Do you even fashuuun: IBD Style Secrets
Well, I did. Do. Try... Now style, that's always been a big part of my life. Whether that was a sparkly bandana top and flares from Tammy Girl in my younger years, rolling around the art school at University or stepping into the newest phase of my 'career girl' life, welcome COS and &OtherStories. This was then however interrupted by a diagnosis of Inflamitory Bowel Disease. Now my outfit choices really start to get interesting. If you know me, you'll know that in the past 6 months I've had 2 hospital stints resulting in a fairly sizeable operation to have my large bowel removed and the creation of Sally my Stoma. Living with an IBD, both before and after the operation involved a lot of stomach pain, swelling and discomfort. With that, I had to bid a fond farewell to denim for the time being. Jeans and Ulcerative Colitis was one thing, but jeans with scarring and a stoma is a whole new kettle of fish. Cue Katies style secrets....
I've really worked this hospital chic. From my 'gap ya' Hareem pants (I never went on a gap year, just sailed round Croatia for a week), to copious pairs of leggings (thank god for my time working at Lululemon) to the discovery of overalls & jumpsuits... I've tried it all. And let's not forget the joy I felt when I discovered maternity jeans with their stretchy cotton tummy panel. I said it in my application to Lululemon and I'll say it again, 'god bless those who invented lycra'.
First we have: drip stand chic. This was all about maximum comfort, ease of dressing & undressing for speedy bathroom trips as well as running (shuffling) out to catch some sun at any given time. It's a personal fave.
Then we get to: abandon hope, please just remove my bowel. To be fair, I didn't have much say in this outfit. Those damn compression socks. Pretty sure Steve couldn't resist. Throw on a headband however and you're the belle of the ball. Or so I told myself.
Closely followed by the pee bag. A must have for anyone post abdominal op. I layered 2 headbands that day for extra fancy. We've all seen this before. It makes me chuckle. I'll leave it at that.
Now. Here's where it gets good/ potentially less entertaining (hold out till the end). I had just been discharged, and there was a heatwave in Scotland. When you've spent almost a month in hospital, your skin is something akin to that of a depleted Vampire. My glorious parents bought a garden recliner, and there I gently lay myself down for the next 10 days. Basking. Earlier in the year, whilst healthy, I had purchased this beaut of a high waisted bikini from H&M. It hadn't seen the light of day yet however having just been introduced to Sally myself, I wasn't quite ready to show her off to the world, so I was flying when I discovered how well this bikini now fitted! H&M sizes though, I was 6 st 10 & imaciated at this point, the bikini a UK size 8. What gives!
HEY EVERYONE! I've a stoma and I don't care who knows it! The moment when, potentially still high off the anaesthetic, morphine and the other concoction of pain medications, I had my mum take this pic of me and introduced the world to my stoma, Sally. With the cat by my side of course. For extra Instagram likes.
Cut to 5 weeks after my operation and I had the biggest weekend in months on the cards, a family graduation & my 26th birthday. I'm particularly proud of these pictures because I really felt like I was polishing a turd at this point, but in actual fact, I don't look too bad! It's amazing what a hair cut and finding the right dress can do. If I've learnt anything, it's floating layers & elastic are your best friends when you have digestive disorders! If all else fails, draw attention away from the offending stomach area with some statement earrings Pat Butcher would be proud of.
I know what your thinking... ileostomy bag, Sally the stoma, where are you!? The answer, under 2 pairs of M&S granny pants. One of the few things that holds you together after an operation, and I have no shame in saying that.
Its been a bit of a shitter of a week and I've been doing the usual and scrolling through pictures on my phone, grieving for a life I used to have. It has made me realise though just how far I've come in 2 months since the operation. It may involve a few more belts & braces, i.e: underskirts & high waisted knickers, but I've made it. It's all an adventure though really. I couldn't have predicted how this year would have unfolded and with a second surgery looming, who know what will happen in the next 6 months but if there's anything I've learnt recently, it's that you have to laugh about it!
On that note I'll leave you with this gem. Taken 2 weeks ago fully embracing the concept of recovery, somewhere between angelic and chubby unicorn...