Sea Sponge Tampons – a review

I am coming to the end of my fifth day wearing a sea sponge tampon and I am humming the theme tune to Spongebob Squarepants as I write up perhaps one of the oddest products I have ever reviewed.

Sea sponge tampons are a reusable, eco friendly alternative to regular disposable tampons and I was sent the Natural Intimacy Caribbean Silk Intimate Sponges to try by Stress No More.  Made from natural sea sponge which is non-toxic and completely bio-degradable, I like to think of these as mermaid tampons.  Seriously, I think this is what Ariel uses on her time of the month…

sea sponge tampons

I have used a mooncup for years and so I’m already a convert to the reusable options when it comes to menstruation, but I have to say, the sea sponge was a bit weird even for me.  I think it is so ingrained into us that our only options are tampons or sanitary towels (i.e. the items that are taxed and make a lot of money for the government!) that any other option is seen as alternative or hippyish.

So, according to the Stress No More website, the sea sponge is “harvested by divers straight from the Caribbean ocean, with the utmost respect for marine resources. Sea sponge lives on the ocean floor, it’s not coral or a plant; it is in fact an animal that has no brain or central nervous system.”

Wait, what?? Oh, now I feel a bit more icky that I have an animal up my flue.

“This renewable natural resource has the powerful ability to re-grow parts of the sponge that has been broken off by water currents, the divers cut them at the base so the sponge remains intact, ensuring that the sponge still has the ability to re-grow and reproduce over and over again.”

“No one ever really talks about the damage that traditional, disposable sanitary products have on our bodies and the environment. Tampons and sanitary pads are pumped with fragrances, dioxins and are usually made with non-organic cotton or rayon.”

Not to mention the waste that goes into landfill and into the sewage system, so the sea sponge really is a renewable and eco-friendly option.  I recently tried the Tampax Pearl tampons and I couldn’t believe the amount of packaging and waste produced, each tampon applicator is made of plastic that goes into landfill because I couldn’t bring myself to put it in our plastic recycling pile.

The box arrived and had two sea sponges inside, there was minimal instructions, it just said to wash or sterilise before use but little else.  To be honest, the packaging and instructions are pretty odd.  There is no mention of menstruation, periods, blood or anything about my vag-j-j.

“Intimate sponges” they call them, “smooth and delicate”, “natural, absorbent and easy to clean, for internal or external use”.

I had to go to check the site to make sure I had the right product!  This kind of annoyed me, if I am using an alternative menstrual product, let’s be proud of it and shout it from the rooftops! SPONGEBOB IS GOING TO BE MY TAMPON!!!!!!! (Well, he does live in Bikini Bottom)


And so to the website directions.

“When washing and soaking your sponge, be sure to use natural soap that is chemical free; this will make sure that your sea sponges stay clean and are always safe to use. Using soaps that have fragrances and chemicals can cause you irritation when in use.

Soak your sea sponge on a cup of warm water between 5 – 10 minutes with either of the recommended:

  • 1 tbsp of vinegar
  • 2 – 3 drops of tea tree oil

After the soak, rinse thoroughly and squish out any water that is left inside.

Please do not:

  • Boil the sea sponges – this can toughen and shrink them
  • Soak your sea sponge any longer than the advised time – excessive soaking can make the sponge deteriorate
  • Avoid using any harsh chemicals or soaps! This will be bad for your body and your sponge”

So after soaking and washing out, I used the sea sponge for the first time, once washed it becomes very, very soft and pliable and so I dried it out by squeezing it, rolled it into a cigar shape and pushed it in.  I was a bit concerned it would feel dry and horrible going in, but really it was quite smooth and easy.

Once in, I couldn’t feel it AT ALL.  Nothing.

The sponges are quite big, but once rolled and squished, they mould to whatever shape you put them in and so it stays quite compact in the vagina.  The site says you can trim it down, but I didn’t need to as, like I said, you roll it and squish it small anyway.

sea sponge tampon

So my mermaid tampon was in and if I’m honest, I didn’t trust it.  I headed to bed with a towel to lay on incase of leaks and feeling pretty nervous.  But I had no leaks at all, it was brilliant!

Since I’ve had so much surgery in that area, I can no longer use a moon cup as I can feel it inside and it is quite uncomfortable and so I have been back to using tampons and towels, I mention both because I usually leak with a tampon only.  This makes periods a pretty crappy time for me, I have a very heavy flow and spend one week a month waddling round, buckles and braces, with a tampon and a big pad feeling like Carrie.

This also costs a lot of money.  I go through around 5-6 tampons a day with 5-6 pads too, equally around £6 or £7 a month.  Is it breaking the bank? No, but it does gall me to be spending money on something that  makes me feel crap.  So I decided to try the alternatives.

The Caribbean Silk Sponges are £9.95 + £3.95 delivery, they are said to last at least 3-6 months and you get two in a pack, therefore my annual menstrual costs would go from around £84 a year to just £13.90 saving me over £70 a year!

Anyway, there were no leaks on night one, and in fact, I haven’t had one leak for my whole period.  It was extremely comfortable, I genuinely couldn’t feel a thing, so much so that I forgot I had it in a couple of times, it went a good 8 hours overnight without me having to get up.

This could be a coincidence, but my usually terrible period pains were almost non-existent this month.  Could it be that my body wasn’t having to react to having big wads of cotton inside me? Who knows?

Back to actual usage, so it was easy to insert, super comfortable to wear and then it comes to removal.  I had read a review that said it could be really tricky, some people use a piece of dental floss tied around it to remove but that it could tear the sponge in half.  There is no getting around this, you have to be comfortable with your body and your blood to use the sea sponge.

I found it really quick and easy to remove, it is a little weird as the wet sponge does feel like flesh inside so it takes a second to figure out which bit is which, but once I caught feel of it, I bared down slightly and just pulled it out.  Very simple and clean, yes you get your fingers slightly bloody, but barely worse than grabbing a bloody tampon string or disposing of a pad filled with blood and certainly no different to removing a moon cup.

I think it is the next bit that will get people.  You have to squeeze out and rinse the sponge under the tap before reinserting it.  Yes, you do get some blood on your hand but it is under running water and so it isn’t anywhere near as bad as you would think.  Also because it is fresh blood, it has very little smell, I would say it is unnoticeable, unlike a sanitary towel where the blood is old and has been sat in the pad, the sea sponge felt very clean.

mermaid leggings sea sponge tampons

You wouldn’t be able to change it like this in a normal public toilet, a sink and running water is absolutely necessary, but you do get two and they come in a little sealed baggie, so you could take one out, put it in the sealed bag and then use the other and deal with it at home.  I work from home and so this hasn’t been an issue.  I also find they don’t need changing often and so you could go a good few hours without needing to change.

People find reusable menstrual products a bit gross, they say that they don’t want to have to be touching they blood, but I just find this argument so weird!  Sanitary towels sit in your pants filled with your blood, you then have to take them out, wrap them up and put them in a bin.  Tampons need removing and inserting.  You have to wash your vagina during your periods, so reusable products aren’t any more faff than the usual two, we have just been taught that tampons and pads are the norm.

If more options were taught in schools to our children, then future generations would know they had a choice in their menstruation.  My friend Chella Quint runs a project called Period Positive, I strongly recommend you go take a look at her site and learn more about the way we teach society that periods are dirty, embarrassing and a taboo subject.

My verdict? I have to say, I am really surprised! I thought I would give it a go and perhaps it could be a back up plan for if I really can’t get on with my moon cup or when I just can’t bare the tampons and pads any more.  But it has been a really eye opener! No leaks, no discomfort, no waste (they are biodegradable and can be put in the compost at the end of their life), sea sponge tampons are a real and genuine option for women who want a choice when it comes to the products they use during shark week.

If your current menstrual products aren’t working for you, then give it a go, you might just be surprised by the results.

Now, whoooooooooooo lives in a pineapple under the sea?!!!

To buy your own sea sponges, head over to Stress No More.  I haven’t been paid for this review but I was sent the products free of charge, I don’t earn anything from affiliate links here either, I just genuinely liked the mermaid tampons (fingers crossed someone rebrands these with the name and a mermaid splashing up on the rocks with a red sea behind her…)


Sam x



I’m feeling pretty down today and it’s because I feel really disappointed. My mum said earlier something that struck me, “you throw yourself into things and people 100% and then you’re disappointed when others don’t do the same.”

I think she’s right and I think that’s my problem rather than other people’s. 

I am an enthusiastic person and I probably have too high expectations of others. I believe in people and then I feel let down when they aren’t what I thought.  

I get cancelled on a lot. And I do wonder whether it’s just coincidence or whether I’m doing something wrong? Am I over the top? Am I too open? I try and please a lot, I know that. I want people to like me and I feel sick to my stomach when I think someone doesn’t like me or when they walk away. 

A lot of it probably comes down to my dad leaving. I think I have abandonment issues, then in the past few months three close family members have decided they don’t want to be part of my life and that’s tough. 

I have been trying to arrange an event for Crohns and Colitis UK and have found myself overwhelmed with the work and lack of support.  Today we’ve had to cancel the event because we didn’t sell any where near enough tickets. I am absolutely gutted and feel I’ve let down the charity. But I also feel really disappointed that others didn’t really pull together to get it off the ground. 

This is probably unfair of me, again my expectations of others have led to my own disappointment. I have to take responsibility for this, no one else has the ability to make me feel disapointed, it’s my own ideals that have done it and I don’t have the right to put expectations on other people. 

I think I’m just feeling a bit sorry for myself, I know I am so lucky to have some wonderful friends and family and I think I need to focus more on the people who care about me than on those who don’t. 
Sam X 


There are 150 million disabled children in the world, yet so few toys that represent them.

One campaigner thought this was wrong and decided to make a stand against the biggest global toy manufacturers and won.

toy like me

#ToyLikeMe is the brainchild of Rebecca Atkinson, a journalist from London who started the campaign towards ending ‘cultural marginalisation’ and urged Lego and other toy manufacturers to better represent diverse backgrounds.

In April 2015, Rebecca, who is partially deaf and partially sighted, noticed the lack of representation in the toy industry.

She called on some fellow mothers and together they launched #ToyLikeMe to call on the global toy industry to start representing disabled children around the world.

They started a petition calling on Lego to include disabled mini- figures and received over 20k signatures.

A similar one aimed at Playmobil received over 50k supporters and they responded by becoming the first global brand to back #ToyLikeMe and are working to produce a line of characters that positively represent disability for release in 2016/17.

The crowd funding page raised over £16,000 in a month and will be used to create a website that will be a resource for parents and carers to give them a one stop shop where they can find everything from cottage industries making bespoke plush teddies with hearing aids to listings of global toy brands with representative products.


After 9 months of lobbying, toy giants Lego unveiled their first wheelchair using mini-figure at Nurumberg Toy Fair last month.

The figure of a young man using a wheelchair and accompanied by an assistance dog is part of a new Fun in the Park set from Lego.

Rebecca says the move by Lego “will speak volumes to children, disabled or otherwise, the world over”.

“As someone who had grown up wearing hearing aids, I remembered firsthand how it felt to be a child who never saw themselves represented by the mainstream and what that can do to a child with a disability’s self esteem. I wanted to change this for generations to come and start to get global brands like Lego, Mattel and Playmobil to include representations of disability in their products.”

“If they present a little boy in a wheelchair in a fun park setting – like they have done with this new product – they are speaking a much bigger message than just a little figure.”

“It is a hugely powerful thing for children to see. I hope Lego have realised the wonderful thing they have done. I congratulate them and I hope this is a start of a lot of incidental representation of their product because the response online has been phenomenal.”

For more information, check out ToyLikeMe’s Facebook page and crowd-funding site. 

With a little help from my friend

I have this friend called Caroline and without her, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have coped in the past few years. She will be super embarrassed and probably tell me off for this post, but I’m going for it anyway!

We met 12 years ago when I moved to a new area, I had no friends with kids and didn’t know a soul. We met at playgroup when I saw her toddler son wearing a Stone Roses tshirt and was smitten. I went home and called Timm. “I met someone like me!” I cried.  We joke that we then ignored each other for a year. But in 2005, we both had sons within a month of each other and our friendship bloomed.


When we became friends and starting hanging out together, my husband Timm was working away a lot, for months on end and Caroline and her partner Jim took me under their wings. It’s hard when you have a partner who works away, weekends are the worst as you feel you can’t intrude on other peoples family time so it can be very lonely.  Caroline always made me feel welcome and helped so much during that time.

Our boys have grown up together and the other children too and Caroline and Jim have become the best of friends with myself and Timm.   When we first introduced the men, we were worried they wouldn’t like each other, luckily they quickly became firm friends and from there have had so many adventures in the form of Responsible Fishing, their arts company.

Since I got so ill and started having surgeries, Caroline has been my rock.  I just can’t explain quite how much she has made everything better.  She was there. Not just physically but emotionally, she was there.

She has:



Looked after kids



Washed me

Held my hand

Listened to me shout and cry

Taken me out

Looked after my family

Looked after my pets

Encouraged me

Made me laugh

Allowed me to cry

Watched crap telly in my bed with me

A million other things…

She is the best friend I could ever wish for and I can’t believe my luck that I managed to find someone so bloody wonderful.  I am so grateful to have such a beautiful, amazing, sensitive, loving and creative soul to share my life with.  She is just the best.

The past 3 years have been the worst of my life.  There have been times where I just couldn’t get out of bed, the sadness on my shoulders was so heavy.  I felt as though there was a big, dark hole in my heart and it was spreading. It stopped the blood flowing to my limbs so they were heavy and didn’t want to move. It hurt my chest with it’s weight making me catch my breath. It hurt my brain by sending all the anxious thoughts in the world swirling around.

Throughout it all, Caroline has always been there, knowing and understanding, listening and hugging. She knows when to call and visit and when to give me time. She has been everything.

I just wanted to take this time to thank my amazing friend. For being everything.

Caroline, I’m sorry if this embarrasses you, but you are wonderful and I love you very, very much.  Your support, kindness and love has helped my family and myself more than you’ll ever know and I will never be able to repay you.

Sam xx


Hair loss

If the whole surgery and losing my colon wasn’t quite enough, my body has decided to throw me another curveball in the form of hair loss.  It has happened after every surgery to be honest, I think it is something to do with either the General Anaesthetic or perhaps just the trauma of an operation.

I am losing handfuls of hair every day, when I brush it, there is like a whole heads worth of hair on the floor and I have to say, it is pretty scary.  I have very thick hair naturally and so I don’t think it is particularly noticeable to other people.  I have asked my partner and friend and they said they can’t tell but it is still quite an upsetting thing.

After a bit of research, I found it is fairly common and it is called Telogen Effluvium, which is when some stress causes hair roots to be pushed prematurely into a resting state, a more than normal amounts of hair falls out with a general ‘thinning’ of the hair.  It is temporary and the hair growth usually recovers. If there is some “shock to the system”, up to 70% of the scalp hairs are then shed in large numbers about 2 months after the “shock”.


sam cleasby blogger writer

This makes perfect sense to me as it has been 8 weeks since my operation, but certainly wasn’t something that I was warned about.  It makes me wonder how many other people are struggling with this and don’t know the cause.  The most common time it occurs is in women about 1-3 months after childbirth. Other times include 1-3 months after a major operation, accident, or illness.

I have had my hair every colour under the sun, I have had it short, long and shaved off completely and so it feels odd to me that this hair loss is so upsetting.  I have twice shaved my head and so the idea of no hair doesnt scare me, but the idea of baldness or bald patches does.  I think this is because I equate that to being ill and I am so done with being ill.

Hair is also traditionally very much attached to femininity and beauty, and the idea of hair loss can feel like a loss of womanliness.  This is of course untrue, there are many amazing women who have no hair at all through choice or illness, but I do wonder whether my fear stems from this thought?

The good news is that, though there is no cure, this condition also resolves itself on it’s own and usually within a few months.  So if you are currently suffering with this post stress hair loss, it should be over soon.


Sam xx




Happy Mothers Day

Dear Mum,

Happy Mother’s Day!

mothers day mother daughter relationships maureen sam cleasby

Just a post to say how grateful I am for everything you do for me and my family and to tell you we all love you very much.  No mother and daughter relationship is without it’s bumps and arguments, and ours is the same but I love you lots and just wanted to tell you how special you are to me.

mothers day mother daughter relationships maureen sam cleasby

Your help and support this year has been a life saver, thank you for looking after us all, caring for me and being there for all five of us.  There’s not many son in laws who love their mother in laws quite as much as Timm loves you and so this is from him too, he loves you Mo Mo!

mothers day mother daughter relationships maureen sam cleasby

Thank you for being an amazing nannan to my kids, you mean the world to them and you know how much Charlie adores you (“just move in nan!!”)  I adore the relationship you have with them, you are so special to them and they couldn’t love you more.  You are the best nannan ever.

mothers day mother daughter relationships maureen sam cleasby

I am sorry when I am not there for you, I know I am not the best daughter in the world (and we all know who your favourite is *COUGH AUSSIES!!* :P)  I know I don’t call as often as I should and I am a bit rubbish at keeping in touch but you are in my thoughts all the time.

You are totally bonkers and still manage to surprise me when you turn up to parties in a naked fat suit or dressed like Elvis Presley.  You can drink me under the table, your shot drinking is astounding and you kick ass at Beer Pong.

pop stars fancy dress


You’ve been through a lot and it’s not easy for you, I know.  But know we love spending time with you, our holidays are brilliant, whether it’s in this country or abroad.  I am really proud of you when you try new things and I still can’t believe we got you on a horse!!!

mothers day mother daughter relationships maureen sam cleasby


Thank you for always being there for us, your cooking is second to none and you know that when the kids come home from school and see your car in the drive, they run in shouting “YEY! Nan’s cooking curry!!!”

mothers day mother daughter relationships maureen sam cleasby

Thank you for all the cooking and cleaning when I was recovering from this surgery, for helping Timm and taking some of the strain.  Thanks for helping me to bathe, probably not something you thought you’d ever have to do again! And thank you mostly for sitting in bed with me and watching a whole season of Hell’s Kitchen! “That’s f**king RAW!”

mothers day mother daughter relationships maureen sam cleasby

Happy Mothers Day momma,

mothers day mother daughter relationships maureen sam cleasby


I love you,

Sam xx

The body image advice I wish I could give my 18 year old self

Some friends and I joked recently about an upcoming 40th birthday, we laughed at fancy dress ideas of us all in black gowns with dark veils to mourn the loss of her youth (yes, we are all bitches!) but in reality we all said that we are SO much happier in ourselves than when we were 18.  If I could have the body and face of an 18 year old and the mind of my 34 year old self then I could probably become some kind of evil genius and take over the whole world.

So it got me thinking about what I wish I had known when I was 18 regarding body image, because despite the fact that I am four sizes bigger now with saggy bits and wrinkled lines, with scars and a stoma, my self esteem and body confidence is 100 times that of my 18 year old self!

If I could jump in a time machine and go visit myself in 1999, I would give myself a big hug and tell me that I am enough.  I would tell me that things are going to get better and that the past few years were shit but it wasn’t my fault.

I would tell myself that how I look bares no relevance to the type of person I am, that all the good things that will happen in life do not come from how I look, but how I am.  That kindness, loyalty, caring, passion, silliness, excitement, hard work and fun are the things that people love about me and they don’t give a shit what the number in the back of my dress says.

sam cleasby blogger writer feminist so bad ass

I would teach me that the most wonderful power is that of self love, that when you are loving and accepting of your body, it feels bloody wonderful.  It is like a shield to deflect all the bullshit that gets thrown at us, telling us how we should look and how we should dress.  When you feel confident and happy, it stops other people being able to hurt you.  Horrid words bounce off a lot easier when you aren’t nodding and agreeing with those aresholes.

I would tell me that though the whole world seems to have an opinion on my body, the only opinion that matters is mine so I need to stop worrying on what other people think of me and work on feeling the best I can about myself.

I would tell myself that in years to come, I will no longer be a size 8 but a size 16 and I will be a happier, more confident person and I would watch the surprise on my face when I realise this is completely true.  I should enjoy my body so much more as I waste too much time worrying about how I look.

I would tell myself to celebrate my healthy body, to enjoy that I am well and strong because in the future I won’t be so lucky.  I’d tell myself that our bodies are a miracle and the only one we have so look after it, be respectful of it, love it.

I asked my friend and all round badass Violet Fenn from Sex, Death, Rock n Roll what advice she would give to her 18 year old self.

“It belongs to YOU, not anyone else. You’re not as fat as you think you are and it doesn’t matter even if you ARE fat”

The thing I have learnt through my life is that we are all very self obsessed creatures, we worry that our peers are judging us when actually we are all so tied up in thinking about ourselves that we rarely give a shit what anyone else looks like.  I see this now, I think people are looking at my ostomy bag, in reality, people don’t care! They are thinking about their own life and their own issues.


sam cleasby the poo lady plus size eff your beauty standards


I would tell me to wear whatever the fuck I want, whether it is ‘in fashion’, ‘suits you’ ‘is appropriate’ or not.  Because in years to come, I will look back on that white bikini top covered in daisies, huge, HUGE flares and foam Red or Dead platform sandals with fond memories.

Stand tall, this is a biggie.  I grew several inches over the summer holiday one year and ended up taller than all the boys in my year and so I used to slump my shoulders and hunch down, wishing I could be a petite lady rather than a gallumping giraffe.  STOP SLOUCHING! My height is awesome and gallumping giraffes are just as beautiful as petite sparrows.

Two of my friends told me about the advice they would give to themselves.  “I would tell my 18 yr old self to be more confident in my body and be less self-conscious and to stop comparing myself to photoshopped celebs because they aren’t real” said Charlotte.  Rebecca adds “Stop buying stupid women’s magazines!”
The overwhelming message when I ask any female friends this question is one of love, we all wish that we had wasted less time worrying about comparing ourselves to others, we all wish we could have had more confidence and less anxiety on fitting in.
I think it’s a great message for women at any age.  Care less about other’s opinions, love yourself more and celebrate your uniqueness.
Sam x




It was 1995.  I was 14. I met him in Meadowhall, he called out to me and said I was beautiful.  I was flattered as he was older. If an older man thought I was attractive, then I must be pretty cool, right?

He caught my hand as I walked past him and his friends, pulling me towards him. I blushed and looked at the floor. He called me gorgeous and said all the things that men in movies say to women.

He asked for my number and I got flustered, I told him I was 14 and he couldn’t call my house as I’d get in bother with my mum and so he gave me his and told me to phone him.

I did phone him. That means I wanted it, doesn’t it? He said he was glad I called as he’d been thinking about me all day. I was flattered.

He asked me to his house, I asked if his mum would be in and he laughed and said he lived alone. He was 20, he said.  I told him again I was 14 and he laughed and said I was really mature. I felt proud.

I got dressed up. I wore a short skirt, a top and my denim jacket. I put on make up. I want to look pretty for my date.

I went to his house alone. I wasn’t dragged or threatened. I’m a stupid girl, aren’t I.  He had a room in a shared house and so we had to go to his bedroom. I thought we were going to talk.

He pushed me back on the bed, I panicked and tried to sit up.  He tells me that I’m gorgeous. He says I came for sex. I’ve never had sex before, I snogged a boy once.  I’m scared.  I try to act like a grown up in a film, I toss my hair over my shoulder and laugh. I say let’s take it slowly. Let’s go out.

He gets angry. He says I’ve led him on. What am I? A dick tease? He thought I was a proper woman, not a stupid little girl.  Why did I come there if it wasn’t for sex?

I’m scared. I start to cry and try to get off the bed but he pins me back. He says I’ll enjoy this. He is on top of me, pulling at his jeans as he pulls up my skirt. I freeze. I don’t fight.

Before anything else can happen, there’s a knock at his door, it opens and his housemate laughs and says he’s sorry to disturb us. I get up and run.

I run out of his room and down the stairs. I run out of the house and down the road. My chest hurts but I don’t stop running till I’m home.

I don’t tell anyone. I’m ashamed and blame myself.

I talked to a stranger. I phoned him. I wore a short skirt and lipstick. I went to his house. I went to his room. I didn’t fight.

I never knew I’d been sexually assaulted. Because I was taught that rape was a scary man in a mac who drags women off a street corner.  I always believed that I’d made a huge mistake, I blamed myself entirely.

It was only recently that I could actually accept that this man had deliberately used me as a young girl.  Isn’t that sad. I didn’t know.  I thought it was just a rubbish experience that I had put myself through.

I read about Adam Johnson and that he has been found guilty of sexual activity with a child and hear he will be imprisoned and I sigh, thankful that life is getting better.

Then I read the comments in the news and on social media.  That girl was asking for it. She got in his car because she wanted to. She was loving it. What was she wearing? What sort of girl is she? And I realise that we still live in a world where victims are blamed. Where children are used by adults yet we still look to the actions of the child.

Where thousands of girls in Rotherham were groomed and abused, brainwashed and hurt, yet society didn’t protect them because they weren’t women dragged off the street, screaming and fighting by a man in a dirty mac.

We need to open our eyes, see the many shades of assault, that it’s rarely black and white. That although no always means no, sometimes it’s too scary to utter that word because you’re frightened of what will happen.

For years, I carried this with me and always blamed myself for putting myself in that situation. I didn’t tell anyone as I was sure they’d say I was stupid.

Enough.  I wasn’t to blame. I was a child taken advantage of by an adult.

Let’s speak out and end the cycle.  Teach our children that they aren’t to blame and they can speak out.

No more silence.


If you need support, get in touch with The Survivors Trust.

Is ulcerative colitis contagious? 

I was googling something earlier and typed in ‘is ulcerative colitis’ and these were google’s suggestions of what I may be searching.  I was truly shocked at the first one.  Is Ulcerative Colitis contagious?

It saddened me to think that this is what people are thinking about people with IBD, that they are concerned that they could catch this from us.  It shows to me that although awareness is improving massively, that there is still a lot of work to do.


For the record, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohns Disease are NOT CONTAGIOUS, you can’t catch this from being near to someone who has these diseases.

“Ulcerative Colitis is a condition that causes inflammation and ulceration of the inner lining of the rectum and colon (the large bowel). In UC, tiny ulcers develop on the surface of the lining and these may bleed and produce pus.

The inflammation usually begins in the rectum and lower colon, but it may affect the entire colon. If UC only affects the rectum, it is called proctitis, while if it affects the whole colon it may be called total colitis or pancolitis.

It’s one of the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The other is Crohn’s Disease.

Ulcerative Colitis is a chronic condition. This means that it is ongoing and life-long, although you may have periods of good health (remission), as well as times when symptoms are more active (relapses or flare-ups).” – Crohns and Colitis UK


There is still a huge taboo around bowel disorders, people are embarrassed to talk about any disease or symptoms that are about poo.  This is something I fight against all the time and what formed my hashtag #StopPooBeingTaboo.

Yes, it can be embarrassing but I always think that poo is the great leveller, it is something that every single person on the planet does in one way or another.  I do it in a bag, but that shouldn’t be a reason for me to be ashamed.

Your poo is a wonderful indicator of health and should be something that you notice.  Changes in bowel habits, losing blood or mucus, loss of continence or drastic change in your poo can show that you have health issues.  Seeing blood and having diarrhoea can be a sign of cancer, but it can also be all manner of health problems from the very minor to something more worrying.  If you’ve had any of these things for a few weeks, you should absolutely see your GP.  A lot of us ignore these signs because of embarrassment, but your doctor has seen more butts than you can imagine and will not be freaked out, I promise you!

bristol stool chart


The other suggestions from google were asking if UC is curable and deadly.  The answers are no and sometimes.  There is still no known cure, some people say that if you have the colon removed then you no longer can have Ulcerative Colitis and it is therefore a cure.  I don’t subscribe to this thinking at all as UC is an auto-immune disease and it has effects on the rest of the body too, from issues with the skin and eyes to fatigue.  I no longer have a colon, but I still class myself as having UC.

Is it deadly? Well, deadly is an emotive and strong word.  Do people die from problems occurring from UC or from issues with surgery, yes, absolutely.  I would probably word it as life threatening, it isn’t common, but there are risks to your life from medication, surgeries and symptoms.

It got me thinking about what other questions people may have about Ulcerative Colitis, ostomies or life with IBD.  I am always happy to answer any questions, though obviously I am not a doctor and can only give you my opinion.  If you are concerned about your own health, please do seek medical advice.


Sam xxx

Letter to my children

Hey bambinos,

It’s momma here, I thought I would pen you a note as you are all old enough to spend your days with your noses stuck to a phone/ipad/laptop and I know you sneak a peek at So Bad Ass from time to time.

Firstly (and always), mannnnn I love you guys so much.  Like, my heart swells and twists and pumps a little harder when I think about you.  You are my three proudest achievements, nothing I can do in my life will ever surpass the pride I feel when I know that a little bit of me and a little bit of dad managed to make these three human beings that are as mind blowingly awesome as you.

People talk about how I have coped with the past few years, all the surgeries, the hospital stays and the life changing additions and subtractions and I think they forget that you guys have been through it all too.  My heart breaks when I think about how my illness has hurt you all.  I am truly sorry that this has happened to us all, if I could have hidden it from you, I would.  I can never give you back the past few years and all the time we have lost with me in bed, I can’t replace the time you have spent visiting me in hospital, the hours that slipped away as I rest and heal and sleep.

sam cleasby family parent mother blogger

But I can thank you for it.  Bambinos, you are the best.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thank you for taking everything on board, for being accepting and loving and caring.

Thank you for asking hilariously awkward questions about my stoma and butt (never stop!)

Thank you for not being embarrassed of me (even when your friends saw a photo of me in my knickers on the internet)

Thank you for the endless cups of tea.

Thank you for the hugs.  Every one healed me a little faster.

Thank you for bringing your friends to see me in my sick bed at home and not being ashamed of me.

Thank you for giving up your free time to sit in bed with me watching terrible TV.

Thank you for making me laugh (even when it hurts my stitches) you three are the funniest human beings in the world.

Thank you for understanding.

Thank you for being you, you weird, bizarre, ridiculous, smart, funny, wonderful babies.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

I wish none of this had happened and that we could just be a normal, happy family, but I can’t change it and I just have to hope that we can gain some positive things from it all.  I know we are closer as a family, I know that your relationships with your dad have deepened so much and when I see you all together, it makes me smile.

I hope this situation has made you more open minded and accepting, I hope it has taught you patience and care and a knowledge to not judge a book by it’s cover.  I hope you are tougher for coming through the past few years and that you will learn to be more resilient, stronger and always try to find the silver lining in any situation.  (Even if that silver lining is a terrible joke, a meme about llamas or a memory of a good time).

It means so much to me that my bag doesn’t frighten or upset you, I know it was a shock in the early days, but I am so glad that you fully accept my ileostomy bag for what it is, a life saver.  After surgery, when you were all a little scared to come to close incase you hurt me, it shook me, I worried you would never want to hug me again, now I love the fact that you barely think about my bag and aren’t afraid to touch it, talk about it and even warm your hands on a very cold nighttime walk on it!! (Hahaha)

I want you to know that I am so proud of you all and the way that you have dealt with everything.  I know it was really scary that I had to go in to hospital again and it wasn’t nice to visit me and see all those tubes and wires everywhere, I know it was frightening when I wasn’t really with it because of all the medication.  You guys were awesome though, you made me laugh when you wore the sick bowls as hats and made me wear one too.  You brought me joy in those rubbish days when all I wanted was to be at home and every time I saw your faces, it reminded me to get strong quickly so I could get home to you all.

children and chronic illness ibd surgery

My bambinos, I know the past couple of months have been tough as hell.  Between my surgery and recovery, our bereavement, mine and dad’s work, your school life and the most stressful house move known to man (we’re nearly there, I promise!!!), it has been really hard and I know you have all been freaking out.  It makes me feel guilty to know you guys are stressed, I feel it is my job as a mum to protect you from stress, but unfortunately this is life and it’s a learning process for you to know that bad stuff happens, yup, even to good people.  But that’s ok.

You don’t appreciate the great times without lulls of crapness, we have had more than our fair share of crap times, I know.  But we also have something really special, we have us.  Our family is awesome, me, dad and you three flipping rock, we are just the best and we have to celebrate that.

Let’s hope that after a bad start to the year, 2016 will be beautiful.  I’m looking forward to our new home, to working in the allotment with you all, to parties and big dinners with the people we love, to your aunty, uncle and cousin visiting us from Australia, to a weekend in Manchester watching the Stone Roses, to visits to London, to galleries and exhibitions, walks in the park and cuddles on the sofa, to visits from nan and a house full of your friends, to hot tubs in the summer and ridiculous gatherings of our silly friends and especially to our family road trip to America!!

sam cleasby mum parent blogger

The thing I look forward to the most is seeing you lot grow and thrive, you are all getting so grown up and it is scary to think that you aren’t babies any more.  Two of you are teens and one will start secondary school this year!! You are all dealing with your own struggles, and bambinos, I know it is SO HARD! You are filled with hormones and emotion and are learning who you are as people, you are becoming the best young men and women that I have ever met.  Dad and I may be tough on you, we nag about work ethics and housework, manners and respect, it is only because we love you more than anything and we can see how close that horizon of adulthood is to you.  We can see it nearing day by day that in no time at all you will be leaving school, going to uni, travelling the world and leaving home.

But let’s not rush it eh? Let’s enjoy our time together because after all the s**t (yes, mum swore) we have been through, we deserve something good.

I love you bambinos


Mum x