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Recovery: in pictures

The past few weeks have been tough, recovering from an emergency surgery that knocked me off my feet.  During this time, I have had so little control and I have been unable to do much for myself, which has been so difficult.  But I am so lucky to have my Timm who has been there through it all, he has bathed me, cooked for me, sang to me, sorted my medication and just been my hero.  I’m also lucky to have a budding photographer in my child Eli, who has snapped a few shots during this very rough time.

Enjoy.

recovery surgery partner help to bath

recovery surgery partner help to bath

recovery surgery partner help to bath

dosette box medicine box

TED stockings surgical stockings

TED stockings surgical stockings

cup of tea recovery nurse

timm cleasby

holding hands matching dr who tattoos

sam and timm cleasby

get well soon

holding hands

playing guitar feel better

playing guitar feel better

playing guitar feel better

All images by Eli Cleasby from Timm Cleasby Photography

 

Love Sam xx

Are photo shoots naff when you have teenagers?

I LOVE photographs, I have thousands, both on my phone, on hard drives, in albums, on the walls and in boxes hidden away.  I adore looking through them and remembering brilliant times and revelling in just how small and precious the kids were.  Now they are teenagers.  And honestly, they don’t really want me to photograph them ever.  I have to steal their photos off instagram…

My husband is a photographer and though he takes beautiful images, he rarely has time to shoot us and I doubt the kids would stand for it anyway. Plus, if he is photographing us, then he isn’t in the shot!

And so, you can imagine their faces when I told them that I had booked a family photo shoot for us all.  “Muuuummmmmmmmm it’s so flipppinngggg weeirrdddddd!” “WHHHYYYYYYY??? You know what we look like!!!” and my favourite “Im not doing one of those all pile on photos where the dad lays on the bottom and then you stack up in height order…”

all pile on awkward family photo

Photo: Awkward Family Photos

And then the day came around and I drove four miserable faces out to Kelham Island in Sheffield to meet our photographer Corinne from Corinne Hills Photography.  She is a personal friend of ours, and I knew her relaxed and natural style would fit in so much better with our family than any white background shot or weird posing.

Corinne usually shoots in very natural settings, she is a forest schools teacher and so is usually found in the woods playing with sticks and making fires and so I knew I was pushing her slightly in wanting an urban setting for our shoot, but we agreed that it would be the same as her other work.  We’d go for a walk and she would quietly photograph us.

I was a bit worried that it might be weird or naff, that it really was something you only did with little kids.  But I couldn’t have been more wrong, it felt natural and easy and the images of my beautiful kids in their teen years (Thom is nearly there at 12, Ellie is 14 and Charlie is 16) made me cry. She captured the reality of our family, the silliness and the imperfections, she caught the moment I accidentally hit Ellie in the face and the repercussions of that! She caught my children’s personalities and their quirks and the photos make my heart swell.

If you would like Corinne to photograph your family, get in touch through www.corinnehillsphotography.com though you may have to wait a while as she is laid up with a broken ankle and is very pregnant! But I guarantee you, it will be worth the wait!

Enjoy!

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

Love Sam xx

 

Back to work!

At six weeks post surgery I made the decision that I wanted to start working again. Luckily I work from home, I run a photography company with my husband Timm called The Picture Foundry Timm has been carrying the weight of the business for the last couple of months and so I wanted to try to get back into the office.

It was great as there was no pressure from Timm, I knew I could do just as much as I felt comfortable with and could go back to bed whenever I needed to.

20140627-081254-29574118.jpg

 

It feels good to be back in the office, laying in bed all day may sound heavenly but when it is not through choice it isn’t much fun.  Its lonely and doesn’t help self esteem.  I needed these six weeks as before now I just haven’t been able to think about anything other than pain, tiredness and poo.  I have been on heavy painkillers that make my mind fuzzy and running to the toilet frequently.

But now things are starting to improve massively and so I want to be back in the chair. I want to be working and I want Timm to have a tiny bit of pressure taken off him.

It is so easy to get into a habit of not moving about and by the end of my first day in the office I was in quite a bit of pain just from being sat up rather than laid down.  The muscles in my stomach, back and legs have already forgotten how to just be upright for most of the day!! I am sat on my frankly hilarious donut cushion which really helps in the butt department.

I know I am so lucky, I have worked for other people before and it hasn’t worked out due to my illness and toilet issues, I honestly couldn’t imagine having to go back to a full time external job right now, but as a self employed person I have the benefits of being at home and having the full support of my husband in our day to day work.

I am taking it easy and Im not taking on too much, I will be sensible and Timm wouldn’t let me do anything he thought would hinder my recovery.  It feels good though.  I feel like I have a worth and Im not just a patient…

Love Sam xx

My brave body is no less beautiful because of its scars

My ileostomy is part of me and my scars , stoma and bag make my body no less beautiful than a body without.

If you have an ostomy, be proud of it, own it, love it. It probably wasn’t part of your life plan but it’s here now and you need to accept it and know it is saving your life.

My ileostomy bag is not unattractive, it’s not scary looking or disgusting.  I love the softness and femininity of these images, the lines of my body and lines of my bag become one.

I’m proud of my body and it’s strength, I celebrate my ostomy by showing the world that beauty is not about perfection, beauty is in everything, if only we can have a mind that is open to it.

woman with ileostomy bag beauty art empowerment confidence

woman with ileostomy bag beauty art empowerment confidence

woman with ileostomy bag beauty art empowerment confidence

Love Sam x

Living with my ileostomy bag – Photo shoot

I know I have been a little quiet of late but the honest reason is that life is all going quite smoothly at the minute.  My stoma and ileostomy bag are behaving and life is getting back to normal… Actually better than how I was before as I no longer have any symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis.  No pain, no meds and no constant running to the loo!

Living with a photographer has its benefits, one of which is having him on hand to photograph me when I ask!  This shoot was kind of unplanned and was just around the grounds of our studio at The Picture Foundry.  Our chickens are limelight whores and decided to jump into a few of the shots.

I think the shoot shows that Im in a good place at the minute, I feel relaxed, happy and kind of proud of my little bag.

Enjoy xx

 

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

 

 

 

Love Sam xx

I am an IBD Warrior, hear me roar…

When I was in hospital after my surgery I happened upon the hashtag IBD Warrior and seeing and reading other people’s IBD journeys, their struggles and ultimately the way they overcome what is such a shit illness inspired me and gave me the strength to move forward and to blog about my own journey.

So when I had my stoma photo shoot, we also did quite a few other photos with different styles.  The last few months have been tough but through it all I have tried to stay strong, keep fighting, be a kick ass woman and an IBD Warrior.

We all have an inner strength, sometimes that strength shows itself through having to fight for your life, sometimes its in a quiet confidence, at other times it is having to speak out for what is right or in being strong enough to just get through bad times one day at a time.  Even when we feel weak and defeated, we have within us the ability to adapt, to change and to move forward.  Sometimes it is easier to find than others.  Sometimes its so hard to find that we have to speak to friends or family and borrow a little bit of their strength till we can remember where our own warrior is hiding.

The next time I feel frightened and like the world is against me Ill look at these shots and remind myself of how far I have come and that I am an IBD warrior.  Hear me roar…

ibd warrior inner strength confidence ostomy ileostomy bag

ibd warrior inner strength confidence ostomy ileostomy bag

ibd warrior inner strength confidence ostomy ileostomy bag

ibd warrior inner strength confidence ostomy ileostomy bag

ibd warrior inner strength confidence ostomy ileostomy bag

ibd warrior inner strength confidence ostomy ileostomy bag

All photography by Timm Cleasby at The Picture Foundry

Love Sam xx

Stoma and Ileostomy photoshoot

When surgery became a possibility I did what we all do these days and googled it… THAT was a mistake (seriously don’t google stomas, you’ll give yourself nightmares!!)

Many images are medical, none are particularly flattering, most are terrifying.

Since having my subtotal colectomy and ileostomy I have realised that neither is anywhere near as frightening as I thought they would be.  My bag is barely noticeable and my stoma is kind of cute to be honest!

I had two separate emails from women recently, one saying she had a stoma and an ileostomy a few years ago and didn’t leave the house for six months till she had the takedown surgery.  And another from a woman due to have surgery who spoke of her fears of being ‘ugly’ and ‘disgusting’.  Both emails broke my heart.  I feel so sad that this life saving operation has such a bad reputation when it comes to looks and self esteem.

I understand the feelings.  When I first had my surgery I was to scared to look at my stoma.  The thought of my intestines being on the outside horrified me and from the images I had seen online, I believed my femininity and any form of attractiveness would have been removed along with my diseased bowel.

Since then I have been googling A LOT – I wanted to find some powerful, beautiful images of women with ileostomy or colostomy bags and stomas to share on this blog.  I struggled…. There are some model shoots for stoma products that I found cheesy.  There are plenty of medical photos and quite a few selfies!

So I decided that as I live with a photographer and Im not really a wallflower that I may as well do a photo shoot to show off my bag and stoma and hopefully to create a series of photos that show femininity, sexuality, creativity and beauty.

I would LOVE your feedback as Im feeling quite nervous about putting these out there…  I wanted to show others the true face of stomas and ileostomies.  Im obviously not a model, Im a normal size 16 woman with wobbly bits and stretch marks.

I have a stoma and I wear an ileostomy bag but they are such a small part of what I am.  I hope this can inspire others who have had or are due to have the surgery.  Your body is awesome.  This surgery saves lives and that little bit of intestine doesn’t change who you are – be proud, be confident and be amazing.

Love Sam xx

All photography is by the awesome Timm Cleasby of The Picture Foundry.

stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

stoma ileostomy femininity black and white photography creative shootstoma ileostomy femininity black and white photography creative shoot

stoma ileostomy femininity black and white photography creative shoot

stoma ileostomy femininity black and white photography creative shoot

stoma ileostomy femininity black and white

woman with stoma

ileostomy and stoma photos

ileostomy and stoma photo shoot black and white female woman with colostomy bag

ileostomy and stoma photo shoot black and white female woman with ileostomy bag

ileostomy and stoma photo shoot black and white female woman with ileostomy bag