Swimming with a stoma

I did a little film last year with Clinimed about swimming with a stoma. It is one of the most common questions I get asked, “Can I still swim with a stoma?” (that and questions about sex…)

The answer is that you can swim with a stoma unless your doctor or medical professional has told you can’t. But there is no reason that you can’t swim once you have to wear an ileostomy or colostomy bag. They are waterproof, they are sticky and won’t just fall off in the water, you can have it on show or cover it up with a swimsuit or swim vest and no-one will know unless you tell them.

I have always loved the water and since having my stoma, I have swum in pools, seas, rivers, lakes and anywhere else I can find to have a dip. I have been to spas and gone in jacuzzis and steam rooms, and never once in ten years has my bag fallen off or leaked in the water.

Have a watch of the video and hear me talking about my own experiences and also the Aura Plus ileostomy bag. You can also see some cool drone footage of me wild swimming and loving it!

This was a paid video, but all opinions and reviews are my honest opinions. I only work with companies that I use personally and that I believe are trusted sources of support.


Sam xx

Oh hi! It’s been a while!

Hello everyone, I know it has been a very long time since I wrote a new post on here. I have started so many times, there are many sat in my drafts folder that I just couldn’t hit post on. I am going to try again and attempt to explain a little of what has been going on.

Firstly, let me just say thank you to everyone who has kept up with me on Facebook and Instagram, also to the many people who still are reading my old posts here. Also a big thank you to the people I meet in real lift who read my posts and have such lovely comments.

So, what has been going on and why have I not been blogging for the past year…

In February 2020 I had a big surgery and things didn’t go too well. There were lots of issues post op and then I ended up with an Acute Kidney Injury and my kidneys were failing. You can read about it in the link above, we then went into lockdown when Covid hit and the world turned upside down. I posted a little about it here

“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. 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. “

April 2020

We trawled our way through Covid, I started therapy after being diagnosed with PTSD and though it helped, it also brought up a lot of past trauma. I tried to do what I have always done, write about it, explore those feelings, try and figure out what I was going through and how I could make it better. I spoke about family matters, and I was thoroughly told off and judged for doing this. I can see in hindsight that it felt too personal and upsetting, and that it wasn’t the right call, but the backlash was quite awful. This really effected me during a time where I was going through PTSD and so much trauma and it made me scared to write.

My health didn’t improve after the 2020 surgery, and in November last year I was admitted to hospital. I had been in agony for months and it had gotten to the point where I couldn’t eat, I lost two stone in 6 weeks and it turned out my intestine had moved into the hernia and got trapped. I was admitted to hospital and put on TPN as I was malnourished and though I needed surgery, my body was too weak to cope. After four weeks in hospital on TPN and other medication and treatment, I had surgery at the beginning of December 2022, it was a big surgery to try and fix the hernia and another full abdominal reconstruction. I woke after a 7 hour surgery and immediately didn’t feel ‘right’, I was in agony and having chest pains, I didn’t feel well but I had no idea what was to come.

The staff were incredible. And they soon realised that my bowel had perforated after the surgery, it was leaking into my body and I had developed Sepsis. A team suddenly was surrounding my bed, they were explaining to Timm and I what had happened and that they needed to take me immediately into emergency surgery. I was already exhausted, in pain and not really with it, I just remember there being so many people and I had to go there and then, I asked them “Am I going to die?” He said “We are going to do everything we can, but you are very poorly, you need to say your goodbyes”. Shit got serious. They wheeled me away and Timm kissed my head, we said I love you and the doors closed behind me leaving him stood in the corridor.

I woke up days later in Intensive Care. They had managed to fix my bowel but had put me into a medically induced coma, I was sedated and had a breathing tube in my throat. I had machines and tubes and wires attached to every part of my body keeping me alive. It was terrifying. Timm was sat by my bed, he looked like he had aged ten years since I saw him last. That whole time is a blur and honestly, this is the most I can manage to talk about right now. It was hell. It was the worst days of my life, and probably the worst of Timm’s.

Eventually I was moved from ICU onto a ward where they were still battling to fight the Sepsis, I was still on TPN and having multiple antibiotics every day to try and get on top of the infections. I couldn’t get out of bed, I had 6 drains in my tummy and so many tubes and bags, I couldn’t even sit up without help. I then caught flu and a hospital acquired infection called VRE (Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci). I was moved into a private room and everyone who came in had to wear apron, mask and gloves. At a time when I needed contact, I had never felt so lonely. Then Timm caught Covid and couldn’t visit at all.

It is incredibly hard to write about this. I can’t go into details, it is just too hard. I am shaking and feel sick just writing this, I think I have just tried to forget it all. I was finally allowed home in January, eight weeks after I had first walked through the doors, eight weeks of being an inpatient. Eight weeks. I had been allowed day leave on Christmas Day. I came home to Timm and my babies. But honestly, I barely remember it, I slept through most of the day and I cry every time I think about Christmas now. That is all I can say.

I came home, but I still had so many infections. I had to go to hospital every day for IV antibiotics through my PICC line. Timm then learnt how to administer them so that I could stay at home, as every day was agony getting to and from the hospital and it wiped me out for the full day. So then he gave them to me every day at home and we only had to go in once a week for blood tests and to collect the next weeks meds, syringes and all the stuff that goes with it. We did this every day till the end of April.

In April I had to have another surgery. The mesh in my tummy was the cause of the infections that we couldn’t shift with antibiotics and so they removed it. I had another couple of weeks of IV antibiotics and then eventually in (I think) the beginning of May, they removed my PICC line finally and I went onto tablet antibiotics.

Since then, I have been healing. Physically healing, but mentally and emotionally I think it is all blocked up in there. This is the first time I have tried to even lay out the timeline and go through the hell of the past 8 months. I am not ok. Timm has been through hell and back watching it and being there for me. He has done everything. He is everything.

It is times like this where all the shit in the world has hit every fan in the world that you take stock, you are grateful for the love and support of friends and family. It is the time where you realise who is there for you. I am so lucky to have an amazing husband who was there every damn step of the way, to have friends who were incredible, who looked after my kids, fed my family, was a support system for them when I couldn’t be there, who called and text, who visited and listened and loved and were just there. My sister in Australia called and messaged constantly, she was my night shift. My aunties who visited me and the kids, who cooked for them and brought gifts. Our friends who send weekly videos of their babies to make me smile. Friends who were just there and were amazing. Timm and I are so lucky to have so much love in our lives.

It has been the toughest year of our lives. But we have come through it.

Let me tell you about some nice things though, so its not all doom and gloom. Timm and I graduated this year, how on earth we managed to get through our final year when all this was going on, I have no idea! I think it just gave us something else to focus on, something other than medical crap and hospitals, something that brought us joy. I made all my work in hospital and used the experience to create my final exhibition. Ill post about that separate, but I only went and got a First class degree with honours in Fine Art!!! And Timm got the same in Film Production. We are both so proud of ourselves and each other!

This year has made us both focus in on who and what matters. On the people who love us and who we love. On the people who were there for us when we had nothing to give back. On what brings us joy. On how fragile life is. On what our future holds.

Mentally I feel like I have been in a tumble dryer, everything is so jumbled and staticky, I am anxious and low, I am masking so much and just shoving it in the bottom drawer, but man, that drawer is looking fit to burst. We are both a bit shell shocked I think and we need time and space and nurturing to resolve things and move forward together. I was offered and started therapy but honestly it was too much too soon. I had two sessions and it was hell, I couldn’t cope with it at that point. I am a huge advocate of therapy and highly recommend it, but it needs to be at the right time for you.

So why now? Why am I even writing this?

Well, I feel pretty empty right now, I have come through this trauma and survived, I have finished uni and so I feel like I should be on top of the world! But in reality, I still feel lost. I don’t know who I am or what I can do any more. I have lost so much confidence, I have been applying for so many jobs and it is a tough world out there now! I felt like this blog was done, that I can’t write anymore, that any spark of confidence I had in my writing had died. I felt I had nothing more to give.

Then I went to Tramlines festival this year, and I met a couple coming out of the accessible toilet. “Sam Cleasby?” she said. I panicked, thinking why don’t I recognise this woman?? She told me her husband had a stoma and they read this blog, she said lovely kind words and told me how much it had helped them. We hugged and said goodbye and I walked away feeling a bit dazed. I remembered why I started this blog and realised that it does still help people.

A week later I went to the Pain Clinic, after my appointment, the nurse said to me “Does your badge say So Bad Ass?” I looked down and realised it was on my old dungarees holding the strap together! She asked if I was the woman who wrote this blog and told me she had one of my posts (Letter to the tea lady) printed out and stuck on the wall of her desk to remind her to always remember the person behind the patient. I was gobsmacked.

And so it felt like the stars were aligning to tell me to get myself into gear and just jump back in and WRITE. So here I am.

I am going to try and write more. Though this has been truly difficult to write down, it has felt like slipping back into a comfy pair of slippers and I remember why I do it. I still have doubts and fears, the internet world can be a nasty place, with so many people wanting to write nasty, mean comments and messages. But there are so many others who are kind and lovely and who are struggling, so if I can write down some of the thoughts in my brain then maybe it will make it all feel a little better for both of us.

Thanks for reading and I am sending you all love and peace

Sam xx