Reading Meet my Crohns and Colitis Cats

This year charity Crohns and Colitis UK released a children’s book called Meet our Crohns and Colitis Cats. The story and illustrations are by Thomas Wolfe. It is a lovely story that helps to explain what Crohns and Colitis are like.

They say:

“Our new story Meet our Crohn’s and Colitis cats is for children affected by Crohn’s or Colitis, whether they have the condition themselves or know someone who does.

Riley and Owen live with Crohn’s and Colitis. They like to think of their Crohn’s and Colitis as cats that they have to take care of – sometimes the cats are big and bother them, sometimes the cats are small and leave them alone. They find that while it takes guts to live with a Crohn’s or Colitis cat, they can still achieve their dreams.”

Meet our Crohn’s and Colitis cats was created together with people affected by Crohn’s or Colitis – including children, their families and the healthcare professionals treating them. The illustrations and story concepts come from the amazing mind of Thomas Wolfe an illustrator, author and father living with Crohn’s Disease.”

I loved the book and so in these lockdown times, I decided to read the story for anyone who would like to hear a northern poo lady reading them a bedtime story about cats! Enjoy!

You can download a copy of Meet our Crohns and Colitis cats here. They’ve also created some colouring pages of our Crohn’s and Colitis cats, which you can download and print here.

You can also watch the Crohns and Colitis UK videos here.

In these tough times, it is really hard for charities and so if you can spare anything to donate to Crohns and Colitis UK to allow them to continue their work or if you’d like to make a donation for your copy of the download book, you can do so here.

This isn’t a sponsored post or supported by Crohns and Colitis UK, I wasn’t asked to read this book, I am just a mum in lockdown passing the time! I loved the book and wanted to share as I am a huge fan of Crohns and Colitis UK.

Peace and love

Sam xx

Gratitude

I don’t want this to sound twee, but today I am writing about gratitude. Finding the things in your life to feel grateful for even when everything feels rubbish.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when we all need to wallow in that swamp of woe. We need time to feel those feelings and accept them. It is healthy for us to look at the negative stuff going on around us. Sometimes we all just need to have a big cry/scream/shout/snotty tantrum.

Also there are times when we just can’t ‘pull ourselves together’. I have been in that pit of depression where I could barely hold my head up, let alone start searching for the things in my life to be grateful for.

But sometimes, it can really help when we are feeling down and in the shit, to think about the good things in our life.

Gratitude

At the minute, I am still trying to come to terms with the traumatic experience I had during and after my last surgery in February. And it is easy for me to slide further and further into the quicksand of despair. I find myself instantly taken back to certain moments around my recovery and the panic hits me. I put on a nightie and all of a sudden I was in the moment of wearing that nightie and having an NG tube pushed down my nose and throat. I swear I could feel it and my chest tightened and I couldn’t breathe. I burst into tears. All because of that nightie.

I sat up in bed in the middle of the night last night and I just was back in the moment where I was vomiting litres of bile and my kidneys were shutting down. I thought I was going to die and all I could think was about the kids not having to see my dead body in the house. And I am there. I have time travelled back to that point. It is terrifying.

So I have been trying to avoid thinking about it. To not remember being in hospital. Because it is scary and it hurts. I mean, it’s not working! I have no control over these memories that pop into my head just to scare the pants off me.

So instead I am trying to remember the good bits. As small as those bits were, they were there. And it was all about the people around me.

People

My friend Hannah came to visit me in hospital, we have been friends for almost 30 years. She had heard that I was upset that my hair was dirty. I’d not really been able to wash properly, I had bed baths but couldn’t wash my hair. She came to see me and helped me to have a bath. She washed my hair like I was a child. I was so vulnerable and weak, I couldn’t do anything for myself. Weirdly, now I think about how laid bare I was, but she didn’t make me feel embarrassed. It was so loving and sensitive. I am truly grateful to her for being there for me in such a time of need.

I am grateful to my friend Caroline who visited me at my lowest and my worst. Who allowed me to cry and tell her my fears without judgement. She held my hand and let me be. She has been there through every surgery, every recovery and every time has kept me going. She has seen the worst of me and still loves me. She is my soul mate.

I am grateful to Sarah who not only has looked after me, but after my family. She cleaned the house, cooked meals for the family and took the kids out to take their minds of it. She visited me in hospital and at home and has been so kind, patient and hilarious. It meant the world for her to be thinking of Timm and the kids in a time where I didn’t have the energy to. She came and just laid in bed with me when I came home. No expectations, not a guest just a friend to be there.

I am grateful to Tania who came to see me in hospital and remembered that what we all need the most is human touch. She came and massaged my hands and arms, not put off by the tubes and wires that were everywhere. She reconnected me to life, to the world by massaging my skin and holding my hands. She went through meditations and breathing with me, teaching me to visualise my pain and fear.

I am grateful to my sister Lisa who lives in Australia and called me, messaged me every day. She had to deal with the stress of knowing how unwell I was and being so far away. There were so many days where I was so ill, so out of it that I couldn’t speak to her or reply and I know how tough that must have been. But knowing she was there and her constant love made all the difference.

I am grateful to all my WhatsApp crew, there was a WhatsApp group of loved ones who sent messages from all over the world. Who made me laugh, who cared, who were really inappropriate (!) and who made a network of support that I am truly grateful for. I feel lucky to have so many amazing people around me, thank you to every person who visited me, who sent me a message, a phone call, a card. Thanks to my aunties and uncle who came to see me in hospital.

I can’t name every person, but there are so many loving friends and family members who visited, called me or sent messages. And to each and every one, I thank you more than you’ll ever know.

Timm

And of course to my husband Timm. I don’t even know what to write. I had nothing and he was there. I was at the bottom, I had nothing left to give and I clung to him, begging him not to leave my side. He sat for hours every day next to my bed. Arriving at 8am and leaving at 8pm. Most of the time I was asleep or crying. He took it all in his stride.

He was there for the tubes going in and out, held my hand through scans and cannulas. He wasn’t put out by the tubes in my nose, the bags of bile, the vomiting, the poo, the central lines. He just quietly held my hand, kissed my head and told me it was all going to be ok.

When I was so weak, when my kidneys were failing and I couldn’t sit up, let alone stand. When I was barely conscious. When they told us it was serious. When I thought I was going to die. He was there. Every moment.

It has been so hard to write all this down. To go back over scary and traumatic memories. But in each moment, I am concentrating not on the horror. But on the person who was there with me.

They say in the toughest of times, you find out who is on your side. And man, I have the best side going.

So I will focus on my gratitude. On the people around me who have held me up, kept me going and loved me. To my friends who have been there at the worst of times. I have had a tough time but my god, I am so lucky.

Sometimes, people ask me how I cope. How do I deal with having been ill for so long, with having so many surgeries. And to them I say it is because I have the best support system in the world. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Peace and love

Sam xx

Making a Frank Sidebottom head

This may be the weirdest thing I have ever blogged. And I have talked about my arsehole being sewn up. But I made a Frank Sidebottom style head for my husband’s birthday and I have had a few requests to share how I did that. And why…

Birthday gifts during lockdown are tough! Yes, you can order online but not all shops are offering delivery and there was a worry of whether things would turn up on time. So I decided to make a Frank Sidebottom style head that looked like my husband. As you do.

Who is Frank Sidebottom?

Frank Sidebottom, for those who don’t know, was a character in the 80s and 90s and beyond created by Chris Sievey known for his large spherical head. Singer, musician and comedian, Frank became well known through his own TV shows and appearances on other shows.

In 2014, the movie Frank was released and was inspired by the life of Frank Sidebottom. For a more real life look, the documentary Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story “explores the extraordinary secret life of artist Chris Sievey, best known as his alter ego Frank Sidebottom, the maverick Northern comedian in a fake head.”

Frank Sidebottom

So I decided to make a Frank head that looked (a bit) like my husband as what more would a 48 year old man want for his birthday??

how to make a Frank sidebottom head

I started with a beach ball, a stack of old newspaper torn into strips and a tub of PVA glue. I blew up the beach ball and propped it on a bowl to make it steady. For the paper mâché paste, I used two parts PVA glue to one part water and mixed in a bowl. I tore newspaper into strips about 1.5-2cm wide and started sticking them over the beach ball. You need to let it dry between each layer. I laid the strips in opposite directions for each layer and did 5 layers.

paper mâché frank Sidebottom head

Once it was all completely dry, I undid the valve on the beach ball to let the air out and eased my hand down the sides to release it and squeeze the air out until it was empty and I could pull it out of the hole at the bottom. I then trimmed the bottom neck hole to the size of an average head to get it on and off. Then using some cardboard, I shaped ears and a nose and stuck them to the head with masking tape and then added more layers of paper mâché over the top of these to form into proper shapes.

paper mâché frank Sidebottom head

Then it was painting time, as we are in lockdown, I had to use the paint that we had around the house. The kids had some acrylic paints from an art set and I had some tester paint pots from when we painted our hallway in cream colours. I added a bit of pink to the cream and used this as the skin colour. The hair is acrylic paint in brown.

paper mâché frank Sidebottom head

I drew around a pot to get a template for the eyes and then painted them in and used browns and reds for the eyebrows and lips.

paper mâché frank Sidebottom head home made

The Frank Sidebottom eyes are what makes Frank Frank and so I copied them in pencil and painted in. If I was just making a Frank, I could leave it there. But next I had to add the beard to make it look like my husband.

sam and Timm Cleasby

beard time

I painted in the beard and used a hole punch to pierce one ear. I made a hoop earring out of tin foil and then let it all dry. And voila!

DIY paper mâché frank Sidebottom head

OK, it may look a bit more like George Michael than Timm Cleasby but hey, I tried!! All in all, it took about 5 days to make, but the majority of that is the drying time between layers. If you took out the drying time, it was a few hours work. It was great fun to make and I knew it would be a birthday present that he wouldn’t forget.

what to get for the man who has everything

So what do you get the man who has everything? Well you make him a Frank Sidebottom style head that looks like him! (Disclaimer: this gift may only be appreciated by childish fools who giggle at farts)

unique home made gifts paper mâché frank Sidebottom head

Peace and love

Sam xx

I feel so lost

This is a post from my facebook page, I just wanted to explain where I am right now. But I am posting this at 4am because after a long time, I just sat up in bed and thought ‘I want to write’. So I am hoping there will be more blog posts coming soon.

I feel so lost at the minute.

This time last year I had a job I loved, I had my own radio show on the BBC, I was blogging and I thought my surgery had been successful and the future felt bright.

Right now I’m recovering from 9th surgery. I have no job, the radio show has been put on hold due to corona and I just feel like I dont even know who I am any more.

During the last surgery in hospital I was really poorly. My bowel didnt wake up from the op for 17 days and then my kidneys packed in. I had a stage 3 AKI and I was very very ill, they said I was lucky to have come through.

And at the time you are just surviving. Getting through each hour, each day. But now I have time to reflect and i feel quite traumatised by it all. 

Then to come home to the world turning upside down with corona, lockdown and so many people dying. It is all a bit much.

The one thing I’ve always loved is writing. But I have lost my confidence even with that. I try to blog and just stare at the screen. I just have lost it. 

That’s why there have been no updates. But I’m trying. I’m writing this on my phone so it doesnt feel like “real writing”. 

I just feel a bit hollow and that I have nothing to give. 

So I’m sorry I’m absent and miserable right now. I’m going to try working on me and I’ll be about as much as I can. Because I bloody love sobadass, both the blog and on fb. I have avoided because I dont feel I am a good writer and I dont want to be sharing crap. 

I am lost, traumatised, sad and empty. And when you feel like this, you feel like you have no talent, nothing special and nothing to give to others. 

But I am trying. And I’ll keep trying.

✌🏽& ❤ 
Sam xx