Sunday, 26 July 2015

The day that Margaret went on strike - PART 1

Hey guys,

Margaret and I have had a rocky couple of days, a couple days ago she decided to get the hump and stop working. I normally empty the bag 5-7 times over 24 hours, it's very dependent on what I eat, how much I eat and activity levels. The only times that I always, always have to empty are around 11pm before I go to bed, at some point in the middle of the night, usually 5am ish and when I wake up between 8:00 and 9:00 on a weekday.

Wednesday evening I went to go to bed and the bag was completely empty which is very odd, I didn't think too much of it but my stomach did feel kind of odd. It's such a hard feeling to describe but something was definitely off. I woke up at 8:30am and realised I hadn't needed to get up at all in the night and that there was only the smallest amount in there from the past 12 hours. This definitely wasn't normal as I had eaten my usual amount the day before. I started to do the many things they suggest when you think you might have a little block.  I couldn't think of any other reasons why Margaret wouldn't be working. I've never really had one before but they are a fairly common complication of having an ostomy. There are lots of reasons you might have a block, it tends to be, either damage from surgery, a twist or kink in the intestine, a flare up or food.

I had a hot drink, a little bit of something to eat & drank a hell of a lot of water. My tummy felt strange but was still looking normal and I wasn't in any pain so I headed to the gym thinking it would all sort itself out and that some activity would get things going! As the day went on my tummy grew more bloated, I had a hot shower, and led down with a hot water bottle in the hope it would shift whatever was blocking Margaret. Things did not improve and she was still completely shut down. At about 3:30 I started to worry, it had been 8 hours since anything had come out which is never okay. I rang my Mum to update her and then tried to get hold of my stoma nurse. The line rang and rang with no answer machine, nobody was in the office. I then tried to get hold of my brilliant IBD Nurse but managed to call after their office had closed. Nightmare. I decided to try 111, the NHS service designed to help people who aren't quite sure what they should be doing with their symptoms. The man was very polite and listened to what I had said before asking a set of completely irrelevant questions that had clearly come up on his computer screen.

'Have you been bleeding profusely for 30 minutes or more?' ermmmm no.

'Is your pain level high?' well, no not really.

Clearly my answers didn't flag up any form of emergency and he instructed me to see my GP within 12 hours. This is where, I'm afraid, 111 really doesn't work. I think its a great service for 'normal' accidents or medical queries. When, however, your issue doesn't fit the norm it doesn't make any sense. Although my symptoms on paper wouldn't qualify as a usual emergency situation, they definitely were not okay and had I left it the extra 12 hours, things could have turned out a lot, lot nastier. I rang the GP surgery and asked to speak to the on call Dr, having to explain to the secretary that no it couldn't wait until tomorrow. She said she would do her best and I settled down to wait for her call, really unsure what was going to happen next but praying that Margaret was going to kick back in to action.

The next hour and half went really slowly and my stomach grew more and more uncomfortable, I was now really bloated with back pain and unable to wear even my stretchiest leggings comfortably. I'm not going to lie I got pretty irritated with how at a loss I felt, Google told me that after 7 hours of no stoma output I should head straight to A&E but this seemed a little excessive to me and we all know you can't always take a Google medical search too seriously. I hate feeling like a burden and I never know when I'm poorly enough to seek help. I would usually put on a brave face and think I'm not ill enough, I'm constantly concerned that I will be wasting peoples time. In the past I think this may have been detrimental to my health and because of this I am getting better at speaking up when I don't think things are right. Nobody knows my body as well as I do and I knew here, that something wasn't okay. I was also pretty pissed off at Margaret. She has served me well for two whole years with barely a grumble and now for no reason or notice had decided to go on strike - she'd clearly put up with too much of my shit (hehe).

The Dr gave me a call at around 6:15, she wasn't my usual GP but she was so so brilliant. She heard me out and immediately said that she thought I should go to A&E. It was definitely not what I wanted to hear but I also felt relieved that I was being taken seriously and I wasn't going mad. The Dr thought it best that I got checked out, just in case. Mum had gone out with the dogs so I hung on until she got back, packing for an evening sat in an A&E waiting room. It felt better that I could go in on a recommendation rather than off my own back, that way if all turned out fine and dandy I wouldn't feel guilty at wasting anyones time.

- This is already pretty long so I shall continue with PART 2 soon!

Lots of love xxx

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


Hi everyone,

So recently something pretty horrific happened. A guy I went to school with lost his life in an RTA whilst driving home. I didn't know him well and we hadn't kept in touch since we left school five years ago but he was in my school house and I'd known him since we were 11. Considering we weren't close friends the shock was huge, I felt pretty angry at the injustice of it. How unfair it was that this could happen to someone so young and so lovely and just like that, out of nowhere. What happened to this brilliant school friend really bought me back down to earth because you know what, life is too fucking short.

When I was really poorly and Margaret was looking more and more likely, I promised myself that once I was better I would do lots of amazing things. I wouldn't take 'normal' life for granted and would make the most of every situation. Recently I think I've forgotten this. I worry about moving house and not making friends, I worry that I need to lose weight and that Chroma isn't moving as fast as it should, I stress about what other people might think about Margaret and whether I should cut my hair short or not. Frankly, would I lie on my death bed wishing I hadn't cut my hair or that I hadn't moved out - I'd like to think not. These unnecessary stresses and worries take up way too much of my life and probably lots of other peoples. Delayed trains, traffic jams, missing a delivery or getting locked out, yes are irritating but really, there are worse things that could happen. Does Margaret even really matter all that much?

The untimely death of James has made me appreciate everything and everyone a whole lot more. Thanks to you, James, I'm going to grab life by the balls, not be such a scaredy cat & tell everyone I love them a whole lot more.

On that note I cut a good 8 inches off my hair... I've been thinking about it for ages and finally this week thought why the hell not. Baby steps to brave Gabi eh...

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Boobs, Limbo & Portaloos

Hi guys,

As promised, here is how I spent my Sunday. Those of you who keep up to date with what I'm up to with Chroma may have seen that I recently sent some notebooks to the lovely people at CoppaFeel! These guys are all about spreading the boob love, getting people to 'cop a feel' (see what they did there?!) & generally raising breast cancer awareness. They primarily target younger women between the ages of 18-30 and do it in the least scary or intimidating way. I first watched a BBC3 documentary about CoppaFeel! & it's founder Kris a long while ago but was re-inspired after watching The C Word a couple weeks back. I decided to emboss some boob based notebooks and also applied to join the festival team and volunteer where I could.

Thankfully my application was successful and I was asked if I could help at Wireless 10 Festival in London. I was of course so up for this and headed to Finsbury Park to spread as much awareness as possible. Upon arrival I met the rest of the lovely team and was handed my boob for the day. Yes, I was to spend my Sunday dressed as a massive tit. I probably shouldn't have been as excited as I was, but I am not ashamed to say, I loved it.

The first few hours were filled with drizzly rain and a lot of fed up people but as the day progressed things became a lot more positive. We were strolling past an activity tent when one of my fellow boobs noticed a limbo set up. Now, I don't like to brag and this isn't something I bring up often, but I love to limbo. The ability to limbo (& play Twister) are probably the only upsides to having hyper-flexible joints. It was safe to say once I had spotted the limbo bar, there was no way I was going to leave without having a go. I ended up completing every bar apart from the very lowest one, finishing with it below my hip height. It was only after finishing that it dawned on me, I had done the whole thing dressed as a boob. I was a big, limbo-ing boob in front of a lot of people. The video was snap chatted (brilliant) but I think I gained a lot of respect for my skills.

Limbo-ing aside the day was actually really great. If you've read my previous post you'll know all about my injured foot, so I did spend a lot of the time trying to catch up with everyone, limping around but it was definitely worth it. Encouraging people to sign up to the CoppaFeel! free monthly reminder to check your boobs was great & I had many photos taken with the festival goers  - who doesn't love a boob!

The day also marked the first time I went to a festival and used a portaloo with Margaret. I hadn't given it all that much thought until I noticed she needed emptying and realised this meant the dreaded festival toilets. I left it as long as possible before venturing in to one. Due to it being the first day of use, it wasn't actually that bad, although hardly pleasant. It was whilst locking myself in that I realised, I was wearing a playsuit. Not just that but a playsuit with a t-shirt, cardigan, waterproof and rucksack over the top... The effort involved in going to the loo was huge. You don't realise how small the space is inside those things until you're stripping layers off, thank god I didn't have my boob on. What felt like hours later, I managed to get out, wishing I could bath in antibacterial wash.
I decided to avoid eating whilst at the festival, to try and keep Margaret quiet, thank fully it all worked out okay in the end and the rest of the day went really well.

CoppaFeel! really is the most amazing cause, it is definitely worth signing up to their free text service - simply text BOOBS to 70300 for your monthly reminder, it is completely hassle free and could save your life. Spread the boob love and spread the CoppaFeel! word.

Lots of love