Petition for better Welsh hospital food must now be looked at by Assembly #Crohns #IBD #ostomy

The Welsh Assembly will be looking at hospital food in Wales – as more than ten people have signed it.

I’m delighted, but to give it more weight I would love hundreds if not thousands of people to get involved and make sure our voice is not ignored.

Otherwise they could really dismiss it as my insane ramblings when I was starving and full of drugs.

I am hoping Crohn’s and Colitis UK, Ostomy Lifestyle, Campaign for Better Hospital Food (England), and allergy, vegan, vegetarian, lactose free, gluten free etc and health bloggers, campaigners and patients will get behind me.

Today I used my column in the Daily Post (in North Wales) to share my experiences with food in hospitals with my lactose intolerance, ulcerative colitis and having an ostomy bag.

Click here to read the column online:

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I am hoping to hand in the petition alongside a bundle of people’s own experiences to the Assembly Members on the steps of the Senedd next month.

To do that I need your help.

The petition runs until December 4. I would love for anyone who has ever eaten in a Welsh hospital (or had a relative or friend who has) and wants to see improvements to sign the petition – the more people who sign it the better.

I think this will push the Welsh Government to seriously look at standards – if it is just my experience it could be easily dismissed as a party pooper and groaning fussy idiot after all.

I also can’t rock up with one sheet of A4 – that would be pathetic. I want to take a lorry to lift the petition into the arms of the waiting politician.

Please sign the petition here if you want to see changes.

Here is the link if you want to share it

Also please share your pictures, stories, experiences of hospital food in Wales – good, bad or indifferent.

I want to build up a picture, or a report, of evidence I can submit with the petition.

The more I have the better.

I need your help to do that.

Please tweet me @TheStomaBagLady or @DailyPostRachel. email me or go to to my Facebook page and share your story

Alternatively fill in this form which will be sent to me.


Campaign for better hospital food in Wales begins – join the fight

Today my official campaign to stop the slop finally got off the ground.

As you all know I’ve been banging on and on and on about NHS food for years – until a few weeks ago, starved and delirious, I finally snapped.

My mission is simple but will need a lot of support.

I want the Welsh Government to look at the food the Welsh NHS feed their patients, investigate and see if it is up to scratch.

Then I want them to give staff the right support and facilities to feed people (including tailoring meals for people with certain conditons and allergies) what they need to help them get better – instead of banging their heads against a brick wall and taking away full plates of food.

I know I will come under fire over this campaign – I am brutally honest about my negative experiences – but if it sparks improvements people can hurl rubbish my way and I will happily duck.


This is not about undermining the hard work of the amazing doctors, nurses and catering staff in the NHS.

I admire them greatly; they’ve saved my life; held my hand; stayed with me when I am frightened and gone above and beyond their jobs to keep me alive and strong over my many years of chronic illness.

They brought me back to life as a baby, and also gave me back my life from the grip of Ulcerative Colitis after so many years – for all of this I will never ever be able to repay them.

I am literally in awe of the NHS and the staff that work for them – but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see improvements.

This campaign I hope will help them to do their jobs more easily and without having to endlessly deal with hungry, angry patients, who are not getting better because they are not eating properly.

My petition has appeared on the Welsh Assembly website and I need you all to sign it (if you want to of course).

Ludicrously I only need to get 10 signatures for it to be considered by the committee – which could mean I could ask get 10 people to agree AMs personally have to give free lollipops to donkeys (and if it is devolved) they would have to talk about it.

Please help me with my campaign, hopefully it can make just a little bit of difference for the greater good. I will not stop banging on about this until something is done – and I know you all would like me to shut up!

Petition: Food in Welsh hospitals

In the meantime please share your experiences, pictures of your Welsh hospital food, and anything which might help to build up evidence in this campaign.

Please send to @thestomabaglady or visit my facebook page to share your story.






A fussy or unfeedable mouth? Hospital food standards needed in Wales #stoma #lactoseintolerant #IBD

Am I just fussy? Is that why the NHS always struggles to feed me?

I admit I’m a nightmare date or dinner guest: I’m lactose intolerant and have an ostomy bag.

In fact I’m probably every waiter’s worst nightmare: some noticeably roll their eyes when they hear me whisper the dreaded words – I’m lactose intolerant, is that going to be a problem?

But restaurants have adapted, with their allergy menus, and are mostly excellent – so why not the NHS where my intolerance and Ulcerative Colitis was, after all, diagnosed?

When I’m well I eat a diet which would shock any stoma nurse – I live off wilted spinach; rocket; veggie sausages; all types of fish and mountains of avocado – apart from a bit of an addiction to jelly sweets (and no longer diet coke) and white wine, I’m a bit of a health nut.

I avoid sweetcorn, nuts, coconut (less recently learned), peas, bean sprouts, sprouts etc and anything not really chopped up like the plague – I have not eaten a curry in over 14 years after it being a smell that made me literally vomit on my first hospitalization for ulcerative colitis (it has stayed with me).

But when I’m not having a good day and my ostomy is playing up fibre is totally off the menu – even the skin on a jacket potato and a rouge mushroom can cause a blockage and make me throw up.

So, today my last blog post on food in hospitals ended up on the Mirror and Wales Online.

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As a journalist I am used to writing the news – not being the news (it has happened once or twice after I had a right go about claims junk food caused Crohn’s disease).

Video: Junk Food Doesn’t cause Crohn’s

I have come under some criticism for what I said about the food I was presented with – or not presented with – in the Heath, but mostly the article has sparked discussion about people’s experiences with IBD and/or stomas and hospital food which can only be a good thing.

Some of the stories people have shared have been frankly shocking – and to me it is obvious something should be done both in England and Wales to introduce standards and to help the hard-working catering staff understand intolerance and patients’ needs.

In the next few days I am hoping that the Welsh Assembly will approve my petition calling on the Welsh Government to set Wales-wide standards for hospital food.

I want them to look at the amount of food thrown away, introducing menus, making sure patients are fed the right food based on their individual care, and give staff support and training.

Health is devolved in Wales – it is the responsibility of the Welsh Government – and I believe nutrition needs to be looked at. Looking at the 250 plus comments on Crohn’s and Colitis UK’s website a lot of people agree, and I’m not on my own.


But while I’ve got your attention I want to address a few things that the story misses out.

I’m not still in hospital 

Firstly I had ulcerative colitis for 14 years – was in and out of hospital most of my teenage and young adult life so far, and led a life mostly ruled by bathrooms until I had my surgery when I was 25.

I have an ostomy and it is permanent. I had my first operation to form Winnie (my stoma) over two years ago, and then, due to complications with the disease still being in my rectal stump, had her made permanent (my backside removed and sewn up last year).

For the past year I’ve been the fittest and healthiest in my entire life; I’ve done things I never expected and really embraced my life – it has been a miracle.

Running a half marathon with a stoma.

The out of the blue I feel extremely ill, with excruciating pain at the start of October and that’s when I was hospitalised twice without warning and kept in.

They didn’t know what was happening to me – i was put on loads of fluids, and antibiotics, which made me even sicker as they shouldn’t have been taken on an empty stomach. The dietician and stoma nurse kept telling me to eat, and were totally frustrated I wasn’t getting the right food to sort my output out.

I didn’t know I was going in, I live on my own, my family are in Lancashire, and frankly the majority of my colleges and friends wouldn’t know what to feed me if they tried – people just don’t get lactose intolerance.

This is not the first time this has happened; I’ve had varying experiences in Chester, and been offered bowls of milk for breakfast, stir fry and salad (not long after my operation) and live off dry tuna sandwiches for weeks (as that’s all they could think of) – but in England they did have menus so some time they got it right and it was excellent.

However in the Heath there were no menus, the ward had its own kitchen, what was on the trolley was what you got – if you couldn’t have any of it, well that was that – the dietician insisted to the catering staff that I was allowed to ask for cereal if I couldn’t eat any of it.

People have said why didn’t I go to the shop – when I wasn’t about to faint, or the staff were frightened I would because of my low blood pressure, I did go to the shop. However it was a WH Smith and as someone with lactose intolerance, and at the time on low res, I could only eat crisps and sweets – which obviously was pretty much pointless.

I did continuously tell people I was lactose intolerant, i offered to help, and pleaded to go on the Ensure drinks (which I eventually got), and kept telling the dietician I was scared of loosing weight (which falls off me in hospital) but unfortunately they kept running out.


Staff did their best 

In my job I have been accused of “single handily trying to destroy the Welsh NHS” – I trust you I am not.

I had the greatest sympathy for the catering staff at the Heath. It was the system that failed not them.

Blog: Nursing is still a caring profession

The catering guy was scared of coming to my bed by the time I left; he would creep over to me like I was going to pounce down his throat or perhaps try to eat him.

He always looked crestfallen at every bed who couldn’t eat the food, due to having had surgery, being on a low res diet, on liquid only – or frankly just not liking the look of it.

I felt sorry for him, even more so when he brought out the allergy sheet and didn’t understand it, insisting I could have the cheesy pasta, followed by cheesecake with ice cream – I obviously disagreed and didn’t eat it.

It’s time for action – but positive not negative

What I want to see is some constructive action.

I’m not looking to be fed with a gold-plated spoon, with British Bake Off style cakes, and caviar – just diet to be treated the same as drugs, fluid and put into the package of basic care.

nutrition is a key part of healing, but offering someone who has just had stoma surgery lentil soup, and a tuna sweetcorn sandwich or nothing as their first meal isn’t right.

Yes she had advice straight after her operation, but at the end of the day once you have had the operation it is an experiment and you should start slow – not with something that may just cause you pain and agony.

Please share your experiences 


So I would like to know about your experiences of hospital food – yes even the really good ones.

Let’s try and find out what’s going wrong and where it is going wrong.

And, why am I doing this, well I want my experience to mean something apart from loosing all my hard earned weight, it’s pointless me just sitting back and letting the next lactose intolerant or ostomate go through the same thing.

Oh, and next time I want to eat!

Red raw skin – my body’s rejects another ostomy appliance

Right now it’s 1.25am. I’m sat propped up in bed, exhausted, nauseated and feeling groggy as hell. I probably look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards at least 15 times, and would hate it if any firemen or police needed to break into my flat and see me this way. Lets just say thank god my boyfriend isn’t here to see me like this – he would probably fall out of bed in fright of waking up next to the monster from the black lagoon, and, to be honest that swamp creature is probably better groomed than me right now.

I feel like I am slowly going back to square one. Tonight, and last night, feel like the evenings of days gone by. Tonight feels like the weeks following my operation; where I couldn’t lie flat; had to stay perfectly still all night; lived in fear of explosions and leaks; and could feel every tug and pump of my tired and hacked up bowel – oh, and how can we forget, the agonising skin problems. 

Most of that was caused by my mucus fistula, which has thankfully now departed, but – if you can bear it  – you can read about that nightmare here.

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Ok, so things are nowhere near as bad as they used to be, and I feel pretty weedy for moaning about a few nights of sleep deprivation, for years I survived on potentially two-three hours a night if I was lucky! But having got used to living a slightly average life this is starting to feel like torture.

I used to get so little sleep that my nighttimes were almost as productive as my working day. While my boyfriend slept soundly next to me I would pain my nails, read novels, write blogs, record video blogs, write stories up and go into the other room to wash pots and dust etc. Tonight I have started to do the same. But, as I’m no longer used to this lack of sleep (well I am now, for the first time since I was a teen used to more than four hours, be it broken by toilet breaks, of sleep a night), I’m going to be a waste of space by lunchtime at work tomorrow. 

If you’ve been following my pretty feeble attempts at writing my blog while balancing a hectic work schedule and trying to help my boyfriend move into his new house (sob) you will know that I have had a fair few infections (rather unpleasant) ones recently, but apart from that things, health wise anyway, have been finally looking up. But over the past week or so I’ve started to feel run down, exhausted and, to un-sugarcoat things, shit! 

My skin tonight!! see what I mean

My skin tonight!! see what I mean

A lot has got to be said for the fact that I have managed to go without a single day off sick since I returned to work following my operation. Ok, so I don’t get some sort of medal or certificate for that (boo, I totally should!) but I feel pretty proud. But now the signs are starting to show that going at this hell-for-leather might not have been the best thing to do. But, there again, this happens every time I’m starting to get well, so I guess somethings will just never change.

My problem tonight is my skin. It had to happen but my skin has decided to reject my ostomy appliance. You would think this was something that could be easily fixed. WRONG. For most people it is, but I have rejected each and every one that my stoma nurse has tried – this was the only one that didn’t cause a very unsightly and painful rash. Now my body has decided it wants some drama, and decided that it is time to throw a paddy. This is not unusual. My body can’t live without drama, it doesn’t enjoy being well, it likes to be at the centre of attention. And right now it is dancing around in a sparkly spandex suit shouting ay attention to me, look at me, look what happens when you ignore me – and I’m having to sit up and take notice.

I’ve always struggled with my skin, especially around my stoma and other more intimate areas. It has been far, far worse than this in the past. But this time I just can’t handle it. My skin is oozing like crazy, and it looks almost burnt. My bags are struggling to stay on due to how damaged my skin is, and the wound is weeping all over the appliance in a truly revolting manner, which is making me feel smelly and sick.

I feel like I can constantly smell it. I think the smell simply gets in my nostrils and I can’t get it out, meaning I’m constantly paranoid that I’m having a leak, and that other people can smell it – most of the time it is other people farting or drains! 

I’ve changed my appliance to a smaller one for tonight, in the hope of drying out some of the skin, but I’m struggling to sleep. I can feel the itching starting to creep in and I’m terrified I’m going to end up like a recovering crack addict wearing mittens on my hands to stop me itching like I had to last summer during the heatwave to stop me getting at my weeping surgical scar. I simply can’t stop going at it; god knows what people during the day think I’m doing – I don’t want them to think I have lice, or worse!!

I can’t leave the bag off for even a second as my stoma seems to wait for the very moment of liberation to go into overdrive. The only time I can get any sort of relief is when I’m in the shower letting the water seep down into the bag and wash the build up away.

So I think the time has come to give in. Tomorrow I will ring my stoma nurse and get an appointment to try and get this sorted. I want to get some sleep and to stop living in fear of my bags simply sliding off, and wanting to walk around with a peg on my nose. Unfortunately, I think me and my Manuka honey bags (which I’ve been literally attached to for about a year) are going to have to finally wave goodbye, that is before I end up in court for indecent exposure, stripping off and jumping into a nearby fountain simply to ease the non stop itch. I don’t fancy that one going in the press!

Running with an ostomy – getting ready for challenge 66

Not my best look - post run

Not my best look – post run

All my life I’ve dreamt of running a marathon, but I’ve never got round to it. There are all kinds of reasons why I’ve never signed up for one – including laziness, and the fact I’m rubbish at disciplined training regimes – but the main thing that has been holding me back has always been my IBD, and now that has all but vanished I guess I’ve run out of genuine excuses.

As you have probably gathered I’m no couch potato. Even at the height of my most serious flares I have forced myself to do exercise, sometimes with disastrous consequences, including fainting and blackouts. I’ve learnt the hard way that pushing your body to the limit when you have lost a serious amount of weight and your body is already battling to survive can be incredibly dangerous. But I have always, and will probably continue to have, had a very stupid habit of ignoring my body’s cries for help – I almost seem to be hell-bent on punishing myself for everything, even when there is no reason to.

Bend and stretch :)

Bend and stretch 🙂

I’m no fitness fanatic, but I love exercise. At times I am lazy but most of the time I live to swim, dance, run, basically anything that gives me that satisfyingly free feeling. Exercise makes me feel good about myself. And, at times, when my illness has been at its height, it has helped; mostly as a distraction from the pain, but often as just a way for me to relax and let off steam. A few years ago I swam 120 lengths every single morning (or evening). I was the fittest and most relaxed I had ever been, and I did find that it helped me to manage my illness, simply by relieving some of the stress from work – the problem is I did go a little bit over the top with it.

If you don’t believe the full extent of my pig-headed stubbornness, what follows is an example of me pushing myself to the extreme.

At the hight of my last full flare, in the year leading up to my operation, I ran The Great North Run. Yes, great idea Rachel. I struggled around the whole course, my whole body feeling like it was going to disintegrate into the tarmac. If it hadn’t have been for the amazing people who were also running for Crohn’s and Colitis UK who ran next to me, shouted words of encouragement and told me their stories, I probably would have given up a quarter of the way round. I needed the toilet constantly and had to force myself to keep running, made even harder by my injured leg wrecked by a crippling bout of cramp the night before, which left me hardly able to walk on the morning of the race.

Hobbling (well crawling) over the finish line was one of the proudest moments of my life. I’ve never felt so relieved. I could hardly speak, move or breathe, (and struggled for days after) but weirdly enough, despite the pain and agony, a part of me wanted to do it all over again. I guess the exhilaration and sense of achievement is addictive.

Me and sister Hannah after finishing the GNR

Me and sister Hannah after finishing the GNR

That was my first competitive run. I’ve often thought of doing another, potentially a longer one, but I just couldn’t begin to comprehend how my Colitis would cope with a run like that again. On the day of the GNR I had to do everything in my power to keep my body in order and my diarrhea at bay. Often the pain in my abdomen was agonising and it took all the will I could muster to not give up. I can’t imagine what would have happened if that had been a marathon – no number of toilets in the world would have been good enough in that situation – I would have either given up or died trying.

But now that I have my stoma things are very different. Yes, I guess I am still within the recovery period and so shouldn’t be attempting anything ridiculous, but in the past few weeks I have started to run again and it feels fantastic. I’m almost back to the fitness levels I had before, and I’m more motivated than ever. Yesterday I got up at 7.30am (yes on a Saturday) and ran 2k (I know that’s not far) averaging six-minute a Kilometre – which for me is pretty damn good. I feel happier, I’m eating better, and putting on weight, which after being so tiny for so long is a weird feeling and one that is a massive learning curve to get used to.

Ok, last year I did the Santa Dash (so a little bit of a competitive run) for The Countess of Chester BabyGrow Appeal. Which was exhausting as we were boiling in our outfits and I dragged Andy along as a lego man!!! But that’s no marathon, it’s more of a sprint.

After the Santa Dash

After the Santa Dash

But now, I’ve decided it’s time to start planning for my Challenge 66. Steady on, I hear you say, wasn’t Challenge 66 Cheese Rolling? Yes, it was, but I realised the other day that cheese rolling is part of the Visit England Challenges – massive error to duplicate challenges – so I have changed it to a marathon. Whether this was a size move remains to be seen, but it is on the list now, so as they say my fate lies with the Gods.

I’m taking this very seriously. I’ve bought myself a Garmin watch (other brands are available) and I’m going to be sharing my progress, good and bad, with you. I aim to run at least three times during the week and once at the weekend, and hope to do at least 12K every week, come rain or shine.

But I need your advice. I’m obviously going to be running for Crohns and Colitis UK, but I also want to raise cash for Ostomy Aid, so the big question is, which marathon should I do? Let me know which ones you have done and which have the best routes, atmosphere etc? I wouldn’t mind doing one abroad, as long as it isn’t too hot, cold, or humid that is. I mean I may swell get a holiday out of it, right?

An inspiration – former model shows ostomy bag to the world after surgery due to Crohn’s

Since she showed her slim figure off on her holiday I have been astonished by the bravery of Bethany Townsend. She is the young lady I tweeted about a few weeks ago when she shared her photos of her sunbathing in her bikini – I noticed her awesome tattoos before her colostomy bag!

I am delighted that my colleagues at The Mirror have run with this story, and have shown the world that having an ostomy bag is not disgusting but something that we should be able to show to the world without shame. I admire her spirit and courage.

She is a former model who gave it all up after being hit by Crohn’s and having to have surgery. I know how terrifying that can be – and I hope that she will become one of the first ostomate models  – because that would, well be bloody fantastic!

Thanks Bethany for showing the world how beautiful you are – next time I look at a bikini in envy I’m going to bite the bullet and buy one – what an inspiration! 

Here is the story – and for the gallery click here 

Brave woman’s holiday snaps baring her colostomy bags viewed by MILLIONS around the world

It was the first time Bethany Townsend, 23, who has Crohn’s disease, had dared to post pictures of herself in just a bikini

Sensation: Bethany is considering taking up modelling after her holiday snaps went viral

For three years, Bethany Townsend was too afraid to share bikini pictures, even with friends.

The stunning 23-year-old suffers from Crohn’s disease and in 2010 doctors had to fit two colostomy bags after she nearly died.

But meeting husband Ian gave her the confidence to post photos from their dream holiday in Mexico together online.

In a bid to inspire other Crohn’s sufferers, she sent them to the Crohn’s and Colitis UK Facebook page.


CatersBethany Townsend
Confidence: Bethany wanted to inspire other Chron’s sufferers to feel better about their appearance



Since then, the images have gone viral and been viewed more than ten MILLION times around the world.

Bethany, a make-up artist from Worcester, has been so overwhelmed she is considering taking up modelling – a career she gave up because of her disease.

“I didn’t expect this kind of reaction at all,” she said.

“The photo has been seen by millions of people and it’s had 190,000 likes and over 10,000 comments on Facebook – it’s just gone ballistic.

“I’m just so glad that it’s brought about more awareness of Crohn’s disease and it’s made me feel so much more confident about the colostomy bags.

“If I can inspire or help other people in my position to feel a little more comfortable in their own skin then I’m really happy.

“When I first had the bags fitted I was devastated – the reaction to this photo has really helped me accept them.”

Bethany was fitted with her colostomy bags after suffering from Crohn’s disease since the age of three.


CatersBethany Townsend
Battle: Since being diagnosed with Chron’s aged three, Bethany has had several operations




In extreme situations, like Bethany’s, it becomes necessary to remove the damaged section of the intestine and bring the healthy part out as a stoma – known as a colostomy.

After almost dying when her bowel ruptured in 2010, Bethany woke from a life saving operation to find she had been fitted with two colostomy bags.

Bethany said: “Growing up I’d had various surgeries to try and combat the Crohn’s.

“I’d go in and have sections of my intestine cut out, but I’d only be in remission for a couple of weeks before it came back again.

“Then, four years ago I woke up in the morning and couldn’t move because I was in so much agony.

“I had to break a glass on the floor to alert my mum who called on ambulance.

“When the paramedics came they lifted up my top to see that my surgery scar had split open.

“I was rushed to intensive care where they doctors told me family I would need more surgery as my intestines had become infected and inflamed again.

“I had no idea when I woke up that I would have the bags.

“When I first woke up and my mum told me about them I was just relieved as I’d thought I was going to die.”

“When I came out of hospital and everything finally sunk in, I remember going upstairs into my bedroom and just bursting into tears.

“I’d known a colostomy bag might have been an option but it was always something that I had wanted to avoid.

“I had a really good cry that day, and since then I haven’t shed another tear – I’ve just got on with it I suppose.”

It was only after Bethany met and married her husband, Ian, 33, and jetted off to Mexico last Christmas that she finally felt ready to embrace the colostomy bags.


CatersBethany Townsend
Love: Getting married to husband ian gave Bethany the confidence to pose in her bikini



Bethany said: “When I met Ian I showed him my bags straight away, but he didn’t bat an eye lid – I actually felt like I was over reacting.

“He taught me that there was more to me than the bags and would always encourage me to show off my figure.

“I wasn’t sure but in Mexico I finally realised he was right, and decided to wear my bikini.

“At first I was nervous and worried that people would stare but it was fine.

“I realised that the colostomy bags didn’t control me or define who I am.

“The staff at the hotel asked me about the bags on the last day of the holiday, but rather than being offended I was glad because it meant I could talk to them about Crohn’s and tell them what it is.

“Ian’s always been my rock and supported me no matter what, we’ve had a tough few years but I know he’ll always be there for me.”

But it wasn’t until six months after their dream holiday in Mexico that Bethany finally felt ready to share her colostomy bags with the world.

Bethany said: “When you’re on holiday you’re in a bit of a bubble and it’s much different to when you’re back at home.

“I’d posted a few pictures to Instagram and Facebook but only my friends could see them.

“But after looking on the internet I saw a few other pictures of girls like me showing off their bags so I thought why not.

“I decided to get in touch with Crohn’s and Colitis UK Facebook group to see if they would let me post something on their page.

“I sent them the picture and my information, and it all blew up from there.”

Bethany still suffers with Crohn’s and hopes one day for a cure.




She said: “Doctors had hoped that the colostomy bags would put an end to the Crohn’s but four weeks later it was back.

“I then underwent a stem cell transplant but unfortunately I caught MRSA of the skin and the blood and it nearly killed me twice.

“Since then my Crohn’s has still been extremely active, I’ve lost more weight and now I’m waiting for the NHS to fund a drug that hasn’t really been in the UK.

“If this doesn’t work a bowel transplant is in talks as I can’t have anymore of my intestine out as I haven’t got much left.

“But I’m still really hopeful and after everything I’ve been through I know I’m a strong person.”

Bethany is now considering getting back into modelling – a career she gave up on after she was fitted with the bags.

Bethany said: “I feel confident enough now to put myself out there and pursue modelling again.

“I did a little bit of work here and there before I had the colostomy bags, but once I had them fitted I thought that was the end of the dream.

“I’m looking forward to chasing my goals, and I know now that nothing can hold me back.

“I won’t let the Crohn’s control me anymore.”

For the full story: 

Off work on the road to recovery – lack of motivation and boredom but books galore

Every day I wake up determined to do something other than sit around. I start every morning absolutely positive that I’m going to make the most of my time away from the confides of the newsroom desk, set on learning to speak French fluently, making a lovely meal for my hardworking boyfriend, polishing up on media law developments, creating a website for my alter ego and professional self, or even writing a letter thanking my surgeon for not letting me die during my last hospital stay. Shockingly enough shortly after breakfast all my motivation seems to disappear out of the window and I end up finishing the day no closer to becoming a better rounded person than I was when I had a bowel.

Reading and drinking soya frap in grounds of Chester Cathedral

Reading and drinking soya frap in grounds of Chester Cathedral

Every day of my life, whether I’m at work or not, I have to make a list. Some might say it’s an obsession, I think of it more as a loveable quirk. Most nights I come home with a rapidly growing news list and list of blog topics, video and campaign ideas as long as my arm, and the only way I can fall asleep is by writing a list on my iPad/notebook/dreambook (don’t ask)/or iPhone of everything I need to achieve the next day before my head hits the pillow. If I don’t do this my brain won’t stop chattering all night with a thousand voices screaming at me what needs to be done, how urgently and who I need to ring and probably won’t pick up the phone until way after deadline, until I want to put my pen through my skull and pull out my brain (yuck!!).

The shocking thing is despite having endless days alone in the flat with nothing but painkillers and managing my sore bottom and ostomy bag to fill my empty hours I’m still feeling the need to write myself lists. But despite starting the day with a list of five-ten things to do, from hanging out the washing, to designing my website or doing an hour’s worth of French, by the end of the day I’ve often only crossed one thing off the list. In fact I’ve still got last week’s list up on the notice board with five things (out of 12) still to be done – I’ve transformed into a couch potato and I am both disgusted and shocked!

I’m disappointed in myself. I’m bored, tired and going out of my mind, but for some reason unbeknown to me I just can’t focus on anything at the moment. Every time I try to apply myself to anything I just give up, which is not like me at all. I hate not having a project or goal, but even more than that I hate not having a schedule, something which the working day helps me to maintain. The problem is that when you’re not at work every task is something you can put off until later. The day stretches out endlessly before you, meaning you believe you have hours and hours to do every little thing, but before you know it it’s 5pm and Andy is coming in through the door and I’ve literally done nothing. I actually have to force myself out of the house for a little walk everyday, dragging myself out of the door for my daily exercise (come rain or shine) to get a coffee, read next to the canal or buy more nail varnish, just so I don’t sit staring at crime dramas on the telly and watching reruns of Newsnight on loop all day long.

I guess the best thing about being off work is that I’ve fallen back in love with reading again. As a child I used to literally devour books (yes literally!), it’s a family thing! I could read a novel in a matter of hours and even won prizes from my local library for reading and reviewing hundreds of books – and got to meet Hazel Townsend (claim to fame). At the start of this blog I began my ‘read a book a week for six months’ challenge. I was doing really well, racing through books while trying to work every hour under the sun, study for exams and get cracking with some of my other challenges, until month number five when I missed a week and sacked it off. Why did I give up when I was so close? Because I didn’t want to be a cheat, that’s why. The point of these challenges is that they are meant to be challenging. Managing to read a book a week while working is hard, especially when some are political memoirs or solid classics. There is no point in me doing these challenges if I cheat. The point of this blog is to be honest, and as my mum always said “you’re just cheating yourself”.

So I’ve restarted challenge number 70 with gusto. I’m five weeks in and I’m loving it a bit too much. I’ve probably read the equivalent of three books a week recently, and I don’t feel like slowing down any time soon. Obviously I’m going to run this in conjunction with challenge 98 – the autobiographies, which I’m steadily making my way through atm.

Here are some of the books I’ve read over the past five weeks (I honestly can’t remember the others – there were at least three more on my Kindle which I’ve not put here), as you will see I’ve had a lot of time on my hands:

Seventy-Seven by Andy Murray – I love tennis and love Murray (groan I hear a lot of you say). But as a Murray fan I urge you not to read this book. If you thought he was dull before you read it you will be proved right. This book was mind numbingly boring. Murray describes each point of each match, hardly touches on his personal life, and says everything (no matter how big an achievement) is well “ok”. Argh!

The Little Coffee  Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez – fascinating tale of five extraordinary women in a hostile climate. I couldn’t put this book down, and it helped distract me in the days following my operation. 

Allegiance by Veronica Roth – last in the Divergent series – I was getting a bit tired of these by the time I got to the last one. But they are decent teen books and I would recommend if you want some holiday reading, but get it on your Kindle, the hardback is heavy and hard to hold with joint problems.

The Gingerbread House by Carin Gerhadsen – I love crime and thriller novels, which is funny as I hate thriller films. This was decent and I would read another by her, but not a patch on my favourite crime authors.

Shit my Dad Says by Justin Halpern – I loved this. A lovely twitter follower sent this to me and I laughter so much at the quirky sayings and no-nonsense talk that I almost split my stitches.

High Society by Ben Elton – one of my Dad’s books, but I will be reading more by Elton, gripping and funny look at society.

Gone by Michael Grant – the first in a series. I was hooked to start with, but it soon became a bit like a lame version of divergent and the Hunger Games mixed together – a bit samey for me.

Saturday by Ian McEwan – he never disappoints. Gripping from the start and a must read for all McEwan fans.

Breakfast with Tiffany by Edwin John Wintle – funnier than I expected insight into an uncle living with a rebellious teenage niece in New York

Have I got Views for You by Boris Johnson – being a hack myself I loved this. Even though I’m not a lover of the Tories you’ve got to love a bit of Boris!

So not to fill this blog up with book reviews I’ve decided that once a week I will do a video blog on my Youtube channel reviewing my book/books of the week, then every month I will do a blog on how I got on trying to get through books alongside all my other commitments. You can visit my Youtube channel here.


Oh, and if you have any book suggestions please comment below, tweet me @thestomabaglady or Facebook me. I need to spend my days emerged in literature.