Blogging One Photo at a Time

Studio

I often take photos with the idea of blogging a thought or experience. Seems I’ve been doing this for a couple of years and not posting anything here. Maybe life is just like that for me. I go with fits and starts. I’m actually a stellar starter.

Sometimes I’ve been completely immersed in the support of people who are facing ostomy surgery and don’t know what to expect. I’ve enjoyed being a healthy active inspiration to those who are sick. I was once very fearful not knowing what life would be like living with an ostomy and thought my life would be changed forever.

My life has been forever altered now that I have an ileostomy,  but along with the disruptive reminders of my limitations have been unexpected moments of tenderness and the powerful strength in resilience.

I’ve had countless quiet pensive times when I reflected on the decision to have the reversal of my JPouch and have a permanent ileostomy. All I can tell you is that the freedom from the daily agony and fear of the toilet was the best decision I made. It’s also one that I feel very protective over when people ask me innocent questions like, “did you try probiotics?” or some well intended inquiry into what could have been done.

Each time I’m given suggestions about what I could do to improve my health,  it tosses me into a defensive emotional place. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself. Sometimes I feel very empowered with how far I’ve come. Sometimes I’d rather not think about it at all.

When I do share my medical condition with people, I’m always delighted when they tell me they had no idea. I’m also routinely discouraged by people thinking they can help improve my colon health when I don’t have one. A colon. It’s been completely removed. Anyway – this post isn’t about frustration, it’s more about reflection after two years of no writing. I’ve documented much of my life in photos and routinely snap shots of things that represent emotion.

It’s tough to remember misery in hindsight. Especially when it’s sprinkled with fantastic days of wellness. Anyone with a chronic illness that has times of remission can relate to this. People with an illness that doesn’t show on the outside also knows how discouraging it is to be unwell and misunderstood.

So I’m gathering my photos and putting them into a writing challenge. To get back to posting regularly, I’ve decided the photos will be my topics. Typically they evoke a feeling or memory – each one of these does. It’s organic and free flowing but in somewhat chronological order from the last time I posted here.

Roses were Day 1 that I wrote about yesterday. I wonder if it will take me another two years to write about each of these photos. I’m constantly inspired and routinely struggling.

With gratitude for good days and a healthy sense of reality about the future, I will begin. Here’s the list so far:

  1. Roses – CHECK!
  2. I Miss Vegetables
  3. Fetal Position
  4. Counting
  5. Painting and the Art of Healing
  6. Did You Do Your Best Today?
  7. Human Body Coloring Book
  8. Go Big or Go Home
  9. Dock Jump
  10. Does This Pie Scare You?
  11. Meditation Malas and Healing Beads
  12. Iced Coffee
  13. Hello Spring
  14. The K Line Train and How to Keep Moving
  15. My Mum is My Strength
  16. Are You Feeling Trapped?
  17. Pain Chart
  18. IV Nurses and Other Bedside Visions
  19. The View from my Hospital Bed
  20. Hospital 2.0
  21. What’s on Your Shelf?
  22. Uranus Gas
  23. Uncertain Selfie
  24. Rest and Recovery
  25. Reflections From My Desk
  26. Wonderwoman Nail Polish and Power Stances
  27. Mother Mary in My Accessories Drawer
  28. Pebble Path to Cross
  29. From Soup to the ER
  30. Hearst out the Passenger Window
  31. Ice Cream with No Regrets
  32. How do you Measure Up?
  33. Beets at the Picnic
  34. Bleak Chair at Dusk
  35. Brick Walls
  36. My Hubs and Humor
  37. Defeated; a Self Portrait
  38. Grey Days
  39. Be Nice
  40. It’s Perfectly OK
  41. Showing Up
  42. WonderWoman Mother’s Day
  43. Sister Stash
  44. Room Service
  45. Stand Together
  46. Staying Connected with Snapchat
  47. Painting Even When You’re No Good
  48. Life & Love in Handmade Quilts
  49. Golf and WHITE SHORTS
  50. White Shorts 2.0!
  51. Swimming – Even Diving!
  52. White Pants!
  53. Collections and Reflections
  54. Tray of Treasures
  55. Swim Skirts and Bikinis Tops
  56. Milkshakes
  57. Heart to Heart
  58. Anniversary and the Fitted Dress
  59. Dog Days and Daughters
  60. Home is Where We Gather
  61. Saturday Dog Sketching
  62. Neighborhood Craft Day Q&A
  63. Road Trip Packing List
  64. Backup Wardrobe
  65. When in Doubt – Double Up
  66. Weekend in Mexico

I can do anything (with an ostomy)!

Traveling in England (with an ostomy!) and thinking I’m really funny…

So here we are screaming through January and at the beginning of week #3 already! I want to blog more this year and focus on real life tips and less about anecdotal stories (and random postings as demonstrated with photo above). I’ll likely do a combination of both since I tend to write without too much forethought and enjoy sharing fun photos. When I think about trying to deliver informative content, I lose my momentum. I want to be a resource but also address the everyday kinds of questions I get asked all the time. I also want to be an example of keeping it light. All this is oh so serious most of the time as it is. It’s better for me just to start writing and see what comes. Life continues to toss challenges at me and I’ll continue to share them.

My goal is to write once a week and I think I can do that. I also came across all of my years of journals and my daughter challenged me to write a book about living with an ostomy. The idea of a book is daunting but I do like to tell a good story and I have plenty of funny, sad and challenging ones to share.

I’m starting the year healthy and feeling powerful after shoveling snow! Each time I exert myself in ways that stretch and challenge my abdominal muscles, I have a little concern in the back of my head. That, and a little voice saying, “awe yeah, that’s me with my ostomy – shoveling snow – I can do anything!” It’s become a joke with my daughters that I can do anything even though I have an ostomy. You see, I’ve been showing my girls their whole lives that I can do anything with an ostomy. It’s now taken on a new meaning, as if the ostomy itself has given me the power to do anything. Rather than being able to do things even though I have an ostomy, they joke that I can do all these things because of it. It’s become funnier as the years go by. Today I hauled boxes around as I get ready to move and I could hear my daughter’s voice in my head, “you see Mum, you can even lift heavy boxes with an ostomy!”

I have lots of packing to do and I’ll pull out some journals to share some “Notes From the Hospital Bed”. Stay tuned!

Yoga pants I could wear all day

Besides full frontal face down positions, yoga is a great, safe and relaxing way to rejuvenate and strengthen. I found the best yoga pants at Lululemon that have a high enough rise to cover my stoma and enough structure to keep my appliance feeling secure. I think this model is wearing these low or has a really high belly button.

They aren’t cheap but well worth the investment for regular walks and getting to the gym. I could wear these pants all day. I like the distraction action of the waist band and they are reversible to black too!

selected color:BLACK/ BEACHY GREEN/ ARUBA black/ beachy green/ aruba

 

dance, sing, floss and travel

Here’s another cozy favorite. I like the front pockets that help distract from what’s happening sometimes unpredictably underneath. Sleep in em, grocery shop, get the mail – oh and exercise of course 🙂

Mercy’s video

For Positive Living shows a short film by Tim Bedingfield about artist Heidi Yssennagger’s work creating “Mercy” for OstomyAid.

I was moved by the quiet grace of this art project, along with the story about woman suffering globally. Using appliance materials, an artist with a stoma has created a piece in response to her research about women with stomas in Africa. Creativity has helped me to cope and this video shows how we can do more for one another. Like with any illness or medical setback, people relate to the personal and emotional struggles unique to our challenge. Helping others has always made me feel a little better. Let’s see what we can do together. Start by watching Mercy\’s video.

Mood Lifters

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Feeling down today? Here are some tips that may help:

Make some strides: Walking is a mood lifter and a change of scenery is enough of a shift to take your mind off heavier issues. Plus it’s good for you and can help work off some of that Halloween candy.
 
Hit the sack earlier: Get some shut eye. Everyone is better off. I know I head to cranky-cranksville and everything seems tougher when I’m tired. Pillow lumpy? Room stuffy? Fresh air and a new pillow do wonders for a good night’s sleep.
 
Clean up your act: De-clutter the spaces around you. Piles of paper and life’s bits and pieces are reminders of all you need to do. Keep a notepad handy to get thoughts out of your head and consolidate your to-do lists. Clear the mind!

Tune in to some music to elevate your mood. It’s amazing how my mind wanders to softer thoughts as music plays in the background. Everything is better with music in my opinion. Songs send me to memories or allow me to drift away from the chores at hand. Linger in the lyrics and enjoy.
 
In scent-ify your home. With all the aromatherapy options out there, anyone can find a scent that relaxes, energizes or improves the surroundings. Lavender is my favorite for relaxation, and lemony fragrances boost my energy. Vanilla is a wonderful scent too. Create a spa scented feeling in your home with diffusers or candles.

High Waisted Pants are Back!

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Time to celebrate! High waisted pants are back this year! For those of us with a stoma close to the waist line, the low rise pants of the last few years have been tricky. JCPenny has a fun pair of wide leg high waisted pants that are currently online and on sale! The metallic is strong in the dark gray but there is a lighter gray in stores that is suitable for work or an evening out.