Top 10 Best Things About Getting My Stoma

Good morning and happy Friday!  If you follow me on Facebook you will have seen my apology about not getting a post up on Wednesday.  I have been working hard on my university assignment this week.  I am pleased to say it is complete and has been submitted.  Now I just get to worry about the score!

I know when I was diagnosed with IBD I felt like my world was ending and that I would end up with a bag and that was it.  I did end up with a bag, but thanks to the support of the fantastic IBD and ostomy communities I was much more accepting of it by the time of my surgery.  And in fact it was one of the best things that could have happened.  Today I wanted to share a list of ten things that have changed for the better for me since ostomy surgery.

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THE PEOPLE I HAVE MET

This has got to be one of the best things that has come out of my surgery.  I had already been an active member of the IBD community when I had my surgery but my ostomy has bought so many more wonderful people into my life including Ste, the Purple Wings charity, Jasmine Stacey and my co-hosts on The IBD & Ostomy Support Show.

NO MORE LONG VISITS TO THE BATHROOM

I used to spend so much time in the bathroom and would even get bruised, marked legs from the amount of time I was sat there.  As a mum you can imagine this really wasn’t convenient and trying to get out of the house was a nightmare – I would always be needing a toilet trip five minutes before I left the house.  It would limit the amount of time I wanted to spend at places and often left me deciding staying in was the better option.  I still have to visit the toilet pretty regularly to empty my stoma bag but it takes less than five minutes and no sitting down!

GIVING ME THE PUSH TO START BLOGGING

I actually started my first blog while I was in the hospital but once I got home my focus was on recovery and the boys so I didn’t continue it.  I have wanted to do something like this for so long but never took the plunge.  Once I was feeling better though and I felt I really could help people with what I have been through and am still experiencing, I signed up and the rest, as they say, is history!

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GETTING HEALTHIER

Since my ostomy surgery my health has been so much better.  If you still have your large intestine, this kind of surgery gives that area a break and often puts it into remission.  I had a flare at the beginning of last year but it was so much easier to manage with the bag and luckily the doctor’s got on top of it quickly.  I had just moved to Derby so was off a lot of my medications until I could get to see my new consultants which contributed to this flare.  Since then, aside from the odd blockage my Crohns has been very well controlled.

GAINING WEIGHT

To some this would sound strange but I had dropped to just over seven stone during my flare and was suffering with deficiencies in things like potassium and protein.  Once I had my ostomy formed I was able to eat more normally again and started absorbing the things I needed from food.

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NOT HAVING TO WORRY WHEN GOING OUT

As I mentioned in my first point, going out often felt impossible due to the constant toilet trips.  I would end up running late for things due to being stuck on the toilet and often stopped making plans to do things as I just couldn’t manage them.  I have never been a fan of using public bathrooms but the sheer amount of times I would need to go, the speed at which the feeling came on and the possibility of an accident was just too much to cope with.  After stoma surgery there are still concerns – what if I need to empty my bag, will there be a toilet, the possibility of a leak etc.  This ease the longer you have your ostomy.  I find most people are concerned about the smell but there are things that can help.  You can see the post I wrote about ostomy smell here

IF I CAN GET THROUGH THIS I CAN GET THROUGH ANYTHING

The flare I was in prior to my surgery was pretty horrific.  I lost a lot of weight, felt constantly sick and weak, the pain was immense and I was feeling lower and lower.  Getting through that, surgery and my recovery gave me such a boost and if I can cope with all that, I am pretty sure I can do anything I want to set my mind to.

BECOMING A CO-HOST ON THE IBD & OSTOMY SUPPORT SHOW

Getting to become a co-host on The IBD & Ostomy Support Show was an amazing opportunity for which I was truly grateful.  Not only do I get to help others with advice and support, I have made the best friends in my co-hosts who are all brilliant and inspiring people.  The show is live every Thursday at 8pm GMT on our YouTube channel and you can also see all the past shows on there too.

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GETTING SOME CONTROL OF MY LIFE BACK

Not being restricted to the toilet for lengthy periods has definitely helped me feel more in control of my life.  I am now more confident and enjoy seeking out new opportunities and experiences.  I am able to be the best parent I want to be now and can do so much more with the boys and my step-daughter.  I am once again enjoying food and cooking, which has always been a passion of mine but I struggled with when flaring.

CONFIDENCE AND MENTAL HEALTH

My confidence has soared since having my surgery.  I had also got out of a bad relationship a couple of months before being admitted but I literally felt like a new person.  Every one commented on how well I was looking.  I have been able to wear things I still enjoy and often share my outfits on my Instagram page to show that you can still wear your favourite outfits with an ostomy.  Check it out here.  My mental health also received a boost.  Being so very poorly for six months had really taken it’s toll.  Not being able to enjoy going out and doing things I really enjoyed was soul destroying.  I am now living and enjoying a much healthier and happier life and am so very grateful for what having my ostomy has contributed to this.

I hope this list will show you the positive sides of having an ostomy, especially if this is something you are facing soon.  I received some great support from the ostomy community online and that really helped me to accept my stoma and become more confident with it.  Could you add anything to my list?  let me know in the commetns below!

Leo and Riley’s Sunday Night Takeover

Well, I told you Leo had some exciting news to share with you and here it is!

Last year Leo and Riley completed a 10K walk in London for CCUK. I was so proud of them and the attitude they took to fundraising for a charity.

Leo really wanted to do something this year and picked out the two charities he wanted to help himself – the Sick But Invisible campaign and the Purple Wings Charity. He is an avid reader so when I suggested a reading challenge he jumped at the chance!

We decided on a target of reading 30 books (of at least 100 pages each) before he finishes school for Summer on July 26th 2017. We are using crowd funding on Just Giving to raise the money so we can split it equally between his two chosen charities. He has a target of £200 but would love to smash this and would appreciate all sponsors, big and small.

We also require your help in another way! We will be making use of the local library but if anyone has any books they would like to donate or lend him for him to complete his challenge we would love to hear from you! Any donated books we will pass onto the Children’s Hospital after Leo has completed his challenge in the spirit of ‘paying it forward’. Please message me if you are able to help with this!

The link to sponsor him is below. As I said, he will appreciate every single one as a form of encouragement to complete his challenge. I will keep you regularly updated on his progress and his fundraising efforts. Thankyou all in advance!

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https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/leogardner

Stoma Mail

When I had first had my operation one of the most amazing things was the support I received from people in the IBD and Ostomy communities.

From the visit from wonderful Lauren from Purple Wings, to mailed gifts from far and wide to so many messages from people checking up on me – it all meant so much!

I was lucky enough to have some friends send me some parcels with different bags and stoma supplies for me to try out once I was out of hospital and feeling up to it. This was such a fabulous help and I am really pleased to now be doing the same for others.

A couple of lovely ladies I know who have just had their stoma surgery and a man who wants to try the bags I use and have been chatting to about medication recently will all shortly be receiving their parcels. I have put them together today so I can take them to the post office tomorrow.

I think this is a great way of showing how the community pulls together and helps one another. I feel like I’m paying forward the kindness and support I was shown after my surgery, and if it helps people get a good routine for themselves with their stoma all the better!!

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