At the end of 2015, I bid farewell to my old blog, morethanyourbag.com.
If you’re not familiar with it, I spent the best part of a year documenting my time living with an ileostomy bag after undergoing emergency surgery for a stoma after unknowingly suffering with ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease.
In October 2015, I opted to have the stoma reversed, which meant my small intestine would be stitched back to my rectum to allow me to go to the toilet ‘normally’ again.
Of course, I was excited. I thought it’d be a clean slate for me and that I’d be able to get on with my life and forget the surgeries had even happened. I even finished up my blog in the process, deciding that I’d no longer have anything to write about.
But I was so, so wrong.
I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to set up a new blog. I’m not sure if it was out of fear or just because I didn’t know how to put everything into words, but I’m hoping that writing about things once again will prove to be both helpful and therapeutic.
It’s been nearly two years since I had my reversal surgery, though it only feels like months ago.
Sadly, things didn’t go to plan from the get-go.
Prior to the operation, I had been told it’d last an hour and I’d be out of the hospital within three days. The operation ended up being three hours long as they had to re-cut down my original scar and through the stomach muscles, and I was in hospital for two weeks, incredibly ill.
I went back to work within 6 weeks of being out of hospital, and while at first things seemed fine, my health quickly deteriorated. I couldn’t get through a day without having excruciating stomach cramps until I’d reach a point of collapsing.
This was not helped by my need to use the toilet up to ten times a day – despite previously being told I could expect to use it around three times a day.
Alongside the cramps and the toiletry needs – which still go on two years later – I still experience other nasty symptoms that leave me feeling generally rubbish.
So basically, long story short (which I will be going on to talk about in future posts), my reversal hasn’t been very promising. And it’s been a real struggle to deal with, in all honesty.
Currently, I work from home, as I am waiting to see specialists at a new hospital for a full investigation into what is going on with my reversal – and why things still aren’t as they should be.
I am very lucky to have amazing employers who have been incredibly supportive of me and for that I couldn’t be more grateful. However, I can’t pretend that it’s not hard.
I’m happy to work from home but I find it so very isolating and lonely. I watch as my colleagues and friends venture out into the world, working in luxurious places and travelling, and I’m constantly stuck in my bedroom.
I know I can’t moan too much, but I feel my life would be so different if I’d never suffered with IBD.
But, as mentioned on my ‘about me’ page, I will be writing about more than IBD on this blog – focusing on other invisible illnesses I live with – including bipolar disorder.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1, a type of mood disorder, around a-year-and-a-half ago. Type 1 means I have more ‘manic’ episodes than depressive – though each are as severe when I’m in either or.
Living with both IBD and bipolar disorder has been very hard because I find they can often counteract each other. You can feel good physically but awful mentally, and vice versa.
And in all honesty, there have been times where the bipolar episodes have made me feel worse than I ever have physically.
But with the right medication, I cope – and I’d really like to use this blog to venture further into each diagnosis, how I live with them and the repercussions that come alongside, in hopes that it helps other people going through similar things.
The name for this blog, ‘But you look great’, is inspired by comments frequently heard by people with invisible illness – usually coming from others who don’t quite understand that you don’t need to look bad on the outside to feel it on the inside.
Comments such are these show that so much more awareness for invisible illnesses – be that physical or mental – is needed.
For future posts, I will be talking about life with mental illness, mental breakdowns, self-harm, mental health medication and seeing mental health professionals – including the Crisis team – to highlight what it can be like to live with bipolar disorder.
I’ll also be talking more on my progress with my reversal, problems using public toilets, body confidence, all things poo-and-taboo, hospital trips and how the medical team intend to put me on the mend.