What’s Your Story? Meet Megan!

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Megan’s (28) journey started in 2014 when she was pregnant with her now nearly 5 year old son, Caleb.

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It started with having frequent bowel movements, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, mouth ulcers and weight loss. Megan’s midwife put it down to pregnancy and it left it at that. It wasn’t until caleb was born that things got really bad. When he was 2 weeks old Megan’s dad passed away after a short battle with bowel cancer. Then she was going to the toilet 40+ times a day and was losing a lot of blood in each movement. It got to the point where she hadn’t eaten in weeks and had lost so much weight, with her mouth being covered in ulcers and had really bad pain in her stomach. One time, after seeing a doctor, Megan was diagnosed with Ulcerative colitis after a colonoscopy. Since then she has tried all of the medications available to gain remission such as Steroids, Humira, Infliximab and Azathioprine which are types of Chemotherapy drugs.

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Despite her illness and feeling poorly, Megan got married on 16.7.16 to Keith and was very nervous that she was going to have an accident as nerves and IBD do not mix! “It was such an amazing day and we loved every minute of it.” They have a lovely family starting with Caleb (5), Willow the Jack Russell Cross (10), Chief the Podenco Orito (1) and their 2 rabbits Bunbun and Maple.

“We love our animals and I am sure willow and chief know when I’m really sore, they don’t leave my side.”

It was eventually decided that Megan would have surgery to have a temporary loop Ileostomy. The plan was that the stool would bypass the diseased part of bowel and the bowel would get a chance to heal. Megan was prepared for the operation and was happy with this decision. She had had enough of the pain from the Ulcerative Colitis and wanted to try anything to get some relief. In October 2017, Megan had her planned surgery for a loop Ileostomy. The Recovery for her was rough especially once she was in her own home and back to being a Mum and looking after Caleb whilst in pain from surgery! Unfortunately her bowel hasn’t healed from the surgery or medications and is still in lots of pain. Megan is thankful for her stoma as she has so much more freedom than before the stoma.

“I don’t always have to know where the toilet is anymore and I don’t have to worry about shitting myself!”

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Fast forward to now (March) and Megan is now on a medication called mercaptopurine which is an immunosuppressant, waiting on further surgery to remove the rest of the disease in her large bowel and rectum to make the ileostomy bag permanent and have what we call a “Barbie Butt!”  Megan says ” I am Looking forward to this next surgery and to being on the road to recovery and hopefully a pain free life! Life is still a struggle but my family, friends and the online ibd community keeps me going.”

 

Stoma Products Review: Pelican Vitamin E Bags

Today I am sampling the Pelican Platinum vitamin E ostomy convex bag, after seeing these on social media and knowing @crohnsfighting and how well the bags have been for her, I wanted to sample these bags to see if they would also be good for me!

They arrived this morning (13th March) and I received a lovely letter informing me about the product, that they are available on prescription and should I have any issues or questions to contact them with the contact details!

My first thoughts were great! The bottoms of the bags were already closed up so there was no issues with all the bags sticking together inside the packaging. The only thing I was a bit unsure about was that there is no measuring guide on the actual flange itself, to know how big you are cutting. As I don’t have a stoma template I have had to guess how to cut it. However this is perfect for a newbie ostomate, if your stoma is still changing size.

The ostomy bag is a lovely nude/skin colour and works really well with the skin and it is much less visible than most other ostomy bags out there when on the stomach. It is also very light and the shape is great! For me it’s also another benefit that the shape isn’t too different to my current bags because I can still wear my stoma bag covers.

The aim of the vitamin E range ostomy bags are designed to do:

  • Moisturize – To help nourish the delicate skin around the stoma and prevent dryness. It also hydrates the skin and helps to prevent water loss.
  • Faster Healing – To help improve the skin condition by repairing skin that has been damaged through skin stripping.
  • Kinder To Skin – To help reduce skin damage and skin redness with antioxidant properties.
  • Anti-Inflammatory – To help minimise skin irritation caused by pouch application and removal.

 

So what is the product like when on?

Putting the bag on was extremely easy and the wafer flange stuck instantly without any peeling at all. As you can see in the pictures above and below, the colour really blends in well! I also love how small the velcro and sides at the bottom are. I have had the bag on for over an hour and still there is no peeling at all and my stoma feels safe and secure. I will be using this bag again!

The convex is also perfect for me because there is no pressure or pain when wearing this ostomy bag. It also ensures that I don’t have a leak. I really love how even without a bag cover on, I cannot feel the bag at all unless Lola decides to trump! I highly recommend this product for new ostomates!

To  order a sample from the Pelican Healthcare range, please click here.

What’s Your Story? Meet Nicola!

In August 2017 Nicola had a CT scan with a virtual colonoscopy. She had been having symptoms of IBS for about a year prior to this and was finally referred for her colonoscopy. Working as a Property Manager for a large commercial landlord in Birmingham which was stressful with lots of pressure. Nicola was also training hard and running half marathons and was what you would described as “pretty fit!”

The bowel prep is the worst thing she had ever had to endure. It wasn’t surprising that the afternoon after the scan Nicola was called by who is now her consultant, to come in for a chat. The chat was to inform her that she had stage 4 bowel cancer and liver mets. The pain experienced from a total blockage in her large bowel that had distended to near breaking point. Nicola was then told she would have to have a colostomy the next day but she refused and subsequently went on to have a stent and a full colonic irrigation a few days later.

For a while things were stable but then the stent failed and had to be flushed out again. In that December Nicola had a bowel perforation and sepsis from this in the large bowel and was told she had 24 hours to live again she refused the colostomy and was sent to the hospice to die and walked out 9 days later! Fast forward to February and the stent failed again and she had another one installed but it only lasted a day. Finally after “a lot of soul searching” Nicola then decided to go for the colostomy! The operation was not without its difficulty but she now has Berly the stoma- her “magic button”.

“I have not looked back since then! The surgery and recovery was very hard at first but then as the days went by, I got more and more confident and started to get my life back. I still have days that are hard but it’s all part of having a stoma and cancer.”

Nicola’s boss was amazing and so good about her job and let her work part time hours and to work from home, but they agreed last August that it was time to hang up her executive hat for now. So Nicola now works part time for cancer research in their Solihull shop! She is also the chairman of the Business Improvement district in Birmingham, which keeps her occupied and something to focus her time on. Cancer has taught her so much including what is actually important to her and how to see positives out of what should be a negative! She also tries to share out kindness to those who might not be as lucky as she has been.

Nicola (50) lives at home with her husband, three rescue cats; Joey, Nala and Simba and her Jack Russell Skyler. Nicola and her husband will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary in March of this year and Nicola has said that despite having terminal cancer and hospital trips and surgery, it has made the marriage even stronger than ever! During Nicola’s recovery, she received great support online from new friends in the Ostomy Community.

On the bad days, Nicola will colour in her colouring in book whilst watching Netflix (who doesn’t love a good bit of Netflix?!) whilst using her lovely heat pad. On the good days, Nicola spends her time making the best of every single good day, staying positive and remaining as normal as she can be. I asked Nicola what she plans for the future in which she says “It is hard to plan a future with a diagnosis of terminal cancer however us cancer sufferers set ourselves small targets in which we want to achieve. My small target is going on holiday later this year with my husband for a little while. I also want to reach out and help other people who are chronically ill and don’t have the correct or no support. Most importantly, I want to live my life each day!”

“This is a photo of me saying my goodbyes to my family and friends and my little dog in the Marie Curie Hospice in December 2017. A miracle can happen and it’s not your time till it’s your time. So keeping on even when it hurts and thinking you can’t do it anymore.. you really can!”

 

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In this picture Nicola models with the I Am Denim London ostomy jeans! To view the blog about them please click here.

I met Nicola at the Purple Wings day conference back in August 2018 and we have spoken ever since. Since then I have come to see just how strong and brave Nicola is!

If you or a family member are affected by cancer and need support please talk to a Marie Curie nurse via the helpline or you can follow Nicola on Instagram @berylandme.

Latest Deals – Where To Look

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Finding the right deals on gaming equipment can be difficult, mainly because there are so many websites and places to go to and before you know it you aren’t sure where the right deal is. There are a variety of websites you can go to to look for the latest deals and bundles and I recently came across latestdeals.co.uk. They do a variety of deals and bundles on gaming equipment without having to search for hours on end because they show you where all the best deals are! They show a variety of websites so you can compare those prices right there and then.

Many websites can be really expensive and very confusing to use! Anyway, I saw that they have a section for the PS4 Pro and bundles that could be handy for those looking to get one or fancy a change from PC or the Xbox One console. The Ps4 Pro is the newest and latest addition to the Playstation family of consoles and is spoken of as better than the newest Xbox One X and described by Sony as ” the most powerful playstation ever made.”

It has a 4k gaming experience as well as super fast frame rates. The picture is even crisper with a 4k viewing device such as 4k flat screen TV. It has twice the GPU power that the original ps4 has, which means games run smoother and takes less time to load games and content. The colours are more real life colours than ever before! The new games made for the PS4 Pro have more graphics than any other gaming platform console making your gameplay extremely life like.  If you have a HDR TV the colours are super intensified and vibrant making everything super real.

In terms of streaming, you can stream from the PS4 Pro on your local gaming platforms such as Twitch or Youtube without that lag you normally get when streaming or when your game rates drop and believe me – there is NOTHING worse than your frames per second dropping during your stream time! You can stream your favourite movies in 4k definition, which is a super clear and crisp picture on apps such Netflix or Now TV and any other streaming apps. Even if you haven’t the best quality of TV – the PS4 Pro can still make your gaming and visual experience, an incredible experience! It has a 1080p share play, 1080p remote play and enhanced WiFi meaning that viewing has never been better for your viewers or friends with super fast internet connectivity speeds.

But if you aren’t into all that technical stuff, you just want a great gaming experience and something to unwind without having to leave your home. If like me, you spend most of your time in bed but love to game, you want something that gives you that motivation to find that love and passion for gaming again, to maybe start streaming again. Maybe you are bored of the console you have and want something newer and more exciting? But then you have the issue of finding where it is cheapest or can you get it with a bundle of games and equipment for a decent price. To view the latest deals and bundles offers please click here.

Stoma Product Review: Trio Pearls

Having high output can be difficult to deal with. During the day you are emptying more than normal or if this is normal for you then it’s the case of emptying all day, every day. At night you are up and down from the toilet. You get leaks because of the nights and days running back and forth and have sore skin from the leakage.

Some days I get high output too (although my usual is constipation) with my Ileostomy and it can be a nightmare when Immodium doesn’t work like you want or need it to. I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Instagram and seen that Trio Healthcare Ltd (instagram name trioostomycare) do absorbing agents called pearls. I read that when inside your bag, they absorb the liquid inside! Instantly I knew I needed some as that day was a high output day.

I recieved them in the post really quickly! I had been waiting for another high output day to try these and a few days ago I had a day of high output of water and was able to finally try them out!

I opened the packet and yep you guessed it – I spilt some all over the place! I am quite clumsy! (I then read on the website you put the sachet in your bag and the packet dissolves whilst the product absorbs!) Anyway, I opened the bottom of my bag and gave it a good clean then put half of the packet of pearls inside. When I next needed to empty my bag, I noticed that my ouput was thicker and pretty much normal!

I then left my bag to fill up again after just to make sure it was the pearls and not my output changing. It stayed like water! I wish I had put a full packet in as I think the outcome would have been much better. If liquid output or should i say – water ouput is something you have problems with then definitely give these pearls a try!

To order your sample click here.

Stoma Product Review: Trio Siltac Ostomy Seal

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Trio Siltac Silicone – Ostomy Seal

Making the change to try different ostomy seals, I was apprehensive. I kept having leaks and my skin was burning daily!

I ordered some samples from the Trio Healthcare Ltd website and these beautifully packaged seals arrived by post in just a few days. When it came to bag change day, I took them out the packaging and wasn’t sure how to apply at first. I then realised they expand so easily and once placed around the stoma, the seal doesn’t lose shape. So the silicone is definitely easier to apply than most I have tried.

I also found that they are nice and slim which ensures the ostomy bag to stick well and flush to the skin. The size of my stoma is around the 20mm mark so I used the 20mm – 28mm and they are on my prescription list now! I also use the adhesive remover and skin barrier sprays with these ostomy seals which you can find here.

On a personal preference, I like to air out my skin after cleaning before applying anything onto the skin and drying the stoma first before putting the ostomy seal onto the skin to ensure it sticks well. If I have a bad leak, I use calamine lotion but on all good and bad days I stick to these go-to products!

Giveaway!

Fancy winning 5 ostomy covers for you or a friend you know who has a stoma?

I am having Stoma Style make 5 ostomy bag covers to one lucky winner! (They made the my little pony cover in the photo above.)

All you have to do is follow my blog by entering one or more of your email(s) and confirming this in your emails!

I ordered bag covers back when I had surgery in 2015 to try and come to terms with having a bag and it totally worked along side ostomy fashion wear! It stops the bag from sticking or rubbing on your skin and they are machine washable. I also found them to really help when I’ve had a bag leak by containing what comes out. It also helps when I am out in public and I need to check on my bag, people don’t seem to care by seeing a bit of fabric!

Once I hit 100 followers, I will put all emails into a generator then pick a winner! Get following and you never know – it could be you!

Good luck!!

My Vanilla Blush Collection!

It’s no secret that I love Vanilla Blush! They are expanding the selection of items of clothing which is includes hoodies, jogging bottoms and bodysuits, so I recently bought a beautiful body suit which includes a pocket for an ostomy bag just like their women briefs, mens boxers and children’s wear. There are also briefs and hernia support wear and many are on NHS prescription.

Vanilla Blush helped me gain confidence back after my surgery back in 2015, after talking to Nicola who also has an ostomy. I also did a coffee morning stall for them here locally in Inverness and loved helping people of all ages and I met so many lovely people.

A little about Vanilla Blush;

“From her hospital bed, and after researching all the medicalised underwear available, Nicola decided she would set up her own company. However, the unique selling point of Vanilla Blush would be that it would deal with Stomas and underwear not as a medical issue but as a fashion issue. Both medically sound but also fashion proud… Launching live on ITV’s ‘This Morning Show’, Valentine’s 2008, Vanilla Blush has grown to become an award winning, globally recognised, business success. Selling female lingerie, male underwear, hernia supportwear, swimwear and sportswear, Vanilla Blush has seen its business grow from great news story to great business story.”

I have the colours of the rainbow..almost! I also have different sizes for when I have lost or put on weight. I put together collages of my collection, I hope you enjoy! Thank you to my partner for taking the photos! The women’s briefs that I have worn since my surgery has been so comforting in helping with my bag when I don’t want to wear a bag cover. If I’m going on a night out for food or to see family/friends and decide to wear a body con dress, the briefs are fantastic to hide your ostomy bag! The pocket is adaptive for room so if your bag balloons or fills, it isn’t so noticeable as it would be without the briefs. They are extremely soft and machine washable too. And that isn’t the only bonus..the next bonus? They make women of any age feel sexy with a stoma!

Here is my collection!;

I asked other ostomates what they loved most about Vanilla Blush underwear that they wear and this is what they said;

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crohnsfighting: “Personally for me I prefer the NHS cotton knickers they do. They are brilliant for the gym and the inside pouch is bigger. For the normal knickers they make, they are good under ball gowns but my main bug bear is the fat roll you get between the knicker back and bra drives me mad . They are also good for wearing with low waisted jeans.”

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ZoeyWrightFitness: “The Underwear makes me feel sexy and sassy whilst the VB hernia support wear makes me feel confident and supported whilst working out.. I wouldn’t wear anything else!”

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Rocking2stomas: “I love that they support both stomas but especially my prolapse and they don’t feel too tight!”

colitiscop: “My new support belt made me feel secure, protected and supported throughout. No rolling up or down even with someone in full mount on me! I have a spare one so I have one for the gym,work and everyday use!”

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jessica_k_miles: ” These gorgeous intimacy knickers are perfect for those intimate moments when you want security and also want to feel beautiful!”

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bagdaddysteve: “The shorts are brilliant, they cover your appliance without making you look like Simon Cowel. I always wear the vests and boxers with a band when I’m training!”

ibdwarriorprincess: “If you want to have a confidence boost and feel sexy but classy at the same time, after ostomy surgery, vanilla blush are amazing. They are so pretty and snug, high quality and pretty!”

It it recommended that you go a size up from what you normally wear too! They also do bundles and offers on their instagram, be sure to check it out so you don’t miss out!

happy shopping!

-alannah x

My Favourite Places to Visit in Scotland!

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If you live in Scotland, there are some amazing places to visit. There are still some other places I would like to visit too!

Here’s a list of my favourite places to visit!

Cullen.

A sea-side town with an amazing beach and the ice cream shop there makes the most amazing ice cream I have ever tasted! Not to mention the fresh fish at the chipper!

 

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Oban.

Another seaside town, going at the times where tourists aren’t around is better as it’s more quiet. It is next to the Isle of Mull (where Ballamory the kids show was filmed, in Toblamory.)

Ullapool.

A little town where people use the ferry quite a lot, one thing I am still to experience! Again amazing fresh fish. There is a restaraunt I adore right next to sea across from the gift shop, just down from the campsite.

Dufftown.

A small village with amazing views! If you like photography then Dufftown is like a dream for scenery. It also has Dufftown Fairy Village where in the forest, someone has made a little village with miniature houses and they are so stunning. It is also where the Glenfiddich Distillery is located, that makes Glenfiddich whisky.

Pitlochry.

A little town with more stunning scenery but the town itself looks like it’s from a movie! If you go around October time, you can attend The Enchanted Forest. We went in 2018 and I want to go every year for as long as it is running! It was absolutely magical and it’s fun for all the family!

And lastly, Gardenstown.

A very small little seaside village that is really quiet but stunning. There is a really, really old graveyard with skulls and crosses on the gravestones!

Bullying: When To Talk About It

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At some point in our lives, we have all experienced a type of bullying. It could be because of hair colour, the type of clothes you like to wear, the colour of your skin, your taste in music or simply because you are an easy target for that person. But when is enough, enough? When is the right time to talk about it?

So many people are being bullying in this day and age through social media, at school, in hospitals or in a social setting. I have seen many people be bullied because of having a stoma bag or being chronically ill, yep that’s right, bullied for being ill. I’ve been there. I was bullied via twitter for posting a picture of myself sunbathing with my ileostomy bag out on show, no poop or stoma on show, simply laying in the sun on a blanket in the garden! The thing is with bullying, whatever type of bullying it is, it is still bullying. The right time to talk about it is when it gets to the point where it is upsetting you and they won’t back off. If they are relentless or keep making snide remarks, you must speak up and tell someone.

A really good website and charity that I found that can really help is called Young Minds. They help young people who have or are being bullied and with mental health conditions in young children. “We’re leading the fight for a future where all young minds are supported and empowered, whatever the challenges. We’re here to make sure they get the best possible mental health support and have the resilience to overcome life’s difficulties. The crisis in children and young people’s mental health is real and it is urgent. More children and young people than ever before are reaching out for help with their mental health. But for those who take that brave step, help is much too hard to find.”

They have a website which you can view by clicking here. They also have a phone line where you can call and talk about the bullying or issues you may have at present time.

Don’t let bullying take over your life, take over your own life and stop the bullying by speaking up and fighting this together!

 

-Alannah