Get a summer body (and other such crap)

Wait, what the fuck is a summer body? Is it better than an Autumn body?

That big glowing ball of light and warmth is warming up the air temperature slightly and so it is time for every magazine and website to start telling us to get ‘beach ready’, get a ‘bikini body’ and starve, scrub, wax and our disgusting Spring bodies to achieve the almighty SUMMER BODY!

Do you know the best way to get a bikini body? It is to put a bikini upon your body… And whether that body is fat or slim, muscly or bony, whether you have scars, stretch marks, a stoma, big boobs, little boobs, no boobs, a big bum, a flat bum, thighs that are tiny or thighs that have some meat on them… Your bikini body will always be better if you feel happy and confident.

bikini body funny

Choose swimwear that makes you feel comfortable and happy.  If that is a thong and nothing else, then hooray! And if it it a vest and shorts then bloody well go for it.

How hard do you have to work to afford a holiday? That one or two weeks should be about relaxing, having fun and enjoying yourself.  With all the pressures we have in day to day life, why the fuck should we be spending time, money and emotional stress on dieting, exercising, exfoliating, waxing, shaving, buffing and primping? Go on your holiday and enjoy it!

There is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight or to get fit.  But do it because you want to be healthier or fitter, or because you would feel better dropping a few pounds.  Don’t do it because the multi billion pound beauty industry use a season of the year to sell extra products by making you feel bad about yourself!

how to wear a bikini body confidence so bad ass

The phrase “are you beach ready?” is being used regularly at the moment, and by that they mean have you poured hot wax onto your skin and then torn the hair from your body, or have you used a sharp blade to scrape every inch of hair from your legs, fanny and armpits… Newsflash! Human bodies are covered in hair! Choosing not to remove it has no relevance to whether you are ready to go on a beach.

Can you imagine a world where it was socially unacceptable for a man to be in public with hair on his legs, armpits or genitals?  No, me neither.  Yet society tells women that it is abhorrent to have hair anywhere but on our heads! If you choose to remove your hair then that is up to you, but if you choose not to then you are open to ridicule and insults.  Remember when Julia Roberts showed her armpit hair and the photos went around the world.  How bloody bizarre!!! Imagine the same thing with a fella? Nope, just wouldn’t happen.

julia roberts armpit hair                           brad pitt naked

 

Not ok…                                                                                                             Ok…

 

I came across a particularly vile theme whilst researching this post called #bikinibridge – the aim being to be so thin that your bikini bottoms bridge across your hip bones… Wow! Now some women are naturally thin and this is nothing against them, but to be aiming to lose so much weight that your stomach sits concave to your hips is both unhealthy and terrifying.

bikini bridge

How bloody sad that women will waste their time worrying about how much of a gap their is between their hips and stomach? Man, go learn a language or attend a lecture, go spend time with your friends or read a book.  Ladies, don’t waste your time worrying about making your body look like an underweight child.

Im a size 16 with pubic hair, scars, stretch marks and imperfections.  Do I look like a supermodel on the beach? Hell no! But I tell you, I am grateful for this body, this body that holds me up and keep going despite disease, surgery and missing organs.  This amazing human body is so strong and adaptable, it is a wonder.  So when I go on the beach this year I will be celebrating what a lucky woman I am to be alive and well.  I guarantee I won’t be worrying whether it is ‘beach ready’ or the ‘perfect summer body’.

 

bikini body so bad ass

It is my body and I am proud! The next time I am in a bikini, I will be having fun and worrying not about whether other people can see my scars, whether other people don’t like the shape of my stomach or the wobble of my ass.

Don’t get sucked in by this annual tripe, it is simply a lazy, easy way to sell magazines and products.  If you are lucky enough to be going on your hols this year, then invest your time and money into something worthwhile.  You are so much more than the size of your thighs or the hairiness of your fanny… The fact that you are well enough to travel, that you have enough spare money to be going on holiday mean you are in a better position than millions of people.  Relish in that and go have fun in your beautiful spring/summer/autumn/winter body.

 

Sam xxx

 

The time has come…

For me to get blogging.  Apologies again for my absence, I really don’t know what to write about as I can barely understand how I am feeling right now, but I feel bad for not documenting this part of my journey and I know Ill probably regret it if I don’t.  I am also so grateful for all the loving messages of support and want to thank my readers from all over the world who have emailed me asking how I am as Im not posting!

I suppose Ill take it from the beginning.  I went into hospital on the 14th May at 7am and was taken through to the pre op ward where I had a few tests, got my surgical stockings and changed into my hospital gown.  Soon after I was taken through to the theatre and my epidural (for post op pain relief) was put in place, it was a great team and we had a laugh as I was in there.  I lay back on the table as they pumped the drugs through and my last memories are of the mask being over my face and breathing deeply.

pre op j pouch surgery sheffield

I awoke around 4 or 5 hours later from my pouch surgery feeling very nauseous but glad to be alive! I had been having nightmares that I just wouldn’t wake up from surgery.  I was really tired and the nurse came and said that Timm was on the phone, I believe I spoke to him but I can’t remember.  I told him to sort out the kids and to come and see me once I was back on the ward rather than coming to the post op ward where he would only be able to stay a few minutes.

 

I slept and puked for a few hours and was really out of it before going up on to the ward.  Timm and my mum visited and I felt ok, still quite sick and just exhausted.  The surgery had been a success and as I pulled up at my gown and looked down, I saw that I no longer had my ileostomy bag and my stoma was gone!  I had tubes everywhere, a catheter in my bladder, the epidural in back back attached to a drug machine, I had drips in my arms, a drainage tube sewn into my stomach and a drainage tube up my bum…

Post Op j pouch ileostomy ibd surgery sheffield sam cleasby so bad ass

 

The first few days passed in a bit of a blur, I was on a lot of different drugs to deal with my pain as well as not being able to eat.  I slept a lot and allowed my poor battered body time to recover.

I had a reaction to an anti emetic drug called cyclozine, I felt paralysed and couldn’t speak or communicate.  The nurse saw this and sat with me, explaining that I was having a reaction but that I would be fine once it passed.  After an hour or so the physical feeling wore off but for several hours I was left feeling completely confused, I didn’t know where I was, I thought I was dying and I couldn’t explain to anyone what was wrong.  I lay there crying silently for hours, not knowing what was happening.  Luckily it wore off after about 6 hours and I slowly started feeling normal again.  Absolutely terrifying!!

ileostomy j pouch wounds scars ibd surgery

I was put on a different anti sickness drug to deal with my nausea and vomiting, I say vomiting but as I hadnt eaten for days at that point it was more dry heaving.  I also was given an acupuncture needle to help, it was a tiny needle placed into the inside of my wrist that had a small sticker and a plastic nub that I was to leave in and press when I felt sick.  I can’t explain how it worked but I can say that before I had it I was having anti sickness drugs every 6 hours.  After I had it I had two doses in the next 5 days!

acupuncture anti emetic sickness nausea nhs

After a few days they removed the catheter, the drain from my stomach and the epidural.  The drain in my bum had to stay in for 9 days… It was awful.  It was a tube inserted into my anus and into the newly formed pouch, its job was to allow any waste to drain from my internal pouch into a bag allowing the stitches on the pouch time to heal.  Three times a day I had to pump sterile water into the tube and then drain it out.  Honestly, it was the worst thing about the whole procedure.  The tube was extremely uncomfortable and meant I couldn’t sit upright nor lay flat on my back so I was bed ridden and had to turn from side to side every hour or so.  It was embarrassing too to have this quite large tube coming from in-between my legs and having to carry the bag around with me when I went to the toilet and back.

rectal drain post op j pouch surgery one step j pouch surgery mr brown sheffield nhs

Im glad to say that the nurses and staff were amazing this time, I had no problems at all like the last time I was in.  There was especially one nurse named Sam who just went above and beyond, she was so caring and easy to talk to.  She took the time to speak to you and was just an amazing nurse.  Im going to make sure I let the hospital know just how much I appreciated their care and support.

I wasn’t allowed any solid food for the whole 9 days that I was in hospital.  9 DAYS YO!!!! The first few days I had a drip, and after that I had to drink plenty of fluids and I had these fortisip drinks that I was supposed to drink three times a day.  I think I had 4 or 5 in my whole stay as I couldn’t stomach them.

drip drugs j pouch ibd surgery sheffield so bad ass sam cleasby

I was quite emotional while I was in hospital.  Between the pain, lack of sleep, lack of food, the drugs and the emotions of dealing with surgery I was a bit of a mess.  I cried quite a lot and felt ever so sorry for myself.  There was a bit of a heat wave while I was in and Id see people coming in, in summer clothes and smelling of the outdoors and would silently cry to myself.  Im aware this sounds a bit pathetic but it really got to me!

sam cleasby ulcerative colitis ibd surgery ileostomy jpouch hospital

One day I asked Timm to make sure I had no other visitors, I was so chuffed that my friends and family visited me but that one day I just felt totally overwhelmed and just wanted to see my husband.  He said he was coming at 2pm for visiting but he was running late.  I lay there watching the clock tick by, logically knowing that he must just be caught in traffic, that he would have called if he couldn’t make it.  But my mind started working overtime.

‘He’s not coming’ I kept thinking.  ‘He doesn’t want to see me, how can I blame him? I have this horrid tube and Im so weepy and useless.  He’s just not coming’  I worked myself into such a state that all I could do was lay there and cry.  And then he appeared. A measly 20 minutes late, not a big deal at all but I had wound myself up so much that I just wept.

But you know, my knight in shining armour came and held me tight.  “You thought I weren’t coming” he said and I just sadly nodded.  He walked off and came back grinning with a wheelchair.  “Come on Mrs C, we’re off on an adventure” he said.  He bought me one of those donut cushions so I could sit and then helped me into the chair.  He wheeled me through the hospital out to a little garden and we just sat quietly in the sunshine holding hands.  Him on a bench and me in the chair, blanket tucked over me hiding the bag.  For the first time in a week I smiled and it felt genuine, everything else, the pain and the fear, just disappeared for that hour.  It felt like it was just me and him and that everything was going to be ok.

sam and timm cleasby sheffield

On Friday 23rd May I was finally allowed the tube in my ass to be removed, it was such a relief.  I could have cried!!! And then I was allowed home! It was so good to get home to Timm and the kids and into my own bed.  I have been home for three weeks now and the recovery is slow and steady.  Physically I have recovered well from the actual incision wounds on my stomach, they have healed really well and I am pleased with them.

ileostomy j pouch scars post op pictures

 

The first week I was home I had to go to the toilet and empty my bowels every two hours, I had an alarm set to remind me and this went on through the night too.  The next week the time was extended to three hours so as you can imagine, I was just exhausted.  Getting up through the night was tough as once I was up I was finding it difficult to get back to sleep.  The reason for this is to make sure as little pressure as possible is put on the stitches in my pouch.  The next week and from then on I am to hold the urge to go to the toilet for as long as possible to start the long process of training my pouch to stretch and hold waste so I don’t have to go to the toilet constantly.  This can take up to two years…

Last Sunday I started feeling unwell, I had to go to the loo A LOT and by Monday morning I had been over 50 times in 24 hours.  I was exhausted and terrified something had gone terribly wrong.  I called my stoma nurse who recommended speaking to the specialised nurses at the hospital, they said I needed to see the GP as soon as possible.  I saw the GP who oddly enough used to work with my consultant and surgeon Mr Brown!  She was lovely and examined me and said she believed it was a virus that was going round.  I was so relieved and came home to plenty of fluids and rest.

So a month after surgery I am now going to the toilet around 15 – 20 times a day, this is mainly because it is quite difficult to actually open my bowels, it feels so different to before and it may take 3 or 4 trips to the toilet to feel like I am ’empty’.  It is very tiring going so much and I feel down about it.  I have to wear a pad in my knickers ‘just in case’ which makes me feel like absolute crap.  I feel really embarrassed talking about it, which is odd for me as I usually am happy to talk about anything but I think because my self esteem and confidence feel at an all time low, it is hard for me to open up and talk about it.

I know it is early days and I was warned that this recovery process is very long and drawn out, it takes a lot of time for the pouch to work properly and so I know I just have to be patient and accepting that this is how it is right now.  But honestly, I am feeling very low.  I feel sad, scared and weak.  Im worried that I have done the wrong thing, I feel like I am ill with Ulcerative Colitis again and that I am back to where I was before the first surgery.  I feel quite panicky and anxious a lot, like Im on the verge of tears.  And Im finding it very difficult to open up and talk about it to those around me.

I am so lucky to have such wonderful, caring people supporting me.  Timm, as ever, has been amazing, my awesome friend Caroline has been here looking after me and the kids, cooking, cleaning and just being there for me, my mum has been here cooking for us all and looking after the kids.  I have had visits, messages and calls from so many fabulous friends and family and I feel so grateful.

But part of me feels like I need to be bubbly and happy, I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer whinging on and on and I find myself just saying “yes, Im fine!!!” to the question of how am I because Im worried that if I open up and say that actually I feel horrible that I will be letting people and myself down.  I know that sounds mental, and if I think about it logically I know that it is absolutely fine to be feeling rubbish, I just had major surgery! I also know that people are there for me.

I think I find it difficult to voice my feelings because I honestly don’t really understand them myself.  I just feel that under my day to day smile, there lurks this gloom.  A heavy hearted sadness coupled with a chest thumping panic.  I feel worried at the thought of being in public or around too many people, I feel safe here at home with Timm and so Im worried about leaving the house.  We went to a shopping centre last week for an hour and it was quite scary but ok as I was with Timm, I was exhausted by it and went straight to bed afterwards.

I just need to keep plodding on, take each day at a time and accept that right now, things are shit.  But as I recover, things will get better each week.  This is a lonnnnnngggggg post so have a shiny star if you have managed to get this far!  Thanks for reading and I will make myself keep on blogging, because no matter how difficult it is for me to get these words down, I know that I feel better for it and hopefully I can help someone else too.

 

Much Love

 

Sam xxx

Apologies

I just wanted to say a quick ‘I’m sorry’ for not blogging much at the minute. This surgery has hit me so much harder than last time and I just have no inspiration to write.

It’s an odd feeling for me as usually writing is my escape and feels so cathartic but right now I’m struggling to put pen to paper and I’m not sure why.

I think I’m filled with chaotic emotions at the minute and I’m struggling to share that with anyone. Everyone around me is being so kind, supportive and loving but a part of me still feels numb to it. I can’t really explain my feelings. I don’t understand them so it’s nigh impossible to get them out on paper in any way that makes sense.

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I’m definitely starting to feel more human, the painkillers are working well and so at least I’m pain free, I’m still in the phase where I have to go to the loo every 3 hours, including through the night so I’m quite tired. But everything seems to have gone well, my pouch is functioning properly and my wounds are healing really well.

Physically I’m doing good but emotionally I’m a bit all over the place. I’m finding it really tough to communicate this with anyone though as I really don’t understand it myself. It’s easier to smile and say everything’s ok than to be a stuttering idiot who can’t explain how I’m feeling.

I’m just having to remind myself that I’m only three weeks out of major life changing surgery and so I’m bound to be a little mixed up.

I’ll get there. I know I will. I just need to take one day at a time.

Sam xxxx