My Blog

Catheter Awareness Week

Catheter Awareness Week

Just a quick note before I talk about this topic and awareness week. I want to say from the bottom of my heart thank you for all the support, comments and messages I have had since this last hospital admission. It has been a hard one remembering how poorly I can get when the sepsis hits. I have achieved amazing things this year, and I almost forgot I was ill, so this was a massive bump down to earth but I am changing a few things so I can continue spreading awareness and campaigning. 

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Living On My Own With a Chronic Illness

Living On My Own With a Chronic Illness

There have been times in my life where I have lost my independence whether this has been through past relationships or my health. I have had to rely on family, friends and ex-partners to look after me and get me through the worst. There were times I could hardly move and years where I spent the majority of the year in the hospital.

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#UroStories - Phil Esgate

#UroStories - Phil Esgate

Today we have Phil Esgate who is 59 from Standish (UK) sharing his story. Now I personally have a lot to thank this man because last year when I started my blog, he sent me an email informing me about the' 'Urostomy Awareness' group that he admins with Pam. Before then I had no idea there was a support network online for urostomies let alone ostomies. Due to this my own acceptance of my stomas has improved because of this identification. Phil and Pam do such an amazing job with the group and it is an honour to share Phil's story.

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#SelfHelpBookReview – The Self Care Project by Jayne Hardy

#SelfHelpBookReview – The Self Care Project by Jayne Hardy

Welcome to the 5th instalment of my monthly series #SelfHelpBookReview. I am delighted I have started this series because It has encouraged me to read more and I can't believe I have read five books this year.

So last month I was struggling to balance everything and felt I had nothing left in the tank to give to anybody else. Until Stephie from Colitis To Ostomy suggested to read "The Self-care Project by Jayne Hardy" and I have to say it has helped. So I thought I would review this book for May!

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#UroStories - Natalie Wicks

#UroStories - Natalie Wicks

I can't believe that this is the 6th #UroStories already and today we have the amazing and beautiful Natalie Wicks who is 28 and from South Wales. Natalie has been through so much and still continues to have problems with her kidneys which requires stents and a nephrostomy as well as her urostomy. However, despite this, she will still help support and inspire other people with pictures in her bikini or her honest posts. It is an honour to share her story!

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SAVE LIVES, Clean Your Hands Day 2018

SAVE LIVES, Clean Your Hands Day 2018

‘It’s in your hands – prevent sepsis in healthcare’

[2018 #safeHands]

You may be wondering why I am writing a post about this day? Considering this is aimed at Healthcare Professionals and the majority of my readers are ostomates. The reason why I have decided to highlight this very important awareness day is due to my own experience.

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What Matters To You?

What Matters To You?

Last week I was at the ‘Ostomy Days 2018’ conference held in Copenhagen for 900 Stoma Care Nurses (SCN’s), Healthcare Professionals and Coloplast colleagues. From those 2 days, I have learnt a lot especially the different aspects of stoma care but one of the sessions that I found really interesting was for the UK SCN’s. This session talked about recognising that SCN’s practice needs to adapt to keep up with the times e.g technology, more online information and communication and this session discussed how they could start achieving this.

rsz what matters to you 5

A phrase I kept hearing a lot in the different sessions, in regards to patients was ‘What Matters to you?’ If I am honest I had not heard about this until Terri one of Coloplast Stoma Care Nurse the week before the event met Steve and I to discuss the master class session, where we changed our bags on stage. Terri kept mentioning this phrase and the big push in designing care around the patient and what matters to them.

10 years ago I qualified as a Therapy Radiographer in Radiotherapy and Oncology (before I got ill) and during that time there was a big push in NHS England to help enable a patient to become an ‘expert patient and empowered’ This still seems to be the theme today but this has evolved from Healthcare Professionals asking ‘What matters to you?’ instead of ‘What is the wrong with you?’ This allows them to adapt their care to get their needs met better which ultimately results in better outcomes and recovery.

Originally this initiative started in 2014 in Norway with the aim of encouraging and supporting more meaningful conversations between people who provide health and social care and the people, families and carers who receive it. This helps Healthcare Professionals establish a relationship and understand the person in the context of their own life and what is most important to them.

‘What Matters to you?’ Day

What Matters To You 2

On the 6th June 2016 in Scotland, ‘What matters to me?’ day was launched. The day had an incredible amount of response and now this is celebrated every year on the 6th June. This year they are expanding to England and helps highlight the point about gaining a better understanding of what matters to patients which ultimately improves the experience, quality and effectiveness of care.

Some great examples of the ‘What Matters to you?’ Campaign

After researching this topic I came across an article about how Guy’s and Thomas Hospital have incorporated this in a creative way by introducing innovative new bedside boards in 2014.

The specially designed whiteboards sit beside the patient’s bed and are updated daily by staff and patients to include the names of the nurse and doctor looking after them. What is different is that this board also includes personal details like their favourite drink, preferred name, bedtime or favourite musician.

The article states that the boards have made a huge difference and are accessible to patients so they feel they have a say in their care. Sometimes it is the smallest details that make the biggest differences and have a real impact on care and recovery.

This is not the only hospital that have rolled out these boards. I believe there are quite a few hospitals that have taken this initiative up. I am hoping in the future Bournemouth hospital will adopt this because I believe this will really help other patients and myself when I get admitted again.

Asking ‘What Matters to you?’ is becoming one of the fundamental questions underpinning discussion with patients and making the interaction more patient-centred.

Applying this to stoma care and supplies

We are all different and this is so true in relation to ostomates. No stoma is the same because our bodies are different, our diseases are different and we are all individual. One product that works for one ostomate may not work for another.

Baring this in mind there seems to be a big push to get this question “What Matters to you?” in the review clinics to find out what really matters to ostomates in regard to their life and their products. I love this way of thinking making ‘us’ the patients at the centre of our care and designed around what is important to us.

So what would my answers be to “What matters to me?”

  • Keeping a level of independence throughout my chronic illness.
  • To stay as well as possible and to stay out of the hospital so I can enjoy my life. 
  • My friends and family are very important to me.
  • To be recognised that my illness is extremely complicated and to be listened to by Healthcare Professionals.
  • Self-development through my illness.
  • To eventually start swimming again at club level (or begin the process of training again).

In order to keep a level of independence throughout my illness for the last 2 years, I have had to have a carer/PA as part of the direct payments scheme who comes in an hour a day in the week doing jobs that I can’t do. This allows me to continue living on my own and maintain that level of independence regardless of surgery, recovery and admissions.  I also find being listened to is extremely important to me when I am in the hospital. At times I have lost my voice in regards to my care so this is an important one. My illness is extremely complicated and the complications I have accumulated can be confusing so when Healthcare Professionals really do listen to me and ask me questions if they don’t understand I feel like they care and understand that I know my body.

So this year on June 6th ‘What Matters to you?’ day I will write a post sharing lots of ostomates answers to this question. Hopefully, we could run this on social media with the help from other advocates alongside #WMTY18 for another way to raise ostomy awareness in regards to this question.

What Matters To You 4

If you would like to get involved please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or send me a message on my social media channels.

INGA Wellbeing Review

INGA Wellbeing Review

Attending the hospital can be a frightening experience whether this is for surgery, an admission, chemotherapy, infusions or radiology investigations. You wait anxiously among strangers with little information and often instructed to undress into a hospital gown that can undermine your dignity and leave you feeling partially exposed.

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#UroStories - Donna Wood

#UroStories - Donna Wood

I am sorry this is a few days late, I have had a very busy week. Welcome back to the 4th instalment of the #UroStories series. Today we have the lovely Donna Wood from Tyne and Wear who is 32 joining us. We connected last year and she has been a great support and is equally passionate about urostomy awareness. Also, Donna started the Urostomy Support Tyne and Wear/North East Facebook group for other urostomates in her area. 

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#SelfHelpBookReview '5 Second Rule' by Mel Robbins

#SelfHelpBookReview '5 Second Rule' by Mel Robbins

Welcome to my 4th instalment of #SelfHelpBookReview and for this month I have decided to review ‘The 5 Second Rule’ by Mel Robins. This was suggested to me by Emma a life coach I had a few months ago for the Confidence Course I completed to help stop procrastinating and build confidence.

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My Turn on the Catwalk

My Turn on the Catwalk

I have mentioned before that my theme for this year is ‘stepping out of my comfort zone’ I have already accomplished things I wouldn’t have done last year like public speaking, lifestyle shoot and going abroad. So, when Paige messaged me to ask if I would be a catwalk model for the Purple Wings event I just went with my theme and said ‘yes’ even though deep down I started doubting myself. I pushed those thoughts away and saw it as another experience to participate in.

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