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Clothes and Ostomies

One of the most common questions I get sent to me is about what clothes to wear when you have an ostomy.  People asking if they can ever wear ‘normal’ clothes again, how to hide your bag, what underwear is best and how to still feel like themselves.

My answer is usually that you can wear anything you like! There are no hard and fast rules, it is about personal preference, some people don’t mind if you can see the bag, others want to mask it.  I think the only thing that affects my clothes choices is comfort.  I want to wear things that I am comfortable in and feel amazing.  Amazing for me feels like wearing something that I love, that also fits well around my stoma and means I can go about my day without paying too much attention to my ostomy bag.

Now I am a permanent ostomate and will have this bag forever, it has meant a reshuffle of my wardrobe and some new clothes.  I started by going through all my current clothes and chucking out EVERYTHING that doesn’t fit well around my stoma, this was pretty depressing and I have to admit, I had a little cry.

It all felt so FINAL to give away my favourite trousers.  But those fave trews have a waistband that sit directly on top of my stoma, I tried wiggling them lower or pulling them over the top but neither worked.  I had to accept that my stoma ain’t moving so what is the point in keeping the trousers?

Then I went shopping! YEY!  Last time I had a stoma, I found that maternity trousers are awesome for life with an ostomy, especially those that have the stretchy panel attached to them and so I hit H&M and bought two pairs of maternity jeans and a pair of maternity leggings.  I also find that a slightly longer than usual top makes me feel tons more comfortable and so searched for tops that made me happy.

So this was my going shopping outfit.  A long stripy skirt, the waistband sits above my stoma and a longer black top with a scarf.  It’s super comfy without being too casual and if you’re concerned about showing the bulge, the scarf hides everything.

Top – George at Asda

Skirt and scarf – Primark

clothes and ostomy ileostomy colostomy fashion clothes and ostomy ileostomy colostomy fashion

clothes and ostomy ileostomy colostomy fashion

 

Onto my bought items, this is maternity jeans and a tight fitting top that is just a bit longer than usual.  I don’t mind if the outline of my bag shows and I am happy to wear tight fitting clothes.  I know some people are more self conscious but I find that no one cares! And if anyone notices, I am happy to tell them about my bag.

You can see the panel and wear it sits with regard to my ileostomy bag.  I love that it keeps everything tucked against my body and it feels safe.  You can also see it from the side.

MAMA super skinny jeans – H&M £24.99

Conscious Long Sleeve Jersey top – H&M £7.99

clothes and ostomy ileostomy colostomy fashion

clothes and ostomy ileostomy colostomy fashion

clothes and ostomy ileostomy colostomy fashion

clothes and ostomy ileostomy colostomy fashion

 

I also went in for some maternity black leggings.  Leggings are great for going under anything and these make me feel the bag is kept tucked against my body so when I wear a dress or top over, it’s not flapping about!

MAMA Leggings H&M £7.99

ostomy and fashion

 

Outfit three was more maternity jeans, black this time and a loose fitting shirt.  I love this outfit as I just feel like myself in it, I can see myself wearing it around the house or going out with the kids.  It’s so comfortable too, I hate wearing joggers, I feel like Waynetta Slob in them and so a comfy, relaxed outfit that I feel like ‘me’ in is just brill.  Again, it’s easy to shove a scarf over for those times when your bag fills up instantly and you look like you’re smuggling a bag of potatoes…

MAMA jeans H&M – £24.99

Cotton Shirt H&M – £14.99

Scarf Primark – £3

clothes and ostomy ileostomy colostomy fashion

clothes and ostomy ileostomy colostomy fashion

This next outfit made me smile, it is a dress I bought pre surgery and I wondered how it would fit me now.  I teamed it with my new black maternity jeans and pumps and I felt like me again!

Dress M&S (About) £30

clothes and ostomy ileostomy colostomy fashion

 

So there we go, my first post ostomy shopping trip.  It may just seem like a couple of pairs of jeans but to me it was the start of getting back to feeling like myself.  I have spent weeks recovering in pyjamas and to now be back in ‘human’ clothes feels amazing.

I really enjoyed sharing my clothes ideas and after receiving a few emails recently from women who feel they can’t wear what they want I think I may share some other fashion posts again.  I am a size 16, 34 year old woman, I know I am no clothes horse but I love fashion and I want other people with an ostomy to know that no matter your condition, your size or your age, you can wear whatever the f**k you want.  Fashion is about fun and expression, the only person it matters to whether your clothes look good is you.

Your style and fashion with an ostomy may have to adapt, you might have to think twice about where that waistband sits, but it is not the end of the world and you can still look and feel like yourself again.  You may want to flaunt your bag, hide it or care neither way, but there is a style of clothes that will fit you and make you feel awesome again. You just need to look for it.

 

Sam xx

When XL is not big enough

Are you a size 12? You are EXTRAAAAAA LAAARRRRRGGGGEEEEEEEE…

16? Give up all hope.  20? Get in the fucking sea.

I am clothes shopping for the party season at the minute and having to shop online as I don’t feel well enough to go out.  I hate internet clothes shopping as I know even in a shop, I can take 10 items into a changing room and not find anything that suits and so buying online when I can only look at a skinny model, lit beautifully in a studio and shot by a great photographer is far from ideal.

I am convinced nothing will fit me and so decided I had better check my sizing with this online store.  It turns out that their size XL is a 12.  A fucking 12!

blogger sam cleasby plus size

I’m XXL yo…

45% of UK women are a size 16 or over so why is it that so many shops are refusing to cater for the market?

I really don’t understand why some stores are just ignoring the needs of so many, even if you forget all about shitting on women’s self esteem, surely it is just good business sense to ensure you have products that almost half your market can use?

It does make me feel like crap when I realise that I am classed as abnormally large in the eyes of some.  I am a size 16 and cannot shop in some places as they just don’t have ranges in my size.  If you are larger than a 16, you are basically ignored!

Talking to the world of twitter, I can see it is not just me who is struggling with this.  Many companies are classing XL as either a 12 or a 14.  Lots of athletic wear simply do not go up to larger sizes meaning those who are gym bunnies or runners are really struggling to find appropriate training clothes.

I’m a big fan of Simply Be who do a range between sizes 12-32.  Their clothes aren’t your ‘typical’ plus size wear, in the past anything aimed at women a 16 and over have been old fashioned, frumpy or basically ugly tents.  Simply Be have an amazing range that is no different to any other great fashion store apart from that they actually fit!

It is simply shit business sense to alienate your market, so why do women’s fashion stores do it? Women are all different shapes and sizes so why leave out a big chunk of those women by not giving them the clothes they want to wear?

sam cleasby so bad ass parliament ibd blogger

You see it in store, there are always tons of size 6’s and 8’s left on the hangers whilst the bigger sizes fly out.  Does this not tell you something? They seem to stock far more of the smaller sizes when the statistics show that many women are larger, and get larger with age.  Where is the money? It is with older women in their 30’s and 40’s, who are more likely to be a size 12 or over.

This isn’t about fat vs thin.  We should cater for ALL women, whether they are a size 6 or a size 26 (and beyond!!!), this is about making a vast proportion of women feel shit about themselves because they can’t shop in the average store.

Let’s hope that shops start to realise this and begin to stock clothes for all.  And stop with the ridiculous sizing charts.  A size 12 should never be classed as Extra Large, ever.

And for the record, one size does not fit all.

 

Sam x

"Feminist" underwear

I saw this post last week about ‘feminist underwear’ and was immediately intrigued.  “Feminist lingerie is the body positive underwear we’ve been waiting for” screamed the headline, now as you know I am both a proud feminist and also a big champion of women being body positive and so I clicked on the link, unsure as to what I was about to see.  Neon Moon is a kickstarter fund to create a feminist lingerie brand that does not sexualise or objectify girls.  All good so far, right?

“By taking the time to support Neon Moon’s campaign you are making a statement to the world that you want change, and your voice will be heard!” – Hayat Rachi, CEO and Founder of Neon Moon… Ok, fab, tell me more!

Using ‘real’ models these bra and knickers are supposedly promoted with an ethos of empowerment, body confidence and the non-objectification of women.  Models were asked not to shave and were chosen for their average sizing and there is no photoshopping in the adverts.

Neon Moon lingerie feminist underwear

Photograph – Via Pinterest Neon Moon

The premise of the bras sounds great, yet I have a few issues with the actual products.  They have no underwires and use soft cup bamboo fabrics and disturbingly the size Large is just a UK 12-14.

As a size 16 myself I am upset and to be honest, appalled, that this ‘feminist brand’ is not including women who are at the UK average size.  I think part of the issue with body issues and fashion is feeling that you are not catered for.  This brand can’t profess to be about body confidence whilst telling their audience that being a size 12 is large and if you are a 16 or over that you cannot buy this product.

The collection “does not incorporate any padding, push-up, or wired attributes, the Bamboo fabric and shape is designed to work around the body, instead of the other way around.”

I have a huge issue with the idea that underwired and more supportive underwear is in some way against feminism? I have massive boobs, these puppies need support.  Not to make me attractive to other people, not to present my breasts in a certain way, but because the flesh in my breasts feels better when it is in a supportive, underwired bra.

When we come to the idea of advertising in a way that doesn’t sexualise women, I feel a little confused.  Who is decided what is sexualised these days? If you are showing items of clothes that fit around genitals and breasts then you are probably going to get someone who finds any image a bit sexy.  Asking the models not to shave seems a bit patronising to me, as if hairy pits are the epitome of what a feminist is.  I am a huge fan of using models of all different sizes and shapes but it feels awkward for this company to have used women who aren’t a typical model 6 but then not cater to the larger women out there.

My other issue is that I feel the brand is suggesting that if you wear lacy or silky undies, that you are in some way not a feminist.  I can assure you that the style of my knickers does not affect my beliefs that men and women should be treated equally.  Women’s rights are about choice, and if I choose to wear a black satin bra or a ruffled lace knickers and stockings, it is not because I want to perform sexually for men.  I wear them because I want to, because they make me feel beautiful.  The idea that I have to wear bamboo, ugly, ill fitted underwear to be a strong woman is laughable!

This feels like a company using the idea of feminism to sell a product and that kind of sucks.  The company have reached their goal on the kickstarted page and so perhaps they will develop their ideas and sizing further, but I am afraid currently Neon Moon is not for me, not only because I can’t fit my ass in their pants and that I would knock out small children if I attempted to wear their bras but because I just don’t like the product.

I am ALL about the body confidence, but that means choice.  I can choose to wear the sexiest underwear out there, it is not a reason for others to make a judgement on me.

Size wise, all companies need to realise that they can’t refuse to cater for a large section of society without pissing those people off!

What do you think?

 

Sam xx

 

The wedding dress saga

In September this year, my husband Timm and I are renewing our wedding vows after being married for ten years and together for sixteen years! We married in May 2004 in Las Vegas, we had originally planned a big white wedding at home, but the stress of everyone else trying to dictate our day just got too much and so we eloped and were married by the king…

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It was such a fantastic day, we married at the Viva Las Vegas wedding chapel, I wore a red and white floral dress and in the evening we ate at the Stratosphere in their revolving restaurant . It was pretty much perfect.

We decided to renew our vows a couple of years ago. Partly because we have just changed so much in ten years, partly because we wanted to share it all with our friends and family and partly because we wanted a big party! Then after the past year of illness, surgery and recovery, our wedding renewal has become such a big thing, it’s the thing that’s kept me going through bad times and given me something to look forward to.

The first thing I thought about was my wedding dress. As I didn’t wear one the first time round I was adamant that this time I wanted a ‘proper’ gown. When I looked at dresses I realised that the ones I liked were around £1,000 and I knew I couldn’t spend that much money. After not working for our business for long periods of time whilst recovering I just can’t warrant spending that much money on a dress I’ll wear once. We have three kids and a business to run, it just doesn’t seem right.

Then I saw dresses from China on eBay at a massive reduction. The dress I fell in love with was just £90. Now I always think if something seems too good to be true then it probably is. But asking around a lot of people said they knew people who’d had dresses from China and they were fantastic. So I risked it and sent my measurements along with £90 through PayPal to an eBay seller.

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I received an email saying they’d got my measurements and payment and the my dress would be with me by 26th July. Shortly after, I got an email from eBay saying the item had been removed but if I had paid then I would still receive the dress. I was panicked but they assured me I would still get it.

I then saw that the seller had been removed!!! Again eBay said that the item should still come and nothing could be done till after the date of delivery had passed. So I crossed my fingers and toes and waited…

My dress hasn’t come.

I’m now five weeks away from the wedding and have no dress. I cried a lot yesterday, that may seem daft as I know it’s only a dress but I’d set my hopes on it and had these dreams of walking down the aisle in it. The last year has been so hard, two major surgeries and a body full of scars mean that though I fight hard to remain positive, sometimes my body makes me sad. It looks so war beaten, so battered and forlorn.

I thought in wearing this dress, that for the first time in a long time I would feel really beautiful. I thought people will look at me and see a bride, not a patient. They won’t think about scars and ileostomy bags, no one will be thinking ‘there goes the lady who talks about poop’. I know this is silly. A dress is a dress. But I had pinned all these hopes and dreams onto this dress and now it’s not here.

I wanted something special for Timm. He has been my carer for so long and in the last year he has seen me at rock bottom, he’s watched me as a broken woman, full of scars and wounds. He’s had to wash me and carry me, he has cleaned me when I’ve had accidents and literally supported me on the toilet when I was too weak. I wanted him to see me and for none of that to be in his mind. Does this sound silly? I wanted him to be blown away when he saw me, for me to look nothing like the sad crying woman he had to push in a wheelchair. I wanted to look like a bride.

I now don’t have enough time to get a dress from a bridal shop even if I had the money. I’m limited by budget and time to high street off the peg dresses or second hand. I’m sure I’ll find something but I can’t help but feel really sad. My friends have rallied and today we are off shopping to see what I can find.

I need to remember that this wedding is about how much Timm and I love each other. A dress won’t change that and after all we have been through, this is but a tiny blip. Our wedding will be a fantastic day because we will be there together.

I’ll remember that and repeat it to myself all day.

Love Sam x

*UPDATE*

I opened a resolution case with eBay, after 8 days the seller hadn’t responded so I escalated the case.

I just received an email from eBay saying they have closed the case and I won’t be getting a refund.

WTF? I’m gutted.

This is the confirmation I got from the seller…

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Then I got this from eBay…

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This is the one I got today, no explanation!!!

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If anyone can help or advise I’d be very grateful 😥

Ostomies and Swimwear – A survey

I was contacted by Charlotte from DMU in Leicester who is doing a project to make lingerie/swimwear for a purpose.

She says “Me and my group have decided that we want to design swimwear that is more suitable to stoma patients as well as concealing the bag within the swimwear and keeping it fashionable.”

I have never managed to find ostomy swimwear that suited me, I do like the idea of having a pouch that holds my bag safely against me but all the swimwear I have seen have been in fabric I thought was ugly and cheap looking, so Im thrilled that students are thinking about this issue for ostomates.

ileostomy bag and fashion swimwear

The group have made a survey to help them in their studies.

I have filled in the survey, but if any of you can take a couple of minutes to fill it in, that would be great!

 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NQXHJGY

 

Love Sam xx

Fashion tips for women with ileostomy or colostomy bags

One of the questions I get asked a lot is how do you choose clothes to wear with your ileostomy bag, and so I thought Id do a little post on the question…

Its a funny one because my first reaction is ‘Wear whatever the hell you want to” and that is my general rule.  But there are a few things I wear for comfort and ease…

1. Maternity trousers

I know, I know, wearing maternity trousers when you aren’t pregnant seems awful, but they are FANTASTIC.  You can get a ton of different styles these days from most high street stores and they are really affordable.

I went for maternity jeans because from the crotch down they look like any other pair of trousers, but that soft stretchy band above makes them super comfortable and holds your bag snugly against your stomach so it just feels so safe.  Wearing these means I happily wear jeans and a vest and don’t even think about my bag.

2. Don’t feel that you have to hide it

The fact is that sometimes you will be able to make out the shape of your bag under your clothes, but seriously who cares?  What is the absolute worse that will happen? Someone will ask you what it is, you tell them.  The End.  Wear what make you feel good, if you can see the bag, own it and make it awesome…

ileostomy bag and fashion

I love this tshirt and didn’t want to go bigger and get a baggy top, I know you can see the shape of my bag through and so what!

ileostomy bag and fashion

I bought this is Australia and its totally see through… I think Im rocking it!

3.  In there like swimwear

I looked at a few ileostomy swimming costumes and never found one I liked and so I just wear what I already have! On the beach or sunbathing I am happy to wear a bikini and just let is all hang out…

ileostomy bag and fashion swimwear ileostomy bag and fashion having fun swimwear ostomy stoma

If I want to cover up on the beach, or at the local swimming pool I wear a one piece, if you are bothered about people seeing it, go for a large pattern.

ileostomy bag and fashion swimwear

4. Tight fitting clothes.

You had your bowel removed, you did not become a nun.  If you liked wearing tight fitting clothes before there is no reason you can’t still wear them.  It comes down to confidence and self esteem – your bag has probably saved your life, its not something to be ashamed of, wear what makes you feel amazing.

ileostomy bag and fashion

5. Loose women

If you want to go baggy then do it, but do it because you love the dress, not because you want to cover everything up.

ileostomy bag and fashion

6. In the bedroom

I don’t usually talk about ‘bedroom stuff’ just because it isn’t really something I want my mum or kids to read, but regarding clothes Ill talk a bit.  There are some specialist lingerie sets for ostomates, I have had a look and to be honest they aren’t for me.  There are specialist wraps but in a way I find them a little bit offensive, its like saying I need to cover up my bag for my partner to find me sexually attractive.

I tend to wear a vest in bed because I feel more comfortable when my bag is close against my skin, but honestly, with the right partner, you really don’t need to worry about what you are wearing in the bedroom.  I think sex is about trust and respect, if my partner didn’t want to see my bag during sex, he probably wouldn’t be the right partner for me.

7. Underwear

I tend to wear big panties, you know the high waisted ones, I do this because I prefer to have the cotton between my skin and the bag.  Its total personal preference, you can buy specialist underwear that has a pouch in it for your bag.  I haven’t bothered with these so far as Im comfortable in what I have.

8. Wear what makes you feel amazing…

This is the main point.  Clothes are such a personal choice, there is little reason for you to change your style because of your bag.  There are a few things I avoid nowadays because of the position of my stoma, waistbands need to go above or below my stoma to feel comfortable.  I’d never stop wearing something that I loved unless it was ridiculously impractical or uncomfortable.

ileostomy bag and fashion

Wear what makes you feel awesome and amazing, you deserve it xxx

Love Sam xxx

I forgot about my bag!

I can often be forgetful.  I once found our house phone in the vegetable drawer of the fridge but today I did some good forgetting.

forgetful

 

We went out today to look at new cars, I changed my bag this morning and now Im getting more adept at it, it took just a few minutes.  I got dressed in clothes from a wardrobe that I have removed EVERYTHING that doesn’t work with my ileostomy bag and so it was stress free and fast.  Then we went out.  A few hours later we stopped with the kids for some lunch at McDonalds, I ordered my food and sat and ate…

Then all of a sudden I remembered about my bag.  For the first time in almost 8 weeks I had forgotten all about it, I hadn’t thought about it once since I had changed it in the morning!  I know this may not sound like much but when you spend so much time thinking about it, cleaning, changing, worrying about leaks, feeling it to see if its full and needs emptying, worrying if others can see it, or even worse smell it, the realisation that it hadn’t crossed my mind for a few hours was amazing!

I have changed bags and Im using Dansac Nova 1 EasiFold Convex (Ref 841-25) and it is amazing, it fits so well and is the only bag that has worked for me.  My stoma is quite close to both my belly button and to my scar which makes it very difficult to find a bag that sticks properly to my skin.  This bag has a diamond shaped flange that is fabric and so it fits snugly and perfectly around my belly button.  The leaks from the other bags were really affecting my confidence and self esteem as well as my sleep!  So to finally have a bag that works is life changing.

If you had told me a few weeks ago that I would go out for the day and actually forget that I had a stoma and bag, I would have laughed in your face.  Im just so glad that within two months I am able to start having something of a normal life back, that it is so much easier now and that I have my confidence back!

 

Love Sam xx

First day out after surgery

Tomorrow my eldest son becomes a teenager!!! Surely I’m not old enough for this? I still feel like a teen myself never mind mother of a teen!

So today we needed to go shopping for his birthday presents, everything is last minute because of the manic last three weeks. Timm was happy to go alone to get everything but as I’m feeling stronger each day I thought today could be the day to get out of the house!

It felt so good to dry and straighten my hair for the first time in three weeks. I had it cut by a lovely local mobile hairdresser last night so I immediately felt better. My hair has been scraped up in a bun and gripped back for weeks, totally neglected and due to meds and surgery was feeling dry, brittle and was snapping off on the ends.

I put on some make up and then faced my wardrobe…

I’ve been worrying quite a bit about clothes. I’m just not sure what to wear, trousers need to go under or allllll the way over my stoma and bag. Underneath is fine but then tops need to be long enough to cover the bag. Tight tops like vests would be perfect but they all seem a little short. Long tops or dresses cover the bag but then I feel like its kind of swinging freely which doesn’t fill me with confidence.

My mum suggested getting some if those over the bump maternity trousers. At first the thought of having to wear maternity clothes depressed the life out of me. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.

So today I wore I pair of high waisted, wide legged trousers. They were just the right height on my waist and kept everything tucked tight against my stomach. And a black vest with a stripy cardi. It felt great to be back in ‘real’ clothes. I felt more like myself today.

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Ileostomy bag wise – I’m currently using a two piece system. I chose the midi bag today over the maxi that I’ve been wearing since the op. I do have some mini but I worried about how often I’d have to empty that so went down the middle. If anyone has questions about the bags, please feel free to ask. Ill do a post about them soon.

So off to Meadowhall we went!

I was really nervous, I was worried my bag would leak and generally just worried about being out in public! I worried Id be knocked into or maybe I’d fall. It’s an odd sensation to be out somewhere so busy after spending so much time in hospital or at home. Timm was with me and made sure I took it slowly and best of all, he carried all the bags!!

I took a spare kit with everything Id need to change the whole bag plus a set of clothes just in case.  It made me realise that I would feel a lot more confident if I knew I could use the disabled loos.  Partly for the space and partly as they have a basin in the cubicle so if there were any issues I could deal with it all in private.  Definitely need to get one of the disabled loo keys

We went for lunch at Eds American Diner, the food was great and if you go to their site and sign up to their club, you can get a free burger and then we got Charlie’s birthday pressies.

We then went to H&M where I bought two pairs of maternity jeans. They are perfect!! The waist band sits on my hips under the stoma but the elasticated top goes over the stoma and bag holding it close against my body. I’m not necessarily trying to hide the bag but trying to make it both comfortable and allow myself to feel confident. When it’s held against my body it feels safe. When it feels safe, I feel a lot more confident!!

Also got a new pair of boots because… well I think I deserve them!

All in all its been a great day with a big move forward.  Im tired out tonight but it was all worth it.

Love Sam xx

And sometimes you need to wear sequinned knickers…

Today I wore clothes for the first time in almost three weeks!

Three weeks of jamas!!!!

And to make me feel better I just had to wear the sequinned knickers…

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You can see the top of my scar here now the staples are out. It’s pretty big but scars are cool, right?!

My bag is HUGE, they give you the biggest easiest ones to learn how to deal with them in the early days. I’ve seen the ones I could move onto and they look tons better, easier to disguise, easier to fit under clothes.

And sometimes you just need to wear sequinned knickers…

Love Sam xx