How to survive a zombie apocalypse

Halloween is coming up so just in case this is the time of a zombie apocalypse I thought I’d share my tips on surviving…

I do love a good zombie film, and Im fairly certain that at some point there will be a zombie apocalypse.  My theory is that you can categorise people into three groups – Fighters, Hiders and Suiciders…

Fighters

The group of folk who are the heroes.  They will fight the zombies off, plan an attack, group people together and go all Rambo on the zombies ass.  They’ll be fighting with guns, knives, sticks, records and everything that comes to hand.

Hiders

They board up the windows, lock all the doors and keep quiet.  They will wait out the zombie attack.  They are the organised ones who have a LOT of tinned food and bottled water, maybe even an Anderson shelter or a panic room and a good dose of paranoia.

Suiciders

The folk who give up all hope.  Who would rather take their own lives than risk being taken by a zombie.  Usually the old or weak who feel they can’t fight or hide.

The best way to survive is probably a mix of Fighters and Hiders… You will need to band together a group with the best possible skills.  You need to eat, drink and survive.  If you have organised hiders on side, they will have a Disaster Kit already.

The fighters are going to need some weapons, so having people in your group who have some weaponry skills would be awesome… If not, go for the Shaun of The Dead weapon list by Shadowness.

shaun of the dead weapons

I love this Science of surviving a Zombie Attack… Sorry, zombie is not politically correct, its Consciousness Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CDHD)

Learn the Science of Zombies

The University of Florida is my kinda place, they have a Zombie Attack Plan and survival guide.  You can read the whole (six page!) document here.

zombie attack plan university of florida

So people, get prepared.  The zombies are coming…

zombie sam cleasby

Love Samxx

Make your What Ifs happen every day

Im revisiting some old posts from my old blog, updating them and reblogging – so don’t think you are going mad if you think you’ve seen some posts or photos before!!

My other life is running a business with my amazingly talented photographer husband Timm Cleasby.  In December we took a huge leap and moved into a 15th century mill and started The Picture Foundry – our photography studio and arts hub in South Yorkshire.  As you can imagine, this takes up just a little bit of my time!!

At The Picture Foundry we have a kick ass photography studio as well as gardens, woods and a stream that we are filling with awesome sets and play areas… tree houses, a stage, a ridiculously amazing chaise longue…. We also run Responsible Fishing from the mill – an arts group set up by Timm and our friend James.  They come up with the most fantastical ideas and then put them into place, there is the stone balancing workshops that go out to festivals all over the UK, there is Camp Cardboard, which involves taking a huge pile of cardboard boxes into schools and encouraging the children to transform the school hall into a massive cardboard den.  They currently are working on a frankly bizarre yet exciting idea of building a life size version of the childrens game, Mouse Trap…

The thinking behind our move was to have a better work/life balance and to initiate a creative hub.  Life is short and you never know what time you have here so we wanted to fulfil our dreams, to make the things we have talked about for years actually happen.  A saying often heard nowadays in our home is “whats the worst that can happen?”

We knew that for us, the worst that could happen is to have regrets.  I want to regret the things I have done, not the things I haven’t!  We didn’t want to get old and to look back and think ‘what if’ – so we make our what ifs happen every day.

positivity life change bravery

Its not easy, we have three children, a dog, two cats and five chickens.  We have to think about money and schools and children and we have panics that perhaps we should take an easier route.  But the majority of the time, we feel blessed.  We feel proud for taking a leap and lucky that we have each other.  We wake up every morning and think ‘FUCK ME!!! LOOK WHERE WE LIVE!!!”

Since my surgery it feels even more important to live each day to the maximum, to take risks, live your dreams and make choices that bring you closer to your goals.  Life is very short.  None of us know what time we have on this planet or when life will throw us a massive curveball that will change your life forever.  I knoooooowwwww I blab on about positivity but I truly believe that with the right attitude, a big lump of courage and a bit of luck we can achieve anything.

Love Sam xx

Sleep

After months of insomnia I’m thrilled to say that it is gone! That drug induced grind of being unable to sleep no matter how much I want to seems to have disappeared. The nights of being sat wide eyed and wired are in the past.

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But my sleep patterns are still a bit crazy. I wake several times a night, sometimes to empty my bag and sometimes just to ‘check’ my bag for leaks. I don’t think I’m really getting into that deep sleep, every noise and every creak wakes me. I can get back to sleep fairly easily and quickly but on average I wake 5-6 times a night and I’m tirrrrrred man.

Today is my first day back at work. Luckily I work from home running our business with my husband. (Take a look at The Picture Foundry ) so the stress isn’t on too much but I REALLY wanted to get up and do the school run this morning and I slept through the alarm. Timm has been doing all the school runs for 7 weeks now and I do feel guilty. Now I’m kind of back on my feet I know I need to share the role again but it’s so hard when I feel so exhausted.

My sleep patterns are really skewed, I can’t complain because after months of just NOT sleeping and having to take sleeping tablets it’s a joy to be getting any sleep. But it does make getting back to normal life a bit tricky. Waking at 7am and getting up to sort the kids then driving them to school just seems like a bit of a mountain to climb after a restless night.

Being a mum of three I have obviously had my share of restless nights, but when it is night after night and I’m never feeling fully rested or like I’ve had a deep sleep it is hard work getting through the day! I can’t even remember how I did this when the kids were little and I was up with babies in the night!!

It’s been 6 weeks since my surgery now and I’m feeling really good. Physically my wound is totally healed, I occasionally have a little pain in it. My stoma is working well, the stitches around it are healed and though I have the occasional leak, I’m kind if getting there with it. I still tire easily, doing normal every day tasks exhaust me and so I’m careful to allow myself rest and healing time still. Mentally I have good days and bad but it feels like there are more good ones! On the bad days I want to lie under the covers feeling sorry for myself, weeping and drowning my sorrows in tea. And so I do.

I allow myself to have shit days.  Days where I just don’t have the spirit to smile through the day, days where Im tearful and fed up, where I am pissed off and angry.  I think its important to let yourself release these feelings, that it helps with the healing process.  You need to have the dark times so you can appreciate the bright ones.  You know Im all about the positivity and so although I let myself have the pyjama days watching terrible tv and eating ice cream, I make sure that the next day I get up and do something that makes me feel good.  I won’t let myself go down a spiral of feeling lower and lower.

Today is a good day, Im off to walk the dog this morning and then back into the office to get back to work!

If only I can stay awake through it…

Love Sam xx

My stoma

I’ve been a bit shy about sharing a photograph of my stoma. It’s a bit like showing someone your bum hole!! But I know how much it helped me to see other people’s stomas before I had my surgery, so here it is!

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It may not be pretty but it has changed my life. Because of my stoma I no longer have pain, diarrhoea or bleeding. I am off all medication for the first time in ten years and I’m learning to live a new life!

Thank you stoma!!

Sam xx

Happy Anniversary

15 years ago today I met my amazing husband Timm in the Leadmill when my friend told him ‘my mate fancies you’

15 years and 3 kids later and the rest is history. Timm you are my best friend, I love you more than ever. You make me so happy and I couldn’t imagine life without you. You are awesome!

I’m so glad to be Mrs Cleasby xxx

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Love Sam xx

Ileostomy, self esteem and Dead Sons…

Last night I got a Facebook message from the lovely Luke Baker from Dead Sons.  It was out of the blue and I was a little surprised, but when I read it I cried, then snorted, then laughed, then blushed.  A lot.  I know Luke, as Timm is involved with Dead Sons but I applaud any man brave enough to email me to tell me Im wrong…

dead sons Luke Baker

Photo by Timm Cleasby – The Picture Foundry

As I have blogged already, I feel that my confidence and self esteem have taken a knock since I had my surgery, I was saying to another friend recently that I worry my bag defines me at the minute and this message made me remember that it doesn’t.  It feels all encompassing right now, but it isn’t me.  Its just an attachment.

If I ever needed a bit of a confidence boost, it is now.  And the following message made me feel so much better and reminded me of my old self…

“Hey Sam!

I always read your blogs and one thing i noticed is that your more recent ones have been way more positive! Thats ace! I hope you’re well and i hope Timm is looking after you! Im glad that it seems your making a rubbishy situation into something really interesting and a focal point for thought!

There was one I read a few weeks back and I meant to message you off the back of it!  I just read your one about poo and it reminded me that I had something to say!!!  It must have been one when you were feeling pretty rubbish and down and its how you didnt feel yourself and maybe not as attractive.

It struck a bit of a response in me and dragged me away from writing turkish pop songs but it basically got me thinking, I go in to town and see girls my age strutting there stuff, dolled up to the nines, when in absolute honesty, i think… if only they knew.  I just want you to know, you knock blocks out of most women Sam!  Stoma, no stoma, you’re an absolute babe!

Timm knows that (obviously), and even a group of young’uns who think they can play instruments think that! It just got me thinking is all, how can a woman so full of confidence, attractive and so fun be down about this!  When the situation, as crappy as it may seems, that she’s writing about, doesn’t one bit, change who she is!

Anyway, ive said my piece now!  Also, I just want you to know, this wasnt written with empathy or feeling sorry… more just like, shes wrong and id like to tell her that shes wrong, cos i think shes fucking ace! xxx”

Our confidence and self esteem come from within, not from the acceptance or compliments of others, but man, when you are feeling shit they sure do help!!

You can buy the single Gasoline by Dead Sons from iTunes here.

Love Sam xx

Is the media too embarrassed to talk about poo?

If you read my blog or know me at all, you will know I talk a lot about poo… Some may say I talk shit, but we’ll overlook that!  I started the blog as I wanted to stop poo being a taboo, to talk about Ulcerative Colitis and IBD.  Over 180,000 people in the UK have either Crohns or Colitis yet it is not something discussed very often.  Now I have my stoma, I talk a lot about Ostomies and what its like to have a bag.  Over 100,000 people in the UK have some type of ostomy, yet again as a nation we just don’t discuss it.

Since starting the blog I have been shocked at the amount of readers I have, in September alone I had over 13,000 views of the site.  I receive so many emails, messages and comments about the site and all have been very positive.  I am delighted, if not a little shocked, at how popular the blog has become.  When I share my blog on Facebook and twitter, many friends share it with their friends.  This is lovely and very much appreciated, it really means a lot.

So I thought it would be good to get the blog out to a wider audience.  I tweeted, messaged and emailed a lot of people in the public eye including several magazines and though the feedback I have is good, no one seems to want to publicise the blog or the subject of poo.  It leaves me wondering why this is?  My viewing figures show that people want to read about the subject so why are people in the public eye so shy of promoting health awareness when it comes to poo?  Is it embarrassment? Or do they think that the general public don’t want to read about poo?

poo taboo

Everyone poops

I emailed a LOT of magazines including a journalist who sent a PR request out for ‘women in their 30s who started an inspiring blog this year about a life changing event’.  It seemed perfect!  But though the journalist thought my story was interesting and inspiring, it wasn’t right for the magazine.

Now I don’t want to seem big headed, and I really don’t expect every journalist in the land to raise their hands in awe and think my story is the best thing ever!! But it does surprise me that no one seems to want to cover the subject.  I have asked a number of people who I know, who are in the public eye if they would share the blog on Facebook or twitter and Im not getting anywhere with that either.

I *know* that poo is a taboo subject with some people, but when hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are suffering from the same diseases or living with a stoma, I just want to speak openly and honestly about it.  When you have these things it can feel very lonely and its easy to feel isolated so it was so important to me to get out in the open and start talking.  What I have gone through and what Im still going through is rubbish, but it shouldn’t be embarrassing to discuss it.  Yes, I had a disease that involved my arse and spent ten years with diarrhoea.  Yes, I now have a stoma, I wear an ileostomy bag.  At times I struggle with these things, but talking about it just makes things easier.  I do not need the media to promote the idea that this is embarrassing or not to be spoken about.

poo taboo

Or even worse, promoting ostomies as something disgusting and horrific.  The Cincinnatti Police department recently started an initiative to lower the gun crime rate by showing teenagers photographs of people with colostomy bags to show the possible affects of being shot.  “You’re not killed, but you’re walking around with a colostomy bag and that’s just not the way to get a girl’s attention by limping down Warsaw Avenue with a colostomy bag,” said Lt. Joe Richardson.

Well fuck you Lt. Richardson, I guarantee you that my stoma doesn’t stop me getting attention from the opposite sex. My stoma doesn’t take away my sexuality. I’d rather date someone with a stoma than someone who is ignorant.

Their message was that having a bag is the most unattractive thing that could happen to you. A news report actually said the police showed teens “gruesome photos of people with colostomy bags” It promotes the thoughts that if you have a stoma, you are unattractive, smelly and you should be ashamed of the fact. Myths like these arise because of campaigns like the Cincinnati Police Departments. By portraying an ostomy as a tragic and gruesome way to live out the rest of your life, it continues the stigma surrounding stomas and discourages people with ostomies from speaking about their condition without shame publicly.

Where are the stories of inspiration? Where are the stories of people feeling beautiful, empowered and proud? Having a stoma means you were in a situation that meant this drastic, life altering surgery was your best chance of having a life without pain. For many it is emergency surgery done to save lives. I think people who have been through this deserve to be celebrated not shamed or ignored.

Obviously it would be lovely for people to share my story and my blog, but if you don’t want to do that – share someone else’s, or just don’t be afraid to discuss poo and illness. One thing that many people have told me is that after reading and discussing or sharing my blog, they learnt that someone they know has IBD or a stoma. It surprises me that once you start talking then others feel comfortable enough to share their experiences too.

After I started this blog I got an email from my cousin who told me that he too has ulcerative colitis. He lives quite far away from me and I don’t see him often but I couldn’t believe a family member had the same disease as me and we didn’t know about it! That no one in our families had spoken about it and connected that we had the same thing!

I had a person come up to me in the street and say ‘Sam!!! I have a bad ass too!!!!’ The power of blogging, eh?!!

I write this blog as I want to share my experiences to help others and to get people talking. Please help me do that by sharing this post and letting me know if it helps you or someone you know.

Many thanks

Sam xx

Feeling emotional – Stoma and Ileostomy worries

I am still recovering well, physically my strength is returning though I still feel very tired.  Im able to do more now, cooking and cleaning and have developed a terrible nesting instinct!  Honestly its like I am 9 months pregnant, I have an urge to rearrange all the rooms, organise and declutter the world!  This means my house is now worse than it was before as there are piles and stacks of ‘stuff’ everywhere!

I think now that I am recovering physically that my mind is working overtime and mentally I am struggling.  Im over thinking things and at times just feeling really sad.  Im sad that my life revolves  around this bag.  I spend so many hours a day in cleaning, emptying, changing, washing, worrying… I have never been the sort of person who spends hours getting ready so it feels odd to spend so much time on myself.

I spoke to a friend yesterday about the blog and how so many people had told me that it was helping them, and I was worried about posting about the bad days as I wanted it to be about positivity.  She told me that she didn’t think my blog was about positivity, it was about honesty.  And being honest is talking about the downs as well as the ups.  She also reminded me that a blog that was always hyper happy comes across as smug!! So I thought Id write a bit today about how Im feeling.

My sleeping patterns are still all over the place, some nights I sleep well, others the insomnia kicks in and I just can’t sleep at all.  Im also getting up once or twice in the night to empty my bag.  A friend told me that our minds get into habits and it will take time to break those habits.  From June till the end of September I was on Prednisolone and the meds made me be unable to sleep and so for all that time I was taking sleeping tablets.  So I know that its going to take time for my mind and body to readjust to sleeping without any drugs in my system.

But in the middle of the night, when everyone else is sleeping and the house is silent, I sit and overthink… These thoughts tend not to be positive ones.  I feel sorry for myself, a big pity party in my honour.  I sat the other night at 4am weeping at the loss of my ‘normal’ life.  Mourning the loss of a life that didn’t involve wearing an ileostomy bag and having to (literally) deal with shit every day.  I sat there wishing I could rewind time and go back to before my operation.  I cried about how my body looks and feels, that Im weak and tired and that I have the scar and this stoma, this weird looking thing on my stomach that spews waste and I have no control over it.  I feel sad that feeling unattractive affects how I feel around my husband.  I feel devastated that my kids still avoid cuddling me as they don’t like the stoma and are worried about hurting me.  I feel scared that the course of my life has changed so drastically and that it won’t ever be the same again.

When the sun comes up it also lightens my worries, its a lot easier to be upbeat during the day.  I talk to Timm a lot and to my friend Caroline, I know I can talk to them openly and honestly and I know that talking helps.  The old saying of a problem shared is a problem halved is so true.  Im not asking for an answer or a solution to the problems, but saying them out loud makes me feel that I can overcome them and that I have support.

At times when Im not feeling down I can look at things logically, I know that when I want to rewind my life or want my ‘normal’ life back, that actually before the op I was ill.  I was so sick, my bowel was ruling my life.  I was going to the toilet 10-15 times a day and bleeding constantly.  I was one the highest doses of meds and wasn’t responding at all.  If I hadn’t had the surgery I believe I would still be in hospital, I would have had to go onto drugs like Infliximab that carry such awful side effects.

I know that this surgery and my annoying little stoma has saved my life, though it is difficult, it has set me on a road to recovery, a road to a new life without pain, without bleeding and without medication.  Though I still feel that I spend a lot of time emptying and changing my bags, I have to remind myself that before the surgery I sometimes lost control of my bowels.  That was the most humiliating and devastating part of my Ulcerative Colitis.  Now I don’t have that worry!  Before the surgery I was in pain pretty much all the time, now I have no pain.  Before, I was bleeding so much from my bum that at times I had to wear a pad, now I have no bleeding at all.

talking through problems

I have a few friends who are going through really tough times at the minute, all in totally different ways but equally tough.  It makes me think about life and the challenges we face during our lives.  When I was younger and Id read about someone facing illness or the death of a loved one, I’d think ‘how do they cope?!!’ – I now realise that there isn’t an alternative to ‘coping’ – Coping is just putting one foot in front of the other, taking each day at a time and accepting that sometimes life is shit, things happen that are not fair, that situations feel so huge and overwhelming that all you can do is sit and weep.

Sitting and weeping is a necessary process, we need to express our pain and let out our frustrations.  Then we get up, brush ourselves off and keep going.  I think it is so important to have people to talk to, this blog is cathartic for me, I feel that writing all my feelings here allows me to release them. Talking is key, whether it is a partner, family, friends or a councillor.  I think if we can talk things through and be open about our feelings it really helps.  Giving a voice to your worries takes the power away from them.  We all know that we can take a concern and make it bigger and badder in our heads than it really is, speaking about them with someone you trust deflates the worry and I swear it will make you feel better!

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Its not about ‘getting over’ a tough time, its about learning to live with it and that is what I will do, I will accept the bad days and sometimes Ill sit and weep, but I will keep going and learn to live with my stoma.

 

Love Sam xx