Why you need to stop hating and start being kinder to yourself

Last year I did a talk at the Steel Belles Women’s Institute about body image I talk about how my surgeries were the start of feeling good about myself, how when you feel lucky to be alive, it is easier to stop the negativity.  I also talk about passing poor body image down through the generations and the time my kids told me I had long boobies.

Enjoy.

If you would like me to speak at your event, get in touch now.

Who am I?

Sometimes I wonder who I am, especially in times of recovery, I feel the person I am or was drifts away as it’s trapped in a body that in so many ways, has failed me.

Who I feel I am is someone very independent yet right now I am so dependent on those around me.

I feel I’m an adventurer yet I stay in my bed so often.

I feel I’m a worker but I’ve been off work now for a month.

I feel I’m a doer yet I can’t do so many of the things I want to do.

I love cooking and dancing and walking my dogs and having dinner parties and gardening and traveling and visiting people and helping others but right now I struggle to do any of these things.

sam cleasby mizoram aizawl

I know this is temporary but I feel I’ve been in this temporary state since the beginning of the year at least, my hernia was bad from last year and I’ve had two surgeries this year so far so it’s been a while and I suppose it just starts to make you question a lot of things.

Its hard to be unwell for so long but always in the recovery stage, if I knew I’d always be a wheelchair user then I could start to rebuild my life around that, to figure out how to bring the things I love into an accessible way. But when you’re in a place where you should be improving over time it can feel like you’re in limbo.

I don’t want to complain as I know how lucky I am but it’s hard sometimes, I do start to question who I am and how I’ll ever get back to feeling like me.

Whatever happens I know I’ll get there, and I can always answer the question ‘who am I?’ with ‘I’m so bad ass!’

✌🏽 & ❤

Sam x

What NOT to wear this summer if you are fat

The summer months are upon us and magazines and websites are flooded with articles of what to wear and what not to wear.  For the larger ladies, it is apparently a minefield of finding ‘flattering’ clothes and how to cover up.

I’m a size 16 and love fashion, so here is my guide of what not to wear this summer if you are fat.

1. Shame

Fuck the shame, that’s the last thing you should wear.  Your size doesn’t define you and shouldn’t bring feelings of shame.  Shame suggests that you should feel bad about your body.  Your body is wonderful, it is the only one you get and you should celebrate the one you are in.

how to wear a bikini body confidence so bad ass

2. Fear

The worry and fear that others will judge you.  You know what? Some people are dicks and might judge your shape, but those people are horrid and if you were a size 10, they would find something to pick at you about.

sam cleasby stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

3. Hate

“I hate my bum” “I hate my belly” “I hate my arms”

How many times have you said that about yourself? Stop with the hate, if you allow yourself to say that, then you are open to allowing others to say it.  You are teaching your children that it’s ok to say you hate yourself, you are teaching yourself that you are not worthy of love.

Yes, we all may have parts of our bodies that aren’t our favourite but don’t tell yourself you hate your body, because you are listening…

The naked podcast Sam cleaaby

What you should wear…

Anything you feel amazing in!

Don’t allow society to choose your style, wear what makes you happy.  If you love a bikini, wear it!  I’m covered in scars, stretch marks and have an ostomy bag, I am far from the fashion magazine ideal of beach beauty, but I like an all over tan and hate being too hot and so I rock a bikini!

If you don’t love a bikini, then wear what makes you comfortable and happy.  Covering up doesn’t mean you don’t love yourself, being proud of your body doesn’t mean you have to bare all.  Just wear what you love, what makes you feel like a QUEEN!

A nurse is hospital jokingly said to me after my last op that my bikini wearing days were over, and you know what I felt sorry for her! Sorry that she couldn’t imagine how someone like me would feel comfortable wearing a bikini on the beach. NEWSFLASH! I don’t wear a bikini to look good for anyone else! I wear them because I don’t like being too hot, I like an all over tan and I love how I look and feel in one, screw everyone else!!

In this heatwave at the minute, I hope you all can have the confidence to wear whatever you want and I hope you feel amazing.

 

✌🏽& ❤

Sam xx

 

Travel Insurance with IBD and an ostomy

This is surprisingly, a topic that I get a lot of messages about.  People panicking about getting travel insurance when they have a current medical condition, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease or an ostomy.  My stoma has never stopped me travelling, and I always ensure I have good insurance, we are so lucky here in the UK to have top notch medical care for free, I can’t imagine being stuck somewhere abroad without being able to get the care I need, or to just get home and be treated here.

Panic not, it is a relatively simple job, I always use Money Supermarket, a comparison site that looks at all different insurance covers and compares them on price and policy.  They “teamed up with the top specialist travel insurance companies” and using their comparison tool you can compare travel insurance companies that cover medical conditions as part of their policies.

ileostomy bag bikini swimwear beachwear holiday

People who have a greater risk of claiming are forced to pay more for their insurance premiums, so folk like us may end up paying a lot more, regardless of this, it is really important to declare all of your medical conditions when applying for your insurance.

Money Supermarket says “When searching for an insurance company that covers pre-existing medical conditions you will be often asked a number of in-depth questions and will be required to submit detailed and sometimes very personal answers. You will be asked about a range of conditions both physical and mental such as depression and anxiety.

Whilst this can be a frustrating process it is necessary so that the insurance company can tailor your policy to your specific needs and determine any risk you may impose.

Failure to declare a medical condition to an insurer could result in any claim being rejected and force you to cover any medical costs yourself. It may be tempting to withhold certain information in order to obtain a cheaper premium, but in the event of a claim the insurance company can access your medical records.

india with an ostomy taj mahal in a wheelchair sam cleasby travel blog

No matter how minor a medical condition may be it is always worth declaring this to the insurer just to be sure that you are fully covered.

Once you have answered all relevant questions there are a number of potential outcomes, these are:

  • Offer a standard travel insurance policy depending on the severity or type of condition
  • Exclude medical cover for certain pre-existing conditions
  • Offer the insurance to you but at a much higher price
  • Refuse to insure you at all
  • Impose certain restrictions, exclusions, special terms or higher excess payments”

 

So head over to Money Supermarket, click to say whether it is Single Trip or Annual cover and let them know where you are going.

travel insurance with a stoma medical conditions health

Fill in all medical questions and diagnosis you have along with any treatment you’re having, had recently or on a waiting list for, view the results and choose your cover.

It does seem really unfair that disabled people face extra costs when it comes to travel insurance, it limits people’s ability to travel as anyone else. Some people face cover that is hundreds and hundreds of pounds more than if they were non-disabled.

sam cleasby ostomy blogger health sheffield IBD blog woman in swimming pool in a bikini with an ileostomy colostomy

It’s always worth looking at the time restraints, I’ve found that insurance within 6 weeks of a surgery goes up massively, and also the country you’re visiting varies in cost a lot (America I’m looking at you!)

But whether it’s right or wrong to charge such extortionate fees for some people, travel insurance is so vital to make sure you’re going to get the proper care you need in the case of an emergency.

vietnam bicycle ulcerative colitis ibd warrior ileostomy ostomy stoma adventure life travel

My ostomy bag hasn’t stopped me travelling, if anything it brought me more freedom as I have more control than when I was in a flare up. I’ve been to Vietnam, Australia, Lanzarote, India and we are off on an American road trip this year, I’ve embraced my wanderlust. Yes I have to be a bit more prepared and plan for days when I’m struggling but I know my heart is happy when I’m visiting new places and exploring and so I’ll keep going as long as I can.

Happy travels!

 

✌🏽& ❤️

Sam x

Supporting someone with IBD – a guide for friends and family

Timm and I were thrilled to work with Crohns and Colitis UK on their latest guide, it’s about supporting someone with IBD for friends and family members.

How to help someone with ibd

They say

”Finding out that someone you care about has Crohn’s or Colitis is a shock. You might be feeling anxious about what comes next and how their life will be affected. Things will change – but the support of friends and family can make a huge difference in helping them live well with their condition. This information sheet discusses the challenges faced by people with Crohn’s and Colitis, and the valuable things you can do to help them. It also looks at ways you can make sure you’re looking after yourself.”

You can download the guide here.

Helping your partner ileostomy ostomy stoma colostomy

We we are both proud supporters of Crohns and Colitis UK and we also volunteer with the South Yorkshire network too. For more information check out the links on this post.

✌🏽& ❤

Sam xx

I have the most exciting news…

So, I have some crazy exciting news that I can finally share with you all, you are now looking at (well, reading from) the newest presenter on BBC Radio Sheffield!!!!

I have a new show starting on Wednesdays from 7-9pm each week, I’m copresenting with a super cool queen called Leesh and we will be chatting life, families, challenges, disability and more and bringing in the most interesting folk in Sheffield and South Yorkshire to share their stories!

Sam cleasby

I couldn’t be more excited or chuffed to get this opportunity, I bloody love radio and have appeared as a guest on so many shows but now I have the opportunity to be on the other side of the desk!

Around 5 years ago, BBC Sheffield presenter Paulette Edwards came and did a talk at my WI (Seven Hills Women’s Institute), she talked about how everyone has a story, something interesting and unique about them and I was so inspired by her.

I feel like I’ve come full circle to get to be a part of the radio station she presents on and totally honoured to become part of the BBC family.

I hope you’ll all listen in, the first show is 15th August, the second 29th August and then we’ll be weekly from the 5th September.

Ill share links and be asking your opinions, so do stay in touch.

✌🏽& ❤️

Sam xx

Happy birthday to the NHS

I had never thought about the privilege of having free point of care medical treatment until I starting blogging and readers from around the world shared their hospital bills with me explaining how much they pay for the surgeries and treatment I receive for free.

I’d never considered my finances before heading to the doctors, never checked my bank account before deciding whether to have a colonoscopy, never checked my insurance before having life saving surgery.

We are so lucky in the UK, our NHS saves lives every single day and we take it for granted. Without the NHS my life would be so drastically different, I’ve had 7 surgeries over 5 years, months in hospital when you add it all up, I’ve had world class surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses, specialist nurses, stoma care and so much more. And not once have I had to make a decision between treatment and my mortgage.

NHS saved my life

The NHS saved my life, more than once!! And I just wanted to take a moment to say a huge thank you and happy birthday to the NHS at 70.

I took part in the BBC’s Matron, Medicine and Me: 70 years of the Nhs that will be on in a couple of weeks and I couldn’t be more grateful to the amazing care I’ve received over the past 5 years.

But it’s in danger, we need to protect this wonderful service that takes care of us from birth to grave, we need to ensure that in another 70 years, our children and grandchildren will have the same care that we’ve been privileged enough to receive.

Lets nurture the service that has always nurtured us.

Happy Birthday NHS! ❤️

Happy 5th Birthday SoBadAss!!

I can’t believe it has been five whole years since my little blog came to life and I am so proud of all I have been able to do in this time.  I began the blog as a diary for myself, a cathartic space for me to blurt out all that was going on in my life, I thought that perhaps my sister and friends may read it, but I never thought I would be sat here with over 3 million views!!

In 2013, I started with a flare up that just wouldn’t shift and for the first time, the options of surgery were mentioned. I started to google and though I found lots of medical information, I couldn’t find any UK based bloggers who were talking about Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Ulcerative Colitis or life with an ostomy bag.  There was one amazing American blogger called Inflamed and Untamed and her blog normalised this brand new life that I was facing, but there was a lot that didn’t feel very relevant to me as a Brit.

sam cleasby ileostomy colostomy bag blogger body positive so bad ass

And so So Bad Ass came to life.  A place for people to read about my experiences in the hope that they wouldn’t feel quite so alone if they were in a similar situation.

Five years, over 3 million views, TV appearances, magazine and newspaper articles, radio shows and talks all over the world, I can’t believe that I have been honoured enough to take the mantle and to become the poo lady!! I am so happy to have had such amazing opportunities and all of them came from this little part of the internet.

My first ever post on here was this picture… I am really pleased that my first message is still my strongest message, that kindness is at the root of all good things and that we all need to look after each other a lot more.

ibd ulcerative colitis and crohns

My first proper personal post was called Why Im choosing to have my bowel removed, a post about the options I was facing and my (probably somewhat naive) feelings about it all. Little did I know that this planned conversation with my consultant would never happen as within weeks, my flare up landed me in hospital for a week on IV steroids trying to relieve the symptoms and then I would face emergency surgery to remove my colon and get my first stoma, spend time in the HDU and then come to terms with the reality of life with an ostomy!

Five years and seven operations later, I have shared my story with you all, the highs and lows, the good times and the terribly shitty ones and I want to thank every one of you who reads, shares, likes and comments on this blog and my social media.  I can’t explain how much it means.

I get hundreds of messages every month and I do my best to reply to each and every one, to know that people trust me with their stories and want to share with me means everything.  To know that people all over the world think of me and send me their love brings me strength every time.  I just can’t thank you all enough.

sam cleasby ulcerative colitis ibd ileostomy surgery

From then…

Sam Cleasby surgery blogger

To now…

Life has changed so much in this time, highlights have been going on This Morning with Holly and Phil, going viral with the open letter, going on BBC breakfast, TWICE, going to the houses of parliament, doing talks in Edinburgh, Barcelona and many other places and co hosting an event with Ian Harding! It led me to work for the Metro and to so many unbelievable opportunities and experiences including my job at Scope and it developed my absolute joy and love of radio.

But more than any of those things, I just feel so honoured that I have been able to talk to so many people, to help and support, to give strength, honesty and hope. Every single message means the world, I don’t take this role lightly, I feel blessed to have this space and to have a voice and I hope I will always use it to help others and spread a bit of kindness.

Sam Cleasby Timm Cleasby

Thank you to Timm, who always believed in me and helps me so much with the blog, he takes care of all the techy side of things, takes photos and is always there to bounce ideas off.  He also doesn’t mind that I share so much of our life with the whole world! He is my rock and I don’t think I would have managed five years without him.

And so today I just want to celebrate this blog that came from such humble beginnings and has grown more than I ever thought possible.  As I said, five years ago I couldn’t find one single UK based IBD blog and so I started my own, now there are hundreds if not thousands and I am chuffed that someone heading into ostomy surgery in 2018 won’t face the isolation and feelings of being totally alone as I did in 2013.  They will be able to find so many stories to inspire them, bring them hope and answer their questions.

And that’s all I ever wanted, to bring some understanding around this disease and strip away the fears and taboos around ostomy bags and IBD.  I wanted to be able to hold out a hand to someone and say ‘yes, I understand’, I wanted to share this journey I have been on to give it meaning and a reason! I wanted to help, and I hope I have.

happy birthday blog

 

Happy Birthday So Bad Ass – here’s to the next five years!!!

 

Love Sam xx

Recovery: in pictures

The past few weeks have been tough, recovering from an emergency surgery that knocked me off my feet.  During this time, I have had so little control and I have been unable to do much for myself, which has been so difficult.  But I am so lucky to have my Timm who has been there through it all, he has bathed me, cooked for me, sang to me, sorted my medication and just been my hero.  I’m also lucky to have a budding photographer in my child Eli, who has snapped a few shots during this very rough time.

Enjoy.

recovery surgery partner help to bath

recovery surgery partner help to bath

recovery surgery partner help to bath

dosette box medicine box

TED stockings surgical stockings

TED stockings surgical stockings

cup of tea recovery nurse

timm cleasby

holding hands matching dr who tattoos

sam and timm cleasby

get well soon

holding hands

playing guitar feel better

playing guitar feel better

playing guitar feel better

All images by Eli Cleasby from Timm Cleasby Photography

 

Love Sam xx