Ostomy photoshoot – 50s pin up

There is a lot of negativity when it comes to ostomies, I have heard many a time things like “Id rather die than wear a colostomy/ileostomy bag” “I don’t want to look like a freak” “Im not normal if I have a bag” etc etc

It is absolutely gutting to hear comments like this being made in public, the fact is that these bags save lives, we aren’t choosing to have them as a fashion accessory, they are there because the people who have them have been so sick and battled so hard that they now have to live with an ostomy.

As you may know I have done a couple of photoshoots before in order to demystify the whole process, to show how small a part of me my bag is.

I decided to do one last shoot before my pouch surgery next week and the theme was 50s pin up.  I wanted to show that people living with an ostomy can be sexy, fun and cheeky… That this little bag doesn’t define who I am, it is just a small add on to my body that allows me to function in a way I have been unable to for 10 years.

Im a bit nervous at putting these up so please be kind, I do this because I want to make a difference, I want to show people what an ileostomy bag is like, and that it doesn’t stop my femininity, sexuality or sense of humour because when I had my surgery I was so terrified that I would lose those things.

Enjoy x

ostomy photoshoot sexy ileostomy 50s pin up photo shoot so bad ass sam cleasby


ostomy photoshoot sexy ileostomy 50s pin up photo shoot so bad ass sam cleasby


ostomy photoshoot sexy ileostomy 50s pin up photo shoot so bad ass sam cleasby


ostomy photoshoot sexy ileostomy 50s pin up photo shoot so bad ass sam cleasby


ostomy photoshoot sexy ileostomy 50s pin up photo shoot so bad ass sam cleasby



Please like, comment and share these images with anyone you think they could make a difference with.
Thanks so much for looking

Remember that you can make a difference, to donate to Crohns and Colitis UK you can text CCUK14 and your donation amount to 70070
e.g. If you wanted to donate £5 you would text: CCUK14 £5 and send it to 70070.

Or online through Just Giving


Thank you so much to my husband Timm for The Picture Foundry for photographing me for this shoot.


Sam xxx

Happy Anniversary Timm

A post for my husband Timm

Today is our ten year wedding anniversary, I can’t believe it is ten years since we said our wedding vows in front of Elvis in Las Vegas!

I loved you then, but in the years that have passed we have become closer than ever.  We have had ups and downs, but the last year has been the toughest of of lives, through illness, exhaustion, tears, surgery and recovery you have been my rock.  You have made everything better, you held me up when I was so broken I didn’t have the strength to carry on alone.  You made me laugh when everything seemed hopeless, you told me I was beautiful when I had never felt more disgusting and you loved me no matter what.

las vegas wedding


We have been through so much in the last ten years, in some ways it has gone so fast but in others that day seems a million years ago.  I know it sounds cheesy but I honestly love you more each day, I feel that we are closer than ever and that life with you just gets better.

Its a week till I go into my next surgery and Im terrified, its the start of a very tough few months for us, but knowing that you are by my side makes it bearable.  I know you are scared too and in many ways the recovery is going to be tougher on you than anyone else, you will have to pick up all the jobs that I usually do, take on full time care of the kids, the pets, the house and the business as well as being my carer.

I hate that you have to be my carer, but you make everything easier with your sense of humour and laid back manner.  I know you hate to see me ill and in pain but you cover it with love and laughter, taking the piss out of me and having the patience to deal with it all.

las vegas wedding



You are my best friend, the funniest, most caring, most hard working person I know.  I love you so bloody much and can’t wait to renew our wedding vows in September.  Timm, you are fucking awesome.

sam and timm cleasby

Happy Anniversary bubs


Sam xxxx



First ever vlog! How to change your ileostomy bag video

I have been threatening to do this video for months and never got round to it, so here it is.  My first ever vlog, a how to video on how to change your ileostomy bag.



Love Sam xx

It's my 8 month stomaversary!!

Eight months ago today I had surgery to remove the whole of my large intestine.

It’s been a busy and at times stressful 8 months but throughout it all I remind myself that life with an ileostomy bag is SO MUCH EASIER than life with Ulcerative Colitis!



There have been good times and bad in the past few months, I have traveled to Vietnam and Australia and I have faced difficulties with developing a hernia and making the decision to go ahead with pouch surgery.

They tell you it can help to deal with the process of having a stoma to name it, my sister came up with the name Barack Ostoma which I think is brilliant, because my stoma, like me, is no regular boring one, it is an all singing, all dancing bad ass!!

In 11 days I will have my pouch surgery and wave goodbye to Barack, and though this feels like the right decision for me I will be ever grateful to these 8 months of living with an ileostomy bag, not only has it allowed me to come off all the many meds I was taking, but it has rid me of all the awful symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis that I had suffered with for ten years.  20140502-171128.jpg


It did something else though, it made me reassess the things that were important to me, the way I see myself and the way I want to live my life.  It made me a more confident person and it gave me the opportunity to share my story with all you dear readers, to make a difference to people with IBD, to raise awareness in the general public and to push myself into making decisions to speak in public and put myself out there as a mouthpiece for those suffering and living with chronic diseases.

It has made me a better person.

So on my 8 month stomaversary, I raise a glass to everyone living with a stoma, dealing with IBD or anyone living with chronic illness.  You all kick arse, you are braver than you think, stronger than you can imagine and are so bad ass.


Sam xxxxxx

Why I have stopped buying women’s magazines

This year I made a decision to stop buying ‘women’s’ magazines and I feel so much happier for doing it.  Here’s why…

Im not a massive magazine buyer, I don’t buy them regularly but now and then I will pick up a few and every time I did, I ended up either feeling rubbish about myself or pissed off at the world we live in.  When I did buy them I would flick through this dross and seethe at the three little pigs debate on women, this celebrity is too fat, this celebrity is too thin, this celebrity is jusssssssst right.

body image and womens magazines


Look at these ‘shocking’ bodies they scream, let’s join together and shame these women, for how dare they go out in public with any sight of wobbly flesh, a rounded stomach or stretch marks.  Lose weight you disgusting creatures.  But hang on, don’t lose too much weight, because look over here at these women, they must be anorexic or on drugs!! Look at the vile bitch whose ribs we can see…


Why the fuck was I buying these things?  I honestly can’t answer that, perhaps it was habit or boredom.  I can tell you I just don’t enjoy reading this shit.  I don’t care how big a Kardashian’s arse is, I don’t want to see that Madonna is too thin or Chantelle is too fat.  Seeing these women, big or small just made me feel angry.  It didn’t make me feel good about myself seeing someone bigger than me though it did at times make me feel shit to see a thin celeb being mocked for gaining a few pounds.  When they are publicly mocking a woman for being fat and she weighs 2 stone less than you it does make to question how society sees you.


body image and new magazine


These magazines are not interesting, they’re not journalism and they aren’t even amusing.  They are shite and ladies, we need to stop buying into this crap.  Since stopping buying any magazine that’s purpose is to shame women I can honestly say I feel miles better and I have more money in my pocket!

When I look at the magazines my husband buys, there are no images of a celebrity male with a step by step crucifixion of their looks, National Geographic doesn’t fat shame scientists or tell us that Obama has lost/gained a stone.  I know there are magazines such as Mens Fitness that feature toned and muscly men but that is more about health and exercise, it isn’t about how big Brad Pitt’s arse is.

So why do women feel the need to buy magazines that demean and shame other women.  I’d like to think that most of us don’t judge our peers by the size of the bodies so why do we enjoy seeing celebrities judged so harshly? Is it car crash media? Or something more?

I can’t answer that question but what I can say is that buying magazines like Now and Heat does NOTHING good for your self esteem, ask yourself, do you really want to be funding the ridiculous judgement of celebrities, do you want to be part of a society that treats people so poorly and pushes an unrealistic and unattainable perfect body image.  Do you want your daughters, nieces and young women to be surrounded by images and harsh words, cementing the idea that if you aren’t perfect, you are fair game to me mocked and bullied?

I dont. And so I took a stand, its only a tiny stand but if we all stopped buying into this crap then perhaps the editors of these magazines will take a look at themselves… Magazines circulation is dropping year on year, the rise of the internet and smart phones mean that most people can get the celeb gossip fixes at the touch of a button.  So think about your hard earned cash next time your hand wanders thoughtlessly over to the shame section in the newsagents.  What could you be reading in that time that would actually teach you something or just make you feel good?

I didn’t want to bring that sort of message into my home where my kids could see it, especially my 11 year old daughter.  Id never tell her that Susie is so fat that she should NEVER wear a bikini, or that Jane is so skinny, she is definitely starving herself and seeing her bony ribs makes me sick.  I wouldn’t allow people around her to negatively affect her self esteem by telling her that unless she weighs the exact right weight, has the perfect sized tits and an arse that can’t be too small or too big that she is not good enough.  So why would I allow these magazines to be around her?

I found a magazine last year called Psychologies, now I have seen this before but due to the title I assumed it was a health mag or maybe a professional magazine, it isn’t! And despite the terrible name it is actually a really good magazine (so much so that I just bought myself a subscription) It has womens lifestyle articles, fashion, home, work, family etc but there is no celeb shaming, no telling you how to lose 300lb in 20 minutes by juicing your own shoes or any such crap.  It has really interesting and fun pieces that make you feel good.  Fancy that!

I get the desire for celeb gossip, I really do.  I don’t know WHY I want to know what Angelina and Brad’s home looks like but now and then I do.  Im not sure why I care if Richard and Judy fell out but occasionally I like that knowledge.  My (VERY) guilty pleasure is the occasional glance down the Daily Mail website seeing who fell out with who and which celeb got drunk at which party.

But seriously put down the crap mag that’s sole purpose is to bully, mock and shame other women.  Make a stand and think about your fellow woman.

I talk about self esteem a lot these days and it is because facing surgery, scars and having to wear an ileostomy bag 24 hours a day makes to reassess how you look at your body.  I could have gone the other way and felt saddened or ashamed of my body, but instead I just gained a massive respect for it.  My body confidence is higher than it has ever been! I am so proud of my strong body, the battering it has taken, my scars are like battle wounds, they are a huge part of me and I love them.  My bag is there, its on show and I could resent it and despise it, but it wouldn’t change the fact that it is there.  So I have learnt to accept it, and I have used it as a tool to teach other women that no matter what we go through, we are strong and we are beautiful.

Beauty comes in so many different packages, my package has extra bits, its a bit crumpled and torn but it is so filled with joy, happiness, fun, kindness and laughter that it is JUST as beautiful as anyone else’s.

The message in these mags is if you aren’t perfect then it is perfectly acceptable to mock you.  This isn’t true, it isn’t how life is and reading that shit made me feel bad.  Reading that shit when I was an impressionable teenager may have had a really terrible affect on me and so I will protect my daughter from it for as long as possible, life isn’t about Mean Girls judging one another, its about love and kindness, fun and laughter, experience and being brave enough to love yourself and pave your own way, being proud of the person you are, not your dress size, and knowing that true beauty is so far away from the measurement of your waist.

And that, dear reader is why I have stopped buying ‘women’s’ magazines.


Love Sam x


Pouch surgery and feeling scared

My pouch surgery is booked in for the 14th May and so I thought Id do a post about what it is and how Im feeling about it.

I know that the pouch surgery is definitely something that I want to at least try, its a big surgery especially as Im having it in one step but it is something that I think is worth me going for.  The alternative is to have a permanent ileostomy which still means having another operation to remove my rectum and sew up my butt…

There can be complications with the surgery with leaks, fistulas and pouchitis (an infection in the pouch), there can be problems with incontinence and the recovery is a long process.  But the positives will be that I no longer have a stoma and no longer will need to wear an ileostomy bag.  I will go to the toilet as ‘normal’ and my hernia will be fixed.

I feel informed and happy with my decision but I am still so frightened.

Its a long surgery and I am scared I just won’t wake up.  I know how silly this is, the doctors and anaesthetists are professional and caring and will do everything they can to look after me, but I can’t shake this worry that there will be problems and I just won’t wake up.  Maybe its because this surgery is planned whereas the last one was an emergency and so I have an option to not go for this.  Or maybe its just that the last year has made me think about my own mortality.

So let me explain a little about the surgery, in my last operation they removed my large intestine and made my stoma from the end of my small intestine.

normal digestive system  ileostomy


So the first image here is a normal digestive system, the second is how I am and shows a digestive system without the colon (or large intestine) with an ileostomy.

During the pouch surgery, doctors will remove my ileostomy and form a pouch out of the end part of my small intestine.

pouch surgery ulcerative colitis


This image show the pouch formed from the small intestine and that it is then connected to the rectum and anus muscles so food has a clear path from mouth to bum!

Most times this surgery is done in two parts, the pouch is formed and connected but a loop of small intestine is brought out of the stomach to make another stoma which diverts food from the pouch and bum whilst everything heals.  Then 2-3 months later the loop is repaired and everything is connected.

I am having the surgery in one go, so they are forming the pouch and connecting everything straight away, I will be unable to eat food for around 10 days to give the pouch chance to heal and then will have to be very careful for a few months with what I eat and drink.

There are more risks in doing it this way, the main risk being that the pouch doesn’t hold and will leak.  A leak can be dangerous and would require more surgery and a longer hospital stay.  But my surgeon is confident that I am strong enough to deal with the surgery and that it is the best choice for me.

Recovery wise, there is a high chance of incontinence right after the op, it will be quite painful as its open surgery so I have the wounds inside and out to deal with, they are good at dealing with pain relief though and so Ill be on morphine and an epidural for a while.  It has been 8 months since I have used the muscles in my butt and so it takes a good while to re learn how to use them again, I also have to learn how to go to the toilet all over again.  The pouch is using parts of the body that were never meant to do this new job and so it is a long and difficult journey to be back to ‘normal’.

The worst case scenario (apart from, you know, death) is that the pouch doesn’t work and there are problems, if this was the case it is still possible to go back to having another ileostomy.  This isn’t ideal but it is good to know that its something I can go back to and I could deal with that.

I am NERVOUS! Im scared of the pain, Im scared of going back to running to the loo again, Im scared that the pouch recovery will be like having colitis again and having to stay close to the toilet at all times.

I am really sad at the thought of going back to feeling so weak, poorly and being unable to do things for myself.  The last surgery was a good 6 weeks of bed rest, feeling so exhausted and allowing my body to heal.  This surgery will be even longer and that worries me.

BUT I am confident its the right move and so in two weeks time I will be officially no longer an ostomate and will be a pouchee!

Wish me luck, I will be updating the blog as much as I can running up to the op and will ask Timm to update once I have had the surgery.


Love Sam xxx