I am writing this whilst sat in the sun, in my garden, with my dogs and a cold drink, listening to Macy Gray. Matt came home from work early and I had my favourite home made pizza for lunch. Safe to say I am pretty content right now. A huge contrast from how I was feeling even just a week ago.
I have strangely found since welcoming Margaret in to the world that I feel a lot more confident. There are a number of reasons why I think this could be the case. Firstly I have lost some weight, I am so much happier with how I look and the size that I am, which has of course effected my confidence. However, I do think there is more to it than that. Having Margaret and a bag to worry about and deal with has made me realise what is actually important. Who cares if you have a bit of tummy fat or bingo wings? Of course health and fitness is very important but my old worries of how I looked in clothes and whether my thighs/arms/face/tummy were too big have largely gone. I don't care in the same way I did before. Of course it is still important to me how I look, as it is to most people, but I don't feel the same stress about the petty, small things. Who would have thought it would have taken having a bag and my intestine poking out to realise this!
I find it such a shame that I spent years worrying about how I looked in a bikini when now I would give anything to be able to wear one without Margaret.
Having this blog and the reaction I have had from people has also given me a level of confidence. Many of my friends over the past few years have grown apart, naturally we all see and talk to each other less as we all head off to different parts of the country for Uni and work. Going through what I have has meant I have been contacted again by so many people I used to be really close to. Being poorly has made me realise how important it is to see and make time for people. It has also made me see that I am liked for me not for how I look or whether I have an intact colon. As my lovely friend Milly said, "Everyone loves you for who you are not your Crohn's".
I'm not just saying this to big myself up or show how many friends I have, because I believe it is true of everyone. I don't think anybody picks their friends on their appearance or clothes they wear - in the whole scheme of things that really isn't important.
After the shock of me having this operation and once I have caught up with everyone, Margaret and Crohn's is all largely irrelevant to my friendships.
The way Matt still loves me despite the bag has also made me feel so good about myself. To him I guess it was a no brainer, but I think it is only natural to worry about how your other half might see you differently when you have your intestine poking out of your stomach. He has been nothing but accepting and amazing through out the whole process which has in turn made me feel comfortable about myself.
If he still loves me with Margaret and my friends don't care, I think I should learn to be happy in myself too.
I have also had a lot of questions about food. Now I am not ashamed to say, I really love my food. It is very important to me, and when I was faced with this operation it was one of my biggest fears. I am happy to say that I can eat pretty much everything I want to.
From the outset I was told to avoid mushrooms, wholemeal products and food with skins such as apple skins. I have tried to stick to this as much as possible but apart from those restrictions I eat whatever I want. Five days post op, the day I left hospital, I had a McDonald's and a pizza. I made sure I chewed everything really well and had no issues. My attitude it that this bad won't stop me living my life and doing what I have always done. I find that by not being fearful right from the start I have fully embraced having Margaret. She is having to adapt to my life rather than the other way round.
Of course there is a lot of trial and error, certain foods massively thicken up the output whilst others make it watery, some foods come out completely whole and others cause my bag to inflate with gas. I have learnt that acidic foods including raw fruit and veg is a no no due to pain, until my wound has healed. I don't see what there is to fear as long as you follow the rules.
Where as most people eat mashed potato or rice crispies and milk as their first meal after the op, I was given toast. The nurse told me as I left the hospital to try have a completely normal diet and I didn't need to be strict or worry, this included one of my favourite foods, olives!!
For a food lover like me this was a huge relief!
So to all those who have just had a stoma fitted or who are having one in the future, please do not worry, like I did, about food. There is no reason at all why you can't eat the foods you love and why you can't go back to normal foods really soon after the op!
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, thank you all so much for reading!
Lots of love,