Saturday, 27 December 2014

My 2014 Roundup!

Hi lovely people,

It has been a while since my last post but I have been insanely busy recently!
Firstly an update on the whole Margaret / Permanent / Reversal / Surgery situation...

About a month ago I had an appointment with my consultant where we went through all prior test results and future plans. It was decided that, as I thought, no reversal would be happening any time soon. I have active Crohn's in two areas of my digestive system - this means it would make no sense at all to reverse Margaret as it is currently the only thing keeping me symptom free. Without it I would be straight back to being really poorly - not something I want to happen! It was also pointed out that due to the damage to my 'perianal' area (due to being so ill before) there would be worries that my bowel would not work quite right again and I may suffer with difficulty controlling it... again, something I really do not want to happen! Due to all of this, reversal (at least for now) has been ruled out.
All is not lost though, I am going back to see her in 4/6 months time to re assess the situation. Although the prognosis is not looking great, at least it hasn't been 100% ruled out quite yet... Between now and then I have to cross my fingers and toes that the Crohn's will magically heal itself or they find a shiny new cure!

Now! As we head towards 2015, it is only normal to look back at the past year, and what an amazing year it has been!!
In the past 12 months I have graduated, lost 2 and half stone, successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign, gone on Margaret's first holiday and set up my own business... to name just a few things!

Chroma has been doing pretty darn well these past few months, hence why I've been so busy! It is now a profitable company, with hundreds of orders every month and has shipped to countries world wide including New Zealand, Singapore and Turkey. Chroma has been featured in a whole list of vlogs and blogs including some of the biggest in the UK including Sprinkle of Glitter, Tanya Burr & Lily Pebbles and will be included in TATLER magazines 2015 Valentine Day's Gift Guide...!!!!?!!!! All a bit insane but so amazing.

Looking back at my graduation photos also makes me really proud. At the time I was still gutted about just missing out on the 1st I really wanted and I found the actual day really stressful (thanks to Margaret) but now looking back I can fully appreciate the whole thing!

2014 has without a doubt been one of the best years of my life, I have had more ups than downs and compared to a year ago today, I am very, very happy! Roll on 2015!



I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!
Lots of love
xxx

Friday, 24 October 2014

Colonoscopy Day

Hi everyone,

So yesterday I had my wonderful colonoscopy.
The prep started Wednesday night with having to give myself two enemas... lets just say the less we talk about that the better. Although not painful and hideous like last time, it still wasn't pleasant. It baffles me how people opt to do that kind of thing, out of choice...

Anyway, I was up bright and early yesterday morning to get to the hospital for 7:30am. Nerves meant I had barely slept the night before so had to drag myself out of bed with only 4 hours sleep. Mum drove me to the hospital and I checked in as usual, in to bay E3 (I hate the number 3 - not a good start). I had to change in to a gown, awful socks and was visited by various nurses, my anaesthetist and surgeon. Luckily I was the first person in to surgery, which meant I only had to wait about an hour before being escorted to the surgery room. Normally this is done by a nurse but this time I headed down with the surgeon himself. He was cracking jokes the whole way which did actually put me at ease. I knew what was coming and so strangely didn't really feel too nervous as I led down on the bed and had my blood pressure taken, heart rate monitors fitted and finally a cannula put in my hand. As I went off to sleep the nurse and anaesthetists were chatting about The Tower of London and London Dungeons... not the nicest thing to hear before you're sedated.



The next thing I remember is being jolted awake, I must have been sleeping really deeply as I woke up with such a shock and the tube still down my throat. Within a second it was removed which although was bizarre, didn't frighten me like you'd think it might. I was given an oxygen mask and had everything checked over. Apparently I had been asleep for half an hour, which is such a strange thought. I overheard a nurse say "keep a nurse with her, after what happened" - this massively freaked me out and I became convinced that something terrible had occurred and nobody had told me yet. I asked if everything was alright and a nurse said that there had been no complications and the surgeon would come to see me soon. I started shivering which now that I think of it, did happen the last time I was given a general anaesthetic. Apparently it is quite a common reaction and I was given an extra blanket. At this point I was wheeled back to my E3 bay and my Mum was bought through.

Apparently I was chatting away and repeated myself twice, although I can't remember any of this. I was brought some jam on toast and some water and waited to feel a bit more awake. It is crazy how worn out you feel whilst still coming round. I remember moving my leg and thinking that it would have to stay there for hours because I was definitely too tired to move it again. Time also goes by so quickly, one minute it was 10:00 the next 11:00. This is when the surgeon came through to see me and told me news I wasn't looking forward to hearing.

He explained that although there had been no complications there were areas of my intestine that the probe/camera wire could not fit through, no matter how hard he tried. This meant they had to take my bag off and go through Margaret to get a good look at the other side. Now this probe thing is probably the size of, if not smaller than my little finger, the fact that my intestine was so damaged/scarred that it couldn't fit through was hardly confidence building news. He then went on to tell me that there was some Crohn's along the right side of my intestine and that the 'perianal' (the bit nearest your bum) was also badly scarred and he had his doubts that it would work effectively again, explaining that he would be concerned that if I were to have Margaret reversed I may not be able to control my bowels properly. He did say that all the results from the biopsies would be examined further and that my consultant would get in touch and give me the final results. Now although this is still a month away, the answer was pretty clear. The likelihood of me having Margaret reversed is looking even slimmer. Obviously, I am pretty gutted but I think I knew deep down that that was the case anyway. I have been tired recently and my knee has been bothering me a bit, so the fact that I had Crohn's there didn't surprise me. The fact that it is the perianal area which is so badly damaged is also tough to hear as this area can't really be removed or resected, which doesn't give me many other options other than to keep Margaret. The surgeon also told me that if I were to have children in the future they would need to be born via cesarian rather than naturally due to the state of my perianal area.

I was eventually discharged after the nurse made sure I could wee and walk on my own and Mum and I headed home. All I wanted to do was crawl in to bed, which is where I spent pretty much of the remainder of the day, although I did eventually get up to eat some pancakes (of course). Last night I had another rubbish sleep and have been worn out and feeling pretty rubbish ever since, most of this will be down to the anaesthetic getting out of my system. Today I've also had various mind blanks, becoming unable to remember my pin code or what I walked in to a room to get, which is bizarre but again down to the anaesthetic. I will hopefully feel a bit more human again over the weekend.

The news is obviously not what I wanted to hear and although not 100% confirmed, was made pretty obvious, but we shall see what the consultant says in November. I think it is going to take me a while to get my head around

Lots of love,
Gabi xxx




Monday, 20 October 2014

Thoughts

Hi everyone,

I wanted to talk about something which I am sure I have touched on before but probably not gone in to much detail. I know a lot of people read this blog, and look to it for a positive story and good outcome from a pretty crappy disease (excuse the pun). I am often conscious of not freaking out pending ostomy owners or making things seem awful - because in so many ways they really aren't that bad. However, at the end of the day there are aspects of the disease and having an ostomy which are hard to get your head around.

One thing Margaret has had a huge effect on is my self confidence. I think it is normal for everyone, men and women, to have a crisis in confidence from time to time or to have bad days. But Margaret makes these bad days worse, something I am sure other Ostomy friends can relate to.
In many ways, however, she has changed my outlook on my appearance for the better. As I said before, I have managed to lose 2.5 stone in the past 9-10 months - something which was largely spurred on by having Margaret. I also think I care less about the little, stupid things about appearance which are very easy to get sucked in to. I have found that that bit of cellulite on my thighs or a tummy roll when you're in a bikini doesn't matter as much to me anymore.

The upcoming colonoscopy and subsequent decision on whether I can have Margaret reversed has got me thinking a lot. The thought of having Margaret for the rest of my life is incredibly overwhelming. I try to think of it one day at a time, or one week at most. The idea that there are still decades ahead of living day in day out with a bag stuck to my stomach is quite hard to get my head around. My reaction when I was told I had Margaret wasn't normal, I laughed. Since then I have been praised with how well I have dealt with it and how I haven't let it stop me. Despite being told I had a 1-2 in 10 chance of having a reversal, I don't think I have ever really, properly considered the fact that she really might be forever. Even now I catch myself thinking, "When I don't have Margaret I will be able to wear that again" or "Dating will be a lot easier when I don't have Margaret" - these are really dangerous thoughts because the reality is, it is very likely that me and Margaret will be mates for a very long time.

Until Margaret, my Crohn's was a largely hidden disease. Yes there were times when I looked really poorly, lost weight, lost my hair, gained a bunch of weight on steroids or spent time in a wheelchair but more often than not a stranger wouldn't know I had a long term health condition. In some ways this made life harder. People wouldn't or couldn't understand just how bad it could be because they couldn't see anything, it was hard to understand. The plus side of course was that unlike many awful health conditions the lack of outward symptoms kept the disease hidden and allowed me to live my life without always being seen as "ill". Since Margaret, however, I live with a constant reminder that I have a disease and will have this disease for the rest of my life. Every day I have to feel, touch or deal with Margaret. I can't ignore it or forget it, I have to plan around it and think about it all the time. I know that 99% of the time the advances in the stoma wear and fashion means that nobody has a clue I have her, but I always know. Yes its a lifestyle change and something that I have adapted to very quickly and I have never let Margaret stop me doing anything but she is also something I can never escape from. I can't just decide I have had enough for a couple of hours and need a break from it all, it is constant and will likely be constant for the rest of my life. On the day of my graduation, for example, rather than relax and enjoy the ceremony I spent an hour and half worried sick that Margaret was going to leak or swell up under my dress and that the auditorium of people were going to see it. The same thoughts go through my mind every time I am at the gym. It can be draining as it is without adding in the fact that it'll probably be this way for years. Although it is also really important to add some perspective to my life, there are people out there who are suffering a hell of a lot more than I am and dealing with things which leave me in awe. I only have to switch on the news to consider myself insanely lucky.

It isn't however all doom and gloom. In the months since Margaret I have graduated (on time) with a 2:1, gone on holiday and many nights out, lost 2.5 stone, been interviewed for the newspaper and on the radio, kept up this blog with amazing celebrity endorsement and lots of lovely readers, raised over £4,000 & set up my own business. It does give me great hope that despite the fact I don't like what I see in the mirror, if I do have Margaret forever I will still achieve and do everything I want to. And you never know, in a months time when I see my consultant, I could be writting a Bye Bye Margaret post.

Lots of love
Gabi xxx




Friday, 17 October 2014

The Big 2.3, Toby's Birthday & PreOp

Hi everyone,

So since my last fairly long update I have been kept very busy!
Mainly by my Kickstarter project, which I explained previously. In one of the most stressful 30 days of my life I have managed to raise an amazing £4,000 to help further my new business, Chroma Stationery. The response has been so great and I am overwhelmed with the kindness of friends, family and complete strangers.
The past few weeks have been hugely stressful and an unexpected emotional rollercoatser. One day I was worried sick that I wouldn't meet my target or that I had offended people, having sleepless nights. The next day I would receive amazing feedback, a generous pledge or a high profile share and my mood would be lifted. Kickstarter has taught me many things, good and bad but it has made me realise the huge kindness and generosity of people out there. I have had lovely emails and insanely high donations from people I have never met or old family friends. Each pledge no matter how big or small meant the absolute world. Some wonderful friends even thew an event to raise the profile of my Kickstarter campaign and bring in some money. If anyone still fancies pledging some money, the project will still be live until October 20th! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/110560545/chroma-stationery





Some of my recent notebooks!

The stress of the experience has taken its toll though and I feel like I need a weeks holiday! The support of some of my amazing friends and brothers has been incredible and a special thanks to my Mum and Dad for their huge, huge support throughout the whole process.

This month also happened to be my 23rd birthday! Or the big 2 3 as I came to reference it. I had such a lovely day, spending it shopping with my Mum and generally chilling out! That evening I went out for a curry with some friends, all 26 of them! The contrast from my birthday last year was huge and I loved being surrounded by my favourite people in the world. The end of September also marked Toby's 1st birthday, an exciting day for everyone, as you can image. I even sung Happy Birthday to the very bemused looked dog.

I have also managed to officially lose 2 and half stone!! Something I have worked so hard at. For years I have tried and failed to shed the extra pounds, largely but not entirely down to being poorly and on/off steroid treatments. Being able to finally start to be happy with how I look and wear the clothes I want to wear is a novelty I am yet to get over.

But back to some Crohn's news for you all! Yesterday I headed for the local hospital for an appointment with my Stoma nurse. I have been having issues with the skin around Margaret becoming really sore. Due to my lengthy allergy list and sensitive skin I'm not surprised the skin is starting to have enough of being covered up with a big adhesive "flange" (eww). It has ended up turning an angry red colour, covered with little red spots some of which bleed, which isn't very pleasant. Last week after putting up with it for a while and treating it myself I decided enough was enough and called for an appointment. Luckily the stoma nurses know what they're doing and sent me home with a new type of bag, different wipes and powder to dry the area. Lets hope it starts to feel better soon!

I then had my pre-op for the colonoscopy I am having next week. Normally you don't need a pre-op before a colonoscopy as they don't really sedate you, however, due to past experiences I am being pretty much knocked out. The sedation required means I had to trot along to an appointment, where they measure things like your blood pressure, weight and height as well as swab your nose and throat for any infections... lovely! The waiting room at this place was pretty grim and depressing. After filling out a lengthy form (something I of course enjoyed) I headed in to see the nurse. She looked vaguely familiar but the amount of time I have spent in that place thats not really surprising! Turns out she remembered me too, from treating me on the hospital ward nearly two years ago - due to my youth compared to the other patients apparently. After ten minutes in there I was declared fit for "surgery" and sent packing ready for next week.

I will of course, update you all over the next with how they colonoscopy goes!

Love,
Gabi xxx




Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Big Convo & a Big Gamble

Hi Guys,

I planned to post about this weeks ago but time ran away with me, as it always does so...
Three or four weeks ago I had my standard appointment with my Dr. Consultant at the hospital. The amount of time between these appointments varies depending on how healthy I am and whats going on. This time it had been 6 whole months since my last one, which is always a good sign.

I arrived early as ever and got weighed (never a pleasant experience) before taking my seat outside the waiting room. The appointment went much the same as it always does, with questions from how I was feeling and how my symptoms have been to what I was generally up to. I let her know that the teaching idea had been put on the shelf until further notice and instead I was pursuing Chroma (more to follow on that later).
As the appointment was wrapping up Dr. Consultant asked me, "So are you happy to leave things the way they are?". To which in classic Gabi form I replied, "Yeah I guess so", despite my head thinking the opposite. Luckily Dr. Consultant knows my quite well by now and saw straight through this, probing me to really say what I thought. I explained that although I was getting on fine and enjoying being the healthiest I had been in a long time, ideally I would love to have Margaret reversed...

I was half expecting a disappointing reply, thinking that the likelihood of this happening wasn't all that high but was pleasantly surprised when Dr. Consultant agreed to carry out some tests to see if it would be a viable option. I don't think anyone has ever looked so pleased at the news that a colonoscopy was on the cards! I skipped out of that office with the biggest smile on my face, blood & colonoscopy form in hand, ready to book. Thankfully due to past colonoscopy experiences I am able to be knocked out for it, so although I'm not thrilled may anxiety levels shouldn't be too high. The even better news is that, due to Margaret, I don't need to take any of that horrible bowel prep before the ordeal!
I am now sitting tight, waiting to hear from the hospital with an appointment.

I am trying really hard not to get my hopes up, I was firmly explained before I even had Margaret that I only had a 1-2 in 10 chance of having her reversed. Although it is really hard not to hope and think for the best I know I have to be realistic about the situation. There is also the added factor that if I were to go for the reversal surgery it would mean another hospital and recovery and see me out of action again for six weeks. When you are already very poorly a hospital stay and recovery process doesn't seem to matter as much, but when you are healthy and enjoying life, it is suddenly a big deal. Choosing the timing of my surgery (if I am to have it) will be key and have to work around life and work. Luckily I am largely working for myself, being officially self employed and running Chroma.

Which leads me swiftly on to some very very exciting news. I have officially launched a KICKSTARTER campaign for Chroma! 

As you guys know I have spent the past few months working really hard to get Chroma off the ground but to take it to the next level I need to raise some money. In order to do this I have set up a Kickstarter project, aiming to raise £4,000. Kickstarter is a crowd funding site; it works by members of the public pledging an amount of money in return for rewards, such as a set of your own Chroma notebooks, our Chroma poster or a digital portrait of yourself in the style of our amazing animated film. 
However, Kickstarter is all or nothing; if I do not raise the full £4,000 then Chroma will not receive a penny. This is why I need as much help as possible. If you are able to pledge some money to my project, no matter how big or small, I would be incredibly grateful. If not however it would be equally as great if you could help me spread the word. The more people that hear about Chroma the more likely my campaign will be a success!  
Head over to my Kickstarter page HERE for more information on how Kickstarter works, my project and how you can help. My brother, Sean, has also made a pretty amazing animated film which if all else fails is definitely worth a watch!

I will leave you with that plea and will of course keep you updated with how the possible reversal goes!

Lots of love
xxx








Thursday, 4 September 2014

Shameless Promo

Hey everyone,

How have you all been?
My life had been pretty manic since I got back from my holiday. As some of you will know, the University project I mentioned a couple of months ago, way back in March time, has kind of taken over my life. If you can remember that far back as part of my final year project I set up my own stationery brand, then called Chroma Notebooks. I loved setting it up and thankfully it was pretty well received! This has meant that I have made the decision to continue with the developing the brand. I am officially self employed and running Chroma (Stationery)! We are suppling personalised stationery in 20 different colours, we are able to digitally emboss any name/initial/logo or message on to the customers notebook.



It is both exciting and terrifying in good measure but the perks of working for myself, from home, doing something I truly love outweighs my fear. Things were moving at an annoyingly slow pace in the weeks leading up to my holiday then all of a sudden that pace picked up.
My phone and laptop came with me to Spain and I spent a couple of afternoons working through things that couldn't wait until I got back. Since I returned I have been kept very busy with exciting developments, photo-shoots and meetings. It is something I am very passionate about and want to work so much and if it doesn't then I will have learnt a whole lot! If you could check Chroma out at www.chromastationery.co.uk then that would be amazing! I also have a Facebook and Twitter on the go with I would appreciate a follow on.




Apart from that I have spent a week house sitting, part time job hunting and getting back in to the swing of being home from my holidays! It is a month today until my birthday, the big 2 3. Although I yet to have any plans, I'm sure I'll figure something out. I also have kind of big Margaret based news developing, something I will write about in the coming days, so check back again soon for that update. 

Lots of love
xxx

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Mine and Margaret's first holiday

Hello,

Apologies that it has been a while since my last post but Margaret and I have been relaxing pool side on a two week holiday to Spain. Although I have been away with Margaret over night to friends houses or weekends away, we have yet to venture out the country, for longer than 3 nights or on a plane. I'll be honest, I didn't really give it much thought. I like to think Margaret and I know each other pretty well by now and we muddle along just fine - it is rare that she plays up or does anything unexpected, so I thought we'd be fine, and largely we were.

I packed enough supplies for one bag a day which is three of four times what I would usually need - I normally change everything two or three times a week. I then pre cut every bag - this is where you cut the right size hole in the adhesive 'flange' (ERGH) so that your stoma ('Margaret') can fit through and sit snuggly. I normally do two at a time and then get bored so having to cut 14 was very boring. I then packaged up 14 pieces of everything else I needed and made up 4 little packages of supplies. Each one went in to a different suitcase or my hand luggage. I couldn't stand the thought of losing my case and having all of Margaret's stuff going with it. That would leave me in a right pickle and would be a faff to get new supplies in a foreign country.


The mass or Margaret stuff EVERYWHERE

Throughout the two week holiday there were a couple of Margaret related tales which popped up...

1. The plane journeys & airport experience
I had read up on plane journeys with an ostomy bag and found out that it is pretty common for them to expand with gas as you change altitude. Sure enough, that is what Margaret did. It wasn't a huge issue just slightly uncomfortable as the bad becomes solid. I avoided fizzy drinks on the flight as they make it worse and in the end it wasn't too bad. 
One thing I was worried about was getting through security - the last thing I needed was to be flagged up for having metal on me, patted down by a security woman and then having to explain that the package you can feel underneath my clothes is definitely not an attempt to smuggle drugs. I was relieved to stroll straight through with no bleeping machine. 

3. The heat
The heat is something Margaret never had to really deal with before. Obviously her functionality was never going to change but having a big adhesive, sometimes heavy, thing permanently stuck to your stomach in 35 degree heat can get very uncomfortable and very irritating. I surprised myself with how well I coped. I thought I would go crazy and want to rip the thing off but in fact the majority of the time I stayed pretty cool and calm. I found a lot of it was a state of mind thing, if I let myself become agitated and overwhelmed by the heat then things felt ten times worse.

4. Dehydration
Dehydration wasn't something I had given much thought to. A couple of times it did however get the better of me. I was definitely not drinking enough water and sometimes went a considerable amount of time without food, due to early breakfasts and late lunches. My salt intake was also decreased, I am not one to particularly add salt to my food and normally get the extra salt I need through a packet of crisps. The crisps in Spain are largely plain and have very little salt on them compared to the UK. All of these factors meant that at times I ended up feeling very flaky, sick, headachy and shaky. Every time I got a full fat coke and something salty down me, I felt a million times better. It is definitely something I need to be more aware of in the future. 

5. By the pool
The more times Margaret gets wet, the more weakened the adhesive seal becomes. I was in and out the pool or the sea all day so had to be very aware of drying off the bag and especially the adhesive after getting out the pool. The weather dried it off pretty well every time so it wasn't as big a deal as I thought it would be. 

6. Experiences
Despite having Margaret I was convinced I was going to do everything that everyone else did. I went swimming off of rocks, ate all the same foods and ventured up a waterfall for 45 minutes - swimming through valleys of water, battling currents and climbing up rocks. It was pretty exhausting and not helped by the freezing fresh water but it felt like such an achievement to have done it with everyone else! It made me realise how healthy I am. Only a few months ago I would never have been able to do that. 

7. The disabled toilet incident
Finally, there was one particular incident on our return journey home. Caryl (my brothers's girlfriend) and I headed to the toilets before boarding our flight home. There we found that the ladies was closed and it was a one in, one out system for the disabled loo. After a longish wait, in I went. There I was emptying Margaret before the flight, minding my own business when the sliding door began to open. I looked up to see an elderly man stood there holding the door open for the long waiting queue to see... 
The shock had me rooted to the spot and I barely made a sound. He didn't even seem to bat an eyelid, muttered an apology in French and then began to close the door. Very slowly. I continued to sit, on the toilet, whilst the sliding door was slid shut. 
The embarrassment was horrific, especially having to then leave the loo and face my audience AND the elderly man himself. Safe to say I will be barricading myself in to every public toilet I use from now on...

Apart from that little incident the holiday was amazing. I relaxed after a pretty stressful few years, being poorly for over a year, two hospitalisations, Margaret, a break up and my final year of university - it was safe to say I really needed a break and I definitely got it. It was great to stay somewhere we holidayed as children and so close to where we used to live in Spain. Two weeks of eating amazing food, relaxing by the pool and spending time with my family - it was bliss and I am definitely fed up that I had to come home!






Lots of love
XXX

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

BBC Radio Berkshire TAKE TWO

Hey guys,

I know many of you will have recently seen the brave Bethany Townsend's bikini snap, with her ostomy bags out and proud! This photo sparked a worldwide reaction with millions of people now having seen it.



Many other people have snapped themselves on holiday with their bags on show but this image, in particular, has done a great job of bringing Crohn's and ostomy bags to the forefront of peoples minds. It is due to this sudden media frenzy that I was asked to go back once again to BBC Radio Berkshire and talk on the breakfast show.

It took a while to get it scheduled due to my work and brother's graduation but once it was sorted I headed to their studio with my Dad. He happens to work in the same building so it worked out really well. I was up bright and early and headed in to have a cooked breakfast before going on the show.
It was pretty exciting going in to a real life radio studio! Last time I was on the show, I was only a few weeks out of surgery so was still unable to drive, this meant that I was taxi-ed to the local council offices where I sat in a tiny, cupboard of a room, on my own with an ancient machine, where the lights would shut off every 5 minutes if I didn't move around enough.
The difference in the experience this time round was huge, although I was a bit nervous before going in, I felt a lot better being able to see and hear everything properly. Being able to sit in front of the Radio DJ, Vernon, made it seem like we were having a conversation and I was definitely a lot more relaxed.



The feature started off with my new mate, Vern, talking to Bethany on the phone (the bikini photo ostimate) about her reasons behind the post and what she wanted to achieve from here as well as a break down of the disease. After about 10 minutes and the traffic news I was bought through to chat about my blog and the positive things I see coming from Bethany's photo. I was pretty excited as I got to wear headphones (one ear on, one ear off - of course) and speak in to a huge red microphone - you can tell my life has been exciting recently that THAT was a highlight. I felt pretty confident about what I was speaking about and I think it went well! Bethany was lovely and Vern made me feel comfortable in a pretty alien setting. It was all over in a flash and I was out of there by 9:30!

I hope it will help to bring even more publicity to the disease and educate people. I also hope that if there are sufferers out there, especially girls and women, who lack confidence and are feeling generally rubbish about having Crohn's/IBD/ostomy, that they feel a little less alone and a little better about everything.
I'm not a big fan of the lime light or being the centre of attention, so really thats the only reason why I agree to talk publicly about my own experiences. If me being open and honest helps even one sufferer  or their family or educates one member of the public then I am a happy chappy.



I'm sure if you REALLY wanted to listen to my not-so-great radio voice then you can listen again online. I will update you on my past few weeks very soon,

Lots of love
xxx

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Graduation!

Hello everyone!

After my last ranting post, I am incredibly pleased to fill you in with some very good news! Last Wednesday I graduated from the University of the Creative Arts, with a 2:1 in BA (Hons) Fashion Promotion & Imaging! After the longest three years (four if you include my Art Foundation) I am very relieved to have come out with a 2:1. Obviously I would have loved a 1st, something made all the more annoying by missing out on it by a tiny 2%?! I managed to get a 1st for my dissertation and my final major project which means that it largely came down to my 2nd year, to dragging my final grade down.
I hate, hate, hate to ever use Crohn's as an excuse or to ever let it get in the way but unfortunately sometimes, it seems to be unavoidable. Despite my hardest efforts I still wasn't able to achieve the 1st which I know I would have gotten if I hadn't been so poorly or missed so much Uni. Of course, a 2:1 is still an incredible achievement but for me, as a complete perfectionist I couldn't help but be a bit gutted that it managed to get in the way of my full potential. Sometimes it does feel that no amount of incredibly hard work will be able to counteract the 'crap' that comes with the disease. However, after the initial disappointment I can see how considering everything that has happened and the challenges I faced, especially in my 2nd year, I should be very happy.

So, after finding out my grade a couple of weeks ago, I headed to London Festival Hall on Wednesday for my graduation ceremony. Both my brothers couldn't make it so it was just me and my parents, which was still lovely. It was a long, tiring day and at times I got very hot and sweaty - which is not a great look - but all in all I loved it. My dress had been chosen weeks before, and I had tried on multiple different pieces of underwear to find the one which would disguise Margaret the best! I think the final choices worked very well.





At a couple of points I did have a mini panic that she would decide to leak everywhere and my white dress would do little to hide it. I did however go very prepared with a spare dress, just in case! After getting my gown and hat fitted and having my professional photos taken, we had just over an hour to kill, which we spent taking lots more photos. I got to see friends I haven't seen since the course finished and have photos taken with girls that have gone through 4 long years of blood, sweat and tears with me! Due to my Margaret paranoia I decided to try and eat as little as possible before the point of walking across stage. I ate some Haribo up on the train (very healthy) and a full fat coke, but apart from that I stayed away from food until after the ceremony. I just couldn't deal with having her be obvious in all my photos and in front of at thousands of people. In my day to day life I am largely pretty confident about having her, and don't think about it too much, but going on stage turned me in to a complete nervous wreck!
I was terrified before going on stage, I am not one to enjoy the spotlight or be the centre of attention, so having all eyes on me - even for just a couple of minutes - had me shaking. Thankfully, I did not fall over or make a complete fool out of myself, so once I was safely back in my seat I felt much calmer and properly felt that I could enjoy the rest of the day!
After the ceremony, the three of us headed to an amazing Italian restaurant near Covent Garden which finished off an amazing day wonderfully!

It was once home and after looking through the many, many photos I think the day really sunk in and for the first time I felt pretty, damn proud of myself.



XXX

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Junk Food - Fuming

So, many of you will have seen in the news today Dr Sally Mitton talk about the increase in young people being admitted to hospital in the past decade. The fact that in 2003/2004 there were 4937 reported cases of young people being admitted to hospital with Crohn's Disease compared with the 19,405 cases in 2013/2014 is a pretty awful statistic. I am part of this statistic and if one good thing comes of this is that it will help raise awareness and funding for research as to why. This dramatic increase has clearly grabbed the attention of the British press and what I take huge issue with is what Dr Mitton goes on to state....

"if you have a lot of junk food in your diet before your diagnosis, it actually makes you more likely to develop Crohn's Disease... a lot of antibiotics - particularly in younger life - seem to be more likely to develop this condition..."

The backlash of this kind of comment is incredibly negative. For a disease already burdened with stigma and assumptions, the last thing it needs is people believing that the reason we all have it is due to stuffing our faces with 'junk food'. Now, people around me will know, that I do love a good McDonald's, however this love began aged 18, 2 years after my diagnosis. Prior to my diagnosis I was a healthy 8 stone, 16 year old, who did dance, netball and karate. My dad still cooked all my meals at home and I had no money to buy my own junk food or takeaways.

As a child I lived the first part of my life in Spain, a country where at the time there simply wasn't processed foods. I grew up on a diet of olives, fresh fruit and vegetables, rice and seafood. 'Kids' junk food wasn't available and children ate the same as adults. My whole life, my Dad has cooked every evening meal from scratch. I have never grown up with processed or 'junk foods'. To this day, aged 22, I have never had a microwave or 'oven' meal.

By making such a sweeping, damaging statement Dr Mitton and the press which quoted her, have managed to alienate and stigmatise an already 'embarrassing' disease. By claiming a link with 'junk food' she has allowed sufferers to think that this horrendous, life changing disease is their fault, and the parents of children with it to believe it was down to something they did wrong. The report basically puts blame on the patients, which is not just incredibly unfair but also ignorant and down right wrong. There are so many possible causes of the disease with the majority being completely uncontrollable such as genetics, pollution and viruses. This 'blame' shames patients and their parents (if diagnosed as a child) who are already battling with the day-to-day crap (no pun intended) that comes with having the disease. I couldn't bare to think of my parents ever thinking that me having this disease was their fault.

Frankly, if parents and patients are to blame for eating junk food and thus having Crohn's then surely a considerable amount of 'blame' needs to be directed to whoever was providing turkey twirlers, potato smiley faces and processed burgers to primary aged school children before Jamie Oliver put a stop to it.

Not once since my diagnosis have I ever been told about 'junk food' or diet being the cause. I have never been offered nutritional advice or been asked to alter what I eat. I would like to think that if this were to be the cause then this advice would have been given by my extremely experience medical staff. Once you have been diagnosed, many people notice that certain foods upset their symptoms or they develop food intolerances. These kind of diet changed or adaptations are very individual to each patient - there is no blanket cause/treatment/diet plan.

The fact remains that having Crohn's Disease comes with a lot of 'unknown' and there are clearly multiple factors and arguments for why certain people get the disease. However, claiming that this is down to junk food and having that aparent 'cause' leading the report is hugely damaging and has a very wide knock on effect. I am disgusted.

Safe to say I am fuming.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Happy Birthday Margaret... what a difference a year makes.

Today is Margaret's first birthday.
I remember, a year ago today I sat in the pre-op waiting room, with my mum, waiting to go in to surgery and have Margaret. The name had already been chosen, and as I was given the anaesthetic I remember thinking about telling the nurse what I had planned on calling her.
(Jeeze - she sounds like my child)

It's only looking back now, that I realise just how poorly I was and how much worse I could have gotten. At the time I was pretty oblivious to how unwell I was, I had gotten so used to feeling awful that I think both me and those around me lost some perspective of how bad I was. I remember sitting, waiting to meet my surgeon for the first time, discussing with my Mum that maybe I didn't look ill enough as I was having a 'good day'.
Half an hour later Mr Surgeon offered to do the surgery that afternoon - clearly my 'good day' wasn't that great. I still remember what I was wearing that day and how ridiculous I looked in one of the huge hospital wheelchairs. Three sleeps later, Margaret was created.

Looking back at the last year it is scary to see how much can change in 12 months.
I have been on radio, had my blog tweeted by the likes of Alan Sugar, Alan Carr, Dynamo and Lennox Lewis, lost 16lbs and bought a dachshund.
One thing I am incredibly proud of is finishing my degree, something which I never doubted I would do but I know could have easily not happened. Completing a degree for anyone is an achievement and not an easy task, I know I have had it pretty bad but there are people everywhere who have gotten through a lot worse. I still firmly believe that everyone has their crap to deal with and I don't really believe that my achievement is that much greater than others.
One thing I do hope it shows people is that having an illness should never, ever stop you, and that with a hell of a lot of hard work there is no reason why you can't do anything you want. I have managed to complete a lot of things on Margaret and I's to do list, although I still haven't met David Beckham, something which I can't get my head round but am convinced will one day happen!

I won't pretend that this year has been easy, months of it were pretty horrendous in fact. I am grateful to Margaret for keeping me alive and making me better. We do, however, have a love-hate relationship. If I had the choice she would be reversed in a heart beat and I wouldn't miss her for a second. I have thought a lot about what life would be like without her and I would do things a lot differently than I did before Margaret. The main thing being wear bikinis. All day every day, Summer and Winter, with every fat roll on show for all to see because until you can't you don't realise how good it is to bare your belly. Whether that will ever happen remains to be seen, but my fingers and toes are crossed.

The people that surround me are what have gotten me through, my amazing parents and brothers and wonderful friends (my girls and Harry in particular) - so to them a huge, huge thank you. One thing I have learnt over the year is who really cares and what really matters and that life is way too short. I value being able to go out and enjoy myself, see my friends and make plans. Spending a lot of time in bed, in hospital, in wheelchairs or on crutches with my arthritic knee has made me really think about my body and how insanely lucky I am to be able to walk, run and dance.

To everyone who has read, or still reads, this little blog and has gotten it to just under a crazy 75,000 views - thank you too. The kind words of strangers still blows my mind.

A year ago I was in a wheelchair, incredibly poorly and terrified of what was to come.
I sit now, a year on, with my joy of a dachshund on my lap, and both the healthiest and happiest I have ever been.

So thank you and happy birthday Margaret.



xxx

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Bye Bye Uni!



So that is it!
After three long years full of many highs and rock bottom lows I have finally finished my degree. Last week I handed in my final major project, "Chroma Notebooks", after setting up my exhibition space. I expected to hand it all in and be on a huge high, instead I didn't really feel anything. I was exhausted and felt like I wanted to sleep for weeks, the nights after my hand in I still struggled to sleep and felt anxious. It was only until a few days later that I felt a massive sense of relief. Now, nearly two weeks on, it has really hit home! I spent the Bank Holiday weekend celebrating with all my wonderful friends. Tonight is my final exhibition opening for family and friends which will also help mark an end to my time at UCA. I don't graudate until mid June and I have no idea when I will find out my grade but until then I plan to enjoy the freedom before I enter the 'real world'.

The stress of these final few weeks had clearly been starting to take their toll on my old tummy. I had been having sore stomach cramps and back ache which for me are the first warning signs of the Crohn's playing up. I also suffered from this weird white stuff coming out of the other end of Margaret - the bit of intestine connected to my un-used intestine. This did worry me quite a bit so I got in touch with my consultant who thankfully put my mind at rest. Luckily it seems to have now settled down and all my symptoms have disappeared! I always new stress was a big factor in my disease and this made it all the more clear. 




My exhibition space


My portfolio 


My graduation dress

As I have mentioned many times my quest to tone up and keep fit is an on going battle. I love the idea of exercise and looking slim but hate, with a passion, getting out of breath. I have decided however that with three months to go until my holiday to Spain, I really should join a gym! I have been twice since I joined three days ago which is a good start! I guess we'll see how I get on.
Last night my lovely friend Phoebe and I decided to try something new. We headed to our first aerial hoop class. For those that don't know you basically do a series of moves/poses/transitions on a hoop suspended in the air - a bit like in the circus. I went in thinking it would be a bit of fun, never expecting it to be as hard work as it was. The work out my arms and stomach had was intense; I could barely use the gear stick to drive home and the backs of my knees were in agony. It was only when I got home that I could have a look.


These are the backs of my knees just 10 hours after the class. You spend a lot of your time gripping the steal hoop with the backs of your legs, with them taking your whole body weight. Obviously my knees were not a fan of this and the bruising I have been left with is pretty awful. Strangely I am quite keen to head back and get better. It felt so good to be doing something different whilst keeping fit and I felt like I learnt so much!... I will let you know how I get on next week...

Finally the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards have come round again, if you love what I do and fancy entering me for the Best Newcomer or Best Lifestyle Blog then I would be very grateful!

BLOG AWARDS!


Lots of love!
XXX




Monday, 14 April 2014

Chroma

Hi lovely people,

So as I mentioned in my last process I have set up my own business as part of my final major uni project. I have decided to carry it on once I graduate which is all very exciting!
I am doing my best to get things off the ground if you could all check out my website and online shop and spread the word, I would be incredibly grateful! You can find me here:

www.chromanotebooks.co.uk

I also have my FACEBOOK and TWITTER

Any feedback or comments would also be very much appreciated.

I'm sorry to say that due to this business taking over I don't have much other news! My life currently consists of uni work, organising Chroma and working - not the most fun combination eh!
I will update you all as soon as I hand everything in and my life yes a little more exciting.

Lots of love
XXX

Friday, 28 March 2014

My March Update

Hello Everyone!

SO!
As I may have mentioned in my last post, my consultant was going to be having a meeting with her team to discuss my medication and the possibility of coming off either the Aza tablets or the Humira injections. I'd forgotten all about this conversation until I got a letter in the post last week explaining that this won't be happening until at least August, at my next appointment. They want to leave it a full year of owning old Margaret before taking me off meds.
I know that logically this is a sensible decision and I know if I do end up going for a reversal I want to have the best chances of staying healthy. However... I can't help but be a bit gutted that I won't be lowering the meds. Practically it doesn't really matter, taking tablets is something I have done my whole life for one thing or another and the injections have become routine and no longer bother me. It's more the idea of pumping chemicals and medication in to my body. I'm not a very holistic person but it does scare me sometimes...

Since my last post, many things have happened!

1/ Toby is 6 months old and his puppy teeth are falling out! I found some on the floor, which was a bit bizarre and made me sad - I want him to stay a puppy forever.




2/ I have managed to commit to losing a bit of weight and getting fitter. I think being told I had lost 9 pounds really spurred me on to lose a bit more - I feel given I am half way there, pretty much by accident, I couldn't let myself slip backwards! So recently I have been doing Davina Fit DVDs, which are surprisingly hard but quite fun. I have also cut out takeaways and cut down on McDonalds... I am even signing up for Race For Life! Yes, I am going to try running.... again.

3/ I also had the best ever news... I got a 1st in my dissertation! Something I am over joyed about. I worked incredibly hard on that piece of writting and really enjoyed putting it together. I am really glad that despite everything, nothing got in the way and I still pulled it out of the bag! Hopefully this sets me up and stands me in good stead for my final degree grade.

4/ For my final major project I have set up my own stationery brand called Chroma. I would love all of your support so if you could like my Facebook & Twitter page that would be great! The online site goes live on April 6th - so look out for that too! Thank you :)

CHROMA FACEBOOK

CHROMA TWITTER

5/ As part of keeping slim I also decided to go to a ballet class... I did ballet aged 6 for a term or two and did other types of dance for about four years until I was 16. I have always been pretty flexible and after watching Big Ballet I felt inspired to have a go again. I headed to the class full of anticipation, feeling like I was in Fame! But after the class, I hate to say it, but I was really disappointed. I found it incredibly hard work and difficult to follow which would have been fine but the class was full of people who had been doing it for a long while longer than me and knew what they were doing. It was very hard to keep up and I felt a bit silly. On top of that my knee played up a lot and was really sore afterwards - I ended up having to sit with ice on it to reduce the swelling. So all in all not very successful... which was a big disappointment!


I now have about 4 and half weeks until my final hand in of my final major project, something which will mark the end of my degree! It is obviously a very stressful time and I think this is why my tummy has been a bit sore. Of course it is nothing compared to how it has been but I am getting the odd grumbly tummy ache. I do think this is mainly down to how stressed I feel and working really hard every day either at uni or work. Hopefully once this is all handed in the stress will ease and so will the grumbly tummy.

Coming up is the busiest time of my life so far so I will endeavour to update the blog but if not.. see you on the other side...

Lots of love
xxx



Monday, 24 February 2014

Margaret Meet Margaret

Hi guys,

So last week I received a telling off letter from one of the lovely IBD nurses about my lack of bloods. I am supposed to get them done every 2 months due to the cocktail of medication that I am on but the last few months have been so busy with Uni, work and basically enjoying life for the first time in a long, long while - I have completely forgotten about getting them done. So last Thursday I went in to my GP surgery, tail between my legs, to pick up my blood form before heading to the local hospital to get the bloods done. I had tried to book an appointment with my normal, trusty phlebotomist (favourite word right there) but I needed them so last minute, there was no available slot.
This is where my luck changed! It turned out someone had just canceled and I could be fitted in, which was brilliant as she knows the exact vein that my blood will drip out of, rather than having to poke me with numerous needles. I ran out to tell my Mum who was waiting in the car for me, she decided to whizz home whilst I was having it done and then come back to pick me up afterwards - she handed me her phone, as I hadn't picked mine up and off I went. Fifteen minutes later as I left the surgery and went to call my Mum I realised that her phone was locked and lucky me didn't know the pin.
I racked my brains with how I could get in touch with her realising I knew nobody in the local area who I could borrow a phone from and absolutely no money for a phone box. I tried a reverse charge call only to find out that our home phone had blocked them... very helpful! I ended up walking fifteen minutes in the rain and wind, with just a cardigan on, to the local Waitrose, where I begged to borrow their phone, looking like a drowned rat. Thankfully, they agreed and my Mum soon showed up to save me.

Two days later I headed to my see my consultant at the big hospital, where I have previously stayed. It always feels a little too familiar and a little uncomfortable when I go back there. That particular hospital stay, over a year ago now, was horrendous and filled with fear and pain. I now try and smile at anyone wandering round in hospital gowns or being wheeled in beds and wheelchairs, I know how awful they must be feeling.
On arrival I was weighed, as I always am and settled down in the waiting room. Eventually I was called in where I was greeted with,
"So is this the new slim Gabi then?"
This is not the usual way I am greeted, and although very faltered I was very confused - I thought 'oh I must have lost a bit of weight then!'
Turns out I have lost 9 pounds in 3 months! How amazing is that! I tell you, it was the best news to hear on a Friday morning. I have been watching what I eat and have obviously cut out takeaways for weeks now but I never in a million years thought I had lost that much. Very happy news indeed.
After going through my symptoms (none) and my medication (same as ever) my consultant announced that she has been reading my blog and passing it on to other patients, 'GREAT!' I thought, the more people who get something from it the better...
She followed this up with, 'and I know what you have called your stoma...'
You see, my consultant's name is Margaret...

Now I have said this before, this is a complete coincidence. Matt came up with the name before I even got Margaret and I never made the connection; it was only Mum who pointed it out once it had already stuck. I had never quite got around to revealing this to my consultant, never sure when the right time would be, but now, it turns out she knows!
I laughed a lot and assured her that this was never deliberate and in fact a good thing, and if you are reading this then - hello!

We decided that it is probably a good idea to leave Margaret alone for a while longer, and really give my bowel a rest. I know this is the right thing to do and in many ways I am loving being healthy and enjoying life. However, there is part of me that is a little disappointed - being fairly newly single has made me much more aware of having Margaret and she doesn't provide the best chat up lines - but I guess thats another new hurdle we will have to overcome.

Oh! Also! In case you didn't see Sam Faiers (who I mentioned in my previous post) has recently gone on This Morning to talk about Crohn's and her diagnosis. I found the interview truly brilliant, she perfectly described the symptoms and the reality of living with the disease. I still have people who are confused and liken it to IBS or food intolerance, but Sam successfully managed to articulate exactly how it feels to have this disease.
Check out the interview here! and let me know what you think!

Lots of love especially to my fellow IBD sufferers,
XXX

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Valentines Day and Sam Faiers

Hi everyone,

The last few weeks have been really great!
I spent Valentines day with all of my favourite people. I started the day off with my gorgeous pup before meeting the lovely Jo for lunch, where I ate an unnatural amount of chicken.
I vowed that I wouldn't spend any extra money on myself... this lasted approximately 10 minutes once I had entered Topshop. I left with a new dress and top, convincing myself I definitely deserved a Valentines Day treat to myself.
That evening I had all the girls round to my house for drinks before meeting all my other wonderful friends in town. One bar had a great Valentines game, where everyone was given one half of a famous couple and your job was to find the other half - once you did you got a free drink! Safe to say this kept me entertained for a long, long time. I had my own badge and my friends, which coincidentally were Gabrielle and Marge! How creepy is that! I only managed to find Homer, which considering how manic it was in there, was quite the achievement.





Last weekend we also celebrated my Mums birthday! My dad sorted out a surprise meal for her at a local restaurant; she arrived thinking it was going to be just the two of them, only to find my two brothers and I! Sean had come all the way from Cardiff to surprise her which was lovely. The food wasn't half bad either!

Uni has been particularly stressful at the moment, with lots of tutorials going on. I have worked out that I have 10 weeks until my hand in, something which has sent me in to a right panic. This week I was also given my final graduation date. I will be donning my cap and gown and striding on to a stage in front of hundreds of people on June 25th! I am so nervous at the thought of it, although finding a graduation dress is going to be so much fun!

Jo and I also have plans in place to head to Isle of Wright festival... something which poses a lovely new challenge with Margaret. It falls around June 6th, which will mean a whole year since my surgery. I can't think of a much better way to spend it than partying in a field of mud with my best friends, not letting Margaret hold me back.
You may all have seen the recent articles revealing that Sam Faiers, TOWIE and Celebrity Big Brother star, has recently been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. She is 23 and has apparently been poorly for a while. Sam is a fairly high profile celebrity to have been diagnosed, which should have a huge impact on the number of people who read and learn about the disease. Although it is sad that it takes a celebrity to be diagnosed to get people to realise and listen. For the number of people that Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis effects, it is largely not heard of and definitely not understood. I am six years down the line from where Sam is now and although she has a long and exhausting road ahead and I'm sure it all seems terrifying right now, I hope I am proof that she will be okay in the end. I wish her all the best in getting better and hope she keeps on smiling.

Lots of love
xxx


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

HELP

Hi everyone,

For my final major uni project I'm looking at peoples relationships with colour and how colour is linked to memories and emotions. 
If you have any stories, memories, rules or anecdotes which you associate (even vaguely) with a colour - please please get in touch. 
For example:
My mums health visitor told her that babies don't sleep well in yellow bedrooms 

My plan is to collect all these memories/stories and put them together in some form or another, most likely a book. By getting in touch, you'd be allowing me to use your story, quoting you of course. Let me know if you'd prefer to remain anonymous. 
It'll really help me so much. 

Lots of love 
XXX

Friday, 31 January 2014

January January January

Hi Guys, 

It's been a while since my last post, so I thought it was about time I updated you all on my goings on. 
I have spent most of January with my amazing friends, having some well deserved time for myself and having a lot of fun. This month has also included saying goodbye to another of my best girl friends, waving her off to Oz. Nashy left a week ago now, to join Cho down under. It is so weird that one by one most of my friends are heading round the world - at least there is another 5months before Zo and Hill go though... 




Bye Bye Nashy 

I also met up with a very old friend from Oz, Lauren. She and her family went to live there when we were about 12 and I have only seen her once, very briefly, since. It was so bizarre catching up with her after ten years but it was so lovely. So much has happened in ten years, its's hard to even remember back that far!


Me and Lauren


Harry and I on his birthday - one of my oldest and bestest friends.



Nashy, Hill, Me and Joey on Nashy's last night out

My New Years resolutions have so far been going quite well. 
I have at least one holiday sorted, I'm going away for two weeks with my family, probably to Spain - which will be amazing. I haven't been away in such a long time, I am craving the sun so badly. This means I definitely need to start the search for Margaret appropriate bikinis... something which I have a feeling may take a long while. Joey and I are also talking about our wild plans to visit loads of exciting places, so we'll see where we end up!

The running isn't going so well... one morning I did strap on my trainers, plug in my music and set off. It started off well, I felt great! After a short time I began to feel this almost burning pressure in my chest all the way up to my ears, and my breathing was getting heavier. I didn't think much of it, and just assumed it was due to my lack of exercise and running abilities. I stopped a couple of times and did some power walking and during a song pause I realised my breathing sounded horrific. It was a whistling, rasping, wheezing sound, the pain got worse and ended up having to walk home. My inhaler quickly fixed the problem, but it did put me off big time. Maybe running isn't my thing...

I am also happy to say that I have successfully given up McDonald's (and all other take aways) for the whole of January, which I am ashamed to say is the longest I have gone without one in probably 5-6 years! I am thinking of maybe trying for the whole of Feb or maybe just having one on the first of every month. We'll see how I feel tomorrow. It has meant that I have lost 3/4lbs - which I am not complaining about. 

I have begun my job back on my old Art Foundation course as a graduate teaching assistant. I am really loving it, and although it isn't exactly the age group I want to teach, it still feels good to be working with people and helping where I can. I think it has also built up my confidence about talking in front of groups of people, which is something I have always hated doing. 

I was recently approached by the Crohn's and Colitis charity to see whether I would be interested in possible further media opportunities - something which I of course said yes to. I would be nervous about having the focus on me, I hate being the centre of attention but it is also so important to me that people get to hear and understand about Crohn's and ostomies. I'm not sure where this is going but it is still quite exciting! 

Uni has been going really well and keeping me busy, although I know I need to get in to gear and really get going with my work. I know once I have found my groove and get the bug there will be no stopping me but until I find where I am going with my final major project it is hard to get motivated. My dissertation on the other hand is all done and dusted and I strangely really loved doing it. I love writting and was so passionate about my title that I now miss it! It felt so nerve wracking to hand it in after months of such hard work but it is also now a weight off my mind!



This month much of my focus has been on Toby, my gorgeous pup. He has now reached his full adult size, which is crazy because he is still so small. We've been going to puppy classes which are hilerious. Last week I was told off, in front of the whole class, for laughing at him - I can't help it, he is just the most comical dog! My friend Jo and I sat there trying not to burst in to fits of laughter, whilst the dog trainer went in to detail as to why it's bad to laugh at your dog, whilst pointing directly at me. It felt like being in school again! Tobes has managed to learn how to sit, lie down and wait for his food, but still barks when he wants attention but doesn't bark when he wants to go out - not helpful! He does, however, make me smile every day, he has made quite a tough and hurtful time so much happier and easier. I love him to absolute pieces. 






This is a very edited selection of photos, as my friends would tell you, I am obsessed with taking photos of Toby...


Margaret has been largely behaving herself, the area around her is slowly becoming more and more sore and red. There has been some open skin which I have managed to heal all by myself with the help of some powder. I have such sensitive skin, I think it is struggling with the constant adhesive - its like the skin is thinning. I also managed to catch a stomach bug - my first with Margaret. I managed to cope with it all quite well and didn't feel nearly as poorly as I would have been if I hadn't had Margie. This past week I have had a nasty flu like cold. It isn't as bad as flu I've had before, but I have still been feeling very poorly indeed. I have had to miss uni and most annoyingly a planned weekend away in Bristol with my friends. I am supposed to be there now and am so gutted to miss it! My lack of immune system and constant tiredness really does get in the way sometimes... 

I will try my very best to update you all much sooner next time, 
Lots of love 
xxx


Monday, 6 January 2014

Goals for 2014

Hi everyone,

So today is apparently one of the most, if not the most, depressing days of the year. Granted the weather is miserable, its a Monday and if you are anything like me you are suffering with over spending at Christmas and New Year. However, in the spirit of 'looking to the future' and my love of list writting, here are my aims and goals for 2014...

1. Work towards completing everything on Margaret and Gabi's To Do List.
- When I first got Margaret, I wrote myself a To Do list of things I wanted to do once I was healthy, many of these I have already managed to do like have a spa day with my Mum and finally get a dog! However, others such as running a marathon have yet to get going. This particular one is something I want to achieve, or at least work towards achieving.

2. Run.
- I need to get my act together and get my bum moving. My knee is something which does worry me but I think if I am careful there is no reason why I cant get my jog on. After years of my weight fluctuating due to ill health and steroids I am determined to get back to being and looking healthy and slim.

3. Give up McDonalds (for January...at least).
- A long running joke for many of my friends is my love of McDonalds, there was a time in my life where I ate 5 in a week... horrific I know. Although I would never dream of doing that now, I probably have 3-4 a month and that is still not healthy. My goal for at least January is to give up McDonalds and all other take aways. I am on day 6 and going strong!

4. Holiday.
- The majority of last year was spent sat in front of the tv or in bed, during the Summer I was obviously recovering from surgery and so was unable to get away and since then my life has been rather hectic. This year is my final at Uni and in 5 months time I will be done and dusted with my degree - my plan is to go away for a couple of weeks after I have graduated. Many of my friends are travelling the world, saying good bye to England for a year or more. This does not appeal to me. I want to visit amazing places and see the world but the thought of living out of a rucksack for months on end and not seeing my family is not something I want to do. Having Margaret is also a consideration, therefore my plan is to head off on mini trips with possibly inter-railing in July/August. I want to visit the Greek islands and Italy, and I will probably do it on my own! Scary!
I would LOVE to go skiing again but my very limited budget may stop this happening any time soon...

5. Get a job as a teaching assistant.
- It isn't looking likely that I will get in to do my PGCE this year, I have limited experience compared to other people and my degree is not a curriculum subject. My plan is therefor to take a year out and work as a TA. This is something I think I will love doing, and will also give me a bit of time out from learning and education.

6. Possibly / maybe / hopefully have Margaret reversed.
- Now this is a big deal. I have been told that this is up to me, and although the control freak in me is doing cartwheels, it is also quite scary. I know I want to give it a shot and try to have it reversed but I'm not sure if this year is the year to do it. I have a lot going on and just getting used to being healthy and as much as having Margaret isn't ideal, she does keep me well. Big decisions ahead!

7. Brush my teeth in the shower.

8. Finally, the most important of all, meet David Beckham.

I will of course keep you all updated on how I get on with this list. I hope your January 6th isn't as depressing as the media are making it out to be, and your 2014 is off to a flying start,

Lots of love
xxx