Personal Blogs

My Complex Health

I’ve had chronic health conditions for just under ten years now and as time has went by, I’ve been able to sit and reflect on my experiences and journey as a patient with complex health.

My journey started in 2012 when I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. When getting a diagnosis for a chronic illness, you will have different tests done to determine the outcome of diagnosis and the usual standard practice tests will be blood tests and typically a scan of some sort. So what is the issue?

You’ve gotten the tests done so surely this good, right? Wrong. Many patients who are complex first find out this issue when they are really, really unwell and somehow bloods come back within normal ranges and tests such as an ultrasound imaging comes back clear. They have all the symptoms of something being wrong but cannot seem to get the right answers. This was very much the case for me until I had my first Colonoscopy and was diagnosed with Crohns Disease and Ulcerative colitis as well as biopsies being taken during the colonscopy and sent away to the lab for analysis. I also have had numerous MRI scans and CAT scans and they can be a hit or a miss with accurate results. This leads to extreme frustration as you know you are getting worse by the day but health professionals say “your bloods are looking good so thats very reassuring!” When in reality it isn’t!

So, where do you go or what do you do? That’s the next part of your journey and certainly what I have had with mine. You go back to basics by writing down your symptoms, some doctors may trial you on medications to see if your symptoms lessen, worse or stay the same or organise a scope to look inside your bowel. Of course it isn’t always so simple with many complex patients getting doctors who plain blank refuse to take any illnesses into consideration and send you on your way. I havent had that often but I have had some doctors be this way with me, especially old GP’s in the past.

The only advice I can give is to request to see another GP or consultant – as a patient you are entitled and within your rights to do so! Dont give up trying for help for a diagnosis or help with your disease after a diagnosis because of normal results. My other advice would be that when you are an in patient or seeing someone at an appointment, to make them aware that you are complex and that you are unfortunately, not easy to care for.

Today I seen a consultant I have not seen in years since he had discharged me with good bloods 8 years ago. Its important that when health professionals say your bloods don’t show anything that you let them know that this is actually very normal for you due to being a complex patient and you must advocate for yourself. This helps them, help you. That’s exactly what happened today and he was so lovely and understanding. As I have dealt with normal test results for years, I have always made it my priority to try and remember my own health in ways that many of us would not. This means trying to remember what tests show best results, what medications I respond well to, what tests I have had done and the results of them and in what year they took place. Trying to remember what my levels of blood tests usually come back with and also to remember the cut off number for my iron to hit to be able to have an iron infusion. This is particularly handy when you are in A&E or with out of hours services.

I also have problems with my veins and so have fought plenty with people in hospitals who try to take my bloods in places I know will not give them blood due to scar tissue from a condition that I suffer from known as Bechets Disease. This means I also need particular colours of butterflies (the colours reflect what size they are) and cannula’s due to how small my veins are. Many health professionals become very cocky thinking I am giving them a challenge that they will take on and win when in reality it is to actually make it easier for them and also less painful and traumatising for me!

There are many people out there just like me who go through this, some even worse and don’t have any care at all. Support groups has been the number 1 place for me to connect with others just like me who go through this! Over the years I’ve been able to chat and relate to them but also pick up great advice and know I am not alone. It also helps when I do get difficult doctors from time to time, letting them know that this does happen to many people.

I would love to hear more from people with this same issue and so please feel free to get in touch if this has affected you!

Personal Blogs

Words Can Hurt But Also Heal

Lately, I’ve had some negative comments about my pregnancy and it has been really hurtful. I wanted to be open about how many pregnant woman can often come across these situations and how to cope and deal with them as best as possible and to put yourself first.

Sometimes when people don’t know you, they often judge without knowing your struggles and the journey it has taken for you to get you to where you are. I am always very open and honest about my journey and the struggles I’ve faced but it is apparent that many don’t take the time to read that and make assumptions. They also forget that it doesn’t only just affect myself, but it also affects my family and my partner.

Just some of the things I’ve had is “she only got pregnant to get attention” “she is a pitty party” “she always goes woe is me” “she just did it to get likes on social media”. I’ve also seen comments about other woman, too such as “she doesn’t deserve a baby” etc. Some women get pregnant easily, some dont. It is not for others to decide how or why we got pregnant!

I have struggled with fertility since the age of 17 and in 2017 was told I would never have children. Fast forward to now after 5 misscarries and a surgical termination, I am 6 months pregnant that is an absolute miracle and blessing to my partner and I! We have had amazing support from family and friends even through these awful comments and this is where I am healing.

If you are struggling through hard times with hateful comments, find your healing in the supportive calls and messages from friends and family. It can be hard to see through it but never loose focus on what is to come – a beautiful baby completing your family. Don’t loose sight of what obstacles you got through and the journey you have faced! You are stronger than you know and we have all got this!!

Personal Blogs

The Many Uses For Coconut Oil

Lately, I have noticed that coconut oil has been used by some friends for different things. I also use it and thought it would be handy to share what you can do!

So what can you use it for?

  • As an additive to your animals meal – melt and pour into rubber moulds and leave to set. This is fantastic for dogs who have very dry coats and skin.
  • A hair treatment – Saturate and soak your hair for a few hours or leave over night then shampoo twice afterwards, it leaves your hair silky soft and brilliant for those natural curls
  • Cooking – instead of normal oil for frying onions and cooking meats for certain dishes such as Thai or Indian curries
  • To treat dry feet – lather onto your feet and then put on socks and leave over night, repairing your dry, cracked skin and leaving your skin super soft
  • Moisturiser for babies – if your baby has super sensitive skin and baby oil is too harsh, coconut oil is super gentle and moisturises the babies skin
  • Leaving onto split ends – put a small amount on the very ends of your hair to condition and help those split ends

Coconut oil can also be used when making natural hair and body products but not something I have ventured into! The smell is absolutely gorgeous. If you have bleached hair, I recommend you do a coconut treatment at least 1-3 months as it also a natural lightener so you get the benefit of conditioning and lightening at the same time!

You can buy Pure Raw Coconut Oil from any stores such as supermarkets like ALDI, B and M, Home Bargains and other chain stores without breaking the bank. You can also buy big jars on Amazon for £9.

What uses do you have for coconut oil that isn’t mentioned? I’d love to know!

Chronic Illness Blogs, Mental Health Blogs, Personal Blogs

Goodbye 2020!

Ahh, a day that felt so long away.. Hogmanay!

As we sit and think about the year 2020, it’s safe to say that we are all glad to see it go behind us. It has been a challenging year for most but even more so for those who have had to isolate, fight the virus or shield. Many loved ones have passed on, many changes have happened, friendships lost and gained and lots of laughter and tears has been shared with each and every one of us! The start of 2021 certainly isn’t going to be easy, with restrictions and tiers still in place to keep us safe. Video calls and speaking to loved ones over the internet has hit a peak that many never had really interacted with before!

I, for one, am so glad to wave goodbye to 2020 and the negative people, bullies, trolls and fake people with it! Welcoming all new great things that wait for me in 2021! I hope for more than anything, to see friends I haven’t been able to see and hug for so, so long. To make lovely memories, watch people grow and also see their loved ones! Maybe even a holiday with my better half and taking lots of pictures. I am wishing all my readers, friends, family, fellow ostomates and chronically ill peeps better health for next year however unpredictable illness and life can be! For anyone who has been suffering with their mental health, I hope you find that little bit of something that keeps you hanging on and pushing forward through the daily challenges you face. I also hope for people to treat others kindly with more compassion and to be more understanding that mental health affects so many people, whether you like them or not! Being kind, less rude and less negative towards others makes so much of a difference. You don’t have to be someone’s friend to be kind!

This is also a good time for you to reflect on who has really been there for you, kind to you and supported you. If people have been unsupportive, rude, unkind and horrible to you, cut them out and really pay them no notice! This doesn’t mean to treat them the same way back though!! Look after yourselves and however you are spending the last day of 2020, I hope that it is being safe by following covid restrictions from your tier and full of happiness! Ours will be spent with chinese food, a bubble bath and gaming with friends!

I will continue to do the same raising awareness, talking about taboo subjects, highlighting areas that need light and making vlogs, blogs and tiktoks in 2021, too!

Lots of love and best wishes for 2021, Alannah.

Awareness, Chronic Illness Blogs, Life With A Stoma, Mental Health Blogs, Personal Blogs

Addiction

In the last 5 years, the world has seen an opioid crisis become worse and worse. People overdosing due to building up such a high tolerance to pain medications, many don’t make it out. After my first major surgery in 2015 I was one of those people amongst that crisis, I was 20 years old.

The thing is, you think that it will never happen to you. You take it as prescribed by your doctor/surgeon and because of this, you feel that you are safe from becoming addicted. Unfortunately addiction can happen to anyone and that is a fact! Most addicts have either a background of Chronic Health, have been involved in a tragic accident or have Mental Health conditions. The problem mostly, is that people do this over a long period of time and sometimes decide the dose may not be enough because their tolerance has changed, with it being a prescription drug, they still feel safe to increase the dose, thinking there will be no danger.

My addictive side of life with drugs started before I got seriously ill when I was in my teens, dabbling in Cocaine, Marijuana, Ecstasy, Speed and Legal Highs. I would drink as normal at the weekends like most teenagers. At that time, it was seen as “the norm” for most people my age to be doing this. I had an addictive personally, a need to be lively and enjoy life and wanted to do that at any cost.

However, my journey with prescription pain killers started before surgery just taking when I was in severe flare ups with my Crohns Disease. After surgery I needed a PCA pump, oramorph and oxytocin on top of what I was already on. I did really great after surgery pain relief wise and had the PCA pump removed just a couple of days afterwards, the oxytocin started to pass straight through my Ileostomy so was taken off of that from the get go on that happening. Being completely honest, I didn’t even know I had an addiction, after all why would I? I was taking it as prescribed. As time went on, my pain seemed to become worse and I couldn’t understand why. One night, I had to call out of hours and a home visit was arranged due to being so poorly. A practitioner nurse visited me and had explained what she knew it was after working in a prison and watching the same thing happen there. I was terrified and didn’t want to be alone, so I went to stay with my mum to detox, I went cold turkey – a term that’s used, meaning you come off everything all at once without weaning off.

After months of sweating till my clothes were soaking through, my stoma going non stop like a firehose (bag changing was an absolute nightmare!), sleepless nights, sleepless days, struggling to eat, losing weight, nausea, intense stomach cramps and my entire body feeling like my veins and skin were crawling, I got better and managed to go back home. I had a lot of support from doctors during this time and it is really important to always communicate with your doctor. Doggy cuddles helped tremendously too! I mostly survived on smoothies made by my mum and water. My dad would come past to check on ey every day and took me to the beach often, it’s my favourite place to go when I am struggling.

After sharing my story on Instagram, many followers commented and messaged me to thank me for talking so openly about this. It made me realise there is not enough awareness about addiction to prescription medications. There needs to be more talking about this, supporting others who have been though it or are going through it! I am not ashamed that this happened to me as it actually taught me quite a lot and helped me understand addiction on a whole other spectrum and why it can happen and take over peoples lives. The pain of withdrawal is unbearable, it makes you feel as if you are dying and the only thing that will take the pain away is to take the one thing that’s causing it – it’s a vicious circle. So if you were given the choice to have no pain, 9 times out of 10 you will. It’s an awful place to be in and many suffer with this for most of their lives.

Luckily there are many charities and organisations that help with addiction and substance misuse. One that is very well known for this is a charity called MIND,

Addiction can happen to anyone but it can also be overcome by anyone. You truly never know the strength you or someone else has until they go through the hardest times of their lives and come out the other side!

Chronic Illness Blogs, Life With A Stoma, Mental Health Blogs, Personal Blogs

What To Watch This Winter?

As winter draws in, the nights are getting darker and the cold is creeping in more and more. We also find ourselves in part 2 of the pandemic with the majority of the south of the UK shielding and the days are beginning to merge into one and before you know it, you have no clue what day of the week it is and it is BORING. I’ve been shielding since the first lock down started earlier this year, with the exception of hospital appointments, shopping and getting out for the odd walk here and there, so I know how the lack of activities is beginning to get on my last nerve! Apart from working out, I can’t deny how much I love a good NETFLIX binge especially on the days where it’s too cold to go outside or I’m simply just not well enough to. Looking through NETFLIX and amazon prime, I thought I would get everyone filled in on what you can watch and watch you will be able to watch later during the last of 2020.

Some Amazon Prime films mentioned may cost so do keep on mind do avoid those if you are on a super tight budget like us, as with NETFLIX the monthly fee is as what you pay for it (we don’t pay for ours.)

  1. Emily In Paris : If you love a chick flick you will absolutely DIE and go to chick flick heaven with this series! A girl finds herself getting a job promotion from America, to Paris and her journey there is tough but totally heart fluttering.
  2. The Tiger King : I think by now we have all heard of Carole Baskin! I you haven’t watched this gob stopping documentary about a guy who wanted to live a celeb life whilst raising tigers, lions and whatever else at his animal park, you need to. It all comes to a crashing end with SO much drama.
  3. The Ted Bundy Tapes : If serial killers, murder documentaries and evil people is your thing, you’ll love this. Following Ted Bundy the serial killer in America of the 60’s to late 70’s before being executed in 89′, how his brain worked, his background and how he managed to deceive multiple communities before being caught.
  4. Sex Education : A hilarious comedy featuring a young teenager who’s mum is a sex therapist. Being a not so popular guy in school, love is tricky for him and doing the old tug of the chicken is as non excitant as his love life. He finds the girls of his dreams but will he see it through?
  5. The Witcher : I can’t lie, THIS is my ultimate favourite watch this year! If you love Lord of The Rings and Game of Thrones, this is right up your street. Dragons, Mages, Witches and a Witcher who tackles huge monsters.
  6. Stranger Things : An absolute belter of a series! Based back in to the 70s/80s genre, a group of kids and their parents/guardians tackle the most evil and biggest monster the world has never even dreamt of. Main character Eleven who can open the porthole for all unruly monsters escapes a scientists lab after being kidnapped as a child, finds herself fighting the evil monsters to save her friends, family and the world.
  7. The Last Kingdom : This epic series dated back in the Viking times has so much of a story line I can only sum it up as best I can! Uhtred being an outsider Saxon (a rouge tribe) seeks to make England a better place following the death of the king and doing his best to support the new one leaving his Saxon life partly behind, whilst finding his brother Ragnor and his sister – on the opposing side as Saxons.
  8. The End Of The Fucking World : A dry and dark comedy that sees two young teens with troubled home lives and mental issues, not popular at school, develop a friendship after murdering a podophile in his home after breaking into his home and being caught, thinking nobody was going to be there for a long period of time.. Their love story has many off and ons and during this time, they go on the run together.
  9. The Corpse Bride : A childhood classic! A man dreaming to make his arranged marriage just perfect, ends up married to a corpse bride!
  10. A Cinderella Story : An updated and new version of the classic Disney story, featuring Hilary Duff at high school, working for her evil step mum after her dad passes when she is a little girl. She texts a boy named Justin and is falling for him, but there’s a catch – he doesn’t know who she is.
  11. Easy A : A hilarious film featuring a young teenager in high school who somehow has it spread round she lost her virginity, instead of trying to deny it, she goes with the flow and there is a storm before the calm!
  12. Blades of Glory : An amazing comedy featuring Will Ferrell, known for his active roles in comedies, is a champion ice skater teams up with another after they become disqualified. They hate each others guts but it’s about to get up close and personal…
  13. The Innocent Man : From being charged for a murder he didn’t commit, you see how his life is turned around and he gets justice – a true story how a man is made innocent and set free.
  14. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina : A new take on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, seeing Sabrina a normal 15 year old at high school (mortal) leading up to her 16th birthday which happens to be on Halloween – her dark baptism. She has to sign her name into the book of the beast, giving the dark lord her soul in exchange for her life as a witch and her powers. So many twists and turns happen and after refusing to sign the book, she is left with no choice at one point. Leaving her mortal life behind and starting her new life a witch and MUCH more. New season coming December 2020.
  15. Riverdale : Ah, the charming Archie Andrews. Living in a small community things get rocky when drugs, murders and gangs start to rival in his small town. He has a mission to stop who is leading these terrible crimes and is confronted with his lovers father. Can he stop him and save his friends, family and town?
  16. Shadow Hunters : A young Clarissa finds herself bumping into someone who usually can’t be seen by anyone, unless he wants them to. She soon finds out that she was born with abilities, wiped from her memory as a young child to protect her from her real father, who seeks to avenge her mother and the community that banished him.
  17. American Horror Story : If you love horror films, this series is perfect. Each season see’s the same actors playing different roles as each season has a different story line. (My personal favourite is Season 3 – The Asylum.)
  18. The Lovely Bones : Only available on Amazon Prime at £5, this chilling docufilm follows the life of a young 14 year old Suzie who is lured and killed by their neighbour. It shows her watching her friends and family in the “in-between” which is the place between Earth and Heaven. Will they get justice for Suzie? I can only say that the ending gives me great happiness.
  19. Knocked Up : A comedy featuring a E star employee who finds herself getting a promotion to be on the TV screen interviewing celebs, has a one night stand and ends up getting pregnant – with not the guys she initially anticipated to have a baby with.
  20. The Invention of Lying : Featuring comedy actor and writer Ricky Gervais, our world is full of honesty without one person ever lying. Harsh and critical honesty, turned around when he invents lying for the first time!

These are all my favourites to watch! Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Chronic Illness Blogs, Life With A Stoma, Personal Blogs

One week post-op!

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Found this old blog post just one week after receiving my stoma in 2015! I thought it would be great to get it published for any new or upcoming ostomates can have a read! 

So as all of you are aware, I received surgery a week ago and now have a permanent stoma (ileostomy.) I have recovered so well so quickly! I was walking the next morning and was off my PCA pump on Saturday morning! I am on regular pain relief and got home on the following Wednesday! It’s great being able to eat foods I couldn’t before and not feel so ill with constant toilet trips! I am settling in at home great too! The only thing I am struggling with is doing the housework and sleeping.

 The operation went extremely well and was done via keyhole. The doctors, surgeon and nurses are amazed at how quickly I have recovered from this, as are my family and friends. I am still sore and weak, I also get tired so easily but being able to do my own washing and have the comfort of my own tv and sofa is amazing! Spending time with family and friends  isn’t spent in the hospital for once! My scars are still quite purple and sore to touch but I am so thankful to be alive, writing this blog right now. I know that if I didn’t have the surgery, I would be dead, the sepsis and infection in my large bowel was really bad, my surgeon said during removing it, my large bowel was disintegrating inside me.

A bag on my side is such a small price to pay for my life. There is still so much that I want to do and achieve in my life! When I have healed completely which will be in 3 months time from now, I hope to be getting the house finished and get my passport sent away and start saving up for my first holiday! A brilliant Facebook page I am a member of has changed my life completely, called #GetYourBellyOut. Everyone has been so supportive to me and my mum and I have made some AMAZING friends there! I couldn’t have went through the surgery without my friends on #GYBO, friends, family and my amazing doctors. I really want to say thankyou to every single one of you and I have so much love for you all! This blog is dedicated to all of you! One friend in particular who is more of a sister to me called Levi has been there day and night and we have so much in common! I love her to bits and wouldn’t be where I am without her!!! So I now leave the end of this blog as my takeaway is being delivered to my door and away to put on a DVD!

Alannah 🙂

Super sweet to read back on this blog piece and to remember exactly how I felt that night too. As for my friend Levi, that still goes! Crazy to think that had I not met her when I was newly diagnosed at 17, I wouldn’t have come across GetYourBellyOut when I did. Since then, just recently, I raised £100 pounds for the charity to say thankyou for all that they have done for not only me, but the entire IBD and Ostomy Community.

Awareness, Chronic Illness Blogs, Life With A Stoma, Personal Blogs

World IBD Day 2020

Today is #worldibdday! This will be a brief post as I am writing this on my phone (my laptop broke after 3 faithful years!)

Today we celebrate world IBD Day all around the world and raise awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. You will see many posts today of people sharing their story/journey or sharing about their loved ones who suffer from IBD! Share the love, ask any questions you are interested to know the answer to and share!

Many amazing charities now exist to help those with IBD or ostomates! The three charities that have helped me SO much with support over the years is: GetYourBellyOut, The Purple Wings Charity and IBD Superheros – all of which have various social medias and facebook groups.

Today for me, I celebrate the friends/family I have met due to sharing our illnesses in common – including my fiance! There are SO many that I could not live without and life really would not be the same without them. So this is a shout out to all my IBD besties who make life worth living, the bad days better and the littlest of things the funniest even when they have been so unwell and in pain themselves!

Chronic Illness Blogs, Mental Health Blogs, Personal Blogs

Fabulous Freebies!

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Good evening everyone! This blog post is about/links to some fabulous freebies I  had found whilst scrolling through the hotukdeals app on my phone!

To find the freebies, simply go onto the hotukdeals website or onto the app and click the ‘freebies‘ tab. There you will find loads of freebies such as apps, books, food, items, free games to download on various gaming consoles and PC and more. There were a few that caught my eye more than others because I knew they would be beneficial to people who either have a chronic illness, insomnia or have felt the burn of the recent benefit cuts. Bare in mind that when you read this a week or a month I have posted that the following might not be available anymore or the deal has expired so do keep an eye on the expiry date of the free offer!

So my eye catching freebie favourites!

Of course there isn’t just this website to get good deals, there is alo Groupon and Wowcher. They both do great meal deals and holiday deals MUCH cheaper than what you pay in the restaurant and at travel agents! Keep an eye for helpful apps I managed to get a painting by colour (not painting by colours brand) app where you can paint pictures like mandala on your phone and save them! Great for when insomnia strikes!

I will be doing more research to see what freebies I can get up for next week and will doa another blog post then! If you have any good websites to recommend that are alike – get in touch! Thankyou!

Personal Blogs

Here’s To 2020!

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Usually I would write about all the new year’s resolutions that I have like every other person, but instead, I wanted to talk about how shitty 2019 has been and what I plan to do in 2020 to make up for that!

2019 I went through a lot mentally and physically that seen me bed bound, riddled with infections, pain, reactions to medications and A LOT of toxic family members that caused me grief. We did however manage to attend the GetYourBellyOut charity ball where I volunteered and did the photography for the evening which I thoroughly enjoyed! We also went to the Enchanted Forest event with complimentary tickets which was lovely and the lights are gorgeous! The most awful parts were going onto antidepressants that made me severely sick and unfortunately we had a miscarriage. However it also gave me luck and I was finally put on the waiting list for wisdom teeth removal and to have my tonsils removed!

Financially it has been the toughest last few months I have ever experienced. We also almost lost the house and our gorgeous dogs. Luckily we are still here but have dreams of moving out this year as not only is the soundproofing terrible, I also have a really disrespectful neighbour who keeps having parties that terrifies the dogs and keeps us awake right through until the next morning. I cut off quite a lot of people and it has done us the world of good – I don’t feel so stressed anymore and don’t have to be treated badly anymore!

I also raised almost £600 for The Purple Wings Charity by being sponsored to do a calendar photoshoot to raise awareness of ostomies! I also collected donations for The Street Friends Helping The Homeless Aberdeen and we go there tomorrow again to drop of the last of what I have managed to collect (HUGE thank you to the community for helping me achieve this.)

So moving onto 2020.. of course I have a few nasty surgeries to have and procedures BUT with GOOD outcomes (hopefully!) I have said to myself that I will make up for all that lost time not being able to see friends and being stuck at home. We have the GetYourBellyOut ball in April to look forward to and hopefully we will also be going to the sea world in Birmingham whilst we are down there! I plan on taking my camera with me a lot more whenever I am out the house – the amount of pretty pictures I could have taken in 2019 would have been fab but I forgot my camera every time! I absolutely plan on a weekend or week down to Glasgow to see one of my best friends. We are also going to be attending the Purple Wings Charity Ball as we missed last years ball.

I also have made it an essential to save and get my passport so I can go abroad once or twice with my friend who models and can take a plus one! Unfortunately I will be selling my beautiful fish tank as I can no longer afford to keep it but the money will be put to good use and pay off some debts. I also have challenged myself to clear out my wardrobes of things I no longer wear either due to they don’t fit anymore or I just never wear them! We have some stoma supplies to donate to The Jacobs Well Appeal too so if you have any spare stoma supplies sitting around that you can no longer use – that’s the best place to send them to! We got a spa day voucher for our christmas so looking very forward to that after my birthday and a little scope around the shops to see what is on sale, I love a good bargain. One of my best friends gets surgery for an Ileostomy this month so will be making sure I go in to visit as much as I can!

So my main goals for 2020:

  • Move house
  • Get a part time job
  • Go on holiday
  • Pay off debt

Here’s to another year of being stoma confident and raising awareness!