April 2015 | KTMY

30 April 2015

It's okay to cry

Crying is often perceived as a sign of weakness when it is in fact the exact opposite. By allowing yourself to cry, you are admitting to yourself that yes, I am feeling something and that's okay which is a hell of a lot healthier than bottling it all up and pretending that everything's fine. At the end of the day, you'll probably end up a lot more miserable if you don't allow yourself to feel something and it could actually make you really ill! 

I've decided to write about this because last night I had 'a wobble'. I got really down and tried not to let it show to anyone which resulted in me just snapping at my mum and dad until I started crying.  After having said wobble and opening up and talking a bit about why I was feeling down I actually started to feel a bit better.

Crying is the first step to realising your feelings which, in turn, allows you to start processing your feelings and understanding why you feel a certain way and then you can start to make positive changes so you don't feel quite as crap. 

My wobble started because I'd been on my university's website to see what the dates would be for sitting my exams in the summer (I got 'exceptional circumstances' as I'm not well enough to sit my exams next week!) and I got really down over the fact that they would be between the 10th-27th August. In my mind I started to think that not only would I not be able to do as much over the summer because I'm recovering from surgery,  I'm also going to have to be revising when all my friends are off enjoying their summers. I then started questioning whether I even want to go back to uni at all because, at the moment, I'm struggling to see how I'll ever feel 'normal' again and be able to function without help from my mum and dad. My mum kind of put it into perspective for me though; I was doing really well at uni before I went into hospital and was getting firsts on my coursework...do I really want to throw that away? Because my only options are sit the exams in the summer, drop out or re-sit the year which is pretty pointless when I've already done a lot of hard work! Plus, that would cost more money and I'd have an extra year. Also, I'm obviously not going to feel 'normal' yet. My body has had quite the trauma as well as being pumped with drugs which have various side effects (steroids, I'm looking at you!) and it's going to take a while for everything to settle down. It's going to take a while to get used to doing things differently with the bag, but it doesn't mean that it's never going to feel normal. I've just got to be patient...which can be frustrating! 

The moral of this post is that it's good to cry. If you're feeling overwhelmed, have a good cry and, more importantly, talk to someone! Be it a parent, friend, loved one or professional. It's okay to ask for help too. I went to the doctors on Monday and I've been referred to counselling to help me process everything which has happened. 

Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness; it's actually probably one of the strongest things you can do. It takes a lot of guts (even for those of us without them!) to admit that somethings wrong and tell someone and take positive action to change things. That is the sign of a strong person and I urge anyone who is feeling down in any way to reach out for help because you will feel better in the long run! 


28 April 2015

"Will my cat burst my bag?" and other questions I asked my Stoma Nurses

Two days before my ileostomy surgery, I met with two of my local stoma nurses who went through just about everything with me; giving me booklets, explaining the surgery to me, giving me a heads up on what life will be like after the surgery and also gave me the opportunity to ask any questions (they actually came back the next day to let it all sink in and then ask questions). Let me tell you, I had oodles of questions, some very sensible ones and others which my dad said were silly but they were legit worries I had - insert will I be sitting up and watching Britain's Got Talent the day after surgery or will I still be out of it? Answer: Yes, I was able to watch Britain's Got Talent (not that I can remember much as I was on morphine...) 

I thought I'd share with you some of the questions I asked my stoma nurses and give a summary of their answers as well :) 

27 April 2015

OUTFIT | Facing your fears

Leather Jacket - Market stall | Top - Forever 21 | Trousers - F&F @ Tesco | Leather Converse - Shue | Scarf - Primark

Today I went out for the first time since my surgery which meant that I had to put actual clothes on instead of pyjamas. I'm not going to lie, this got to me a bit as I didn't know what to wear which would cover my ileostomy but also be comfy and make me not look like a bag lady. 

My mum actually leant me these trousers and they were really comfy as they weren't tight at all on my stoma and the waist line is actually above the stoma. I found it helped that the zip was to the side as there was nothing to dig in on any of my surgical injuries or on my bag.

I teamed it with a baggy top from forever 21 which I love and covers my bag well. Because it was quite cold this morning, I put on my leather jacket and tartan scarf and my trusted converse. Overall, I was quite pleased with the outfit as you couldn't see my bag too much (not that I'm too bothered but ya know) and I didn't look like I was in my comfies either; it was a legit outfit! 

I hadn't realised how stressed I would get over my clothes but I think part of the problem is that the majority of my clothes (and a lot of my favourites) are still at uni where I am not and I can't wear jeans at the moment or anything too tight on my tummy so that takes out the majority of my wardrobe! 

I also hadn't realised how much anxiety I would feel leaving the house today. I was only going to the doctors and then me and my dad went for cake and tea but I was so nervous! Everything went okay though and I feel really good (and v. tired) that I did go out and talk to people. 


26 April 2015

Tips for showering with a stoma

Today I had my first shower since having my ileostomy surgery and I'm not going to lie, it was a lot tougher than I realised it was going to be. Not only did I have the issue of not being able to move very well due to just having surgery, I also had the added issue of whether or not to shower without my bags on.

The whole thing of having a shower scared me because I didn't want to hurt the stoma and I was also worried about it being active because I have no control over it. Because of my worries, I headed to a Facebook support page for people who have ileostomy bags and I thought I'd share with you some of the tips they gave and things which I found worked well too.

1. Shower in the morning - you're stoma is less likely to be active in the morning before you've eaten.

2. Start your shower with your bag on and then take it off near the end - this is how I had my shower. I kept my bags on (covering the charcoal filter) and washed my hair and the rest of my body. Then I took of my bags and let the water run over my stomach. Then I put on a new bag once I got out of the shower

3. Preparation is key - make sure you've got a bag ready and cut to the right size and you're gauze and LBF wipe ready for when you get out of the shower and you have your adhesive remover spray near in the shower. That way everything is to hand and you aren't panicking and can get a bag on before your stoma starts being active again

4. Eat some marshmallows 15 minutes before showering - now I haven't tried this one so I can't vouch for this one but apparently eating marshmallows slows down your output (so long as you haven't eaten anything crazy beforehand). I might try this before I have a shower next time...any excuse to eat marshmallows!

One of the things I found the strangest was drying myself. I was so scared of hurting my stoma and fistula. I found that putting the gauze over the two and then drying the rest of myself seemed to work best but it was such an effort! I had to have a nap afterwards.

I was really lucky that my stoma wasn't active during my shower, which helped my confidence a little bit. It was only when I sat down to put my bag on a little bit came out but nothing major or anything. Luckily my mum was with me (I was too scared to have a shower on my own) and she helped me too.

However, it felt so good to have my bag off just for 5 or 10 minutes and let my skin breath because my skin is getting quite itchy sometimes where the flange of the bag is. I guess it's just something which is hopefully going to get easier as I do it more.

Let me know in the comments if you have any tips for showering with a stoma!


25 April 2015

Introducing my Stoma

I've been very inactive on the blog recently and I have my reasons, which is what this blog post is all about. If you read back over some of my posts, you'll see I mentioned I was ill but never really said what was wrong with me. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and recently I've been flaring quite badly with it to the point that I was admitted into hospital sixteen days ago. After trying to calm the flare with a high dosage of steroids, which didn't work, the doctors decided to take my colon out. So last week I underwent ileostomy surgery and now have a stoma and a mucas fistula.

If you're wondering what ileostomy surgery is...they remove your colon (large bowel) and leave you with an ileostomy bag which is a bag for your poo basically. I know it probably sounds disgusting but my colon was not in a good way and was making me really ill, so I'll take the bag! Under the bag is my Stoma which is a bit of the small bowel which is on my tummy. I still find it really weird to look at and the fact that that everything feels so different at the moment but I guess it's just a new normal!

I had a few days to get my head around the idea of having a bag (okay, so two days) and in those days I met with my local securicare stoma nurses (who are amazing) who talked me through everything from different types of bags to living with a stoma and all the random questions which I had going through my head from will I be able to eat normally to can I go swimming to will I look weird...the list goes on and on (and I think I'll do a blog post just on them!)

not the nicest photo but this is me exactly a week ago as I was waking up from surgery

When I woke up, I also found that I had something called a mucas fistula which is like a flat stoma on the right side of tummy. This freaked me out quite a bit because even though the surgeon had mentioned I might have one, I'd not really thought about it. The mucas fistula is the very last but of my bowel to my rectum which is still inflamed so they've brought it to the surface so it can't harm me and they can still put medicine in it to try and calm the inflammation down. They left it there so it could be treated, with the inflammation gone, there could be an opportunity to have my stoma reversed and an internal pouch created. Now, whilst I'm a way off that yet and there is the chance I may not be able to have it,  at least have the options in 6 months time or so. Otherwise, I'll have it put back inside me and I'll just be left with my stoma.

Me having cake for the first time after surgery! I was so excited, it was quite funny

Whilst this has all been terrifying and emotionally draining, I wanted to turn this into a positive in my life which is why I've decided to blog about my experience and be able to offer help to other young people in similar situations and raise awareness for this disease.

I'm pleased to say that I'm at home now and starting to get my head around everything, which is another reason why I'm going to blog about this - because this is a lifestyle blog and this is my life now and I hope you can all join me on this journey and help raise awareness!

Katie xo

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