The Bad Days.

Today is one of those days. You might know the ones? Where even before you’ve struggled to open your eyes you just know its going to be a write off!

I didn’t sleep well last night. Waking what felt like every few minutes with an ache in my bladder and a niggling feeling that my body needed to get up. But I didn’t. There’s only so many times that you can wring out a dry body before you learn to ignore it… close your eyes again and pray you’ll sleep until morning.

When the time to rise eventually came, I simply couldn’t. Pain was licking through my body like flames around dry kindling. Whilst my eyelids felt weighed down by lead weights; drooping constantly against my battles to open them.

‘Another half an hour.’ I decided. Which became an hour. Then another.. There was just no getting started for my body today. Even writing this I’m doing so with squinted eyes and the covers pulled up to my chin.

I hate days like today. My husband patiently reminds me that I’m doing much more and I need to listen to my body. But I don’t really hear him over the whooshing tinnitus in my ears and ever present groan of my aching joints.

I feel desolate. Like a failure. Stranded once more in my bed and afraid I’ll be stuck here like I was for so long in the past.

Guilt too burns at me. Maybe I should be using my energy wiser. Am I selfish in pursuing my artwork and all that entails, when it saps at my precious energy reserves leaving less for my family? They tell me no, that I must follow my dream now that I finally can. That the sacrifices are worth it and I’m doing so much better than I was. It’s helping me build my strength.

Today though I don’t see it. Today I had to keep telling my son no as he asked me to go play with his toys with him. Today I ate my meals in my bed, barely chewing my cereal thanks to the pain and hunched over the bowl because I couldn’t sit up straight. Today my hands are curled like claws. Today I have cried more than I have in weeks.

Snuggled in bed, Jen hides under the covers away from the world.

Today I don’t feel like I have a disability, I feel like disability has me.

About Time…

If you followed my blog, then you might be very aware that it’s been years since I opened up my WordPress and typed out a blog. From posting on here on a weekly basis I faded away to nothing, for a long time I didn’t even post on my personal Facebook or other social media accounts.

I clammed up, closed down and turned my back on all those people who had followed and supported me for the years I’ve written on here.. Not that there’s exactly thousands; but I did have some regular readers who were wondering where I’d disappeared to and if something had happened? I’m sorry to those who reached out worried, I think I messaged everyone back.

Honestly, something did happen. My life was turned upside down and inside out in a way I never expected it to be. A way I still can’t fully comprehend. Over the course of four months after my third stoma revision I became repeatedly and increasingly ill. I suffered with swelling on my brain, large abdominal blood clots and eventually severe sepsis that almost killed me.

These experiences shook me to my core. I still wake at night sweating and in tears from the nightmares of what I went through. I’m not sure exactly how much I can say on the matter; both because I struggle to talk about it and due to the legal proceedings I’m in the middle of.

So instead of looking back, I’m going to look forward. Since my emergency surgery to clear out the sepsis and my long recovery, I’ve fought hard to retrieve my quality of life. I’m finally starting to feel like I’m at the point where I’m tipping the scales in my favour.

Despite recovering from a life threatening illness and two major surgeries I still enrolled for my art degree last September. I’m now ready to head into my second year and am wanting to challenge myself not to rely on my electric wheelchair whilst in college.

Hopefully I can focus on my future and making adaptations to live my best life with the level of health that I now have. I want hospitals firmly in my rear view mirror!

There’s lots I plan to share on here. I want to open up about what is been like to live with a stoma and how I found travelling abroad. Body confidence issues, both around the bag and also around being a disabled woman in general. Plus how I feel about my fluctuating health and how that affects my mental state. But bare with me, I still feel like I’m taking tentative steps towards becoming the open person I once was.

Running for Recognition – why my husband took part in a half marathon in aid of EDS UK.

Running for Recognition – why my husband took part in a half marathon in aid of EDS UK.

Today is Father’s Day here in the UK, the day where most of us choose to celebrate the men in our lives. They could be our Father, our Grandfather or a Father figure; or like me, it could be the Father to our children. My husband is not only Dad, he’s also my carer. He’s ‘chief cook and bottle washer’ in our house (a saying I heard a lot as a child) and he works incredibly hard to do his best by me and our children, all three of them.

Though my husband Karl is biologically Father to my youngest son and my stepson, in reality he is Dad to all of our children. When my daughter talks of her Daddy, she refers to him. When she tells her friends at school about her Dad, it’s him she’s talking about. She is his little girl in every way shape and form; they play fight and play pranks on each other, they watch football together and play team computer games. Soon she will be towering over him, but she will forever be his little girl.

Recently she had her EDS diagnosis reconfirmed just like me (they like to do another check a few years after the original one to see if any thing has changed) . They’ve reclassified it now, called it Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder in order to try and make Doctors less fearful of the diagnosis, but it’s the same condition. As usual Karl was by my side at her appointment, listening in to all the advice we were given so he could help as much as possible. Then, out of the blue a few weeks later he decided to sign up for the Doncaster Half Marathon in aid of EDS UK with only a week or so to prepare! Why? This is what he said when I asked…

Why did you decide to run the half marathon?

Initially I decided to run the half marathon as a challenge for myself. My whole life is devoted to looking after the family and its meant I’ve let my own interests and hobbies fall on the back burner. Recently my wife’s health has deteriorated which has left me under more pressure, this has manifested itself in depression; something very common in people who care for their loved ones. I haven’t been to the gym in years, but I thought if I could complete the run it would be a great way to kick start my journey back to a more active lifestyle. My wife now has a home care package and we should hopefully be moving to a bungalow soon, this gives us both more opportunities for independence. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife and children; I just don’t think people realise quite how high pressure being a carer and parent is. So, when I saw this opportunity I decided to jump at it.

What made you choose EDS UK as your charity?

As soon as I signed up for the run I knew EDS UK would be the charity for me. Both my wife and daughter are afflicted by Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and its important to me that I show them both that I fully support them as best as I can. I know about the illness due to my family being so heavily affected by it, but most people have never even heard of it. Since joining support groups and learning about the condition myself I’ve realised there are thousands and thousands of people worldwide suffering in countless ways because of it. For such a widespread condition there is so little exposure, I wanted to try and do my part to help spread the word.

How do you feel about the money raised, do you feel lack of knowledge contributed to the amount of donations?

So far we have raised £75; I know it doesn’t seem a huge amount, but I only had a week to fundraise. For the time I had to prepare I’m happy with the amount I raised, after all every little helps towards finding much needed research that will eventually help people like my family and I. Obviously we all want to raise thousands of pounds, I’ve even left my fundraiser open in case anyone still chooses to donate, but with the condition being so unheard of it can be difficult to raise money. Often people assume it’s just a case of having hypermobility (as it’s also known as Hypermobility Syndrome) and don’t realise the many debilitating effects EDS can have on a person. Hopefully the more visible EDS becomes, the more people will learn and be willing to donate.

Did you get chance to raise awareness through fundraising?

I hope so. I chose to run in the EDS charity vest which is bright yellow and very eye catching. From what I could see I was the only person there wearing one, so hopefully seeing me pass by got people thinking about the condition.

In the run up to the half marathon I also shared the fundraiser all over my local Facebook and asked people in the support groups to share too. My wife also shared the link from her Facebook page which she uses to talk about all aspects of living with EDS and her other associated conditions; last week her page got two thousand hits so hopefully some people stayed to read a little of the information on there.

Due to an injury I picked up three miles in, I ran alongside two women from around eight miles; they hadn’t heard of EDS before so I told them all about it and how it affects so many people. It felt good to be able to educate someone on the condition and also kept my mind off the pain I was feeling. Hopefully they will go on to tell other people about the crazy guy who ran the half marathon on no training to raise awareness of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I know that I’ve raised awareness in at least two people, I’m happy with that. If each of us could educate just two people then think of how many would understand the condition better, it could be in the millions.

Do you feel the aches and injury caused by the race gave you a better insight into life with EDS?

Oh yes, most definitely. I hurt so badly for three days solid after the run. Obviously I hurt where I’d injured myself by pulling my groin, but I also hurt everywhere else. Literally everywhere, even my fingers hurt. I do feel it’s helped me relate better to the pain my wife and child feel, particularly my wife as she was diagnosed later in life so has sustained a lot of strain on her joints. Injuries and sprains in EDS are cumulative, once a joint is damaged it never gets back to how it was (or this is how we have had it explained). Because my wife was unaware of her condition she used to push through her pain and fatigue, this has left her in a state of serious chronic pain. So yes, I do feel it’s helped me understand her better when she tells me everything hurts, but I’ll never know what it’s like to be in a degree of pain all day every day. I struggle to even imagine it.

Why didn’t you give up after the injury?

I didn’t give up for several reasons. Firstly, this was a personal goal of mine and it meant a lot to me to complete it; also I wanted to give those who had been kind enough to donate their monies worth. Most of all though, I wanted to make my wife and children proud.

At around eight miles in I collapsed in pain by the road, I thought I was done and rung my wife to tell her I had failed and would be getting collected by the sweeper bus. I really believed I couldn’t go on.

My wife told me how proud her and the kids were of me, that whether I completed it or not I was a winner in their eyes. She also put the phone on speaker so my children could shout words of encouragement down the phone. This was the first time she had been alone with the children for over a year, but she reassured me they were all being great and her carer was due any minute meaning I could walk the rest of the run if needed. She encouraged me but didn’t pressure me.

The two ladies I mentioned earlier offered for me to tag along with them as they weren’t going to be rushing and running in a group is always easier. Much like when battling an illness, support is key. Thanks to the mental boost from my call home I was able to catch up with the ladies I’d met and complete the whole thirteen miles. I’m so glad I did as I wanted so badly to earn the medal and give Ehlers Danlos the exposure it deserves.

What do you think about the way doctors treat EDS? (how much knowledge they have, their willingness to treat patients with the condition?)

After seeing how my wife is treat due to her condition I know for sure that more research needs doing into the condition and the problems it causes. When my wife is taken into Hospital and has to spend her time educating almost every doctor she sees about her condition you know something isn’t right. We have travelled to London more times than I can count because there are so few specialists North of the capital. What’s even more disheartening is even when you do see a specialist in Ehlers Danlos they will more often than not refuse to treat any of the issues it causes! Often we are left feeling disappointed and hopeless. I can’t talk for other countries, but in the UK something needs to change. Even issues not linked to the EDS don’t get treatment, my wife has an aneurysm and she’s literally been told that she’s lucky it’s not in a spot that will kill her if /when it busts as due to her EDS they won’t consider surgery on it! Things need to change.

As a parent and partner how does EDS affect you?

Ehlers Danlos has completely changed my life despite me not being a sufferer. I had to give up a well paid job around four years ago in order to become my wife’s full time carer, my friendships have all but fizzled away and I’ve had to put up with a lot of negativity about not working.

Since leaving work my partners health has deteriorated. She has developed Cranio Cervical instability as well as other issues with her spine, this means she relies on me to get around and has to be laid in bed a lot. The stairs are dangerous for her as her legs go from under her without warning, so on the rare occasion she makes it downstairs I have to bare her weight over my shoulders. This is not only dangerous it’s also caused me to injure my back. Hopefully we will soon get a bungalow that will suit our needs better and my wife will get a PA, but even then I’ll be her carer. It’s unlikely I’ll get back to work and if I do it won’t be in a job with long demanding hours like before.

With my daughter I do find it tricky. She’s at an age where hormones are beginning to fly around her body and it’s hard to tell what is a hormonal meltdown and what is her body telling her she is in pain or needs to rest. Even she doesn’t recognise the signs that her body has had enough for one day yet, so it’s very hard for me to. Sometimes I don’t pick up on when she’s actually in pain, I’m trying to improve on that.

As much as I know about EDS I’ll never actually know how either of them feel as it’s not my body it’s hurting.

Will you be doing more events?

I do plan on doing more events throughout the year and will be proudly sporting my EDS vest at each one of them, though I won’t be doing another thirteen mile run on no training any time soon! Some people think I’m stupid for taking on the Half Marathon at such short notice, but I’m glad I did it as its proved to me that I can still achieve my goals. Currently I’m considering another local run through Yorkshire Wildlife Park, its a 5k run with a fun run that your children can join if they like. The entry fee goes towards the conservation of the animals at the park, including Zebras (which anyone with EDS will know are our mascot). I’ll also be raising sponsorship for EDS UK. Plus I’m on the lookout for other local events, eventually working up to doing Tough Mudder and such. I hope to get plenty of use out of my EDS vest!

Any further comments?

The only thing I want to say to anyone out there who is battling this illness is never give up. I know it’s hard; there are days my wife can barely move for pain, days where the lack of medical help gets us all down to rock bottom, but don’t give up. As long as people keep up the fight to raise both awareness and funding there’s hope that things will improve; never give up that hope.

If you would like to donate to Karl’s latest fundraiser please click HERE. I’ll update the link each time he starts a new one, so feel free to check back if the current one has finished. There’s still time to sponsor his half marathon!

All professional photographs accredited to Nullstack Ltd.

Who’s Watching You?

Who’s Watching You?

Hi folks. I don’t know if anyone even reads this anymore, it’s been such a long time since I wrote anything on here. Serious health decline is my excuse, but that’s not the real reason. The real reason is somewhat more personal.

You see I started getting comments on blog posts. Personal ones. Talking about my life and saying I’m faking my illness. They even commented on how often we got take away delivered to my house! This continued to escalate. So called friends and family who never actually see me as they live at a distance started with similar diatribe. How I’m always moaning but theirs clearly little wrong with me. I need to try harder. Push further. Put up and shut up.

I felt like judgement and accusations were coming at me from all angles. That I couldn’t talk about any aspect of my life anymore. If I have a good day and do something, I’m a faker. If I have a bad day and talk about it, I’m an attention seeker. I couldn’t win.. everyone was forcing down my throat that I’m a loser.

This culminated in someone reporting me for benefits fraud. Why? Because I was taken to Florida with my family and my daughter went on a slide that apparently had 216 steps. (Ironically this was on one of the days I was in and out of sleep in the hotel. Crying about the fact that even with a scooter I couldn’t keep up with the rest of the family and I was letting the kids down. Upset that I was spoiling the holiday for everyone and believing I should have stayed home. I forget which of those days she went to that water park, there were a few where my body gave out on me.) They must have overheard her talking about it and assumed I went up them too seeing as the exact number of steps were reported.

I was completely truthful. I told the lady I had been to Florida. I hoped to save up over the years and go again, at my own pace rather than trying to keep up with everyone else. So my kids don’t see me left behind. So we can do all the things we missed. So they can actually get to see the fireworks. I told her about my scooter and the lifts to any ride I did manage to go on. How my neck issues are a new development and I haven’t even reported them as I would be entitled to higher carers and that would mean they’d use the opportunity to swap me to PIP. Stress I don’t need right now. With POTS and my other problems I’m allowed on rollercoasters!

I told her how I felt watched. How I have to try my best not to wear my collar and I’m judged if I leave the house without it. I told her that if I’m having a good day I will continue to go to the park with my kids. If I can manage it I’ll take my son down the slide. I’m going to grab every opportunity to do everything I can with my children when I can, because too much of my life is either in bed or in hospital. Do you know what she said?

She said ‘Good for you!’ She told me it was clearly a malicious report and they see it a lot when people have unseen disabilities. She told me I have to ‘stuff the lot of them’ and live my life as best as I can. If I want to save and go on holidays (Not that I actually can right now, but the hope is there) do it. If I want to go to the park. Do it. Live my life as best I can and don’t apologise for it.

So this is me saying a big fat F YOU to all the people who have tried to drag me down this year; the hardest year of my life. I will keep fighting for my health, I will keep resting when I need, I will also keep going out and enjoying precious moments with my family when I can. I’m not just disabled, I’m a mother, wife, lover, friend, woman.

I’m disabled, not dead and I have as much right to living my best life as any of you! I will not apologise. I will not explain. I will continue to paint a smile on my face whenever I can. Myself, my Doctors and my husband and kids know I’m no liar. That’s enough for me.

PS. Comments will be switched off on this page from now on due to people hiding behind anonymous comments on here to give me abuse. If you would like to comment on this piece please feel free to do so on Facebook where I shall be posting it on my page: This Little Life of Mine

Off to the Seaside… 

Off to the Seaside… 

Today I went to the seaside with my family. We had fish and chips. Walked the promenade. Sat by the harbour and explored down the stairs where people were crabbing. Took the kids down to play on the sand. The day was finished off with candy floss and ice creams and a drive home in the sun. It was pretty much perfect. Or at least it was to the kids, to social media.  

But that wasn’t my day. My day started with my husband telling me it was time to rise and me point blank telling him there was no chance. I needed another half hour, minimum. It started with me feeling shaken  and achey, with a temperature I’ve been unable to shift and a bag on my belly rapidly filling with fluid. You see I haven’t found that sweet spot with my output yet. My stoma is still in its infancy and I’m either sloshing out boatloads of liquid or blopping (yes I made that up) out very thick sludge. There is rarely an in between. Today was fluid. Mornings are often fluid, which doesn’t seem to help my body when trying to take my meds and hydrate. 

Fast forward to leaving and there’s me desperately using my jacket, bag and a cushion to try and prop myself up in the car. My neck and lumbar spine have been complete agony recently, to the point it’s getting a little/a lot scary. Just getting myself dressed and ready had taken so much out of me I was half an hour late with my POTS meds and hanging out of my A hole. Meds administered I peeked up about half way into the journey and started to feel hopeful for the day. The sun was shining, my family was smiling and I was just about on the right side of coping. 

Arriving at Brid we pulled up and hunted down a fish and chip place for lunch. We always start with lunch. Our days out are really only afternoons, I don’t have it in me just yet to cope with a full day of driving and walking around. Not even on a good day. The chippy was a pleasant eat in place and I could see out over the bay from where we sitting. Food didn’t take long and really was very yummy, especially the chips! They reminded me of the type we would get when I was a kid. All good so far! 


Until it wasn’t anymore. About halfway into my meal my stomach began to hurt and I felt hot. REALLY hot. I stripped off my jacket and ploughed on, its not unusual for a meal to have strange and uncomfortable effects on my temperature. But this time, things just kept escalating. As I began to feel myself shudder internally I knew I had to lie down. Immediately. 

Opposite the chippy was a set of two benches. Just about close enough that I could make it safely. I quickly told my husband and beat a hasty retreat, my toddlers screams ringing in my ear as I left. I felt guilty as sin, but I knew I couldn’t turn back and console him. Waste any time and he would likely see me fully flake for the first time in his little life. I’m not ready for that, neither is he. As I reached the bench a rather bedraggled looking man plonked his backside right in the middle of it. Luckily there was a second one. Not so luckily it was right next to a huge bin. But beggars can’t be choosers and I made the best of it. My bag under my head I laid out, ignoring the stares from strangers as I hid behind my over sized sunglasses and stared out to sea. At least the view across the harbour wasn’t half bad!


Soon enough, a little too soon for my body, my family emerged from lunch and I had to scrape myself up and slope down the incline to the promenade. The second I stood my body started screaming at me. 

Idiot!! Get back down!! What the hell are you trying to do to us?! You need to be horizontal, horizontal was working!! At least sit your ass back down somewhere, anywhere!!

I could hear this narrative through every creak and groan of my joints. The pull of each muscle and the ever increasing feeling of trying to walk through a vat of Vaseline after approximately 25 shots. That pain I was just about coping with spiked to a point where every nerve ending in my body bristled and screamed. But I tried not to show it. Just minutes from my rest on the bench I was sitting on a harbour wall. I had tried to look around a small flat museum with my family. But that was too much, so the harbour wall it was. 


I smiled and tried to enjoy the sunshine. The sun that was making me sweat buckets whilst the (apparently) refreshing breeze dumped buckets of ice across my agonised body. Outwardly I smiled whilst inwardly I writhed like a worm on a hook. Not ten yards further I was sat on another bench. Gran and I chatted whilst my husband took the kids to explore the exciting looking steps down to the sea. Covered in barnacles and going right down under the boardwalk the kids loved it, especially seeing the people who were catching crabs on a line. I sat in the sun. Missing the excitement on my little ones faces. Gran told me I should have used my wheelchair. She would have pushed me. I smiled and said I was ok.

The longest walk of all was to the entrance to the beach, past whizzing whirring fairground rides and gaggles of laughing holidaymakers. The kids forged ahead with my husband as me and Gran brought up the rear. She saw me stumbling and dragging my feet, desperately catching myself as my knees went from under me on more times than I care to remember. The children didn’t see; but my older two knew, of that I’m sure. I confided in Gran I probably shouldn’t have come, and she asked if I’d like to leave. No came my answer. I couldn’t show my kids the golden sand and glistening water and deprive them of going to play. I’d be fine. 

Gran and I had a drink whilst my husband played in the sand with the kids. Again I had to lay down, meaning I couldn’t even see them frolicking on the sand. Soaking their clothes in the salty water and not caring one jot. People stared. One young boy was so brazen that he sat less than a foot away, staring intently until I had the audacity to say hello (in my least crazy person voice). I didn’t care. I don’t care. My family is what matters to me and if laying down on a sandy wall is what’s needed to remain present for them, then that’s what I’ll do. People can stare all they like. I do however draw the line at kids purposely kicking footballs at me, of which I told them so!! 


What felt like ten million years later my husband returned with our sopping wet brood. I was less than impressed as we had no change of clothing and no towels. I’d also been laid wearing my jacket and covered over with Gran’s. Though it was sunny, in my opinion it was certainly not the weather to be going for a, fully clothed, dip in the sea. Paddle, perhaps. Drenched to the waist like my eldest son, not so much. My husband disagreed. 

That was the last bit of my barely there patience done. Rather than argue in front of the children I headed back to the car, stopping only at the loos for a quick bag empty. (Though I may as well refer to it as a pee for the amount of liquid I had in there!) At least I’d been able to use the burst of adrenaline to get me back to the vehicle in one piece. Windows down and seat back, I slowly breathed in and out trying to focus on anything but the complete agony I was in and the faces of nosey passers by. Though faster than my journey down to the prom, my journey back had been a whole lot less controlled. It wouldn’t surprise me if people were under the impression I was just another drunk, rather than a mum just trying to push her ever failing body as far as she could. The kids got their ice creams as I pulled myself together. 

An agonising car ride later and I was once again home. As soon as I could I sloped off to bed, stretching flat my now completely broken body and telling my father about the day we had had at the coast. He told me I should get a lightweight scooter. Things would be so much easier! Minutes later my husband told me I should have cancelled. 

But I couldn’t do any of those things, cancel, wheelchair, scooter. 

To cancel would have let down Gran and the kids, who had all been looking forward to this treat. So why not use my wheelchair or a scooter? Because I’ve been doing better. I’m managing. I’m supposed to be building up my stamina. 

But, as I lie here broken and close to tears, I have to ask myself if that’s truly what I’m doing. Am I building myself up or breaking myself down? When I was taught to cope with my ill health it was all about being as active as possible whilst making sure to pace out every aspect of my life. Is sitting down at each point I cannot physically stand any longer pacing? Or giving up and not going altogether on bad days, is that pacing? Or, is pacing using aids such as a wheelchair or scooter in order to make the best of what energy and pain reserves I do have? Maybe then I’d have had it in me to make it onto the beach rather than just watching videos taken by my husband. 

My Stoma Story.. My First Night in Hospital. 

My Stoma Story.. My First Night in Hospital. 

I had hoped to update regularly whilst in hospital. Unfortunately the signal on the wards where I was staying was absolutely terrible; so that wasn’t possible. I couldn’t even FaceTime my kids regularly. Instead I took lots of pictures to document my stay, now I finally feel up to sharing My Stoma Story with you via a series of blogs; starting with my first night in hospital… 

Day 1: 13.6.17.

Rather than turning up the morning of my operation, as I did with my hysterectomy, it was decided at my pre op I should arrive at hospital the day before my surgery. Due to my health issues my surgeon and I thought it best I do a bowel prep in order to clear me out ready for life with a stoma. As horrible as that was, I’m so glad I did it and I’d recommend anyone else take the same approach. Clearing out meant I could concentrate on getting used to my new stoma without having the pain and difficulty of getting any remaining stool out of my colon. It was this clearout, and my need to remain hydrated throughout (thank you POTS) that landed me in hospital a day early. 

I’m not going to lie, I arrived at the hospital completely terrified. But that calmed as soon as I was on the ward and settled. The nurses were friendly and the other ladies in my room seemed really nice. There was four of us and we chatted most of the afternoon away. My husband and son stayed to settle me in before leaving for the school run, it was then the serious business of preparing for my operation began. 


First off the stoma nurse arrived, she drew two ominous black dots on my bloated stomach. One of these would become my new stoma, we wouldn’t know which until after surgery. It suddenly dawned on me that after the surgery my stomach would never be the same again. It’s strange to look down on your stomach and know that in less than 24 hours your entire anatomy will work in a completely different way. That this relatively ‘simple’ surgery would change your life drastically. I looked down at those dots for a long time, contemplating the journey ahead. Little did I realise quite how much things would change. 

Marks are put on both sides of the abdomen in case internal scarring prevents the bowel from being pulled through to the surface in one particular spot. The same part of the bowel will be pulled through regardless of which side it comes out at. 

Even though these marks just look quite haphazard, they’re actually pretty carefully placed. The nurse had me sat down and stood up, I also wore my favourite jeans in order to try and avoid their wasteband. The nurse will try her best to mark the surgery site so it is easy to access whilst being comfortable with your usual wardrobe. Obviously placement can never be guaranteed though, it all depends on what the doctor finds inside. 


To try and take my mind off the daunting task ahead of me I arrived at hospital with a bundle of goodies. My friend had kindly bought me a colouring book and pencils, I’d also filled my iPad with all the remotely interesting free books I could find. But most importantly I had a plastic cup which had been lovingly decorated by my daughter. Not only the cup, but the box too. Love hearts, kisses and words of love adorned each side of the box. I read them over and over, reminding myself constantly of the people who I was truly doing this for. 

Of course I wanted to feel better in myself. But it was my need to be more involved and present for my little family that really drove me to have this operation. My husband and children are my world and I want to be as well as possible for them. 


Lunch arrived at around twelve thirty. My nerves were running riot and the meal they offered me did not appeal. I couldn’t even force down this soggy short bread and ice cream. Luckily I still had a pastry left over from breakfast which was just tasty enough to be worth feeling nauseous for. If only I’d known that within minutes of my meal I’d have my cannula placed and be told I was no longer allowed anything solid; I may have thought differently about my lunch! 



Two hours later and it was time to start the dreaded Picolax. For anyone who hasn’t tried it, this stuff is basically liquid dynamite! Created to clear out the bowel quickly and efficiently, most people choose to sit as close to a toilet as possible when they take it! The nurses on the ward, and some of the patients, looked at me with pity as I struggled to gulp down the putrid mix. To me there is little on this planet that tastes worse than Picolax, I literally feel it hitting my stomach and starting to pummel its way through my bowel. Keeping this stuff down is definitely not the easiest task for me! 

Soon those looks of pity turned into confusion. Why wasn’t I running to the toilet? An hour passed. Then two. Three. Four. It was almost five hours before the Picolax had ANY effect. Even then it was not the bowl shattering poonami they were expecting. ‘Luckily’ they had more Picolax for me to drink.  By round two I was exhausted and looking nine months pregnant. My POTS meds had worn off and I was walking like a weird chicken zombie hybrid. This was turning into a long night. 

As I speed shudder shuffled to the loo for the umpteenth time the lady from the bed opposite me chimed up, ‘You know I couldn’t understand why you called your husband your carer when you arrived. But looking at you know I completely get it.’ Thanks. For anyone thinking of pointing out my inadequacies in future, regardless of motive, please don’t. 

The night wore on; even with my earplugs, cushion and sleep mask, I was in no way able to sleep. Yet it wasn’t my stomach tying  itself in knots or the possibility of a river of molten lava spewing forth from my nether regions without warning that was the issue; unfortunately I’m pretty used to those symptoms. No, the issue was my nerves over my impending operation, aggravated by a series of conversations I had had throughout the evening with my bedfellows. 

You see, the lady opposite me had stomas. Stomas which she didn’t exactly love. In fact, she believes many of her current health issues relate back to her previous stoma surgeries. (Due to my preoccupation with my own problems, hunger and exhaustion, I didn’t fully understand the timeline of her declining health. However, it did seem to me that her main issues pre dated the stomas.) Though I felt sad for her that she held so much resentment and mistrust towards doctors, I tried hard not to let her experiences colour my own. 

What I did find upsetting was when she bragged about chastising another patient for having her ostomy bag on show. Telling all of us in earshot how disgusting it was and how she feels the new movement to try and normalise stomas just encourages people to stare. Which they will, because it’s weird and disgusting. 

Her words really shook me. To the point I closed my curtains and sobbed silently to myself. Totally oblivious the woman carried on talking about how gross it was of anyone to see a bag, even with a cover on. We should all respect others and keep it hidden! Another patient popped her head around the curtain and sat with me a while. She had seen my upset, and even though she wasn’t quite sure what a stoma was, she wanted to help. ‘Ignore her’, she said. ‘It’s her age, she’s a prude, people won’t really think like that.’ I nodded in agreement. Wiped my tears and told her I was fine. 

But I wasn’t fine. 

The very next day I’d be having surgery to have one of those ‘disgusting’ bags. I knew that thanks to my issues with pain relief I wouldn’t be able to stand anything over my tummy, my bag would be on show. My see through bag that was surely much worse than a regular fabric covered one. Would she be on my ward then? Would she chastise me too, at a time I’m most vulnerable? My mind wandered further into the future. To my holidays and summertime. Should I hide my bag? Would a cover not be enough? Would people really stop and stare like the woman had said? She had lived it. So surely she knew? Or was she just paranoid thanks to already hating her extra appendiges? 

Question after question swirled through my mind. Worry after worry. Too tired to colour I attempted to take my mind off things with mindless games on my phone. I tried to block out the worries that crept in and gnawed at me. I tried, and I failed. 


Like with all other difficult nights I’ve lived through, the darkness eventually passed. As the sun rose I finally closed my eyes and managed to catch a few precious hours of sleep. It was then, as I closed my eyes to try and make the hours pass faster, that I vowed to myself I wouldn’t let anyone’s issues define me. Nobody else’s opinion will affect what I wear and how I live my life. In a matter of hours I would be getting operated on. An operation I was sure would improve my life. No way would I let anyone else’s negativity impact me. Yes, my nerves were still there. But now my determination had returned, for that I was stronger. 

To anyone else facing surgery and going through similar emotions as me, I say this: Fear is not a sign of weakness. To find something terrifying to the point of sobbing your heart out yet still go ahead with it is a sign of true strength, not weakness. Never beat yourself up for being afraid or upset. Just work through it and continue on your path with determination. 

To be continued… 
* Please note that my experiences in hospital may not reflect your own. I am simply documenting my journey in the hopes of spreading awareness and alleviating any fears I may be able to. 

Check back soon to hear all about surgery day and my early recovery. 

The Truth Behind the Smile. 

The Truth Behind the Smile. 

I’m forever telling people, don’t judge a book by its cover because so so many disabilities are invisible. This isn’t just something I preach on my blog. It’s a mantra I live by. I often find myself vehmenantly describing how difficult things can be for people who appear perfectly fine. I’m almost as often shot down by people who will never understand and choose to believe we are all Such Scroungers but that is not the case. 

In this blog I hope to prove to you that you really cannot tell by looking at a person whether they are well or not. I hope to show you how these things can be well hidden, with the aid of this photo… 


Just looks like and other mum with her kids doesn’t it? Care free and having fun on a trip to the cinema. No sign of anything untoward. 

But that’s not true, here’s the story behind the photo… 

My health recently has been on a serious downward spiral. My days are filled with exhaustion and extreme pain. Pain I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy… well, in theory. Pain I definitely wouldn’t wish on most people anyway. My WORST enemy could possibly have a wee taste; but only because their treatment of me likely set the ball rolling to the crippled shell of a woman I am now. But I digress.. The pain is severe, severe enough to leave me biting back the tears most days. That and the exhaustion combines to pummel the wind from my sails every single day; to the point I can only stand to be up and about around four hours on your average day. To the point when the babies bedtime is also mine. To the point where my hands have been too sore to blog all the thoughts I have swimming around my tiny mind, making me feel my head will surely explode. To the point that even though I’m home all day every day, I’m missing my children. Missing them to the point my heart actually aches.. though to be fair that could just be one of my list of ever growing symptoms. 

So, with it being the school holidays, I planned a rare treat. Taking my two eldest to the cinema. Something I only get to do on the rarest of occasions. Even more special, I took them by myself. 

The outing was planned with military precision. I chose a film that was as early as I could manage, but hopefully not running too late. Tickets were booked online in the hope of avoiding a queue at the cinema, my nemesis. (Standing in line has often caused me to pass out cold thanks to a pesky little condition known as POTS.) We chose the VIP seats. Less stairs to contend with. More chance I could be at least a little comfortable. 

Before going I spent literally the entire day resting. Only climbing out of bed to have a shower with my husband. I sat as he washed my hair and body, resting my head against his bare stomach I sobbed quietly as I worried I wouldn’t be able to do it. I’d have to drag the kids home midway out of the film or perhaps wouldn’t even make it there. I sobbed because of the days of extra pain and exhaustion I knew I’d suffer just from going out on such a simple outing with my children. The unfairness and the fear mingled inside me as the salty tears washed down my face and mingled with the flow of the shower. Then I sloped back to bed and laid there as my body slowly dried. Too wrung out to dry it myself. 

Finally the time to leave arrived. I scraped myself from my bed and slung on the clothes I’d chosen. A soft and stretchy jumper dress with a pair of black leggings. Comfortable, expandable, perfect for a body that can go up four dress sizes in ten minutes when my stomach expands, which it does. Daily. You might have noticed my face is makeup free. Not because I don’t like makeup, but because makeup doesn’t like me. I have to think very carefully before wearing makeup as it not only reacts with my skin and causes swollen itchy eyes, it also flares my pain. I was already in all the pain I could handle, makeup was a no. As for my hair, I left it how it dried. Then stealed myself for the task ahead… 

I didn’t tell the kids until we arrived what we were doing. Partly to make it a fun surprise. Mostly in case I had to turn back round and head home. I didn’t want to see them try and hide their disappointment from me, so I told them we were running an errand for their dad. (In hindsight that may have been a mistake as the last time we did that we went to collect him a new car; so running an errand actually got the kids pretty excited.) When the realisation dawned on them the excitement on their face made it all worth while. I knew my efforts and all the pain it would cause was completely worth it. I hope that it is these special memories that will stick with my kids, not the countless days of seeing me worn down and in pain. 

Fast forward to the photo. Seated in the theatre and awaiting the start of the credits. We had come in really early to ensure I was seated and comfortable rather than stood in the foyer. I took some pictures with the kids for a bit of fun and to fill the time. Also, my memory is so hazy these days, pictures help me keep them in focus. 

What memories does this picture conjur? A fun trip to the cinema with my kids. But what do I actually see when I look at the image? I see myself, desperately trying to hold it together for my kids. Painting on a smile and fun to hide the difficulties I go through. I see a disabled woman doing her best to have a few hours of being just like everyone else. Is that what you saw when you looked at it? I doubt it. 

Just as you cannot look at me and see all the problems I have hidden within me, you also cannot look at anyone else. So before you start whispering about Joe Bloggs down the street, just remember; the real story may be very different to the snap shots you see. 

I need this. 

I need this. 

I want to work. I NEED to work. Here I am, writing blog posts, working on Facebook pages. All of it, it all boils down to the fact that inside me I have a need to work. 

Financially, we are ok. Things aren’t super amazing; but we’re ok. That’s not why I need to work. I need to do it because there’s something inside me, pulling at me, clawing at me. Begging me to do something, anything! I spend so much of my days in bed. Blood pressure too low, or pain too high, to get up and function. My husband looks after the kids. I’m here feeling like nothing. Less than nothing. I’m here feeling like a burden. 

My disability is what tethers us. What captures us in this financial bind. Mountains of paperwork arrive through the letter box. Questionnaires, forms, payment plans and deductions. A few weeks ago a woman came to our house. She sat in our living room and fired question after question at me and my husband. Prying, peering, into every nook and cranny of our lives. After all, our money comes from benefits, who are we to think we have a right to privacy?! It was agonising. It was degrading. Bad for me, who’s become numb to it over the years. Worse for my husband, who left a high paying job to look after decrepit old me. I don’t want that for him. 

Of course, I can’t work a normal job. Just getting ready for work would be me done for the day. But surely there must be something  I could do?!

Once upon a time I worked in travel. My earnings rocketed as my commission far outweighed that of my colleagues. Customers would queue out of the door just to be seated with the girl who went the extra mile. The girl who cared about their holiday. The girl who believed booking is where the holiday magic starts. I was that girl. There was barely a week went by when I wasn’t in the top ten for sales in the region, or even the country. But none of that mattered. 

I had a boss who belevied seventeen shifts in a row was no problem, especially if you had plenty of days off in the weeks that followed. My body disagreed. My body gave up on me. My body caused time off, sick pay. Disciplinaries. My body caused me to leave that job. Another in a long list of broken dreams. 

But surely if I could do that then, I can do something now?! But why this sudden need? Why now? What’s changed? 

Honestly? Nothing has changed. Nothing, and everything. I’ve always had this need inside me. When I first became ill I tried time after time to find something that would work. Time after time I failed, so I buried this feeling deeper and deeper inside. But it was still there. Still tugging at me. Now though, now it seems almost possible. That’s the change. Through my blog and the relative success it’s brought, I’ve realised that I still have plenty to give. I still have my voice. I still have my passion. 

It all boils down to one thing.During the hours my body won’t move; as my husband is bringing up our children and shaping their little lives, I lie in bed. He is doing something amazing and worthwhile. I’m laid in bed. I know there’s only so much I can push my body to do. Only so much energy I have. But I feel as though I’m wasting my life away. Here in my king size bed with the sounds of family downstairs, I almost feel as though I’m watching the clock tick by on my life. Doing nothing more than filling time until it stops. That’s so depressing. 

So there it is.. I need to work. To feel like somewhat of a provider. To fill those drawn out hours with something tangible. Maybe even stumble upon an old talent, or a new one? 

The only thing left to decide now is if it’s possible? 
Image provided by Lila Yocum

My Time. 

My Time. 

There is a time on waking, a special time. A time that holds hope and wonder. A time when magic is still real and fairies flit between dust bunnies floating in the air. A time when dreams are fading out of focus, but still close enough to grasp and hold onto if only for a fleeting moment. 

Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I can hold onto this fleeting reality for what seems like an eternity. Most often it passes in a heartbeat, gone and almost forgotten all too soon. 

Do you know this time? The time between  sleep and awake, when you can hear the world around you while your body still sleeps. Even if you wanted to you couldn’t get up, a glorious weight pins you in place. You are limp, at rest, snuggled in that perfect position only a sleeping soul can find. Dreams are still dancing behind your eyelids, though they appear softer now, and peace is etched upon your face. 

Do you know it? Is it as previous to you as it is to me? Because, you see, in that time I am me. I am not sick. I am not in pain. My joints do not creak and click. I am not exhausted to the point where breathing is a physical effort. My skin and eyes and throat aren’t dry, or if they are I cannot tell. I’m neither too hot not too cold. But mostly, I am me and I am not sick. I am free to ponder hopes and aspirations that are forever out of my reach. To daydream in a state of just enough consciousness that it’s believable. I can be myself. No limitations other than time. 

Then whoosh! It’s gone. The blink of an eye, a deeper breath, the slight snuffle of my son in his cot. The tiniest thing can click my conciousness up a notch and reality comes crashing down upon me like a tonne of bricks and sand. Glass, ice and molten lava. All at once my body is awake, and though not yet able to function it can feel. I can feel the tension in my muscles, a tension that never eases but is thankfully less noticeable in slumber. I can feel the itches an prickles running riot over my skin. I can feel the pain pulsing through every fibre of my being. I can practically hear my nerve endings screaming at me as my joints behave like unruly tea avers, unwilling to stay inline. 

Inevitably I lay there. Trying in vain to drift back to that sweet place, just for a few seconds more. But I am never that lucky. Sleep doesn’t come easy to me. So instead I try to pull myself together. I paste on a smile and face the day, be that functioning or recovering in bed, I face it. But behind my smile, in a tiny part of my brain, I keep that special time. That time where I can be me. And when I can’t quite cope, I look upon it and smile. Because tomorrow, I will have that glamour of peace once more. 

A jealous person is a horrible person, right?! 

A jealous person is a horrible person, right?! 

I’m a jealous wife. I’m a jealous friend. I’m jealous of the stranger on the street, the put together mums on the school run, and the frantic ones too. Im jealous of stay at home mums, I’m jealous of working mums. I’m jealous of my hairdresser, the lady in the fish and chip shop and the garbage man. In all honesty I’m jealous of pretty much anyone, well no, not anyone. I’m jealous of the healthy. I’m jealous of the able. I’m jealous of those seemingly better equipped to cope with chronic illness or disability than me. 

To admit to being jealous is a scary thing for me to do. People assume that if you’re jealous of someone you automatically harbour resentment for them. You wish them to fail, be ‘brought down a peg or two’, for them to be miserable. A jealous person is a horrible person, right?  For me I hope, that is not the case. That’s not how I roll. 

Just because I’m jealous of you doesn’t mean I wish bad things upon you. Honestly I am the biggest cheerleader when my friends and family achieve something, I’m always incredibly proud. I just wish I was able to live like ‘normal people’ do. 

It’s hard not to hate yourself when you have a trickle of jealousy running through every adult relationship you hold. Particularly on days that trickle becomes a raging torrent, sweeping away your sensibilities and spewing forth over whomever unwittingly triggered it. Usually this happens on a hard day, a day full of pain and exhaustion, but that’s no excuse. 

I think I find dealing with the jealousy I hold towards my husband the hardest to deal with. My husband is my carer. He does so much for me, and our children. To the point he’s given up work to keep me safe and as well as possible, losing his social life somewhere along the way too. So what do I have to be jealous of? Well, I will tell you…

I’m jealous of the fact he is the main carer now, not just of the kids but of me too. I’m jealous that he can get up on a morning and function, he can do the school run and shopping and anything else needed. I’m jealous that he can run around with our children and make them squeal with sheer delight. I’m jealous that I’m often stuck in my bed and missing the children growing up whilst he’s in the thick of it. I could go on, but you get the idea. What makes things worse is on top of the jealousy, there’s the thought that to be jealous of someone who does so much for you, you MUST be a bad person. 

So I’m letting it go. Not the jealousy, I know from years of experience (and counselling) that whilst ever I’m this ill jealousy will factor in my life. I’m giving up feeling bad about it. 

My jealousy is my own. It’s my cross to bare. I’ve come to realise I’m not jealous so much of what you can do, more because of what I can’t. If I have to choose, I would rather deal with feelings of jealousy than feelings of self loathing. I’ve been there, it’s no fun. So I’ve accepted my jealousy and I’m not going to feel bad over it. As long as it remains a trickle most of the time, and I can still live and be happy for those around me, then I can live with that. On those bad days, well I’ll do my best and I’m not above apologising if I’m in the wrong. As for my husband, he knows me well enough to realise how much I truly love and appreciate him. 

Besides, whilst ever I’m jealous I have the extra impetus to keep trying. Pushing forward. Moving on. Living MY life to the best of my ability.