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.