Why I’m proud of my surgery scar a lasting reminder of my battle with IBD


There are a lot of things I would change about myself if I had the chance.

My wonky (some might say quirky) teeth, flyaway eyebrows and weird hairline would be top of my list.

But I wouldn’t get rid of my scars or my ostomy.

Winnie (my stoma) certainly picks her moments to have strops – the most noteworthy was bursting into farts as I interviewed David Cameron for the first time a few weeks ago.

The Prime Minister may have chosen not to comment or simply didn’t hear her popping away – but I had to struggle on with my hand desperately pressing my abdomen as she made frankly hilarious noises which would normally have had me laughing and apologising.

But despite this I wouldn’t get rid of her, mostly because I can’t.

My ostomy and my scars tell a story; from the slit in my nose marking the place the feeding tube went in as a premature baby, to the pits on my legs showing an ugly reminder of a tough time when I thought I would never show my legs again.

I often thought before my ostomy surgery that I would hate my surgery scar, that it would turn me into something repulsive.

I remember seeing it for the first time after my operation, oozing and sore, and like a war wound bound up with metal and wire – and I couldn’t cope.

But now that scar that snakes down past my belly button to my pelvis seems almost beautiful to me – it reminds me of a journey completed and a battle won.

I’ve thought about getting some sort of tattoo around my scar (not the one on my nose), not to hide it but to make it prettier, but for now I’ve decided to let it be.

So this summer I’m determined to finally get my belly out on the beach for the first time and I’m going to have a good look for a bikini to show off my figure, ostomy bag, scar and all.

And as it was World IBD day this week I thought there would be no harm in letting you all see how I’m getting on with a few selfies of how me, my scar and Winnie are looking these days.

My ostomy may be looking a little red and sore, she might fart at the most stupid moments, but two years on from my first lot of surgery I wouldn’t get rid of her for the world.

She is the most significant thing that ever happened to me – and that’s a fact.

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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!!

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!!!

 

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!!

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!!!