Me & Winnie disagree with vino & bounce along close to Jessie J and our brave Dad…


So I’m exhausted today 😦 let’s just say that I had far too much fun this weekend, which if you have IBD

(which includes Crohns and Ulcerative Colitis) is a recipe for disaster. Even before I had Winnie attached to my poor tummy I always found that my crazy Crohns or Colitis liked to pop up at the most inconvenient of times. Let’s put it this way….I would be feeling just slightly like a normal human being for a few days and would have just tried to live a little, go out, let my (very short) hair down and act like a normal 20 something-year-old when BOOM my illness would rear its ugly head in a kind of Peek-a-Boo “Here’s Johnny” way.

So yesterday was Father’s Day and I wanted to do a short V Blog to tell you about how amazing my Dad, and my family are and how important they have been in my journey through this illness. I love you DAD!!

So this weekend my poor, and extremely understanding boyfriend (I suppose you could call him my “better” half) decided to host a BBQ at his stunning house in the Cheshire countryside. His house is what we in the Ghetto call “something else” or “Mega Dope” (I’m sooo down with the kids). It is far too big, with massive gardens, and when you stay over you wake up to the sounds of cows mooing and birdies singing….it is paradise just miles from the city 🙂 I love it there!!! But Friday was the first time I have stayed there since my operation, and as a lady I had to take just about everything but the kitchen sink with me so that I could survive just two days! Well it is hard looking this good all the time #bigheaded

Anyway, anyway, anyway. On Friday night I made us both a healthy tea of pasta and veggie sausages and goat’s cheese. Which was YUM! Then we watched The Following, which, if you haven’t seen it is AWESOME, but terrifying, and being a proper wuss I spent half the time hiding behind a cushion and smudging my freshly painted nails by gripping my boyfriend’s hands so tight.

THE DRESS - I would never have worn this b4 Winnie - she is so much more cool than me

THE DRESS – I would never have worn this b4 Winnie – she is so much more cool than me

Then on Saturday the real fun began. We woke up to typical British horror weather, as you always do in England when you have an event planned that requires spending any time outdoors! I got dressed up in festival style clothes (no rain was going to stop me and Winnie wearing our new extra colourful maxi dress) and made massive amounts of healthy pasta salad to counteract the enormous amount of fatty meat he had purchased for the grill. Then I basically let him get on with it!

Anyway the BBQ was going well, my boy was enjoying being the MAN of the house, you know being in charge of burning the meat 🙂 – me man, me fire, me meat, me burn – and I basically carried things backwards and forwards and played being the hostess. We had a bit of rain which came after most people had arrived and the skies finally opened after the CLOUD OF DOOM finally shed its load after threatening to do so all day. It meant that around 10 adults decided to cram themselves into a very small Wendy house – amazing to say the least 🙂

So, after not drinking for around three months, I shunned alcohol all day despite people asking me again, and again, if I wanted a drink. I was even fairly careful with the fizzy pop, being aware that one sip too much would mean a whole day of Winnie flying into a paddy and blowing up with hot air in a fit of rage. But in the evening I decided to have my first sip of wine, and, guess what, I DIDN’T LIKE IT!!! For the people reading this that know me (which is probably all of you out of kindness to me) you will know that I love a good glass of Sauvignon Blanc – or two, or three (obviously I’m not an alcoholic but I may have a bottle or litre or two hidden under the sink #joke). So me not liking any wine is, quite frankly, extremely weird. I must have managed to have a drink at around 10pm, and only had about a medium glass…..I was WASTED 😦 which I suppose is great if you want a really cheap night out, but I just wanted to chill out and now I felt like I was going to fall asleep dribbling in a heap on the floor!!!

That was all I had…well, ok, that’s a lie…I may of had one tinie little gin, which I regretted the moment I put it to my lips and decided i didn’t want it (it was the gin that done her in…how true, how true). So I set about tidying up while the others played Pictionary in the living room and headed to bed having eaten only around half a sausage and a handful of pasta twirls. Everyone else was pretty drunk – I mean when I woke up the next day the house had been drunk so dry even a cactus would have died after weeks in the desert – which made it even more infuriating that I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a bus and everyone else was fine. I mean how unfair #wtf!!!

The morning after - trying to finish this really dreadful book (comment comment comment)

The morning after – trying to finish this really dreadful book (comment comment comment)

I probably felt as bad as I did the time at University that the Cheerleaders (yes queue laughter, me, Rachel, who can’t sing or put one leg in front of the other was a cheerleader) and American Footballers all put money together for me to drink a dirty pint made up of around 20, or it could even have been 30 (yes I was that popular) shots of black sambuca. Think banging headache, red-eye, hair all over the place, stomach cramps, nausea and dry mouth – it must have been a real special moment to wakeup next to me that day – mmm sexy!!!

Also I suddenly remembered that I had to finish Stephen Fry’s autobiography by the end of the day or I would break the “Read a Book a Week” part of my 101 challenges and have to start all over again. Which, I must stress, was not going to happen. So, with a gang of bleary eyed and far too enthusiastic guys in the house, I attempted to race through the remaining 200 pages of the book, which by now had become boring and tedious like all self-imposed chores (like ironing and hovering) eventually do when you are forced to do them…..

OH I FORGOT THE MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT OF THE WHOLE WEEKEND!!! During the BBQ I had to empty Winnie a few times, and to do this I have a special (well a clothes line) peg to well peg up my dress so that I don’t make any mess. So I had done that, and around 2 hours later I needed to empty her again (which is almost a record amount of time for Winnie). I think you may have guessed it…I got to the loo and couldn’t find the peg so decided to just hold my dress out of the way…that’s when I discovered I had been sat chatting to all mine, and my bf’s friends for the past two hours with a pink peg clipped to the side of my dress!!!! Humiliating!!!

£5 bag of sweets – and they didn’t help

Later in the day, after I went back to bed for a few hours to try to sleep it off, which, well you’ll see from the pictures,  didn’t work. Me, Andy and Winnie went to Chester – errrr – Rocks!!! (I say err cause there is not much that Rocks about it I’m afraid – it is more of a pop thing, which I can’t say I mind, being a little teenie bopper – this does NOT mean that I hit Teens over the head with a mallet – at heart I love pop music)…. We saw Charlie Brown (?), some girl off the X Factor called Amelia and Lawson (some boy band I said I had never heard of but secretly love them)!!! I bought a bag of sweets to try to thicken up Winnie’s output as she had massively disagreed with the sip of alcohol and was stropping around like a moody teenager filling up with hot air and yucky poop – and it was the most expensive medicine I ever had costing me £5 for a bag of sweets. THANKS CHESTER RACECOURSE FOR NOT LETTING US TAKE OUR OWN FOOD AND DRINK!!!! ARGH!!!

I’m going to let you all into a secret now – I LOVE Jessie J!!! I don ‘t know why so many people don’t, I mean when I said I wanted to see her to some of my mates they were like “oh no…why?”, but she is fantastic. I love that she is unique and she doesn’t take any shit…I mean she doesn’t care what people think at all, does she 🙂 I got all excited when she got on stage and I started dancing like a freak!!! I even saw some parents looking at me with horror and even (you’ll laugh at this) move their children slowly away from me thinking I was a drugged-up Nutter!!! I think the people with me, Andy included, were totally humilated….there was never a better time to think “move away…we’re not with her…we don’t even know her”!!

Jessie J – “Its ok not to be Ok” good for you!!

I mean she was incredible, and all round entertainer who even said some truly from the heart things to the teenagers in the audience that I thought were just inspirational. She said it was ok to be who you wanted to be and to not worry what people thought or what people wanted you to be – that it was ok, not to be ok, and to cry and to feel like crap and to want to not do things people want you to do. I guess that struck home with me and what I am going through at the moment….I know I come across as happy-go-lucky, but behind my smile I can be seriously messed-up at times, this illness can seriously mess you up – I mean it’s draining emotionally as well as physically – but without all this pain I would never have become the person I am today for better or for worse!! Sometimes with Crohns, with a Winnie, I think it has to be ok not to be ok….I think It’s ok for us to breakdown, to feel and look like shit, to just want to curl up in a ball and cry, to hurt, to feel pain – just as long as at the end of it you pull yourself together and realise I WILL BE OK!!! I will not let this illness, this stroppy Winnie and this crap get me down…I AM STRONG, I RULE THIS ILLNESS IT DOES NOT RULE ME…

So with all that gibber jabber going round in my head Jessie (that’s how close we are….perhaps I should call her J) started singing my favourite song Who You Are. And, I am not ashamed to say actual tears started pouring down my face as she sang “tears don’t mean you’re loosing, everybodys brusing, just be true to who you are”. I think I just couldn’t believe that after all the pain, blood, poop, near death, stress and well years of not being ok with this horrible thing, with this crappy crappy illness, I was stood in a field with amazing friends, and an amazing man, and listening to a live music concert of a mega superstar telling me that ‘it’s ok not to be ok”…..when Andy asked me why I was crying I said “I am just so happy”…and that guys is the truth!

We finally got home after almost getting crushed by heaving crowds trying to get out of the tiniest exit in the world…God knows why they didn’t open the gates. I eventually was allowed through the gates by saying I was being bashed to death in the crush and had had surgery…the security guard didn’t look like he was having any of it and I almost had to show him Winnie and Oscar, but believed me when he saw how bent double I was -PHEW!

Anyway, this has been really long….so enjoy watching a really silly video of me dancing to Lawson at Chester Racecourse….the shame!!! (I looked like a freak, back away from the crazy woman kids). I call it the IBD Freedom dance!!!

 

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Here we go – wish me (and Winnie) luck..


After more than a decade of avoiding the surgeon’s knife they finally managed to pin me down – well more like force – and try to give me a life without the pain and disruption of constant Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis.

Almost a month has passed since they tore out my large bowel and left me with Winnie* my Poo Bag! And after a couple of weeks of feeling depressed, sorry for myself and down right disgusting, don’t forget out of my mind stir-crazy bored, I have decided to embrace my bag of well crap and leap into life filled with adventure and new experiences.

I suppose I am a medical marvel. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s/ UC (they have never quite decided which one as I have so many weird and wonderful symptoms) when I was 13-years-old after almost driving myself to an early grave by living with enormous blood loss and crippling diarrhoea for over a year simply because I was too embarrassed to tell anyone or get help. People simply assumed I had an eating disorder – and that is one of those horrible stigmas that has followed me around ever since due to closed-minded people’s disgusting judgements!

Twelve years later – and millions of needles, pills of every colour under the rainbow, scans and x-rays, tubes being shoved where the sun doesn’t shine, and hospital admissions that leave you black and blue and so thin you are almost see through – I have had my bowel removed after deciding, if possible, I never want to feel the pain associated with Crohn’s/ UC ever again; stay in a hospital ward / have a toilet as my best friend and second home / or have a rather embarrassing accident while stranded away from a toilet in town.

So far it hasn’t been plain sailing…but despite going crazy because I’m not at work (I’m a workaholic local newspaper reporter) and feeling pretty damn unhappy about my once flat stomach being covered in scars and bags, this is the best I have ever felt and it is, if I’m going to be honest with myself, pretty bloody fantastic 🙂

Now as my legs turn from quivering jelly and regain some of my tiny childlike muscles to allow me to walk to the coffee shop and local supermarket, and I have finally taken off my trakkies and pjs and stopped living like a permanent member of a sleepover club, I have decided to embrace my new life and try to do everything I have every wanted to do before but not managed because of my illness which (as much as I always said it didn’t) ruled my life.

So here it is the list of all the things me and my new fr-enemy Winnie have to do in the next five years. WHY five years you ask – because I will be 30 and 30 is the stereotypical movie / trashy book landmark for any wish list and I don’t want this to be a morbid “do before I die” bucket list.

And why am I doing this you may ask? The simple answer is WHY THE HELL NOT!!

I am sure that many of the things in this 101 challenge are simply impossible to achieve but I am going to give them all a really good shot, and who knows, like some (not naming any names) celeb bloggers I might even get a book contract/silly TV show out of this.

And on a less selfish note – I truly want to show others facing surgery or who have had it that you are not alone and that just because you have a Winnie (or an Oscar or Priscilla) or whatever silly name you give your bag, that your life isn’t over – in fact embrace it and you might realise that you are finally living for the first time!

As my friend said “it’s just a bag of shit, that’s all”…and that’s exactly what it is, my literally attached to me “friend” Winnie is a big bag of poo! I have realised f I don’t see the funny side when it farts and makes weird noises at the most embarrassing and intimate moments I will spend the rest of my life disgusted with myself.

SO HERE IS THE CHALLENGE – starting today Wednesday, May 29, exactly four weeks since my surgery I will try to complete these 101 challenges before I reach my 30th birthday in five years time ! So wish me luck 🙂

THE BIG STOMA BUCKET LIST

101 adventures of a bag lady 

SKILLS/ JOB

  1. Learn to speak (and write) French fluently
  2. Run a small business
  3. Write a poem and read it at an open mic night
  4. Take a night class in something random
  5. Learn to play the guitar
  6. Get nominated for an award and go to the ceremony in a show stopping dress
  7. Work for the BBC
  8. Get 1,000 Twitter followers
  9. Learn to say hello in 10 very different languages
  10. Write a column
  11. Learn to parallel park and do it on a main road (thanks Andy!)
  12. Live and work abroad
  13. Host a radio show
  14. Learn to draw a tree properly
  15. Write and illustrate a children’s book
  16. Learn about the economy and stock market
  17. Write a blog with worldwide followers
  18. Work for a national newspaper
  19. Have a novel/ short story published

TRAVEL 

  1. (20) Eat snails in Paris
  2. (21) Go to Disney Land and wave a wand in Hogwarts
  3. (22) Visit Prague and see a concert
  4. (23) Walk on the Great Wall of China
  5. (24) Pose for a picture in Times Square
  6. (25) Drink a whole pint (yes a whole one) of Guinness in Dublin
  7. (26) Go to Wales hiking and rent a cottage with hot tub and roaring fire
  8. (27) Get on a random plane to a random place at the airport
  9. (28) Climb the millenium Dome
  10. (29) Take a trip on a gondola in Venice and sing Just One Cornetto
  11. (30) Have a night out in Birmingham/Liverpool/Edinburgh/ Manchester
  12. (31) Go to an outdoor cinema
  13. (32) Camp at a festival
  14. (33) Complete 30 Visit England 101 things to do before you die (can’t be in this list)
  15. (34) Go on a really scary roller coaster

CRAFTS

  1. (35) Design your own clothes/ accessories and make them
  2. (36) make a funky and a sexy stoma bag cover
  3. (37) take a life drawing class
  4. (38) sell a piece of art
  5. (39) make a Christmas present – which is a quality gift
  6. (40) take a professional photograph
  7. (41) learn to cook – take a cookery class

FOOD

  1. (42) make a perfect cake (three tiers)
  2. (43) eat at a Michelin starred restaurant
  3. (44) throw a themed dinner party
  4. (45) make the perfect souffle
  5. (46) host a fondue and cocktail party
  6. (47) go strawberry picking and make jam

SPORT and GAMES

  1. (48) Sit on Murray Mound eating strawberries and drinking Pimms
  2. (49) Go to a basketball match and eat a pretzel
  3. (50) Ride a horse
  4. (51) Play a round of golf
  5. (52) Complete an army assault course
  6. (53) Run the Santa Dash
  7. (54) Learn the perfect serve
  8. (55) Cimb the three Peaks
  9. (56) Learn how to play chess
  10. (57) Play a full set of tennis
  11. (58) Learn how to skip
  12. (59) Shoot a gun
  13. (60) Drive a classic car
  14. (61) Learn how to play poker
  15. (62) Walk the Sandstone Trail
  16. (63) Compete in the Chester to Liverpool Bike Ride
  17. (64) Go Fishing
  18. (65) Learn the off side rule
  19. (66) Go cheese rolling

CHALLENGES

  1. (67) Volunteer for charity
  2. (68) Raise £1,000 for NACC
  3. (69) Sell something on Ebay (I know lame that I have never done this)
  4. (70) Read a book every week for six months
  5. (71) Do something just for the hell of it (more outrageous the better)
  6. (72) Go skinny dipping
  7. (73) Get a tattoo
  8. (74) Take part in a protest
  9. (75) Blag your way into a VIP section
  10. (76) Be an extra in a tv show or film
  11. (77) Sunbathe topless on a beach
  12. (78) Wear false eyelashes (I know pathetic but my lashes are falsy virgins)
  13. (79) Bounce down a road on a space hopper
  14. (80) Sleep under the stars
  15. (81) Live off £10 for a whole week (no cheating)

EXPERIENCES

  1. (82) Be part of a TV audience
  2. (83) Sit in the Commons for a debate
  3. (84) See Michael Buble (I know needs accent) live
  4. (85) Buy a designer handbag or shoes
  5. (86) Wear a stunningly expensive piece of jewellery
  6. (87) Stand for election
  7. (88) Rent a must-have designer handbag
  8. (89) Join a book club
  9. (90) Drink a whole cup of tea (how I go through 25 years without doing this?)
  10. (91) Milk a cow
  11. (92) Read Pride and prejudice (I never have!!)
  12. (92) Have a 24hr movie marathon
  13.  (93) Wear a onsie in front of others!
  14. (94) See a Broadway show (I know should be in travel)
  15. (95) Jump out of a plane (arrghhh obviously with a parachute)
  16. (96) Ride the London Eye (probably should be in travel)
  17. (97) Get a pen pal – write for a year and then meet up somewhere really cool
  18. (98) Read 50 autobiographies in a year
  19. (99) Campaign for something that matters – and win
  20. (100) Do something that scares the shit (sorry mum) out of you!
  21. (101) And FINALLY this one has been left open to you guys – think of something cool – not too dangerous please 🙂

Sorry for how horrendously long and tedious that was

Anyway…here we go the challenge has officially begun – WISH ME LUCK!!!