Christmas time with a Stoma – warning it’s rogue nut season 


       
 It’s that time of the year again, filled with too much drinking and stuffing my face with really rich food until I feel basically ill and need to out on my Joey from Friends pants.

I adore Christmas and love everything about it, but Christmas throws a lot of curve balls  in the way of my Stoma and often leaves me waking up with far more than a hangover.

In December everything I normally actively avoid eating seems to hide itself in every day food. Nuts and dried fruit appear everywhere at Christmas; hidden amongst sprouts, in stuffing and in a whole array of amazing treats and desserts.

Most of the year I would turn down nut laden goods (no matter how tasty they appear) as I fear the blockage, sickness and general yuck they cause, but something about Christmas makes me throw caution to the wind and I seem to have a devil on my shoulder shouting “bring on the nuts, who the hell cares? – it’s Christmas”!

I have a very adult taste when it comes to food: my Stoma does not. 

Winnie is like a toddler, she hates green stuff, nuts, wine, veg, but she loves a good ‘take it out of the freezer and stuff it in the oven meal’, you know anything that involves chips and weird breaded animal shaped food. 

I live off spinach, olives, cucumber, basically everything she simply can’t cope with (so I live with a lot of tummy ache, funny farting noises coming from my bag, and green poop) but present her with a sprout, coconut or a nut and she has a total fit and throws all her toys out of the pram totally big time.

Last year was probably the best Christmas of my adult life. For the first time I can remember I enjoyed turkey and all the trimmings without the constant pain of Ulcerative Colitis. I managed to sit through almost the entire meal (yes all the courses), unwrap all my presents and even join in all the family games with only a few visits to the bathroom.

It was magical. I don’t think I have ever been so happy. 

But, despite the pain free Christmas, there were still some issues especially around the dinner table. I learnt a few lessons the hard way, mostly not to get carried away with the festive celebrations, office parties and late night drinking, and to avoid certain foods at all costs, no matter how tempting they might be.

This year I will be avoiding, sprouts, chestnuts, cranberries, Christmas cake, green beans, and many more little treats. 

A word of advice, if you have an ostomy and don’t want to be in agony for hours, don’t eat sprouts.

 I know many people would be relieved to find out they can avoid the little green balls, but I’m quite gutted about this.

 The first Boxing Day after my operation I spent an excrutiating couple of hours passing what felt like a giant bolder through my stoma. Somehow, despite obviously chewing it to shreds, it seemed to reform in my bowel and tried to pop out whole – imagine my shock! 

Blog post: I can’t eat sprouts 

This year I have no doubt I will learn even more lessons about my ostomy, and how bloody picky she can be. 

But either way I’m going to give into the devil and eat what the hell I want – the detox and Winnie’s much earned break can start in the New Year, after all that’s what January is for! 

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I can’t fart! – five things you might not know about having an ostomy this #worldostomyday


I can’t fart. That’s a fact. Well, if you’re going to be picky, I can’t but Winnie can…..and boy does she choose her moments.1157678_231106760373116_263656469_n

If you haven’t met Winnie, let me introduce her. Winnie is not my dog, great-grandmother, embarrassing friend and whoopie cushion or some sort of windy companion. She is my stoma – and we have put up with each or for the past 18 months since I had an operation which pretty much saved my life.

Today is Ostomy Awareness Day, and I wanted to share with you a few home truths about what living daily with an ostomy is really like. Public awareness of ostomy bags is next to none. Until I was faced with surgery I thought that only old people with Zimmer frames had stomas, ostomy and colostomy bags. I was sure that they were massive, ugly, heavy things that people had to carry around on stands and have emptied by nurses and carers – I’m pleased to admit that I was TOTALLY WRONG!

Having an ostomy does not make you any different from anyone else – apart from it probably makes you superhuman (in my humble opinion that is). We still poop, but only a little differently than most people. As far as you know the stunning woman sitting across from you could have a bag, the young lad riding the bike or the weight lifter at the gym. These days bags are so discreet Ostomates (the cool name we like to call our club or colon free folk) you can wear swimming costumes and tight fit party dresses without anyone ever knowing you have one – unless it fills up with air and then it’s a whole different ball game.

Most of the time me and Winnie get on just fine, but there is a whole lot to having a stoma that most people don’t realise. When Winnie decides to have a paddy she really goes for it. She doesn’t like certain foods, hates fizzy pop and rejects various bags at the toss of a hat leaving me with red raw painful skin. But she saved me from an illness which was destroying my life, and, well killing me. I can now travel the world, enjoy life, write for hours on end, and just do things most people take for granted – I used to be chained to a toilet seat and often collapsed in pain.

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1. Sprouts come out whole!!! It’s a bizarre fact that no matter how much I chew some food it seems to reform in my digestive system and come out the way it was cooked in my bag. This happens with peppers, mushrooms, sweetcorn, peas and sprouts, and it hurts a fair bit when it happens, as a stoma is only a small opening for a whole sprout to fit through. Let’s just say it made for a very interesting boxing day!

2. I can’t fart – but Winnie can and she sure chooses her moments. For days Winnie won’t make a sound, but then, when I’m sat in an important meeting, in a quiet court room, on a romantic date with my boyfriend or any other sensitive moment, she will thump away to her heart’s extent. She seems to know the exact moment to speak up, and does it with such eagerness and determination I just have to laugh. I used to try to stop her with my hand, muffle her with clothes, but that just fuels her fire. I have learnt to just smile laugh and tell whoever is nearby that I have a stoma and she is having a bit of fun. I tend to find if you are not awkward about it either is anyone else!

3. I can still wear nice clothes. Yes I have an ostomy but I can still look young, hip and sexy – well as much as I ever did. I have had to change some of my fashion sense, and don’t wear a lot of body con dresses any more, mostly due to confidence! But I am not living my life in baggy t-shirts and walking around looking like I’m wearing a giant black bin bag. I can go swimming, run, jump and hopefully even skydive.

4. It can be fascinating. Having a stoma can be very odd, but also fascinating. I am often in awe of the way she works. She moves and appears to have a life of her own – she is after all a part of my bowel on the outside of my body. I don’t watch her all day, but sometimes, when I’m changing her I like to check everything is ok, that she has no cuts, and often I can’t help but laugh when she chooses that exact moment to start moving around.

5. I have no back passage. Sounds very odd, but after 14 years of agonising Colitis I don’t miss having an ‘arse’. It is now sewn up and totally inaccessible to doctors shoving cameras up it, something I could not be more pleased about! I have no colon, but am surprisingly no lighter than I was when I had it! Weirdly, despite not having a back passage I still, occasionally, get the feeling that I need to push. Obviously nothing happens, but I still find it weird.

I hope none of this has freaked anyone out who is preparing for surgery. The truth is life without a colon is far better than it ever was with one. From time to time I still get pain, and having an ostomy is not without its problems, but I have never been so free. Winnie has giving me my life back. In two days I go to America for the holiday of a lifetime – I couldn’t have done this without her, I would have been chained to a toilet seat.

So happy World Ostomy Day, my stoma is the best thing that has happened to me, and I hope that this day will help to reduce some of the needless stigma attached to ostomy and colostomy bags, and raise some awareness for those who live with them every single day.

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.

My Crohn’s was not caused by junk food – my story after appearing on BBC Breakfast today


“My Crohn’s was not caused by a few sweets or treats”, says Chronicle reporter after BBC appearance

Rachel Flint hits-back after claims on BBC Breakfast junk food causes Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis
Chester Chronicle reporter Rachel Flint appears on BBC Breakfast

Looking at me you wouldn’t know I have an incurable illness, which has left me passed out on toilet floors and in so much pain I’ve begged to die.

I look like just like any other 26-year-old woman, but for more than half-my-life I have been suffering from an invisible illness, which has taken me to the brink of death and forced me to battle to stay alive.

At just 13-years-old I almost died from Crohn’s Disease; all because I was too embarrassed to talk about my agonising symptoms which left me feeling like a “freak”.

I now live with a permanent ostomy bag – after two serious operations to remove my ulcerated colon – and have spent the last year doing ridiculous challenges, bloggingand campaigning for greater understanding of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and stomas.

So this morning, when I appeared on the BBC Breakfast sofa and was asked about the claims junk food could cause Crohn’s and IBD – I was appalled to think sufferers might be blamed for their own pain and misfortune.

Last year 19,405 young people, aged 16-29, were hospitalised with Crohn’s – which isn’t counting ulcerative colitis, the other common form of IBD – an astronomical increase from the 4,937 treated in 2003/4.

All my life I have battled against the public’s misunderstanding of my condition; been told I’m eating the wrong diet; I need a good feed; and constantly been the subject of nasty comments about my weight and non-stop toilet visits – I’ve often been calledanorexic and bulimic to my face.

I’ve learnt to be brave and put people right, but these comments still deeply hurt me – it is devastating that despite bearing my soul to the world, even some of my closest friends still don’t understand that my diet is not at the root of the problem.

To think that 1.5M viewers watching BBC Breakfast might now believe people with Crohn’s or Colitis have their agonising symptoms because they ate too many pizzas, sweets or drank too much fizzy pop in their childhood – well, it horrifies me.

In my view Dr Sally Mitton’s comments seriously undermine everything sufferers like myself have gone, and are still going through.

The idea diet causes IBD destroys the work advocates and charities like Crohn’s and Colitis UK have done to increase understanding of these misunderstood, incredibly serious conditions.

I don’t argue with the fact that diet can exasperate my symptoms; I can no longer eat raw foods due to my ileostomy; I’m lactose intolerant and I avoid spice like the plague – but it didn’t cause my illness.

But the fact is, no one has any idea what really causes Crohn’s or Colitis. There are many theories including genetics, hi-fat diets, an bacteria called MAP found in milk, smoking, and lifestyle – but not one has officially been found to be the cause.

I was brought up on an healthy diet of home-cooked food, no take aways, in a house hold of non-smokers. I was too young to drink, and I was a studious school girl who ran for her cross country team and played in a local brass band.

I was no “wild child” drinking behind the bus shelter and scoffing crisps – and even if I was I still wouldn’t deserve this condition.

Reporter Rachel Flint now has a permanent ileostomy and has never felt better

I was 14 when I was eventually diagnosed and told I would have to live with IBD for the rest of my life – it was like receiving a death sentence. I wanted to hide away from the world and curl up and die, and the prospect of surgery revolted me.

If someone had told me back then that I would be sharing my story on national TV, tweeting pictures of my ostomy to the world and have a blog about my stoma, named Winnie, with 50,000 hits – I would have said they were insane.

When I was a teenager my shame of this “embarrassing illness” almost killed me.

For almost a year I tried to hide my symptoms from the world; somehow battling through school while rushing to the toilet around 60 times a day in agonising pain – I often had accidents and always saw blood and mucus in my stools.

At the end of every school day I would collapse in an exhausted heap; and often I was so weak I didn’t even have the energy to climb on of bed – often sleeping on bathroom floors (something I was often forced to do during my time at University and while studying to be a journalist).

My weight plummeted to below six stone; through a combination of chronic diarrhoea and loss of appetite; and I was referred to a psychologist – submitting my family to the traumas of counselling for eating disorders.

My condition was misdiagnosed as tonsillitis and period pains, and more than once I was discharged from A&E as a teenage eating disorder case, being told to go home and eat more.

The first time I passed out in blinding pain while on the toilet – falling off the seat and knocking myself out when I hit my head on the bathroom floor – I should have told my parents.

But in reality it took a year and the biggest scare of my life for me to eventually confide in my parents.

I was in the toilet at a service station when I saw a sign on the door saying; ‘Do you have bowel cancer?’ Underneath was a list of many of my symptoms; abdominal cramps, weight loss, skin problems, loss of appetite, and the blood.

For the first time I realised that I could die. That my insistence on coping with this illness on my own, ignoring it, and hoping it would just go away, could actually kill me.

Telling my mum was the hardest thing I ever did. But without the support of my family I probably would have died. They have stuck with me through everything, from diagnosis to relapses and through all those times of stubbornness and pigheadedness – they turned their life upside down to help me.

Throughout all my treatments and hospitalisations I have seen things I would rather forget, and experienced things which are just plain horrific.

Tubes have ventured into places that tubes should never go. I’ve had endless endoscopies, colonoscopies, X-rays, scans, blood tests and infusions, and they all helped keep me alive.

Now 13-years-on I have finally had my entire large bowel removed – yes anus and all – and now live with a permanent ostomy bag.

For all my worrying about it, life has never been better. I feel pretty much pain free for the first time in as long as I can remember, and I feel strong, energetic and proud to have survived what will hopefully be the worse of this awful illness has to throw at me.

Doctors now believe my initial diagnosis may have been wrong; with biopsies saying my condition may actually be ulcerative colitis – but I may never know for sure as the types of IBD are so hard to diagnose.

The public needs to know more about Crohn’s and colitis. I have been lucky to be surrounded by a supportive family (my parents, sister and boyfriend), friends and colleagues – without whom I am sure I would not be here today.

I am no longer afraid of Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis – and I am no longer ashamed.

And I know one thing for sure – none of this is my fault.

  • For support dealing with Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis visitwww.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk and join the Crohns and Ulcerative Colitis support group Chester on Facebook

Tomorrow me and Winnie (my stoma) will appear on national TV to talk IBD


Halfway through dialling the number for the police press office today I got a very unexpected phone call. Totally out of the blue I was asked if I could appear on a very well-known sofa tomorrow morning, alongside some very well-known characters (some might call one of them a national treasure) to talk about a not very well-known subject!  

Ok, I will stop being so cryptic, before you start thinking I’m going on Jeremy Kyle to talk about my love life, I have to tell you all….

I’m going to be on BBC BREAKFAST

Please don’t choke on your cornflakes – or send nasty tweets about my awful outfit or too short legs

Yes, that’s right folks, I am going to be joining Bill and Louise on the famous red sofa to talk about Crohn’s, Colitis and living with an ostomy. I think they’re going to be getting more than they bargained for. I might almost be too outspoken and have too much of a back story for what they are after, but I guess they will have to cope with that. This is the first time I have ever been on national TV; in fact I think this is the first time I have ever appeared on the telly – apart from possibly being seen bobbing around in the background on a North West Tonight report trying to catch a suspected criminal going in to Chester Crown Court.

If you know me, have known me, or have been interviewed by me, and didn’t know I have Crohn’s/Colitis and an ostomy bag, tomorrow with be a massive shock for you (and you must have been living on a different planet; with no access to local newspapers; blogs; Facebook; twitter or come within 100 miles of anywhere I have spoken in the past year, or 14 years!).

Of course I’m nervous. John from BBC Breakfast just phoned me to check everything was still ok for tomorrow, and I almost chocked on my tea. Being on the other side of the notebook/camera is always a nerve-wracking/bizarre experience, and has always left me feeling confused. But I like to hope I will do ok, as, I guess, if it all goes wrong it will be brought out time and time again at every function, work do and event I ever attend for the rest of my life.

But tomorrow, no matter how bad my hair looks when I wake up in the morning (pretty damn awful); how red my eyes are; or how little I’ve slept worrying about my blabber mouth, I will be appearing of TV screens across the nation. People will be literally waking up to me – how horrifying! I’m so sorry if you wake up in the morning, bleary eyed and spot me making my TV debut. I just hope that whatever outfit I chose doesn’t make me blend into the sofa, or leave me looking like a bouncing head with an invisible body, or spark national outrage!

At the end of the day raising awareness for Crohn’s and Colitis is incredibly important to me. I want to show everyone in the world that no matter how alone they may feel right now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I want to share my story; increase understanding and show that living with a stoma is nothing to be ashamed of. I want to tell the world IBD sufferers are not just complaining about a tummy bug, period pains or food poisoning – that IBD is a life changing condition, which has serious consequences for sufferers outside the toilet stall. But I also want to show people like me, especially young girls, that no matter how alone they feel there is help out there; they are not alone and will eventually feel better – even if it means having a massive operation and living with an ileostomy – I will never regret my decision to have Winnie (my stoma) for the rest of my life.

I hope I do the IBD and ostomy community proud – if not, you’ll all have a hilarious clip to show of me crashing and burning for years to come!

And I have to pack 13 years of turmoil into a few minutes – which could turn me into a gerbil.

Turn on your telly on BBC One at around 8.10am tomorrow morning to watch me talk about IBD (hopefully!)!

You tore out my colon, now you want to dump me. Please don’t leave me this way! – a plea to my gastro team


I‘m so sorry. It’s been a ridiculously long time since I wrote my last post. It’s just been so chaotic since we last spoke; with going back to work; enjoying the sunshine; attempting – and failing – to write a novel; and keeping up with my friends and family. It feels like every weekend me and Andy are maniacally busy, and every evening is spent just trying to relax enough to sleep before my next day in the office.

Going back to work on phased return is always difficult: especially in the media industry. It’s hard to just stop as the clock ticks past your allocated time in the office. I’ve always found the ‘return to work’ period hard, but this time I’m finding it an even tougher process. I’m starting to think it’s because I have so much more energy than last time. I mean I have no colon any more so most of my symptoms have now miraculously vanished, leaving me feeling relieved but wondering what new pain is in store for me around the corner.

I think I’m now going to spend the rest of my life wondering when the remainder of my digestive system is going to pack in.

On that note, I got a worrying letter from my IBD consultant the other day telling me they were going to discharge me from their care. Apparently because I have a permanent ostomy bag I no longer have Ulcerative Colitis. I almost fainted from the shock. After almost 14 years under the care of a gastro department at one hospital or another, I can’t imagine life without my specialist. The idea of it absolutely terrifies me. I think it would be unwise, especially as there has always been the underlying query about whether I have Crohn’s or Colitis, to discharge me, for me only to need their help in a few months time when things start to go to pot ( or down the drain ) again.

Imagine if they discharge me from their care and then it turns out it actually was Crohn’s, then I’d have to go through the agonising process of being referred by my GP all over again. I absolutely refuse to take my foot away from that very jammed open door. Surely I’ve earned to stay on their radar after everything I’ve been through.

I take issue with the fact I am cured of Ulcerative Colitis. Why, you ask? Shouldn’t I be throwing a party with gangs of people wearing “She’s Cured!” t-shirts and giving speeches on how grateful I am to be free from IBD. I just don’t agree with the word cure. I may no longer have the organ which caused me all those problems; I may no longer have to live in agonising pain every minute of every day; I may no longer be chained to the toilet stall – but I still have problems caused by years of disease, toxic drugs and sleepless nights. In my opinion I will have Ulcerative Colitis until the day I die. This disease has taken the best part of my life away from me; ruined relationships; holidays; career opportunities and cast a massive shadow over every little moment of the past 14 years. It has left me with riddled joints, osteoporosis at 26 and an intolerance which makes it almost impossible to eat out.

Oh, and am I forgetting something, it cost me my colon.

So, I’m sorry Gastro department I refuse to let you fob me off with a “your cured” tactic. I am healthier and happier than I’ve ever been in my life, but I still have pain; skin problems; digestive issues and agonising joints. I now have an ostomy bag and life is not always peachy: what if I need someone to help me with that? After years of being under the care of so many different teams, it makes me feel anxious to think I might soon be going it alone (which in reality I have been doing for years), with no way of knowing what is normal, and having no medical professional to call on for support.

Please don’t try to dump me on the surgical team. While they may be hot (some more than others) and incredibly attentive, they are not willing to keep me on their books unless I need future surgery – and I’m not willing to part with another major organ just to keep seeing the registrar, he’s not that hot!

 

 

A half pint of blood and mucus – my fistula’s final hurrah


Sorry I haven’t written for a while, the last couple of days have been a little chaotic both in and out of work. It has also been a tough week for my health, which always suffers at a time of stress and leaving dos – with late nights, long working hours and general stubbornness and excitement causing chaos with my colitis.

This week I’ve been in a considerable amount of pain. My fistula seems to know it’s only got a month left to torment me, so it is unleashing hell, in what can only be described as a ‘final hurrah’. I’m often surprised by how much mucus my tiny rectal stump can generate in a short space of time. On Thursday I was in agony at my desk as it pumped and squeezed. When I went to the loo to assess the damage, I understood why – in just ten minutes my tiny inflamed section of colon had produced around half a pint of blood and, well, horrible smelling goo.

Every time this happens I wonder how it manages to produce quite so much. Even now I still pass blood through my bottom end four or five times a day, and with my fistula bag (a baby ostomy bag) needing emptying at least three times, that is a heck of a lot of mucus my colitis is creating.

I can’t bear to remember how I coped when I had meters of the bloody thing! There’s no wonder I was going to the loo 20-30 plus times a day, when you look at it like that.

Right now I’m exhausted. I’ve given up on my health with the happy prospect that in a month I might, fingers crossed, never have to deal with any of this crap ever again. My eyes are bright red again (a sign of my inflammation markers shooting through the roof), my mascara has gone in the bin and my makeup brushes have been declared a “toxic zone” until I attack them with a bottle of baby shampoo later today. Yesterday I resumed the agonising eyelid hygiene treatment in a bid to get rid of the crust forming around my bright red eyes. This involves cleaning them with water as hot as you can cope with (without burning yourself), and then cleaning them again with cooled water with bicarbonate of soda in. It hurts and leaves you feeling raw – but it works.

Before my surgery when I was ill I looked ill. I would look drawn, tired, and as if I was being held up by an invisible string that might snap at any movement. Now, knowing I’ve had my surgery, I apparently look “well” most of the time. Well, that’s what people insist on telling me. It is nice to hear, but when you feel like your going to puke, your stomach is pumping out blood and your brain is yelling for you to go home and get into your pyjamas with a hot water bottle and wait for it all to be over, someone smiling and saying “you look so well”, can be hard to deal with. My response is always that I’m not 100 percent there yet but I’m a million times better than I used to be – what I want to say is “thanks, but I don’t feel well”.

It sounds silly and selfish and I’d rather someone told me I look good than “anorexic”, “skinny”, “pale” and “bloody awful” – all things I have been referred to as time and time again – but sometimes you just don’t want to hear it. In fact at a work do on Thursday a former member of staff said “your not right are you, I can see it in your face” moments after another told me I looked fantastic. Ok, she has Crohn’s too, so she knows the warning signs, but I think I appreciated her honesty and her concern more than any of the compliments I’ve had over the past six months since my op.

I spent far too much of that night talking about my condition. I chatted about Sir Steve Redgrave, Darren Fletcher and my horrific experiences in the hospital, until I didn’t want to talk about it any more. It’s not that I’m not open (totally the opposite actually, I’d tell a stranger on a bus about my condition if Winnie started farting), sometimes I like to try to forget I don’t have it and just pretend I am a normal healthy person.

I’ve stopped sleeping properly really since my pre op assessment. I’m having weird fragmented dreams and waking up at random times again to my fistula pulsing and twinging. I’m tired of it, but I know worse is to come in the next few weeks.

I’m excited and apprehensive about my upcoming stint at The Mirror and my time staying in Canary Wharf. I’m just hoping my colitis doesn’t get worse, my eyes lose their monster crust and my skin stops bleeding and breaking for long enough for me to enjoy it.