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.

Exactly!

Exactly!

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 room..my 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.

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A 22 mile bike ride – jelly legs & a bruised bum & hitting streets with Police


Until today the longest bike ride I had done since my ileostomy operation was around three miles. And that had been a struggle. Come to think about it, three miles was probably the furthest I had ridden anything in years, and that was far enough for my skinny little legs.

A quick and much needed break - no I didn't fall off

A quick and much needed break – no I didn’t fall off

So this morning me and Andy (my boyfriend) woke up to a lovely autumnal morning. It was a little cold but absolutely stunning. I woke up fairly exhausted after spending the night on reporting duty trekking around Chester City Centre with some lovely police officers as they tackled drink and drug related crime in the city in the aftermath of the last race of the season. I was with them most of the night running around, trying to keep up with their long strides, and, well trying to not get lost in the crowds of unbelievably drunk women swarming through the city’s streets.

It is a year since I did a very similar operation with the police in Chester. I remember how exciting it was, but how the whole time I was watching the drug dog sniff out wads of cocaine from revellers outside bars and clubs I was constantly panicking about needing the toilet. You see I may not have been in the peak of one of my IBD flares, but I still needed the bathroom around six times an hour, or I would be left gripping my stomach in agony and struggling not to curl up in a ball crying like a baby. I remember managing to throw the pain to the back of my mind until the break – which was after at least three hours – before getting back to the station and locking myself away in the cell-like toilet, and silently sobbing in pain as I tried to ‘let it all out’ before we hit the streets (without loo breaks) yet again. Ok, I hear you say, I should have said something, I’m sure they would have let me pay a pit stop, but I couldn’t and wouldn’t slow them down…I absolutely refused to stand in their way.

townhall_policeThis year was different. With my ostomy bag I hardly had to worry. In fact I made it from 7.30pm until I go home at 11.30pm without having to empty or change Winnie. Yes I did worry I would be caught out, and yes I did worry about needing the toilet – but I don’t think I will ever stop doing that – I’m a bit like Jason Bourne these days when it comes to rest rooms. I did panic when Winnie started going into overdrive at the custody suite while I was looking around the cells where some of the revellers would be sleeping off their booze that night. But she survived and to my relief I didn’t end up having to change Winnie in a cell with no basin and a metal loo!

Anyway, after groggily getting out of bed we made the decision to go for a bike ride. Yes we realised that the 20+ mile round trip was a big ask after hardly stepping foot on a bike since my operation, but after traipsing miles and miles around Rome that didn’t seem like such a leap into the dark for my legs. Oh, and there was a pub to be stopped at on the way…so that helped as an incentive.

I didn’t regret it one bit. The weather was beautiful and cycling along the canal was both exhilarating and peaceful. At first we were forced to weave around walkers, dogs and fellow cyclists as we battled along the canal, but then we finally found ourselves alone, apart from a few ducks and MASSIVE dogs and the scenery became simply something else. For a couple of miles we battled on despite the towpath teetering out altogether leaving me exhausted from the grassy mounds underfoot, or wheel. Then realising I was never going to make it back if we carried on, we finally went onto the road and cycled the rest of the way to the pub…a thousand times easier, apart from the fact Andy got a puncture and we had to stop every-so-often for him to pump up his withering tyre.

The pub itself, The Shady Oak, was quaint. Set on the side of the canal the views were

Waiting patiently for food - I'm screaming inside lol

Waiting patiently for food – I’m screaming inside lol

breathtaking. However the service left a lot to be desired and they didn’t take visas or any kind of cards whatsoever. It was an odd phenomenon going into a cash only pub. That’s when we realised we had cycled 10+ miles and probably could only afford a handful of chips between us!! Luckily we had a bit more and managed to share a buttie and chips – from a ridiculous menu I must add, and a ridiculously long wait of around an hour and a half!

Anyway a few other things happened, but all in all it was a magical day. Now sat on the sofa I feel proud. Ok, I’m no Sir Bradley Wiggins but I dug deep when I thought I had nothing left and managed to complete a 22 mile bike ride, which is amazing when you think six months ago I couldn’t walk up 10 steps without having to stop for breath. I feel healthy, but wobbly. In fact I can’t walk at all without my legs shaking, and my bum feels like it has been head butted by a bull. But it is a good healthy sort of pain, one that I am sure will make me walk like a cowboy for a few days, but one that I can be proud of…this is a pain that means my fitness is coming back…so, I guess I like it!

I can’t wait to do it again. It’s happened, I’ve got the cycling bug!

The last stretch - oh and there is my bessie mate in the car next to me - small world lol

The last stretch – oh and there is my bessie mate in the car next to me – small world lol

Being a pushy patient – why you shouldn’t always just nod along


In the nurse's room being treated after kicking-off

In the nurse’s room being treated after kicking-off

For almost 13 years I have prided myself on being a ‘perfect patient’. I have allowed doctors to stick tubes in unthinkable places, endured painful procedures, taken toxic drugs, and had so many abdominal x-rays that have no doubt done irreparable damage to my ovaries. At times I have allowed myself to be submitted to totally unnecessary painful procedures, under the misguided pretence that having a canister of gas shot up my backside would help control my condition – in reality i’m almost 100% sure this was just so some curious trainee could have a poke around in the dark depths of my colon.

I always thought that by being an easy patient, by being obedient, by smiling and going along with whatever treatment or course of action they suggest, by making their lives easier in any way at all, I would get the best treatment. I thought that by taking their word as law they would treat me favourably. I always thought by being the quiet one on the ward, who waited patiently for her pain killers and didn’t complain even when she was being starved to death by the incompetence of hospital staff (or other horrifying things) that I would get treated favourably as they would want to come to see the quiet and polite young lady patiently waiting in her tidy bed, while all the other patients screamed, kicked-off and threw things around the ward.

But it is horrifying to admit that the exact opposite is true. It has taken some very rude wake-up calls, some terrifying moments and some horrifying scenes of neglect to make me realise that being an angel means nothing to hospital staff and medical professionals. A hospital, especially a ward, is like a zoo. The patients are like caged animals fighting to get back out into the wild. Forget about survival of the fittest, more like survival of the most tenacious, rude and obnoxious. If you want something done, changed, or even want to get out to the real world in one piece you have to become a pushy patient; questioning everything; chasing up every result; and playing as many mind games on the staff as humanly possible (like a child playing their parents against each other). You have to forget being a quiet little mouse, work on your roar and step in with the big boys – start thinking like a lion, or better still a cunning fox.

The sad truth is (this might not be in every case) the more awkward you are, the ruder, the more difficult, the more you turn into the patient from hell, the better treatment you get, and the smaller the chance of you being left to lie in your own faeces for days on end, until a member of your family kicks off on your behalf. And that’s only when you’re on the ward. As an outpatient getting anyone to take you seriously or managing to get the correct treatment means – I have learnt the lesson the hard way – that you should never just let your GI have the final say without questioning things, or demanding a second opinion. It’s more difficult with your GI, surgeon or doctor, as if you kick off all the time they simply won’t put up with it, you have to get them to want to answer your calls and put you to the front of the queue, but I have started to find that simply rolling over and taking their word as GOD you will not gain their respect, and quiet frankly I’m done with massaging people’s egos…this is my health, my life, not a boardroom. 

Even monks have to go to hospital it seems

Even monks have to go to hospital it seems

Up until my most recent hospital stay I’d been the ‘golden’ patient, helping old people to the toilet, getting nurses for people in pain, pressing the call button when the lady next to me sounded like she was having another heart attack. I guess I always wanted to make the nurses’ lives easier. I was horrified by how understaffed they were and realised how little time they had to deal with little things when there were extremely poorly people to tend to…I guess that was always ok until I was the incredibly poorly person, and I was still ignored and treated by the other patients as a member of staff.

Recently I have begun to question everything absolutely everyone involved in my medical care does. I guess after 13 years of managing my own illness I have had enough of being the ‘perfect patient’ when the people who I rely on to keep me alive are not treating me with the respect I believe I have earned. When they simply refuse to listen to me. For years I have agreed to everything, which I find odd as in my job as a journalist I never let anything go without asking 100 questions…but when it comes to my health I have always just agreed, even if deep down I have known that it is quite simply not the right thing to do (the exception here is surgery, it remains the only time I have downright refused to have something done).

Ok, I’ve not turned into a raging bitch, or a hospital diva, but recently my patience has run out and I think my medical team has noticed. My GP surgery, who have really

Odd looking test results which I demanded to have explained to me

Odd looking test results which I demanded to have explained to me

shown their true colours since my operation (they are so incompetent it is unreal), only started to treat me with a ouce of respect last week, finally taking my red raw wound seriously after months of giving me the wrong dressings, ignoring my symptoms and refusing to give me appointments, choosing instead to diagnose me over the phone…and what did it take to get them to sit up and listen you ask…me getting so frustrated at the latest act of incompetency that I boiled over with fury and kicked off in the almost-empty waiting area. The result? I got the royal treatment, with the head nurse seeing me immediately and treating my wound there and then. And, due to that it is starting to get better…so I might have felt bad for getting peeved with the clueless receptionist, but I can now sleep a little better without being in constant agony.

At last week’s appointment with my GI specialist I was determined not to take no for an answer. Ok, so they didn’t help themselves by highlighting their incompetence when the receptionist produced two sheets of paper instead of my file, and then tried to convince me that those flimsy sheets made-up my entire file. No, my file is as thick as a thesaurus. When I asked my GI where it was she admitted it was lost, but not to worry my confidential information would be somewhere in the hospital and someone would find it eventually. WHAT!!! Obviously this was so ridiculous I had to laugh, but it was a wake-up call, one that said if you want to get things sorted and get these people to listen to you your going to have to start taking matters into your own hands. I did! I questioned everything, I pushed for drugs, I said that feeling mediocre was not what I had signed up for and that I deserved to feel better, and guess what, almost 40 minutes after my name was called I emerged with a procedure booked, an appointment for the gynecologist and joint specialist (have been trying to get referred for 7 plus years) and some new medication to calm down my remaining colon.

Is this the perfect patient? If so, why do they wake us all the time?

Is this the perfect patient? If so, why do they wake us all the time?

Ok, not everything is fixed, but it is a step in the right direction, and I have learnt a valuable lesson that if I want something doing properly I can’t just hope it will happen I have to be willing to step up and fight for it. The years of waiting patiently are over I’m fed up of being fobbed off, I’m ready to get in the ring and really get stuck in and battle for my fight to a pain free life.

The great ‘stoma’ escape & the never ending leak


This morning Winnie (my temperamental stoma) decided she’d had enough of being

My new padding for ileostomy scar lasted the whole of five hours before falling off

My new padding for ileostomy scar lasted the whole of five hours before falling off

covered up and trapped in her bag and decided to make a break for freedom. At the time I was happily soaping up in the shower, desperately trying to avoid the red raw skin which surrounds my ileostomy op scar and mucus fistula bag, but none the less enjoying the refreshing feeling of washing off the night’s grime in a nice warm shower.In my slightly hungover haze (a few glasses of wine at Andy’s neighbour’s) I was blissfully unaware  that as the hot water poured down over my ostomy bag the flange (horrid word) was gradually breaking away from my skin.

Suddenly all I felt was this heavy feeling and then the bag starting to peel away from my skin. Water poured onto my stoma, who out of fright of the weight, warmth and speed of the water, started to shrink inwards in the fashion of a startled turtle popping its head back into its shell, while I scrambled to hold onto the ostomy bag which was rapidly filling with water and becoming heavier and more water-logged with every passing second.

It was the most stressful shower I have ever experienced. Ok, that’s if you don’t count the handful of showers (if you can call them that) I was subjected to in the days following my ileostomy operation, where I was dragged to the assisted bathroom by a poor and unsuspecting student nurse before being pretty much physically forced to strip down to my birthday suit, before being popped on a plastic garden chair and hosed down at arm’s length. This would be the first time someone other than my nurse or surgeon saw my ostomy bag. To say I felt humiliated as the rather young and pretty nurse soaped my back and gave me shower gel for my ‘intimate’ parts while she prattled on about reality tv and student housing in an attempt to put both me and her at ease would be a severe understatement…I think the word traumatised is more fitting. 

Red raw skin halfway through dressing emergency after leak

Red raw skin halfway through dressing emergency after leak

I don’t think I will forget the poor shaking nurse who was made to take on this task on her face day on-the-job. As she helped me remove my hospital gown (that I was still in even though it was days after the operation) and revealed my bony skeleton, which was scarred like a drug addict from the amount of nurses and doctors who had taken my exhausted state as an opportunity to use me as a human pin cushion, I saw her face actually freeze into a transfixed look of horror and disgust. I was actually appalled for her, it was like I’d witnessed the moment that she realised she would have to do this to other people (both older, wrinklier, and with various scars and bits of machinery and stomas hanging out of them) for the rest of her life, and she’d just realised that this wasn’t what she’d signed up for. But her fleeting revulsion aside, she handled the situation miraculously well and she managed to do a really good job in the end washing away days of blood, dirt and god knows what else…and surprisingly she quickly became my favourite nurse and I like to think I became her favourite patient, as we shared stories of student days and nights out in Chester.  

I have to admit that I had a feeling Winnie was going to try to make a bid for freedom today. To date she has had several failed escape attempts, which have been foiled at the last second by myself, who acting like a watchful prison guard has spotted every attempt Winnie has made to scale her prison cell at the very last second almost by chance as my inner warning alarm has triggered and I have checked on my bag just as the adhesive has started to break free. This hasn’t meant that she hasn’t enjoyed a few leaks. In fact over the past couple of days there have been more leaks than I have cared to keep count of. So far I have mostly been lucky and these have happened in the safety of my own home where I have enjoyed the liberty of having my changes and supplies as well as my own clean bathroom to plug the cheeky rascal before things have got out of hand. I like to think that I’m handling it well but to tell you the truth I’m living in constant fear of my first public leak and for that reason I am avoiding white clothing or (I know this is going a bit too far) standing on white carpets for fear of a poo related incident. 

Having a lovely time out with boyfriend unaware of impending leak

Having a lovely time out with boyfriend unaware of impending leak

The reason for these leaks, which seem to come at least twice a day, appears to be that the flange puckers every single time I try to sit down, crouch, cross my legs. You see my skin is now so raw – as my picky body has an allergic reaction to each and every ostomy product going – it looks like I have set fire to it and let it burn off (my stoma nurse says I look like a burn victim) and the bags are simply refusing to stick to the shiny surface. I’ve tried different makes of bags; bags infused with honey, seaweed; bags which are like sink plungers sucking on your skin; small bags; big bags, but nothing will stay on for more than a few hours, or will stay only if I use meters of tape in an attempt to secure the gaps, but either way the poo will gradually make its way through anything I try to put in its way. And if it’s not the bag it’s the wound dressing leaking, or the fistula bag exploding as it fills up with water in the shower. 

To tell you the truth I’m sick of it all. My skin is so itchy from leaks and allergic reactions I must look like a withdrawing crack addict as I lie in bed holding my hands inches from my chest willing myself not to itch. I feel like taping oven mitts to my hands to stop myself having a cheeky scratch, as I know if I start I won’t stop until I’ve scratched away my whole stomach and look like something from Alien. In fact when the nurse was wrapping my wound up in swathes of bandages, leaving me looking like Michelin Man, she commented on the way my feet twitched uncontrollably as my body fought the overwhelming instinct to scratch scratch scratch. 

So if any of you out there have any advice at all please please please comment below. I really need help before I give into the devil sitting on my shoulder who is constantly waving his pitch fork and whispering “come on…itch it…go on, you know you want to!” HELP!!!

Where’s Winnie at the races, at the seaside and doing ten rounds with Mike Tyson


Before I share any of the crazy adventures me and Winnie (the poo bag) got up to at the weekend, and

Please bid on these stunningly illustrated Disney books :)

Please bid on these stunningly illustrated Disney books 🙂

spill all my inner most thoughts and secrets, I must first ask you a massive favour….PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE bid on the eBay items which we (me and Andy) are flogging following our Bargain Hunt style adventure a couple of weekends ago. If no one bids, not only will I be horrendously out-of-pocket (despite how über glamorous I always look I’m not rolling in cash, mostly because I am a lowly reporter, and I’m addicted to nail varnish and expensive coffee) and lumbered with even more (luxurious) yet pointless items cluttering up my already stuffed to the brim flat, but I will have FAILED, YES FAILED, one of my challenges. Surely you guys (my dedicated readers :)) can’t let that happen 😦 And, if what I fear will happen does indeed come true, I will not even break even let alone raise mountains of cash for Crohns and Colitis UK to help them in their fight to help people understand the true pain of this evil, evil illness and possibly even find a cure!!!

WHY would you not want an amazing MANDY ANNUAL???

WHY would you not want an amazing MANDY ANNUAL???

I am not trying to emotionally blackmail you all (perhaps I am a little) but imagine the SHAME of me failing to sell an item on eBay. It was meant to be one of my simplest challenges, but the fact that no one has bid on the items which I battled exhaustion, hunger and a very hyperactive stoma to source out for you lovely people to buy, is making this challenge the hardest and most demoralising one I have faced so far….So please PLEASE PLEASE put a smile back on my face and bid on my lovely items…trust me you won’t regret it 🙂 Just remember a lot of determination, sweat and (almost) tears went into finding these goodies from those 400+ stalls…you would be raising money for a very good cause, saving me the humiliation of having to post on here that I have failed and sending a giant cheque with the figure £0.00 to an amazing charity…and make a little, very tired and sleep-deprived young lady and schizophrenic stoma bag very happy indeed, and stop her looking like this (pic of me in black and white looking very miserable):

If you don't bid, me, Andy and Winnie will be soo blue and never smile again!!

If you don’t bid, me, Andy and Winnie will be soo blue and never smile again!!

If you want to bid on the amazing items – a vintage Man United book; Stunning 20th C Japanese miniature cup and saucer; Knightrider collector’s item; Winnie the Pooh Book; Disney education and tales album set; Classic Mandy Annual; Sooty Book and a Bronze ornament of a brass player – please click on the links above (the words underlined DOH!!) or the picture (to right) which will take you to the seller’s page!

Anyway, now that the emotional blackmailing is over and done with, I can tell you about Me and Winnie and our rather exciting, exhausting and windswept weekend. Basically what follows is the story of a weekend where Winnie’s non-stop teenage tantrums finally pushed me into the dark world of gambling; Winnie suffered her first panic attack (or it may well have been stage fright) and I learnt a key rule to life with a temperamental stoma – never wear a jumpsuit!!!

So after months of waiting the girly day at the Races finally arrived. On Saturday morning I woke up after another typically restless night feeling exhausted and suffering from such crippling fatigue that I could hardly muster the energy to walk to the bathroom let alone spend a whole day screaming at horses and standing around in six-inch stilettos. All I had wanted, prayed for, begged for, was one decent night’s sleep, so that I wouldn’t wake up looking like a zombie crawling out of a grave with massive bags under my eyes and my hair stuck up like Sonic the Hedgehog…but, alas God obviously had other plans for me, and typically the night before the Races saw me sat bolt up right in bed with my normal skin crawling itchiness, and my poor broken body screaming to sleep while my brain ticked away over every problem, flaw and tiny hang-up, wittering on and on about how Winnie would leak and all the thousands of unnaturally good-looking punters were going to see crap dripping down my dress (pardon my French). I know that seems ridiculous, and the chances of that actually happening where, quite frankly, next to none, but I couldn’t get the image out of my head that I was going to have an accident in a very public place, and that, when it happened I would be stood in a pool of crap directly in front of a large gang of heavily made-up girls who would all laugh and point and shout “Ewh she’s got s**t dripping down her leg…”she is, isn’t she, she’s sh***ing herself” !! or some other horrible comment, involving me and a pile of excrement. All night I sat awake trying to distract myself by reading Clare Bolding’s autobiography, but nothing could shake the image of Winnie deciding to have her first proper paddy in the middle of Chester Racecourse and me, red-faced and humiliated, being escorted out of the paddocks by burly security guards and manhandled into the back of a police car for ‘defecating in a public place’.

Me and my beautiful girlies at Chester Races

Me and my beautiful girlies at Chester Races

On the day I needn’t have worried at all, because Winnie, out of fright or in an attempt to prove that I had seriously misjudged her, decided that she would simply stop working. She pretty much went on strike for the afternoon, and didn’t let a single morsel of food, gas or anything else that could have caused some sort of unpleasant surprise pass through her pink gates. You would think I would have been relived that I wasn’t having to run to the bathroom and back to sort out the growing bulge under my extremely pretty dress – if you haven’t met Winnie yet, you’re in for a treat.. she performs an amazing but humiliating magic trick, transforming me from a very slender size six into a beached whale, which is eight months pregnant with obese triplets…and most amazingly of all she does this magical trick in a blink of an eyelid – I wasn’t at all relieved. In fact, you could say that I was terrified by her new stunt. This was the first time that Winnie had gone on strike and it was pretty damn worrying. From the moment we walked into the racecourse Winnie just decided.. ‘nope, I am not playing this game, I am not going to work, I am going to block-up’, and she did – very effectively I might add. So while my friends sipped horrendously expensive champagne and shouted at their chosen horse to get its butt into gear (ok, not their exact words), I worried and worried about Winnie, constantly prodded her through my dress and, well pretty much spent the whole day panicking about whether there was something seriously (like rush to A&E and slit me open) wrong with her, and through attachment to my body, seriously wrong with me!!

The result of all this worrying is that I must have had a rather quizzical and bemused look on my face for the entire day, something that I blamed on not understanding the betting system, (which is true, I still don’t understand the odds, ranking or returns) and, to all of the thousands of people who saw my grumpy and concerned features, I must have come across as a right moody cow and a proper party pooper.

So anyway, anyway, anyway, back to the morning events. For months I have seriously pined for this amazing perfume which is well out of my measly trainee reporter’s salary price range. Let’s just say that if I wanted to buy it I would have to live off fresh air and baked beans for a couple of weeks – but then again the perfume would cancel out the horrible smelling gas from the student-esk diet!! #lol!! In fact I love the perfume so much that every day since the lovely lady in Debenhams squirted the yummy scent on my wrist I have dragged my exhaus

Awh my amazing gift from my amazing bf

Awh my amazing gift from my amazing bf

ted and broken body all the way to Browns in Chester to spray on Victor &Rolf’s Flowerbomb, just so that I don’t have to fork out the £70 to buy it. I have been doing this daily trip for almost six weeks now. I like to think of it as the  cheapest way to own a perfume….but in the past week or so I have been forced to try other perfumes. You see the staff are not stupid and have started to cotton on to what I am doing, and are now really rather annoyingly hanging around the Victor&Rolf stand and asking me if I need any help with my purchase, forcing me to make up elaborate stories about birthday lists, wedding presents and anniversaries – It was seriously getting to the point where I was going to be shamed into buying the product or be arrested for stealing hundreds of pounds worth of free perfume!! Anyway after waking from his angelic slumber and turning to face the Creature From The Black Lagoon, my lovely boyfriend walked me into town and bought, yes bought me the biggest bottle of Flowerbomb he could find. It was the singular most lovely and romantic gesture, which was totally ruined by the satisfied and knowing look of the saleswoman, whose eyes screamed “Thief Thief Thief” as she scanned the hideously expensive gift through the till. And, as a final act of disdain, she even refused to give me the pretty pink gift bag, instead thrusting the box into a clearance plastic carrier bag, which made us look like we had just been shopping at Poundland, not spent the equivalent of a week’s wages (ok, I’m over-egging this, but you get my point) on a bottle of perfume.

Anyway, after returning back to the flat happy as a Spring chicken with my first ever bottle of ‘real’ perfume – when I say ‘real’ I mean not mixed with water or bought for £10 from an Avon catalogue. Well, I was happy until I realised I had less than two hours to get ready, then I turned into a ranging maniac, racing around the place and basically stressing at my poor boyfriend (bear in mind that he had just spent a horrendous amount of cash on me just to see me smile) and unceremoniously shoving him out of the door so I could jump in the shower and scrub away any morsel of dirt, sweat or anything else minging in an attempt to transform myself from the crazy, sleep deprived madwoman in the mirror into a stunning Princess. It seemed like ‘Mission Impossible’, and it really was. Time raced past as I attempted to tame my wild hair, which I luckily had had cut and coloured the day before so only needed re-blowdrying and straightening, and slather myself with layers of makeup. I lost valuable minutes when Winnie decided to start working while I was changing her, spitting out yesterday’s dinner on my bath matt as I searched frantically for kitchen-towel and realised I had no idea where the dressings for Oscar where. Eventually, after days of consideration I had settled on the black dress, which was, and still is a big deal. I’m not sure if I have already told you (if I have I’m going to tell you all again anyway GROAN) but

Ready for the Races - THE DRESS

Ready for the Races – THE DRESS

I bought THE DRESS at Warehouse (my favourite shop, but can only afford, well justify, buying things in the sale) before I knew I was going to have my operation. At the time buying the dress was a big risk as: a) I committed the cardinal sin of not trying it on; b) it was basically backless so I wouldn’t be able to wear a bra; and c) it was long, and before my op I never, literally never wore dresses past my knee. THE DRESS is daring and well totally glamourous….I bought it because I loved it, and when, on the painful afternoon following my operation I bit the bullet and bagged up all the clothes I knew I would never be able to wear again due to the birth of Winnie, it almost ended up in the charity shop bag, but was saved only because I decided to keep it in the hope that one very special day I would be daring enough to at least try it on in the comfort of my own home. So imagine my surprise on Saturday when I put on THE DRESS and it fitted perfectly, in fact if you have to be picky you could say that it was a tad on the big size for my tinie post surgery frame. I was ecstatic and decided straight away that if I didn’t wear this dress to the races I would not only regret it, but I would most probably never find another moment to wear it again in my whole life. I owed it to the dress 🙂 I looked fabulous, in fact you couldn’t see Winnie at all! I was amazed…you would have to look really really close to spot the tell-tale creases of the over-lapping bags, but really you couldn’t see her at all 🙂 RESULT!!! One thing I had totally forgotten in a typical me way was that although it was getting rather warm outside it might get nippy later, and, with the open back and all I wouldn’t be wearing a bra…yes, you’ve guessed it, I forgot to get the nipple covers. WHOOPS!! So after all that trying to disguise Winnie I undoubtably drew attention to myself by having rock hard nipples sticking out through my stunningly shear dress as the wind picked up during the last race!! EEK!!

Dreaming of winning big!!

Dreaming of winning big!!

Anyway the day was gloriously hot, and despite ending up with a rather odd suntan due to the criss-cross style of my dress 🙂 it was a perfect day to join the flocks of punters tottering in their ridiculously high high-heels to Chester Racecourse. Despite Winnie’s protest I had a fantastic time, I didn’t win, but there again I didn’t bet anything that in theory I couldn’t afford to lose, so I would have never won big. I had a few frustrating moments, such as when I was determined to bet on one horse but changed my mind at the very last-minute, and, you guessed it folks, that horse won, while mine may aswell have had two legs as it came tripping over the finishing line what felt like a year after all the others were back tucked in the stables. Well I suppose I did win twice, but that was when me and two of my mates decided to club together £2 each (ooh last of the big spenders) to put a bet on three of the horses, and as there were only four in the race we won….well I say we won, we got our £2 each back and an extra £4 on both occasions – which meant my total winnings for a hard day at the Races equated to a grand £2.60 – not even enough for a glass of water!!!

After the races my feet felt like they were literally going to fall off. Having not really walked in high-heels since before my operation a whole day standing in the baking heat wearing extremely pretty, but very uncomfortable glittery shoes, had left my feet screaming for my peppermint cream and the safety and snugness of my pink fluffy slippers. And I wasn’t the only one who felt like my feet were going to snap in two. So, head hung in disappointment I staggered back home, totally gutted that I for once felt well (well not really, but better than normal) enough to hit the town and experience my first Races drink in the city, but was being let down by my stupid and treacherous feet. All I had wanted to do since the start of the day

Me and my friend with the backs of our dresses

Me and my friend with the backs of our dresses

was to go to a new bar in Chester called The Church – basically an old derelict church which had been transformed into a luxury bar and restaurant but still had all the original features – and drink a glass of champagne, to basically say, I DID IT…I MADE IT THROUGH ALL THIS HELLISH CRAP!!! But it seems no one else really wanted to do that, and around half an hour later I found myself back at the flat wearing my trusty nightie and attempting to wipe the layers of makeup off my face. I was gutted, I had been made to do the sensible thing, and it was a total anticlimax…I felt cheated of my celebratory return to the night-life scene and like I was being forced to admit I was still to sick to be my fun, sexy, 20-something-self!

And if that wasn’t unfair enough, the moment I peeled off my dress Winnie decided she was abandoning her strike. In fact she did it with such gusto that I spent the rest of the evening racing backwards and forwards to the toilet – and to make sure I was reminded he was there Oscar threw in a few paddies just for good measure! Despite only having two small, and horrendously expensive glasses of wine, (oh and a glass of race’s champagne kindly donated to my experience by my friend, SSSSH don’t tell), I spent the entire evening feeling like I had been hit, and then reversed over by a bus carrying horrendously obese people to fat camp. I mean it really was unfair!! It was a night filled with endless nausea, sweating, and gurgling and groaning from places I didn’t know existed, and to top it all off all the other hardcore Racegoers where partying hard into the early hours of the morning almost right outside my door, not helping the unrelenting insomnia by rubbing it in my face that they were having an amazing time while sensible me was curled up in a ball of agony wishing I would die.

Home and upset

Home and upset

The next morning I woke up looking like hell, a common occurence these days (as you can see), and feeling like I had done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson in the few hours of sleep I had managed to grab. It literally felt like an elephant had walked into my room and sat on my chest in the middle of the night. I could hardly stand up straight as I raced to the bathroom to empty Winnie who was, as per usual, so full she was on the brink of causing a nuclear poop explosion in my pretty bedroom. As I was trying to sort myself out and make myself look slightly human, changing Winnie after Oscar bizarrely managed to fill up with soapy water while I was having a shower PANIC STATIONS PEOPLE!!! when Andy arrived to take me to his house for a relaxing day reading and starting to learn Francias (which I hope is French for French #lol). Now at this point, taking into account that Winnie was obviously in a foul mood so I would undoubtably be needing to pop to the loo every 5 minutes to empty her, I have literally no idea why I thought “ooh, today would be a good day to wear my new jumpsuit”. Yes people a jumpsuit, you know the outfit that you have to literally spend half-an-hour undoing to have a pee. It is the straightjacket of the fashion world – even Houdini himself would struggle to get out of a jumpsuit in a bathroom related emergency.

Me sooo fashionable...sooo the wrong choice

Me sooo fashionable…sooo the wrong choice

To make matters worse, when we got out to the car we decided (yes, for argument’s sake I’m going to say it was a joint decision) that we weren’t going to spend the day lazing around the house in a hung over style state, scoffing our faces and watching re-runs of The Vicar of Dibley etc…instead we were going to drive around 2 hours to the seaside in Wales. This idea was put forward by Andy, and because I couldn’t think of anything better to do, and the weather seemed glorious in Chester and I assumed it would be the same in Wales, I agreed. BIG MISTAKE!! Firstly, we all know how I feel about car journeys, and how the state of Britain’s roads make me feel like I have just ridden a camel over a rocky mountain range, so while the two-hour car journey offered up some breathtaking views of the Welsh countryside as we passed through Snowdonia, I spent the majority of it curled up in a ball almost crying through pain and getting increasingly angry that the silly mountain ranges were making my phone signal die and I could no longer Tweet my pain to everyone in the world. And, secondly, I could not have been more wrong about the weather. We turned up at the quaint seaside village dressed in summer clothes, with not a jacket, or waterproof between us, to find we had left the Summer weather behind in Cheshire and here we were faced with a typical British summer day, with nippy winds that tore through my thin playsuit and left Winnie shaking to  the core. I must have looked  right idiot as most people were quite rightly dressed for an autumnal day, wearing parkas and jackets, while I was wearing floral jumpsuit and a demin jacket, and to top it off I was wearing my rock star shades – which ended up not being a ridiculous as they looked as they saved my eyes from being filled with the sand which sandblasted us whenever we dared to walk too close to the sand.

Anyway we managed to find a restaurant, where we had the normal issues of waiters and chefs struggling with my diet and I ended up making up my own odd sounding meal which was surprisingly ok. I battled with my playsuit again and again as Winnie filled-up faster than I was able to cope with!! In fact I am almost sure that she was doing it in the hope that someone would walk in on me in the tiny, fly infested toilet, with my playsuit round my ankles exposing my bare breasts to the world, as yes, because of my painful scar I wasn’t wearing a bra!!

Very windy and sandblasted

Very windy and sandblasted

It was a lovely little town and we had a lovely time, but due to the weather and my terrible fashion blunder we must have started the drive back just under 2 hours after we arrived! Poor Andy, driving two hours with me whining the whole way, to enjoy a mediocre meal and getting sandblasted and then being forced to drive another 2 hours back home…luckily for him I slept the whole way back and woke up with a stiff neck and feeling grumpy and disoriented.

So what have I learnt from this experience…NEVER WEAR A ONSIE OR PLAYSUIT WHEN STOMA IS ACTING UP, AND ALWAYS TAKE A JACKET!!

There’s no shame in talking POOP, mooning nurses & yucky antibiotics


http://youtu.be/meTZDQ0qEjc

So I’m back on the dreaded antibiotics again! I always dread going to the doctors because no matter what the problem they always

Me & Winnie have a very bad day and night

seem to put me on antibiotics, in fact, I think they have put me on so many of them over the years that they may as well be giving me a little tablet with nothing in it for all the curing qualities it is having on my body….which, I am now sure, is totally immune to them.

Antibiotics never seem to do anything apart from mess up my meal times, as, if you follow the instructions correctly, which I always try to do, you have to take them one hour before eating or two hours after eating totally destroying all the advice my dietician gave me to help me gain weight and to give my poor beaten body nutrients and the energy to fight my evil Crohns/Colitis, who keeps coming back with bigger and better weapons every day!

I dread going on them and, probably like a lot of stubborn IBD and chronically ill patients, when I get an infection or complication that I know will require being put on those dreaded blue capsules I try to put up with it for a few days – (#ahem) Weeks – until it goes gooey and pussy and starts looking like a scene from Alien, then, and only then, do I face my fate and head to the doctor’s surgery with my tail firmly tucked between my legs begging for tablets or a miracle cure.

ARGH the big blue puke pills

ARGH the big blue puke pills

You see all the antibiotics do, and it doesn’t seem to matter what type they give me, is make me really horrendously nauseous. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if they’re for flu, a skin infection, eczema, conjunctivitis, or all of the above at once, they trump the thing they are meant to be curing by making me sick to the stomach the moment I pop the first luminous coloured coated capsule into my trembling mouth (almost went Mills and Boon then guys with the imagery #lol). But the cruelest thing about antibiotics is not the unfading nausea, but the fact that they don’t make you actually throw-up – here we go, I hear you all sigh, we knew she was Bulimic… But let me try to put it to you this way. Think of anytime that you have been horrendously hung-over and your stomach is tossing and flipping like a dingy lost in a massive storm at sea (think green and sick bags) you always reach that point where you think ‘I just need to be sick, I will feel better once I’m sick‘ – and sometimes you can’t…so it just sits on your stomach like a rock for the rest of the day, meaning you can’t eat or sleep or even smell food….THAT’S WHAT IT’S LIKE FOR ME ON ANTIBIOTICS!! I hope you understand what I mean now.

So today I dragged myself to the doctors to get my dressing changed on my ileostomy scar, which despite it being eight weeks and

Me & Archie too weak to get out of bed

two days since the dreaded op is still leaking and oozing horrible puss – basically it is just been stubborn and refusing to heal the right way. Let’s put it this way, my skin is trying to be radical, waving a placard and screaming I will heal, but not the way YOU THE MAN want me to!!! Instead I will heal from the outside and then spit through causing as much pain and taking as long as possible just to annoy you 🙂 I can almost hear it chuckling insanely as it rashes over and over granulates (oh get me – a medical term).

But despite my concern that the scar has gone all red, gooey and pussy, from the weird heat we are having in England at the moment (we are never satisfied with our weather are we?) and is now covered in red and brown eczema that is soooooo itchy it is a physical and mental effort not to scratch the dressings – I sometimes place my handbag close by just so it will rub against it and give it a cheeky scratch every so often as I walk to the coffee shop (I know that’s soooo naughty of me, and it won’t heal, but it just feels so damn good!) – the nurse said it seemed fine and put some iodine on it to stop any potential mastermind evil infection sneaking its way into my body and causing havoc.

HMMM bad spelling at Docs - should I be worried about other skills?

HMMM bad spelling at Docs – should I be worried about other skills?

Anyway, anyway, anyway my biggest concern and what led to me thrusting my bare naked bum in the poor bewildered nurse’s face, was a very sore lump on my butt that has developed over the past few days making it painful for me to sit on the loo or basically sit down anywhere at all. Before you all laugh, I don’t have piles – I have to add piles are no laughing matter, they are very painful and, yes (#snigger), I have had them many times before. As I told this poor woman about this lump, which has left me perching on the end of seats and tentatively sitting down, hovering above couches and benches like you do when you’re preparing for your bare flesh to hit boiling bath water (ouch!!), I could see her face gradually changing from the kind reassuring smile when she was changing my dressing to a stretched evil grimace. I swear I could honestly see her thinking ‘Oh no not another pimply bum I’m going to have to stick my finger in…Yuck!’ (obviously she didn’t say that, but, quite frankly, she didn’t have to).

So here’s the image. Me lying in the nurse’s chair with my girly knickers (with pretty stars on) pulled down around my knees and bum pointed unceremoniously in the air, with this poor middle-aged woman prodding my bum and me pointing into my bottom saying ‘I can feel it there, what is it?‘ – I have to explain here that because of Winnie and Oscar I can’t see the area down there…I mean it is hard enough to look at your underneath in the mirror anyway (which guys will know if you are checking yourself, which you should be) without two bags swinging in the way all the time (yes I know that sounds rude!) – and her going mmm ahhh in a ‘I don’t know what it is’ kind of way.

On the nurse’s table moments before sticking my butt in the air

This was one of those moments, which like on a night out when you suddenly realise you might have pulled, that you wish you had nicer underwear on…but never mind, that was the least of my worries as a second later the nurse started squeezing at the lump inside my bum cheeks so hard that I start squealing in pain – yes squealing like a little piggy. She squeezed and she squeezed saying ‘Are you ok? Can you feel that? Does that Hurt’ – I squealed something like ‘yes it hurts, I’m ok don’t worry’, but in my head I was shouting OF COURSE IT BLOODY HURTS YOU ARE SQUEEZING MY BUM OFF!!! Eventually, after what seemed like a year and some puss coming out of the lump later, she declared it was a small cyst, caused by the plastic enema I have been shoving up my bottom to calm down the remaining part of my colon and that I would need antibiotics.

Which is what leads me to gulping down this horrid blue sugar-coated tablet knowing, beyond any doubt, that I will wake up tomorrow as sick as a dog with a massive warty cyst on my bottom bright red and shining like a beacon on a rocky bay. ( I know what an anti-climax to a very long rambling story!)

Anyway the other night when I couldn’t sleep I vblogged another Ostomy Hour – I hope you LOVE IT and will tell all your friends about it 🙂 PLEASE, PRETTY PLEASE WITH MARSHMALLOWS ON TOP. It’s about the online IBD community and the amazing support just everyday people are giving others by sharing their stories on the interweb.

Since I have had my ostomy I have found so many brave Crohns and IBD sufferers who are selflessly putting themselves out there, basically having the balls to tell every little thing about their life in order to help others (in my vblog above I talk about when I did a tell-all article in the Evening Chronicle and the crazily large pic of me they used on the front grimacing like a maniac). They post every little hicup, embarrassing moment and gory detail about their symptoms, the illness and the way they cope living while being constantly attacked by IBD…it is just so refreshing to hear people being so blatently honest and revealing the unglossed ‘real’ version of how IBD sufferers cope every day – stripped bare with no regard to what people might think of them or what impact telling their stories might have on their own reputations or their careers.

So, thank you to all those brave IBD and Ostomy bloggers and tweeters….from my very heart you are amazing (I am not talking about me here before you think HOW BIG HEADED). Please carry on sharing your story so that we can rid the world of the shameful stigma attached to IBD.

If you want to read my story from the Evening Chronicle go to:

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/health/secret-shame-crohns-disease-nearly-1417593      

or click on the image below:

EEEK every Geordie recognised me :)

EEEK every Geordie recognised me 🙂

Challenge #33 – 100 NUDE MEN, Winnie and a very windswept me


ME, WINNIE AND ‘THE BOY” WITH BEN THE NAKED MAN AT CROSBY BEACH

I’m very tired today after a hectic BIG DAY OF ADVENTURE in Liverpool 🙂 – yes I know it’s not far away but we had a lot to do and I was basically frog marched around the city and the surrounding areas clutching my tummy and giggling with excitement 🙂

Actually I was so tired that I slept for the longest uninterrupted period for months and months – possible six months – five hours straight. And, because I usually wake up and then can’t get to sleep for a couple of hours in which time I empty Winnie (my stoma bag if you are a new reader) several times of gas and undigested spinach and tablets, I woke to my bag so full it was almost bursting. Honestly two seconds more in bed or if I had rolled over onto my stomach I am sure my bag would have exploded and transformed my room into a scene from a horror movie – well one on a farm anyway!!!

Thank god I woke up in time!! Anyway, anyway, anyway – oh before we begin on the challenge have to tell you that I tried Charter and Coloplast’s Ostomiss yesterday for the first time. If you don’t know what that is (and why wouldn’t you – get with it guys) its a spray or drop that you put in your bag to make it smell lovely and not like pooey eggs – I will add that normal people have these two but many don’t use them – there called airfresheners people 🙂

Andy ‘the boy’ spots John Barnes in Liverpool one – there is me and Winnie puzzled in background – NO IDEA WHO HE IS

So we had a funny moment in Starbucks in Liverpool at the Beatles Experience. I went to the loo after joking about posing with my darling Paul (McCartney) feeling gutted that we didn’t make it on the Beatles tour because I had forgotten to book – scatter brains DOH – to empty Winnie who was trying with all her might to ruin my outfit, figure and my day – when she is full she adds 100lbs to my tiny size 6 and age 11-12yrs figure (sickening I know)!!

Anyway, anyway, anyway. As I emptied her the smell of oranges filled the cubicle….safe to say I was shocked, and horrified. I had completely forgotten that I had put two drops of tangerine scented ostomist into Winnie this morning so I wasn’t paranoid about smelling like poo!

a little insight here into my life with Crohns/ UC – I always feel and felt like I smelt of poo, I didn’t (well I hope not guys) and whenever I passed a sewer, walked past dog poo or down Sealand road where raw sewage may aswell be lying in the street on a hot day, I always thought it was me!!!

WOW CAKES MADE OF SWEETS – ROTTING TEETH WEDDING LOL

I was totally puzzled 🙂 I stood there wondering what I had eaten. You can imagine my thought process…I haven’t had any oranges, orange juice…nope…sweets…nope. Then I realised and thought WOW this stuff really works, why don’t they do Armarni Code and Hugo Boss and all perfumes – but I guess that would cost a fortune like diamond encrusted stomas. So I left the toilet and a Starbucks worker was waiting to come in. All I can say is the smile she gave me as I popped out of the loo – probably cas she thought I was a man – i have to stand up and turn towards the bowl to empty Winnie looking like I have a willy –quickly changed to a quizical look 🙂 She probably thought WHAT THE F**K HAS SHE BEEN EATING??? – she probs thought I had scoffed a load of oranges in the loo and eaten all the peel – or had a really weird problem (which to some closed minded people I do)!!!

RIGHT enough of this rambling – its time to talk about the trip.

Image

me with a giant metal man – im like Thumbelena

The idea was to do one of my stoma challenges in Liverpool yesterday 🙂 Challenge #No 33 is to do 30 of Visit Englands’ things to do before you die. There are 101 things on this list but me and Andy (my poor, understanding, and beaten down boyfriend – affectionately known as “the boy”) decided I would do 30 because of the challenge having to be finished by the time I’m 30 (clever I know!!).

Below are our choices – I think this blog and challenge will end up costing me a fortune, one should be WIN THE LOTTERY 🙂

FOOD AND DRINK (7)

1 Taste oysters in Whitstable, Kent.

2 Have a pint in England’s oldest pub, Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, in Nottingham, dating back to 1189.

6 Mix martinis at Dukes Bar, in St James’s, London, spiritual home of James Bond

9 Tour the Black Friars gin distillery, in Plymouth, Devon.

15 Head to the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop, in the Lake District 

17 Tour an English vineyard, in Surrey, such as Denbies Wine Estate, the biggest in the country.

Lost in Liverpool!!!! Searching for Leaf cafe – I’m sure it’s not fictional!!!

HISTORY AND HERITAGE (4)

25 Gawp at the Gothic splendour of Lincoln Cathedral, tallest building in the world for 200 years.

27 Ride the Settle-Carlisle steam train, across the Pennines and Ribblehead Viaduct, which appeared in the Harry Potter movies

38 Marvel at St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall, a tidal island crowned with a superb castle.

40 Climb the 275 steps of the tower at York Minster.

ARTS AND CULTURE (6)

48 See Blackpool illuminations.

50 Gaze out at Anthony Gormley’s sea statues at Crosby, Merseyside.

52 Take a Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour in Liverpool.

53 Admire Banksy graffiti in Bristol.

55 Get in fancy dress for Bestival on the Isle of Wight.

58 Discover William Shakespeare’s Stratford

Me and Winnie with Liverpool’s wildlife

61 Head by boat to Farne Islands nature reserve in Northumberland.

62 Strip off at Holkham Beach, Norfolk – it’s a naturist beach.

64 See thousands of the world’s plant species at The Eden Project in Cornwall.

66 Look for dolphins and basking sharks off the Scilly Isles.

71 Spot dragonflies at Wicken Fen nature reserve, Cambridgeshire.

72 Join a bat patrol at Cheddar Gorge, Somerset.

77 Look out for snowdrops at Fountains Abbey, North Yorks.

HEALTH AND FITNESS (6)

82 Scale England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike in the Lake District.

87 Pony trek in The New Forest.

91 Canoe along the Wye Valley in Herefordshire.

92 Try swimming in Grassington, Yorkshire Dales National Park.

97 Learn the art of mountain biking, in the Lake District

101 Have a go at the annual Cheese Rolling at Cooper’s Hill, Gloucs.

If you want to do it too visit http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/st-georges-day-2013-101-1848785

Me at Leaf tearooms in Liverpool – Amazing!! Inspired to go by The Wish List by jane Costello

Anyway the idea was to do #NO 50 and #52 in Liverpool – but it didn’t really go to plan. Watch the video below to see what happened and to hear about the challenge…Winnie played up all day but didn’t leak (I’m still holding my breath for that to happen – I’ve been far too lucky so far). We saw a tinie little scottie dog chase a swan into a lake!!! You know a swan can break your arm…imagine what it would do to this dog 🙂 but it was ballsy and had more guts than me even when the swan snarled and hissed and the owners kept yelling Tracy Tracy come back, No Tracey – I know weird name for a dog!!!

OH NOOOO – Me and Winnie don’t get to do the Mystery Beatles Tour – poor Paul

Also had trouble with the roads…Cheshire’s and merseyside’s are bloody awful!! There are holes, followed by grids, followed by speed bumps, followed by crossings everywhere!! it’s like a flaming rollercoaster ride…except not at all fun!! I was almost sobbing in pain, gripping the door handle so tight my knuckles were white and wanting to shout are we almost there yet – again and again like a little child. In fact by the time we were halfway there my stitches felt like they would split open and I wanted to go home and die….but I have never let my illness stop me doing anything before AND HELL IT WAS NOT GOING TO STOP ME NOW!!!! I was seeing those naked men if it killed me!!!

But it was worth it, I can’t believe that I have lived in Chester for three years and been to Liverpool god knows how many times and never seen the statues!!! (MENTAL) The beach was beautiful but scattered with used tampons, needles and other rubbish (people are disgusting and they judge our toilet habbits – oh the irony!!) and ruined by the great big windturbines in the background.

So 1 down 29 of those challenges to go!!! EEK!!