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The Flu Jab Saga (How I ended up crying snot bubbles in public)

After years of complex health issues, multiple surgeries, too many medications to name and months in hospital, I thought getting a flu jab would be a simple, fuss free event.  It started when a nurse in hospital clinic asked in passing whether I had had my flu jab this year.  I said I had never had one and she was surprised and asked me to see my GP and arrange one.

My immune system is shagged and I catch everything going.  I caught flu a few years back and spent a week in hospital.  Anyway, I pondered this and asked on my Facebook page whether other people with IBD had  flu jabs.  The answer was a resounding YES! And so I called the GP and asked the receptionist if she could check with a doctor if I should have one.  She said she would check and call back.  She did not call back.

So when I was seeing a GP recently, regarding my pouchitis, I asked her and she thought I should have one.  She said she would check with another doctor and let me know.  Last week I got a phone call from the surgery asking me to attend this week for my flu jab! Result!

sam cleasby blogger

Today I trundled along to the GP surgery for my 10.15am appointment.  As I was called through, the health care assistant looked at the screen and asked why I was having this.  I replied that I have Ulcerative Colitis and have had my colon removed, that I had a rubbish immune system and that it had been recommended by doctors.

She shook her head, stood up and left the room.  She returned and said “Well, you shouldn’t be having this but seeing as you are here, we will do it but only this one time!”  I was quite surprised and asked her why I had been called in my the surgery for this appointment, if I didn’t need the shot?  She said she didn’t know.

I asked if I shouldn’t be having this because it was bad for me, she said I wasn’t on the list of reasons to give the shot.  She appeared a little angry with me but I wanted to be clear on whether I should or shouldn’t have it and so I questioned again why I had been called in for this appointment.  She said it wasn’t the doctors here that had asked for it, I said it was, and tried to explain about seeing the GP.  She rolled her eyes and stood up, asking if I wanted to have the jab or not.

She was quite aggressive.  I said to her “Look, I’m not sure why, but I feel like you’re being a bit weird with me and I am just trying to ask what the confusion is.”

“I am not being weird!” she said loudly.  She was actually being aggressive, but I didn’t want to use the word ‘aggressive’.  She then took the cap off the needle and stood over me, saying “are you having this or not”.  I looked away and said “fine”.

She then span round and walked out, holding the needle.  I was a bit shaken and so stood up and put my coat back on, I didn’t want this woman to inject me with anything!  Then a nurse came back in and asked if I was having the jab.  I explained that the other woman had been quite aggressive and I was just trying to understand what the problem was and whether I was supposed to be having the flu jab or not.  She was friendlier and said that the other woman was a healthcare assistant and trained to just read the basic instructions on the screen.

sam cleasby blogger

I decided to have the shot and took off my coat.  She gave the needle and it was over.  I started to cry and was embarrassed so said “Look, Im sorry if I am being over sensitive”, she said that she would speak to the assistant about it all.  I was really crying as I left the room.  Big snot bubble weeping.

I stood in the reception in floods of tears.  I know I am being over sensitive, I know that usually I wouldn’t be so upset by this, but I am in a delicate place right now, I am just out of hospital and preparing for major surgery and this did bother me.  I felt really silly to be honest that I was so upset but you know that damn straw that breaks the camel’s back? Well this was mine today.

Perhaps this woman was having a bad day, maybe she didn’t know how to deal with the situation, but today really sucked and I walked out of there feeling upset, embarrassed and unsure of whether I should have even had the jab!  Surely part of being a healthcare assistant means dealing with people who may be in sensitive or emotional states.  I obviously annoyed her by questioning why I had been called in but she didn’t once speak kindly or apologise.  She was mean and aggressive and really needs to consider how her actions affect the very people she is meant to be helping.

The NHS recommends this;

The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to anyone with a serious long-term health condition. That includes these types of illnesses:

This list of conditions isn’t definitive. It’s always an issue of clinical judgement.

Your GP can assess you individually to take into account the risk of flu exacerbating any underlying illness you may have, as well as your risk of serious illness from flu itself.  The vaccine should always be offered in such cases, even if you are not technically in one of the risk groups above.

Don’t be put off by my experience though, if you think you should be having the flu jab, get in touch with your GP.

Sam x

I think I’ve found a topic even I feel shy in talking about… 

Type. Delete. Type. Delete. Draft. Scrap. Write. Burn laptop and bury remains in the woods.

I’m struggling at the minute with something that even I, Poo Lady Sam, am finding it hard to talk about.  I’ve shared with you all every high and low of my illness journey in the past two years, from shitting myself to surgery, tears to joy, complications and photos of my intestines!

So why is it that I can’t bring myself to talk about what I’m going through right now?

The truth is that I have a vaginal prolapse. My intestines and pouch are pushing against my vaginal wall from the inside and I am struggling with a rectocele.

This is really uncomfortable, makes toilet trips very difficult and hardest of all, I am so desperately embarrassed and sad about it all.

Why this complication feels SO MUCH WORSE than anything to do with my IBD I have no idea.  I suppose it’s because your fanny is so private, that it’s the centre of your womanhood, that the connotations around a less that perfect vag-j-j are humiliating and hurtful.

Perhaps it’s because we are taught to not speak about our genitals? Perhaps I am worried people will laugh? Maybe I’m concerned this is too private to talk about on a blog?

Even as I write this, I am very unsure of whether I’ll hit ‘post’.  But like every other medical ordeal in the past few years, I thought that the act of writing this could be cathartic, whether I share it or not.

When I say the word ‘prolapse’ out loud, I cry.  I get a lump in my throat and tears spring into my eyes. I feel shame burning across my chest and making my cheeks glow fiercely.

I’m in pain. It hurts, this dragging back ache and a psychological terror that everything will fall out.  Going to the loo is stressful, upsetting and scary.

But worse than all of that is this feeling inside like a small black hole that’s slowly absorbing any good feelings. It’s making the colour drain from life, sucking at happiness. I can’t think how I can cope with this setback, I’m scared.  It doesn’t feel fair. I’ve had my bad luck, surely I get a break now?!

I am trying hard to maintain a jolly personality and ensure that from the outside, everything is ok. I can sense, and I think others can too, that it’s all a bit forced, that my laugh doesn’t ring quite true, that my voice is a little too loud and my smile not very genuine.  I just can’t bring myself to admit to others that I am struggling as I don’t want to talk about my broken fanny!

And this is me! Bloody hell I talk about some of the most embarrassing conditions known to man! I go in the newspapers and on TV and talk about my arse!!!! Jeez, it’s ridiculous that this is throwing me so much.  I keep reading this post in my drafts and adding to it, all the while very much doubting my ability to send it out to the whole world.

As I read up on the problem, I see the nhs suggesting that often they will leave the issue if it’s not severe. This upsets me as I wonder what their levels of severity are?  Right now this is all I can think about. It always feels like there’s something in my vagina, it’s painful in my groin, I spend my evenings with a hot water bottle inbetween my legs!! I also can’t use the toilet very well, having a Jpouch means that on a good day, I poo 5 or 6 times and I currently have pouchitis so I’m going a lot more and I’m feeling very poorly.  So this added problem is firstly making me too scared to go and secondly taking so much time.

I don’t want more surgery. I’ve had 3 in 2 years! But I also don’t want to have this become my life.  I’m developing this intense fear of anything to do with inside my knickers!  The idea of using the toilet is too much to bear, so anything else is just a million miles away.

The thing that makes me want to share this post is that I have learnt that it is a complication that many women are dealing with, some due to IBD and the Jpouch and others due to childbirth, illness, cancer etc and I’m fairly confident many of them feel this embarrassment and shame that I’m experiencing.  So maybe I need to be brave for them in the way I stood up and was brave for those with IBD?

I’ve seen my consultant and I’m back on Tuesday for him to do a scope in my pouch and he’ll also see what’s going on in the front too. So hopefully will have more answers soon.

Till then I am trying to freeze and shrink that swirling vortex of doom that is this mental black hole. Trying to paste on a smile, get through each day and not let this sadness take hold.

X

Tales of the embarrassed…

This is for Corinne from the ever awesome Motherhood Journeys who told the twitterland about her having to stick a cardi on as her shopping arrived and she was in her jamas with no bra… (Sorry Corinne but if I’m sharing then so are you!)

Anyway I thought I’d make her feel better by sharing this story. Anyone who knows me is aware I have a million embarrassing tales as in general I am a bit of a fuckwit…

So shortly after the birth of my third child, with my husband working away and my other kids being 2 and 4, we all came down with a tummy bug. I abandoned our usual cloth nappies as there was just So. Much. Shit.

So with two kids in nappies I just tried to muddle through the days. One morning I had changed both kids and lay exhausted on the sofa breast feeding the baby when I heard the bin van.

“Oh shit!” I thought, I haven’t put the bin out!!! So I laid the baby on the mat and went to dash out to drag the bin to the roadside. I was still in my nighty but I didn’t care, the bin was full of nappies and had to go.

As I went to run I stood in a shit filled nappy I had put beside the sofa after I’d changed the kids and then quickly fed Thom as he was screaming. I skidded across the floor, shit shooting UP my leg and ran outside like a maniac.

The bin men looked up in shock at a mad woman running towards them dragging a wheelie bin with shit up her leg!

“Don’t judge me!” I shouted. “The kids are ill!! There’s shit everywhere!!!!”

It was at that point I realised my left breast was hanging outside my nighty swinging in the breeze for all the world to see.

I slowly popped it back in and with my head held high walked back to the house like it was the most normal thing in the world…

Worst. Day. Ever.

Ok, now I’ve laid my soul bare, please share your worst embarrassing story so I don’t feel like a total moron alone.

Sam