Imposter Syndrome – why it’s ok to not feel like a proper grown up

I’m 36 this year. I’m the age I imagine my aunties to be. When I was a kid, 36 was my aunties who were proper grown up, it meant wearing business suits and having expensive face cream. 36 was having your life sorted and to be honest, kind of old. 

Yet here I am.  Nearly 36 and feeling like a child in a grown up body. My clothes aren’t polished or sensible. I bought Clinique face cleaning stuff, used it twice and it’s now gathering dust in the bathroom cabinet. I feel like a fraud, like any minute someone will tap me on the shoulder and say ‘excuse me miss, can you please show us some proof you’re an adult.’

The majority of my clothes come from a supermarket or charity shops. I sway wildly from harijuku cute to biker chick to hippy to down right scruff. I don’t have ‘a style’ though I do have a penchant for fancy dress. My hair changes colour on a monthly basis and my jewellry tends to have swear words on it or look like it’s made from sticky back plastic and milk bottle tops. 


I wonder when adulthood will strike. When I’ll feel like a proper mother fucking adult?! 

Then I remember that I have three kids, two of them teenagers!  I’ve been with my partner for 19 years this year and been married for nearly 13. I have a ‘proper’ job working for a charity, I run a successful blog and I speak at events all over the world! 

I own my own home, pay my bills, own a car. I have a pension for fucks sake! So why is it that I feel like I’m playing dress up in my aunty’s heels? 

They call it imposter syndrome – “a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.”


Perhaps it’s a throwback to childhood and fairly traumatic teen years.  I hate this cliche but I think I have abandonment issues with my father leaving me at a young age and not being a part of my life.  Perhaps it’s a lack of confidence, the idea that I’m simply not good enough. 

Whatever it is, I’m not sure how to get over it. And so I think I’ll just embrace it along with the myriad of wonky things about me and my character. 

Sure, I’m not wearing the Ted Baker suit and Manolo Blahnik shoes but that’s just not me! I don’t have all my shit together, I’m a bit all over the place, I don’t iron, I sometimes drink too much and tidy too little. 

But I’m good at what I am. I care about my friends and family with all my heart. I love my work and I’m passionate about helping others. I try really hard to be a good mum, a good wife, a good person. 

I may not be a proper grown up but I am so bad ass. 
Sam x 

Do you believe in fate? 

I thought I’d tell you a story that happened to me quite a few years ago when I had my son when I was just 19. He’d changed my whole life and I was completely in love with him, I was truly smitten and felt like I suddenly knew what life meant! Everything fell into place and I was loving motherhood. 

One day in 2002, my son would have been around 18 months old,  I heard a news story, a newborn baby had been found in a phonebox less than a mile from our home. My heart sunk, how difficult must life have been for a woman to leave her baby? It hit me hard, I think because I had had my life transformed for the better by having my son yet for this woman things must have been so different. 

It was on local news a couple of times and I couldn’t get it out of my head. They said the baby had been taken to our local maternity hospital where nurses had named him William. My thoughts of this baby were overwhelming, I just felt so sad for him and couldn’t imagine how his birth mother must have felt leaving him. 

I decided to do something that I’d never done before or after, I gathered some old baby clothes and a teddy bear and took the to the hospital. At the reception I told them that I’d been touched by the story and wanted to donate some clothes to the baby. 

They were suspicious of me, and requested I left my details, I think they wondered if he was mine.  I was nervous but knew I had to share a little love to this lad. On the tag of the bear I wrote a little note. It said ‘To baby William, here’s something to cuddle till you find your mummy, love Sam Timm and Charlie’ 

That act helped me to move forward, I read in the news that the baby was in foster care and would be adopted and I felt good for passing on our gifts. 

Years passed and I didn’t really think any more of that baby.  I had another child and decided that i wanted to move house to somewhere where the kids would have room to play, space and fresh air. I’d visited the Butterfly House in North Anston a few times and loved it, when I realised they had a nursery onsite I was sold! 

So we moved the 15 or so miles for a new start and I loved it. Our new home on a new road started well with a card through our door wishing us merry Christmas (we moved the week before Christmas!) it was from a family across the road and we soon met up. They had a son and our kids would play out on the cul de sac whilst we’d have a brew and chat. Everything was great. 

Then a couple of years later I got a knock on the door, it was our neighbour and she asked if she could come in. I welcomed her and made a cup of tea. She held up a teddy bear and said ‘I want to thank you for this’. I looked at it confused and said it wasn’t from me! Her son was now 5 and a bit old for teddies! 

She asked me to read the label. 

‘To baby William, here’s something to cuddle till you find your mummy, love Sam Timm and Charlie’ 

For a second I couldn’t understand what was going on! Her son wasn’t called William! Then it hit me. I burst into tears and so did she. 

She told me for the first time that her son was adopted. And that she thought she’d look through the clothes and teddies he’d brought with him from foster care, she saw the teddy for the hundredth time but read the label with a new recognition. Surely her neighbours and friends of two years couldn’t have sent this teddy?! 

And that’s how we learnt that her son, the boy who had spent two years playing with my own had started life as a baby found in a phonebox in Sheffield all those years ago.  And that teddy was there all his life till he found his mummy. 

Is it fate or just coincidence? I don’t know, but what I do know is that it taught me that being nice and kind, showing love and compassion is always the right thing to do.  You may do something as a throwaway gesture, thinking that it won’t affect anyone but our actions ripple out. 

Be kind yo… you never know when it will come back to you. 
Sam xx 

When I hated my body

Before I had kids I was a size 8. After I was anywhere from a 12 to an 18. It was a shock to see my body change so much and I hated it. 

When I hated my body, I thought fat couldn’t be sexy, or beautiful, or attractive. I’d been taught that fat people were disgusting, or shameful, or ugly. 

When I hated my body, I thought fat couldn’t be clever, or professional, or respected. I’d been taught fat people were the butt of the joke, they were the low paid staff in a dirty polo shirt. 

When I hated my body, I thought fat couldn’t be loved, or celebrated, or rejoiced. I’d been taught that fat people were the funny friend, the sad spinster, never, ever the leading lady. 

When I hated my body, I called myself horrible names. I said I was vile, disgusting, wobbly, ugly. I’d been taught that this is how fat women talk about themselves. 

When I hated my body, I thought weight loss was the answer to everything. If only I could be a little slimmer, I’d be happier, smarter, sexier, prettier, more confident. If I could fit in a size 10 then all the shit things in my life would be better. 

When I hated my body, I used it as an excuse for all the things that went wrong. If I were thinner, it would all be fine. 

When I hated my body, I pushed my husband away. How could he possibly fancy me when my thighs touched, my flesh hung down, my boobs flopped. I had learnt that men only fancy thin women, that beauty looked one way and that way was thin, toned, perfect. 

When I hated my body, I hated myself. 

Then I got really ill. Medication couldn’t control my IBD and I went into hospital. I was shitting 30 times a day and had a constant flow of blood pouring from my arse. The options were laid in front of me and surgery was my choice. I was cut open and my colon removed, my ileostomy was formed. I was broken, scarred and had to wear a bag of shit on my stomach at all times. 

More and more surgeries came and more and more scars. My poor battered broken body looked so sad, it was scarred beyond belief and so weak. 

It should have cemented my hatred for my body, but oddly something else happened. I felt pride. I felt that my body had been through so much and I was still standing! Slowly, I learnt a lot about myself, I learnt that I’d hated my fat body for so long and it was entirely unfair and unnecessary. 

I learnt to love my body. 

Now I love my body, I accept it for what it is, I like its solidness, I like my thighs, I think my scars are interesting and oddly beautiful. 

Now I love my body, I realise that anyone shallow enough to dislike me for my size is not someone I want to spend time with. But generally I realised that no one gave a shit!

Now I love my body I know that my size has no relevance to my intelligence, my character, my humour, my awesomeness. 

Now I love my body, I celebrate it. It’s brilliant, look at it dance, look at it swim, look at my belly rolls, they’re super cute. Look at my scars, they show that I’m a fucking badass. Look at my big arse, it is amazing!

Now I love my body, I can trust it to my husband. Who, by the way, it turns out never gave a shit what size it was. 

Now I love my body, I can speak honestly about it. Yes, it’s a bit fat. I’m a size 16-18 and I’m not embarrassed by that. Sometimes I think I should lose a bit of weight, I worry about my hernia and know that if I was a little lighter it would be easier on the repairs they already did. I can say this from a practical and straightforward place, not one of shame. 


Now I love my body, it makes me sad to see people around me hating theirs. I wish I could flick that switch and show them that they are brilliant and awesome and beautiful and their weight and shape has no bearing on who they are. 

Now I love my body. 

And that’s a great sentence to be able to write. 
Love

Sam xxx

Should I be honest when you ask me if I’m ok?

For the longest time, when someone asks me how I’m doing, I said “fine thanks!” It’s bright, breezy and if we are honest, what most people want to hear.  

Lots of people I know in the real world read this blog, and so when I see them, I think they feel they have to ask after my health. Being British and having the polite factor drummed into me, I respond with the usual answers of “good, how are you?” “Fine, thank you” and “not too bad!”.  

Sometimes I see the confusion in their faces and realise that they’ve probably just read a heart wrenching description of my mental health and that I shat myself that morning. (Oh the joys of being an oversharing Blogger!) 


It’s a worry when you have a chronic illness that you are going to become too much for those around you, that it must be hard that you are always ailing with something.  I worry that people will get bored of me and my illness, that they wish I’d just be better and stop banging on about it! 

I also feel pressure to be sunny and positive, I think sometimes people expect it of me because of writing this blog. I feel I have to be a shiny, happy person and not talk about all the many negatives. 

It got me thinking about why I say “fine” when I’m anything but fine. And I think some of it is embarrassment, some is habit and some is my issue of opening up to people unless it’s in the written word or if I’m standing in front of an audience! Yes, I realise that’s quite fucked up. 

So I thought I would start trying to be honest when I’m asked how I am. The results have varied! Most people seem taken aback when I say “I’m not great to be honest, I’m back and forth to the hospital and it’s really getting me down” I think it shocks them to get a genuine response to an everyday, casual question. 

When this happens I feel a bit embarrassed and that I’m flaunting some unwritten rule that I should have a stiff upper lip, nod and enquirer how they are doing without actually wanting to know the answer. 

But I’ve also had some great responses, from those who are asking because they care. In that fleeting moment where I tell them that I’m struggling and they reach out, touch my shoulder, tell me that they’re there for me if I need anything. Those interactions feel so real and genuine and human. 

So you’ve been warned. I’m going to try and be honest from now on. If you don’t want to know, don’t ask! 
Sam xx 

Breastfeeding a two year old – is it controversial?

Ahhhhh other people telling women what they should and shouldn’t do with their bodies again. And heaven help us if a mother does what feels right for her and her child. 

Tamara Ecclestone has been defending herself after images of her breastfeeding her two year old child were shared.


Via Tamara Ecclestone Instagram 

The breastfeeding debate is ridiculous, it shouldn’t be a debate at all! Breast milk is the perfect food for babies and infants, it adapts to your child’s needs and it is awesome. 

Some people can’t or don’t want to breastfeed. They give their children formula milk which is the very next best thing. 

Some women feed for a few days, weeks or months, other for years. It’s really no one else’s business. Parents are just doing their best for their kids. 

This photo is beautiful and reminds me of religious art through the ages, the comments are disgusting and ignorant. 

The worst people for this are other women and I truly believe their defensiveness comes from fear. The scariest thing for a parent is to feel others are judging you and think you’re a bad mum. Mums face constant judgement on every aspect of parenting and it’s easy to feel you have to defend your way by attacking others. 

When I couldn’t breastfeed my daughter, seeing adverts telling me breast is best made me feel like they thought I didn’t want the best for my child. I felt the mums breastfeeding were eyeing my bottle of formula and thinking how shit a person I was. It made me so defensive. 

The reality was that those mums didn’t give a shit how I fed my daughter, they just were thinking of their own kids! 

When I breastfed my son for 10 months I felt judged for feeding him publicly, it was ok when he was a newborn but when he was a strapping kid turning his head, laughing and babbling to me, people liked it less. I was asked to feed him in the toilet, sent to bedrooms at parties, tutted at, laughed at and told that once they had teeth you should stop. 

We all need to be a lot kinder to each other, mums have gone through so much. 40 weeks of pregnancy where your body is changed beyond all recognition, birth (i.e. The act of removing a baby human from your body!!!) and then being responsible for another human being, often feeling that you lose your identity along the way. It’s hard work, man!!! 

So it’s easy to see how we get defensive when we feel attacked. We have created the worlds best child (yeah, we all think ours are the best!!!), we are exhausted, stressed, in love, overwhelmed and the most happy and tired we’ve ever been. So when we feel others think we’re doing it wrong, it hurts. And the easiest thing to do is to attack the opposite opinion. 

But it just becomes a vicious circle. From breastfeeding to weaning, stay at home mum to working mum, helicopter to free range… were pitting ourselves against the wrong people here! Mums need to join forces, whatever our parenting style, however we feed, play or work. We’re a vastly untapped powerhouse of humans! 

Being a mum is hard work and we need to look after each other more. We need to celebrate mothers more. We need to stop being arseholes to mums just trying to do their best. 

Sam xx 

European Crohn and Colitis Organisation and Boehringer Ingelheim

I was very pleased to be asked to talk at the 12th congress of the European Crohns and Colitis Organisation in Barcelona.  I will be attending next weekend and speaking with a panel of people from around the world about what life would be like if everyone in the world had IBD.

 

ECCO barcelona IBD speakers

 

The Boehringer Ingelheim group asked me to be part of their innovative talk hoping to encourage a new way of thinking for medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies.  They hope a discussion where the patient is put first will make people consider what it would be like if IBD wasn’t an illness but the norm.

What would treatment look like? How would buildings be designed? What would work, social and personal life be like for the world? With this thinking, perhaps patients with IBD will be more at the forefront of medical professionals minds when they are treating us.

sam cleasby public speaker disability

I love public speaking, it gives me the opportunity to use my experiences to educate others and to offer support to members of the public.  This event is a little different as it is aimed at medical professionals, I hope by taking part that I can help to shape the way doctors, surgeons, nurses and health professionals look at their future IBD patients.  And for that I feel very grateful, honoured and proud.

 

Sam xx

Public cervix announcement

Right, people with a cervix, let’s talk about vaginal health!
Not a usual topic for me, but today I wanted to share my latest escapades and remind you all to think about your cervix.

I am up to date with my cervical smears, but for the past six months I have been having odd symptoms ‘down there’. Bleeding and spotting inbetween periods, bleeding after sex, weird discharge and pain.

I went to my GP who examined me and sent me for further tests. I had swabs for infections that all came back negative and had an ultrasound scan where they looked both at my abdomen and groin and also internally.

From there I was sent for a colposcopy where they found some cell changes in my cervix and an area of bleeding.

We had to talk about the possibility of cervical cancer as well as abnormal CIN cells that could be Pre cancerous. It’s been a few very tense weeks of waiting for results.

I’m over the moon to say that there are no signs of the big C, just some cells that have changed slightly. I am going in to have cryo cauterisation where they’ll remove all those cells and the area that is bleeding.

It was easy to ignore these symptoms, to put the pain down to my IBD and operations. After all, my smears came back normal 2 years ago.

But I did the right thing and got it all checked out, all though it’s been a scary, old time, I’m so glad I did.

According to charity Jo’s Trust, 1.12 million people did not take up their screening invitation in the past year and figures show cervical screening coverage in England is at just 72.7%, meaning one in four women may be at risk of a potentially life-threatening cervical cancer diagnosis.

Please guys, if you have a cervix, then look after it. Go for your regular screenings, they save lives. Check now, yes right now! When was your last smear? Are you up to date? If not, call your doctor and book it in now.

And if you are up to date, but are having any symptoms that aren’t normal for you, then go get it checked. Don’t wait for your next planned smear, do it now.

When you have other illnesses, it’s easy to forget about the rest of your body, or to put symptoms down to your health problems. It’s easy to forget about the regular screenings you should be having when your life is taken up with Drs appointments, meds and treatment. But it’s so important to take care of yourself.

I was terrified that my results were not going to be healthy, that I had cancer and it was going to be terrible. I’m lucky and I am going to have a minor procedure and have no huge concerns.

But even if the news had been that the big C was lurking up there, the sooner it is detected, the better the treatment.

So please, go check your dates and if you’re overdue, get booked in TODAY! And if you have anything not quite right going on, get it checked out.

There are some recognised symptoms associated with cervical cancer that you should be aware of. These include;

  • Abnormal bleeding: during or after sexual intercourse, or between periods
  • Post menopausal bleeding: if you are not on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or have stopped it for six weeks or more
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse
  • Lower back pain.

These can all be symptoms of things other than cancer, but they do need to be checked out.

If you are concerned about embarrassment or discomfort, know that the staff are so well trained and understand that it’s not the easiest or most pleasant thing to do, but they aim to put you at ease.

Also if you aren’t cisgender and don’t identify as female but have female genitalia, don’t overlook this important part of your health.

If you’re under 25 and not been called for a smear but have any concerns, call the doctor and speak to them.

If you’re over 65 and aren’t up to date or have issues, call now!

Basically I’m speaking to all your cervix owners! Look after yourself and get checked.

And so this ends your public cervix announcement.

Much love

Sam xx

Stupid bloody fatigue 

Sorry, I know that isn’t the most mature title but I’m pissed off.  Yesterday, for once, I felt like I had energy, I had all the spoons in the world. I was living in a spoon factory.

If you think I’ve lost my marbles then go have a read of the Spoon Theory.  “It’s a disability metaphor used to explain the reduced amount of energy available for activities of daily living and productive tasks that may result from disability or chronic illness.

Spoons are an intangible unit of measurement used to track how much energy a person has throughout a given day. Each activity requires a given number of spoons, which will only be replaced as the person “recharges” through rest. A person who runs out of spoons has no choice but to rest until their spoons are replenished.”


Anyway, I had allllllll the spoons yesterday and so I did what I always do when I feel good which is, too much. Too much of everything. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t out raving. My version of too much is working, cleaning, cooking tea, playing with the dogs, having a bath.

Rock n fucking roll eh?

I felt like maybe I had turned a corner and that my energy levels were up and the fatigue had gone. Stupid, stupid me.

I woke this morning feeling like I am dead. Every joint is stiff and painful. My head is full of cotton wool. I feel like I haven’t slept in a year. I can barely move. Imagine you have a stinking hangover and you ran a marathon yesterday, that is how I feel today (and most days).

And so I’m mardy. Man, I am a grumpy fucker today.

I feel like yesterday was some sort of sick joke that only occurred to make me remember what it’s like to feel human so today I can just feel the full force of the shitstorm that is my life.

I’m always exhausted. And today I feel shit about it. I almost wish that I hadn’t felt good yesterday and today feels so much worse.


Sorry for the whinge, but fatigue is probably the worst thing I deal with. It sucks and I can’t put a happy face on it today. My mood has dropped through the floor today and I can’t see the silver lining.

And so I’m going to wallow.

Because some days, wallowing is ok. Some days, it is ok to have a face like thunder and feel like shit, it’s ok to not feel positive, it’s ok to to be miserable.

So here’s to all the badasses who need to wallow sometimes.

Sam xx

Dear tea lady,

Dear Tea Lady,

I am so sorry that I don’t know your name, but every time we have met (which has been probably 20 times over the past three and a half years!) I have been dreadfully ill and self indulgent.  I do genuinely feel bad that I can’t remember your name as you have been one of the most important people in my recovery.  But I’m going to blame the drugs.

So dear Tea Lady of the Northern General hospital, I wanted to write a big thank you letter to you.  I have had 4 of my 5 surgeries at your hospital and benefitted from the wonderful care of top surgeons, consultants, anaesthetists, specialists, registrars, doctors, students, nurses and support workers.  All of these people gave me the most brilliant support and health care, I am so lucky to live in the UK and get free at the point of care, world class treatment.

I have had my colon removed, an ostomy created, a jpouch created, a jpouch removed, two hernias fixed, a rectum and anus removed and another ostomy created.  I have also spent weeks and weeks in hospital receiving medication, treatment, blood transfusions and care.

hospital pouch ibd ulcerative colitis

But you know the person who made me feel so much better every day? Yep, it was you!

I saw my consultant for a couple of minutes on their morning rounds, the doctors if something is going wrong, nurses through the day who are so busy and overworked and though I am sure they would like to spend a little more time with patients, they just can’t, I saw support workers, specialists and that huge team for the surgeries themselves.  Yet it was your face that made me smile several times a day.

You make your rounds with your tea cart and after day one, take the time to remember, not only my name, but also how I take my tea! It is a small yet important part of my hospital day, a little feeling of personal care and a reminder of home.

You made me feel special, when you spend a lot of time in hospital, you very quickly become institutionalised, it’s so easy to end up feeling like a number.  But you made me feel like a person, a person who likes their tea strong, yet milky and with one sugar.

I wonder if you know just how important your role is? Do you understand that you become a part of so many people’s recovery story.  You are the person I saw the most, a constant, nurses change from shift to shift, you only see doctors if something is going wrong, yet you are the person I saw several times a day, every day.  Your days off is always a sad one.

And so I want to thank you.

Thank you for all the tea, thank you for the extra biccies on the evenings where you thought I looked like I needed them, thank you for remembering me, thank you for knowing I am a person, not just a patient, thank you for the times you noticed I looked sad and came and touched my hand and made eye contact, thank you for taking your time to speak to me, thank you for the magazines you brought over when I was bed ridden, thank you for telling me about yourself, thank you for the gossip, thank you for being wonderful.

Tea Lady, you are awesome. (And I am really sorry that I can’t remember your name)

Sam xx

What to pack when going into hospital for ostomy surgery

Over on my Facebook page, Natalie got in touch saying she will be going in to hospital for ostomy surgery soon and it got me thinking about what you need to pack when going in to hospital.  I mean, we all know about the usual toiletries etc but I decided to ask my lovely readers what they would recommend to anyone going in for surgery for a colostomy or ileostomy, and man, they took it and ran! I got some amazing replies, over 70 in total and so I thought I would collate them all for a comprehensive list of what to pack when going in to hospital for ostomy surgery.

 

Hospital checklist

Lots of nightwear and underwear, more than you think you’ll need just incase of leaks or spills whilst you’re learning how to change your bags.

Baby wipes – Nicola

Room spray air freshener

Body lotion –  you dehydrate so fast in hospital – Vicky

An eye mask and ear plugs

Take a small pillow to squeeze whenever you need to cough, sneeze or laugh following surgery, it helps hold your stitches together and makes it hurt much less – Jaime

Jelly sweets, boiled sweets, salted crackers, hand cream & diluting juice. I liked having a little snack with me. Couldn’t eat much but found these little things handy, even through the night sometimes! – Jennie

Ear plugs or headphones are a must and slipper socks with rubbery bits on the bottom – Zoe

I took some poo pourri in because I had to measure my stoma output and it made the smell more bearable – Sue

Always salted crisps for me after surgery… my body craves salt at those points! – Nicola

Marshmallows to thicken liquid output before bag changes – Kate

Nightshirts that button up rather than pull over (if you’re having open surgery) – Amy

I took my own pillow and my iPad full of books – Sharyn

Slippers that are easily slipped on and off – bending down isn’t an option for a while. Dry shampoo, baby wipes, books, oversized PJs or nightie (so no pressure on tum) and large, plain cotton, high waisted undies that come up to at least the belly button – supportive and no extra pressure – Emma

A mirror to see stoma in full when bag changing, learning shape and how to clean properly etc – Kate

A nice scented body butter (just not anywhere near the bag seal haha) hair bobbles, baby wipes, dry shampoo, stuff to freshen you up and make you feel nice. And magazines/kindle to keep your mind busy – Katie

Warm socks, my feet always get really cold in hospital  – LT

Shorts and track bottoms and t-shirts as they’re loose and comfortable especially after a nice shower nice warm slippers as hospitals are pretty draughty hence cold floors, basic hygiene stuff shower gel, deodorant etc,and bio oil to treat the scars for improved healing – Kevin

I took one of my lovely feather pillows from home it really helped with sleeping – Vicky

Something that reminds you of home or comfort item such as a blanket, soft toy or photos. Having major surgury is tough, especially ostomy surgury. So having something with you during this tough time to help comfort you between visiting times and through the extremely long days and nights – Robyn

Jelly babies, lots to read, lovely clean big knickers, and lots of nighties. A bag you can keep everything in close by, you can’t move about much at first. Nice smellies, clean flannels – Carol

Lip balm for after surgery, moisturiser for hands and feet, baby wipes, make up wipes, maternity V shape pillow and a big comfy dressing gown along with some headphones to help you zone out the noise from the ward!! – Charlotte

Bed socks as they never tuck in the bottom of the sheets for sensible reasons and your tootsies get cold – Anthea

A picture of my family, warm socks, nail file – Katja

Comfy pjs maybe a size bigger than normal, leaves extra room for any drains etc and easy on a tender tummy. An ipod full of lovely music, tv, films & podcasts. Those little bottles of concentrated squash (the ones where you put a couple of drops in a glass). Your fave jumper or cardigan. Trashy mags with puzzles in. A pen. Wipes. Make up to make you feel better. Photos of loved ones. Any keepsake that makes you smile – Julia

Snacks hospital food is a bit hit and miss – Vicky

Flip flops for the shower! sometimes gastro ward showers can be a bit grim – Joanne

Antibacterial hand wash for changing and emptying your bag if you are confined to your bed at first, mouthwash, a pen – Nicola

Lucozade Sport or Powerade – Shell

I always bring my vitamins, protein and fiber. I know what works for my body. – Amelia

Drinking straws in case you can’t sit up to drink, chap stick, bonjela (I had terrible ulcers from the diet/drugs), if you have a tablet get some music, films and simple games on there, you may not have wifi – Dan

A sense of humour – Nicola

Beanie for bad hair days, good headphones, mint tea – Winny

Pink and white marshmallows & jelly babies are always a must for me when I go in!! Marvellous for ‘firming up’ ya poop, especially ileostomy poop!  – Claire

NO VALUABLES – Sidra

Petroleum jelly! Soft pants and big sanitary towels – Kirsty

Headphones for phone/tablet/tv if you’ll have a roommate. A notebook or preferred memo app for logging medication info, questions, output – Regan

A scarf covered in your favourite perfume – Frankie

I took my straighteners and hair dryer in because the first time I had surgery I looked like the pigeon lady from Home Alone! Plenty of cash, these places aren’t cheap when the shop trolley comes round and you fancy watching some tv. Oh and decent luggage because guaranteed you’ll go home with more stuff than what you went in with! It’s also easier to pack when you get moved wards etc. Heat packs are also good for back pain etc – Donna

An extension cord or portable phone charger for when you can’t reach the plugs – Alice

Face wipes. I wasn’t wearing make up but it felt so refreshing to wash my face – Lee

Lavender hand cream and a little bag of lavender to mask the hospital smell – Liz

Dry shampoo. Phone charger. I couldn’t focus to read but I could scroll through Instagram or Pinterest. Also stretchyand bigger than normal clothes to wear home. There will be bloating and swelling. The last thing you want is anything restrictive. – Lee

Baggy shirts, sweatshirts & PJs, dark colored at first – Susan

If it’s a woman and she is taking birth control pills – she should pack some pads. If she isn’t well enough to take her pill she will get her period after a few days of missed birth control – Brandi

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

Thank you so much to everyone who replied, you can see the whole thread here!

I hope this is helpful to anyone facing surgery any time soon, I know it is scary but all these little things will make it that bit easier and it is so great that they all come from people who have been there and understand what you are going through.

Sam xx