Beating the January blues #dryjanuary after over indulging in Bruges

IMG_7145It’s official, I’ve made it through the first week of January without drinking and not had a nervous breakdown. Ok, so that makes me sound like an alcoholic, but team that with giving up sweets, Dr Pepper and Diet Coke (basically brown drinks) I’m surprised I’ve not killed someone!

In the run up to Christmas I really indulged. Naturally I stuffed myself with turkey, pigs in their fatty blankets and other yummy thigh boosting treats on the big day itself, but it was the drinking and general pigging out in the run up and post hangover indulgence post-Christmas that really did the damage to my health.

For my birthday my lovely partner surpassed himself with a romantic and totally surprise trip to Bruges. It was stunningly beautiful, and, after weeks of working around the clock and feeling unfestive, just what I needed to get me in the proper spirit. But while exploring the windy streets and pretty chocolate box houses and shops, I confess I may have tried a few too many beers, chocolates and well, lets just say anything I could eat I damn well put in my mouth – it would have been rude not to right?

If you’ve not been to Bruges, a few tips:

1) Go on the brewery tour – it’s really cheap and you get a massive beer, the guide is also incredibly knowledgeable and very entertaining!

2) Go to the proper bars, not the ones in the square, which are touristy and over priced

3) Visit the windmills

4) If there before Christmas, go to the ice sculpture festival – almost froze off my hands but well worth it

5) Don’t drink the wine, they have no idea about wine (the only wine bar we found only seemed to know white or red), stick to beer and spirits

6) The best chocolate shop is tucked behind the square – it’s tiny, I wish I could remember the name, but it is great and they select the chocolates for you – even Rick Stein gives it his seal of approval

7) Go to Lizzie’s Waffles – amazing ROSE hot chocolate (even does soya milk) – I was surprised how many places did soya – and Andy had a shockingly large waffle

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Luckily as a lactose intolerant person (meaning I’m the one in the office who always refuses the home-baked treats) I didn’t manage to put on too much weight. Being lactose intolerant in the capital of chocolate is not the best feeling, but did stop me from eating the front of every building in a manner similar to Hansel and Gretel. But I did manage to push my ostomy to the point of meltdown by drinking beer. Apparently, as someone who NEVER drinks beer and pulls that funny, repulsed face, looking like I’ve eaten very sour grapes every single time I’m forced to try it, my body HATES beer. I did like the fruit beer, but even that, despite tasting yummy and like cherries, is too much like beer for my ostomy and body as a whole to cope with. That teamed with numerous sausages from the German market, stews and mussels, made for a particularly revolting sight and smell every morning in the toilet bowl.

While in Bruges my ostomy went into meltdown. It basically hated me. But as per usual I was determined to enjoy myself, didn’t listen and carried on stuffing my face – when in Rome (well Brussels) and all that!

Anyway we had a lovely time, but just like when I came back from Germany my appetite is still ridiculous. I’m constantly craving meat and bread, and for someone who normally lives off spinach, rocket, avocado, porridge and fish (ok and sweets) this is a nightmare. I’ve carried on drinking and eating at a ridiculous pace, and I basically need to stop as I feel ill all the time – all out of my own doing!

So it’s 2015 and I’ve vowed for the whole of January to abstain from the dreaded booze. I’ve also cut out Diet Coke and Dr Pepper (basically all the fizzy pop I like) and the dreaded sweets. It’s only 30 days – it should be easy – during my life I’ve given up food for months on end and lived off disgusting shakes (Ensure) to give my bowel a rest, and I’ve given up alcohol for months on end in a bid to sort out my illness and to recover from surgery. But January is always hard, everyone seems to be beating themselves up at the moment, it’s hard to get out of bed, dark all the time, and everywhere looks empty without all the decorations – not to mention everyone is broke.

I’m proud that I’ve made it to day eight without being tempted. Last night we went to the cinema and I didn’t touch any pop despite Andy having a bottle of Coke next to me. I’m starting to feel better for it, something which didn’t happen straight away as I’ve had a number of unshakable viruses. I’ve got more energy and I’m sleeping better.

I even managed to force myself to go for a run today, something which I have a love hate relationship with. I love running but hate the first minute!

My other new years resolutions are:

To run a half marathon – aiming for one in around March, April time.

Run at least twice a week

Write this blog more regularly

Be more organised – especially with appointments

Get back in touch with old friends and be better at keeping in touch

Finally do that bloody reading challenge

Learn French properly

Get a new job

And, obviously, do as many challenges as I can and as much as I can to raise awareness of Crohn’s and Colitis and Stomas – if anyone has any ideas let me know!

I have a good feeling about 2015!


The doom and gloom of January – New Year’s resolutions

So today is January 14 and I’m shocked to announce that I haven’t cracked yet on my “dry January” new year’s resolution.IMG_3133

As you all know my dry January is not like the norm. Instead of alcohol I’ve attempted to give up sweets and fizzy pop. It’s not a secret that I’m very unfortunately addicted to diet coke, dr pepper and well, copious amounts of gummy and sour sweets. I’m a sweet addict, struggling through the day to keep up my energy without a much-needed sugar rush. But, I haven’t always been this way, as a child I was brought up on a strictly no sweets, fizz diet – my lunch box was packed full with sliced apples, boxes of raisins, bananas and little pots of nuts and yogurt. I never had fizzy drinks, in fact I don’t even think I heard the sound of a ring pull being opened until I reached high school and saw my first vending machine.

I fell in love with fizzy drinks when I was at university. I remember the first time I had too much full fat coca cola I couldn’t sleep. I was about 14 years old and drank litres of the stuff with some mates during a movie night, I remember shaking from the caffeine and waking up the next day with a dry mouth and a banging headache – a feeling I would later realise was the same as having a red bull and vodka induced hangover. I didn’t drink it again properly in years, but when I started university the lure of the cold fizzy drinks from the vending machine always cried out over bottles of water, which shockingly enough were always the same price.

Don’t get me wrong, when I want to I can always give up fizzy drinks. Whenever I’m in hospital I always give them up all together. And in the months following my ostomy operation I didn’t touch a drop through fear of my ostomy bag exploding. But once I got back to work the lure of the cans in the fridge had me knocking back the pop. I now drink much less than I used to, and often choose to have cordial rather than fizzy pop – but my love for haribo sweets lives on. I often find I need the sugar rush as a pick me up to get me through the day, otherwise my blood sugars seem to plummet and I’m left feeling dizzy and wanting to fall asleep at my desk.

But today is January 14, which means that since January 1 I have not had a single sip of fizzy pop or a single sweetie. Oh, I have to add that’s despite a heck of a lot of temptation, with my partner fully stocking the fridge with enough cans of Coke Zero to send my addiction to dizzying new heights. I almost swear he is doing it on purpose, he seems to have started drinking an absurd amount of coke since I gave it up – perhaps it is a test.

Typically since giving up the things that are bad for me – I don’t eat many glutenous things due to my lactose intolerance and in ability to cope with spices etc – my health has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Why does this always happen. My diet – apart from the obvious sweetie addiction – is pretty healthy, I devour spinach by the bucket load, love veg and cereal. But every time I give up alcohol, sweets, fizzy pop, in fact anything slightly bad for me I feel dreadful.

This time my skin has broken out in a very painful way. You know those spots that actually hurt. My impetigo in my nose has got worse, and the eye infections have come back, leaving me with bright pink oozy eyelids 247. I’m so fed up with it I’m tempted to down a litre of diet coke and devour a fun-sized tun of haribo just to see if it will magic my skin back to normal.

Obviously my Colitis is getting worse and these symptoms go hand in hand with all that, but I’m feeling shattered, low and fed up. My fistula bag keeps leaking horrific smelling blood and mucus, and my skin around my stoma is going red and ulcerated again. I feel lethargic and tired. And a few horrific leaks from my fistula have seen me covering high-profile cases while being sure I was able to smell the blood leaking over my tights, hoping that the guys from the BBC and the nationals don’t think I’m always this touchy or smelly.IMG_3137

While sat in said case I didn’t have time to change my bags, I just sat there hoping they wouldn’t leak any more. Thankfully, despite soaking my tights, the Salts strips I rely on to contain leaks managed to do their job effectively, and help me to carry on with my job. Albeit worried about standing up covered in blood. It’s moments like that I’m always thankful I never wear white jeans or outfits as a rule.

Anyway me and Andy have taken to going walking every weekend, and despite my sprains and constant pulled muscles stopping me from getting back into the gym, swimming and running again, the walking and hiking appears to be working.

Hopefully soon I will be scaling the Three Peaks and maybe higher than that, who knows.


Here’s to a healthy and happy 2014 – my New Year’s resolutions

Today on the first day of 2014 I’m suffering. But I can’t really complain as it’s mostly self-inflicted and the result of having far too much fun (if totally harmless) waving goodbye to one of the most chaotic and unpredictable year’s of my whole life. It’s safe to say that so far this year has been miserable, mostly due to the howling winds and non stop rain pounding against our flat’s windows, and the banging headache and dry throat from my hangover which is coming in peaks and troughs throughout the whole day and clinging to me like a small child.

Exhausted but happy before midnight

Exhausted but happy before midnight

Today is meant to be about turning a new leaf, getting fitter, healthier and leaving behind bad habits we’ve been unable to cast aside for the past year. I’m full of good intentions about improving myself this year, about becoming a more well-rounded, better educated, more generous, more adventurous person. I’m determined to stop eating sweets (I’m addicted), to keep in touch better with friends and to get back into running. So far that’s not happened, and I’ve spent the day gorging on anything I can get my hands on, in fact I’ve made it my mission to clear the house of sweets in time for tomorrow. After all everyone knows New Year’s Day doesn’t count towards New Year’s resolutions….I think that’s an unspoken law.

2014 is going to be my year. I know I must have more surgery to get rid of my bowel forever, and I know I will have to be admitted to hospital and live off dry tuna sandwiches and be nil by mouth (blah blah blah) all over again. But this time it’s going to be different, I can feel it. This time I’m ready and know what to expect. By the end of this year I’m determined to have Winnie (ostomy) as a permanent fixture in my life; I’m determined to be rid of my horrible fistula; and determined never to see blood in the toilet bowl ever again. I know it’s a lot of expectation but I feel after around 14 years I will really have made a massive leap forward by the end of this year – I know it because it has to happen, otherwise I don’t know if I can carry on.

Amazing friends

Amazing friends

Last night was an evening filled with love, laughter and good friends. I celebrated the end of one of the most emotional years ever with my best friend, her boyfriend, my adoring boyfriend Andy and a lot of other friends. I spent the evening surrounded by some of the most amazing people I know, playing games, chatting and generally catching up. At midnight we popped champagne on the balcony and hugged each other. Apart from too much alcohol the evening was perfect, and as per usual being only upstairs we managed to stumble home and to bed without even having to face the freezing cold – which has to be a bonus.

Anyway, enough rambling, here are my resolutions for 2014, let’s see how many I can stick to:

1) I will have my surgery – even if I have to fight tooth and nail I will have the rest of my colon removed. I refuse to be abandoned by my GI team and surgeon (which has happened) and be ignored despite the fact I am still very ill. I will have the surgery to feel fully better by the end of the year, and recover fully and be able to live my life fully without any interruptions from a horrible fistula or Ulcerative Colitis.

2) I will give up sweets and fizzy pop for the whole of January:
This is my equivalent to dry January. Believe me giving up Haribo and diet Coke is far harder than wine. I’ve done it before for months on end so it is possible, but I have to prove to myself I can do this without having to because I’m recovering from surgery or in hospital. I think I will be the grumpiest cow alive for the whole of this month, but my teeth and health will be jumping for joy after it – if I succeed.

3) go to the gym three times a week and swimming once a week:
This is it people. If my surgery goes ahead in March as I have requested I have three months to prepare, so that means getting über fit and healthy to give my body the best fighting chance. Last time I was fit but I was horrendously ill. This time I’m ill but in a more manageable way (if that makes sense), so I can really help myself. I’m determined to be able to swim 50 lengths in our gym pool (full-sized pool) non stop (no stopping whatsoever) by the time I have my surgery. I used to be an amazing swimmer, like a little fish, zipping through the water doing 120 in a much smaller pool in 40 minutes, now I’m still fast but nowhere near as determined or dedicated – that’s going to change.

4) get cracking with my challenges:
I’ve let my challenges slide a bit. I totally failed on my 6 month reading (read a book a week) challenge. I managed five months of doing it properly, but then started missing the deadline. I’m going to start this again. Starting this week I will read a book a week and let you know what I’m reading and what I think. I read dozens of amazing works of fiction and autobiographies last time, this time I can’t wait to get cracking again.
Tomorrow I’m going to restart my French which had been ‘in progress’ for the past five months…meaning I can say ‘the boy eats an egg’ etc. By the end of 2014 I will be able to complete a GCSE workbook, with the AIM of taking the exam in 2015… Tall ask I know, but that’s why these are challenges.
I will learn how to play my new guitar. So far I know two cords, E and E minor, by the end of this year I will be able to play a whole song.
Of course there are many more challenges and I hope to do many this year, including some of those incorporated into a massive trip to America, some stunning trips around the UK, and hopefully doing the Liverpool to Chester bike ride.

5) be committed to being a Ostomy and IBD advocate:
This year I want to spread the word about Crohns / Colitis and being an ostomate on an even larger scale. I want to resume my video blogs, write more articles, tell more people and set up a support network. I want to help others and raise awareness. And I want to create a website for this blog, where people can share hints, tips and ask questions.

6) be more organised and stay in touch with friends and family:
I have one incredibly organised friend, Laura. Without her I often think I wouldn’t leave the house. But I really don’t put in enough effort with my mates. Some I haven’t seen in months despite them living just down the road, and I’m fed up of making excuses. It’s time to become more organised and start making an effort. I need to start visiting some of my best mates from Uni who I promised to keep in touch with, organising nights out for my mates, and even planning a girls short break. These people have stuck by me through thick and thin and it’s time I made the effort, I’m well enough to really give it my all now.

7) spend more time, me and Andy, doing amazing adventures of a weekend:
We are getting better at making the most of the weekends. But sometimes they seem to be over in a flash without us even having done anything. This year at least one day every weekend will be special. Either by doing one of my challenges, visiting somewhere new, going somewhere special, visiting friends or going on a long walk in the country. I never want to go to work again and say ‘yeh we just watched tv and went to the supermarket’ again.