Day 3: A magical 28th birthday #7daysofIBD #7daysofstoma


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I made it to the grand old age of 28 – it feels like an achievement.

I was after all a premature baby, who was born fighting.

Teamed with my Ulcerative Colitis it has taken a giant team of very dedicated people and a fantastic amount of love and patience from my family to get me this far.

I hope I’m not wasting the gift I’ve been given.

Yesterday was my birthday and I had the day off, accompanied by a stinking hangover. But despite the big headache I had a truly lovely day, deliriously pain free and felt very happy and loved indeed.

My birthdays are always a quiet affair. I like the simple things: a good meal, some wine, a lie in, and no chores all day.

Oh and fab gifts, loads of best wishes messages and some unexpected cards too.

I also ate the thing I try to avoid, as it blows me up like a whale – bread.

Chris spoilt me with some really gorgeous flowers, and we spent the day freezing and feeling sick from stuffing our faces with sweets wandering around the Christmas market stalls in Cardiff, with me getting soaked as someone wasn’t too great at holding a brolly.

I even found a vegan Welsh cake – which might not have helped with my twitchy tummy today.

It was all polished off with my favourite – not Winnie’s favourite – meal at Bills’, spinach, bacon and avocado salad and sweet potato fries….mmmm.

Here’s to many more healthy, happy and pain free birthdays for decades to come.

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Argh I’m 27…an amazing birthday and the Pride of Trinity Mirror


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I can’t believe that I’m 27. Well, actually, if we are going to be pedantic about it, I’m 27 and two days old (which makes me sound like a little kid trying to sound older). I know it will sound silly, but I already feel ancient. It’s probably a combination of the left-over dregs of flu, far too much alcohol due to a number of booze-fuelled celebrations, and a lack of sleep taking its tole, but every day since my birthday I’ve woken up feeling on the verge of my 90th!

Looking back there is nothing that I really regret about my 26th year on this planet. I’ve had surgery, tests, blood, guts, gore. Met amazing people, told truly inspirational stories. Worked at the Mirror, stayed in London, met royalty, seen a Broadway show and hundreds of dragonflies. Rode insane rides, climbed the Empire State Building, appeared on the BBC, waved a wand in Hogwarts, been to Wimbledon – and many more magical things.

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For the second year running I celebrated my birthday surrounded by incredible journalists and editors who work for Trinity Mirror, rubbing shoulders with people who both inspire and astound me with their talents and passion. Last year I was honoured (and astounded) to be named the Young Journalist of the Year, this year I just drank too much and met the queen of Countdown.

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Joking aside, I was humbled to be highly commended in the New Reporter of the Year (regional) category. The journalist who won the title, Neil Keeling, is incredible – he continued producing exclusive stories for the MEN despite suffering from kidney failure. I felt embarrassed to even be put in the same category as him to be honest!

Anyway, on my birthday I woke up with a pounding headache, and a memory of far too much wine, talking, and general fun following a very glitzy awards do. I dragged myself to the conference and had to put up with my ostomy making the rudest noises ever (as per usual when I’m hungover) while sat next to a room of highly influencial people (as I tried to listen to the speakers) , who have the ability to hire me and fire me, many of whom were sitting within hearing distance – typical!

Returning home on the train, clutching my certificate and a notepad of ideas for the office, I wanted nothing more but to go to bed and curl up with a yummy hot chocolate. Instead I unwrapped gifts (yippee), opened cards and was forced back into the cold for a lovely meal with my boyfriend.

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It was a stunning evening, filled with laughter (especially when the waiter got the whole restaurant to sing to me in my old name as it was on one of my cards on the table) and surprises.

Andy – god knows why he sticks by me – managed to totally shock me for the first time in our relationship, by keeping a secret for months on end. He had managed to plan a five day holiday to Bruges, complete with a spa break, rail travel and stunning hotels, without letting slip at all. He even booked the time off for me – so my editor was complicit.

How none of this leaked out totally flummoxes me! But he managed it, and it is the most stunning and magical gift I could have hoped for after our amazing trip to America earlier this year (which i am determined to blog about by the end of the week).

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So, despite feeling ever older and tired due to the Winter cold, this year I have had an amazing birthday, and got some lovely presents from my friends, family and colleagues… here’s to many more to come.

Oozing skin, vomiting and hundreds of tiny dragonflies for VisitEngland challenge


I’m really sorry at how rubbish I’ve been recently. Everything seems to be getting on top of me. Work has been hectic, holiday planning has taken hold of every waking moment outside the office, and I have been feeling generally, well, crap.IMG_0677

I haven’t posted any photos of my skin over the past few weeks because it would have made you all violently sick. Three weeks ago my skin was so painful I couldn’t walk – my legs were covered in puss-filled boils. At around the same time my skin blew up so did the skin around my stoma, it became bright red again, like it had been burnt. I also got itchy rashes around my eyes, and my eye condition came back.

All in all I have spent the last few weeks feeling like a scale covered snake, well, a hairy scale covered snake – if that’s at all possible. I’ve been unable to shave anything, unable to exercise and unable to look after myself. I’ve felt sick, unattractive and damn right sorry for myself – and mega stressed with my job and my holiday planning.

I went to the doctors in hope of a cure – what I got was infuriating. The doctor, who is apparently a skin specialist, was gleeful at my pain. He could not have been more pleased that I was in agony. He smiled and laughed and seemed joyful that I had such an ‘unusual’ aliment. He seemed to want it to stay put, so that he could study it and poke at it – it was so insensitive, and is something that has happened far too often in my weird and wonderful years of living with the joys of IBD.

Anyway, I eventually resorted (well was forced by my boyfriend) to go to the out of hours doctors. I have no idea why anyone bothers with their real GP after that. The woman was amazing, and really listened to me, prescribed me antibiotics, and was incredibly sympathetic. I wish I could have her all the time, and, in hindsight I should have found out her name and swapped surgeries!

The antibiotics worked but left me feeling rotten. I threw up constantly, and was even on them during Andy’s birthday party. I felt awful. The weekend after I started them me and Andy headed to Milton Keynes so he could do his Spy Day experience I bought him for his birthday last year. We went down the day before, so we headed even further afield to have a go at one of my Visit England challenges – a list of challenges which feels like a massive effort but has so far had many surprising rewards.

Wicken Fen nature reserve was stunning. It was wild and raw, with never ending stretches of long grass as far as the eye could see. I was far too excited to see a dragonfly, and started peering around, shushing Andy as I tried to spot one of the tiny insects. When I finally spotted one I was overwhelmed. I was like a little child. We must have stood for half an hour watching two MASSIVE dragonflies flit about – I guess I wouldn’t have bothered if I’d have know I would have seen dozens by the end of the day.

IMG_0702it was an amazing day. We saw some beautiful insects, and even a deer, it wasn’t the most sunny day so we didn’t see as many dragonflies as we could have , but that didn’t matter it was still a breathtaking experience, and one I would never have done if I didn’t have this bucket list.

The only problem was that we walked miles and I suddenly got very sick. The antibiotics started to churn stomach acid around and I couldn’t go anywhere. I felt dreadful. Luckily I made it back to the car, but when we got to tea I was violently sick – not pleasant for anyone.

Luckily my skin has started to clear up. Which is fantastic as we are heading to America in a week’s time, and I’m so stressed I can hardly breathe. I couldn’t be more excited for the trip, but there is still so much to sort out both for the holiday and at work. I’m also (this is one for the girls) trying to figure out what to do about my bikini line now I have my stoma – should I brave it and get a wax or try the cream?

And I won’t start about the swimsuit nightmare I’ve been having!IMG_0679

Anyway I will blog again tomorrow about my preparations for the big trip! Hope you are all well.

Do you want to join in with the Visit England Challenges and find out more about Wicken Fen visit http://www.visitengland.org

How does he put up with me? My amazing boyfriend who has stuck with me through IBD and ostomy surgery


Over the past three years I cried, thrown tantrums, vomited all over the place, IMG_3925screamed bloody murder and been too tired to even drag myself off the bathroom floor. I have looked hideous; had oozing boils all over my legs; spent days without showers; dribbled like a baby, and well looked like someone waking up after having their bowel removed – enough said I guess!

But despite all my efforts to push him away, and bizarre steroid induced (and non steroid endured) mood swings, my boyfriend has lovingly stuck by my side and supported me through thick and thin– I have no idea how he does it!

Since I was diagnosed with IBD 14 years ago I have struggled to cope with relationships. It is a well known fact that during flares I become increasingly stubborn, and push everyone I love away from me. I don’t like people seeing me sick, and so I get angry, grumpy and turn into a mad raving cow as I struggle to battle with my illness. I know how it affects people around me; how sad it makes them; how much it wears them out – so I either hide it, or push them away.

When me and Andy first met I was already extremely ill. I was in the, I’m trying to pretend I’m not seeing my whole world fall down the toilet, stage, which some call denial! And so I was being my bubbly outgoing self, putting on a show, lying to the world to pretend I wasn’t ill. We had a few really fun dates together – then I fell down the stairs and broke my hand!!

From then on my health went downhill; from horrendous inner ear infections; gooey eyes; eczema; and obviously my never ending battle with Ulcerative Colitis. Less than two months after we started dating, Andy was visiting me in hospital for our dates. He came every single day, and refused to listen to my pleas that I didn’t want him to see me looking so ill and such a mess.

I think that was when I knew there was no getting rid of him.

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Since then he has coped with a dozen or so heartbreaking flares. Dealt with hearing the carefully cooked food being vomited up, and pulling out his hair as I screamed from the bathroom. He has visited me in hospital more times than I can count, given up holidays to be at my side, and spent hours holding my hand in A&E.

Even more remarkably Andy has kept me smiling through some of the hardest decisions of my life, and kept me smiling through two lots of surgery. He has helped me to adjust to life with an ostomy bag and supported me in my new life. Which is amazing – I had been so worried for so many years about the impact of my bag on my love life.

When I had low moments, mostly through boredom, on my long road to recovery, he held me when I cried, and insisted on making me laugh even when I thought my stitches were going to burst.

IMG_4687He has driven me around the country on my challenges, braved his fears and spent far to much money helping me to achieve my dreams. And we have loved, well, almost every second together, and have some unbelievable memories.

At times he can be too much of a saint, which sends me spiralling out of control when I’m angry. And he has his faults; weird meal combinations; sometimes forgetting to check ingredients for lactose; and taking pictures of me while I’m sleeping in the car!!

But I love him. He has lived on a knife-edge for the past three years. I can’t imagine what it must be like for him (or my family) to live in the constant fear that I might suddenly throw up, faint, pass out, or simply fade away to skin and bone in front of him.

Yesterday was his birthday and I gave him a photo album filled with pictures of our amazing adventures together. It was incredible to see how much we have changed, and how, no matter how ill, skeletal and sickly I got, he always managed to make me smile.

If you are reading this Andy, I don’t always say it but I am so very lucky. I love you.

Shakespeare’s 450th bash – not for the old or disabled – ticking off the Visit England list one hamlet at a time


Shakespeare's 450th bash - not for the old or disabled - ticking off the Visit England list one hamlet at a time

Last week me and Andy headed to Stratford-upon-Avon to explore Shakespeare’s birth place. It was a magical adventure, but one that left me exhausted. Whilst its a beautiful village/town (I’m really not sure which one it is) and a delight to wander around, it sure has a lot of steps, and most of them are rickety and old. It is not for those in need of hip replacements or in wheelchairs. In fact during the entirety of our two day mini-break I didn’t see one person in a wheelchair, or come to think about it any old people – though I’m sure they exist!!!

I arranged this adventure to coincide with Shakespeare’s 450th birthday (with is also of course St George’s Day – an occasion we Brits frankly couldn’t care less about, weird as it’s an obvious excuse to get drunk!). This meant that we got to see some awesome fireworks, including a burning, I won’t say effigy, but display of the Bard’s face on fire. Amazing. It was freezing but I loved every second, as famous sonnets and sayings from various plays were flashed up on the face of the RSC’s river side theatre. The fireworks were incredible; the sky was so filled with smoke it looked like the whole of Stratford was on fire, and at one point a black piece of ash almost fell in my eye as I craned my neck up towards the sky.

The best thing was…it was free. And because of this basic fact hundreds of people, young and old, turned up. I was over joyed for a Great British bit of freeness, after forking out a small fortune to visit various houses across the hamlet to see where Shakespeare wrote, slept, pooped and ate. It was really a rip off, and I have made it no secret that I think British tax payers should at least get a discount to cultural and historical attractions across the nation….or at least not be charged an entire days salary to enter them, and then be asked to grant them gift aid! What’s that about?

The next day I took Andy to see his first RSC play. We got the tickets for an absolute steal, £10 each, due to it being the understudy only performance. I couldn’t have cared less. The performance of King Henry IV part 1 was breathtaking. It was lovely to see Shakespeare on stage (again) and in a traditional theatre. My one qualm was that I had to sacrifice my bum to enjoy the performance; perched on a very high seat, which was like climbing in and out of a toddler’s high chair every time I wanted to go to the loo etc. Post surgery it was agony, I could hardly walk when I got down to use the loo during the interval. My leg almost gave way, and my scar on my backside felt like I’d been sitting on pins.

We will be returning to Stratford-Upon-Avon soon, mostly to see the other sites we still have valid tickets for, and if its up to me we will be going ever other weekend to get our money’s worth out of our year long tickets. The Romeo and Juliet room in the White Swan hotel was stunning too, with wooden beams and a beautiful bath (which I couldn’t use.). It is a stunning place, I could live there, but I think it would cost the council too much to get rid of all the steps.

Night out with my ostomy – tricky leaks, revolting loos and challenge number 30


It’s official…I just can’t party like I used to. I just don’t bounce back anymore. The days where I used to stay up all night bouncing around clubs, swigging back cocktails and playing drinking games before heading to lectures at 9am after a couple of hours kip then heading back out for another late-night session, are well and truly behind me.

First night out with the girls since op!

First night out with the girls since It’s official I’m getting old.

More than 48 hours have passed since I dragged myself into bed with tired eyes, tired feet and an even heavier head than usual after getting in from an awesome yet crazy night out with the girls, and I still feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. I just don’t seem to recover the way I used to, which would be fine, but I really didn’t drink nearly enough to warrant this kind of three-day hangover. And to make matters even worse Winnie (my stoma) has decided that she officially hates me (I think it has to do with all the dancing, sugar and possibly lifting my mates off the slippy dance floor) so much that she keeps having sneaky leaks totally ruining any clothing, bedding or flooring that is unfortunate enough to be close by at the time.

Saturday night was Rhian’s 30th birthday bash. And what a bash it was. Chips and champers at my old house (Ri and me lived together) before getting into a massive limo, which just needed P Diddy dressed in a fur coat to make it into pimp my ride, and heading for a night out in Liverpool. This was my first big night out since my op, and I was excited and I have to admit rather frightened by the prospect of subjecting Winnie (who has been leaking a lot recently) to heaving crowds of drunks, dirty toilets in clubs and my insane style of dancing. As we climbed into the limo I fell back into clutching my stomach protectively, as if trying to shield Winnie from any dangers the outside world might present, because you never know when someone’s going to charge at you or punch you in the stomach right?

A NIGHT OUT IN LIVERPOOL IS PART OF CHALLENGE #NO 30 – the VERDICT…AWESOME, BUSY, LOTS OF VARIETY, BUT NOT AS GOOD AS NEWCASTLE AND APPALLED THAT THERE ARE NO PUBLIC TOILETS AFTER 2AM (well not where we where, before my op – with IBD – this would have ruined my evening) 

PIMP MY RIDE!! I don't always travel in this much style btw

PIMP MY RIDE!! I don’t always travel in this much style btw

At start of evening I couldn’t keep my hand away from Winnie. As the crowds got bigger and the people around me got drunker and drunker, with crowds of girls tottering in their sky-high heels, I became more and more anxious about Winnie getting hurt. I could just imagine me flat-out on the floor, with some drunkard sprawled across me, legs flailing everywhere, with all their weight squashing Winnie into the dance floor. I could also imagine the inevitable trip to Liverpool’s A&E department, and I have to say I was determined not to add it to my list of A&E’s I have visited.

I'll have a water, waiting for the limo

I’ll have a water, waiting for the limo

Having had some champers in the house and limo when we got to Liverpool I decided to grab my second glass of water for the evening. The bar tender looked at me like I’d walked into his club, squatted down and done a number 2 on the floor when I asked him for the free shot we had been promised by the scouts outside with a glass of water. He looked revolted. How dare someone ask for H2O – I honestly thought he was going to jump on the bar and start shouting H20 HELL NO again and again Cayote Ugly style. He responded by telling me that you had to buy a drink to get the shot, but something about the look on my face must have shushed him into submission, and he handed me a tap of the worst tasting tap water I have ever drunk.

While the others drank and danced I weaved my way through packed crowds shielding Winnie with my hand of steel in search of the toilets so that I could check that she was behaving herself. It was only about 10.30pm and the scene in the toilets could only be described as carnage. The toilets were so poorly lit it was like trying to check my bag in a power cut. But even the bad lighting couldn’t disguise how revolting the place was. I don’t know what had been going on in those toilets, but it was like a chimp had gone mental throwing toilet roll all over the place, leaving used tampons, tissues and god knows what else strewn all over the floor. The result of this disgusting childishness was that although Winnie was full there was NO toilet roll in site, so despite the slight leakage and the impending explosion there was no way I could change her, and even if there had been, with the piss on the floor and disgustingness all around me there was NOT A CHANCE IN HELL I was about to play around with an open wound and a protruding organ in this loo…that was unless I wanted to end up in hospital on a drip for the rest of my Summer. Instead I fumbled around in the dark, using parts of a spare wound dressing to secure the edge of my bag, while drunk women banged on the door and shouted for me to hurry up…ARGH!! (I felt a little bit like a Blue Peter presenter making Tracy Island out of sticky back tape and toilet rolls, but under a lot more pressure).

Some of the night's shenanigans

Some of the night’s shenanigans

I have to say that I was amazed that after that hasty patch-up job my bag survived the night, but it did. And the toilet situation improved. Luckily the rest of the club’s had those women in who try to sell you lollipops and squirts of perfume. Yes, they annoyingly shout unintelligible things like market stall traders while your on the loo, making me jump while I was trying to empty my ostomy bag, but at least they keep the toilets clean and make sure there is an endless supply of loo roll – so I worship them!

The rest of the evening saw me advance from tentative shuffling to full on dancing the night away. Ok I restrained myself from doing any ‘how low can you go’ or the bumping and grinding some of the people in the club were doing for fear of having a massive hernia, but I got involved. I also spent a lot of the time searching for members of our party who just didn’t want to stay in the club, and picking my mates up off the dance floor, which quickly became a health and safety hazard…think skid pan covered in alcohol verses six-inch high heels.

I didn’t get in until around 4.30am after standing in the roughest taxi queues in the world in Chester. I know Chester. I’ve stood in some rough queues but this was dreadful, I find it hard to entertain extremely drunk people most of the time, but when it’s 4am and you’re stone cold sober and your bones hurt you’re so tired…let’s just say I was a little irritable, and that there was no better feeling than kicking off my high-heels and crawling into my trusty bed – that was until my feet cramped up into claws!!

The morning after the night before - urgh

The morning after the night before – urgh

I had a heck of a good time, and it was amazing to spend time with one of my bestest mates in the whole world, who has helped me through so much with this god awful illness over the years…but I am paying for it. Two days after the night out my stomach still feels like its been butted by a bull, which might have something to do with the dancing, but I think is mostly from the effort of picking people up off the floor. Winnie is in overdrive, and because I’ve only got small bags she keeps catching me by surprise and very sneakily destroying any underwear, bedding, flooring that might be near her when she decided to have a minor explosion. I don’t know why it’s happening, but she is really not very happy at all, and in turn it is making my skin and me fairly unhappy.

So I have no energy, an overproductive ostomy, and feet like claws. But was it worth it? Hell YEH!!!

Adventure holiday drama and a very unexpected birthday present


I’m back in one piece!! I know it’s a miracle but I have officially made it home from my

Caution squirrels me and Winnie are loose

Caution squirrels me and Winnie are loose

girly adventure holiday without any injuries, scrapes or even bumps. Even Winnie, despite threatening to kick off constantly, was extremely well-behaved and didn’t even kick off when I managed to swallow a few pieces of sweetcorn by mistake while trying to fish them all out of a very ill-chosen salad.

Ok, so maybe that’s not true…let’s just say that’s what I would have liked to have written at the start of this blog. What I’m missing out is that me and my friends raced back from our trip to Centre Parcs after two rather frightening metal looking hoops burst through the opening of my fistula, causing me to suffer a major breakdown and sway in and out of consciousness as I tried determine what weird and wonderful surgical piece of equipment the surgeons had left in my body was trying to break its way out by bursting out of my skin.

ME in A&E unhappily waiting to find out what is sticking out of fistula

ME in A&E unhappily waiting to find out what is sticking out of fistula

The trip – which had been filled with fun, laughter, adventure and gossip, and seen me sweating like a pig as I furiously pedaled up steep hills determined to get to the top despite my ostomy bag hitting my legs (my bike was a little too small) and shouting back at my mate who had given up and got off to walk “beaten by a post-op patient” (which I’ve just realised made me sound like I’d just had sex change surgery) – ended with me dressed in a rather trendy hospital gown, demanding IV paracetamol and shaking with fright and pain as I was systematically ignored by everyone in A&E despite the very real fear that whatever the ‘wires’ were could have perforated my remaining (and potentially healthy) bowel.

It actually took four hours for anyone to ask to look at my abdomen, and when they did they could see exactly what I had been trying to tell them for the past few hours (in between falling in and out of consciousness) – and they quickly admitted I did indeed have some sort of foreign object sticking out of my stomach. I felt like saying NEVER!!! In fact the nervous junior doctor who eventually plucked-up enough courage to ask me to lift up my gown (ohh la la) and take a look, struggled to see the metal glinting under my fistula bag, but when he did see it he seemed shocked, before admitting he “didn’t know what he was doing” (a worrying yet refreshingly honest attitude) and ambling off to get someone else who I trusted and recognised to have a good poke around.

So after four hours of stressing out, pain and worrying in A&E, the surgical nurse at last

EWH very red skin and you can just about see the loop at the bottom of the pic

EWH very red skin and you can just about see the loop at the bottom of the pic

took to my stomach with a pair of scissors and snipped away at the loops (which had got even bigger in the time I had been waiting). This was uncomfortable, but by no means painful, but I am ashamed to admit that I caused a bit of a fuss, firstly, rather childishly telling him NOT TO TOUCH ME, but then, after a reassuring explanation that he wasn’t about to pull meters of this stuff out of my body, I gave in , screwed up my eyes and let him get to work trimming my wires! It took him the whole of five seconds, and when they were taken out I took a look at what he had removed, and they were really long pieces of plastic – no wonder I had been in so much pain.

Anyway to get the record straight I had it explained to me that this was not a surgical error, I was not seeing bits of plastic the surgeons had absent-mindedly left in my body following the operation as they rushed to get to the pub on time. These were stitches which had been used to pin down my remaining colon (or rectal stump) which broke away months ago as my colon went crashing through my stomach wall (creating Oscar) and had been trying to work their way out of my body for God knows how long. The stitches were meant to dissolve naturally but, well, had been being stubborn and had decided not to! Instead, my body’s typically dramatic fashion, they decided to burst out of stomach, causing me to dissolve into a blithering wreck of panic as my mind tried to comprehend the possibility of further surgery.

She's got wires coming out of her skin

Well it seems this is all fairly normal following a massive operation like this, but how was I to know that? No one had warned me this might happen. Just like no one warned me that my stitches might burst sending mucus gushing out of my stomach. No one warned me, so when I woke up that morning and spotted the very sturdy and alien loops protruding out of my fistula I thought something had gone massively wrong and that I was going to die! So it was panic stations all round….all I can say is it is a good job we were leaving Centre Parcs that day and this ridiculous complication didn’t cut our girly holiday short.

Just a shame it had to happen on one of my best friend’s birthdays.

Picture this…you’re having a lovely lie in on the morning of your birthday. So far you have had a fun but exhausting weekend, raft building, cycling and playing board games. And last night you spent playing shrades and opening presents from your friends in the chalet in the middle of the forest, before tumbling into bed in the early hours of the morning. Next thing you know a crazy-haired person dressed in a towel shakes you from your sleep, tears pouring down her face, saying “something’s wrong, something’s wrong”. Before proceeding to flash her boobs at you, while showing you a red raw surgery scar and a fistula, making you peer into the gooey mess to confirm there is indeed part of a builders work yard sticking out of her stomach, and that she isn’t going insane – NOT THE BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT I’VE EVER GIVEN SOMEONE.

Hats off to my friend, she stayed incredibly calm. She even managed to calm me down

Measuring myself at Centre Parcs

Measuring myself at Centre Parcs

enough to ring everyone that needed ringing (hospital, boyfriend, parents etc) and get the whole chalet packed up and ready to go. Before I told her I remember standing in the bathroom on the verge of a complete emotional breakdown trying to figure out what to do. I needed help, but who to ask. I didn’t want to wake her as it was her birthday, but the other person I thought of telling was all the way upstairs and I didn’t know her as well as I did my best friend. I honestly considered not saying anything, until I mistakenly knocked the wires as I pulled up the towel sending shooting pain through my abdomen and almost knocking myself to the ground as pain and nausea took over.

The journey home was a mishmash of memories, laughter and trying not to fall asleep. I was, and I think the people in the car were too, totally petrified that this could be something serious. I was honestly thanking my lucky stars that I had enjoyed myself, cycling, gossiping and even drinking a few glasses of wine, before I would be imprisoned back in the hospital. During the car journey back I had to stop myself from blubbering and shouting as the very real possibility that I would once again be back under the surgeon’s knife and confined to a hospital bed for another month or so flashed into my mind. I tried not to let it show (but I think it was totally obvious) that I was totally petrified.

Today I feel exhausted yet happy. Home from A&E and unpacked from my trip all I can think is how lucky I was to have someone so calm to help me in my moment of need. Just the day before one of our other friends had managed to miss a step in the apartment and sprain her ankle – this was after avoiding any injury whatsoever whilst swimming through a lake filled with waist-high weeds while trying to beat a family to build and race the best raft – and she, once again, was a picture of calm amongst chaos and confusion.

I just hope I didn’t ruin her birthday, but, I guess, it’s not one she’s ever likely to forget.

The girls raft building

The girls raft building

The holiday itself was just what I needed. Ok, it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me, seeing me squealing with excitement as we got nearer the holiday resort in the car, then sobbing in the supermarket as the pain and fatigue from the car journey kicked-in, then excitedly racing around the forest on my bike before having a nervous break-down in the bathroom of a restaurant as my crab salad reappeared in the toilet bowl, appearing to multiply in the process. I’m not entirely sure why I felt so happy one minute and then so gutted and down-in-the-dumps the next. I think I found it hard to stand and watch while the others swam, went on water slides and raced around building rafts while I sat at the side holding keys and inhalers and proudly taking photos like a mum waiting for her kids at Alton Towers. I think it upset me that I couldn’t fully join in with the activities due to my never-ending open wound and fistula, which I was told by the surgeon that I mustn’t submerge in water. I think I was envious of the swimming costumes and bikinis and the never-ending bottom-less stomachs of my mates, who seemed to be able to eat and eat and eat, unlike myself who was sick the moment I ate more than two marshmallows after tea.

First day...drying feet after not going in the pool!!!

First day…drying feet after not going in the pool!!!

I’m painting a negative image of this aren’t I…I’m just trying to be honest. But these moments where fleeting compared to how happy I felt for the majority of the trip. I loved the feeling of total freedom as I free wheeled down steep hills ringing my bell to get pedestrians to move out-of-the-way, dressing in our onsies and playing board games into the early hours of the morning, and simply being around other people and having a truly amazing time while not feeling like ‘the ill person’ all the time.

I do think, however, that I need to go back to work pretty sharpish. At the moment all I have to talk about is me and Winnie… which I’m sure is fine for a little while, but no doubt it has to get boring pretty quickly.

Oh, and did I mention I wore a ONSIE in front of everyone!!! So that’s another challenge done and dusted!!! It was the comfiest thing ever, however a warning to everyone, DO NOT FALL ASLEEP IN ONE, you will boil to death!!!

In our onsies - challenge complete

In our onsies – challenge complete