My Scar Progress – Month 1

It’s been 4 weeks and my scar has been healing so nicely!

Have drawn up a little timeline below for my first month, isn’t it amazing what surgeons can do!

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Week 1 – Still slightly read and scabby, but so thin!

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Week 2 – Scabbing and redness beginning to go…

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Week 3 – Nearly all scabbing gone and fading so quickly!

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Week 4 – No scabbing at all, fading in colour… and I gained half a stone!

Trial and Error: An Ileostomy Diet

There is a lot of speculation on the internet regarding what is safe and unsafe to eat during both the early and later stages of ileostomy recovery. Ignoring most of these sites after nearly driving myself insane thinking I couldn’t eat anything without killing myself, I decided to trial and error my foods. It’s a lot more fun that way! It’s probably best to try some of the gassier foods at home, if you don’t want your bag to blow up whilst out for dinner (of course, I tried chilli con carne whilst out and ended up leaving with my own homemade bag balloon!)

There is a risk of blockages with some foods such as sweetcorn, apple peel and mushrooms, so I have stuck to avoiding these foods; which is annoying because I love sweetcorn! But here is are a few things I have trial and errored, accepted and rejected. I hope this helps!

Breakfast:

Accepted:

Porridge – This really thickens my output and doesn’t cause me any gas, plus it fills me up and gives me a good amount of dairy. Porridge is a great idea if you’re used to bran based cereals and fruits for breakfast like me, because it’s still a healthy option, just less worry!

Rice Crispies – If you’re not too hungry in the morning but need to eat before your medication, these are great because they digest well and they’re a very light cereal.

Toast – Of course, bread is your safe food. Toast is all I lived on for breakfast for the first 2 weeks of recovery, it was the one thing I could trust to keep my bag happy!

Yoghurt – Yoghurt seems to be another great option for a light breakfast. If you suffer with bloating and swelling like me, yoghurt is a very soothing option and gives your small bowel a break with easy digestion!


Rejected:

There’s so far only been one breakfast I’ve rejected and unfortunately that is:

Bacon and sausage toasties! 😦 – Surprisingly, given all the carbs, fat and protein in this, all it seems to give back is water. It’s just not worth it!


Lunch:

Accepted:

Broccoli & Stilton soup: I eat this religiously every day for lunch with 2 slices of white bread (really missing wholemeal!) and it seems to work well with me. Soup is great for salt and is low in calories, it will also help to keep you hydrated because of it’s water base; great for if you’re lacking in liquids.

Jacket Potato: Of course, I’d advise you to avoid the skin, but a jacket potato is a great stodgy, carby vegetable. I avoid beans and replace them with spaghetti hoops & cheese – it tastes just the same and saves you the gas!

Chicken, bacon & avacado salad: I was really scared to try this, especially because I added lettuce and tomatos, (websites warn you about lettuce) but this has been my best lunch by far! The chicken and avacado was a great source of protein and the bacon fantastic for my salt intake. I coped really well with the lettuce & tomato and even added roasted vegetable cous cous on the side – roasted peppers, courgette and onion. This meal gave me a fantastic output and I didn’t suffer any consequences! An absolutely 10/10 choice of lunch!


Rejected:

Cheese sandwiches: For some reason my body just does not cope well with cheese! A little bit of grated cheese on a potato? Fine, more than a tablespoon? A recipe for disaster. You never know until you try, I suppose!

Spicy chicken & chorizo broth: What was I thinking buying a spicy broth? A spicy bowl of water? What idiot does that? An idiot that doesn’t read the label! Do I even need to fill you in?!


Dinner:

Accepted:

Pie, mash & gravy – An excellent choice of dinner. I survived on this for quite some time before trying other things! The mash and gravy is soft on your stomach and you don’t have to spend a year chewing, whilst the pie introduces you into smaller pieces of meat or vegetables, depending on what you like.

Salmon, sauteed potatos & carrots – Salmon is low in fat, so great for when you’re ballooning on steroids like me! The potatoes and carrots are a safer option for adding fiber into your diet, as they are both soft and watery.

Lamb, potatoes & green beans – This one was a little harder to eat, it took me around 45 minutes and I did have to reheat it in the microwave at one point because of the amount of time it took me to finish! Lamb is quite thick and chewy, and with meat like that you need to be careful, you don’t want any tummy aches or blockages! So if you’re going to eat thicker meats, chew until your jaw aches! The green beans also worked fine with me, not much gas – I haven’t braved baked beans though!


Rejected:

Carbonara – Although pasta is great to eat, the amount of cream and cheese in this dinner was a no go. I’m sure my bag nearly exploded.

Turkey dinosaurs, potato waffles & spaghetti hoops – This isn’t a great dinner for anyone, but it was quick and easy and I was in a lazy mood. I wish I hadn’t been, as I had a stomach ache for the rest of the evening. This dinner doesn’t offer many nutrients, (I mean what frozen kids meal does?) and with our bodies having less nutrient absorption time than those with their large bowel, it was clear from my bag that no good had been done by this meal.

Chilli nachos – I stupid choice, but I was feeling adventurous! Although it tasted amazing, it’s not always great to be sitting in a restaurant with a balloon on your stomach! Thank god I was wearing a loose top!


Snacks:

Accepted:

Here are a list of snacks that have caused me no issue:

Mini cheddars
Bananas
Yoghurts
Salted crisps
Pate & toast
Grapes
Biscuits
Mousse


Rejected:

There is only a very small list of snacks that my body doesn’t agree with. They cause terrible gas and odor. But, I actually still eat chocolate every day. They took my colon, they’re not taking my bloody chocolate too!

Chocolate
Sweets
Icecream


Finally, a list of drinks!

Accepted:

Coffee – This helps aid my digestion and fills me up when I’m tempted to overeat!

Cranberry Juice – This prevents odor!

Water- Obviously, our bodies need water more than ever now. I try to drink as much as possible.

Lemon & ginger tea – The ginger in the tea helps fight nausea, when you’re out of nausea pills like me!

Wine – I can stomach wine! I couldn’t believe it! (I doubt that will be the same for everyone though, sadly.)

Squash – If you don’t like plain water, try and drink as much squash as you can instead of replacing with juices.


Rejected:

The only thing I can’t deal with is 100% pure juices. Especially orange juice. Orange juice is a big cause of diarrhea and is very acidic. Best to avoid.


I haven’t tried a huge amount of fruits and vegetables as I am still keeping my fibre intake low, but as I lived a healthy lifestyle before – full of fruits and vegetables – avoiding them completely leaves me feeling run down. It’s all about trial and error though, take your time and slowly introduce things back into your system.

Let me know what works for you!

Happy eating!

A Letter To The Nurses and Carers Mocking Ostomy Bags Online

tumblr_nkhhgcb80J1u26nnao2_1280To the nurses and carers who have taken the time to insult IBD fighters online instead of focusing a little more on giving the correct medical care…

Do you think it’s easy going through Ostomy Surgery? Waking up to see a bag on your stomach, having to see the insides of your body on a daily basis?

Do you think we asked to have to take 15 minutes out of our day just to clean ourselves up, to have to deal with our sore skin and wound?

Do you think we like having to worry about what we eat? About drinking something too fizzy, and experiencing the public embarrassment of gas we cannot control?

I am so sorry that human waste, that EVERYBODY deals with – not just those with ostomys – offends you. I’m sorry it makes such a difference when it’s coming from a bag. I’m sorry that we so obviously forced you into doing a job you couldn’t possibly be mentally prepared to do. Perhaps just maybe… just perhaps… you shouldn’t be a bloody nurse or carer? How about there are people in this world that need nothing less than your unsympathetic, narrow minded opinion.

It angers me that you could possibly be allowed to do a job that you do not have the mental capacity to know anything about – because if you did, you’d think twice before being so spiteful, degrading and so awfully unprofessional.

Living with an ostomy is a life changing experience. It’s more than dealing with waste. It’s more than people such as yourselves mocking us, adding to the low self-esteem and self-acceptance that so many of us on a daily basis have to deal with.

Ask yourselves this, would you be posting about how disgusting ostomy bags are if god forbid one of your family members had to have one? Would you be laughing about it if they were told if they didn’t have one, they would die? Would you laugh as you if you had to see everything they knew ripped away from them?

So, I’m sorry that you had to spend 15 minutes of your working day doing something that was so traumatic, that will so obviously change you for the rest of your life. I’m sorry that you have such an immature mind set and cannot deal with the wonders of the human body. But you know what? These bags are more than your mockery, they are our life savers.. We wear something on our stomachs that shouts to the world that we once fought to live. And you will never, ever, take that away from us.

Why I’m Questioning Ileostomy Reversal Surgery

photo 1Those are the words you long to hear your surgeon say right? “You have the option of Ileostomy Reversal Surgery”? I should be excited to be getting my life back after such a huge change, relieved that I can feel “normal” again.. But I’m not sure I am. This is my life and I do feel normal. In fact I feel amazing. Not physically, of course, but I feel grateful. I’ve had my pain taken away, I’ve had such amazing support and I’ve created a website that I am truly proud of. I feel so much compassion towards my current work and I really feel like it’s helping people. It’s helping me.

But I’m beginning to feel a little guilty for even questioning the procedure. Am I being selfish? There’s so many people living with permanent ostomy bags whom I’m sure would’ve loved to have been given the choice. I feel awful for having to think about it. Shouldn’t I be jumping for joy? I mean, when I was told 4 weeks ago that the reversal is an option for me, I felt a sudden rush of relief sink into my body. I left the hospital thinking “it’s just 4 months, I can deal with that”. But now, as I sit in bed feeling somewhat proud of everything I’ve achieved the past couple of days; I wonder if this was my fate all along.

Before, I was working as an assistant for a press photo agency. Now, I’m a paid writer starting up my own website. I’m writing about personal experiences, about things that hold such importance within my current lifestyle – it’s everything I’ve ever wanted. I was so lonely before my surgery, I barely saw my friends and family. Now, I’m back home with my family and I have more friends than I’d ever known. People I’d never expected to even wish me well have been there for me. I’ve met so many other people in the same situation experiencing the same things. I’ve been able to openly discuss things other people may find awkward or embarrassing. I’ve been able to smile and laugh.

I was scared my boyfriend wouldn’t accept me, or would feel inclined to stay with me because of my ileostomy bag. That he’d feel too guilty to leave if he couldn’t handle it. But he hasn’t changed. He doesn’t look at me any differently, sexually or emotionally. He still loves me the same, I know that.

I’m no longer obsessing over food or crying in the mirror because I hate my reflection so much. I’m looking in the mirror and appreciating things I never gave a second glance at before. Being put through such a life changing experience (and having been given no choice in the matter before hand) has bought out the best in me. I’ve become someone I like. I’m calm. I’m happy. I look back and I don’t understand how I could ever just “be” beforehand. I lived in a world of self-torment, self-hatred and self-obsession. I was absorbed by the things I despised most about myself. Being given my ileostomy bag and knowing that I can either deal with it and accept it or hate myself even more, has led to me accepting myself. I finally accept myself. This ileostomy bag has made me. This dramatic change has given me a positive mentality, a confidence I never knew I had. It’s given me hope, it’s given me a chance to just be me. And that’s what I’m going to carry on doing. Being me. A fantastic, wonderful, me.

Why Young Women NEED Better Medical Attention – Stop Blaming “Women’s Troubles!”

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“Women’s Troubles” – The phrase that nearly killed me… 

I had been cluelessly in pain for 2 years. These two years were spent in and out of the doctors surgery with complaints of severe stomach cramps, toilet troubles and discomfort. Of course, I was a teenage girl and each doctor I saw put it down to “women’s troubles” and told me it was all a part of the changes my body was making as I turned into a young woman.

For two years I was put on a variety of contraceptive pills, the doctors vastly handing out prescriptions, telling me to visit back in 3 months to see if the stomach cramps had disappeared. Repeating themselves each time, the cramps never left, they merely took a break from my body every few days. With these cramps came frequent constipation, flare ups of diarrhea and blood in my stools. Funnily enough, when I complained to the doctors about this, I was told the blood would probably again be “women’s troubles”. I was given laxatives for the constipation, and told to eat a good amount of fibre to settle my stomach.

At a later date, I was booked in for an emergency appointment, as after yet another visit to the toilet, I was left bewildered by a trail of blood sliding down the back of my legs. I knew this was not “women’s troubles”. I explained to the doctor that the blood had come from my rear, but I was not taken seriously. But, I had finally been referred to have my cervix checked. This caused me to panic, I was only 19, what could possibly be wrong with my cervix? Of course, once checked out, my cervix was fine. So I decided to just get on and try and forget about the pain I was in. I continued taking laxatives and the pills I’d been prescribed. I felt at a complete loss. It seemed every time I went back for help they were far too quick to blame the female anatomy because of my age.

It was only a month ago that I was crouched over my bed in excruciating pain. After 3 more hospital visits, I was told I was experiencing gastroenteritis. I didn’t believe anything they said anymore. I knew my body and I knew there was something wrong. Something serious. After one more visit to the doctors surgery, I was sent into hospital with suspected appendicitis. I was then admitted, and one week later.. I was coming around from emergency Ileostomy Surgery. No gastroenteritis, no appendicitis, but Ulcerative Colitis. I had no choice in the surgery. My colon was so badly damaged that it was just a few days away from rupturing. I now have to live with an Ileostomy Bag, at the tender age of 19. The lack of care and medical attention because of my age and my gender took away my choice, my freedom and my trust in the NHS. If found earlier, I could’ve been saved from the surgery. They could’ve medicated my pain. Now, going on 20 years old, I’m having to re-learn how to go to the toilet and what foods I can handle.

At such a young, vulnerable age, we as women need the right care and the thorough medical attention. We are the future mothers of the next generation, but the lack of medical care could be ruining that.

Ulcerative Colitis Killed My Figure

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I actually find this picture a little disturbing to look at. A usually healthy, curvy size 8 with a rather large bum and quite impressive thighs, it pains me to look at this photo. I always hated my figure before, almost sure I was a little chubby, but looking back on old photos, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I spent my entire life wanting to be skinny. Staring in awe at the models posted all over social media, wishing I could look just an ounce as good as them. But comparing myself now to myself then, all I can see is disease. The disease that drained the life out of me (and apparently the fat too). Now, I’m not saying there is ANYTHING wrong with skinny – but there is most definitely a huge difference between being slim and being unhealthy, which it seems I sadly am at this weight.

I never thought I’d say this but I actually miss thinking “does my bum look big in this?”