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I got surprise partied!

Well, what a marvellous birthday I had!  My birthday was last Thursday and I turned 35, we had a lovely chilled out day at home, I wasn’t feeling great and so I didn’t want to go out, but enjoyed hanging out with my family,  Timm told me that on Saturday, my mum would be taking me out for a treat and then in the evening we would be going out.

For years, whenever asked what I want for my birthday, I say a surprise party.  I say it to make Timm laugh as he says that I would hate a surprise as I wouldnt be in control and that the more I ask, the less likely it is to happen.  It has become a running joke for such a long time.

I had a few messages and phone calls from friends in the week before my birthday, asking what I was doing and when we would catch up and so I arranged a couple of meals out later in June and it made me know I wasn’t seeing them this week.  I *MAY* have been a little grumpy on the phone with a friend who asked me what I was doing and I replied “Well, obviously not seeing you if you are asking!”  (Sorry guys!!!)

So Saturday came and Timm dropped me to my mums house, she then took me to Jamesons tea room in Sheffield for a wonderful surprise afternoon tea.  It was so lovely, with proper tea, finger sandwiches, cake, scones, prosecco and even a fella playing piano! Such a lovely surprise, but it wasn’t over!


We then went to see a masseuse and spiritual healer who gave me a wonderful back massage (I sat on a massage chair as I can’t lie face down with my stoma) and also talked to me a little about how I was feeling about myself.  I came out feeling so relaxed and calm, it was perfect.  Thank you so much to my mum for a brilliant day.


Then we set off home, as we got to our house, there was nowhere to park on the front.  Mum stopped and called Timm, which I thought was odd but as she’s a nervous driver I thought she was going to ask him to park for her.  Timm came out and said to me “Sam, I got you another birthday present but it’s really big and is in the garden, so when you come in, can you close your eyes?”

We have an inflatable hot tub, and once before the wedding, Timm set it all up with twinkly lights and champagne.  I immediately thought he had done this again and so closed my eyes and walked up the side of the house with him, I thought I was being a smart arse and said “I hope it’s the hot tub!”

I walked in the back garden and Timm told me to open my eyes…

SURRRRRPRIIIISEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

My wonderful Timm had thrown me a surprise party! Lots of friends were there to celebrate and I was 100% surprised! I honestly had no idea, I can’t believe how everyone kept it quiet!

Thank you to everyone who made it and who helped Timm out, the house and garden were filled with balloons, banners, food, drink and love.  Our lovely friend Daz came and photographed the party along with Steve who did magic for us all, but everyone had pitched in and decorated, cooked and helped Timm out.  I am just overwhelmed by the love and brilliance of it all, thank you, thank you, thank you xxxxx

Here are some of the lovely photos from the night courtesy of Rockerline Photography.

sam cleasby surprise party sheffield blogger

sam cleasby surprise party sheffield blogger

sam cleasby surprise party sheffield blogger

sam cleasby surprise party sheffield blogger

sam cleasby surprise party sheffield blogger

sam cleasby surprise party sheffield blogger

sam cleasby surprise party sheffield blogger

sam cleasby surprise party sheffield blogger

sam cleasby surprise party sheffield blogger

sam cleasby surprise party sheffield blogger

sam cleasby surprise party sheffield blogger

sam cleasby surprise party sheffield blogger

sam cleasby surprise party sheffield blogger

 

 

Thank you again to everyone, it was amazing! Love you all xxxxx

 

 

Sam x

As a parent, can I just say, I have no clue what I’m doing…

I have three kids aged 15, 13 and 11.  From the outside, I appear to have it all in hand.  My kids are polite, friendly and fun to be with.  I have managed to get to this point without losing them (apart from that one time on Blackpool Pier), killing them in a stupidity accident or them hating me.  I also write about life as a parent, apparently giving the public the illusion that I know what the fuck I am doing.

Therefore I get comments and messages from people who seem to think I am the Baby Whisperer crossed with Mary Poppins.  That I have some magical gift or that I know the mythical answer to parenting.  This post is to let you in on a secret.  I have no clue what I am doing!

None of us do! Every day is a learning experience, I am just figuring it out day by day.  This means sometimes I fluke it out and things go well, but other times, it all goes horribly wrong and I am left sat in a war zone wondering how much flights to the Maldives cost.

 

children parenting blog sam cleasby sheffield

 

Parenting is bloody hard work.  From the sleepless nights of newborns, through teething and weaning, onto the stage when they can move themselves about and suddenly every nice thing in your home goes up onto a higher level.  Toddler tantrums as they discover their own voice through to starting school and suddenly having a different authority figure in their lives.  Tween dramas give way to teen dramas and suddenly the issues become more expensive and more dangerous… It is scary stuff being responsible for another human being and all any of are trying to do is not fuck them up too badly.

The only way to get through is to have other honest parents to talk to, and honest is the key word here.  Don’t read social media posts of the perfect mums who have made an organic breakfast, are beautifully dressed and made up, whose children are little angels who say ‘thank you mummy’ as she passes them their mung bean and papaya oatmeal and then trot out to school so mum can start her day as a high flying business woman who has it all…

Seriously, ignore that shit.

Honest parents are the best.  They will tell you about the time they saw the bin van coming as they had just finished breastfeeding and went to run to put the bins out and stood in a shitty nappy, skidding across the floor and then meeting the bin man with shit up their leg and one breast hanging out of their top.

They will tell you about the times when they lost their temper and shouted at their kids and then truly regretted it and cried outside on the doorstep until said child came and said ‘don’t cry mummy’.

They will tell you that sometimes they think their kids are dickheads and they occasionally daydream of running away from home.

They will tell you that random freezer dinners of one fishfinger, 2 mini sausage rolls, a pizza finger and some beans is totally acceptable if you stick a piece of cucumber on the side.

They will tell you that their heart aches when they try and deal with teenagers who are so angst filled and bubbling with hormones that you feel like different species.  That when their kids make idiotic choices and take dangerous paths that they just wish they were toddlers again so that the parents could cuddle them and watch Finding Nemo in bed and keep them safe.

They will tell you that parenting is all practicing, that they don’t have the answers and that it is hard work.

(All of these have happened to me…)

 

sam cleasby sheffield parenting blogger

 

Honest parents are vital.  Because when they’ve been honest about all the challenging parts of being a parent, you want to celebrate with them all the amazing parts.  Because though I sound down on being a parent here, I’m really not.  I love being a mum, it is literally the best thing I have ever done.

From the moment my first son was put in my arms, I felt purpose.  I knew that my life had changed forever and that I would spend the rest of it protecting and loving this bundle of joy.  I remember crying about the miracle of babies, how a little part of me and a little part of my partner had made an actual human being! Though that might have been the drugs…

Seeing your child grow and change is just magical, from the baby days where they are physically changing before your eyes every single day through to teens where you can see them maturing into wonderful young adults, the process is just beautiful.

The pride as you see them learn is wonderful, teaching them about the world around them and filling their minds with information and seeing them achieve is awesome.  I feel a great privilege to be mum to my bambinos, and they are growing up so quickly, I feel like I am grasping onto the last moments of childhood, especially with my eldest.  This week he came and laid on the sofa with me, head rested on my shoulder and watched TV.  I wanted to hug him and squeeze him but instead, I nonchalantly stayed put, slowly creeping my arm over to rest on his shoulder and quietly enjoyed the moment like he was a butterfly who would flit off at any moment.

I adore being a mum, my kids mean everything to me and I wouldn’t give this life up for the world.  I am so proud of them all, the three of them are all completely different with different personalities, goals and desires, but they are all just the best.  I can love them but still freely admit that I don’t have a clue what I am doing.

People ask me for parenting advice often, I don’t feel I can give it as all kids and families are so different.  But if I am pushed, I say this:

  • No child ever went bad from being loved too much.  Tell them you love them. Often. Seriously every day.  Yep, especially when you are arguing.
  • If you fuck up, admit it and say sorry.  You are teaching them that even their Mighty Grand High Parent sometimes gets it wrong and thats ok.
  • Fill your home and your life with interesting things, people and experiences.  Kids are little sponges of curiosity, teach them everything, give them culture, show them the world around them.
  • Don’t go it alone, speak to other (HONEST) parents.  This shit is hard work, it is not failing to ask for help.
  • Boost their self-esteem.  Be genuine and when they are awesome, tell them.
  • Give them the gift of art.  Encourage their creativity and celebrate art and music.  Whether it is cartoons or the Mona Lisa, finger painting or building cardboard dens.  Art is vital for kids, I honestly believe this and I think it helps them with pretty much every part of their lives.
  • Be interested in their lives, there will come a day when they won’t want to share everything with you and you will miss it.
  • Be honest with them.  Be open and true and tell the truth about life, even if it is difficult.
  • Enjoy them.  They grow up so quickly.  Someone once told me “you never know when it will be your last”, the last time they kiss you in front of their pals, the last time they’ll sit on your knee, the last time they will sleep in your bed… Cherish every moment.
  • Take them outdoors.  Mud pies, woodland walks, playing with sticks, building dens, laying in the sun, making daisy chains, playing games.  These things really matter.  Trust me.
  • Be grateful.  You have children when there are so many people in this world can’t.  Don’t take them for granted, love them, revel in them and celebrate them.

 

Sam xx

 

Getting back to what you love – reconnecting with nature

One of my fondest memories as a child is of my nannan’s garden. She grew flowers and plants that were beautiful, but also fruit and veg, I remember eating strawberries with her straight from the ground, our fingers and lips sticky and red with the juice.  My nannan’s garden and home was a place of love and joy, a time spent with all my cousins playing and having fun.  Even now, at almost 91, nan lives in the same house, and her garden is still filled with blooms.  I visit her every week and last week, she was saying how much she wishes she still had the energy to grow her own vegetables, but she is happy just being able to potter and look out on her plot.


When my kids were very small, we moved house to a new area that was much more rural and in our little garden, I started planting fruit and vegetables for us to eat. I had little idea what I was doing but grew easy plants such as tomatoes, peas and herbs. I loved being in the garden and really enjoyed seeing the kids eat straight from the veg patch as I had so many years before.

I love seeing them out in nature, getting dirty and having fun, the veg and plants are my joy, but for them it is just about playing and being outdoors, from mud pies to dens.  It was much easier when they were small to get them outside, now at 15, 13 and 11, it takes a little more persuasion, but once they are out, they get right back into it.

allotment sam cleasby sheffield gardening disability

Since those early days, I have slowly learnt more and more and grown more each year. I’m no expert and still rely heavily on gardening books and the Internet, but I feel so happy in the garden and so I just go with a trial and error tactic. The past 3 years have been tough with me not being physically strong enough to grow anything. I felt that planting things would end up as more work for Timm if I fell ill.

In January this year, I had another big surgery. I had my failing Jpouch removed, a permanent stoma formed and my butt removed.  The recovery was so hard and I couldn’t even bathe myself, I was bed bound and felt so weak.

We were in the middle of buying a house at the time that has an allotment in the garden. A dream come true but during my recovery, it became a source of immense anxiety.  I couldn’t imagine being strong enough to do the basics, let alone to plant and maintain a full allotment!

allotment sam cleasby sheffield gardening disability
It just seemed so unobtainable. I was so physically weak, just walking to the bathroom left me out of breath.  I was in so much pain and I felt helpless, useless and hopeless.

People told me to take one day at a time, to remember that my body was healing but that I would be stronger very soon.  I couldn’t imagine it. I could barely turn over in bed, how would I turn over an allotment’s worth of soil in the vegetable beds?

But I’m so pleased to say that here I am! My allotment is well on the way, with a lot of help from Timm with the heavier work and lots of time of seated planting and gentle, slow work, the garden is looking amazing!

allotment sam cleasby sheffield gardening disability

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far and we had a day in the lotty, it was so hot that I was in shorts and a bikini top. It’s quite private so I wasn’t worried about being overlooked, but as I worked away, I looked down at my bag and it made me realise just how far I have come.

allotment sam cleasby sheffield gardening disability
I am certainly not at full strength, my recovery is still continuing and I am still having some pains and niggles. I am being careful, I don’t push myself too hard and I listen to my body. But I am here doing it! It feels amazing and it makes me celebrate how far I have come.

allotment sam cleasby sheffield gardening disability

Four months ago, I was bed bound and could do nothing for myself, today I am up and about, getting stronger each day and making sure that I am doing the things that make me happy.

I’m being careful but I’m dog walking, I’m gardening, I’m spending more time outside in the fresh air and this is helping not only my physical health, but my mental and emotional health too.

allotment sam cleasby sheffield gardening disability

If you are struggling right now with poor health, just remember that things won’t always be so tough.  We have bad days, bad weeks, bad months even, but on the good days, we need to think about what will make us really happy and aim for that.

I’m a big believer that the outdoors is good for us, we need to try and get out every day.  Be it for 5 minutes sitting with the sun on your face or a walk or run.  It helps a lot when the weather is good, but being in the outdoors, especially woodland and countryside can really lift the mood.

I was reminded of the importance of this, this week, when I felt as though I had lost my kids to their computers and so we switched everything off and spent a day in the allotment.  At first they were grumpy, but very quickly, they started helping out, playing, building dens and more importantly, talking and laughing.  We are all so reliant on computers and phones, sometimes you just need to disconnect and reconnect with nature and family.

I know that can be easier said than done but today, if possible, turn off your computer, go outside and get back to something you love.

Sam xx

Happy Mothers Day

Dear Mum,

Happy Mother’s Day!

mothers day mother daughter relationships maureen sam cleasby

Just a post to say how grateful I am for everything you do for me and my family and to tell you we all love you very much.  No mother and daughter relationship is without it’s bumps and arguments, and ours is the same but I love you lots and just wanted to tell you how special you are to me.

mothers day mother daughter relationships maureen sam cleasby

Your help and support this year has been a life saver, thank you for looking after us all, caring for me and being there for all five of us.  There’s not many son in laws who love their mother in laws quite as much as Timm loves you and so this is from him too, he loves you Mo Mo!

mothers day mother daughter relationships maureen sam cleasby

Thank you for being an amazing nannan to my kids, you mean the world to them and you know how much Charlie adores you (“just move in nan!!”)  I adore the relationship you have with them, you are so special to them and they couldn’t love you more.  You are the best nannan ever.

mothers day mother daughter relationships maureen sam cleasby

I am sorry when I am not there for you, I know I am not the best daughter in the world (and we all know who your favourite is *COUGH AUSSIES!!* :P)  I know I don’t call as often as I should and I am a bit rubbish at keeping in touch but you are in my thoughts all the time.

You are totally bonkers and still manage to surprise me when you turn up to parties in a naked fat suit or dressed like Elvis Presley.  You can drink me under the table, your shot drinking is astounding and you kick ass at Beer Pong.

pop stars fancy dress

 

You’ve been through a lot and it’s not easy for you, I know.  But know we love spending time with you, our holidays are brilliant, whether it’s in this country or abroad.  I am really proud of you when you try new things and I still can’t believe we got you on a horse!!!

mothers day mother daughter relationships maureen sam cleasby

 

Thank you for always being there for us, your cooking is second to none and you know that when the kids come home from school and see your car in the drive, they run in shouting “YEY! Nan’s cooking curry!!!”

mothers day mother daughter relationships maureen sam cleasby

Thank you for all the cooking and cleaning when I was recovering from this surgery, for helping Timm and taking some of the strain.  Thanks for helping me to bathe, probably not something you thought you’d ever have to do again! And thank you mostly for sitting in bed with me and watching a whole season of Hell’s Kitchen! “That’s f**king RAW!”

mothers day mother daughter relationships maureen sam cleasby

Happy Mothers Day momma,

mothers day mother daughter relationships maureen sam cleasby

 

I love you,

Sam xx

Letter to my children

Hey bambinos,

It’s momma here, I thought I would pen you a note as you are all old enough to spend your days with your noses stuck to a phone/ipad/laptop and I know you sneak a peek at So Bad Ass from time to time.

Firstly (and always), mannnnn I love you guys so much.  Like, my heart swells and twists and pumps a little harder when I think about you.  You are my three proudest achievements, nothing I can do in my life will ever surpass the pride I feel when I know that a little bit of me and a little bit of dad managed to make these three human beings that are as mind blowingly awesome as you.

People talk about how I have coped with the past few years, all the surgeries, the hospital stays and the life changing additions and subtractions and I think they forget that you guys have been through it all too.  My heart breaks when I think about how my illness has hurt you all.  I am truly sorry that this has happened to us all, if I could have hidden it from you, I would.  I can never give you back the past few years and all the time we have lost with me in bed, I can’t replace the time you have spent visiting me in hospital, the hours that slipped away as I rest and heal and sleep.

sam cleasby family parent mother blogger

But I can thank you for it.  Bambinos, you are the best.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thank you for taking everything on board, for being accepting and loving and caring.

Thank you for asking hilariously awkward questions about my stoma and butt (never stop!)

Thank you for not being embarrassed of me (even when your friends saw a photo of me in my knickers on the internet)

Thank you for the endless cups of tea.

Thank you for the hugs.  Every one healed me a little faster.

Thank you for bringing your friends to see me in my sick bed at home and not being ashamed of me.

Thank you for giving up your free time to sit in bed with me watching terrible TV.

Thank you for making me laugh (even when it hurts my stitches) you three are the funniest human beings in the world.

Thank you for understanding.

Thank you for being you, you weird, bizarre, ridiculous, smart, funny, wonderful babies.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

I wish none of this had happened and that we could just be a normal, happy family, but I can’t change it and I just have to hope that we can gain some positive things from it all.  I know we are closer as a family, I know that your relationships with your dad have deepened so much and when I see you all together, it makes me smile.

I hope this situation has made you more open minded and accepting, I hope it has taught you patience and care and a knowledge to not judge a book by it’s cover.  I hope you are tougher for coming through the past few years and that you will learn to be more resilient, stronger and always try to find the silver lining in any situation.  (Even if that silver lining is a terrible joke, a meme about llamas or a memory of a good time).

It means so much to me that my bag doesn’t frighten or upset you, I know it was a shock in the early days, but I am so glad that you fully accept my ileostomy bag for what it is, a life saver.  After surgery, when you were all a little scared to come to close incase you hurt me, it shook me, I worried you would never want to hug me again, now I love the fact that you barely think about my bag and aren’t afraid to touch it, talk about it and even warm your hands on a very cold nighttime walk on it!! (Hahaha)

I want you to know that I am so proud of you all and the way that you have dealt with everything.  I know it was really scary that I had to go in to hospital again and it wasn’t nice to visit me and see all those tubes and wires everywhere, I know it was frightening when I wasn’t really with it because of all the medication.  You guys were awesome though, you made me laugh when you wore the sick bowls as hats and made me wear one too.  You brought me joy in those rubbish days when all I wanted was to be at home and every time I saw your faces, it reminded me to get strong quickly so I could get home to you all.

children and chronic illness ibd surgery

My bambinos, I know the past couple of months have been tough as hell.  Between my surgery and recovery, our bereavement, mine and dad’s work, your school life and the most stressful house move known to man (we’re nearly there, I promise!!!), it has been really hard and I know you have all been freaking out.  It makes me feel guilty to know you guys are stressed, I feel it is my job as a mum to protect you from stress, but unfortunately this is life and it’s a learning process for you to know that bad stuff happens, yup, even to good people.  But that’s ok.

You don’t appreciate the great times without lulls of crapness, we have had more than our fair share of crap times, I know.  But we also have something really special, we have us.  Our family is awesome, me, dad and you three flipping rock, we are just the best and we have to celebrate that.

Let’s hope that after a bad start to the year, 2016 will be beautiful.  I’m looking forward to our new home, to working in the allotment with you all, to parties and big dinners with the people we love, to your aunty, uncle and cousin visiting us from Australia, to a weekend in Manchester watching the Stone Roses, to visits to London, to galleries and exhibitions, walks in the park and cuddles on the sofa, to visits from nan and a house full of your friends, to hot tubs in the summer and ridiculous gatherings of our silly friends and especially to our family road trip to America!!

sam cleasby mum parent blogger

The thing I look forward to the most is seeing you lot grow and thrive, you are all getting so grown up and it is scary to think that you aren’t babies any more.  Two of you are teens and one will start secondary school this year!! You are all dealing with your own struggles, and bambinos, I know it is SO HARD! You are filled with hormones and emotion and are learning who you are as people, you are becoming the best young men and women that I have ever met.  Dad and I may be tough on you, we nag about work ethics and housework, manners and respect, it is only because we love you more than anything and we can see how close that horizon of adulthood is to you.  We can see it nearing day by day that in no time at all you will be leaving school, going to uni, travelling the world and leaving home.

But let’s not rush it eh? Let’s enjoy our time together because after all the s**t (yes, mum swore) we have been through, we deserve something good.

I love you bambinos

 

Mum x

It’s been a while… The bag is back

Hey guys, it’s been a while hasn’t it, but I thought it time to update on the big operation!

So I got a call on 5th January saying there had been a cancellation and asking if I could come in for surgery on the 6th. It was a big shock, but I agreed and headed in for 7am to the Northern General in Sheffield for my Jpouch removal and permenant ileostomy surgery.

I checked into the pre op ward, saw my surgeon and anaesthetist and was taken down to surgery at around 9am. I was having an epidural inserted for post op pain relief and unfortunately, it took a while, 7 attempts in total!  The anaesthetist was great, very friendly and warm, he chatted and apologised for the complications. He’d actually been my anaesthetist for the last big surgery and we’d had no issues previously.  I’d had plenty of local anaesthetic though so it was not painful at all. These things just happen sometimes!

So once that was in, I laid back and they began putting me under, I literally don’t remember a single thing! No counting down, just bang and out.

I awoke several hours later in recovery, I had zero pain and was just very, very tired. I ended up staying in recovery for a good few hours as my blood pressure was at 80/50 and there were concerns that it was too low. The nurses were lovely, I was just really dozy and sleepy and so I’m sure it was more worrying for others than me as I was snoozing!

I was taken up onto the ward and Timm was there waiting for me, I was totally out of it but pain free and happy. I don’t really remember much of his visit apart from being happy he was there. Apparently he took photos though!



The first couple of days went on a blur, I had an epidural for pain relief plus IV paracetamol, antibiotics and fluids to bring up my blood pressure.  I was a mass of tubes with three IVs in two canulas, oxygen into my nose, a catheter, a drain from my stomach and the epidural tube.  I had two big dressings on my tummy and my brand new Stoma. To be honest, it was all a bit much to take in.


Whilst I had the epidural in, I had no pain at all. But on day 3, the epidural came out and things all got a bit trickier. It was very painful but I had all manner of oral pain meds and it started to get under control. Mr Brown came to see me and said the op had been a success, that it had taken a long time and had been complex but he’d expected that. He was happy with the outcome and now I just need to recover from the op.

So what did they do?

My Jpouch, which was a bag formed from my small intestine and connected to my rectum, was removed completely.  They then took out my rectum and sewed up my anus. I’m now the proud owner of a Barbie Butt! I have no bum hole!!!

He then formed an end ileostomy, this Stoma is on my right side and is permenant.  So now I have my bag for life. The recovery has been hard going, I came home after 5 days and have been recouping in my own bed, which is so much better than being in hospital.

I have a few wounds to be dealing with so its quite tough. I have the wound in my bottom which feels like I’ve been kicked in the undercarriage (high five for using the word undercarriage), my wound in my stomach is 17cm long and goes from the top of my belly button straight down into my groin.  This is painful and when I stand, it feels like everything is going to fall out!  The top inch has opened up and so it’s being packed and dressed by the district nurse twice a week.  Then there is a 1.5 cm wound in my stomach where the drain was, this needs to heal from the inside out and so is open and slowly drying out.

Then there’s the new Stoma.

I am struggling. Mentally and physically.

Physically, I know what I’m doing and how to change bags and so that part is ok, but the stoma has come away from the skin on one side and has left a big hole into my abdomen. This is painful and makes it hard for the bags to stick.  The Stoma nurse says it happens sometimes, not to worry about it and that it needs to heal on its own. I can’t help but be concerned that it’s getting poo in it and will get infected but she says it will be fine.

This, in turn, has made my skin around the Stoma very raw, like an open sore. It hurts a lot and makes bags not stick so I then leak.  The leaks are soul destroying.  There’s nothing more dismaying than being covered in your own shit. It makes me cry and feel desolate.

I had a massive leak and couldn’t deal with it alone, I needed help to get my clothes off, I had to shower and I needed Timm’s help, though I didn’t want it. I cried as he sat me down and peeled off my soiled clothes, begging him to leave me to it, even though I know I needed the support. He was calm and loving and wiped away my tears, telling me everything would be OK.

I’m kind of surprised by my struggle. I thought that because I’ve had a Stoma before, that I’d be fine with it.  I’m not.

I don’t feel ready.  I change my bag but I hate seeing it, looking at it, touching it.  I wish I could ignore it completely.  I know this isn’t my usual happy and positive stance but it’s important that I’m honest.  And honestly, I feel sad, angry and frustrated.

It’s the knowledge that this is forever that hurts. That now there’s no going back and that till the day I die, I’ll have this bag.  I want to scream that it’s not fucking fair. I’m angry that this is the hand I was dealt, pissed off that I can’t have a normal, healthy body.

It’s early days though. I’ll learn to accept this and adapt to my new life.  You know why? Because I don’t have a choice. I don’t want to feel this sad forever and so I’m going to have to learn how to be happy with this change.

After a week at home recovering, we got some news that has shook everything. My grandpa passed away this week. It was unexpected and is a huge blow to us all.  I visited my mum, nannan and family, though it was physically tough, I was in a lot of pain and had a terrible leak on the way home but I’m glad I did as it felt right to be in their home and surrounded by family.

grandfather and granddaughter

So I am home and recovering.  I am an impatient patient, I just want to be back up on my feet and doing everything, but I know that I need to listen to my body, rest and heal.  It is so good to be back in my own bed rather than hospital, I have had so many lovely visits from friends and family.  Timm and the kids have been brilliant, and whilst Timm was at work last week, my awesome friend Caroline came over and looked after me for two days and then my mum came for four days.  They’ve cooked, cleaned, looked after the kids, cared for me and just been fantastic.  I couldn’t thank them more, they are both brilliant.

You don’t know just how lucky you are to have friends and family till you are broken and in need, we have both been blown away by the love that has been showered on us all as a family since the op.  We had three friends come over to the house when I was due out of hospital and cleaned up for us, changing bed sheets, hoovering and leaving my bedroom welcoming with flowers and candles.  We’ve had meals delivered to us, movies sent, chocolates, cards and flowers as well as people just coming to visit and sit with me.  Honestly, I am humbled, thank you to every one of you.

I have also had so many emails, messages, texts and phone calls from friends, family and readers of this blog, thank you so much, it means so much.

And so now I am just at the stage of resting, recovering, nurse visits and healing.  I still have quite a bit of pain and I’m on painkillers but it’s not so bad, I am still sleeping a lot and being upright and walking is hard work, I am sitting on donut cushions and have a million pillows in my bed to prop me up and surround me in order to get comfortable.  It is flustrating (my new word garnered from watching two whole series of Hell’s Kitchen, a mix between flustered and frustrated!) to be unable to just get up and do all the things I want to.  We are due to move house and so I really need to be packing, but I am instead pointing and things and asking others to pack for me.

But I will get there, I am sorry for my lack of blogging, this surgery was so big and scary and the recovery so tough, that I needed a little time off.  During the last operations and recovery, blogging had felt like therapy for me, this time I needed a bit more head space, but I am now back and will be writing about my recovery and life as So Bad Ass with a vengeance!

 

Sam xxx

Dear Santa,

Hey there big man, I thought I’d better jot down a quick note to say hi.  It’s that time of year again so I know your inundated but here’s what I’d like for Christmas.

My first wish was going to be for me to have no surgeries in 2016, but this damn illness of mine has scuppered that already and I’m going in January for a biggie!

They’re removing my Jpouch and creating a permanent ostomy. Some people might wish for Barbies at chrimbo, me? I’m getting a Barbie Butt.

barbie butt permanent ostomy

They’re going to remove everything and give me a new stoma, as well as sorting the other issues caused by all this illness.

It’s a long and complicated surgery, so Father Christmas, can I ask to come through it safely.  I’m scared you see and I just want to know that I’ll be ok and come home to my babies.

It would be nice if I had no other operations next year too, if you can manage it.

I’d also like to ask for an easier time in general. This year has been tough, I’ve been ill a lot and I hate the pressure it puts in my husband and kids.  They deserve a wife and mum who isn’t always ill, tired or in bed.

Whilst you’re at it, keep them healthy, happy and ridiculously weird.  They’re my favourite people in the world and I want to see them smile more.

family days out sheffield

Please let this surgery work. I just want to be well and not exhausted. I don’t think it’s too much to ask at 34 if you could stop me crapping myself.  I just want to be normal.  Not too normal!! I just don’t want to be sick any more.

Better treatments and a cure would be good too! Crohn’s and Colitis UK are doing well but a little festive, magical boost wouldn’t go amiss!

Help me to deal with all the new year is bringing me. I know I’ve had an ostomy before but this is all so permanent and to be honest, I’m scared I’m not going to deal with it very well. A sprinkling of bravery from you would help.

sam cleasby parenting blogger fathers self esteem

Santa, please bring me the courage to keep speaking out. Give me the ability to help others who are struggling and be a beacon of confidence, weirdness and hope for those following my footsteps with shitty chronic illness. Help me to carry on being The Poo Lady with pride.

I may not have been all good this year, but fingers crossed, I am still on the nice list!
Sam xx

I’m not sorry

My name is Sam Cleasby and I am not sorry.

I apologise constantly, I say sorry to people who bump into me in the street, I say “sorry to bother you” to people who serve me in shops, I apologise to the postman if I don’t get to the door immediately.  If I am offended by someones behaviour, I end up apologising for being over sensitive.  I even said sorry to the dog this morning.

I spend a large amount of my days saying sorry for things that I have no need to apologise for and that needs to stop.  I think it is a throwback to a Catholic upbringing filled with guilt or perhaps that I hate for people to dislike me, though I am learning to deal with it, I don’t like conflict, I have a fear of making others angry.

 

I grew up feeling quite insecure, I worried constantly about what others thought of me, worried that I wasn’t enough and maybe I always felt I have to apologise for my mere existence. So I say sorry.  A lot.

apologising too much

I hate that I apologise so much but it has become a kind of verbal tic, it comes out of my mouth before I even realise it.  It’s funny as I am a reasonably confident person yet the part of me that doesn’t feel enough comes sneaking out all too often.  And it’s not just me, according to a YouGov study a third of British people feel they apologise too much.

Saying sorry when you are in the wrong is the right thing to do and I am all about good manners but when you over apologise, it can give others the impression that you are not confident, are weak and easy to walk over.  Beverly Engel, a psychotherapist and the author of The Power of the Apology talks about how over-apologising can send a message that you’re ineffectual and have low self-esteem, she says “It can give a certain kind of person permission to treat you poorly, or even abuse you.”

 

I strongly believe that when you are in the wrong, an acceptance of your fault and a true, heartfelt apology goes a long, long way.  I have a real problem with people who don’t accept responsibility in their lives, those who think the world owes them a favour, I grew up with people like that, those whose favourite words are “it’s alright for you”.  People who no matter what, believe they are in the right.  And those people suck.  This isn’t about never saying sorry, just only saying sorry when we really are!

I am making a stand for myself and I am going to stop being such a walk over, I have always let things slide or apologised even when I am not in the wrong and I have had enough.  I am done with the people who treat me badly, done with saying sorry when I have done nothing wrong.  The next time someone bumps into me in the street I will not say sorry.  The next time someone upsets me, I won’t apologise for my feelings.

I have been through so much in the past few years with my health that I realise I need to start to care more about myself.  I need to put me first a lot more, I need to cut those who have hurt me, who don’t care about me, out of my life and I need to not say sorry for just being myself.  What my illness has taught me is that life is short, you don’t know how long you have on this Earth and so we need to live every moment to the fullest.  That means celebrating your time with people who bring love, joy and happiness into your life and not apologising for your existence.

My name is Sam Cleasby and I am not sorry.

Distance

Apologies for not being about much over the past few weeks, as much as i adore blogging and writing for So Bad Ass, as a mum of three I have to ensure bills can get paid and and so I have been super busy with other work.  It has been pretty lovely work though I have to say! I have been working as an artist for arts group Responsible Fishing UK running their creative workshops at Haven sites all over the UK, the project is called Camp Cardboard and entails hundreds of cardboard boxes and working with kids to transform huge spaces into giant dens/castles/boats/zoos/FBI headquarters/shops/homes/prisons, basically anything the children can imagine!  It has been brilliant fun but has meant quite a bit of time away from home, Timm and the kids.

My husband Timm is a director for Sheffield music festival Tramlines, which means that his summer has been jam packed with preparation and running of the event.  These things mean that our kids have been super busy and passed between the two of us as we attempted to resolve all childcare over the summer holidays.  We are ever so lucky that all our jobs are freelance, versatile and child friendly and on most occasions they can come along with one of us.  I am ever grateful to my mum who picks up the slack when we can’t make it work.

sam cleasby mum parent blogger

And so I suppose today’s post is about distance, both a physical distance and an emotional one.  Timm and I both have what we laughingly call Portfolio Careers, this basically means we are both freelance and work our butts off at any job that comes in! Timm is a photographer, he runs Responsible Fishing arts group, he is both director and main stage organiser at Tramlines and he teaches at a university for their Music Industry course.  I write for publications and websites, work for RF, help run the photography business, do public speaking and I am writing a book!  This makes for crazy scheduling but it does mean that we both work from home and both have time with our children and eachother.  Honestly, we would both like it to calm down some, the manic diary planning and time away from each other is hard going and we would both like a little more time.

I am not complaining.  Two years ago when I had my first surgery I couldn’t imagine how life could be something good, I was so low, so physically and emotionally broken.  I felt like I was in a black hole.  And so for now to have the physical ability to be working and traveling and doing things that I love, it is a real blessing.

love letter to yourself ileostomy jpouch ibd self happiness

The events of my life have made me a pretty tough cookie, yet I realise that my emotional strength relies very much on a connection with my husband.  I can get through ANYTHING as long as I have him with me in my heart.  I know this sounds so corny and feel free to make vomiting noises whilst you read, but after everything we have been through, our relationship has just solidified, our bond is so firm now and the connection between us is better than ever before.

So when we have weeks on end where one of us is working away, when the free days are spent heaping time and love on the kids as we deal with the working parent guilt, when we both have so much on our plates, it is so easy to feel distant and alone.  We have had lots of day to day stresses of late, cars breaking down magnificently, bills to be paid, plans to be laid and so time has been spent on all those rubbish grown up things.  The physical distance is one thing, but we have both had an emotional distance too as we both just try and wade through all our work load.

Through writing my book, I am churning up lots of feelings and emotions about my past, I feel quite fragile right now as all these events from my past come floating up to the surface and I have to deal with them all over again and this is really adding to my anxiety levels.  I am so chuffed to be writing the book, but I had not planned at all for this tsunami of feelings that it would bring with it!

Last week we finally got time to sit down and have a proper chat, we both talked about how little we have seen one another and how we felt we hadn’t connected properly for weeks. (Not a euphemism!!) Isn’t it amazing how a good talk can make everything feel a million times better?  The darkness and anxiety I was going through lifted immediately when I was with my boy, my shoulders raised and my head cleared when we had the time to discuss all that was going on.  Life just feels better.

rock n roll wedding

It is so easy to get caught up in life.  In all that adult, grown up crap that none of us really want to be dealing with but we just have to.  It is so easy to get into a rut, to go day in, day out in a monotonous grey drabness.  It is so easy to get so deep into your work that you forget to look up and see the colours around you.  So this week, take a moment, look around you at the people who matter.  Go for a walk with your kids, have a nice meal with your partner, go out with your friends.  Do something to reconnect with the most important people in your life, do something to close the distance that the boring stuff causes.

This week, go do something beautiful with someone wonderful.

 

 

Sam xxx

 

 

Happy Anniversary

Today is our 11th wedding anniversary!

We married in Las Vegas in 2004 and renewed our wedding vows last year and I couldn’t be happier.

Life isn’t always plain sailing and we have had our moments of struggle, but we came through everything stronger than before and that Cleasby bloke and I, when we are together, we are a force to be reckoned with.

Over the last 2 years of surgeries, recovery and change, Timm has been my rock. The one person I can tell it all to, the one to hold my hand, to make it all better and to love me harder than ever before. He became my carer for a while and did it with love, sensitivity and respect.

sam cleasby timm cleasby

People tell me I am strong. But I am only strong because Timm is my roots, he holds me tall and supports my growth.

When life is good, he walks by my side, both of us smiling into the sun. But sometimes life just gets so heavy, my shoulders aren’t broad enough to carry the weight, that is when he steps in and scoops me up. When I need him to, he will carry the weight of both of us and does so with a smile. Then as it gets easier, he sets me down and we carry on our path together.

 

 

IMG_6601.JPG

 

I just hope that when he needs me, I will carry him in the same way.

Happy anniversary to my favourite person in the whole world.

Sam x

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