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.

Opening up about my mental health 

I must apologise for being so crap on here the past week! I’ve been super busy and either working or commuting! I’ve been working for the metro this week and it’s been an amazing experience so far, I’m loving every minute of it! It doesn’t even feel like work, doing what I love all day long. I’m so happy with how things are at the moment.

Everything’s finally under control for me. I feel in control.

I’ve had a pretty rough time emotionally the last few months, but I finally got some help.

So today I’m going to post something that I’ve been putting off for a while. I posted it on my smaller blog around the time it happened, but really it’s a personal blog for me so I don’t expect many people read it.

But knowing I’m in control now, and on the right medication, I feel ready to talk about another side of things. The mental health side of things.

A couple weeks back 

Today was a big day for me, for a number of reasons. Today is the day I learned something about myself, something I’ve been so desperately seeking to educate myself on for such a long time. I pin pointed a source of my true self on some map within my mind and found a little part of me I’d feared I’d lost a long time ago. Today, I got help. I got help I’d been pining for since the first time I cried. And I don’t mean tears, that fall down your cheeks as you reminisce over heartbreak. Or the tears you cry when re-watching The Notebook. No. I mean the tears I didn’t know were there. The true frustration of minimal knowledge as to why these little drops of water are falling from your red, puffy eyes. The emptiness that swarms your stomach and leaves it tied in a knot of guilt, and shame.
Today, I went to see a psychiatrist, who I had been referred to after seeing my GP and another Mental Health Nurse. I’d first gone to speak with my GP when my mother had come over to visit with my younger siblings. Trapped in conversation, my voice cracked as I asked her whether she’d like coffee or tea. “Tea”, she replied, as my shaking hands poured the boiling water into the mug. I handed her the tea as I turned my back to put the milk back into the fridge. I took that moment to take a deep breath. In, and out. But as the cold air hit my face I struggled to contain my erratic emotions. I asked my mum if we could talk in private – in my bedroom – and with that, I broke down. Head in my hands, sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. Lost for words as to why I felt this way. Why I was doing this. I explained I’d been struggling to contain anger. This wasn’t anything new to her – I’d always been the same. Controlling, angry, upset, desperate for that “normal” feeling that I’d so often question the existence off. My mother understands because she suffers with Bipolar Disorder. She’d guessed I’d also been a sufferer too for a while, but the meetings I’d had during my teen years had been about as helpful as a blunt pencil. This time needed to be different. Now that I’m living apart from her. Now that she can’t be there at a drop of a hat. Now that there was the worry of post surgery emotions as well as the distant pain that came crashing down so often within my brain.

My GP was great, and today was the first step in the right direction. We talked for an hour and a half. We spoke about my past, my present, my background, my work life, my relationship, my ethics, everything that could possibly amount to the woman I am becoming today. I laughed and I cried, picking at the tissues he was offering me every time he noticed my eyes were beginning to water. My hands would shake as I tried to maintain their stillness, but my body language was nothing but nervous as I tried to spill out my life story within the hour and a half he’d booked me in for.
It’s funny though, as I don’t feel anything that I have experienced in my life generally reflects on my emotions today. It’s hard to explain. I know it’s the actions of your past that sculpture who you are at present. And in some respects that’s completely true. My ileostomy surgery led me to doing a great thing, which resulted in me earning a living from a much wished for career – well, the start of one, anyway. There are various other ways this theory proves to be correct, but my emotions just aren’t one of them. I say that because I currently don’t know what my emotions are. Not the ones that hit me when I least suspect it, anyway. It’s almost as if they’re not me. As if I become this whole other person when I sense any negativity surrounding me. Negativity that is much imagined very often.
I wanted answers as to why I hit out over things that seem so small, things that seem so silly when I’ve calmed down. Things that could have easily been ignored, and therefore the evening spent screaming and crying could’ve been an evening very much enjoyed.

I spoke and he listened. I asked and he answered. I questioned these answers and he continued to explain. He continued to help. It felt amazing speaking my whole mind for once. Not just the part of it that I feel needs to be spoken. Needs to be heard. I couldn’t believe how comfortable I felt telling a stranger things I’d felt too scared of, too ashamed of to tell to those closest to me. It was such a relief. Somebody knew what was going on. And they didn’t make me feel crazy. I felt at ease with myself for the for the first time in a long time. Reassured. Relieved.

Today, I left my appointment with a smile on my face. 3 notes in my hand. One for blood tests, one for prescription meds and one for current evalutation. A pre-diagnosis that I’m going to face and deal with. Something to get me on the right track. Something to help.

Emotionally Unstable/Borderline Personality Disorder, OCD & Social Anxiety.
Emotional Intensity Disorder / Cyclothymia
It may not have been the result you’d think I’d be happy with… the all clear and much hated ‘hormones’ term. But it’s a result, after all.

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.

The Easiest, Most Comfortable Way To Have Sex When You Have An Ostomy

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.

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.

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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 strips 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

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?  

 

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“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!

Hiding Your Ostomy Bag With ‘Sexy’ Lingerie

Hiding your ostomy when you’re in your underwear can be kinda hard sometimes, especially when even the special support underwear you ordered just misses the top of your bag. I don’t tend to wear ‘sexy’ underwear, I’m one of those people that still own underwear from when they were about 14 (clean, of course). And as for matching underwear, who cares when nobodies going to see it? (Queue those that “do it for themselves” and sure, I admire you for taking the time to buy matching sets.) But yesterday, shopping in Brighton, I ventured into H&M to take a look at the clothes whilst I waited for my boyfriends mum to finish her tour of the pavillion. I wasn’t intending to buy anything –  I didn’t really have the money – but didn’t want to wonder aimlessly within the crowd of people outside.

For some reason I tend to avoid the underwear section in commercial clothe shops. I’m always almost certain they’ll be nothing for me. I hate to admit it, but sometimes I feel like, how can I be sexy without clothes on?

I spotted a really nice dress to the far right of the clothes shop. As I walked closer, noticing underwear surrounding me, I realised it was one of those see through dresses you wear for intimacy (oops). It was just gorgeous though, and I ended up buying it. But I still worried how my stomach would look, what with it being seethrough and all. The scars not too noticeable, but the beige ostomy bag that sits upon my tummy is pretty hard to miss.

Stressing out a little as I flicked through thong after thong, I came across a pair of silk and lacy high waisted underwear – not the overly big tummy holding pants you see in M&S. They were absolutely beautiful. I pondered over the idea of buying them for a moment before I took them over to purchase them. I love support pants, I wear them every day. But I never thought “big pants” could be sexy… until now!

They were £7.99 – IMG_2143an absolute bargain for the quality of the underwear! They really suck your waistline in without revealing any lumps or bumps, even when my bag is not completely empty, my stomach still looks flat! They also hold you in at the waist, giving you a really nice hour glass figure.

I’d really recommend to anybody feeling uncomfortable in the bedroom, or who just likes to wear nice underwear!

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.

photo 2(2)

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

10 Things I Thought I’d Know By The Time I Was 20

I think 20 is that age that really makes you realise you’re an adult. 18, sure, you’re legal, you can go out, clubbing, drinking… in the UK anyway. But at 18, you’re still excused for, like “oh, she’s only 18, she doesn’t know any better!” whereas at 20, it’s sort of more frowned upon when you do something that perhaps you should’ve grown out of… or known better. But really, I don’t think we ever know better. We sort of just.. adapt. Pretend, even. We create this perception of adulthood through movies and education. But half the time I’m pretty sure I’m questioning what other people my age are doing, and trying to understand it, let alone actually doing it. And here’s a few things that I still can’t get my head around, that I really assumed I would’ve learned by the time I turned 20…

By the time I was 20, I thought I’d know how to handle money. I grew up spending my pocket money the day I received it, never thinking to save up to get something really cool, often spending it on sweets. Now, as I receive each monthly pay cheque, I seem to somehow forget about the rent that’s due two weeks after, and accidentally my wardrobe gets more and more crowded.

I thought I’d know how to make friends. I was never great at meeting new people, I was never completely shy, but I was just a little socially awkward. I assumed I’d get over that 10 years later. But nope. Here I am, alone at my computer.

I thought I’d know how to pay bills. I live on my own now, with my partner, but I STILL do not understand bills. Or rent. Or invoices. Or anything like that. And I blame it on my education. Like WHY did they think it was relevant to drill the Pythagoras theorem into our heads, but avoid teaching us HOW TO ACTUALLY RENT A PLACE?!

By the time I was 20 I thought I’d have it all figured out. I thought I’d know what I want to do. But nope, here I am, sitting with my two cats wondering where I want to be in another 10 years time.

I thought I’d know how to be confident. How to stop myself picking out flaws and actually accept myself. But it’s harder than you think to do that. I still look in the mirror daily and frown at certain things that I’m just too lazy to change about myself.

I thought I’d be a little more independent. That I’d be able to stand on my own two feet with nobody else’s help. I thought frequent calls to my parents for help with money, food and laundry would be pretty much non existent. I mean, sometimes they are. For two days at least.

I thought I’d know better by the time I was 20. That I’d learn to go with my head instead of my heart. But countless wrong decisions that at one point I’ve felt so deeply passionate about have left my crying under my duvet with a tub of ben and Jerrys watching Bridget Jones over and over.

In fact, I thought I’d know MORE. But it’s okay because we have google. I mean where else are you going to go when you want to know how many calories are in the large pizza you just comfort ate to take away your troubles.

I thought I’d know how to cook. I’d never learnt before I moved out, and I just assumed it kind of just came to you when you decided to flee from your parents nest. But apparently not. I swear I’d never eaten so many microwave meals and beans on toast than I did the first few months of living independently.

I thought I’d still know the people I hung out with 24/7 in school. But these people have since become distant strangers. I think that’s the hard part of growing up. The people you felt you knew so well suddenly aren’t there anymore, but you just have to deal with that and move on.

Approaching adulthood isn’t all bad though. You begin to appreciate how much your parents put up with, and kick yourself for ever leaving your room so dirty. You can stay up all night without your mum knocking on your door reminding you you’ve got an early start in the morning. And if you don’t feel like doing the dishes, that’s no pressure. There’s also the pros of having an ID. I love being asked for ID when buying a bottle of wine (that’s something I never thought I’d drink too!) – with the shopkeeper looking me up and down, trying to determine whether I’m over 18 – only for me to hold my awful mug shot licence up against my smug little face. It’s the little things.

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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!

10 Things NOT To Say To Someone With Crohn’s or Colitis

You may know that I’m on a few groups where people with IBD or ostomy can look for support. It’s helpful for a number of reasons, and some of the stuff posted can give you a great laugh. I’ve seen quite a few posts where other ‘sufferers’ have posted about the most ridiculous comments that have been made to them that day. Some can be quite innocent, generally people trying to help, but also, some leave you questioning…. why?

1. Isn’t it just like a sickness bug?

If you count a sickness bug as an incurable life time of medication, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bad joints etc etc… then yes! It so IS a sickness bug! Duh!

2. You’ve really put on some weight..

Well it was either get more sick or suck it up on steroids. I took the more painless option, obviously.

3. My sisters boyfriends cousin’s friend has that, they’re cured now.
That’s great, she must feel amazing to be the first person in the world to be cured of IBD. I

4. Have you tried this new product? It has amazing results and cures IBD.

Wow, why didn’t the doctors think of this shop bought product instead of making us have intense surgeries?! I bet they feel so stupid now. There is no cure. Even after an ostomy, you are still prone to disease and symptoms.

5. “I have IBS though, it’s not that bad.”

Please do some research and rethink what you just said: http://www.webmd.com/ibs/ibd-versus-ibs.

https://i0.wp.com/healthyhomeopathy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/woman-on-toilet.jpg6. I’m so jealous, you can eat what you want and stay skinny.

Yeah, I love spending most of the day on the toilet not being able to leave my bathroom. My frequent trips to the hospital. My emergency surgeries. It’s all so worth it to stay skinny. I’m so lucky.

7. You shouldn’t be using the disabled toilets.

Just because you can’t see a “disability”, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

8. You don’t look sick.

And you didn’t look ignorant, I guess we both learned something new

9. “This may have caused it…”

We have enough (literal) shit going on without being made to feel guilty about it. There is no studies that suggest anything can cause IBD. Again, please do your research before attempting to be a doctor.

10. But you haven’t done anything… why are you so tired?!

Fatigue is one of the most debilitating symptoms of IBD. It’s not just being “tired”.

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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The Ins & Outs Of My Ileostomy Reversal & Setting A Date For The Surgery

Tomorrow i’m meeting with my surgeon to hopefully set a date for my reversal surgery. I’m not exactly sure how soon they’re looking at doing it, or when I feel is going to be a good time to do so either, so I’m hoping they can be quite flexible, so that I don’t have to rush into doing anything. There’s a lot of things that need to be talked through (which I will write about either tomorrow or Saturday) and a lot of things I need to decide on.

As I don’t think I’ve properly written about it before, I thought I’d just tell you a little bit about what the reversal surgery entails. Apparently it is a much more minor operation as opposed to ileostomy surgery, but still entails a hospital stay of up to 10 days. I’m having a straight forward rejoin. What this means, is they will take the end of my intestine, (my stoma) and place it back into my body. They managed to keep the whole of my rectum – a lot of the time rectums can also be diseased and inflamed and have to be removed with UC – and so they are literally going to reconnect me, small intestine to rectum. Of course my digestive system will still be different to a “normal” functioning system, as I have no large intestine. The large intestine is what solidifys your stool. I will probably use the bathroom more often than others, they mentioned 2-3 times a day. Which to be honest I don’t actually think is that bad – my boyfriend goes more than that!!! (Sorry Angelo)

They’ll wait to check my digestive system is fully functioning again before releasing me, and hopefully that will be the end of my illness… Although, there is a 70% chance of me getting ill again. What I didn’t know, and I feel a bit silly for not knowing, is that UC isn’t cured by ileostomy surgery. You still get all the symptoms such as fatigue, achey joints, sore skin, irritated eyes etc, as well as my rectum becoming diseased. Should my rectum become diseased, I will be back to the hospital for a more major J Pouch surgery. What they do in this case is remove the rectum, and form a pouch out of the end of your small intestine in the shape of a ‘J’. This then works as a rectum. If some of you are unsure of what your rectum does, it is what gives you control over your stool. It stores your stool and helps you keep it in when you feel like you need to do. So yeah, it’s pretty vital that you have one if you want to use the toilet like everyone else.

Anyway, I hope this explains a little if you were unsure as to what to make of my previous blog posts. I’m sure lots of you know already, anyway.

I’ll let you know how I get on tomorrow, anyhow!

I NEED To Look Like A Hollister Model

I don’t know the exact point in my exposure to Instagram famous gym-bros, superhero
movie beefcakes and topless models in perfume adverts that I decided this, but it did
happen and it controls my life to a shameful degree.

My current “body goals” involve adding 10kg of muscle and reducing my body fat to 8% (it is around 13%). To do this I’m lifting weights 4 times a week, lightly exercising on an empty stomach in the morning every day and doing ab workouts twice a week. I’m also attempting (and failing) to stick to a strict only natural diet that excludes any processed foods from being consumed. If I do adhere to this I know that in 2 to 3 months time I will have achieved these goals. But in all honesty what is the point? It is insanely time consuming, expensive to eat the amount of high quality food I need to bulk and no fun at all. How did I get in this state of irrational aesthetic obsession?

Since very early childhood my idea of what a ‘man’ looks like has been shaped by the media. As a pretty typical boy I was sucked into TV shows like Power Rangers and played with Action Man and Star Wars action figures, my favourite Disney movie was Hercules. All of my ‘heroes’ and role models were characters that were exceptionally muscular. This belief that muscles equalled hero continued to be reinforced as I grew up and started watching action movies; X-Men, 300, Batman begins. Most superheroes have incredible bodies and the genre is more popular than ever.

Around the same time as this new cascade of musclebound heroes began to form my
ideals, I hit puberty and started to become interested in girls. Of course, being shallow and 12 years old, I believed that girls (who were also shallow and 12) were only really attracted to boy band guys with abs; we were all bouncing the same lie we’d been sold back and forth off each other till everyone internalised it. Consequentially 12 year old me ended up doing 15 press-ups and 30 sit-ups a night before going to bed. How utterly ridiculous. It did work slightly, I got a faint 4-pack and at 13 I changed my Bebo profile picture to me topless with a dog tag necklace round my neck. I can assure you, categorically, 100%, no doubt at all, that this did fuck all to help me attract girls. In fact it definitely did more damage than good.

Bebo’s popularity soon died after that and I forgot my login details, so that picture is still
there for all to see. It’s horrific. I wasn’t particularly hindered with body issues for the next few years, though worried about my ‘lankiness’ (I was 6ft at 13) I was assured by others that I would fill out as I got older.

Well, I did get older and to my great dismay woke up on my 18th birthday not looking like a Men’s Health cover model. A few months later I broke up with my girlfriend of 2 years and this is when I really began to focus on the body issues again. Looking around on Instagram it was easy to see that the guys who warranted millions of followers were insanely buff. Newly single I wanted to get absolutely ripped in the hope my life would turn into some sort of sexist Lynx commercial with supermodels falling from the sky to clamour over me.

Fast forward to the present day and I have the body that 13 year old me always wanted, however I don’t want it anymore, I don’t think it’s good enough. Becoming entrenched in the gym fanatic world I’m now pursuing an even more extreme ideal and I imagine if I get there the goal posts will move again. It can be argued that being a gym rat and focusing on your diet is healthy in the long run but there is not even the tiniest part of me that is doing this for health reasons. It pains me to say it but multiple times a day I will walk into the spare room where there is good lighting and take my top off to check out my progress. I criticize everything at a level that no-one else would, questioning if I have the right ratio of armpit hair, whether or not my shoulders are level. I even waxed my chest and stomach once and it came out in loads of spots. I waste far too much of my life altering my body to please others. In all honesty having a ‘good’ body probably adds up to 20% of any of the success I’ve had with women over my life and If I’d spent as much time making my personality shine as I had obsessively watching workout videos on YouTube I might be dating the girl of my dreams. Ironically the girl of my dreams wouldn’t care if my body fat percentage was single digits.

It’s semi-comforting but more upsetting to know that I am not alone in my insecurities.
Studies have shown that 63% of men think that their arms or chest are not muscular enough 1 and I would wager that the number is on the rise. Multiple times in recent years I have not gone out, or I have planned my entire day around exercise and I’m pretty sure I’ve missed out on some great life experiences and opportunities because of it. It’s a silly way to improve your life because no good story ever started with ‘This one time I was deadlifting in the gym…’

That being said I will still wake-up tomorrow morning for my fasted jog and drink a protein shake for breakfast. Sigh.

By Alex Williams / Contributor

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“My Experience With A Failed J-Pouch” – Reversal Surgery

By Kristy, Contributor for morethanyourbag.com

Hattie has been doing a great job of raising awareness of IBD and life with a stoma and I’m very grateful to be invited to write a post for her blog. Those that have read her posts will know that she’s recently made the decision to go ahead with reversal surgery. Given that she has been talking about reversal surgery (including the possibility of a j-pouch), I thought that it might be useful to talk about my experience with what is unfortunately a failed j-pouch.

I had emergency surgery for UC in December 2012 and was given a temporary stoma. Keeping my rectum wasn’t an option so I had the choice of making the stoma permanent or going for a j-pouch. To an extent, I felt like I was on a conveyer belt and it was a given that I would have j-pouch surgery. I obviously did give it some thought and consider whether keeping the stoma would be best, but I had pretty much made my mind up as I was being rolled in for the emergency sub-total colectomy. My j-pouch was created in June 2013 and connected in September 2013 (on Friday 13th!). The first two or three weeks with it went really well, better than expected. Unfortunately it went downhill from there. I suffered what was apparently a huge anal fissure and with very acidic output passing over it about seven or eight times a day I was in a lot of pain. After throwing a lot of different creams at it and two rounds of botox injections (I never expected that I’d have botox there!) it finally healed. It then became apparent that my output was unusually acidic and meant that I was in pain most of the time (not just when I went to the toilet). I would grimace my way through work, rush home to sit in a luke-warm bath and take codeine and tramadol to try and ease the pain. I was getting really frustrated as I just wanted to get on with my life. After nine months, I chose to go back to a stoma and to make it permanent. It turns out that was the right choice for me. Apart from a blip, when I needed to get the stoma revised, I’ve been feeling so much better and finally feel like I have my life back. My surgeon was somewhat baffled as to my experience and thinks the problem with my output may have been caused by my body chemistry being altered by chemotherapy that I had about 10 years ago (unrelated to my IBD issues). Hopefully, therefore, it isn’t an issue that many people will experience.

It might sound like this is all doom and gloom, but it’s really not. I’m very happy with where I am now. Plus, I would make exactly the same choices again (unless of course I had a crystal ball that told me the j-pouch wasn’t going to work out). After all, the numbers are on your side – the majority of j-pouches work, and work well. What I really want to do is highlight some of the issues that I found important when making my decisions in case it helps others.

First and foremost, make sure that you are happy with your surgeon and nurses. You are literally putting your life in their hands and you need to have utmost trust that they are both very good at their job and understand what you are trying to achieve. My surgeon is excellent and I am so lucky to have found him. What I really appreciate is that when I go to see him he asks if I have got back into running again – he realises that he’s there to not just make sure I live, but to make sure that I can enjoy my life in the same way that I did before I became ill. Also, don’t ever worry about asking to see another doctor for a second opinion. Despite the fact that I really admire my surgeon, I went for one. If they’re acting professionally and have faith in their own ability, they should not have a problem with it. In fact, they may well welcome another point of view, which was the case in my situation.

I found it particularly helpful to keep a diary to track what I had eaten, what I had done during the day and how much pain I was in. I used a traffic light system for pain. When I was having significantly more red and amber days it made me realise that, despite the optimism that might accompany a green day, reverting to a permanent stoma really was the best decision for me.

When you go to see your surgeon go armed with a list of questions. Write them down, because you will inevitably forget some otherwise. Don’t worry about taking up their time asking all the questions you need. You need to understand what is happening with your body and what the best way forward is in your circumstances. I’d also recommend taking notes at your appointment so that you remember everything that is said. There will be times when you’ll want to read over them to help you understand your options and the process. There is a lot to take in in a relatively short time.

Buy some Calmoseptine. Actually, buy lots of it. You can get it shipped from the U.S. using Amazon. The stuff is brilliant and really helps with burning down there – I wouldn’t have survived the nine months with my j-pouch without it.

Make sure your family and friends know what you’re going through. I did my best to put on a brave face, but it really does help if they understand what is going on. We all need support at times.

My First ‘Festival’ Experience With An Ileostomy Bag

I didn’t expect to be writing a blog about a festival, as I’ve been to a few in the past and never had a bad word to say. I didn’t actually think I’d have anything at all to comment on in regards to the day. I didn’t expect to encounter any issues. But I was so, so wrong.

One of my best friends had kindly bought me a ticket for Mutiny Festival in Chichester, which was so lovely of her. She really wanted to cheer me up and help me forget about everything that’s been going on recently. I really appreciated the gesture and went along with her to the festival yesterday. I’d worn a high neck vest and dungarees and some boots, something I knew would hide my bag should it blow up a little and something I was comfortable in.

We’d arrived at the venue and whilst waiting for others to join us, went to the pub. By the time we’d gotten back to line up, the queue was massive. So badly organised too, even the security guards and policemen commented on how poorly arranged it was. It was baking hot and we were squashed up in a forever expanding queue for two hours. It seems people had completely forgotten their self awareness and respect for others as they pushed in from the sides, groups at a time fighting for the front against those who had been standing patiently for hours. Not fun when you’re trying to protect your stomach from being elbowed by those who are too impatient to line up properly.

When we’d finally got in, I was in desperate need of the toilet. The first toilet we approached had already been completely flooded and shut off. I waited and went and watched Snoop Dogg with my friends, (the only reason we’d really wanted to go) and then went to look for some public toilets afterwards. The first set of toilets were a mess. There were no cleaners around for the whole day, and so muddy tissues (I assumed it was mud anyway – but after the amount I saw yesterday, I really can’t be sure) flooded the floor, preventing me getting my stuff out to help sort my ostomy bag out. No toilet roll was supplied once they had run out, and so it seemed I’d taken up a freelance job of handing out my baby wipes to those in need.

It was getting to the point where I couldn’t comfortably join in with everyone else because my ostomy bag was the size of a beach ball. My friend and I managed to hunt down what seemed to be the only staff of the event to ask for the use of their toilet. Considering it was taking place at Fontwell Racecourse, we’d assumed there would be inside toilets. I didn’t explain why I needed to use them, just emphasized by desperation. I didn’t feel I needed to explain, and to be quite honest didn’t want to embarrass myself trying to justify my situation. But after they denied the use of a toilet, and I’d walked away, my friend went and explained why I needed to use them so badly. They insisted there weren’t any other toilets than the ones I’d already seen, (hard to believe, what were the “VIP” using?) but a woman kindly took me over to the ONE disabled toilet across the whole festival. I don’t normally use disabled toilets as the others are normally clean enough to use, but this time I had no choice. She took me over but it was already full of others who didn’t want to use the other toilets either. The woman explained I had a medical condition to the girl at the front of the line – who didn’t take the information too kindly – and she reluctantly let me in front of her. Once in these toilets, I noticed the toilet was also nearly full to the brim with toilet roll and used tampons. I nearly vomited it was so disgusting. So instead of emptying the bag like I’d normally do, I had to take all my equipment out onto the baby changing area and completely start from the beginning with a new bag. Of course this took time. And it seemed others had noticed that too, as people vastly began shouting and banging at the door, actually threatening to knock the door down – knowing that I did actually have a medical condition, unlike them. It was absolutely disgusting behaviour. I had to leave the toilet as soon as possible, still doing up my dungarees as I left, but before I knew it, the girl behind me had swung the toilet door into my back. No body had let me pass to get out of the toilet entrance, so I’d had to climb under the barriers to get out. I was wedged in between the door and the barrier, shouting at her to stop, but the door was pushed harder into my back. My friend helped me out but I completely flipped at the girl. Her behaviour was absolutely disgusting, I couldn’t believe it.

I desperately needed a drink after that and chilled out with my friend for the rest of the day, watching the acts. But the incident had set off the day on a sour note.

By the start of the evening, two public toilet buildings had been shut off and all that was left for hundreds of people were a few portaloos.

You may be thinking to yourself “it’s just toilets”. But it’s not. When you have to take time out of what’s meant to be an enjoyable experience to change an ostomy bag that shouldn’t have needed to be because the cleanliness was so poor, alongside a group of people shouting at you for withholding their queuing time with it, it sort of makes you feel like you shouldn’t be there. And perhaps I shouldn’t have, but with the amount of live events I’d been to in the past, I really didn’t anticipate any troubles.

I’d never been to anything like this. I watched two underage people overdose on drugs before being taken away by paramedics just two hours into the event. In the heart of Chichester. Seriously? I later found out that as the queues had gotten bigger, they’d stopped checking ID to hurry up the queue. Was this worth it?Rubbish and waste suffocated every aspect of visible ground and in 12 hours not one litter picker had been in sight, and no waste bins were available. Queueing for drinks took anywhere between an hour and a half to two hours. Girls who can’t have been over 16 were begging people for pills. Had it been a midnight rave or worldwide festival, perhaps this was a little more normal, but for a small country town it was just down right embarrassing.

I’d never want to be that person that moans about a festival, I love live music, bands, the atmosphere… The acts were great, but it was just overshadowed by the lack of respect people had for the place, and other people. So many people left early, complaining about the state of the site, the respect of some festival goers and the unhelpfulness of the staff. I joined these people and went off the pub. We ended up having a 2 course meal instead. That was no festival, it was literally just an example of everything we should be aiming to repress.

I’d definitely recommend anybody with a medical condition that forces you to need the use of cleanliness or disabled toilets not to go, it’s more trouble than it’s worth. The amount of people bigging it up made it sound like Reading, but I can assure you, if Reading was anything like this, it would’ve been shut down a loooong time ago.

Or Mutiny Festival perhaps should’ve taken up the offer of help from The Fontwell Racecourse staff. I’d hate to see the look on their faces when they come back to work on Monday morning.1383782_1660777597474277_6520884371984263357_n

I’m sure many people had a great time, and of course, I had a great time spending time with my friends. But, having overheard a nearby conversation whilst in the pub, a girl summed it up right – “would they act like that at home? No. So why in the hell would you act like that in public?”

I think perhaps if they’re aiming to pull this off next year, after failing miserably this year…. They should probably have a rethink. Oh, and on the left you’ll see a picture of me smiling. And yes, it was taken before we entered the festival.

“There’s A Strong Chance You’ll Need IVF To Conceive” – The Ins & Outs Of My Reversal

You may have seen my recent blog post regarding my decision on reversal surgery; and if so, you’ll know that the subject of IVF was approached.

I was in a weird place when I wrote that post, and I think it created some confusion as to what was actually said. There were a lot of people who commented telling me about their story, their miracles and how IVF is not always a last resort.

So, just to go into a little bit of detail now that I’m coming to terms with things and feel a little stronger about what’s going to happen…

Basically, there’s a lot of theory as to what could potentially happen after my surgery. I am going to be having a straight rejoin, as they managed to leave the whole of my rectum when I had surgery for an ileostomy. So what they will do, is reconnect my small bowel to my rectum. I will be able to go to the toilet “normally” again and they said the chances are I will only go around 2-3 times a day, as opposed to the 7-8 times I empty my bag. That was fab news, as I had assumed it would be a similar situation, just without a stoma.

What I had also been told is that there is no cure for colitis. Again, I assumed that having my colon out meant the colitis had cleared. But I will always be prone to the symptoms, and there is a chance it could become active in my rectum again. I will still have symptoms such as fatigue and achey joints also, but there will not be a need for any emergency surgery. It won’t get to the point where I’m fighting for my life again.

There is a 70% chance that the colitis will flare badly again and I will become ill, and if this does happen, I will be moved in for J-Pouch surgery. This is where they take out your rectum, and create a pouch out of the end of your small intestine, which is pretty much a replacement rectum. You can then continue to go to the toilet normally.

Of course there is many risks in the surgery, and I could eventually end up with another stoma. But I am prepared for that, of course.

2dscanIn regards to IVF, I have been told there is adhesion on my bowel. This lessens the chances of getting pregnant, as it makes it more difficult to conceive naturally. I can however carry a baby and give birth. Of course, they give you the worst case scenario and by law need to inform you of all potential risks.

By having the next surgery, I will be increasing the amount of adhesion on my bowel, and there for the chances of conceiving naturally lessen again. If I do become ill again, and therefore need a J-Pouch, I’ve been told the chances are I will have trouble conceiving naturally and will definitely need IVF.

Of course, I completely appreciate that lots of people have conceived naturally, and in no way am I saying it was impossible. At first, I was scared it would be impossible for me, but after hearing all your wonderful stories, many of you have really given me the hope and support I needed. So I just want to thank you for everyone who has taken the time to send me over their stories, and any other positive information that has been sent my way.

Right now I think I’ve just got to focus on what’s right for me. I fear I’m really going to miss having a stoma, but there’s no way I can go through life thinking “what if”. For me, I’m just really excited to not have to deal with my burnt and sore skin! I’m extremely grateful though that my skin problems are the only problems I have had with my stoma, as it will leave me going into my reversal with nothing but appreciation for the life it has given me. And if I need one again, then this time round, I will be more than ready for it!


On another note, I am currently looking for contributors for the blog, this time those who have had or are facing stoma surgery, or reversal surgery. I’d love to read and post your stories for others to see. So if you have got any stories you’d like shared, please email me at hattie.gladwell@morethanyourbag.com.

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I’ve Finally Made A Decision On Reversal Surgery…

I can’t quite believe it’s been six months since my surgery. Having only expected to have a stoma for four months, these two extra months have pretty much gone by unnoticebale. I can’t say they’ve been easy though.. I think I’ve managed well, and I definitely adapted quickly. I’ve learned how to accept my body, I’ve accepted my change in weight and for once been grateful to my change in appearrance.

After having an emergency surgery for a stoma, I thought my world had ended. I was such an insecure person, I was convinced I’d want to hide away forever. But I can’t have dealt with it more differently. I got over my fear of judgement and showed myself off for the world to see. I got some negative, but mainly a postive response overrall and accepted that nobody would ever share the same opinion. But suddenly, the opinion of the outside world didn’t matter to me. Oddly enough, I became the person I’d always feared of acknowledging. I became confident.

Isn’t that funny? How I’d spent my whole life worrying about my image. Worrying about my weight; for it to eventually take the mentally deemed unacceptable to face the ultimate acception. An acception that has allowed me to live a normal life.

My loved ones feared for my mental health in the beginning, concerned as to how I’d deal with such a change to my body. I definitely surprised them when I started this blog, and opened up to what became a wide audience. In fact, I surprised myself. What started out to be an open recovery diary eventually became an insight to my life. A passion to help others and to raise awareness. It gave me meaning. It allowed me to do what I love most for a living – writing. It’s let me meet and work with some truly amazing and inspiring people. I am so grateful for all the support I have received over the last 6 months.

But for me, I feel I’m ready to continue with my journey, by taking a slightly different path. I have decided to have a reversal.

I am filled with many different emotions as I write this, but after a lot of thought, I feel I am ready to say goodbye to my stoma. It has been an experience I’ll never forget. One that honestly, I’d never have wanted but one that I’ll always be grateful for. It saved my life and showed me a different side to living. It changed me as a person. I am more truthful to myself and others around me and I feel I have learnt to be a better person. I have subsided any judgement and experienced the passion of helping others.

Lately though, I feel my mental health has deteriorated a little. As summer has approached, my ostomy bag has become uncomfortable and I have been dealing with a lot of leaks and burnt skin. I have become agitated from lack of sleep from the emptying of the bag and to be quite honest with you, I miss not having to wear support pants all the time, to fit into the clothes I didn’t want to throw away. I cry a lot when changing the bag because I am an impatient person, and my stoma is extremely active, meaning I’m getting through a lot of bags a day. There’s a number of reasons for me opting for reversal, but I can honestly tell you now that my appearrance is on the bottom of this list. Of course, I miss my old scar free stomach, but lets face it, my scars are going to sit on my abdomen for the rest of my life, and I shall forever be proud of them.

It’s important to remember that stomas are lifesaving. And I do not regret a single ounch of what my stoma has given me. It taught me everything I know now. It taught me what’s important. Love, family and happiness. It’s really not about making a lot of money and being the best at your job – I can tell you that for a fact. As I was rushed into theatre for emergency surgery, the only thing on my mind was to make sure I told every person in that room I loved them, in case I didn’t make it. I wasn’t thinking about anything else but love. And now, I will do everything I can to make sure everyone important to me knows that they are loved.

My reversal could go one of two ways. It could be great and I could live a long, comfortable life. I could get sick again and end up having a more major surgery. I could have issues conceiving naturally, but that may be a possibility with my stoma also. But, all of these ‘coulds’ are not a definite. And I can’t live life being scared of “what if”. I need to live with an open mind and take risks.

I will be continuing with my blog, and updating you as I approach reversal surgery. I am awaiting another date with my surgeon to agree on a date for the reversal, and will let you know how I am as time goes on.

I hope to keep writing over the next coming weeks, to document my last couple of months with my stoma. I will continue to work with charities and connecting with those going through a similar situation. I hope to have helped even just a few people over the last 6 months, and to continue helping as I continue on my journey. I think it’s important I keep writing, to relieve myself of unwanted stress and to keep myself sane. I want to document my reversal and my life afterwards. I hope to compare, and be some sort of indication to others struggling to make a choice between ostomy and reversal.

I still have some really exciting projects and charity events coming up, and will be selecting a date that allows me to complete what I see as an experience of a life time.

Thank you for all your kind words, support and lovely messages. Thank you for reading into my life and taking an interest in me. And most importantly, thank you for helping me love myself. I hope you’ll stick by me through the words of my next surgery experience. x

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I Met My Surgeon Today To Make A Decision On Reversal Surgery… And My Heart Feels Broken

I’m writing this blog post without the intention of posting it. I’m not sure if I’m ready to, but hopefully by the end of this post I’ll feel a little bit better about my situation. I was scared to write today, for the pure fact that I am extremely emotional, and after just a couple of hours sleep last night – very tired.

As most of you will already know, I met with my surgeon today, to discuss reversal surgery. I was extremely nervous and couldn’t fall asleep last night until around 5am, and ended up getting up at 7am to go for my consultation.

I was nervous because I assumed I’d be making my decision today, on whether to go ahead with further surgery or stick with my stoma until I knew exactly what I wanted to do. But it turns out, today was a huge information overload. Information that truly broke my heart.

And as I sit here, trembling, trying to keep the tears back, I feel angry, and lonely, and hurt. I was really hoping for some good news today. All I wanted to hear was that I was healthy. I was pretty sure I was going to go ahead with my reversal, to avoid the “what ifs?” but I’m more scared now than ever before.

I know it may seem like I’m dragging this piece out but I can’t bring myself to actually type out what I was told today. But I’m going to try my best. I’m sorry if it doesn’t all make sense but I’m struggling to get my head around it all. And to those of you reading this, with all due respect, please, PLEASE don’t send me messages telling me your “sisters friend was told this and she is fine” or that “other people have it worse”. Just please. I know that I am not the most unfortunate person in the world, and perhaps somebody you know has been through a similar situation. But this situation is unique from my surgeon to me, and is information for my body only, not a generalisation on what could have been. I appreciate every lovely comment I get, but I’m struggling to get my head around all of this, and really don’t need other thoughts and conclusions running through my mind.

Anyway.

Today, I nervously entered my surgeons office, getting ready to hear about plans for a reversal. Instead, he drew a couple of diagrams and gave me examples of two reversal surgeries. The preferred surgery is where I am just joined up from small bowel to rectum, compared to the more complicated J pouch surgery. He said for my body, this would be safest and easiest.

2

But.

It turns out I may still have active colitis in my rectum, and with this surgery, there is a 70% chance I will flare and become sick again. In which case, they will then have to remove all of my rectum and perform another surgery on me.

And, I mean, I can deal with that. I’m scared, but I can deal. I need to prepare myself to become sick again and expect any occurring risks.

What I couldn’t deal with, and what I wasn’t expecting… is this…

After explaining the complications and the health risks. The surgeon then informed me of something else. And I can’t help but scrunch my face up in anger and devastation as I tell you, that today, as a girl who has only just turned 20, who has undergone emergency surgery for an ileostomy bag after being misdiagnosed for so long, has now been told that most likely, my only chances of getting pregnant will be through IVF.

The adhesion’s in my abdomen will make it too difficult for me to conceive naturally, now.

I understand people have IVF and it is a common procedure. But it was one thing I just wasn’t prepared for. And I don’t know how to deal with this because I never thought I’d have to. It really hurts. It hurts so much to be told that I won’t be able to conceive naturally. I’m sorry if it sounds selfish to anyone, but I can’t get my head around it. I’m literally sobbing, I just feel completely lost. I just wanted some good news. I don’t understand why I can’t just have some good news?

Of course I am grateful that as far as I know I can have children. I don’t want to sound selfish or ungrateful to those that aren’t able to. But for me, this news was hard. I hadn’t gone there with the intentions of this being a part of the conversation. For me, I feel like I haven’t been given the chance. A chance that one day I would’ve liked to have taken, a chance to try for a baby… naturally. I feel like I’ve had a part of my womanhood taken away. Maybe these feelings will change. And once again I really don’t want to cause any offense. But, it just feels like, every silver lining has a consequence. I can be healthy with my ileostomy bag, but I have to deal with leaks, burnt skin, soreness, swelling, and pain caused by clothing I don’t want to throw away. I can have a reversal, but that means a huge chance of ulcerative colitis coming back, of which will result in a more major surgery. And ultimately, this experience will leave me unable conceive without IVF.

I feel scared and I feel like I can’t trust anything anymore. I’m scared I’m never going to get over being ill, or in pain. I worry I’ll never feel “whole” again.

Will somebody please just pray that I will eventually come through this?

Please?

I don’t feel better yet, not from writing this anyway. But at least it’s out in the open now, instead of all bottled up. I’m just hoping time will heal.

My video: What Is Beauty?

I Have Some Really Exciting News For My Blog!!!

If you haven’t already guessed by the new banner on my blog, I’m so excited to tell you that I have a new sponsor! Alongside my wonderful sponsors SecuriCare and ClinMed, Comfizz are now in full support of my little blog!

I’m so so overjoyed to have another sponsor, especially one which offers so much to girls like me! I feel a lot of you reading will be over the moon to find Comfizz (if you haven’t already) as they have some absolutely amazing products for such little money!

Comfizz produce all sorts of things from underwear to waistband products for both men and women. So if you’re having trouble with support pants, what with them often flattening you in awful places, you should definitely have a look. I’m not just talking boring support pants either. I’ve struggled finding underwear I’ve felt confident wearing, until now, where I have actually seen what looks to be the most flattering, support thong!

Over the next few months I will be reviewing their products, both through writing and video, to give you an insight as to what they’re like. I will offer as much advice as much as I can, so feel free to send me a message if you feel you need to ask something before ordering!

I’ve noticed on a lot of other ostomy sites that their prices are pretty high. I was so shocked to see that some lovely support underwear were just £6! Not only this, but they also offer post surgery wear, and clothing for children, teens and adults – at all seriously good prices. I sometimes wore support pants before my surgery, because I was a little self concious of my body, so this site is recommended to everyone, not just those with ostomy! And, I mean it’s worth a look anyway, as you never know what you’ll find!

A little bit about them:

Comfizz was established in 1998 as a fashion garment producer moving into specialist sportswear in 2002. They were providing high performance garments which were breathable and fit like a second skin to give ultra comfort and total freedom of movement for athletes.Then in 2004 when a family member had stoma surgery, they worked together to use their expertise and access to performance fabrics to produce the most comfortable, functional support wear.

Thanks to Comfizz origins in clothing and high performance garments they are in a very strong position to provide the best most innovative medical support wear. Understanding athletes needs as well as patients, they’ve been able to combine all of their experience into the product range so that you receive the elite benefits that athletes expect.

Here is just one of their £6 garments available, in a variety of colours:

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So, please go and take a look over on their site, and don’t hesitate to ask either of us any questions, I would love to answer any you may have!

www.comfizz.com

I’m Getting Nervous About Having To Make A Huge Decision…

On Friday I’m off to see my surgeon to talk about reversal surgery. I think Friday is the day where I’ll be needing to give him a decision as to what I want to do, seeing as my last appointment ended up with me walking away completley clueless as to what I want to do. I have a pretty good idea as to how I want it to go, but don’t want to write my hopes out just yet, just in case the appointment goes in the other direction. But I’m hoping for the best.. because to be honest I am quite bored of things going wrong now! (Really hoping I haven’t jinxed it!)

There’s still a lot of pros and cons to weigh out in my head, but hopefully the surgeon can give me a better idea… Google tends to make things seem a little bit more dramatic.

I need to remember though that all round, my health is what is most important. And I’m slightly worried I haven’t been putting my health first since my operation. There’s been a lot of stress and anxiety and there’s been times when I’ve thought “f*** it! I just need to have a good time!” and ignored the healthier option. I’ve also gained a couple of stone since my surgery, and I’m hoping that’s a good thing, and not an excessive problem. But only time can tell and I’ll let you all know how I get on on Friday. I just don’t want to speak to soon is all, for my mind to change – or for it to be changed for me.

Anyway, yesterday was my 20th birthday and it was such a great day. Thank you to everyone who wrote to wish me a happy birthday! I went out for dinner with my family, partner and family friends, before meeting some friends for drinks. I received such a wonderful present from my parents – tickets to the west end to see the new burlesque musical ‘Gypsy’ (i’m a little bit of a musical fanatic). And my boyfriend bought me a coffee machine, AND I AM SO EXCITED TO USE IT EVERY DAY AND PRETEND I AM A COOL SOPHISTICATED DRINKING MY POSH COFFEE WITH MY 2 CATS. (I can’t use it properly yet but it is a very adult present I must admit).

I loved this picture of me, my mumma and my lovely boyfriend Angelo!

I was really grateful to everyone who made an effort to make my day a special one yesterday, it was so lovely to be surrounded by people who mean the most to me. Even if I was sat there hating the fact I’ve entered into another decade. I actually cried 10 minutes before midnight too, telling Angelo “I DON’T WANT TO BE AN ADULT, I’M NOT READY!!!!”

11063720_1024868657570270_1529077837972177086_nThis is my wonderful little sister by the way, isn’t she gorgeous?!

But… I don’t think there ever is a ready point, is there? I’m becoming more and more certain that I’m always going to laugh at things I found funny at the age of 5…..

I think the biggest testament of adulthood is overcoming fears… such as heights…. which is why I’m going to be abseiling off of the tallest sculpture in London, in August, not only to scare myself silly but to raise money alongside my wonderful sponsors SecuriCare Medical & CliniMed for Bowel Cancer UK (please sponsor me!!!!).

Here is the sponsor link! https://www.justgiving.com/CliniMed-SecuriCare/

which is why I’m going to be abseiling off of the tallest sculpture in London, in August, not only to scare myself silly but to raise money alongside my wonderful sponsors SecuriCare Medical & CliniMed for Bowel Cancer UK (please sponsor me!!!!).

Here is the sponsor link! https://www.justgiving.com/CliniMed-SecuriCare/

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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Why Is It Okay To Be Overweight But Wrong To Be Under?

What is the difference between underweight and overweight? It’s a harder question than one might think. The constant struggle with changing the number that lies on the scales. Monitoring what you eating and managing quantities. Trawling through the Internet and books, desperate to find a diet that works and maintaining a strict regime. All of this to find that the little red line hasn’t moved a smidgen  since you last clambered onto the scales. I’d say, one of the only differences between underweight and overweight, is the number that is trying to be altered. But the most profound difference is the perception of both within society.
When I was seven years old, it was made clear to me that if you didn’t look the right way, you wouldn’t be accepted. I was ridiculed for being fat, merely because I didn’t have a flat stomach. Even though I knew full well I wasn’t fat, the words lingered at the back of my mind. Gradually, I ate less and less. Skipping breakfast here and there and ‘forgetting’ to have lunch. This was at its worst about six years ago. My parents knew I wasn’t eating, so I’d have to try and make it seem as though I was. I’d put small amounts of cereal and milk in a bowl and leave it by the sink. I’d prepare a lunch for myself then throw it away on my two mile journey to school. The only meal I couldn’t get away from was dinner. But then my mindset changed after having the consequences of my foolish actions. Over a three year period, I was continuously ill. And with being asthmatic as well, it made me incredibly weak to the point where I’d have faint spells. It was a horrid cycle that I had gotten myself into. So I changed everything. I ate all of my meals, gradually increasing portion sizes. It has been difficult getting into a proper routine and finishing meals. But I have been successful in doing so the past two years. I still get ill from time to time and feel faint. But it’s nowhere near as bad as it was.
But there’s still a problem – there’s no reward. I eat masses of food now, but my weight doesn’t change. And at sixteen years old, I’ve never weighed more than 8 stone. And I’m still scrutinized for the way I look. Many times have I been told that I’m horribly skinny, I’m stick thin, and my personal favourite – I need to eat more. Though, I’m more than certain that if I did, I’d most probably explode! But what if I was in the opposite situation? What if I was overweight? The majority of people would say that it’s beautiful to be curvy and it’s ‘real beauty’. They wouldn’t dare say that I needed to eat a salad!
It seems that in the near ten years since this all started for me, things have changed and you’re able to embrace your body – but not if you’re skinny. Thin shaming is now what fat shaming was then. If you’re skinny, you have to do something about it because it’s repulsive for other people to see. But the thing is, it’s just as difficult to fulfil what society demands you to look like now as it was ten years ago. And these demands will inevitably change in the next ten years too. So what is the point in going to extremes and putting yourself in dangerous situations, just to achieve what will only momentarily be ‘right’. For the pleasure and satisfaction of other people? That doesn’t matter. The only person you should change your body for is yourself. As long as you’re healthy, you can look whatever way you wish. Because the beauty that will never change in demand of others is the person you are, not the body you are. It shouldn’t define you. I just wish that I had known that sooner, and saved myself all of the trouble.
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By: Chloë Dodds / Contributor

Don’t Respect Me Because Of A Disability

I’d be lying if I said we lived in a non-judgemental world. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We go through life perhaps sometimes unaware that we are judging people on a daily basis. Judging them based on what they choose to wear, who they choose to date, what career path they took, which education choices they made, you name it, we’ve judged it. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t judge people, because sometimes judgement leads to the greater good. But what I’ve noticed, since having what you would call (even though I do not agree with the term) a “disability” is that people are judging me less. Isn’t that a positive thing? You may think to yourself as you read this. Not to me it’s not. If anything I find it a little insulting.

Let me just explain a recent situation to give you a little more information on why I feel this way. I was out a few weeks ago with a friend, and we bumped into a few of his friends in a pub. I’d never met these people before, and they certainly didn’t seem like they wanted to get to know me, either. I tried to join in with their conversation as the night went on but they simply weren’t interested. They disregarded my attempts to create a new discussion and avoided as much eye contact as possible. Sneering at each other each time I opened my mouth. At first I wondered whether they just didn’t like me, or whether it was something else. Perhaps they didn’t like the way I was dressed. The initial plan was to go to a bar and so I’d dressed up a little, whereas they were a little more casual. The more I think about it, they most certainly were looking me up and down as we made our entrance. I slowly gave up trying to have any input and sipped on my drink, wishing I were as far away from the situation as possible. But then something funny happened. Whilst in a world of my own I felt a nudge on my arm. My friend had been pushing me into a conversation I didn’t even know had begun. “Tell them about your surgery” he said. I looked at him confused, as I started to catch on to that they were currently discussing. They were talking about disability. Whilst I was a little annoyed that he had associated my surgery with having a disability – for I had undergone emergency ileostomy surgery earlier this year – I took the opportunity to have some involvement in a discussion.

It’s not that I would be ashamed to have a disability and by no means am I embarrassed of my ileostomy, I just do not feel disabled. I do not see it as a disability. If anything it enabled me to live. My body is just as able as the next healthy human beings.

I watched these people with wide eyes and dropped jaws as I finished my story. All of a sudden, they were interested in me. They complimented me and told me what a brave and inspiring woman I was. They began asking me questions about my home life and career and seemed intrigued by my potential answers. It was as if I was talking to completely different people. Were these the same people that had ignored me for the past hour?

Which leads me to my point. I found it incredibly saddening how quickly these people were to change their manor. They found respect through what seemed to be pity for me. After finding out something personal about me, they became more and more interested. Would they have been interested should it have been a different story? I’ll never know. But why not take the time to get to know me? Why had my story stopped photo 1(3)you blatantly ignoring me for the remainder of the night? I feel we as a society should take more time to get to know someone, and less judging, regardless of his or her cover. Regardless of what we imagine them to be like. Because you never know what someone’s been through to be here, sitting with you today. And you never know, you just might regret not listening to their story. A story which shouldn’t have to be the making or breaking of a friendship. Respect the person, not the disability.

A Letter To My Mum, Who Fights Bipolar Disorder Every Single Day

Dear mum,

I’m sorry I didn’t tell you all of this sooner, and I’m sorry for putting you through so much worry and heartache this year. And I want you to know, just how grateful I am. Not just for everything you’ve done, not just for becoming my carer, and letting me move back home as you waited on me hand and foot; but for being my mum. For being there, even when you feel as though you can’t even be there for yourself.

You always put me first, you always forget about your own illness and focus on everyone else. You’re my biggest inspiration in life, and the best person I know.

When I see you cry, and shout and hurt like you do, unable to escape your thoughts, I never know what to do. I don’t know whether to hug you, or just sit and cry with you. I’ll never be able to understand what you fight against every day of your life, and I won’t pretend to, but I’ll always be here. You’ll always be my favourite person in the world, my best friend.

I’m so sorry for scaring you so much with my illness, and I want you to know that I’m not going anywhere. I want you to know that all of us kids look up to you. We all wish to be just an ounce like you; so loving, so caring, so beautiful.

I hate the pills you’re forced to rely on, I hate that there’s no way out for you. But I’m thankful that you’re fighting. That you’re here. I know I can’t magic up an exit and make everything okay, but hopefully we can find a side door. I hope you see how much you’re loved and how proud I am to be able to call you “mum”. I hope you realise how much you continue to amaze me, each and every day. I hope you know that people that haven’t nor even tried to comprehend the battles you face on a daily basis are irrelevant. They don’t need to understand because they don’t matter. What matters is you.

I hope you can read this and feel good about yourself, just for a moment. I want you to read this whenever you feel down, whenever you feel like you’ve just had enough. I want you to know that you are the best person I know, and I would do anything to just turn your emotions around forever. To blank your mind and fill it with happy thoughts. I’ve always got your back, no matter how many times you tell me I need to clean my room. I love you mum.

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Love,

Harriet x

P.S – I’ll always be 2 steps behind.

10 Of The Strangest Things People Have Searched To Find My Blog

I’m bed bound today and I thought I’d spend some time blogging. One of the most interesting, and sometimes most hilariously shocking parts of blogging is reading through what people have typed into their search engine to come across your blog. Some of these searches I am seriously worried for…

This is only a little bit of fun for me and no names have been stated – and don’t worry, no names are ever actually available to me through the searches, everything has always come through anonymously!

But, I felt the need to share some of these with you. I’d love to see your reactions!

1. “Sugar mummies contact numbers”. Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 14.59.37

2. “How can I join those who do sex video?”
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3. “People having sex through the ostomy”
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4. “I have sex with bags”
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5. “Pics of gothic girls with stomas”
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6. “About life f****** me f****** stomach”
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7. “Can you do oral to your ostomy?”
Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 14.59.00Girl overwhelmed by Disneyland surprise, sister hilariously indifferent

8. “How can I bag myself without sexual intercourse?” Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 15.30.50

9. “Ileostomy person do sex?”
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And finally, please take a deep breath for this one and remember that everyone is different.

10. “If I cut my stoma off what would happen?”Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 14.58.31

I’m sorry I went a little bit over board on this one but I just… I just don’t know.

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 😩   

  

What It Feels Like To Be Cut Open & Have Your Insides Taken Out

Obviously I was put to sleep during my surgery. I can’t sit here and reminisce on a memory that I wasn’t aware of. From the moment I went into the operating theater until a couple of hours from coming out, I was out like a light. And the idea of the surgery was most definitely more frightening than the actual thing itself. But when I had eventually come out, I’d awoken sooner than they’d expected. According to my parents and the doctors, I’d tried to fling myself off of the operating table. Luckily I was stopped, otherwise who’d known what else could have gone wrong! https://i2.wp.com/images.wisegeek.com/four-surgeons-in-green-gowns-and-masks-standing-over-patient.jpg

What I can tell you though, is that after the surgery, you feel weird. Not just, ouch, that hurts weird. But kind of empty. Of course, I’d had my large intestine taken out so you could say I felt a little lighter, but it wasn’t just that. I didn’t completely understand what had happened and I no longer felt like myself. I felt like it had all just been a dream, and therefore I had no need to take it in.  I’d gotten so used to feeling ill weeks prior to the surgery that I wasn’t ready for it to just be gone. It was great not having to run to the toilet every two seconds, and just being able to lay there – but it had been replaced with a whole new meaning of the word pain. My body vibrated as I forced words out of my mouth, gasping for help in a robotic, monotone whisper. My stomach stung though my scar felt numb. Not the sort of numb where you can’t feel it though. Sort of like the aftermath of intense pins and needles. It hurt to move so I didn’t even bother attempting to for a few days. I was forced to when my catheter had slipped out of place though. I’d never realised how much we take our stomach muscles for granted! The simplest tasks had become virtually impossible!

It’s odd looking down to see a big red scar down my stomach every day. It’s not as if it’s one of those scars you wouldn’t notice if you didn’t know. It’s so blatantly obviously there, in a line that tells you “I’ve been wide open!” I don’t mind the scar so much though, it’s just the image of what had happened for it to be there, sitting o prominently. I’m no more educated with the surgery than you who reads this now, either. Which is even scarier! I have no knowledge of what it looked like, how it felt or in what order things were done. And that’s slightly more terrifying, it’s almost as if it didn’t happen!

Recovery after the surgery itself isn’t what you’d expect, either. Of course I was sore. But it was more of a drain than anything else. I definitely suffered with extreme fatigue, afterwards. But again, that is one of the major side effects of having an ileostomy. Your body has trouble absorbing as many nutrients as before, and you are more at risk of a B12 deficiency (iron deficiency). It takes a while to get back on your feet and to adjust to things. But to be honest, being cut open has been the least of my issues throughout the whole experience. And it’s weird how quickly my body has adjusted to things. Although I felt different after the surgery, I’m surprised at how normal my body feels. I genuinely did think I’d notice I have such a large part of me missing. But I guess when you compare it to the rest of your body, it’s really not that bad. And when you come to think of it, I don’t think anything is really that bad. Not when you’re alive.

39 Things You Can Never Avoid Happening On A Night Out

I went out again for the first time in a while last night with some friends. It was an alright night, but I realised that you’re literally just repeating the same ritual every time you go out.

1. You spend ages getting ready only for your makeup to be ruined at most an hour into the night.

33 Things Guaranteed To Happen On Your Girls' Night Out

2. And then you’re in and out of the toilet trying to top up the lipstick that keeps being ruined by those plastic cups. But that becomes a bit of a task.

33 Things Guaranteed To Happen On Your Girls' Night Out

3. And whilst you’re in the toilet, you become best friends with every other drunk girl at the basins.

4. And you end up complimenting absolutely everything about each other even if you don’t mean it.

5. And you basically know each others life stories before leaving and completely forgetting the conversation you’ve just had.

6. Once you’ve left the toilets you’ve lost your friends.

7. And you spend the next half an hour just searching round and round the dance floor.

33 Things Guaranteed To Happen On Your Girls' Night Out

8. But every girl is in tight jeans or a dress and heels and it’s too dark to see their faces.

9. Once you finally find your friends you need to pee again because you broke the seal too early after just one drink.

10. So you end up spending another half an hour trying to find your friends.

11. And whilst doing so every drunk guy who see’s you on your own will attempt to pull you their way.

12. And you have to make up every excuse under the sun to leave.

13. You’ve told at least 10 guys you have a boyfriend, or are engaged, even if you don’t/aren’t.

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14. And then you see the same guy after your friend and end up being a third wheel.

Aaaaand he

15. You drink way too much way too early and have to spend half an hour outside before you can even think about dancing.

16. And once you finally do start dancing you’ve missed all the songs you know, and awkwardly mime along to the ones you don’t, trying not to spill your drink everywhere as you do.

33 Things Guaranteed To Happen On Your Girls' Night Out

17. You get way too into dancing and start to question if you’re doing it right.

18. And end up examining everyone else on the dance floor and realising you’re definitely not doing it right.

19. So you awkwardly carry on and look even more like a penguin than you did before.

20. Every drink order has to be repeated at least 3 times because you can’t hear a damn thing.

Thank you, 8 pounds 6 ounces newborn infant Jesus, for alcohol.

21. And once you do have a drink and are asked to pay you’re left thinking “HOW MUCH?!”

22. Before you know it you’ve spent all your money on shots and realise the only way you’re going to get more is talking to the guy next to you.

23. But by that time you’re too wasted to even stand up properly.

24. In fact you can never stand up properly in those stupid heels.

25. WHY DO WE WEAR THESE THINGS?! THEY JUST KILL OUR FEET!

26. But then we realise it’s okay because they make our legs look good.

27. But all that’s irrelevant because it’s nearly the end of the night and you just don’t look good.

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28. You decide to leave a little earlier to avoid the rush to the cloakrooms.

29. But apparently everyone else in the club has had the same idea.

30. You have barely any money left and need to get a taxi, but every taxi driver thinks they should be paid a million pounds for a 10 minute drive.

31. But it’s either a million pounds or sleep outside the club for the night.

32. A kebab or pizza or macdonalds is definitely on the menu though, so you have to stop for that first.

33. But that just makes you feel even more sick, and by the time you get to bed you’re one big bloated mess.

34. Everythings chucked on the floor as soon as you get in and you’re out until tomorrow afternoon.

35. You wake up feeling gross.

36. Suffocated by your friends who also just collapsed onto the bed.

37. And you have no money.

38. You tell yourself, “never again”.

Aaaand then your body revolts against you.

39. Until next Saturday, anyway.

What’s The Difference Between An Ileostomy And A Colostomy?

I’ve seen a few confused comments regarding the difference between a colostomy and and ileostomy. Whether one is worse than the other or whether they’re just different names for the same thing. A term colostomy also seems to be more well known than ileostomy, and a lot of people get mixed up and tend to just use this term regardless of the actual name.

Although it looks and sounds pretty similar, a colostomy and ileostomy could not be more different. A colostomy is an opening of the large bowel onto the surface of the tummy (abdomen), whereas an ileostomy is an opening of the small bowel onto the surface of the abdomen. You wear a bag over the opening, to collect the waste matter from digestion that would normally be passed from the body as a bowel motion (stool).

You can also remember it from the ‘colo’ and the ‘ileo’ parts of the words. The longest part of the small intestine is called an ileum. And the colon is the large bowel. Forming words colostomy and ileostomy.

As I have an ileostomy, I had my colon taken out, but they a part of my rectum so that it would be possible to have a reversal in the future. I’m not too sure what happens with colostomies. It’s not really my grounds to talk about it and I don’t want to google it and end up misunderstanding, but to my knowledge, it seems that you still have a small and large bowel.

I think it’s important that you take in the differences.. and notice that colostomy and ileostomy are very different. I’ve had moments where I’ve found it a little insulting that it wasn’t looked into a little more, for example when a journalist was writing an article about me, and started the article writing ileostomy and finished it saying I had had a colostomy – which of course are two different procedures. You wouldn’t say you had ulcerative colitis if you had crohn’s, would you? It’s no big deal, but I find people will open up to you more and become a little more accepting when others are taking the time to learn and acknowledge.

I’m no doctor and I certainly am not wikipedia so if you did want to look further into it, please do, because I’m not great at explaining things. And it can be quite hard to explain without writing it! So I hope I have simplified it a little, and you now know the difference! I still don’t understand what’s gone on with my body half the time…. Do I have ANY organs left or??

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Needed a change… So I Dyed My Hair Blonde!

I’m not sure which thing happened to prompt me into changing my look, whether it was my outburst of awful roots or sheer boredom – but either way I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out! I know it’s not in your face blonde, I chose a dark blonde, something a bit more subtle!

I decided last minute whilst in town that I wanted my natural hair colour back. Believe it or not – that’s blonde! I haven’t had natural looking hair in so long, even when I was younger I’d bleach it. It’s crazy how much a hair colour can change the way you look, and I haven’t felt this much like myself in such a long time! It’s scary, every time I look in the mirror I feel like I’m looking at my 12 year old self! Okay that sounded kinda weird..

I’ve probably damaged my hair for the foreseeable future with the amount of dye I had to use to get rid of the red, but luckily my hair’s very thick!

It’s strange how doing something such as dying your hair can make you feel so positive. It’s given me a new sense of confidence. Which is why I’ve decided to write about it on my blog today, not just to tell you what I’ve been up to but to demonstrate how the littlest things can make you feel better about yourself! I’m not saying anybody should change how they look to feel good about themselves. But if changing something about you makes you feel better about yourself, why not do it?!

I’m currently trying to make a change in myself, as well as my image. I want to be healthier in myself and more active. I’m going to be eating better and focusing on more exercise. I don’t think I have an excuse not to anymore!

I think I’ve come out of my depressive stage now, haha! I’m feeling a lot better and more ready to start working on new experiences to write about. I have some really exciting things coming up soon, and I just can’t wait to share them!

I just want to say a massive thank you to those that continue to read my blog. Sorry that this wasn’t really a topical blog post – but I just had to show off the product of 2 days wearing clingfilm on my head!

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What It’s Like To Have My Boyfriend Clean Me Up Every Day

If you read my previous blog post about having a bad week, you’ll know that recently I’ve been having some issues with my ostomy. So much so that it has been hard to rely on just myself to sort it out. Since I’ve been having trouble sizing it, alongside output problems, it has become a little more unreliable than before. Meaning that when I’m cleaning around the area, I never know when it’s going to be safe to leave it bare to place my ileostomy bag on. At the beginning of the week, it was a case of my boyfriend forcing his way into the bathroom because he could hear how upset I was getting. He would help no matter how frustrated and embarrassed I got. I mean… nobody wants their partners to have to help them clean you up, do they?! Now, it’s become the norm for him to come in with me when I go to change it every evening. He sets up all of the equipment, wets the towels, and helps sort me out.

He’s been great and made me feel a little more at ease with all the negativity that’s been sinking in these past weeks. And it’s nice having him there. It’s weird of course, I’m so used to doing it all myself. I do also feel very upset with the situation.. because it feels like I’ve lost control over the one thing I had control over. I mean, I have no control over my digestive system anymore. I can’t determine when something’s going to happen. Accepting help for the one part you’re meant to be okay with is the hardest part of all. Changing the bag was one thing that was down to me, my decision. And to have to rely on someone else for something so personal, feels a little undignified. I was worried he’d be put off me after seeing what he had.

I’m lucky to have somebody there to help me. And I do appreciate everything that he does. But I just wish he didn’t have to do that, and didn’t have to see me in such a way. But, that’s life. And I guess to get through these sorts of situations you have to feel uncomfortable to get comfortable.

I have had an order of uncut bags from SecuriCare which have already begun putting my skin at ease, so I’m hoping over the next few weeks I’m able to gain more control over my body and become a little more independent. I’m looking forward to being able to use the bathroom by myself for a change! I know I’m not a burden or anything but I can’t help feeling like one sometimes. I just hate to rely on people. Especially for something that should be so easy.

I hope I haven’t put off anyone who may be needing or is questioning having stoma. There has been a lot to thank it for over the past four months. But I do feel the need to write when I’m having a bad time. It’s quite therapeutic but I feel may also give people in my position something to relate to. It’s nice to have something to relate to, I think.

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I’ve Gained 2 Stone Since Surgery!

PicMonkey CollageThese pictures show me just after coming home from hospital and me now. It wasn’t until I compared these two pictures of my legs together that I realised just how much weight I’ve put on since surgery! I decided to use the pictures of my legs because they are where most weight has been put on, although I have put on around my stomach and face, also.

By no means am I posting these pictures to complain and call myself fat – I know I’m not – I was just shocked at the difference in just a few months. Of course, the first black and white photo shows me underweight and unhealthy. But I’m really hoping to not put on too much more weight. Although I started gaining from the steroids, I cannot blame them for this! I have been eating like a pig and not exercising at all. And I probably won’t exercise either, lets be honest. But I think I should probably start eating better. If I decide to have further surgery I’m going to need to be healthy enough.

Anyway, these pictures are also a little bit of a revolution for me. A couple of years ago, I would’ve cried at these pictures and used the black and white photo as an “aim” as I abused my body. Now, I can laugh it off and realise it’s just a little bit of weight. And that’s a great feeling… to be able to laugh off something I once feared. Although, I have always had a bit of trouble with losing weight. I hate dieting. And I’m rubbish at following any sort of meal plan. Also, I just cannot be bothered to spend the time counting calories etc. I want to be healthy and stay slim but I find it hard not to indulge in chocolate… on a nightly basis. But – I’m willing to stuff it back in the freezer if it makes my body feel better! I just don’t really want to be putting anymore weight on, not in such a short space of time.

So.. if any of you have any tips on how I can do so, please… let me know!

Please feel free to comment any healthy eating techniques that have worked for you!

I’m Having A Really Rough Week – Someone Take This Pain Away!!

I’ve been sat in the same position in the same place for the past week, because I simply cannot do anything. I’m not sure what’s gone wrong but the past 7 days has been nothing but aches and pains followed by a whole heap of frustration. I’m really just having a bad time recently with my ostomy. I’m pretty sure it’s shrunk, and as I made the silly decision to order all my bags pre-cut, each bag is leaving a certain amount of skin exposed; meaning my skin is burnt, red and sore. From the soreness leaves me having few options for clothing, I haven’t been able to wear anything bar underwear and pajamas lately – anything tighter has me wincing in pain.

Trying to place the bag in a way that the least amount of skin could possibly show means I’ve been changing it countless times. One day I actually amounted up to 10 bag changes. From the frequent skin pulling my abdomen feels tender and my scarring feels swollen. It doesn’t help that I’m a little obsessive about the cleanliness of my body. And knowing that the bag just isn’t in the right place has left me more exasperated than I can even begin to describe.

I feel completely broken this week, each evening leaving me in tears of infuriation. I don’t care how silly this sounds to you, but this week has really made me question my decisions regarding the option of reversal. You see, changing the bag was probably the one control I now have regarding my digestive system. And I just feel it’s been taken away from me. I can’t even keep my skin healthy, for gods sake. I just want to be going out and doing things instead of sat here on my sofa feeling sorry for myself!

I feel very lucky to have had my boyfriend with me the past week. He’s been there to help clean me up and change the bag with me. He’s taken me shouting and screaming at him and really looking after me. But it’s also taken up hours of the evenings we have together, and some of my self-esteem with it. I’m filled with paranoia over leaks and generally just not feeling myself at the moment.

I’ve let myself get so upset over these frequent bag changes and bad skin, but I mean, when you’re having to repeat the same procedure of taking a bag off, cleaning, wiping, drying, and placing a new one on up to ten times a night, you begin to wonder what the hell you did to deserve this shit. No pun intended.

I’ve placed an order with SecuriCare to send me some of their lovely LBF wipes to help heal my skin, and they have also given me next day delivery of uncut bags, an amazing service considering there can be up to a 2 week wait with other services. I’ve also got a hospital appointment on Wednesday just to get it all checked out.

I’m really hoping my body begins to heal soon, as I’m not sure I can take another week living in my PJ’s!

I’m sorry this post hasn’t been humorous, happy, educating or exciting. But sometimes, that life.

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6 Times My Ostomy Bag Has Been An Inconvenience

I’d say probably one of the most embarrassing things for a lot of people is farting in public. Just imagine, everyone staring around thinking “was that you?”, red faced hoping nobody realises you were the culprit. But, I mean, at least when you have a fully working digestive system, you are able to control it. But when you have an ostomy bag? You can’t. You just can’t. Most of the time I have absolutely no idea when it’s going to happen. And I mean, when I’m at home I can just laugh it off and blame it on the bag. But there have been a number of times when it’s just too damn awkward to talk about it. And these are just a small few of those ever embarrassing, awkward, inconvenient moments that are just too uncomfortable to remind people that flatulence is funny.

1. When in a meeting – I had a meeting with a whole board room of people to discuss my blog contract, and it seems my ileostomy wanted to make it’s own entrance, and managed to make it’s presence extremely clear with a whole load of noise. I did have to apologise beforehand and say “yeah it might do that during this”. All in good humour.

2. When out for dinner – I mistakenly ordered chilli con carne one time when out for dinner with my family. Watching someone run to the toilet holding the whoopie cusion under her clothes every 10 minutes when the toilets were upstairs, through the crowds of other people pleasantly eating their dinner, is not something I’d class as evening entertainment.

3. When wearing tight clothesphoto(5) in public – I mistakenly decided to wear a tight midi skirt on a train journey, forgetting how long I’d be on a train with no toilet. It’s safe to say people were questioning what I was hiding under that skirt.

4. During sex – Normally, intimacy is absolutely fine. But there have been the rare occasions where I’ve had to stop halfway through and say “I’m so sorry but I’ve really got to go and empty my bag” and also apologise for the ridiculous amount of noise it’s deciding to make from being pressed down on too hard. Just imagine standing on a balloon. Yeah.

5. When doing a presentation – I have a presentation to a support group of people, and to be quite honest with you I’m so glad I had a microphone to overshadow the noise it was making! Luckily everyone was in the same boat – so was more than understanding. I’m afraid I wasn’t taken very seriously though!

6. During a driving theory test – Obviously, you have to be silent during your driving theory test, otherwise you’ll be disqualified. It seems my ostomy is a bit of a rule breaker and went all out to make a point. I just hope people were too distracted by their nerves to notice. Although I’m sure it was pretty hard not to.

7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Bulimia

Some of you may know that from 2010 to 2013 I suffered quite badly with bulimia. I was always of average weight, so no body really looked at me any differently or noticed. It ended up getting quite bad, to the point where I was hospitilised at the end of 2011 with pneumonia and a collapsed lung – caused by the vomit that had been trapped in my chest area from purging all the time. I made things worse in the hospital by refusing to eat, with them nearly having to enforce tubes to ensure I was being fed. Of course, I realised I’d have no control over what they were feeding me, so I reluctantly agreed to eat – at least that way I’d know how many calories I was taking in.

I had a chest drain put into my right lung which drained 2 litres of fluid. I was put into an intensive care unit over in Southampton (a far way from home at the time) and my parents had to sell their vehicles to afford to be with me every day. I look back and can’t believe how selfish I was.

When I eventually left the hospital, I returned home and really isolated myself. I was housebound for a while, missed out on lots of college and also lost a few friends along the way. It was only then that other symptoms started appearing, such as my skin becoming absolutely awful, my nails brittle, and clumps of hair falling out all over the place. I remember blocking up a few hoovers! I have lovely thick hair too, so that for me was the worst of the lot.

Even though all of this had happened, I couldn’t stop purging. I carried on throughout relationships, causing people unneeded stress. I feel guilty for putting these issues onto other people.

With the support of my family I gradually began to stop, I’m not sure why, I think I just saw how much I’d hurt everyone and how much everyone had done to try and help me. Me and my boyfriend at the time had broken up because of the amount of pressure I’d put on him, and I think I realised I was just pushing people away. I didn’t want to be selfish anymore. It didn’t completely stop, but things got a little better.

It didn’t stop until I met Angelo, who I have been with for 2 years now. I opened up to him about everything and he supported me and made me swear I wouldn’t do it again. I really, really liked him at the time. I knew I loved him so early on. And I didn’t want to lie to him.

Of course, it wasn’t as easy as “ok I won’t do it, I promise” it was a long battle. A battle I can finally say I have overcome. Angelo really appreciated my body and I wasn’t used to that. He started making me feel better about the way I looked. And to this day, I’ve kept my promise. There have been times when I’ve wanted to, when I’ve been close. But I won’t break a promise.. ever.

Anyway, there’s a few things that I went through with people not believing me, laughing at me, and actually vocally attacking me because I wasn’t stereotypically ill. And, of course there’s more to the story on a much deeper level, but I don’t really think it’s necessary to go into detail – I thought I’d just give you the basic idea, before I wrote the 7 things you may not know or understand about bulimia nervosa. So, here’s a few things you may want to take in. Because your actions may affect somebody suffering, because you don’t fully understand. Why push people further away from opening up when you have the chance to help?

1. Bulimics aren’t necessarily skinny. A lot of sufferers are more of an average weight. If somebody chooses to open up to you about their eating disorder, don’t be so quick to judge. In fact, don’t judge. I hate how people seem to think that you have to be extremely underweight to have an eating disorder.

2. It is not all about weight. It can be about control. For some people, food can be the one thing you are able to control when you feel everything else in your life is happening unwillingly. It can be about self esteem, it can be caused by trauma. There are plenty of different reasons that result in bulimia nervosa.

3. You don’t always purge after every meal. I can’t speak for everyone, but being bulimic doesn’t necessarily mean to purge every meal. Purging can be a way of relieving guilt, so you may just purge the foods you consider to be bad.

4. You can’t always spot it. Media tells you we have bad teeth from all of the vomit and yellowing skin — basically doing everything they can to shock you. I suffered for years and have white teeth and nice skin. I’m sure in the very long run it may have been different, but it’s not always the case. Don’t just look for these signs. And don’t use them as fact. If somebody chooses to speak to you about it, please don’t disregard the seriousness of it just because they don’t fit the “symptoms”.

5. Bulimia can cause a variety of different illnesses. When I was in school I was hospitalized with a collapsed lung and pneumonia. This was actually caused by vomit that had gotten stuck in my chest area for quite some time and had spread infection, and caused one of my lungs to collapse. When I finally spoke out about what had happened, no body believed me. I even had one girl at a party come up to me and tell me “your words offended me, because you have NO idea what an eating disorder is” alongside other people nastily backing her up. They didn’t believe me because I wasn’t extremely underweight, and I they obviously had no idea that my collapsed lung and pneumonia was caused by me being bulimic for years.

6. Bulimic people aren’t vain. I didn’t throw up because I lead a life of vanity. I threw up because I felt it was the only control I had in my life at that point. I did it because I was angry at my body… I was angry at myself. I threw up because I believed it would eventually make me happy.

7. It’s not as simple as “can’t you just stop?” Recovering from bulimia isn’t just about not throwing up your food. It’s about learning how to eat again, how to eat in moderation without binging, how to socialise with friends and family, how to eat in front of other people, how to prove to your loved ones you’re not using the bathroom or running the shower just to purge.

2011 - 2014

2011 – 2014

My Ostomy Won’t Limit My Underwear Choices

I was out shopping the other day whilst my boyfriend was at work, just looking for clothes and makeup really. I’d spent 2 hours so far looking through shop after shop, trying on various different pieces of clothing and having absolutely no luck with anything. Everything was either too tight, too loose or just didn’t look right. Frustrated, I went for coffee and some breakfast to call my friend to see when he was coming to meet me. He’d said he’d be another hour. I sighed, and wondered what on earth I was going to do until he got here (an hour normally meant 2 in his case).

I thought about what else I could possibly attempt to shop for without getting annoyed. I’d already bought new makeup and am not really a jewelery person. I’d got a new notebook and already bought all My Chemical Romance’s old albums (yes I was one of THOSE kids). And then it hit me… underwear! I have never, ever, EVER shopped for underwear. Not once. Unless you count those times your mum buys you them as a present because she realises you’ve been wearing the same sets for the past 5 years? (All clean of course!!)

I didn’t really know how to go about this. And to be honest, I doubted I’d find anything I felt comfortable with. I anxiously wondered around shop after shop noticing that nothing had been designed for people with an ostomy. I knew this would be the case, but there was still a little bit of hope I’d find something. I had seen one underwear set in New Look, it was so pretty! But I was certain it wouldn’t look right. I was trailing around for something high waisted. I planned to wear something for my boyfriend when he got home from work. I wanted to look nice. But how can I pull off anything “sexy” with an ostomy?

It was getting late and shops were starting to close down, and I still hadn’t found anything. I felt like I wanted to cry. Everything was tiny and designed for those with nice tummy’s they wanted to show off.

I left the shop and was about to head off to wait for my friend before I had a thought. A thought that changed the rest of that day.

“You write a blog on body confidence and embracing your body. You write out to thousands of people and tell them to love yourself. What a hypocrite you would be to shame your body over a pair of underwear that YOU feel isn’t designed for you. Who says it’s not? Who says you haven’t got a nice tummy? You? Do you think those scars that saved your life deserve to be shamed and hidden away? No. Now get your arse into gear and feel good about yourself”.

And with that one thought, I headed over to New Look and picked up the pretty bra I’d first seen. And underwear, too of course!

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I’m really angry at myself for putting myself down that day, and letting myself feel so negatively towards my body. But I’m so grateful I was able to step out of that so quickly. I felt really positive for the rest of the day, and waited for my boyfriend to finish work – in my new underwear (makeup done and everything)! And it’s safe to say he absolutely loved it. (I won’t go into detail – don’t worry). But there, it just goes to show that you never know until you try. From now on I won’t let personal negativity limit my choices. I will overcome every hurdle that lays be for me and remember that if you don’t do it, you won’t overcome it. And no, I’m not trying to give a Shia LaBeouf ‘Nike’ inspirational speech here…

Last Night I Wished My Ostomy Away

I wished my ileostomy bag wasn’t real yesterday. I wished it wasn’t there, I wished it would go away. I knocked it whilst pulling down my top and just broke down. I’m not sure if I was overtired or embarrassed by the current situation – I’d blocked the toilet with baby wipes after cleaning up (apparently you’re not supposed to flush babywipes) – and my boyfriend was annoyed about it. He told me I shouldn’t be flushing babywipes down the toilet, whilst I frantically got worked up and tried to explain that babywipes were the only thing I could use!

It was really late, like 3am, and I hid under my duvet in bits whilst he sorted the bathroom out. I felt so bad, but he’d taken control of the situation and I felt too embarrassed to stay in a room with him! I felt really upset. I thought I’d annoyed him and I felt like it was all my ileostomy’s fault. Writing it now, the situation sounds so silly. But last night it really got to me. I felt ashamed of myself, that I couldn’t even do a simple thing like use the toilet without causing a scene. Hiding in the darkness beneath the covers with my hands over my ears I just sobbed and sobbed. I just wanted to feel my tummy the way it used to be. I cried harder as my hand moved down my stomach as the bag rustled against my palm. I imagined my body a year ago. My stomach neat and scar free… bag free. And I just missed it. I missed seeing the whole of my tummy in the mirror. I missed not hearing any rustling as I moved about in bed. I missed being able to shower without being cautious and I missed not having these baby wipe situations.

Last night just bought back my whole experience in the hospital. The constant screaming for the nurses, being so high on pain relief I couldn’t even speak properly. Crying out in pain and being told I was a couple of hours from dying. I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I can’t describe the way these thoughts make me feel. I don’t think I’ve given myself time to deal that experience. I find it too hard to, it’s too emotionally draining going over and over it. But it’s something that creeps up when I’m feeling at my lowest, and I just can’t seem to shake away these memories. And that’s what makes it worse. They’re memories. They were real at one point. It’s not a bad dream that a cuddle can sort out. It’s not a bad thought you can shrug off. It was reality once upon a time. And for me, it’s somewhat haunting.

And I think I’ve come to realise that maybe I’ll never truly love my ostomy. The fact that a touch of my ileostomy or an embarrassing experience can bring back such torment at anyone time, scares me. I can accept it, and I can deal with it. And I can like it. I can appreciate the fact that it saved my life, and can deal with is visually. I can write about it publicly. I embrace it. But I’m just not sure I can love it, because it’s not something I’d ever have wished for, nor would I wish on anyone else.

I feel guilty for feeling so negatively towards my ostomy. I know it saved my life and that without it, I wouldn’t be here. But I also just feel so angry towards my IBD, Ulcerative Colitis. It nearly took so much away from me. My job, my relationship… my life. And I’m allowed to be angry at that, aren’t I? I’m angry at the people that didn’t listen to me, and could’ve saved me from surgery a long time ago.

I don’t want anyone to feel disheartened by this post. Nor question my motives. I’m merely just having a bad couple of days.  And I would never disregard the fact that I think my ostomy is a beautiful, life saving thing. And I am so grateful that it has given me a second shot at life. And I’ve come to terms with that fact not everybody will accept the change in my body. I’ve accepted my body. And that’s okay. But sometimes, I can’t help but miss my old one. Maybe this is because I never appreciated it beforehand. This whole experience has made me reflect on all the time I spend pointing out the flaws I could see within myself. And now, as I look back on those moments, I regret them. I regret not realizing my body was fine the way it was. I hate the lengths I’d go to to feel better about my body. And I guess I hate that I’ll never get a chance to accept my body the way it was… because no matter what I choose to do in the future, it’s never going to be the same.

I feel nervous posting something like this on my blog. I don’t want you to think I’m contradicting myself, or being hypocritical. But this blog is my diary, my way of dealing. And it’s important for me to write every ounce of how I’m feeling, so that I can reflect on it and move on from it. And this is why I’m writing today, to move on from last night. To accept that I am going to have nights like that. Nobody can be completely happy all the time… can they?

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What Does My Boyfriend Think Of My Ileostomy Bag?

There have been some questions in the past regarding how my boyfriend feels towards the fact I now have an ileostomy bag. And I hadn’t really thought of writing about it before, because to be honest, I wasn’t quite sure there was just one sum of thought for him. As my mentality has progressed – so has his. I mean, when you live together, your emotions bounce off one another 24/7, and if one of you is feeling down the likelihood is that your partner will feel somewhat succumbed to that.

It’s been an emotional ride for the both of us and I’ve relied on him (as well as my blog) to make me feel better about myself.

We’ve been together for a long time but one of my first thoughts after ileostomy surgery was “is he going to leave me?” I didn’t know if he’d be able to cope – back then I was a complete mess – and I didn’t know if he’d still find me attractive. I didn’t know if intimacy was going to become awkward, and actually, I didn’t know if he’d ever want to be intimate with me again. I was convinced he’d only stayed with me because he felt too scared to leave when I was in a position like this.

I made the decision whilst in hospital that in order to keep my relationship the one normality in my life, I’d hide my ileostomy from him. I wouldn’t let him see it. Maybe that way he wouldn’t look at me differently.

I made him leave the room when the nurses would come to change my bag, with my mum guarding the door until she’d finished. I made sure not to take my top off around him or expose my stomach. I was certain that in order to still be pretty to him i’d have to be fully clothed at all time.

How was I going to carry out this level of pretense for the rest of my life?

Well… it turns out I didn’t have to.

I had moved back home with my parents whilst my mum was my temporary carer, but I decided I wanted to come back to my flat to spend a night with my boyfriend. I felt a lot better physically and was able to move more, my mum had packaged up a numerous amount of pills and I was all set for the next day. At that point I wasn’t changing my own bag – I still didn’t want to look at the area itself. So, before she left after dropping me off, she changed the bag for me. I expected my boyfriend to just leave the room, like I’d usually ordered. But he just stopped, and asked my mum, “do you mind if I stay? That way I can learn what to do if she needs me”.

I’ve never felt a deeper sense of relief.

He wanted to learn. He wasn’t scared. He didn’t fear me. He just wanted to help me.

It was at that point that I realized I was being stupid. I’d scared myself out of acknowledging the fact that maybe he didn’t feel the way I thought.

My bag hadn’t changed me, it hadn’t changed the way he looked at me. He wanted to see. He wanted to learn. He wanted to understand. And that had to be a good sign, right?

It definitely helped me. It showed me that if he could accept it so easily, so could I. If he wasn’t afraid, neither was I.

We’ve had our ups and downs but he makes sure to tell me I’m beautiful, and how much he loves me every day. To him, I’m the most beautiful girl in the world (which is crazy right?! Look at Jennifer Lawrence!!!).

You may question how he feels about intimacy, I mean acceptance is one thing but being romantic with your partner is another. But, to my surprise, he actually asked me to take my top off! And one time, I’d done it without asking. Lovingly, he smiled and said, you haven’t got one on for once! It was a great feeling to not have to hide away. It’s great just to be made to feel good about myself.

So… what does he think of my ileostomy bag? Nothing. And I think that’s exactly the way it should be. He talks about it as if it’s a person sometimes and even has a name for it! But that’s about it. When he’s looking at me… he’s looking at me. Not my bag. It’s not uncomfortable nor awkward no matter what the situation. And that’s exactly what I need.

I got to spend valentines day with my boyfriend!