Chronic Illness Blogs, Life With A Stoma, Mental Health Blogs, Personal Blogs, Pregnancy and Baby

Healthy Eating With An Ostomy

Recently, my partner and I have been calorie counting and eating much more healthy. If you are new to my blog or didn’t know, my partner also has an Ileostomy and we both have Crohns Disease.

Six months ago, I had a c section to have our son Odin and since then, I have put on weight whereas before my son, I struggled to keep any weight I put on.  I’ve not only struggled with fitting into my clothes and body confidence, but also my skin. It’s not unknown that skin conditions associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease can creep up on you at some time in your life and for me, this started three months ago and I had no idea what to do. I didn’t want to leave the house, I made very minimal effort but whenever I did have to leave the house, I tried to cover my red and broken out skin best as I could. It was also extremely painful and washing my face hurt and, it would smell really bad some days. Like others with IBD, I need to have a low fibre/low residue diet which can mean a lot of fatty, processed and sugary foods because most healthy foods cause pain, wind, diarrhoea, blockages and vomiting.

As I said at the beginning, we started healthy eating and calorie counting. Now, we had zero idea how this was going to go because throughout and after my pregnancy, I kept getting really bad blockages and severe constipation. Every time I had any fruit or vegetables, my stomach and stoma played absolute havoc! So far, it has been two weeks since we started our weight loss journey with an app called My Fitness App, recommended by two other ostomates on twitter. To start, I put in the current weight I was at, my height and what my goal weight is that I would like to be. It then calculates how much calories you need per day and it has a diary section where you put in your intake for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as snacks and water intake.

Meal planning has been much easier than we expected. The app has a recipes section, with lots of amazing recipes to choose from. When it comes to eating healthy and following recipes, you need to adapt them to your needs and so, in this instance, I know I cant eat anything wholemeal at all. So for each recipe that uses wholemeal for example, rice, I use white rice because that’s what is safe and best for my stoma and Crohn’s. It’s been so much fun making everything from scratch at home together! My favourites are the banana and almond smoothie and the potato and carrot latkes. There is also a section for workouts such as yoga and videos showing you how! I haven’t ventured into these yet but I do plan on doing that next week as at the moment I am trying to go for small walks each day to get steps in but I find that difficult due to my mobility issues so I know the home yoga may be good for me.

So, to current date (6th April) I have lost 8 pounds! My skin has also become so much better as I don’t eat a lot of processed foods that I had previously of eaten a few weeks ago. Food somehow tastes a whole lot better and so much more fresh. We are enjoying it so much so, that takeout isn’t very appealing anymore! I’m looking forward to fitting into my clothes and just feeling better in general. I have noticed how much better mentally I feel by cutting out crappy foods and snacks, not fully, because obviously I have mental health conditions (which are caused by chemical problems in the brain and gut) so they will never fully go away but any improvement is better than none in my eyes. I have surgery to remove all my wisdom teeth in May, which means I will be on a liquid diet for a couple of weeks. There are lots of high calorie but healthy things available on the app, so I can find lots of recipes to help. There is also Google, so these will make sure I don’t loose too much at once.

If you want to loose weight, you have to make the start! Adapt the diet and recipes that you know, to suit your body and chronic illness. That ensures you don’t cause any issues for your health by triggering any flares etc. Good luck to anyone on their journey or if this has given you motivation to start then I hope it goes well! ❤️

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

A Letter To My Son

Once you have a son, life is never the same and you find it hard to imagine what your life was like before he made his appearance into this world.  It is the most wonderful feeling to be a mum! I wanted to write a letter to my son so when he is older, he can read this. Many other mums may also be able to relate to my pregnancy and fertility journey!

I carried you through the hardest months I’ve had in my life so far. Pregnancy was hard and with chronic illness, a stoma, PGP, and mental illness added into the mix, it was quite the mocktail without the cherry on top! As you began to grow in my tummy, I felt butterflies rumbling as you moved in your sleep, when I played music, and when I lay in the bath (I knew from that first wriggle in the bath and every time I was in there, that you were going to be a water baby!) If I hadn’t of announced I was pregnant with you, everyone would have been none the wiser, due to having such a small bump, which didn’t appear until you were around 26 weeks old and boy, didn’t I know about it when I did! I felt every kick and hiccup which was super painful but rewarding at the same most precious time. Your favourite place to kick was under my ribs and my bum! It’s a sensation I can never really explain to anyone when they have asked how it feels, all I can say is it’s super sore and weird but also funny at the same time.

I remember the very first outfit I ever got you, it was just after my gender scan and I had found out we were having a little boy. Now the gender scan did not go to plan at all! When I think back, I laugh! I had taken a Chinese gender scan online and, with the symptoms I had whilst pregnant with you, it appeared to me, that I was having a girl! When the person doing my scan said I was having a boy, I was so emotional and I cried. Half of those tears were due to hormones and the other half was down to being so annoyed at myself for thinking you were a girl and also due to grief. You see, before I was pregnant with you, I had a previous pregnancy but she had to leave too soon with the doctors help as I was too poorly. It would have been her 3rd birthday this year and she is never forgotten even though she was so little ( I say she because [some may not believe in this] I saw a pshyic medium who seen her with your great, great granny). Now, your outfit was this gorgeous blue and white winnie the pooh shorts romper, you’ll see this picture below.

SO cute!! At just 5 months, you have the greatest lanky legs like a dandy long legs! Which you love to kick around and swing left, right and centre whilst wriggling and rolling in mid nappy/clothes changes, cheeky! You might notice when you’re older, a little cut on your hair line. This is because I had to have my tummy cut open to give birth to you, ouch! I’ve had lots of many different surgeries and by the time we read this and you’re old enough to understand, I know I will have had lots more! Never worry, I’m always looked after by very nice doctors and nurses and I had many surgeries before I had you so I’ve learnt a thing or two on how to be a tough cookie! Same as for your daddy, which is how we met, and is a story for another time.

Being your mummy is hard some days because when I am sore, I become very tired and some things that wouldn’t really bother me most days, bothers me and I get grumpy. Like not being able to take you out for walks in your pram or having the house clean and tidy. Every time you laugh on those hard days or when you smile or say “dada” it helps me feel better and it makes them so worth it! When I see you splashing in the bath and having so much fun soaking my face, all I can do is laugh. When I hurt and feel pain, your cuddles are the best medicine I could ever need. You are six months old and growing so quickly, slow down! I haven’t had enough of my little baby just yet, and maybe you will always be my baby boy. When you are old enough to understand, I can explain in more detail just how much of a special little rainbow baby you are.

A little miracle. A blessing. Pure joy.

Your big brother Biggie knew when I was pregnant with you before we had announced it to all our family and friends, and has loved you from the minute he knew. He loved to lay his head on my belly and listen to you inside! When I brought you home, he slept by you in your moses basket and bouncer chair and still now, loves to be by your side. You have just started to see him as a dog with fur and his big flappy ears! You explore his face and body with your tiny little hands and fingers, feeling his soft smooth and jabby fur as he naps next to you before you too drift off into a nap. You are trying to say “dog” too! What a clever little man you are. As you grow older, Biggie will too, and he will always be your bestest friend and remember that Biggie is part of the family, more than just a dog!

Sometimes, I may need to be away from home when I don’t feel well but always know, I’ll be coming back home to you and when I do, I will always be ready for your kisses and cuddles. When I am away, I go to a place called the hospital where I get looked after and helped to feel better so you mustn’t worry. Daddy and Biggie will be there with big cuddles and Biggie more than likely will make you laugh with his loud and stinky farts!! Sometimes daddy may need to go to hospital to feel better, too,but he is much more braver than I and we never need to worry. You will also become aware that both Daddy and I poop and fart differently with our pink squishy buttons on our tummies! My squishy is called Lola and she saved my life and she can be very funny! You will learn all about her from your Buttony Bear book i read to you through the years and your buttony bear!

Know this icke baby, that whatever we go through in life, know we have eachother. We got this. Strength grows with love and our family is full!

Chronic Illness Blogs, Life With A Stoma, Mental Health Blogs, Personal Blogs, Pregnancy and Baby

Travelling

Waiting for the train. 15/03/21

Travelling for the first time on my own since having Odin has felt so strange. I’ve missed him from the minute my partner drove away in the car. Finally, after being on the train for a half hour, I was able to relax and enjoy the Scottish scenery we are so lucky to have here in Scotland!

We were up at 8:30 am. I got showered and packed the last of my things after changing Odin whilst my partner fed him and let our doggy out for his morning business! My train was at 10:13 am so we left the house around 9:40 am to make it there in time for me to print out my train tickets. It was bloody freezing, so I quickly dug out my hat and gloves from my backpack (pictured above, which is from Hype.) Once on the first train, I popped in my wireless headphones and put on my rock playlist. I was feeling pretty down from missing my boys, but after coming off the first train, I went and got a coffee and a maple pecan plait (which is my favourite bakery food!!) And back to listening to my playlist on Spotify, I feel a lot better. It sounds super strange, but it definitely helps to pick some really chilled out rock when I feel anxious.

So what are my tips for travelling with a stoma? In my previous blog from when I flew with my stoma (you can find by clicking here.), I haven’t blogged about travelling on the train with a stoma! Here are some tips that may help you;

  • Apart from the main things you need, it’s handy to bring a backpack with your essentials in there, for example, medication, juice, snacks, hand sanitiser, and a phone charger.
  • Empty your bag when you can, especially when you feel it getting near halfway. This will help you not only avoid leaks but also panic! If you suffer from frequent leaks or eat anything high in fibre the night before and are a little worried, take some spare stoma supplies in your backpack. Eating low fibre foods if you are sensitive to those also helps and drink plenty of isotonic drinks to keep hydrated, for if you have a long journey, it can be quite warm on public transport.

Thanks to Scotrail for having WiFi on the train, I was also able to video call with my partner, which helped my anxiety A LOT. I got to see Odin and my dog, Biggie, and see how they all were doing. The views on the train from Montrose were absolutely stunning, too! I forgot there was a bridge and freaked out a little being on a train above water, haha! Once I arrived in Glasgow, it was onto busy and exciting things! Which I can’t reveal just yet (which also means when I do, my social media will be private for a little while). After my slightly busy afternoon, I came back to my hotel and nipped to tesco for some makeup remover wipes because I forgot to take my Elemis cleanser with me, then ordered some food from Tofu Asian Fusion Partick (a place that specialises in tofu but is highly recommended by people I know and me!)

After food, I got tucked into bed and started to watch the new Jeremy Kyle documentary on Channel 4 via the all 4 app, (gutted it’s only just two episodes!) and relaxed for the night. In the morning, I had a fabulous relaxing shower, a coffee, and lounged around in my towel whilst doing my makeup and continued to watch the second episode of the Jeremy Kyle documentary. Once ready, I popped off to go the shop for some isotonic drinks and a quick look in the charity shop, in which I managed to grab a bargain; a top for just £2.50! Then, a quick dash to my taxi and then the start of a busy and exciting day! After an exciting and emotional but fun day, I had to make a quick dash back to the hotel to check out. I then picked up a coffee and toastie before heading off to get my first train home (I had a couple of changes to get).

Finally, after what felt like forever, I got onto my last train home!! The anticipation to see my boys was crazy! The whole hour, I was thinking, “I can’t wait to see them and give them all a big squeeze!!” Which is EXACTLY what I did when I saw them once returning home! Odin became wide awake with excitement (he was fast asleep in the car). I ran a bubble bath after changing Odin’s nappy and popped him to bed and then enjoyed a lovely soak in the bath and then also went to bed!

Travelling can be exhausting when travelling, so it is important to take time for yourself and rest when you get home.

Personal Blogs

Motherhood

Odin and I at the aquarium!

Motherhood is such a mix of emotions. Mostly full of joy, pride, and love. Each day is different, some you find that you are on top of everything i.e the housework, you’ve showered and you have maybe went for a walk and some days the house is a total mess, you haven’t showered but your baby is smiling, clean and fed.

Being a chronically ill mum, it adds a whole lot more into the mix! You ache, some days you can’t eat, you’re so exhausted from looking after a little human and the chronic fatigue. On the good days, however, you make the most of your day! Which is exactly what I did in the picture above. You begin to find your own routine, too, which helps you make a plan in your mind when you can take your medication and shower, which are the main important things for me. Self care is so important (I know, I ALWAYS say this, but it’s true!), and you need to remember to take time for yourself too, it helps keep you sane, relaxed and can benefit your mental health. I also try to get out for walks with Odin and our dog Biggie, when it isn’t too cold. On the days where I’m either too tired or sore to do much or Odin’s having a bad day, I may find myself being pooped on, spewed on, haven’t been able to shower and the house is a mess! It’s totally OK to have days like those.

The main downside I’ve found, from a combination of chronic illnesses and being a mum, is that you soon realise who is REALLY your friend. It’s a harsh, quick sadness that you may find yourself in more times than once. I’ve had friends turn out to be huge jerks after years of friendship, out of nowhere, or I simply didn’t see the signs. I’ve dealt with friends simply blocking me for standing up for myself, another was truly awful to me because I was hoping to have a girl in my pregnancy and others just simply not think of me and dont invite me to anything. You also realise what family truly cares about you, too. I’ve had many not bother to message and ask how Odin is or myself, some so excited for me to have a baby and meet Odin and i gave up asking them when they wete free with excuses and some didn’t even congradulate me when i announced my pregnancy. However, there is also the beautiful side of life, where you make new friends and choose your family! I’ve made such amazing friends with other chronically ill mums, have been blessed with still having friends from school around and the family I have now, are so supportive and loving that I consider Odin, Jaimie and I super fortunate. I like to count one blessing or good thing in each day, which helps me cope so much! For example, yesterday, we got out for a walk and spent time with family. The day before, I had a long soak in the bath and really enjoyed some me time.

In tough times, count your blessings and love the people who love you! The rest who don’t think about you don’t let yourself think about them.❤

Personal Blogs

Travelling For The First Time As A Mum

The beautiful scenery

Travelling for the first time as a mum and a family has been a mixed experience, full of highs and lows. It took hours to pack, due to Odin not settling (I think he knew something was happening.)

We both took an LFT after finishing packing and putting everything in the car and then left for Glasgow around 2 pm and finally arrived at about 8 pm. The weather was fortunately on our side and made the views absolutely stunning past Aviemore and Grantown On Spey! We had to stop about two hours in to feed Odin and change him, let Biggie out for a wizzy, and then we set back off again. Our second stop was at McDonalds for a quick bite to eat, which was SO busy! Everything went great until about 30 minutes before arriving in Glasgow..

Odin got hungry (he also had pooped which I realised when I changed him at the hotel), and the traffic was absolutely mental, to say the least! People don’t let you past here or give you way and we had a terrible time trying to find the car park and then the car park was such a long walk to the hotel, my feet are super sore and swollen. On the walk to the hotel, someone was arrested with another being questioned, people were smoking weed on the streets like it was legal, and the nightlife here is 100% not for us! Jaimie definitely found it way too stressful driving around Glasgow (and the traffic lights take forever to go green!) My anxiety got the better of me as it wa so busy I was worried a stranger would try to touch Odin or go near his pram and the sheer shock of walking on a street with all that happening, sent me into tears, most likely a panic attack?

However, that all being said, now we are settled in the hotel room, it is so nice to get away for a night. Biggie is lying, snoring at the bottom of the bed, and Odin is sound asleep in his travel cot. I’ve had a cup of tea and have my heat pad on my back, which is easing the back pain which I suffer from daily. I’m really excited for the opportunity tomorrow has for me, and I’m so grateful for this entire experience; it’s a learning curve and another memory and exploring of Scotland to pop in memory Bank!

It also has helped know that for future holidays, the do’s and dont’s!

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!!

Pregnancy and Baby

The Highs And Lows In Pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of those experiences that unless you experience it, you don’t REALLY understand it. The good and bad thing is that it is different for so many!

Many women find that falling pregnant doesn’t ‘just happen’ and it can take a few tries and losses to finally get far along enough to feel that “safe zone”. If you are high risk and have lost before, you will find that each milestone feels like a huge achievement. As each day, week and month goes by you still feel anxious, scared, nervous, excited and have a sense of wonder for what the future holds for you as a first time mum.

For me, the first milestone was 12 weeks because I have never, ever gotten that far before. Then came 20 weeks where we also found out the gender of our baby and had the babies weight and organs checked, all of which came back 100%!! It was a huge shock for us due to us both being chronically ill, we worried something would happen or be passed onto the baby so we were super chuffed to hear all is well and a VERY strong heartbeat! Now, at 21 weeks my next milestone is going to be 24 weeks and I feel that at that one I can fully breathe and relax a little bit better without so much worry.

So what have the highs and lows been for me? There has been so many, just to list a few:

  • Losing friends – it is true what they say that when you become pregnant, you realise who is really there for you. One of my friends of years completely blocked and removed me over night. It still hurts to this day but you do learn to come to terms with losses of friendships over time!
  • Feeling the baby kick – it feels bizarre! But it is SO lovely to wake up in the morning by little baby kicking away letting me know they are awake!
  • The hot flushes – oh. my. goodness. They come out of nowhere and can last upto a few hours!! The room can be freezing due to windows open and the fan on the highest setting and I will still feel too hot! Eventually it does settle with some paracetamol and an ice pack.
  • The hunger – this is a funny one! You eat and eat and EAT and you still don’t feel full, only when you feel the indigestion pain starting and the sick burps from your body letting you know that “girl you have to stop!!”
  • The amazing support – you connect with your friends and family in a much different way than before. Especially those who have had children of their own as its nice to have something in common. For friends who haven’t had kids yet, its nice to be able to share this experience with them!
  • The fatigue – this part is probably the worst. As I have said previously, 10 years of chronic illnesses has not prepared me for how tired you become when pregnant. Before I would laugh it off when people would tell me how tired you get when carrying! Naps have become my daily routine and really do help.
  • Looking at baby clothes/items!! – looking at all the cute items and clothing you can get for your baby is the best feeling ever! Everything is so dinky and cute! It makes you that more excited for the arrival of your baby.
  • Blockages/constipation – this has been super difficult! Just a few days ago, I had a really bad blockage and was vomiting real hard. I was super close to going to hospital but eventually after sipping on diluted laxatives from 6am, it eventually did clear. The constipation makes my stoma quite swollen so sometimes it can be painful however having an Ileostomy means there are now nerve endings so you really don’t feel much apart from pressure and swelling which is like a tightness.
  • Lastly (this one is very dependant on you and your pregnancy) the pain – luckily my crohns hasn’t been too bad but everything else has not been so kind on my body! I was diagnosed with PGP (pelvic girdle pain) which is super painful along side having Hyper Mobility Syndrome – my joints dislocate and pop back into place almost daily, sometimes multiple times per day. So I have to rest quite a lot! All it takes is a sneeze or cough and my hip clicks and pops.

It’s been really lovely to document my pregnancy journey not only here, but over at Trio Healthcare too where I talk about how pregnancy has been with a stoma. When I first became an ostomate, there was no blogs or information available about pregnancy with an ostomy and so, I never knew what to expect or any advice on how to cope with things! I hope by sharing my experiences, that it helps anyone out there with an ostomy feel reassured and have some advice on becoming an ostomy mum! To start with, I was so worried about how it would affects my stoma and my chronic illnesses but in time like with most things, you learn to adapt and cope with what your body throws at you. You learn to grow through your pain and bad experiences and turn them into something good! My number 1 advice would be is to listen to your body, so often we push ourselves to do that bit of housework or go for a walk when our body feels ready to collapse with tiredness! Rest is so important.