve given me back that sense of normality. You never once judged me, nor questioned me. You never allowed me to feel different. You are the best friend I could ever wish for, I’m so grateful to have you in my life.

To Sarah & Loretta, before I thank the companies, I’d like to thank you. For not just being amazing sponsors, but amazing friends. You’ve done nothing but look out for me and support my work. Thank you for making all of this possible.

To CliniMed & SecuriCare – thank you for being the best sponsors in the world! You made it possible for me to live a normal working life. You helped me support myself financially and you supported every piece of writing – no matter how revealing! Thank you for making sure i’ve been comfortable with every product and for making this experience as easy as possible.

To #GetYourBellyOut – this was the first group that I was able to meet others like me. You showed me that normal is not what meets the eye. You have continued to comfort and support me and advise me when it was most needed. I have made friends through this group that I hope will be friendships that last forever. You’ve all done such amazing work to make sure people know they are not alone. You are all true inspirations.

And to all of my readers – thank you for taking the time to follow me throughout this journey. To open up to me and to compliment my work. Thank you for helping me raise awareness, and for being loyal to my writing. Thank you for listening and helping me grow. Thank you for being my online family!

I’ll be posting up something after my operation, to let you all know how it went. Fingers crossed everything goes to plan!

Take care everyone.

Thank you, really, all so much.

Best wishes,
Hattie – www.morethanyourbag.com xo

Just 9 more days until I get my old belly back…

That’s nuts, right? Just 9 more days? How the hell has it been 10 months since I had my operation?

I was discussing this with Angelo the other day, how quick time had gone. It doesn’t seem like it was longer than a few months ago that I’d moved back home, and was laying in bed recovering, shaking like crazy about to upload a photo of my experience. I never once thought this blog would get anywhere. Not like it has. I assumed it’d be an online diary that I’d use for perhaps a few months whilst I recovered. Something to look back on. And I mean, it will be something to look back on… but I never imaged so many people would be looking back on it with me.

Times creeping up and I don’t feel nervous at all. I’m excited. Excited to see how I’ll feel when I wake up. I even feel excited to use this whole hospital shower wash and drink all these disgusting drinks just to start getting me prepared. I can’t wait for it to all be over, to be back home with my family, to know that I won’t (hopefully) have to see another operating table for a while.

It’s weird knowing how much I’ve written on here. How many personal stories I’ve shared. How many embarrassing situations I’ve laughed upon with people I’ve never met in my life. What’s most unbelievable is the amount of people this blog has reached. I’d never expected so many people would read it. 10 or 20 of my friends and family, maybe. But over 410,000 people? Across the entire world? It’s something I’d never even dreamed of. How does that happen?!

But it’s not the number of people that continue to click onto this site even when I haven’t written for a week or so. It’s the people that have spent time to message me. To confide in me, to ask for advice. To give me advice and share their stories. It’s a truly wonderful thing to for someone to feel they can trust you. And I have been trusted with so many truly amazing, inspirational yet some absolutely heart breaking stories.

I’d really like for this last week before my operation, to share some stories. So if any of you feel like you’d like to get in touch and share your experience, please do by going to my contact page. I’ll be putting up as many as possible. I really hope some of you feel like you’d like to do this, I feel it will send a truly positive message to others who may be struggling. Knowing you’re not alone is the greatest gift a person can have, and I hope the stories shared will give hope to some that may feel they can’t speak out.

Hattie x

The Release Of Our Project – Beauty Is What You Make It

I’m so excited to finally show you all of the hard work we have put into to something incredibly special. I’m finally able to release the video that has taken 7 months of hard work. Days spent filming down in Milton Keynes, countless edits and meetings to discuss various things. It’s been an amazing experience and one that I’ll truly never forget.

This video has been a huge eye opener for me and has proved to me that if I challenge myself enough, I can acheieve.

As a former bulimic and a current ostomy bag wearer (I think that’s a thing) if you’d have told me 5 years ago I’d be making a public video for a huge charity, all in my underwear – I’d tell you to have a laugh!

And, the fact that I’ve put on two stone in this video isn’t bugging me half as much as it would’ve in the past!

The idea for this video came about when me and my best friend were up all night, watching bad TV, chatting about meaningless things and the subject of bucket lists came up. I’d written about this on my blog, and on here I mentioned burlesque. My best friend runs a film company, and he said together we could make something beautiful… but with his expertise we made something beyond beautiful!

With a feel of burlesque and a vibe that oozes body confidence, we made what I hope will be the start of something amazing – and something accepting. I watch this video with nothing but pride, as I see how far I have come since I was on the operating table about to undergo emergency surgery for an ileostomy bag. From waking up an insecure, terrified girl, scared to look down at her stomach – to a fulfilled, confident woman, embracing her body.

I want to thank DJ Devereux for making our vision come true, Lia Knight for my beautiful hair and makeup, Ryan Coyle for the incredible stage work, Andie Hill from Crohn’s and Colitis UK for standing by me throughout, my sponsors SecuriCare Medical and Clinimed for their ongoing support. Also my loving family and boyfriend for making me the strong woman I am today, and of course my surgeon, Mr Cripps – for saving my life.

This video is the last thing I have left to give to my readers. This is the last thing I will be posting, surrounding body confidence. My reversal is in 15 days, and from now on I am going to be preparing for it. I will keep you updated with my future operations, and thank you for being the most supportive, amazing readers I could ever have wished for. You have offered me so much love and support and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Now please, sit back, relax and enjoy this video.

My Last Ostomy Bag Order

Today, I received my the last ostomy bag order I’ll ever have to make (being that my operation goes all okay). And to be honest, it hit me right where all the emotional bits are, a little. It’s weird, knowing that I’m never going to have to order 60 ostomy bags and a ton of sprays, barrier wipes, disposable bags and dry wipes again. No more worrying as I get down to my last 3 bags and realise I’d forgotten to place an order for next month. I can’t quite get over that today marks one month exactly until my reversal. How does time go so quickly? It doesn’t seem like it’s been two minutes since I first went under the knife. Knowing it’s the last order I’m going to make has made me realise how much other stuff is going to come to and end. I’m no longer going to need to wear countless pairs of support pants. I’m no longer going to be peering down to my stomach to see whether a balloon has magically appeared under my jeans. No more frustration over the sore skin that occurred when I’d run out of barrier wipes. No more…. nope. That’s it. I’m trying to think of a tonne of things that are going to end for me but I just can’t. Because to be honest, my ostomy hasn’t really been there. I mean, it’s been there… but it’s not obvious. And I mean obvious in the sense that it hasn’t made that much of an impact that I can discuss all of the changes that are going to become so much clearer once my next operation is over. It’s strange, the only difference I’m expecting to notice next month is the lightness of my stomach. Like when you enter a hairdressers after a 6 month hair growth where you haven’t had the time for a cut. And suddenly, after they’ve thinned and trimmed your hair you feel like a whole lot of weight has been lifted from your shoulders. Literally.

Ordering my last load of ostomy bags was like saying goodbye to something you once knew. It emphasized the change I was going to face. I must also add, that anybody who has ever faced a difficult ostomy bag order, you MUST use SecuriCare. Orders can be so awkward at times. It can take your GP a decade to complete your prescription, sizes and delivery can be messed up and your doctor may believe you don’t need as much as you think you do. Which is absolute s*** because who’s to say how many times you should be allowed to clean yourself?! Ridiculous. Anyway, SecuriCare have been my guardian angel. I’ve always ordered earliest 2 days in advance with guaranteed next day delivery. I once asked for some barrier wipes and they sent me 7 packs just to be sure I was set for the next couple of months! I have a great relationship with them and I could never go with any other company after being with them for so long. All of my trust sits with them when it comes to ostomy related things.

I’m looking forward to spending less time changing my bag and altering the cuts and sized, and to spending more time focusing on day to day activities. Not to say I’ve been limited in anyway, of course – but sometimes (especially when in a rush) it can be a little time consuming.

Anyway, I hope everyone’s
all good. I’m 4 weeks from the operating table now and my nerves are starting to get the better of me!

All my love xxphoto 2

P.S. I thought I’d use this old photo for this post, just as a reminder of how far I’ve come. And how much weight I’ve now put on, lol.

xxx

A Change In Reversal Date & Coming To Terms With Things

As some of you may know, I’ve been told I’m able to have reversal surgery this year. It was booked in for the end of December 2015 when I first met with a consultant. Sure, it was a bit crappy that it was around new year but I wanted it done before 2016, to be able to ‘start a fresh’. However, I went for an endoscopy a couple of weeks ago, and to my surprise my bowel was completely healthy and ready for reversal. Obviously it doesn’t just work like that, you can’t just go under the knife on the same day – there’s generally a four week preparation before the operation, based on when the next operation date is free – and my surgeon only operates on Tuesdays, so there wasn’t too many openings over the next four weeks! Anyway, I discussed the reversal with my surgeon and we agreed that it would be a good idea to get it done earlier. The earlier the reversal, the better your chances of keeping your body healthy – the longer you leave it, the more chance your rectum (mine was kept, luckily) has to deteriorate. So, I’ve had a new date set! 20th October 2015, I will be having reversal surgery! It’s just 5 weeks away, and I’m really starting to feel nervous! But as well as becoming increasingly nervous, I’m also beginning to reflect.

Being able to look back over the year and see how far I have come since my surgery has been truly amazing. It’s been such an emotional year. I never expected to be where I am today. I feel a much stronger person than I was this time last year. This experience has given me the strength to realise that I can move on from things, and I can achieve, whatever the circumstance. It has proven who my true friends our, and forced an even stronger bond within my family, who have been there by my side throughout every step of the way.

It has been a test on my relationship, it has proven how strong a connection my boyfriend and I share, and has shown how deep our love goes. He has helped me feel confident within myself. Having him there has been a huge help. Knowing I’m still attractive to him has helped me more than he’ll ever know, and has gone on to help improve my own self confidence. It’s shown that beauty is skin deep, and that a change in somebodies body really isn’t the end to a romantic relationship.

I’ll be forever grateful to everybody that has continued to read my blogs over the past year. I can’t believe how fast times gone!

And I haven’t uploaded a belly picture in a long time… it’s something many members of the #GetYourBellyOut Group have been doing since winning a Pride of Britain Award! So this one’s for them! (And a MASSIVE congratulations to you all!)

I’ve Started Up Another Blog!

Today, I decided to start another blog. I enjoy writing my blog but it can be quite hard sometimes considering it’s obviously quite topical… especially when I don’t want to talk about IBD or Ostomy. This blog is purely for things I’ve written, stuff I’ve produced etc, sort of like an online portfolio but not so professional, haha! I’m excited to add to it because I feel it will motivate me more. There is a whole bunch of stuff ready to read, such as info as to how I got into writing, where it all began with my blog, my first articles back in 2013 and insight into other things I enjoy writing about. As well as this are examples of design work I have done for other companies, and just to mix things up a little (lol I cringed myself writing that, I apologise) there’s a little section as to what I’m reading at the moment… in case any of you are into reading…?

Anyway, this was just a short post to introduce my little side blog. I hope you’re all well! x

Oh – here’s the link! http://www.hattiegladwell.wordpress.com 🙂

Screenshot 2015-09-08 at 8.26.48 PM

How I’ve Become More Comfortable With Having An Ostomy During Sex

Sex can be awkward for a number of reasons. Whether it’s because you’re self concious, unsure of yourself or even unsure of your person, certain aspects of sex can really make you feel uneasy. Stripping down to reveal your body or even just to your underwear, in itself can be a hell of a task. What will they think of me? Will they dislike me? And when you have an ostomy bag like myself, it can be awkward for a whole lot of reasons which aren’t just revolved around body confidence. Sudden movements can cause the ostomy bag to move around a lot, making you feel embarrassed and insecure. Feeling like you should apologise for something you can’t help. Going on top can be a bit of an issue because the position causes the most movement to the bag itself, meaning it can pull a little on your stomach and be quite painful. Going on bottom can also be a little difficult, because of the pressure the other person is likely to put on you. And lying on your front? The pulling of the bag and pressure of your own body weight (all of your body weight) can cause the bag to pancake (leak) or pull again, uncomfortably. Alongside the physical discomfort, it can also be a little mentally draining. The fear of a leaky bag, the worry of the rustling sound. It might be better to just avoid sex at all.

Screenshot 2015-09-02 at 8.37.54 PM

Or so I thought, until I found something that has taken all of my troubles away. I was given this amazing waist band. It’s nude, and sometimes I actually just wear it because it is so camouflaged amongst my skin that in the right lighting it can look like I don’t even have my bag anymore. Not that I despise my body with it, but sometimes I just miss my old, flatter tummy. The weight I’ve put on recently has done a little damage to my self esteem. The waist band holds in that unwanted flab and gives me a silhouette that makes me feel confident. It makes me feel like my old self. I can’t explain it. It keeps my body smooth and hides my bag completely, yet it doesn’t feel too tight. It’s comfortable to wear whilst also preventing leaks – a great thing to be sure of when wanting to be intimate.



Wearing this waist band for the first time during sex I felt like a different person. Sure, I’ve had sex since my surgery but this felt different. I felt at ease. I wasn’t partially focusing on my stomach for once. I wasn’t fearing what he thought when I was in my most blatantly vulnerable state. I felt down to my stomach and I felt nothing but flatness. Smoothness. There was no rustling, no unwanted movement. No pulling, no pain. There are small strip
s of silicone which help to keep the waistband in place – meaning in no way shape or form can it become an inconvenience during intimacy – or day to day activities for that matter.

The waistband itself has more than one function:

Waistband Functions

Intimacy – it 
discretely hides the surgical site or ostomy.

Changing room privacy – Feel comfortable and confident when out shopping with friends, trying on new clothes or getting changed with others. 

Swimming – Can be worn under conventional swimwear to secure everything in place.

Overnight – S
leep sound and secure with the waistband keeping everything in place.

Sports – Keeps your appliance secure and prevents it moving about during activities

It can also be combined with boxers or briefs, i.e. used as a body slip shaper.

They are £10 and available on prescription, in a variety of sizes:

Size UK Europe US Waist
S / M
8/10/12 35/38 6/8/10 28-32″
M / L
14/16/18 36/38/40 12/14/16 34-38″
L / XL
20/22/24 42/44/46 18/20/22 40-44″
XL / 2XL
26/28/30 54/56/58 24/26/28 46-50″
2XL / 3XL
32/34/36 60/62/64 30/32/34 52-56″

The waistband can be found here: http://comfizz.com/products/ostomy/level1/ladies/10waistband-neutral-silicone.html#productDescription

Screenshot 2015-09-02 at 8.35.17 PM

I would high recommend if you are struggling at all with intimacy. It has truly helped me regain my confidence in the bedroom.

I’ve Gained Two Stone & An Ostomy Bag But My Stomach Looks Flat Because Of This! 

I haven’t blogged in a while because I’ve had so much to do and sort out the past week! But I absolutely neeeeeded to tell you about what I’ve been wearing whilst I’ve been away!Some of you may remember me saying that I’d put on 2 stone since surgery. I don’t like my stomach very much at the moment, one side seems to bulge out a little more than the side where my bag sits. I don’t mind tooooo much, I mean, I’m much healthier than I was before and to be honest, I can’t be bothered to do anything about it right now! Anyway, wearing some of my clothes has been a bit of a struggle, especially my black skinny jeans I normally live in. They seem to cut into my stomach a little and make my bag pancake recently. If you don’t know what pancaking is, it’s where the tightness stops the flow within your bag. Not nice.
I’d recently reecived a support wear vest, but was yet to try it. I’d tried a vest before, not specially made of course, and it’s a wonder I was able to breathe in it! This vest was just a cheap one I’d found in a store – not ideal for somebody with an ostomy. Until Comfizz once again came to my rescue and I received one of their light support wear vests. It’s so comfy you could even sleep in it.
I’ve been wearing it all day with my jeans, and my bag hasn’t pancaked, and the thickness of the vest has stopped the jeans digging into my stomach! My stomach looks a lot flatter and the vest seems to give me a more curved figure, tightening in at the waist (comfortably so) and it actually pushes up my boobs! (I have literally none so to see these little things on my chest without having to use is a microscope is an added bonus.)
I can wear it under absolutely anything and it literally goes unnoticed. It helps me to stop feeling conscious of having a bloated bag, or worrying about how my belly looks when I’m sitting down!


The vest is available in a variety of colours. I’m wearing a S/M in pink.

These are also offered on prescription too, so with the confirmation from your doctor, you could get one for free!

To give you a little extra detail, here are the main benefits of this vest:

Gives a smoother body shape
Relieves hernia symptoms – if you have one!

Can be worn overnight, to stop you worrying about a leak!

YOU CAN ACTUALLY BREATHE IN IT because the fabric is specially made breathable fabric which keeps skin cool and dry

It improves bag adherence, which reduces leaks

For sports they give extra support, security and confidence during activities

Virtually seamless with no labels, which is fab because where the vest is tighter than normal clothing, you’re not getting anything rubbing on your skin nor itching.

The vest is extremely flexible, perfect for activities such as gymnastics or yoga

The gentle compression aides release of gas, whilst also reducing a bloated bag.

This is the link to the best I’m wearing: http://www.comfizz.com/products/ostomy/level1/ladies/ladies-vest-white.html

Let me know what you thought if you try one! Would love to see some pics!

The Ostomy Instagram Tag & Body Building With An Ostomy

I was looking on Instagram today for inspiration to write. It seems I’ve written about so many different topics and I got a little bit of writers block! Sometimes it’s hard to keep writing this blog; especially if, say, you haven’t been too busy the past week! 

Last week however, I headed down to Milton Keynes and met with somebody from Crohn’s & Colitis UK, to interview me about the project I am currently working on – which will be revealed somewhen in September! I’m super excited for everyone to see what we’ve been working on these past couple of months, but don’t want to ruin the surprise! I will however just say, we were working with the man who worked within the animation of Beauty and the Beast’s Lumiere. (I fan girled a little) 

Anyway. As I was saying I was searching on Instagram today, and for the first time typed the word ostomy into the search bar. Before I know it, thousands of photo posted under the tag “ostomy” appeared on my phone screen. I was seriously amazed at how open other people were being. So many people sharing their journeys, so many people I felt I could relate to. And, for those of you that use Instagram, I thought I’d just mention a user I feel would be helpful to others in a similar situation to me. This person is truly inspiring, and will continue to amaze me I’m sure as I follow their journey through imagery. 

 @zoeywright10 is a female body builder with an ileostomy. She takes every ounce of stength she has and puts it towards a passion. She looks absolutely incredible and it just goes to show a chronic illness need not hold you back. 

Please do continue to search the tag also, as you never know who you may find to help keep your mind strong! And feel free to follow my own account also, @hattiegladwell (sneaky bit of promotion there)

Anyway, I hope everyone’s well. I’m suffering with my UC at the moment – my joints are achey and my fatigue is awful! But I have invested in some zinc, iron & B12 supplements so I’m hoping to get it all under wraps soon. :-). Anyone else tried anything to beat fatigue?  

 

– 

“Stop blocking the toilet with your baby wipes!” – now I’ve found flushable stoma bag wipes instead!

I recently wrote about staying at a friends house when you have an ileostomy bag, in which I mentioned about my use of baby wipes and worry about blocking a toilet. I’d had a few comments where people had suggested a variety of ways of lessening my use of baby wipes, many of them suggesting I just throw them away into a black nappy sack when finished with them. Although I was grateful for the suggestions, the idea of cleaning myself up with baby wipes and leaving the remains in nappy sacks wasn’t too appealing to me. Especially if there wasn’t a bin in the bathroom – carrying around a small bag full of poo doesn’t sound to fun to me!

Anyway, after doing my abseil in order to raise money and awareness for Bowel Cancer UK, I had a few drinks with an amazing women from my sponsor, SecuriCare Medical. She told me about some flushable, disposable skin barrier wipes I can use when in need of emptying my bag. Over the next couple of days she sent me a couple of packets through, and I can honestly say they have been a huge life saver! They come in packs of 30, in cute little boxes, with the same packaging as the LBF Skin Barrier Wipes – I wrote about these when I suffered with sore skin around my stoma. If any of you are familiar with the skin barrier wipes, and enjoy them, I am 100% confident you’ll love these too.

They are available on presciption too – even better for me, since I was spending £7 or £8 a week just on baby wipes!

They look small by the packet but they open up by unfolding them four times, and are thick enough to double over should you want to extend their use as much as possible! I was sent two boxes – which amounts to 60 wipes – last week, and I still have a full packet left!

I must admit I am a little OCD about cleanliness, and I did tend to overuse my babywipes in order to make the opening of my bag so shiny you could use it as a mirror (which I don’t do… of course). But with these wipes I don’t need to use one after the other after the other.. two wipes seems to be enough for me each time! Do remember though that these wipes aren’t just for cleaning – first and foremost they have the benefit of protecting the skin around your stoma by creating a thin barrier.

I’d definitely recommend getting yourself a packet if you don’t like using the bag technique or are sick of people telling you you’ll block the toilet. I no longer have to lug a big bag around with me to contain my full packet of baby wipes, I can simply slip a few of the wipes into a pocket of my clutch bag! – Added bonus!

To order the product, just go to this link! http://www.clinimed.co.uk/stoma-care/products/stoma-skin-care-and-accessories/Hydrosolve.aspx

Happy flushing!

What It Is Like To Have Ulcerative Colitis

It wasn’t until after I’d had surgery that I was informed I’d been suffering with ulcerative colitis. I say suffering, but of course I’d been living without realising what was going on inside my body; and that’s why I think this is an important thing to talk about. The fact I didn’t know and ended up so severely, makes me wonder how many other people in the world are unknowingly living with IBD.

Of course I knew something was up, I was living on a daily dose of laxatives, getting up two hours earlier than necessary, drinking a lot of coffee and smoking just in the hopes of going to the toilet. These methods worked on an irregular basis, so to ensure I could go to the toilet at least every other day, I had an extremely high fibre diet. For some reason most people associate IBD with diarrhea, but I was the complete opposite, dealing with intense constipation constantly. Alongside this, I had lost a lot of weight. Growing up a chubby kid, and settling down to a size 10 around the age 17, I rapidly went down to a size 6. Of course I was chuffed with this, I’d always struggled with my body image and to finally be so skinny I thought I’d acheived something great.

When I was 16 I tried the pill, but the doctors soon took me off of it as it was messing with my hormones. I was left the choice of two non hormonal pills, which either made me gain weight or just bat shit crazy. In the end, when I was 18, I tried the depo injection. Again, I was an emotional mess on it, so I came off of it. The 9 months that followed the injection left me with irregular bleeding. My stomach would cramp like crazy and I would thank God when I wasn’t on my period for a day. I’d been in and out of the doctors for this for quite some time. Until one day, at work, I noticed I had a vast amount of bleeding down the back of my leg. It had come from my rectum. I had been suffering with cramps that day, and went to the doctors. I told the doctor what had happened, but he rolled his eyes at me and told me it was just my irregular periods. I insisted that it wasn’t, and explained I had checked where the bleeding had come from. Ignoring what I had said, he sent me in for a cervical scan at the hospital. Of course, my scan showed the all clear, and my questions were left unanswered.

They had ignored my weight loss due to the fact I had suffered with bulimia in the past, and tried to convince me the bleeding and cramps were due to my depo injection. They continued to give me laxatives for my constipation, and I was left feeling like a hypochondriac.

Certain things were a struggle, feeling confident enough to go out; knowing I was constantly bloated. Sitting at my desk at work cramping over in pain. Not being able to eat foods I enjoyed because I couldn’t risk the pain it would cause. And of course feeling like nobody believed something was wrong. Even before my emergency surgery, I had been to A&E 3 times. Each time they informed me I just had a stomach bug, it was just my periods, I was just overreacting…

So, to tell you the truth, I don’t know what it’s like to have ulcerative colitis. Because I was always given a different explanation as to what my symptoms showed. Had it been diagnosed earlier, there is a strong chance it could have been medicated and I wouldn’t have had to undergo surgery. I urge anybody experiencing symptoms they feel are strange, to fight for an answer. We as humans know our own bodies, and we know when something just isn’t right. It’s scary how we can live whilst our bodies are silently failing us. And how close we can come to death. I wish I could tell you what it was like to have ulcerative colitis, that I’d had an answer. But I hope the symptoms I’ve talked about in this post can help anybody else struggling in a similar situation.

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I Got A New Tattoo Today!

Today, I spent the day with my mum, who is probably the coolest mum you could ever ask for. As a spur of the moment thing, we decided to go and get some new tattoos. She decided to add some flowers to an existing tattoo, and I braved it and got one I’d been contemplating for a while! I’ve had four tattoos in the past, one being a cover up of an awful tattoo I got when I was sixteen (I know I’m stupid). I currently have a gothic marylin monroe in an old fashioned frame, swallows down my arm and two large roses down my waist & hip. I decided to get the inside top of my arm today, and letters instead of pictures!

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I’m getting the lettering retouched in a couple of weeks as I plan for a leg piece, but I absolutely love it! I can’t wait for it to heal!

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PS, if anyone is wanting a new tattoo, I highly recommend Crooks & Kings, their tattooist Jordan also did the other tat on my arm!

Is It Awkward To Spend The Night WIth Someone When You Have An Ileostomy Bag?

I guess I’ve covered a lot of stuff on this blog, what I’ve found easy, awkward, uncomfortable etc. It hit me as I was at a friends this weekend that I’ve never written about spending the night a friends house when you have an ileostomy bag. I thought perhaps this may be something somebody may put off, worried that there may be an issue during their stay.

As a whole, I personally don’t find it too awkward. But I also think that may be because I have never had to deal with a leak or anything like that whilst there. If I’d had an issue then I think I would be a little put off staying elsewhere, just in case.

Getting changed for a night out whilst with others can be a little awkward, especially when they’re slipping their outfits on while I’m struggling to get into my support pants, with an extra pair on top if I can still see my bag through my dress.

It can also be a little off putting staying elsewhere when you’re in need of changing your bag. I’d definitely advise that if you are nervous about staying somewhere, change your bag beforehand, heating it a little with a hair dryer to get an extra stick, after a hand has been left on top for around five minutes. If you don’t have time to do so, it is best to change your bag before eating, or a time when it is not as active, to ensure no mess is made in somebody elses bathroom. (Though I’m sure if they’re you’re friend, they’ll completely understand).

Having a sleepover should be an enjoyable experience, and you shouldn’t let your ostomy get in the way of some much needed girly time. Or guy time? There is not much that can get in the way, apart from the odd leak or needing a bag change. So always prepare yourself with items you could possibly need when leaving.

When I first stayed at a friends, funnily enough the only two things I was worried about were sleeping in a bed with somebody other than my boyfriend (who had learnt how to sleep with me again!) and whether her toilet would flush the babywipes I needed to use or whether I’d be embarassingly unblocking her toilet. (It’s happened too many times in my own flat). Luckily, her toilets accepted my heap of babywipes. And I don’t think my belly got knocked in my sleep either. Unless I was just too knocked out myself to realise.

It took me a while to build up the courage of staying elsewhere, but after doing it a few times my nerves eased. I guess it’s also easier for me because all my friends and more are aware of my ostomy. It may be a little more nerve racking for those whos friends aren’t aware. In this case, my honest advice would be to tell this person about your situation. You’ll have a much more enjoyable time if you’re not worrying!

So, in preparation of packing for a friends, or just to ease your worries and help you be a little more comfortable:

  • Pack babywipes, bag, spray, 11781680_1040916482632154_3077692111485797478_nwhatever you need to cut a bag, dry wipes and nappy sacks, in case of a leak
  • Take some support pants if you have them, these also help silence any noises your ostomy may want to make should you be eating dinner with others!
  • Pack some pjs, something to ensure your bag is safe whilst sleeping next to somebody else for the first time
  • Be honest about your situation should anything go wrong, there’s nothing more awkward than making awkward excuses. That’s just… awkward.
  • HAVE A GREAT TIME AND DON’T FEEL AWKWARD

Did I say awkward enough yet

The Best, Tummy Flattening, Medically Approved Support Wear!

Let me just say, I would never, ever – EVER – promote anything I didn’t believe in or think was actually helpful to those that read my blog. But I can honestly say, these Level 2 – Medium Support Wear are absolutely PHENOMENAL. Seriously, since having a stoma I have been wearing support pants from Sainsburys. They’re cheap and cheerful and for the most part worked like a treat – but only for a few hours, before my skin would itch and my bag would leak from incorrect flow.

Today I received these wonderful support underwear and tried them on for review. And I swear to you, even if I didn’t have a stoma, I would be wearing them. They are super soft and stretchy, and even sitting down I don’t get that horrible bit of fat that sits around your ribs when wearing tight clothing (just me?). I CAN ACTUALLY BREATHE WHEN I’M SITTING DOWN!!

They have a little custom section around your abdomen which supports your stoma, alongside helping overcome difficulties such as incontinence and post surgical wounds. No flow of the stoma is restricted. For those of you with an ostomy, it is literally like a dream come true. Just to demonstrate to you the actual glorifying outcome of these support wear:

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Side view, tummy is sucked in (yes I’ve put on a bit of weight alright we know that) bum is still perky and they aren’t super tight on your legs, not like some of those support pants that give you prominent thigh chub!

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When lying down support under wear crease with the natural creases of your body, instead of digging into your tummy or making you feel insecure about the upper body chub that sits over things that are just TOO TIGHT

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And finally, when wearing a tight dress – my ostomy is now invisible! All the comfort and that wonderful feeling of being able to wear something that you once threw away to the back of your wardrobe, thinking you’d never be able to wear them again.

I knew they’d be good but I didn’t realise just how good. Just to give you a little more persuasion as to why you should 100% invest in a pair of these, here at the benefits and features of the support wear:

  • Gives a smoother body shape
  • Sports – can give extra support, security and confidence during activities
  • Breathable fabric keeps skin cool, dry and comfortable
  • Improves bag adherence potentially reducing leaks
  • Medium compression aids release of gas & reduces bloated bag
  • Supremely comfortable, firm but flexible, holds larger continence pads securely
  • Helps you forget about your medical issues and regain your confidence
  • Gives support where it’s most needed, whilst keeping crotch area comfortable and not too restricted

This support wear comes in a variety of sizes – S/M, M/L, L/XL, XL/2XL, 2XL/3XL and in black or white.

I wear an 8-10 and my support wear is a S/M.

Those with an ostomy, hernia or post surgical wounds will be over the moon to know these one of a kind beauties are also available on prescription.

If you’re interested in this product, go take a look here: http://www.comfizz.com/products/ostomy/level2/ladies/boxer-white.html and let me know how you get on!

I’ve Finally Set A Date For My Reversal Surgery!

Today was the day that I finally got to set a date for my reversal surgery. I met with my lovely surgeon to discuss the best timing and most convenient dates for me, to prepare myself for the week or so I will be spending in hospital, to say goodbye to my stoma!

Over much debate about how long they will need to prepare for me, and when I thought the best time would be for myself, we finally agreed on December 29th 2015! It does mean I will be spending New Years Eve in hospital, but it also means I can approach the New Year, knowing that my surgeries of 2015 were now over (hopefully).

We chose this date for many reasons. I don’t feel completely ready to go back under the knife as I am finally feeling a lot better within myself. My skin is clearing up nicely with my fantastic LBF wipes from SecuriCare Medical (would HIGHLY recommend to anyone with skin problems – my skin clears up within 1-2 days) and I am not having as many leaks as beforehand, meaning waiting is no problem. I have also been offered a place on the NCTJ Journalism Fast Track Course to become a fully qualified journalist (Sept – Dec). I have many projects coming up for the blog within this time alongside this and I don’t want to let anyone down by cancelling due to hospital stays!

I’m really looking forward to everything I have coming up, and knowing I am going to be ending the year by ending what has been an incredibly emotional, gratifying experience.

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A Letter To My Boyfriend… Thank You For Staying, When You Could’ve Walked Away

I’ve been writing this blog for months now. It seems like it’s been years though, with the amount I’ve written. I put my absolute heart and soul into writing this blog. Hoping to help others and find a common ground with people who are able to relate. I’ve written about my life to you guys. I’ve been as personal as I person can be with a bunch of people she’s never met and I think the readers of this blog probably know me better than half of the people I’ve met throughout my life. But there’s one person who knows me like the back of their hand, one person I haven’t properly thanked. And that’s my boyfriend, Angelo. And so Angelo, I wanted to dedicate this blog post to you.

Dear Angelo,
I wanted to say these things to you because I feel I don’t tell you them enough. I’ve found it hard writing about you properly before because of everything we’ve been through. Everything we’ve had to work our way through and everything we’ve over come. And sometimes I don’t tell you these things because I’m just no good compliments. But this isn’t just a compliment. This is a thank you. You’ll never know how much I appreciate you, how happy I am to have you by my side. The last 6 months have been a series of ups and downs, but somehow you’ve kept me sane. I don’t want to spend this time writing paragraph after paragraph about how much I love you. Because you know I much I truly adore you. I just want to thank you for these things, that I didn’t take the opportunity to do so before. Perhaps out of pride, perhaps out of embarrassment, or perhaps because when it comes to talking, I can never manage to get my words out. So Angelo, thank you.

Thank you for supporting me and encouraging me to do the things I love.

Thank you for being there when I felt I had no one else.

Thank you for trying to understand how I feel, even when you didn’t need to.

Thank you for being by my side at my support group, and applauding me louder than everyone else in the room when I gave my talk.

Thank you for learning how to change my ileostomy bag, without me needing to ask you.

Thank you for insisting to stay in the room to change my wounds when i asked you to leave, scared you’d find me unattractive.

And thank you for reminding me every day that I’m still the most beautiful girl in the world.

Thank you for comforting me when I cry, and stroking my back when I sleep.

Thank you for telling your friends how proud you are of me. I wasn’t expecting to find that when I was “fraping” your facebook..

Thank you for not acting grossed out when you’ve probably had to see more poo than you’d ever planned on in your life

And thank you for cleaning me up when I can’t take looking at it myself

In fact, thank you for picking me up when I can’t even look at myself

I want to say thank you for standing by me for these past two years

And for making my problems your problems

For calling my bag “Nelson” and making it seem funny

And telling me my huge scar on my tummy makes me look cool

Thank you for always coming home with my favourite chocolate

And telling me how lovely my bum looks, instead of just telling me I’ve got fat

And lastly, on a more serious note.

Thank you for loving me endlessly,

For accepting my scars as a part of us

Thank you for staying, when you could’ve walked away. I know a lot of men would have.

So, yeah. I think perhaps you should take note of all these thank yous, because you will never hear me being so polite again.

I’m more thankful for you than you’ll ever know, and I love you more than you could ever imagine.

Yours forever,

Hattie x

P.S. It may be old, but this is my favourite picture of us. You look gorgeous.

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Back To The Hospital I Go… I May As Well Just Live Here! 

Last night, it had taken me an hour and a half just to put a fresh ileostomy bag on. My stoma had been pouring with blood non stop, and I’d had to repeat the cleaning process several times – including FIVE showers – before with the help of my boyfriend, I finally managed to cover it with a new bag. I’d gone to bed fallen asleep very quickly, and woken up having forgotten about the whole thing. That was until I decided to go take a shower. I hadn’t moved much today and hadn’t thought about getting a shower any earlier because I haven’t been able to wear proper clothes today, as anything covering my bag was making it sore. At 5pm I turned on the shower, and began taking my bag off, ready to clean it and put a smaller bag on for when I took the shower. A couple of seconds into taking the bag off I noticed it had swollen. But not only that, the top half of the stoma was purple and covered in white spots. I freaked out, and called an ambulance. I didn’t know what else to do – I was told previously that discolouration was a warning sign that something had gone really wrong. It was too late for the doctors and I needed to get to a & e. I took the rest of the bag off and noticed it was covered in dried blood. I measured the stoma and it had grown by 5mm overnight. I completely panicked, but waited for the paramedics to get here. 

I’m at the hospital now and waiting on my blood results – so I will let you guys know what’s going on! Fingers crossed it’s nothing and I can rest my mind. Happy thoughts please 😩   

  

An Open Letter: To The People Telling Me “You Have An Ostomy Bag – Suck It Up!” 

Today, I have received numerous anonymous comments telling me that my blog posts annoy them, asking me what “makes me so special?” Telling me, “woe is me, you just have an ostomy bag, like hundreds of other people – suck it up!”

I wouldn’t normally justify these sorts of negative comments with a response. But I feel the need to write to these people, out of respect for the awareness I am trying to raise.

So to these anonymous people, this is my response to you:

To the people telling me to “suck up” the fact I have an ostomy bag,

I must firstly apologize for the fact you are obviously so deeply offended by my blog. The blog that has helped me deal with the indescribable amount of emotions that attempt to eat you up after ostomy surgery. The words I write aren’t even half able to explain how I feel inside. My blog is pretty much an open diary. I’m not a journalist. I’m not writing for thousands of people wanting to read news, gossip or any other genre. I write about my life. I don’t write to please people, I don’t write to spark controversy, I write for me. I write to raise awareness. What I write is real, it’s truth.

On 26th January 2015 I was rushed into hospital, in pain you couldn’t even imagine. After countless operations, scans and colonscopies, I was finally admitted to theatre for emergency surgery. After a four hour surgery for a stoma, I did nothing but scream in pain, shake in fear and cry myself to sleep. I couldn’t even look at my stomach. I cried every time somebody tried to talk to me about it. I lost my job, I struggled to keep my flat and I nearly lost me. It is an extremely hard time to talk about, even now the situation fills me with nothing but sadness.

The only thing that has kept me going these past few months is my blog. I am lucky to have a loving, supportive family, friends and a great boyfriend. But this blog is the only thing that has helped me deal mentally with what has happened. So it has hurt me that you feel the need to write to me such nasty comments. Would you be able to “suck up” something that could scar you mentally for the rest of your life? That does scar you physically?

Let me just ask you. If somebody’s family member had passed away, and they decided to write to deal with their grief – would you tell them to “suck it up, because hundreds of people die every day”? No. You would not. So why do you feel the need to do it to me?

And you know what, hundreds of people do have ostomy’s, you’re right. More, even. And a huge percentage of them deal with it privately. Another percentage of people do it privately because they feel too scared to speak out. Some people struggle to even deal with it at all. So what about them? How will they have the courage to speak out if they feel doing so will cause them a backlash of negativity. People are always saying “talk about it, it’ll make you feel better”, convincing us that “we’re not alone” – but how can we freely talk about it when we’re classed as attention seeking, and being told to “suck it up”?

Keeping my surgery a secret for the first few weeks, were the worst weeks of my life. I lived in fear of embarrassment, I felt ashamed of myself. The situation in itself was not only confusing, mentally draining and heart wrenching for me. It was the darkest place I feel I’ve ever been. It was an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. What happened to me was emotionally, physically and mentally devastating. And I have every right to talk about it. To FEEL something about that.

Speaking out was the best thing I’ve ever decided to do. It has helped me come to terms with what has happened. It has helped me embrace my body for what it is. It has taught me to appreciate the life I am given. I’ve turned my life around in just four short months. Tell me, could you do the same? Did you stop to put yourself in my shoes before telling me I should just “suck it up”?

photo(13)I nearly lost my life, but my surgery saved me. It’s saved so many other people too, and for those people, the people that feel too scared to do so themselves, the people that want to learn, the people that want to understand – I write about it. I write about a huge part of my life that I haven’t let ruin my mindset. And theoretically, I have done nothing BUT suck it up since. I’ve sucked it up so much that I’m confident enough to wear a bikini in public, to go to places like Thorpe Park, to wear skin tight clothing an to abseil off the f***ing tallest building in the UK. And that’s what makes me special. The fact I haven’t let it absorb the life style I’ve always maintained.

So, to the people who took the time to send me these lovely anonymous messages: let this annoy you instead: I have a fantastic life now, and it’s all through the help of my blog. Suck that up.

250,000 Blog Views And My Blog Went Nuts!

Wow! What a week. I can’t believe everything that’s happened! In just one week I’ve been in the Daily Mail, the Metro, The Mirror, I appeared on BBC Sussex Radio, there have been articles in Brazil, Belgium, Australia, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, USA, Indonesia, Taiwan, France, Japan… the list goes on! I’m going to be writing a piece for The Huffington Post next week, alongside appearing on an Australian radio show!

Absolute craziness!

Although… doesn’t it just go to show how taboo the subject is. Many of the headlines approached the fact I’d written about still having sex, still taking pictures, still wearing bikinis… as if going to the toilet in a different way meant I’d lost all life in me!

I’m glad word spread and so many people got involved in the story though. I can’t thank everyone enough for all of the amazing support and the positive attitude the articles have received! I just want to cry with happiness! The amount of awareness for ostomy and IBD that has been raised the past couple of days is phenomenal. I couldn’t be more proud. So thank you so so much for taking the time to read about the condition, my blog and my story! I hope it will encourage others to speak out and to enjoy life a little more, without the fear and the nerves that perhaps that perhaps once imprisoned them.

I have had so so many emails which I will be replying to over the next week, so please bare with me! But thank you for confiding in me, I feel truly honoured that people have taken the time to write and have trusted me with their story. Some of the messages have made me well up quite a bit… I’ll be one big emotional mess by the time I finish reading!

Thank you all so much. I don’t feel I deserve quite as much attention as I have received, but I feel absolutely blessed that word has gotten out about my blog and even one person may be helped.

So again, thank you xxxx10982699_918516614872142_4787843721648344028_n

I Met My Surgeon To Discuss Stoma Reversal Surgery…

I was going to write a post yesterday but I didn’t really feel in the right mind set to do so. But I’m feeling much better and a lot more positive today and ready to write about meeting with my surgeon yesterday.

Well, actually. We arrived at the hospital for my 9am appointment but the surgeon who was there throughout my surgery was not available, therefore I spoke to a doctor I’d never met before. Not exactly practical as he didn’t really understand everything that had gone on with my procedure, the fact it was emergency etc.

Any how, most of you will know I have an Ileostomy. Although it is not a loop Ileostomy, I was told there was a chance of reversing the stoma. Of course, that may come as good news to a lot of people who don’t like having a stoma. And when I was first told this, it was my end goal to my recovery. But having my stoma has changed my life. I’m in no more pain, I’m more active, I’m putting on weight more easily and I’m not relying on things like laxatives.

So, yesterdays appointment was to discuss a reversal surgery. I had of course researched it myself and spoken to others who have had reversals. As well as people that have actually decided to put off a reversal surgery due to the fact they are now living pain free. My research and conversations had left me feeling a little confused about the whole thing. There are so many risks in the operation, and chances that the reversal can go terribly wrong. There are also chances of having to have a new stoma formed, alongside having further problems with my bowel after it being reversed. I appreciate every case is different. Some people have some of their large bowel left and others have their rectum removed meaning a J-Pouch is formed. For me, my whole colon was removed. And a length of my rectum was kept. Meaning the procedure would entail my small bowel being reconnected to my rectum. Please don’t quote me on this, as I’m still not completely aware of what the whole procedure entails. I’m just piecing together what I was able to take in by the doctor.

Of course, I’d heard some horror stories about the operation. And I questioned these with the doctor. I asked him the pros and the cons of a reversal. I asked him of the main benefits. But funnily enough, although not having to worry about your bag may seem like a positive, that seems to be the only one. The rest just feels like a bit of a downfall to me. He told me the main benefit was that I would not have a stoma, and I would not have to wear an ileostomy bag. That was it. He said that for a lot of people, that is a huge benefit as they really do not like their stoma.

The consequence for me not having a stoma, and to have the reversal, means I would never be able to go to the toilet “normally” again. Meaning I’d live the rest of my life having diarrhea. Controlled by 3 types of medication daily. I’d be at risk of accidents and it would take a while for my bowel to adjust to yet another change in my body. In fact, the bowel may never completely adjust again. There’s a chance I can become worse with a reversal, meaning I’d have to have another stoma put in afterwards. And they would completely cut out my rectum and stitch me up to give me a permanent Ostomy.

The scary part of all of this is that it’s MY decision. When I first had my stoma formed it was by emergency surgery. I had no choice. But now I’ve been given all of this to weigh out in my head to come to some sort of decision of how I want to spend the rest of my life. I have to contemplate all of the risks, and prepare myself to expect a number of situations. It’s completely terrifying.

I have no issue with my bag at all. The only problem I face at the moment is occasional leaks and itchy skin from time to time. All I have to worry about is ordering in new bags and changing them. It feels these are the only issues I’d be getting rid of by having a reversal. It’s a cosmetic choice more than anything. Carry on as I am, healthy, active, pain free. Or undergo more surgery to not have to carry around my ileostomy bag on my stomach. Rely on medication forever, deal with a bad stomach and use the toilet frequently. Risk all of this to perhaps just undergo another surgery for a stoma, meaning it wasn’t even worth the time.

All of this was spoken about in my appointment with the doctor. I felt quite downhearted about it all, I’d hoped there would be a bit more benefit to having a reversal. I know it’s different for everyone. I know some people who have had reversals are fine, I know some people don’t even get the chance to have a choice. And for that I apologise. I don’t want to be selfish nor pedantic but I also have to think about what’s best for me, physically, emotionally and mentally. Everyone deals with things differently and I have been able to deal with my stoma well. I don’t want to fall 2 steps back and make a decision that I may not cope with in the future.

The doctor could see I didn’t know where my head was at, so told me to return in 6 months. I feel happy to do that. I’m happy with my life right now, and how I feel physically. I don’t feel insecure and am learning more and more about myself each day. I owe my life to my stoma and I don’t want to make any rash decisions to change that. I want to think properly and learn more about the procedure and the outcome. I’m not going to change my body to become more pleasing on the eye to some people. I’m more concerned with how I feel inside. Feeling healthy, and good about myself.

I know this post doesn’t explain much. But I thought writing it all out would possibly give me some point of direction. And it kinda has. I just want to stay the same right now. I’m finally healthy. I’m finally non reliant on pills and I’m finally not worrying about being in the bathroom 24/7. Having a stoma has made me so much more open minded and it has helped me embrace my body. It’s helped show me what I love about my body, and has stopped me focusing on the flaws. It’s not worth even thinking about change right now. Not now I’m where I’m happy being. No matter what anyone else thinks about the decision I make, it’s mine to make. And for the time being, that decision is to live my life being pain free, happy and with the world at my feet.

10991626_933260466731090_4375024831477500972_o(This photo shows me 2 years before my surgery & now)

2 Months Of Ileostomy Recovery In Pictures.. The Difference Is Amazing!

This post is for both me and others going through ostomy surgery. Just looking at the first picture compared to the last in just the space of 2 and a half months is phenomenal. I have gained weight, I look happier, I look HEALTHIER. My scar is healing so nicely and I’m really feeling like me again.

Here’s a selection of my favourite pictures taken so far during my recovery.

photo 2tumblr_njkx8qnhNh1rmgzzqo1_1280photophoto 1photo 3Photo on 28-02-2015 at 11.46photo 5IMG_1363photo 5(1)image1IMG_0722photo(7)photoIMG_3139-0IMG_3095IMG_3181photo(2)10995586_955619417828528_5358526500689486313_n988519_965896740134129_2916876947014465919_n10982699_918516614872142_4787843721648344028_nphoto 1photo(3)

Being Approached With: “You’re The Girl With The Thing On Her Stomach, Right?”

It feels like forever since I last posted even though it’s actually only been 4 days!

This week I’ve been keeping myself busy. I’ve had trips to the beach, three evening’s out for dinner, a BBQ, and a night out clubbing! It’s been great for me as I really feel back to my old self. I haven’t had any troubles with my bag nor skin this week, and nothing that could be deemed as ’embarrassing’ has happened!

One thing that has made me laugh though, is how I was approached whilst on a night out with friends. Of course, my blog has been read by many people so far, many of whom are local. So obviously, going on a night out in a relatively local area – you’re going to be recognizable to some people.

988519_965896740134129_2916876947014465919_nI was approached several times whilst out. Some in quite a hilarious manor. “I know you! You’re the blogger aren’t you! You’re the girl with that thing on her stomach! What is it again”. Having to explain the ins and outs of an ileostomy bag on a night where I just wanted to get drunk and dance wasn’t really the plan. But at least it was raising a little awareness and educating some people in some sort of way I guess.

At first I was quite annoyed, I just wanted to have a nice time with my friends, and not have “the thing on your stomach” shouted at me for everyone to hear. But now, I realise that it’s somewhat a good thing. At least they’re asking what it is. At least they’ve taken note of something, and at least it’s spreading the word about the condition. And if it takes me having something like that asked quite abruptly, then I’ll take that if it even helps them understand just a little.

I think helpful to remember that not everyone will have an understanding, and that not everybody gets it. And they only way they will get it, is to ask – whatever format that comes in.

I know some people can be quite offended by being questioned about their bag, but don’t be. Talking about it gets other people talking. It raises awareness and aids the lessening of the stigma around it.

In other news…

I made it into my second publication last week! This time being The Metro. They used my bag-less stoma selfie in an article about ending the stigma.

I am also working on something really exciting over the next month. So keep an eye out for my blog about it!

A Big Thank You

I guess you’re going to have times where all you want to do is curl up under your duvet, hide and cry. And I guess tonight is one of those times. I’m not sure why I feel this way but it’s a feeling I can’t seem to fight away.

I don’t have much to write today. I’ve felt tired and I’ve been experiencing bad stomach and chest cramps; to be honest I’m just not feeling too great, mentally or physically.

I did however, get a chance to read through all of the lovely messages I’ve been sent. I must apologise if you haven’t had a reply. I will get there, I’m just finding it emotional, as many of you have opened up to me and trusted me with your stories. For this I am forever grateful and it is a truly wonderful feeling knowing others feel comfortable enough to talk to me. With your messages comes great responsibility, and I would like to take time to reply to each with the same time and effort you gave me. So please be patient with me!

Recently, writing has seemed to be my only route towards opening up, it’s become very therapeutic for me. I hope you’ll all continue to follow and support me in my journey, and I hope to meet some more wonderful people, who can help me spread awareness of IBD and mental health.

Thank you xxx