I returned safely to the freezing cold UK a couple of days ago and I’m already wondering how I’ll survive the winter! I know my health conditions affect my body temperature, but most people are feeling the chill already. I was incredibly fortunate with the weather in Salou, which, for the most part, was warm and sunny each afternoon. If I could move there, I would!
Mentally, I was a bit of a mess for part of the holiday. I had a lot on my mind, and sadly when I returned home I felt like I hadn’t even been away. The first time I went, even though I was sad to leave such a gorgeous place, I was looking forward to coming back because I felt a little refreshed, more positive, more motivated to stay alive. This time, with apprehension about coming back, I feel totally exhausted. I also caught another cold and my body was feeling the effects of trying to keep up whilst I was away; for 2 days afterwards everything hurt, my joints, muscles, bones. I’m still quite rough now. Pain can amplify negative feelings, as many of you know.
I won’t get too negative on here, but as I always say, I do try to be honest. Things aren’t always rosy and you can’t always find the positives and glow with appreciation for simply being alive. It’s okay to feel like shit. It’s okay to feel so tired that you want to give up. But I promise you, things can and will change. You just have to ride it out.
Looks can be deceiving, so remember that when you look at photos others, such as myself, may post online and on social media, and the memories and feelings they share.
So, on to the happier memories! The trip itself was fine, and I was through customs with my huge carry-on full of medications and stoma supplies with no problem (Thomsons again allowed for extra weight in hand and hold luggage for supplies). I wanted to make sure we did this because I’d been so close to the edge; my mum had always wanted a proper holiday abroad, and so we split it in two parts and tried our best. I felt grateful I was still alive, when I wasn’t sure I would be after that first surgery, but I also wasn’t sure I could see a future and I didn’t want to have another regret on my list. My mother really enjoyed the holiday and being able to see the beach and the sea and generally take in the atmosphere at the hotel too. I love seeing her happy.
We did a lot of walking (my hips still don’t like me for it) compared to usual, though nowhere near what I would have liked given I can’t physically manage it. We visited Cambrils one day, I even had a night or two out (none of my body liked this the next day but I certainly needed it), and for perhaps the second time in my life I managed to get a bit of a proper tan!
I missed out on quite a bit. Evenings in the room on my own because I was too poorly, trips we had to skip, and so on. We tried to pace the basics and do just little things. It’s frustrating having to make so many adjustments but you just have to do the best you can.
I was ill a couple of days (not stoma-related), including being sick and then passing out one evening, which is why I have a mark on my face in some of the photos from where I hit my cheek on something on the way down. I wish it was a more exciting battle scar from an extreme sport, but alas, it was probably from the bedroom table.
One or two days early on there were a few stomach issues with the stoma but I put this down to initial dehydration as I tried to get adjusted and settled in and drinking more water. The all inclusive aspect here is so important and helpful because bottled water was included. I had a few issues with food because my stoma doesn’t seem to like any meat that’s not soft or processed/lean chicken or turkey, and neither does it much like undercooked and harder rice or peas. It was a bit of a challenge to navigate but I just went extra careful. I am incredibly lucky and thankful to say there were no other stoma problems like leaks, and my anxiety over this lessened as time went on.
The hotel entertainment was far quieter than during peak season (July/August), but what there was was still fantastic. I met some amazing people and will always cherish those memories.
I did a little dancing too – and loved it! I avoided the pool, less because of fear of bearing my body in a bikini, but because I could see the grimaces of people trying to get in when the water was obviously pretty chilly!
I also had a rather bizarre experience of finding someone who made me realise that I’m not dead inside, that the stoma and health issues haven’t made me lose a part of myself I thought I’d lost. Yes, these things can make you feel like less of a woman and it throws relationships and such out of the window for a while, or maybe even forever. I felt I had to say something because with ‘invisible illness’ and chronic pain, people don’t understand why you can’t walk faster, sit in a normal chair, go out more often and so on. I did discover that it’s possible to tell someone you don’t know all that well that you have a stoma and that they don’t have to be disgusted by it – another person can see this as not being an issue and still ‘fancy’ you or like you, or enjoy your company as a friend or acquaintance. This is rather different to having a relationship with someone, which isn’t going to happen for me now because of my health. However, I hope that it gives others in a similar situation looking to meet someone – as a friend, work colleague or potential partner – and tell them early on about a stoma, some hope.
I am still rather unwell and exhausted right now, and not in a great headspace. It’s been nice to relive a little of the good times going through photos and writing this post, but I’ll leave it there for now. As always, thank you for taking the time to read. I’ve missed you guys! I hope you are all as well as can be…