Autumn Activities For Kids

Thought I was all clever and organised getting this scheduled didn’t I?  Not realising that I would wake up poorly after a lay and realise it had already been sent out to my email subscribers unfinished!  Urgh!  Life with chronic illness is unpredictable to say the least!

Today I wanted to share some of our favourite Autumn activities with you.  Not being able to get out and about as much can be really difficult.  Children have so much energy they still need to use up, but the weather, particularly here in the UK, can be unpredictable to say the least.

Autumn Walk

This is definitely one of our favourite things to do in the Autumn and the kids love being able to get outside.  It really is one of the most beautiful seasons isn’t it?

We were lucky enough to be sent this amazing Nature Exploring Kit from the lovely people at Anthisan.  They had seen that we like to get out and about, especially with the dogs and after both Ste and Leo getting wasps stings within a week of one another this was a perfect collaboration for us!

 

They have been running a fun campaign celebrating the great outdoors and encouraging people to enjoy insects in the outside world and not be fearful of them.  Although Leo was a little cautious after his sting, the boys really enjoyed getting out and about looking for bugs.  I don ‘t know about where you live but we saw LOADS of ladybirds here, they seem to be everywhere at the moment!

anthisan

Anthisan can be used on insect bites, stings and also on nettle rash so is brilliant, especially for nature lovers and dog walkers like us!  It can be used on adults, the elderly and children over the age of two.

Find out more about Anthisan on their website including where to buy/buy online options
Nature Explorer Set available in Marks & Spencers

Leaf kicking and collecting, photographing, conker and acorn collecting are some of the other activities we love to do in the Autumn.  Autumn treasure hunts are also great fun and kids love them, especially if you tell them they can have a treat if they can spot everything on their list!

Crafting

After a walk why not turn the leaves you have collected into an amazing piece of artwork?  You could use them to collage with, do leaf rubbings of and lots more.  Pinterest is great for inspiration and you can follow me over there by clicking here.

We also had a fun afternoon painting some rocks that we had collected.  Spray them with yacht varnish to seal (you can buy this for £1 in Poundland and similar stores) and hide them while out and about for others to find.  I am a member of the Derbyshire Rocks Facebook group and there are ones for all different regions on there!

I recently did a Halloween craft post – 10 Halloween Paper Plate Craft Activities For Kids

Puddle Jump

Sometimes (especially in England) it just does not stop raining so just embrace it!  Get your coat and wellies on and go for a walk, letting your kids jump and splash to their hearts content!

Home, clothes in the washing machine, hot shower/bath and a hot chocolate for after!

Burning energy – Play Centres and Trampoline Parks

Yes I know, I know!  I hate them too BUT in the winter they can be a godsend.  When you have spent a couple of days stuck inside because of the weather and everyone is getting cabin fever these places can be brilliant.  And the joy of your kids being that little bit older means you can go sip on a nice cuppa while they play!  If you have younger ones, yeah you might be OK skipping the gym that day!

Cinema

We all love going to the cinema.  The last film we went to see with the boys was Smallfoot and we all loved it!  We can’t wait for The Crimes of Grindelwald (huge HP fans in our house) and also The Nutcracker film.  Think we will also go and see The Grinch in December – Riley is a massive Dr Seuss fan!

Board and Card Games / Jigsaws

We all love a board game and have got quite a few!  Firm favourites include Frustration (we have the Minion version), Game Of Life, any Top Trumps (Leo got a footballer version and Riley a Horrible Histories version for their birthdays) and Uno.

I am a bit rubbish at jigsaws but the boys are great and we do enjoy a challenge.  Our current one that we are doing is a 1500 piece London one.

We also have a JigRoll which means the jigsaw does not have to be left out on the side, they can be rolled up and put away and then taken out again when we want to carry on!

Toasting Marshmallows.

Marshmallows – tasty treat, great for ostomates for thickening their output and even better when toasted.  We love sitting by the fire outside, chatting, snuggling and enjoying a sweet treat.

Baking

Leo especially loves helping out in the kitchen – whether its helping with breakfast or the Sunday Roast or conjuring up something sweet for us to enjoy.  Again, Pinterest is great for ideas and to make it even simpler you can get the box kits from the supermarket (usually around £2 or £3) in loads of different varieties.

I hope you have enjoyed reading through my ideas and they have inspired you a bit!  Let me know in the comments what your favourite things to do in Autumn are!

nat

Stinky Stanley – Coping With Smelly Output

It’s probably one of the biggest fears for new (and old) ostomates and people prior to having ostomy surgery – the smell factor.  The fact is, we all poo and it all smells, but ostomy output can smell pretty strongly and as we have to empty them more frequently there is more chance you will have to do it in a public toilet or at someone else’s house.

Firstly, the bag itself does not smell.  You can not smell anything, so you are not going to put people off you just by sitting next to them.  The bags work well and everything is enclosed so it just doesn’t happen.

WHAT YOU EAT

Onto the output.  One way of controlling smells is by watching what you eat.  This sheet gives you an idea of things that can be odour producing.  Fish is by far the worst for me, I love it but only eat it sporadically when I know I can deal with the output I am going to get.  You may find other things that cause unpleasant smalls but this is a great base to start from.  Keeping a food diary if you are worried about the smell is a great way to see which, if any of these cause you a particular problem.  Remember, what works for one doesn’t work for all but I haven’t found another ostomate so far who doesn’t suffer from fish!

FB_IMG_1495526499255

PRODUCTS TO HELP

There are certain products available from your stoma product suppliers which may help.  I have been sampling a few to find out what I think are the best so I could share my views on them with you.  Everyone is different and some things can help some and not others but this will hopefully give you an idea of what is out there to try.

Ostomist Spray/Drops

These are available from Respond.  I had a sample of the drops not long after getting my ostomy and I must say, the tangerine ones are excellent.  I did find that I used them up quite quickly as I tended to put more than the suggested one or two drops in my bag but I was a newbie and worrying about smell so much at the time so I just wanted it to work.  I did like the spray but found it wasn’t quite as effective at neutralising the odour, however I have a friend who swears by it.  Many GP’s are trying to cut costs at the moment and products like this are often being cut from prescriptions.  You can talk to your GP or your stoma nurse if you believe it is a vital product for you to use, but they can also be bought from the website and aren’t overly expensive.

Both of these are available in a variety of fragrances and you can order samples to try, just click the links below

OstoMIST In Pouch  Odour Neutralising Drops

OstoMIST Odour Neutralising Spray

Na’Scent

nascent

This is advertised as one of the best and many ostomates use it.  It worked alright for me but wasn’t as good as some of the other things I tried.  I also found it quite expensive so if you can’t get it on prescription that may be something to bear in mind.  This is another one where you put a drop or two in your pouch every time you empty.

Order a sample here

Buy Na’Scent here

Brava Lubricating Deodorant

brava

I found this to be a great lubricant and helped make sure when my output was thicker, it didn’t clog up around my stoma.  However, it made no difference to the smell unfortunately.  I would definitely recommend this if you are having issues with pancaking but not one I would use to help with small.

Order your sample/products here

Happy Flush

happy flush.png

This worked really well for me and I have continued to order since first receiving some samples.  You use the product by spraying it into the toilet before you empty your bag and it has definitely been one of the top performers for me.  It comes in a range of smells and I don’t dislike any of them but my favourites are the Rose Bloom and the citrus based ones.  They also have a range of sizes which is great as I use the small ones to take out and about in my bag and the larger ones in my bathrooms at home.  There are a couple of similar products out there now but this is a lovely, family based company who also put a lot of work into raising awareness of the conditions that people that use their product suffer with, so I think it is a great one to receive my custom.  The people that make the product have always been friendly and helpful when I have contacted them, and the oils they use are completely natural and not tested on animals.  Visit the site by clicking the link below

Happy Flush

‘Old Ostomates Tales’

Forget the old wives, there are also a number of ideas that are often talked about in the ostomy communities, that people have found work for them.

Tic-Tacs

Don’t shake your tic-tacs, put them in your bag instead.  The amount of people I have seen suggesting this and saying it works for them is unbelievable but… it does nothing for me!  I am not sure if a different flavour works better (I just used the mint ones) but found it made no difference whatsoever.

Peppermint Capsules

This isn’t one I have tried but my mum was recently put on them and she said it made her trumps and poo smell of mint (sorry Mum!). If it works for someone with all their bowel, it is surely going to work for me who has less than half a bowel connected to my bag!  Will definitely be trying them and I will let you know!

Air Freshener

I generally use the Febreeze or Oust ones but they don’t really do a lot for the smell.  It lasts for about ten seconds and then you can smell it again or it just mingles in so you smell it all mixed together.

Flushing The Toilet

This was a tip I heard from Lauren (founder of Purple Wings) and it is one of the easiest and best ones you can do.  I tend to use the Happy Flush then empty my bag, flush, clean the end of my bag and flush again.  This has been the best combination I have tried.  Getting rid of the cause quickly is key!

Lighting A Match

I have heard this works but haven’t got round to trying it yet.  I am not so scientifically minded to be able to explain how, but I am inclined to believe it helps at least.  Has anyone tried this?  Let me know in the comments!

Summary

It has been fun testing out all the products, even if they haven’t worked.  My top three would have to be the Respond OstoMIST drops, Happy Flush and flushing quickly and I will continue to use all three.

Like I said at the start, everyone poos and nobody’s smells like roses so you shouldn’t feel awkward because of it.  I do tend to use a disabled toilet when out to empty my bag in a public bathroom, as I feel more comfortable than in a stall with someone else in the cubicle next to me.  I got my radar key with my first stoma supplies delivery but you can get them from charities like CCUK along with the Can’t Wait cards.  Please don’t allow the worry of smell to cause you to not enjoy your life getting out and about.  It can be nerve wracking at first, but finding something that works for you and with time and trying things being the best things for confidence, it will get easier.

I hope these ideas will have given you some tips and ideas to try, if I have missed anything from my list please let me know in the comments below, or let me know what works for you.

Rachel AKA Rocking 2 Stomas and a great friend of mine, also wrote a post about coping with the smell from a urostomy. Check it out by clicking here

 

Pregnancy With An Ostomy By Guest Blogger Stephie from Colitis To Ostomy

The lovely Stephie over at Colitis To Ostomy and I have written posts for each other’s blogs today.  She has written about pregnancy with an ostomy as it is something I wanted to talk about but is not something I have experienced!  Many people worry that having an ostomy means they will not be able to have children, which is not the case, as Stephie proves!  Let me know what you think and pop over to Stephie’s blog to check out my post over there!

stephie 2

Pregnancy with an ostomy means momostomy

I find a lot of women ask about whether they can still fall pregnant with an ostomy. I am living proof that you can! With any surgery however can come risks; especially if you have abdominal or pelvic surgery as everything is somewhat linked. However unless you have been told by your surgical team that your fertility has been affected whether by adhesions or other complications/reasons, you should be able to conceive. Stress has to be in my opinion the biggest fertility killer, it took 2 years for me to conceive with Lyra-Beth (Ra-Ra) my eldest daughter who I fell pregnant with whilst having a jpouch. I used to track my ovulation, basal temperature and cried every time my period came so clearly that was a big factor for me.

Just before I became sick again with Pouchitis we had decided to try again for another baby, I had the implant removed and just decided to roll with it rather than stress over whether we could fall pregnant again or not. I guess already having Ra-Ra made it less stressful in a way because all my time when not at work was devoted to her.

I ended up becoming so sick I had to make the decision to hold off on falling pregnant so I could have my end ileostomy formed. It was quite worrying at the time because we weren’t very careful with contraception and I really needed my surgery. However we got to my surgery date and weren’t pregnant so I could breathe a small sigh of relief.

We were quite shocked to find out we fell pregnant within two months of my surgery, sadly that pregnancy ended in early miscarriage in the August and was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. In all honesty I probably am still dealing with it but as they say time is a great healer.

We were told to leave trying again until I had had a period and by the October we were pregnant again! I was really anxious that this was also going to end in miscarriage but thankfully on our 12 week scan we were blessed with a healthy looking baby on the monitor. I was able to breathe another sigh of relief and begin to feel positive about my family growing from 3 to 4.

I was looking forward to having a natural birth this time, as with Ra-Ra we were told that due to not having a temporary ileostomy with my jpouch (I do NOT recommend that) it was a bit risky as my pouch never really healed properly I had to have a caesarean. With both a jpouch and an ileostomy there is no generic reason why you can’t have a natural birth and be monitored a bit more.

You may experience more blockages as you progress through your pregnancy as I found that babies find intestines quite a comfy pillow! But as uncomfortable as they are I found once baby shifts position they quickly pass but just be wary of that fact. I didn’t have many issues with my stoma during pregnancy except my output went a bit crazy and because a lot of obstetric consultants and midwives don’t know about stomas I was limited on my loperamide but you can to an extent manage your consistency through diet such as starchy foods like potato, white pasta etc.

Other issues to be aware of are that as your bump stretches so does your stoma, so frequent sizing or seeing your stoma nurse is definitely advised. If you have had open surgery it can affect how your bump stretches and can be fairly painful, plus and scar tissue or adhesions in general can make your pregnancy pretty uncomfortable at times but heck the baby at the end of it is most definitely worth it! Also your intestines can contract (you know when your stoma moves? Yeah that’s contracting)

normally that isn’t an issue but when you’re pregnant because the space is being taken up by a baby everything obviously becomes squished so you sometimes can notice it more. If people told me that when I was pregnant with Ra-Ra I don’t think I would have been quite as paranoid (first time mums always are and it’s nothing to be ashamed of as it’s the unknown!)

My scar tissue etc pains didn’t affect me till I was about 27 weeks and by that point I had had enough, you are pretty limited to pain relief when pregnant plus some people with ostomies can’t have certain types of pain relief due to coatings etc. So I in the end opted for a caesarean because I was becoming quite low in myself and just wanted it to be over in reality, I don’t cope well during pregnancy. Some women do and some don’t but it all depends on you really.

All of my scans went well and showed we were having a boy which Ra-Ra finally had warmed up to the idea she may not be having a sister. As she had been saying “I don’t want a poo poo brudder” typical 3 year old mindset there! I was literally pouring over the apps to find out silly things like how big his feet might be and what stage of his development he was at.

Throughout my pregnancy we tried to involve Ra-Ra as much as we could; she came to the first two scans, helped clean/build nursery furniture, and picked his first blanket and teddy, sung/spoke/read to my bump. I think that they really helped her feel involved and allowed her to bond with Button before he arrived.

Unfortunately for me I was admitted into hospital the week before he was due; we thought I was in early labour as I had dilated a little bit and was having contractions. My parents took Ra-Ra pretty much for the whole week I was in. I went from maternity assessment to labour ward to maternity in the space of a few hours which was a thorough pain in my permanently out of order butt! Even more so when I was kept in because of “hypersensitivity to pain” what kind of BS is that? I still had to wait till the scheduled date as well which in my opinion if they just brought it forward they would have had a bed free!

So fast forward to his birth, I’m not going to go into the full details as it was pretty traumatic for me due to unprofessionalism but there is a post on it on my blog under the category “momostomy” which is where I post all my parenting/pregnancy stuff. But he was born happy and healthy to +44 – When Your Heart Stops Beating, which to anyone who doesn’t know the song it’s much nicer than the title suggests!! 00Steve (my husband) got the first cuddle and placed him on my chest just like he did with our daughter. He weighed 6lbs 15oz and looked just like his big sister, Jacob Terrence was the perfect fit for us and when Ra-Ra came to meet him his eyes opened and his head snapped round looking for her. Clearly love has no boundaries it just knows.

stephie

If you are having a caesarean make sure you take a spare bag in with you and tell the midwife or one of the surgical team. They removed mine and put on a flat bag they cut to 40mm which is a bit risky if you nothing about ostomies, because I need a convex bag and not to mention my stoma was only 30mm maximum! Thankfully when we got back to the labour ward I rang my stoma nurse as she sometimes works at the hospital I was at, even though she wasn’t there that day she rang the team there who came down and sized my stoma, even put the bag on for me and put my mind at ease.

Communication is definitely key when you are being seen by a different department because let’s face it even though it’s annoying, people can’t know everything and they are in a specialist area for a reason. So my advice on that is to ask questions, write them down and the answers go back to the other team and do the same so you have a better overview of your care and situation.

I am currently 14 weeks post partum and even though I have been lucky to have lost my baby weight and then some (!) my belly is still pretty wobbly and I’m struggling with leaks, after discussing with my stoma nurses we have decided to just plod on until my body settles down because rings and paste isn’t making a great deal of difference.

If you have any questions you can either read my blog (colitistoostomy.com) drop me a message on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or watch some of the videos I have posted on YouTube. If you are trying or thinking about having a baby, ostomy or not, I wish you all the “baby dust” and luck.

The Worst Day Of My Life

I can honestly say that yesterday may have been the worst day of my entire life.  Many of you will know I have been struggling with stress and mental health problems recently and there has been a background to this which I haven’t shared with you.

My marriage ended at the beginning of February 2016.  Many of you know this but what only my family and close friends know about was the emotional abuse I had been suffering.  Finally managing to stand up for myself and building up the courage to leave was a huge step for me.  I was very poorly with my Crohns flare at the time which meant things were not easy.  However, once I had had my ileostomy and resection, things started improving.  I had told my ex that I would be staying in Essex for the foreseeable.  It was extremely hard being away from my family but I felt the boys had already been through a lot, and removing them at that point from their school for example, was not a good idea.

As my life started to improve, unfortunately, my ex husband continued to make things difficult.  He was still attempting to be very controlling, was cruel and started to accuse me of things, mostly involving the boys and not looking after them properly.  As this got worse and worse and time went on, I took the decision to move to Derby.

My ex has never been physically violent towards me, I would like to clarify that.  However, he does have a temper and has been emotionally abusive and extremely abusive by texts and verbally during confrontation.  We lived in a town surrounded by his friends and family.  While I had some great friends, it is not like the support you get from your family.  I was terrified of what his reaction would be to me telling him this news.  I looked into it legally and found that he could have an emergency order placed on me for up to two years preventing me from leaving Rayleigh.  By that time, I was struggling mentally and just needed to be home, I could not bear to wait possibly two years.  Had it gone to court we would have almost certainly been granted the right to move as well, being only 2.5 hours away, his visits with the children could be maintained and due to all my family living in Derby there was a legitimate reason for me wanting to be there.

He was obviously extremely angry when I told him that we would not be returning from our half term trip to Derby, which was understandable, but I explained his every other weekend could stay exactly the same.  I thought that as he was close to his family and knowing how poorly I had been, he would understand my reasons.

I submitted divorce papers earlier this year and was shocked a few days later to receive papers from the court stating my ex was taking me to court for custody of the boys.  His reasons were listed and made me feel sick – he accused me of not feeding them correctly, physically abusing them which turned out to be by moving them from Essex to Derby, not as one assumes, when they hear physical abuse as being an act of violence.  The list was four pages long and the lies truly horrified me.

I do not want to bore you with the ins and outs of the whole case but yesterday was the day of the final hearing.  Yesterday was the day I never saw coming and one which has turned my world upside down, torn my heart apart and left me in a complete and utter daze.  Although the judges said it was no reflection on my parenting ability, they are sending my boys to live with a man who emotionally abused me throughout our marriage and has continued to do so since we separated.  A man who is out of the house for 12 hours every day and admits his mum and dad as well as other family members will be doing the lions share of the childcare for him.  The man who has systematically brainwashed my oldest child, at one point telling him that my Crohns was my own fault and I caused the issues which led to my operation.  The man who asked me for a present  for looking after ‘your kids’ in his words, while I was severely ill in hospital.  The man who used my illnesses against me, even though I have raised those boys almost single handedly all their lives, despite always being ill, to be bright, confident and amazing little boys.  Who contacted a ‘pharmacist’ friend who has told him the possible side effects of medications he believes I take and accused me of suffering psychiatric problems due to these.  Who has made my eight year old feel sorry for him and think that by saying he wants to live in Rayleigh that he can help his Dad feel better.  Who won’t accept the younger child’s views, as he is completely happy where he is and does not want to leave his Mummy.  Who went for custody as he wanted to win. It is not for the children, and with their best interests at heart.  He wanted to hurt me after I left him and he has done it in the worst way possible.

I admitted I was ill, and will always be ill.  But I get up every day and fight for a life, fight for my boy’s lives.  They have never once had to care for me.  Never missed out on anything important because of me being ill.  I have been at all their shows, assemblies, sports days and parents evenings.  I take them to after school events and clubs.

I can honestly say this news has devastated me.  I have questioned whether to continue my blog – The Spoonie Mummy – but a Mummy who has been court ordered to only see her precious boys every other weekend.  Questioned whether I give up on life itself once the boys have gone.  I have considered ways to end my life.  On how I could do this in the most effective and least painful way.  I do not write this to shock or alarm people.  I write this as currently my state of mind is okay.  I have acknowledged these thoughts, I want people to know.  Today I am ready to fight but tomorrow could be a different story, and the family and friends I have supporting me have been amazing.  Some of them know these feelings and are keeping a close eye on me, so I feel safe.  I know talking about this issue is the way to make sure I can get through this.  I have talked about mental health and the most important thing that can help is by talking.  So here I am, telling all of you.

I have had to conversations today with two of my most amazing friends, as well as members of my amazing family and so many other people I love and am so genuinely grateful to have in my life.  I realised I fought the good fight, the honest fight.  I faced that awful man in court and I told people what he has done and said to me.  I never lied to get my own way.  I have been a good mum and I will continue to be.  I will continue to fight for what I think is in the best interests of the boys.  I do not have anything to be ashamed of, even though admitting this all to everyone is mortifying as I feel like it means I have done something wrong.

I was born with this illness and I will die with it.  It does not and never will be allowed to define me as a person.  As a woman, a partner, a daughter, sister or friend.  I will continue to spread awareness so people realise the strength of people with chronic illness and the awful stigmas and assumptions that are still placed on us.  I will continue to work hard for parent’s who have chronic illnesses.  We are not bad parent’s because we suffer, in fact, I believe it often makes us stronger as people and we have empathetic and loving children because of it.  I will continue for my two amazing, handsome, clever and happy boy’s who mean the entire world and more to me.

Leo and Riley,

This is not what Mummy wanted to happen.  This is not what Mummy wants to happen.  I will be here for you always and I will keep fighting and doing what I can in your best interests.  Ste and our families are so terribly hurt and upset.  Everyone here will miss seeing your smiling, happy faces every day.  You mean the world to me and being your Mummy is the greatest gift I have ever been granted.

”I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always.

As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be”

Please know I will always be here my little ones.  Endless love, lots of kisses and the biggest cuddles,

Mummy xxxx

Leo and Riley’s Sunday Night Takeover

The boys are back and they want to introduce the newest members of our family!

Meet Dumbledore (left) and Severus (right) our new guinea pigs. The boys are in love and I must admit, they are super lovely and I may be a little bit too! Leo picked the name Dumbledore and Riley liked the name Gingerbread but as he was black decided to change to it to Severus to match! They are now almost 14 weeks old and have been with us for almost two weeks. They are settling really well. We have been handling them quite a bit so they get used to us and Dumbledore is getting much more confident now. Severus is a little more timid but enjoys a really good cuddle!

The boys have a few top tips if you are thinking of getting guinea pigs as they make great pets for little ones –

1) They don’t like being on their own so you want to get at least two (note from Mum – matching sexes or a female with a neutered male to prevent unwanted babies!) And make sure the cage or hutch you get is big enough for them both as they grow

2) They can’t produce vitamin C so we have drops to put in their water

3) You have to give them a good supply of straw to eat so their tummies don’t get poorly

4) They like cuddles and to make them feel safe you put your hand under their bum and one hand around their tummy under their arms. Then you hold them close to you

5) They like to run in tunnels and play games. Then they can have treats

6) We have got claw clippers so their nails don’t get too long

7) They like to run around outside so you should get them a run so they can play

8) Cats don’t like guinea pigs so you shouldn’t get them if you have a cat

9) They can live inside or outside but you should bring them inside when it’s really cold

10) They are the best pets ever and ours are the cutest!

So that’s their advice for if you are looking at getting a pet for your children. The boys will be back with updates on how Dumbledore and Severus are getting on I’m sure so keep your eyes peeled!