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, 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, Pregnancy and Baby

Turning 27!

My first birthday as a mama!

Oh my gosh, I’m now 27! Mentally I don’t feel so old, physically I feel much older (ha ha.) However it’s my first birthday as a mum and although I’m not all too eager to celebrate as it’s super cold, from having a rough time recently and due to not being so well, It’s something sort of special. A milestone, if you like.

Its almost 8am and Odin’s first nappy change and feed of the day is done so I’m taking the time I have now to post for my birthday and to also wish everyone a belated Happy New Year! Hogmanay was really lovely and we had a lovely time bringing in the bells with family and watching fireworks on the TV! Today, we plan to get a little foodshop, my dad is coming over to see me and then we are having Chinese.. yum! I also noticed there are quite a few things off of my wishlist, some that have arrived and others that I am so, so excited for them to arrive! I am so very grateful to friends and family for this. Although it is my birthday, I have gifted one of my friends over in America something for her little girl, off of her wishlist and I cannot wait for it to arrive! I also donated to a family over in America who have been struggling with their medical bills, more information is down below.

So, as it is my birthday, I’m asking anyone and everyone to donate to the families GoFundMe. Their little twin boys were born at 32 weeks, one with his bowels formed outside of his body and has undergone lots of surgeries and medical interventions as he has been so poorly.. I’ve followed their journey for a while now and the family have spent so much time in hospital at a time thats meant to be filled with joy, met with the fear of the unknown and watching their baby be so sick. You can follow them on tiktok for updates and the dad does do a live stream when he can, to let everyone see the babies and update everyone who also follows their journey.

I know its difficult times so if you can please do by clicking here, if not please share. I know they will appreciate any help given especially as the Dad is a retired Veteran.

Here’s to 27 and hopefully this year brings more happy memories, easing of Covid and to watching Odin grow more each day!

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!

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.

Pregnancy and Baby

Pregnancy At 19 Weeks

I can’t believe I have reached 19 weeks already! Time whizzes by! Only feels like yesterday that we announced our rainbow baby.

Firstly, pregnancy is HARD guys! Not even 10 years of chronic illness, surgeries etc has prepared me for this whirlwind. Having said that, I am getting really excited! Last week, I started to feels kicks after having felt butterflies from around 16 weeks. Let me tell you – it’s a bizarre feeling! The baby likes to kick right where my butt used to be! (Not even outside my belly and it’s causing trouble already!) We have started to gather baby items too which makes it that even bit more exciting to see everything in the babies room.

Yesterday, we went to Cullen Beach with my in-laws and their dog Zak, it was SO lovely! There was a fab wind so even though it was warm, the wind kept me cool enough to enjoy a walk on the beach – watching the dogs play and paddle in the water. Biggie took a plunge and even went for a little swim!! We also enjoyed a lovely ice cream and then went back to my in-laws place where a big box of baby stuff was waiting for me!! I could have cried as it was such a lovely gesture and jaimie’s mum got me the most beautiful Disney baby changing bag, pictured down below! I am obsessed with Disney!

Last week I went past to visit my mum who got me these gorgeous aristo cat pyjamas that I had spyed in primark just 2 weeks prior when I had my Blood Pressure attacks in Primark and had to leave as I could barely walk from passing out! The baby also got a little comfort blanket attached to a cute little sheep! I have had some lovely gifts from other people too, which I will be doing a video on at my virtual baby shower, to thank everyone on.

We have our gender scan on the 15th of June and so, have been asking what people think it may be! To my surprise, it’s totally 50/50 on the votes! So we will just have to wait and see. My Pelvic Girdle Pain is beginning to get worse as the physiotherapists had said would happen however I am relying less on antisickness some days and my migraines aren’t as severe but I do unfortunately get them daily. My blood pressure drops are also beginning to happen almost every day but I am not letting any of these things stop me from trying to continue my daily life, some days I am bed bound but totally make up for it on the days I am able, like yesterday.

A few things I have noticed so far are ; increase in thirst, heart palpitations, restless and sometimes very little sleep, fatigue, feeling of a small dog being carried on my stomach!, breathlessness, dizziness and increased hunger. My hair also seems to be in better condition and my nails grow like no tomorrow! My skin is also doing really great and my weight hasn’t done too bad either as I try to keep a balanced diet and my cravings are mostly healthy stuff too! (Weird.)

So at this point, I am 50/50 of enjoying pregnancy but also still finding it super tough! So hopefully it keeps going on up from here and next time I update you all will be after my 20 week/gender scan! Lots of love from bump and I x