Posts

Matron, Medicine and Me – 70 years of the NHS

I was thrilled to be interviewed for the BBC’s Matron, Medicine and Me which was aired recently.  The episode I was on was hosted by Fern Britton who went back to the hospital that saved her life from sepsis a few years ago, there were lots of amazing stories shared about the NHS and if you’d like to watch it again, head over to the iplayer here.

You can see my interview here.

 

Love Sam xx

Loose Women!

A few weeks ago, Loose Women (the ITV daytime show) ran a campaign called #MyBodyMyStory after they all posed for an image in their underwear.  It was all about women celebrating their bodies, however we look and so of course, I decided to send in my photo and then hooted with laughter and giddiness when they went and showed it.

 

 

Any excuse to flash my bag, eh?!

 

Love Sam xxx

Sheffield Live TV

I was thrilled to be back on Sheffield Live TV last week with Simon Thake just before World IBD Day…

 

Talking Sheffield 17.05.2016 part 1 from Sheffield Live on Vimeo.

 

 

Sam xx

This Morning with Philip and Holly… And So Bad Ass

Yesterday was a whirlwind of awesome! I appeared on ITV’s morning show This Morning and got to meet the very wonderful Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby and talk about my all time favourite subject, poo!

I was invited on by TV and radio personality Judi Spiers, who along with her husband, invented a product to help people to change ostomy bags.  I reviewed the Riksack for them last month and they had been invited onto the couch for National Bowel Month and asked me to go with them.  Hooray!!

The researchers got in touch and had seen my blog and thought I would be great on TV, which was a huge compliment, almost as exciting as when they told me that Philip had been reading my blog and loved it! Arghhh!!!! So, if you are reading this now Mr Schofield, hiiiiiiii you are a living legend and a total fox!

I got the train down to London the night before after a traumatic decision over what to wear on the telly box.  I asked my awesome followers on Facebook for advice and advise they did… Over 300 of them, though unfortunately all saying different things!! In the end I went for a flowery dress by Lindy Bop which I felt comfortable in and also felt fab in.  Of course, I also wore my sparkly, gold boots.

I got picked up in a car from my hotel and taken to the studios, hilariously there were some paparazzi hanging out and they got excited as I pulled up.  Unfortunately they were super disappointed when I got out of the car, I still waved and smiled just in case! (HA!)

The staff at This Morning were all lovely, very welcoming and trying to put you at ease, there were drinks and pastries and snacks but I didn’t eat as I didn’t want my stoma farting and bag filling up on live TV.  I went into hair and makeup where I was attended to by #MrFaceMaker and then back to the Green Room I went.

I filmed a pre recorded piece where I changed my ostomy bag using the Riksack, I was hoping to be the first stoma on live TV but alas, they cut that part out of the live show.  It was a bit odd to change my bag in front of strangers, the team were very sensitive though and made sure it was just a producer and a cameraman.  After changing my bag, I asked the producer what she thought, she admitted that she had been concerned as she was squeamish and was worried that it was going to be difficult to watch, but she was amazed that my stoma was so small and not nearly as terrifying as she had imagined.

This is why I do all the things I do, to change perceptions and break those taboos.

So we then went onto set (which is much smaller than you imagine and all in one room) and I met the King and Queen of daytime TV, Philip and Holly.  Philip came over and kissed me and welcomed me to the show and I went over to Holly… and curtsied.

WTF? Whyyyyyy would I do a curtsy?? I was just a bit star struck and then I laughed and said “Oh.  I just curtsied” THEN CURTSIED AGAIN!!!

This is why I shouldn’t be allowed out in public.

Anyway, they had a laugh at my weirdness and then we sat on the sofa, I was with Judi and surgeon Mr Ian Daniels and off we went…

The interview went quicker than you think it will, it seemed to be over in a flash and then we were done! I wish I had said more but the slot was about the Riksack product and about signs and symptoms of bowel disease and bowel cancer and so it was important to get that info out.

I loved every minute of it and would love to do more TV as though it is terrifying before, it is so enjoyable once you are there doing it.  It is hard to get a lot of info into a 7 minute slot, especially when there are three people being interviewed it is nigh on impossible to say everything you want.  So apologies for not getting a bit more So Bad Assness out there!

Holly is as beautiful in real life as she is on TV.  Seriously, I was a bit in awe of her and she was really sweet and lovely.  She was very friendly and complimented my dress and they both congratulated me on this blog and my work in disability.  Philip is a total fox.  I loved him in the early 90s with Gordon the Gopher and can’t believe I got to meet such a famous celeb.  He was really friendly and put you right at ease.  People have asked me to dish some dirt on the two of them, but I cant! They were just lovely!

I am really proud of myself.  The past few years have been hellish and there were times when I was in HDU or crying in pain in bed or leaking and feeling like a monster when I felt so low that I couldn’t imagine going on.  So to be on live TV four months after my last surgery was a HUGE milestone.

I do what I do to make others understand what life with an illness or disability is like, I do it to break taboos, to educate, inform, support and inspire.  I do it to make a difference.  I do it because I need a reason that I have had to go through all this.

I didn’t plan for my life to be a series of battles, of medication, surgery, illness, pain and suffering.  But this is the hand I was dealt and so I will use every single one of these things to help others and make a difference in the world.

You can view the interview below, thanks for all the lovely messages on Facebook and Twitter, they mean everything.

Sam xx

Sheffield Live TV!

I was invited onto Sheffield Live TV again to talk about this blog, Crohns and Colitis UK, Scope and the work I do.

I LOVE doing TV and radio, I used to get SO nervous but nowadays, I just really enjoy the experience.

Take a look!

Talking Sheffield 01.12.2015 part 2 from Sheffield Live on Vimeo.

 

Sam x

So Bad Ass on The Wright Stuff! 

This morning I got a message from a Facebook follower letting me know that she’d just seen me on The Wright Stuff!

I popped on channel 5 +1 and hit record and saw that in a discussion about whether able bodied people should use accessible toilets, that my open letter was mentioned along with a photo of my big face! How exciting!! 

  

He does stumble of the name, saying IBS then Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  I think it’s a genuine slip of the tongue but always good to clarify that there is a difference between IBS and IBD. 

Others have commented that he says I sometimes use a colostomy bag, and feel annoyed that this is incorrect.  

I used to have an ostomy, I currently have a Jpouch but I’m going back to an ostomy, so it’s fair to say that I have times of using an ostomy bag.  I know it could be read as though it’s something you pop on and off but if you think about it, though some ostomies are permanent, others are temporary. 

It’s easy to get angry when you feel incorrect terms are used, but this is why it’s so great that we are having these discussions in the media! 

A few years ago, this was all SO TABOO! I think things are getting tons better and we are having more conversations.  Yes, the correct terms are really important, but let’s educate society on an illness that for so long was secretive! 

I tweeted Matthew and he responded telling me his friend has an ostomy and wishing me well with my surgery. 

Things are tough when you’re a poo blogger! There are some media outlets who simply don’t have any desire to talk about poo! When people are happy to have the discussion, let’s celebrate and use it as an opportunity to talk shit! 

Thank Matthew Wright for sharing my story and getting people talking.  If he’d ever like me on the show, I would be more than happy to be #thepoolady and talk shit on TV! 
Sam X

Why I feel sorry for Katie Hopkins

I am a fan of The Apprentice, I am interested in business and marketing and also like watching people doing ridiculous tasks running around London.  I adore Nick Hewer’s unimpressed face and can’t help but get drawn into the drama of it all!  The contestants tend to be pretty much the most egotistical folk ever and the quota of all the dickish management speak you can imagine is high.  It is all good, entertaining, finger pointing, you’re fired, TV fun.

Yet it spawned the most hated woman in the UK, Katie Hopkins.

For a few years, I have tried to ignore the woman, her pantomime baddy character seemed needy and pathetic.  I thought her brand of bitchy, sour faced meanness would quickly fizzle out, yet she is just getting bigger and more offensive as time goes on.

I strongly believe in kindness.  I think kindness is the key to a happy life and I don’t think we need to be hard faced bitches who slag others off to be successful, it pains me to write this post, as try as I might, I can’t help but resort to name calling as this woman is just so vile.

katie hopkins vile

I think you should ignore the trolls, and that is what Katie Hopkins is, a troll.  She is making a living out of saying the most controversial and hurtful things she can manage, she is a bitch for hire and it seems she will abuse anyone to get her name in the media. She makes money from upsetting people, which must be a bloody awful job, and this comes from a woman who literally talks shit for a living!

I have ignored her as much as possible, through her fat shaming, woman bashing and racist comments.  I have turned the other cheek when she has bullied, berated and hurt so many.  I switched off Celebrity Big Brother when I found out she was appearing on it and I ignore her twitter rants when they appear in my feed.

This week I have had to pay the deposit for my daughter’s school trip, our dryer broke and the scouts fees were due, it’s a tough month money wise and all I can think is that it must be the same in the Hopkins household.  The bank balance must be low and so Katie dips into her pot of insults, closes her eyes and then randomly points at a celebrity news story and comes up with some tweet to offend the maximum audience.

Where I grew up if you spoke so badly about those around you, you’d get a pasting! Has Hopkins never heard the saying ‘if you’ve got nothing nice to say, say nothing’? She seems to relish in picking apart the flaws of the rest of society whilst skipping along, ignorant of all of her own.

Her comments on overweight people are so simplistic, her ego filled rants of eat less, move more are just another slap in the face to anyone who struggles with weight due to medication, illness or disability.

Not only did she throw out some mightily offensive racially abusive stereotypes, she then turned her malice on Angelina Jolie.  Now I am sure Jolie isn’t sat in her multi million pound home, with her beautiful children and most handsome man in the world as her husband weeping about the words of a two bit troll, but Hopkins’ words really upset me.

Angelina bravely spoke out about her decision to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed earlier this week, revealing that the mutation of her BRCA1 gene meant that she had a 50% chance of developing ovarian cancer.  As someone who talks about personal health issues, this struck a chord with me.  I thought she was courageous to use her position to speak out about ovarian cancer and her words about her children were really touching.  ‘I know my children will never have to say, “Mom died of ovarian cancer.”’ she said in the NY Times piece.

Talking openly about illness and treatment helps so many people.  When you have an illness, one of the worst things is feeling isolated and alone and to be able to read about other’s experiences really does help.  I know this because it helped me, and it is the reason why I keep blogging, keep writing and keep talking about IBD and invisible disabilities.  I do it knowing that I open myself up to nasty comments, to judgement and laughter, but I will keep doing it because I know I am doing good in the world.  No one should try to shame you into staying quiet, don’t be ashamed of your story, it will inspire others.

inspirational quotes

 

I suppose we could all make a lot of money from mocking others, I don’t think there is much skill in being a total bitch, just a huge lack of morals.  But at the end of the day, I know I do a good job, I help people deal with a really shitty time in their lives and I make a difference.  I am proud of what I do for a living, I wonder if Katie Hopkins can say the same thing?

It must be very sad and lonely to live your life making others miserable, I always tell my kids that those who bully and shout the loudest are usually those who are hurting the most and so I can’t imagine what pain Hopkins must be in to make a living out of vitriol and hate.  I feel sorry for the woman and hope one day she will realise that success isn’t about money, it is about happiness, love and respect.

Perhaps rather than regarding the woman with the hatred that she seems to thrive on, we should feel sorry for her.  

After all, it must be difficult to wake up every day and be Katie Hopkins.

 

Sam x

 

Too Ugly For Love? Why this isn't ok…

The people who brought you Katie Hopkins show My Fat Story have outdone themselves with their latest show “Too Ugly For Love?” a show about… well let me directly quote the TV channel for you.

“For most people looking for love can be daunting. But for singles with a secret physical affliction the search to find ‘the one’ can seem almost impossible.

This series follows 10 unique singletons,ordinary people living with extraordinary medical conditions, on their quest to find love. All these conditions can be kept secret during a date,and with that comes a whole world of dilemmas.  From alopecia, missing limbs and colostomy bags to medical anomalies such as hyperhidrosis (profuse sweating) and pyoderma gangrenosum (a rare form of skin ulcers), the singletons are agonising over the problems that these conditions are causing in their love lives.

How can you find love when you are hiding your true self? Where do you find the confidence to play the field? When should you reveal the truth to someone that you really like? And how will they react?

The longer you leave the truth, the harder it can be to come clean and the more dramatic the revelation. Follow the singletons through the ups and downs of the dating game as they adopt different strategies to hide their conditions.”

oh no she didn't

There are so many things wrong with this that I barely know where to start! So let’s begin with the title.

Too Ugly For Love? When I saw this yesterday and spluttered and swore profusely all over Facebook and twitter about it, a few people responded saying ‘Ahhh but see the question mark? They aren’t calling them ugly, they are just questioning it!’  Ohhhhh that’s ok then!! They are just asking whether the audience thinks these people are too ugly…

As I read the the biographies of the people on the show (all of whom I have no doubt are lovely, genuine people who I have NO beef with at all) I was just appalled.  There is a lady with alopecia, two gents with amputated limbs, two with ostomy bags (the biog of the show calls them colostomies but as we know, the media refuse to accept the existence of ileostomies and so who knows which they are!), a woman with keloid scarring, one with a disease that causes excessive sweating and a woman who was burnt badly.  As you read through that list, is there any part of you that would question their beauty based on their circumstances?

The title of the show is just to grab headlines, and I am not that surprised coming from a company who works with a woman who feeds off negative publicity like a grotesque leech, but I am so offended by it.

My blog is all about celebrating our inner awesomeness, about loving our amazing bodies whatever they look like and however poorly, wounded or damaged they have become.  It is about trying to show my audience that my scars, my ileostomy bag, my illness never defined me, I have openly written about my journey and how I learnt not only to accept the changes I went through, but to embrace and love my brave, heroic body that keeps going despite illness and surgery.

too ugly for love ostomy bag sam cleasby so bad ass

The idea of a show that labels people with an ostomy ‘too ugly’ is just heartbreaking.  We all have that horrid little voice in our heads, you know the one that tells you that you’re too ugly, too fat, too stupid, too (insert shit feeling here)… Seeing a TV show like this just makes me feel like everyone thinks that about me too.  The idea that it is a question makes me think “Do people think I am too ugly for love??”

As someone who had an ileostomy bag and now has a lot of scarring including large keloid scars, I hit two of their categories.  A little voice inside me thought ‘Blimey, am I doubly ugly?’

And that is when the anger struck… I am a confident woman who does this for a living, I write about body confidence, self esteem and chronic illness and so I KNOW there are so many people out there who feel crap about themselves because of illness, scarring, surgery and more.  I am so furious that there will be people out there now questioning YET AGAIN (because believe me, we do it ALL THE TIME) how people judge them.

I haven’t watched the show and I won’t be.  I know some people will argue that I shouldn’t judge a show that I haven’t seen.  But really, I can’t bring myself to watch it, I know for a fact that when they were asking people to apply they didn’t say “Do you want to be on a show called Too Ugly For Love?”  It just feels like a way to point at the people different to you, it is that sympathy porn of The Undateables, making struggling people easy fodder for the masses and it doesn’t sit well with me.

This line in the TV show’s bumpf gets me straight away…

“follow the singletons through the ups and downs of the dating game as they adopt different strategies to hide their conditions.”

I understand the feeling of wanting to hide your illness/disability away, but that is a negative thing.  To hide something means to be ashamed of it and not want the world to see.  Surely we should be helping others to learnt to accept the thing they want to hide, as a society shouldn’t we be saying ‘we are all different and that is a wonderful thing’ not watching people adopting strategies to hide their conditions!

And so I wanted to write about it, I have had so many messages on Facebook, twitter, instagram and email from people who are just disgusted by TLC UK.  I hope TLC will take on board the comments from people all over the UK who they have upset and offended by the title of this show.

And my message to anyone reading this who is less than perfect (that would be all of you!) is this…

We are all so different, some of us slim, some muscly, some obese, some carrying a few extra pounds.  There are those of us who have had surgeries that alter us in some way, who take medication that changes the way we look, there are those of us in wheelchairs, with ostomy bags, with scars.  Some of us have very visible diseases and illnesses and some have ones that are entirely invisible but make our heads and hearts hurt with the struggle…

Beauty is not perfection.  Ugly is not imperfection.

Our bodies are the only ones we have and they are with us for life, we need to learn to accept, love and celebrate the body we are in, no matter how poorly or broken it is.  I always think of my scars as the hieroglyphs of my journey, they don’t show weakness, they show what I battled through and that I came through the other side a lot stronger, wiser and filled with so much more empathy and kindness for others.

If you are surrounding yourself with people who question your physical appearance, or there are people in your life who believe you are ugly, it is not yourself you need to change, it is the people around you.

Nice, kind, good people won’t judge you for your difference.  Your true friends will love you for being you, your physical appearance means fuck all to the right people.

The person you want to fall in love with is out there, and they don’t care about whether your body is perfect, they care about whether your heart is true, your laughter genuine, your nature kind and your soul happy.  If you have to hide away who you really are, they aren’t the one.

We are all amazing beings and we need to learn to celebrate and love one another not point fingers and question their perfection.

If you are looking for perfection, you will have a long wait.  Every one of us has so many delicious imperfections that make us the person we are.

Fuck perfection.  Let’s celebrate the best parts of us and know that we are all a little broken.

I would LOVE to hear your opinion on all this, please leave comments.

 

Peace and Love

 

Sam x