Thee and Me

Twenty years ago today I met my best friend, my husband, my soul mate.

Its been a rollercoaster, there have been the most amazing highs and the most devastating lows, but we are still here and I’m the luckiest woman alive to have this boy as my partner in life.

Sam and Timm Cleasby

Sam and Timm Cleasby

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

timm and sam cleasby wedding

rock n roll wedding

sam and timm cleasby pioneer town us

Sam and Timm Cleasby

sam and timm cleasby

Pete McKee thee and me

Thank you for always being my best friend and for my gorgeous Pete McKee present!

 

✌🏽& ❤️

Sam xx

The C word

No, not Cotton Headed ninny muggins.  Or C**t. But Cancer. Today I’m writing about cancer.

Before it feels too click baity, first up, I don’t have cancer, so no panicking!!! But I’m in the middle of a bit of a scare, so here goes…

A few weeks ago I had a CT scan to take a closer look at my hernia and then a couple of days later I ended up seeing my GP as I was having terrible acid reflux along with lots of stomach pain. I’d assumed it was all linked to the hernia.

The GP pulled up my CT scan results and told me that it had been noted that I had a very pronounced ovary. He started asking more questions about periods, pain levels, weight etc and then told me he’d like to do some blood tests. He explained that it was probably nothing but he wanted to check my CA125 tumour markers, that this marker looked at ovarian cancer and he just wanted to rule it out.

He explained that I could get an abnormal result simply as I’ve had abdominal surgery this year but he wanted to look.

I usually have regular (if very heavy) periods, but the past few months have been off kilter, being up to 3 weeks late which never happens! I’ve been having trouble eating as I’m getting heartburn and indigestion and a lot of bloating along with peeing a lot and lots of stomach pain but I’d put this all down to my usual problems.

A week later he called to tell me that they had come back high (a normal result is 0-35, mine was 68). He explained that this number can go into the thousands and so though mine were above normal range, they still weren’t sky high and still could be explained by other things but it was concerning him and he wanted to book me in for an urgent ultrasound.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Though I’ve tried to not get worried it’s hard to not let your mind run away with yourself and panic.

I started thinking about how I take painkillers every single day, how I’ve used a hot water bottle daily for months to ease the pain, how the pain in my stomach is often so bad that I can’t stand. I thought about how I’d put all this down to post surgery pain and the hernia and I’ve been scared that perhaps I’ve missed something bad.

Today I had the scan, I cried a lot in the morning, thinking that this could change everything, I was shaking and scared. I was hoping they’d see nothing and I could go back to just worrying about my stoma and chronic illness!!!

They found a large cyst on my left ovary, it’s about six and a half centimetres which apparently is quite big and so it is a concern.

The GP called me this evening and said that it could be just a normal benign cyst, but due to the size and the high blood tests, he wants it checked and so has put me through for an urgent referral to the gynae clinic.

Their course of action could be:

Rescan and more bloods

More scans/MRI

Surgery to remove it

But we’ll have to wait and see. There’s still a good chance this is a run of the mill cyst that will cause no more trouble but he had to warn me that it could be cancerous.

But the good thing is that due to catching it accidentally on the CT scan means it can all be diagnosed and treated early and I’m staying positive that whatever the little bugger is, I’m in good hands.

The past few weeks have been worrying and scary, even though I KNOW you should never google symptoms, I have done and it’s scared the pants off me.

Im just so fed up, my health has been one shitty thing after another and this year has been pants! Two surgeries this year alone and now the possibility of not just one more to deal with the hernia but potentially two more! I’m done in.

I am weepy, impatient and frazzled. I really must have done something bad in a past life!!! I’m scared. I know I need to think positively but it’s hard to not think the worst when it comes to people mentioning the big C.

But I must shake it off and keep my game face on because whatever the results, I will smash it!

✌🏽& ❤️

Sam xx

 

Northern Blog Awards – I won!!

Last weekend Timm and I went to Manchester as I had been nominated and shortlisted for the Disability and Chronic Illness best blog. I was totally honoured and really pleased to be shortlisted for the second year running and though I didn’t expect to win, we went along to hang out with some amazing bloggers and have a night out!

And so it was a total shock to actually win!!! 

Northern blog awards disability chronic illness

It was a wonderful night and the first award I have ever won so it is so hugely appreciated and I was a little overwhelmed.

Northern blog awards

Take a look at a little video of the evening here 

Huge thanks to everyone who voted and to the Northern Blog Awards.

✌🏽&❤️

Sam x

Nowt So Strange As Folk – BBC Sheffield

So I am a few weeks into my new role as radio presenter on BBC Radio Sheffield, have you heard the show yet?

You can find us at Nowt So Strange As Folk – a modern family life show where we talk about everything from parenting to dating, local community groups to disability and so much more with myself and the lovely Leesh, my amazing co-host.  It’s all about relaxed laid back chat, lots of laughs, amazing guests and a sprinkling of music to fill your evening.

You can hear us between 7 and 9pm every Wednesday (apart from the odd week when football is on) and I would love to hear what you think!

 

Sam Cleasby and Leesh Desouzay Nowt so strange as folk on bbc radio sheffield

I am absolutely LOVING it, I have been a guest on radio shows for years now, so I knew I could chat on air but presenting is a whole different ball game! I was nervous about the technical side as well as the skills of presenting live on air, interviewing guests, getting in and out of links etc but BBC Sheffield have totally take us under their wing and given us so much support, training and encouragement.  Our amazing producer Chloe has looked after us and guided us into having the confidence to be ourselves, she is awesome, and producer David has been a rock!

Sam and Leesh bbc radio sheffield

I think it’s really brave of BBC Sheffield to try something so new, each evening we have new talent, presenters who have been given an opportunity to do something different. Monday nights is Monday Night Social – group chat with some brilliant presenters and guests including our wonderful Lord Mayor Magid Magid.  Tuesday is New Traditions with Gregg Russell – a new look at folk music from around the world. Throwback Thursday with Christian Carlisle is next sharing brilliant music and talking to musicians and artists. And then Hello Friday welcomes in the weekend with music and fun.

Sam Cleasby bbc radio presenter

You can find Nowt So Strange As Folk on twitter and instagram – do get in touch and let us know what you think of the show, we love hearing your messages and will read out as many as possible!

Find all our show on the iplayer here and listen live Wednesdays 7-9pm!

 

Sam x

 

Hernia update

So after seeing Mr Brown last week and being sent for a CT scan, a hernia has been confirmed.

Obviously after two hernia ops already this year, I’m devastated.

Its behind my new stoma and is sore and swollen, it’s awful news yet again and to be honest I don’t know how to feel about it all.

It just feels very unfair and I’m really cross with life at the minute. But I will pick myself up and plod on!

Im here, I have an amazing husband, I’m blessed with wonderful kids and friends and it could be worse!

Parastomal hernia

What to do next? Well the good news is that it’s not bowel poking through the hernia right now, it’s fat and tissue so though uncomfortable and unsightly, it’s not an emergency.

So I’ll continue seeing my physio, I’m going to try and lose some weight and I’ve stopped smoking so we’ll see how I go!

Sam x

As if I have an 18 year old child!

This week, my eldest bambino turned 18 and I’m still a bit confused by it all, as if I have a child who is an actual adult?!

I had Charlie when I was 19, it was a pregnancy that many family and friends thought a mistake. I’d been with Timm for two years and if I’m completely honest, we were kind of stupid. We worked to go out, went partying a lot, spent our money on stupid things and were silly people in love.

But as soon as I found out I was pregnant, we both got our shit in order, we rented a tiny flat together and made a commitment to do this right, to support eachother and to be the best parents we could possibly be.

It brought out a different side in both of us, in me a deeply maternal animalistic desire to grow this little human and protect him with my life, a nesting instinct to make a home for the three of us. In Timm it was a desire to nurture and protect me, to commit to his career and to ensure we would be ok.

During 20 hours of labour, a labour where the judgement of others hung heavily over us, the midwives seeing this teenager in her boyfriends clothes as we couldn’t afford maternity wear (and also because maternity clothes in 2000 was flipping ugly!!!) and her boyfriend who had skater jeans and no clue.  The comments that I should just have an epidural because I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain. It was a scary and overwhelming time where we both felt like control had been taken from us.

And then he was here. We made a human. And he was amazing. The moment I looked at him, I realised that I was made for this moment, that being a mum was the most important thing I would ever be entrusted with. I fell in love.

Teen mum holding new baby

We went home from the hospital and both just sat looking at him in his basket asleep, we looked at eachother and asked ‘what now?’ We couldn’t believe we had complete responsibility for a baby. We knew we weren’t a typical family but we also knew we loved him more than life itself and so thought ‘fuck it! We’ll do this our way!’ My sister in law told me that we needed to feed him, clean him, keep him warm and just love him more than anything. And so that was our mantra and it didn’t do us bad!

Raising my boy over the past 18 years has been a rollercoaster, I always knew he wouldn’t be a person to fit in a box and go with the crowds. My boy is a rule breaker, a pioneer, a wonderfully weird person who will make his own road through life.

We are so alike in lots of ways, stubborn and headstrong and so sometimes we butt heads, neither of us backing down. But we can be screaming at eachother one minute and cuddling the next. I love him in a way that comes from somewhere deep inside, it’s primal and pure. And though of course I adore all three of my kids in the same way, there is a special bond between Charlie and I.

He was my first, we learnt how to do things between us, he made me a momma! For the first 2 years of his life, he was known as my shadow, we were always together and we’re eachothers comfort blanket. Timm was touring with work and would be away for weeks on end and so me and Charlie were a team.

In the past few years his kindness and patience has floored me, my illness has been hard on us as a family yet Charlie has always been there, laying in bed chatting with me when I can’t get up, visiting me in hospital and making me laugh, loving me and putting my needs ahead of his own, which is no mean feat for a teenage boy!

Mum and adult son in park with a chihuahua

And now here we are, my baby boy is all grown up. 18 years old, ready to take on the world, make his own decisions and move into the next section of his life.

But however old he is, wherever he is in the world, he will always be my bambino and I will always love him, tell him I love him, be there for him and always, always be his momma.

✌🏽& ❤️

Sam

My depression looks like…

I used to think depression looked like someone crying all the time, someone with a sad face who is weeping and wailing. And sometimes depression does look like that! But not always.

Last year I had a really bad time with my mental health, I hit a big wall and I couldn’t shake it. I struggled to exist, it was a really dark and terrible time. Through talking therapy and antidepressants, I came through that valley of sadness to a place where I could see the light again.

Im still on antidepressants and for me they have been a life saver. But last week I found out that my surgeries haven’t worked and I have another hernia. My stomach is a map of scars and underneath I have adhesions and mesh and pig skin and all sorts of pain and discomfort and it’s hit me hard.

I feel low and I’m struggling, I can’t come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably never be better, that I may always struggle with pain and I won’t be physically fit and healthy for the rest of my life.

And it got me thinking about how my depression looks and just how different it is from person to person.

My depression looks like a smile, a forced cheery “I’m fine!”, it looks like me sleeping a lot, it looks like me avoiding friends. My depression looks like me wearing a hat because I can’t bring Myself to shower and my hair is dirty. My depression looks like me pushing through and managing to work and be cheerful to the outside world.

My depression looks like me crying because I missed the blackberries in my allotment. It looks like my stiff upper lip as I excuse myself to sit with my head between my knees in the loo because I can’t breathe and it’s all too much. It looks like me smiling too big and laughing too forced because I don’t want you to see my sadness because if you’re nice to me it will all spill out and I don’t want to scare you.

It looks like brief moments of honesty when I can bring myself to write things like this.

Depression takes many forms, don’t be mistaken into thinking the person smiling in front of you is a-ok.

If you’re reading this and have depression, could you do me a favour and share what your depression looks like using #mydepressionlookslike – because I honestly believe that by talking and sharing we can create a more nurturing, understanding and caring environment where depression stops being a taboo,where people stop suffering in silence, where people stop dying.

#mydepressionlookslike

 

✌🏽& ❤️

Sam xx

Healing an old stoma site from the inside out!

Just a word of warning, this post has lots of graphic and medical images of my old stoma site healing and may not be suitable for everyone.

So after the last surgery where they resited my stoma, the old site was left open. I was gobsmacked when I first saw it as I’d never seen an open wound like this before.

They explained that they heal better if they’re not sewn up and they want it to heal from the inside out and so it was packed with dressing and I saw a district nurse every day for just over a month till it healed up.

I had a big cry when I first saw it, it was 3.5cm deep and looked like a gunshot wound, they said it would take around 4-6 weeks to heal and I couldn’t believe that could be true!

So I took photos of the healing process as I found it intriguing and I thought it might help others going through the same situation.

What follows are the images of it healing, as previously warned, they may be upsetting to some so don’t scroll down if you don’t want to look!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we go…

Open stoma wound healing

12th June – 5 days post op

Open stoma wound healing

21st June – 14 days post op

Open stoma wound healing

27th June – 20 days post op

Open stoma wound healing

29th June – 22 days post op

Open stoma wound healing

1st July – 24 days post op

Open stoma wound healing

2nd July – 25 days post op

Open stoma wound healing

5th July – 28 days post op

Open stoma wound healing

11th July – 34 days post op

15th July – 38 days post op

18th July – 41 days post op

Open stoma wound healing

11th August – 65 days post op

So there we go! Isn’t the body brilliant!!!

I hope this helps anyone who is facing this sort of healing process to know that it does get better.

 

Loce Sam xx

Chronic illness and guilt – when we can, we do

I got a message from someone on twitter today from a mum who is facing stoma surgery.

“You have made a difference. You made me feel ok about stoma surgery, you help me to remember I’m not the only one feeling like this. These school holidays are breaking my heart, I feel so guilty for not doing things with the kids. Thank you for reminding me I’m not alone xx”

I responded telling them that today I’m in bed as all my kids are on computers and though I feel bad about this, I remind myself that when I can, I do.

It struck me that this is a good motto for anyone with chronic illness who is feeling guilty.

 

There is so much guilt in living with chronic illness or disability, it’s wrong, it’s unhelpful and it’s crap but almost everyone I speak to has had feelings of guilt at some time in their lives.

Guilt that they’re letting others down, that they’re not good enough parents, partners or friends. Guilt that they don’t pull their weight with work, guilt for taking time off. Guilt that their houses aren’t tidy enough, their dogs aren’t walked enough. Guilt that they sometimes eat fast food as they’re too tired to cook. Guilt that their kids have to care for them when they want to be caring for the kids. Guilt that family days out get cancelled or become about their illness rather than the fun of it.

Its easy for me to say that it needs to stop, that these things we feel bad about are out of our control and that guilt doesn’t help anyone. But I’d be a hypocrite. Because I feel all these things too.

But I do remind myself that when I can, I do.

When I can take my kids out for the day I do. Yes, it’s sometimes to the cinema as I know I’m not strong enough for a more physical day but I do.

When I can, I work hard, I put my everything into careers that I love.

When I can, my house is clean and tidy (and when I can’t, I hire a cleaner!!)

When I can, I see friends, I think about others, I’m there for them.

Life can be tough, but remember…

When we can, we do.

 

✌🏽& ❤️

Sam xx

Matron, Medicine and Me – 70 years of the NHS

I was thrilled to be interviewed for the BBC’s Matron, Medicine and Me which was aired recently.  The episode I was on was hosted by Fern Britton who went back to the hospital that saved her life from sepsis a few years ago, there were lots of amazing stories shared about the NHS and if you’d like to watch it again, head over to the iplayer here.

You can see my interview here.

 

Love Sam xx