London with a roar – celebrations and the underground with an ostomy

The last few days have gone by in a delirious blur. I can honestly say that these past

The Italian - too many choices

The Italian – too many choices

few days have been some of the happiest of my life. Ok, I’m no stranger to happiness, but after all the years of IBD torment I have often struggled to fully embrace times of peace, calm and success knowing another bout of illness is just around the corner. But these past few days have been different – I’m still me, just improved.

I don’t know if that makes any sense. I’m not sure how to explain it. I’m still having issues, I’m still not perfect (but that’s just me), but I feel something new…I think it might be hope.

I’ve been on a bit of a high since the award ceremony. I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of emails I’ve had from work colleagues, editors and industry professionals I never dreamed would be emailing me to pat me on the back. The messages from people I know and strangers I have never met on Twitter and Facebook have left me feeling truly humbled, and the heartfelt messages from the Coriam family have stunned me into silence. My parents were overjoyed when I rang them from my bed on Thursday morning, still suffering from the no food too much white wine induced hangover, croaking that I’d won an award…they were delighted, but I think if they’d been able to see my mascara strewn face at that moment they’ve been far from amused. It was such a nice feeling to be ringing them with good news – a lot of our phone calls start with “I don’t want to worry you” or “don’t worry I’m ok”. They must be constantly on edge when ever they see my name on the phone display.

Anyway, I know by now you will all be getting tired of me harping on about this, so I’m going to draw a line under it and get on with my job. But this award has given me a much-needed spark and shove in the right direction. It has given me hope just when I was starting to sink back into the worry pit – that constant cycle of worrying about IBD flares, test results and future surgery – and plunged me back into the world of enjoying my life almost free from IBD pain. It has reminded me I’m almost there, just one more lot of surgery and me and Winnie will be one forever and we can kick Crohn’s/Colitis out of bed at last.

It also made me realise its time to really get cracking on this list of challenges and start getting somewhere with my mission to help change the public’s perception of IBD and stomas – I’ve only got four-and-a-half-years left after all.

So on Thursday after pulling myself out of my wine daze and attempting to reply to all the lovely emails in a humbled manner, I took myself for a run along the canal in attempt to blow away the cobwebs and after deciding I’m going to do the Santa Dash this year to raise money for the hospital’s Baby Grow Appeal. Ok, it’s not a marathon but I really don’t want to make a fool of myself. If I’m honest I’m terrified I’m going to fall over in the Santa suit, which, it seems, is one size fits all. Honestly, I’m tiny, I’m going to be mooning to the whole world if I’m not careful…I’ll probably be in my own newspaper as a flashing Santa!

Anyway at 4pm I boarded the train to London for my big city adventure. I’ve been looking forward to this since Andy announced he was taking me to see the Lion King for my birthday earlier this month. Ok, so my birthday isn’t until next month, but who cares I’ve wanted to see the Lion King for longer than I can remember…and I’m sure he will get me something else to open on the day (hint hint). The train journey passed without accident or mishap (unusual for someone used to struggling with disgusting toilets, knocking myself out against sinks or getting trapped and having to txt someone to free me), in fact the most amusing moment was listening to a couple of students who wondered whether Crewe was in Wales amongst other idiotic questions which left me almost wetting myself as I fought to control bouts of silent laughter.

Seeing Andy again was like being reunited with a long-lost lover, despite the fact we had only been apart a few days it honestly felt like I hadn’t seen him in weeks. In the three days he’d been gone so much had happened, and I’d actually felt quite lonely in the house without him – I’d even started my childish habit of checking under the bed for monsters and murders…paranoid I know! I think I didn’t come up for air for a good half an hour while I whittered on and on, passengers on the packed underground mustn’t have known what had hit them. I must have sounded like Stacey Solomon or Vicky Pollard.

London is a whole different ball game, everything is faster, busier, more chaotic and much much more expensive. It is like every city in England but on speed. If you dare to stop in a street you will be collided into, and if you made the unforgivable mistake of getting lost and stopping to consult a map you will ruin lives and evoke the wrath of thousands of disgruntled workers, shoppers and even tourists, as well as creating a pile-up worthy of police intervention. Taking the tube is a mission, involving huddling like penguins into a tiny space and hoping you don’t get crushed…being slightly claustrophobic and with no sense of balance it was very far from pleasant and I found myself subconsciously trying to protect Winnie from the crush – a difficult thing to do when you have a stranger’s elbow sticking in your stomach. The tube is not the place to be worried about personal space (however it seems I turn into a queen bitch when mines invaded). And, I have to add it is not the place to go with a full ostomy bag, all it would have taken was a rogue elbow jutted in the wrong place and DISASTER.

But although I have to admit hating the tube, hating having stranger’s armpits wafted in my face and hot gusts of stale alcohol breath wafted in my face, it was made a hell of a lot easier without the constant tug of Crohn’s/Colitis. Travelling with no way of knowing where the next toilet would be was so much easier without the pain, nausea and urgency plaguing my every second. Although I still struggle with my IBD I didn’t have any problems while in the capital, and I didn’t feel that awful bubbling wave of panic the moment the doors shut and I knew the next toilet could be a good half hour away. I may have felt like my arm was being yanked out of its socket…like a sardine being squished in a can…but I didn’t feel in pain. That’s got to be something, right?

This has been long again, sorry. So I will write tomorrow about The Lion King and the Eye. I promise they won’t always be this long and that I’ll do some videos soon. It’s really been too long.




A close call in court – the joys of court reporting with an ostomy and IBD

Before my operation my Crohn’s/Colitis made court reporting an almost impossibility.



I used to sit in agony in courtrooms wringing my hands together until they went white with pain under the press desk, jiggling my legs up and down to try to distract myself from the agonising need to go to the toilet – a need that never left me and always raised its ugly head at the most important moments of a case.

Covering the courts became both a joy and a punishment for me. The real challenge lay not in the reporting of the cases but the endless sitting and waiting, waiting, waiting for your case to come on. For most people the waiting would just be boring, for me it was agonising. While I was interested in the cases (if you have never sat in court and listened to mitigation and witnessed the general drama it is definitely a must – and is nothing like the telly) the constant need to race to the toilet every ten minutes made the waiting unbearable. I once dared to nip to the toilet after waiting through around three hours of driving offences, curfew amendments and restraining orders while feeling like my stomach was being ripped apart from the inside by a claw hammer. I remember racing out of the courtroom to the toilet – which is NEVER near enough to the courtroom you are in – thinking it will just be my luck if they finally hear my case now. I finally raced back to the courtroom five minutes later, still very much in the grip of the blood and pain, only to bump straight into the barristers for my case as they walked towards the Robing Room having heard the case – just typical.

Lesson learned – in the past two years I would rather have passed out than nipped to the toilet again!

Yes, I admit it the fear was always very real that I would pass out through the sheer effort of staying up right in my seat, and I am sure there were times that a jury member or even defendant has looked at me and thought ‘dear God that woman is about to collapse’. I lived in fear of an accident, and in even greater fear of someone making me move whenever a wave of pain flushed over me – when I was still I felt slightly more in control. And I am sure that all the press benches in the magistrates and crown courts that I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in have finger nail marks indented so far into the underside of the wood their imprints could almost be seen through the top.

So after years of covering court cases with the nightmare of my constantly flaring Crohn’s/Colitis, dealing with my ostomy while doing my job seemed like a reality walk in the park. Yes there was always the slight embarrassment of having my ostomy bag changing kit searched through by the security team, (and once or twice having to hand in my rounded cutting scissors at security as a ‘dangerous’ implement) but apart from that attending court was a relatively easy experience. So imagine my surprise when today my ostomy started acting up while I was sat in court patiently listening to each case and waiting for a jury to return. I won’t go into details but I could feel something was going on, and going on, and going on…and boy it just wasn’t holding back, in fact Winnie was going hell for leather. And for the life of me I couldn’t understand why.

So the next two hours were quite frankly hell. I quickly realised that Winnie was going to have to be emptied or we could end up with a pretty crazy situation in the courtroom. Basically Winnie was a ticking time bomb, and I sat sitting nervously trying to concentrate on my shorthand and what the counsel were saying to try to distract myself from the imminent explosion that was building up inside me. The pressure was unbelievable…but I was determined not to leave the old fears about missing things while on the toilet returned and after grimacing through some of the worse pain of my life, there was not a chance in hell that I was going to miss the verdict because of my ostomy – yes, that is how stubborn I am.

Ok, the situation was made worse by my remaining colon continuing to contain active Colitis and me feeling the need to go all the time. The whole thing was unpleasant to say the least, and I just knew I needed to rehydrated and possibly stuff my face with marshmallows to stop this onslaught from Winnie or I would be in a whole new world of trouble soon.

The moment the judge broke for lunch was a blessed relief. I think I actually sighed audibly. As I stood up the weight of Winnie was horrendous and I had to hobble like I had bricks in my pants down the stairs, round the corner to the loo. Court toilets are never an extremely pleasant experience, but I won’t bore you with that.

By the time the day was over I had avoided several natural disasters and learnt a real lesson. While I was in agony with my IBD and the urgency and pain often led to accidents, I could often cope even though it meant me almost passing out with pain until I had a chance to reach a bathroom – with my ostomy this is not the case. There is no grin and bear it. Yes the pain is considerably less, yes the blood is there but it isn’t by the bucketload, but no I can’t stop the flow or ease the pressure when its started…if I wait, sooner or later she will fill up and then, eventually….BOOM! (now that would be a story)!

I will have to learn to cope with it. I love court reporting and I love my job, but I have to keep a close eye on things and remember I’m no superwoman, I’m still human…and, well, Winnie is just a stoma bag she’s not a miracle worker.