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Feeling Ostomistic
Saturday, October 27 2018

This is not a paid advert or collaboration, just me finding a great deal to pass on.

I have tried all year since reading the Barefoot Investor to find savings where I could through reviewing our bills and that with other providers and even had power panels installed through an interest free payment offer.

One of the bills that has been bugging me, is my pet insurance for Dusty, I know many think it is a waste of money to insure your pet but it is something that could help save big costs. With Dusty's breed of cat, we were recommended by a vet nurse to get insurance and go through Pet Plan.

We signed up a policy when he came to live with us going on 2 years ago to this date and at the time the plan was great and affordable at $36 roughtly a month. But once the 12 months were up the policy jumped up, and then up again and now is sitting around the $63 a month, almost doubling and I am no longer feeling confident with our policy. We haven't needed to use it yet but it was a large cost that had doubled for almost no reason.

So I was on Kogan the other night looking for a gift for Russ for Xmas, when I saw an advert for pet insurance and was curious. I was intrigued by the first month free, but also that the plans looked similar to what I was paying currently with Petplan but at a much lower rate. 


^^See, isn't it an adorable advert, I mean effective, but who can resist those eyes! (screen shot of their site)

I signed up and emailed to cancel my petplan and pray that Dusty doesn't get sick and needs a vet, but at least if he does we have cover.

Best of all, it is now only $39 roughly a month instead of $63 and to our budget and pocket that is a big saving!

I am interested in learning more about their mobile and internet plans, 2 years until our contracts are up but never too early to research options.

That is our power reduced, our pet insurance, our car insurance and our home and contents insurances this year, I think I have done well to make a little savings in each policy.

I always feel productive when I have done some adulting, Russ is even happier if it comes in under budget. Or when Xmas comes early...


He was so stoked and keen to stumble across his Xmas gift early from ToyDeals.com.au

Oh and as for Russell's Xmas present (the whole reason I was on Kogan to begin with), I ended up finding it on a different site for $30 cheaper, it arrived on his day off and he opened it and started setting up before I had realised, so now he has his Xmas gift and he loved it. It was a pokemon go lego like (mega construx) and was a big gyuarados (the evolved form of Magicarp) so Russ has been happy. Found it on ToyDeals.com.au for $30 plus post, but still was cheaper than most sites, quick to arrive too (couple of days too). also not a paid mention, just a damn good find!


Russ focussing as he builds his Gyarados

 
The finished Gyrados from ToyDeals.com.au

Crazy that Christmas is so close, it also means that the Share the dignity #itsinthebag promotion is on soon too, better get started on that myself. I am not anywhere near organised this year!

Disclaimer: I was not paid or asked to write about this, I found and paid for this plan myself and thought it was a great buy to pass on to you, always read the PDS to make sure the product is right for you. 

Posted by: Talya AT 01:03 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, October 15 2018

I posted on social media the other night (well, last Thursday) a teasing photo of a delcicious hearty stew I had brewing in the Slow Cooker, it sparked so many asking for the recipe, so here is the stew recipe and story behind it.

Please note: I have not been paid by any of the companies I mention when it comes to ingredients I use, you can always opt for your own preferred company of choice, but this is my stew and how I have made it for over a decade.

Story behind the Stew:

I first learned about this stew when I was staying over at a friends house in year 12 and we went to spend the day at her Grandmother's house and she said "girls since you're leaving home soon I better share an easy stew recipe". So we cooked it and she talked us through it and she gave me a copy, I started experimenting making the stew and adding in different ingredients and was determined to make it my own.

It is one of those stews that are perfect for wintery cold nights or if it is raining outside and will be rainy days ahead it is nice to just pop the stew on to cook in the slow cooker and wait for it to cook, meanwhile enjoying the smells as they fill your house for the next 8 hours.

I also find that we can get a few days worth of meals out of this, we put as much as we can into chinese containers and pop them in the fridge and freezer, but one chinese container is one bowl full for one person.

But don't ask me the calorie intake, I have no idea but it is just delicious, and Russ loves it too! You'll want seconds it is so good!

You will need:
 Ingredients, see below
A slow cooker
Knife
Measuring cup
Big ladle or soup stirring spoon

Ingredients: (I get all my ingredients from my local Woolworths)

1 x large bbq chicken [ or you can cook your own chicken, ] for time management and ease I use a BBQ chicken (it is the most costly component), sometimes you can find cold chickens which is just as good to use and cheaper too
2 x cans of Campbells Canned Soup Cream Of Chicken & Corn 420g
OR 1 x can of the previous with 1 x can of Campbell's Canned Soup Cream Of Chicken 420g
2 x cans of hearty or chunky vegetable soup (select brand is fine, sometimes i get one cheaper brand and one of the campbells range)
1 x Continental Cup A Soup Creamy Garden Vegetable 2 Pack 2pk 70g (use 1 pack and keep one aside for next time)
1 x Continental Cup A Soup Creamy Chicken & Corn With Croutons 2 pack (use 1 pack and keep one aside for next time)
1/3 a bag of San Remo Shells Small Pasta No 28 500g
1 x cup of water, cold is fine
1/4 a bag of Woolworths Carrots Peas & Corn 1kg
2 or 3 carrots (depending on size) chopped in chunky pieces roughly 1cm in width (skin left on)
4 or 5 white spud potatoes (with skin left on) chopped in halves or quarters depending on size
1 or 2 sweet potato (depending on size) chopped in maybe 2cm pieces then chopped again into halves or quarters depending on size of piece
You can add in broccoli or cauliflower, sometimes I will add in fresh pieces or I will use a winter vegetable pack of frozen chunky vegetables

*

I think that is all the ingredients, now for the making of it

Steps:

Step 1. Locate your slow cooker and plug in to power, add 1 cup of water and turn to high

Step 2. Wash your fresh vegetables like sweet potato, carrot, potatoes just wash but keep skin on (when it is ready the skin just easily fall off), if you're adding in fresh brocolli or brocollini or cauliflower wash these too.

Step 3. Add in the cans of Campbell's condensed cream of chicken and corn or cream of chick soup cans into the slow cooker.

Step 4. Add in the canned vegetables.

Step 5. Add in the Continental cup a soup creamy garden vegetable and creamy chicken and corn with croutons sachets.

Step 6. Mix all the soup together

Step 7. Next add in the BBQ chicken by tearing off small bite size pieces but not adding in the skin, bones or stuffing

Step 8. Mix the chicken and soup mixes together

Step 9. Add in the shell pasta and mix it all together, add more if you think it needs more, but not too much more.

Step 10. Add in the pieces of cut chunky fresh carrots, sweet potato and potato. Stir it all together.

Step 11. Add in the frozen vegetables and stir it all together.

Step 12. Leave on high for 2 hours, check roughly hourly and stir, it can be messy as it will rise and thicken as it cooks.

Step 13. After 2 hours turn to low for 6-8 hours and check hourly and stir

Step 14. Leave it on low for another couple of hours if you think it needs longer.

IF DISCARDING STEP 14, turn it off and serve.

Step 15. ENJOY your delicious thick stew

* We love to buy the packs of dinner rolls from the woolworths bakery and pop in the oven so they are hot and fresh for when we serve up our dinner, we cut them along the tops and we stuff spoonfulls of stew in there and then eat it like that. We also use bread not toasted but buttered to scoop up the soup and it just is delicious.

Step 16. Fill up containers, we use takeaway chinese containers and pack these to the brim and pop 3/4 in the fridge and 1/4 in the freezer. We find with the 2 of us we can eat this for lunch and dinner for a few days using the fridge containers, often Russ goes back for a second bowl.

My observations:

I have made this when I have had my kid siblings come and stay over the years or my MIL and they have loved the stew. It is so easy to make and all the effort is in the preparation and the slow cooker does the hard part. I would cook this if it were cold and miserable weather, or if it is raining, nothing says snug as a bug as a hearty winter stew whilist nestled under blankets enjoying a movie.

We made this Thursday night, and I say we as I sat and supervised Russ and told him what to do as I wasn't up for standing in the kitchen for even half an hour or less (pain). But Russ loves when "we" make stuff together, he loves learning how to cook some of my meals that he loves.

We started cooking this at 7pm Thursday night and was cooking when we went to bed, and the aroma wafting through the house had my tummy rumbling all night. We would check it every hour and then we turned it off and put it in chinese containers and went back to bed. So it was exciting to wake Friday and have stew for lunch, and dinner and we still have a couple of bowls left.

But I have to be careful with my stoma, luckily all the veggies and chicken break down so soft they just fall apart and then i try to take the skin off to avoid a blockage, but as I have had so much and it has caused my output to be rather thick and caused a blockage, so just keep that in mind if you're an ostomate prone to blockages that it does make things thick.... but it is so delicious!

Our Slow Cooker:

This is an adorable story, we got our slow cooker the first Christmas we were together (2009). We spent Xmas Eve with Russ' family who were up from Melbourne as we planned on spending the next day with my dad and family. So we unwrapped our gifts and our joint gift from Russ' family was a George Foreman slow cooker. I was so excited as I had been saying to Russ I wished we had one as I was missing being able to cook my stew. 

So the next day we went to Xmas at my dad's and he handed us a joint Xmas present which was a slow cooker! we laughed as what are the odds of getting 2 slow cookers! I was really appreciative and thanked my dad but Russ' mum made a comment how she beat them to it and we had one already, so dad took it back to the store as it was unopened ( we already opened the one the night before as I was keen to make pinterest desserts) and he bought us something else. 

I remember one Xmas dad wanted an electric sander so he bought one for mum so she could use it, and that same Xmas mum bought dad an electric sander so she could use it. It still makes me smile even though I was 10, it made me laugh that Xmas with the slow cooker remembering the electric sander gifts.

So we have been enjoying our slow cooker for quite some years now, I used to use it more when I could easily jump in the car and go get groceries and was more independant, but I am wanting to make slow cooked lamb shanks for Russ next winter.... but I have been trying to convince my nan to get a slow cooker as she would love it, pop the meal on in the morning and smell it cook all day. 

Tell me, what is the favourite slow cooker recipe of yours? Mine is definitely my hearty stew.

If you do manage to make this please let me know how you went!

 

Posted by: Talya AT 06:44 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, October 04 2018

Trigger warning: Talks of mental health, vulnerability

You: Hi!

            Me: Hi.

You: How are you?

            Me: Fine.

You: Ok. What's up for today?

            Me: ...

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I'm sure you would agree that this is, the normal greeting and conversation you would have with most people throughout your day. What purpose does it serve when it is offered by rote, and from both parties? 

There are times when the question might be just a little different and if you stop to think about your response you can create change. Observe.

You: Hi!

               Me: Hi.

Y: How are you?

               Me: Fine.

Y: Hmm... Do you want to talk?

               Me: Umm...

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
This is when a life can change, your life, and it's totally in your control.

Hi everyone this is Russell, the Ostomistic Husband.

Recently, I had a bit of a breakdown at work. I got there to work okay, but then things just got just a bit too much for me. Luckily, we were made aware that there is easy access to a counselling service available to staff, through our EAP, so I had to sort of bite down on my pride and ask for help.... finally!

This was hard, but the hardest part of the day came next. 

Next, was the call to the counselling service which led to even more of a breakdown, so obviously there was more to it than just a momentary lapse in willpower. Just talking to them about why I was feeling so teary led to finding I was truly angry on the inside, and I realised it was about time that I started opening up for real and sharing these feelings with someone before they became more harmful…. If not only to myself but to others too, and its the least I want.

The tears were because I was really worried about Talya’s declining health; your best friend dying before your eyes, is enough to jerk a tear from even the most hardened macho jerk. I'd gotten to a point where I had to really start opening myself up to someone and letting them in. 

That hurt me because Talya is the most supportive and talkative person I know, yet, I was not letting her in. I know she only wants to get inside my mind further and help me work through this, but I think that I can’t talk to her about how I feel because that would not be me being strong for her. I also know that Talya doesn’t tell me how much pain she’s in all the time because that’s her being strong for me. 

I am so tired of us pushing against each other when we really should be pulling each other closer, so we can rely on each other‘s strength to be able to help us in our time of perceived weakness. The time is now.

The anger itself, was mostly a due to the fact that I can't control everything. I was finding that the more stressed I was getting the more time I'd have to take off work. Missing out on income didn’t help things, we would have to tighten the purse-strings at home for the following weeks as only small paychecks came in. That made things even more stressful so on spiralled everything down towards chaos and I thought, "Enough is enough! I have to man up. I have to deal with what’s going on inside, uncomfortable as it is I must move forward"

I have autism, so it’s hard for me to talk about feelings that I don't fully understand. But, I have to find a way of communicating my internal workings to someone so that they might be able to give me some additional tools to better deal with those feelings. I don’t generally feel emotions all the time, and when I do get them they are usually overwhelming and too powerful and it scares me. 

Unlike most people, I didn't get to learn how to deal with those feelings, in their varying degrees, when I was younger. So when I get some hot emotion it’s just like a huge slap in the face and I don’t know what to do. Actually I do know what to do; I do what most people in my position do, and that is retreat

So usually I retreat inside myself rather than looking for outside help. I think it best to stop talking, I just want to be alone, I just want to suppress those feelings and hope that in time they go away. I need to learn to recognise there are times that I can self heal and there are times that I require external forces to help me to heal.

What I'd been doing up to now was no longer working, so I had to make a change, it was only inevitable. I think that having this counselling service available to me is a lifeline that has been there for me for years, had I just opened my eyes and pride to the service. I know it is going to be a huge benefit to me. I may have the secrets of the universe poured into my open and receptive mind or I may only learn relaxation techniques to help deal with my grief, not just loss but the anticipatory grief too. 

Either way I will be in a better place than before simply because I answered a question posed to me in simple conversation honestly, not automatically.

So basically my message here is if you need help ask for it. If you can’t ask the people that are closest to you then for the sake of your sanity and health ask somebody else. 

Just do yourself a favour and talk to someone, even if you do all the talking and you realise what you need to do without them saying a word. The fact that they’re there means you are not alone and that you’ve opened up to them means you are able to start healing.

I just want all the blokes out there who are carers to someone who is chronically or terminally unwell, that I see you, that I am you and that you are not alone in this brother. We are the forgotten brotherhood in this story but if anything we should rely on each other.

Let’s remove the stigma that it isn’t the blokey thing to speak up about our feelings, but we shouldn’t feel ashamed for when we do cry, it is better than bottling it all in and an avalanche of problems emerging.

Fellas, we need to be the best parts of ourselves so we can be the champions our women need us to be so lets make a pact that we will not go through this alone anymore. Yes, it isn’t us who are sick but we are the ones who are here holding their hand when they are crying, comforting them in their times of need, but we keep neglecting that this is all taking a toll on us too.

The pain at the thought of losing my beautiful wife is all to hard and real but I know I am not the only partner or husband out there who is feeling this anger and loss.

How about I start up a group called "The Ostomistic Husband brotherhood", where it is a fb group you’re welcome to join and share in the times you are struggling and need a little clarity or just need someone who gets it to know you aren’t alone, I won't be available to offer advice or act as a counsellor but should you need somehwere to ask for questions or need a safe space to open up, this will be it.

If you would find this group valuable comment yes under this blog. It is a safe space, men or partners or carers of someone ill or terminal.

I know there isn’t much support for the men and the carers but lets be in that change tonight.

It is only one day at a time that is given, but lets use that day to try and be the change we wish to see in the world.

Please don’t forget you’re not alone, I am you, I see you, I feel you.

About the Author:

Russell, a husband in his mid 30's, is a computer salesman by day and a unicorn husband by night*. He enjoys long walks on the beach, playing Pokemon Go, he loves lamp, and he loves all things nerdy! He hopes through his writing and sharing of his experiences of having a young and terminally ill wife, might help other men to understand what not to say (to avoid getting yelled at) or how they can better support their loved one. If you want to connect with Russ (or send him topics/questions or areas of concern you have) send him an email via russell @ feelingostomistic.com.au. 

 

Posted by: The Ostomistic Husband AT 07:46 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, September 12 2018

This post is a collaboration between Feeling Ostomistic and Electricity Monster

You might recall from my post earlier in the year about "18 goals for 2018,"  that I wanted to find ways to reduce my bills/expenses - especially power - and that I wanted to do my bit to save the environment (such as getting solar panels installed and reducing my waste). I had read the Barefoot Investor and was determined to implement changes and see better financial stability this year.

Last year our bills were up around the $1000 a quarter mark, it was definitely a huge expense for us and each time the bill was due it was a stressful time.


Our March 2017 bill

I thought getting solar panels on would reduce my power bills dramatically and had hoped the huge outlay of costs would help us reap the rewards of cheaper power. We'd hoped we would see the value of our investment almost immeditately, but several months on we weren't yet to see a change in our bills or power consumption. 

Our bills were still between $500-$1200 a quarter!


Our March 2018 Bill, had reduced but still large

I was determined to find better deals and had tried to compare all the companies individually, but with my health and not having much attention span due to medications, along with not quite understanding all the charges and components of the bill and how to accurately compare, it was becoming a rather daunting and overwhelming task... so it was put in the "too hard basket".

I wished I had of known then that there were power brokers like Electricity Monster that existed!

It wasn't until this week that Russ was really wanting to get the power sorted, especially as it is heating up in the lead into Summer, when we would be using more air-conditioning and power (due to health reasons I struggle in the heat so need the air conditioning).


Our March 2017 Consumption per quarter


Our March 2018 consumption per quarter, was reduced compared with 2017 but wanted it to be better

I stumbled across an article by Electricity Monster online when I was searching for "ways to save on your energy bill" and some of their savvy tips sounded great and easy enough to try and implement into our household.

As I scrolled down the page I saw a sidebar advert that said "do you want to lower your bills?" and I was very intrigued. I submitted my details and awaited a call back.

I can excitedly say that finding and comparing plans was so easy!

Electricity Monster are brokers for power and can help you find a better deal, even for internet plans too! And the process is so quick and seamless.

 

After paying almost thousands each quarter, the idea of not having a bill or if we do have end up with a bill it would be a very small bill, it is all very appealing.

I checked with Russ to make sure he was happy with the proposed new plan, and he was. So off we went changing providers, and we didn't have to do anything, Electricity Monster did it all for us!

While the existing Simply Energy account offered a 20% pay on time discount, we are only being offered a 12% pay on time discount with Power Shop. Although the discount was lower, the usage rates and supply charge after discount were pretty much the same. The real saving was made in the higher feed-in rate I was receiving for the excess solar I feed into the grid. So although I was already on a competitive rate with Simply Energy, by calling Cyrprus I was able to make my solar system work harder for me and in return look to reducing my electricity bill in the future.

But I am just so happy with how efficient she was at comparing all the deals out there and finding ways to reduce our bill to the point we shouldn't get a bill and if we do it will be minimal, and best of all I didn't have to do anything except send her a copy of our bill via email.

Wanting to try the service yourself?

It is absolutley free to do so, do check with your current provider if you have any locked in contract or any exit fees, thankfully it wasn't costing me anything to change and I am not locked in with Power Shop or have exit fees too, so if I find in 6 months it isn't working out I know I am not obliged to stay, but if the bills remain as small and minimal as we are expecting I shouldn't have a need to change.

I spoke to Cyprus who was a really knowledgable broker who has been in the energy business for a while, so she knows what she is talking about. She also deals in internet brokering too. You can reach Cyprus on her direct line 1300 232 848 or via direct email and feel free to let her know I sent you.

I really hope that you too can save money just like I have and I am excited at the thought of cheaper power bills (aren't you?).

Disclaimer: Whilist this was a collaboration between Feeling Ostomistic and Electricity Monster, all the experiences and opinions are entirely my own and based off my own experience of the company. I would never share something I haven't and don't use myself and this service helped save me hundreds each quarter off my power bill, and I genuinely believe you could save too

Posted by: Talya AT 11:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, August 20 2018

I think this title is appropriate as we were served chicken for dinner at the awards night, sorry just being cheeky.


Me holding my award and framed certificate

On Friday the 17th of August, Russ and I drove up to Brisbane to attend the 2017 Great Comeback awards held by Convatec. I know we are in 2018, but it was 2017 when I applied and so the award is for last year but it is in this year which is confusing, but anyway, I won!

I was 1 out of 5 finalists from Australia and New Zealand.

It was such an honour to have been made a finalist, and I was incredibly shocked and surprised to have found out on the night that it was me who had actually won! There were so many deserving and inspiring finalists who have incredibly powerful stories to tell.

On the night at the awards ceremony, which was held in the brand spanking NEW boutique hotel called Emporium Hotel South Bank (I am dedicating a whole separate blog post to this, so stay tuned), there were video interviews of each of the 5 finalists presented. Each video is around 2 minutes long and consisted of images or videos being added in to share in the impact of the story.

I was in tears watching the videos, then mine, which was last to be presented, had me in a complete blubbering mess. I was so embarrassed as it was MY story and I know this sooooo well so it surprised me that it impacted me the way it did. I assume it was a build up of emotions felt on the night, I was incredibly anxious but I was also very overwhelmed, so once the tears started I couldn't stop.

I am sharing my video to facebook, but it is available on youtube too and will embed it below at the end of this blog post.

Please keep in mind that the original video was 22 minutes long and was chopped down to 2 minutes for the ease of viewing, so a lot of important points I made were missed. I did also thank my friends and family and also those who read my blog and  my tribe who encourage me (you guys), so I don't want anyone to be upset if they didn't hear it mentioned (because it was).

If you have an ostomy, or know someone with an ostomy who has a story to share and have done something inspiring or had a comeback post ostomy life, please let them know about the awards. It could be something like pre ostomy life you were too sick to travel so once you had an ostomy you travelled, could be you returned to work, you did something you have always wanted to do, you started a movement to inspire others, you went back to uni and graduated, or you found yourself and the joy of life from having an ostomy.... or it could be whatever your heart desired that you feel you made a great comeback thanks to your ostomy.... 

The Great Comeback is entirely your own comeback after ostomy life and could be anything, or could be a number of things, it is different for each person.

To apply you need to submit your story via the site, you do need to include certain aspects of your story pertaining to:

  • How life changed or was affected by your/their medical condition and having an ostomy
  • How you/their Comeback was achieved and the positive effects that have resulted
  • The role that others (family members, nurses, surgeons) played in your/their Comeback
  • Any current activities or interests that you/they are now able to enjoy or participate in, and any specific dreams or goals that you/they have accomplished or wish to accomplish in the near future
  • The learnings or advice from your story that others might find beneficial

I wrote my story out first in a word document and then copied/pasted it in the appropriate sections. I used the aforementioned topics as headings for each part of my story.

**Please note: the drop down box doesn't have NSW available to be selected, they are aware but have said to choose any state but write somewhere that you are from NSW. They are in the process of fixing this error up along with updating their site too.

If you have a stoma nurse who is amazing and deserves to be recognised, please nominate them too! 

If you have any issues with your or your stoma nurse nomination, please reach out to convatec directly via email

My video:

I do encourage everyone to apply, the program is a great way to not only share your story but to meet other members of the ostomy community. The awards are all about empowering and inspiring ostomates that there is still a life to be lived and enjoyed after surgery. I had a lovely night, which I will share in more detail in a blog post to come. 

Thank you to Convatec and the judges for choosing me as the 2017 winner and I can't wait to see what is to come.

 

Posted by: Talya AT 12:52 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, June 17 2018

 Attention:

Calling all young females (u/55) living on the Mid North Coast or Coffs Coast with a stoma, check out this exciting and new FREE event happening in August!

My stoma nurse has been excitedly organising this event and I was honoured to have been asked to design the flyer, but I was even more honoured to be asked to speak on the night as one of the speakers.

  The event is FREE and is open to all women with a stoma and under 55 from the area, if you're willing to travel you can come along, just make sure you RSVP.

  If you have any dietry requirements aside from the stoma, let the stoma nurses know and call 0266567804, that way everyone is catered to.

  The night is going to be a fun night with the chance to get to meet other young ostomates under 55's and the hopes of connecting each other to form friendships as ostomy life can be rather lonely for some.

  There will be a fun activity for all to join in and will also have reps from different ostomy companies there with samples or to speak more. Guest speakers will include Allied health professionals as well as myself.

  This event wouldn't be at all possible without the fundraising done by the Coffs Coast Crafty Crew (scrapbookers) in April 2016, as well as the hard work from the organising team of stoma nurses.

I am really looking forward to the night, and looking forward to meeting others from the area. Whether you're from Port, Grafton or in between this event is open to anyone who would like to come, has a stoma and is under 55 and a female.

Did I mention it is FREE and catered?

Can't wait and I will see you there!

Posted by: Talya AT 11:04 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, April 21 2018

Disclaimer: This blog post contains spoiler alerts for Irreplacable You and discusses themes around Anticipatory Grief and cancer.

I spend a lot of my time watching TV shows or movies online via netflix, that it is often the only way I can try to escape my surroundings or my reality faced. Sometimes you come across a doozy of a show that has you wondering how you could get back those wasted 90 minutes of your life; other times you stumble across the goods.... but then there are times where you start to really get into a show only to learn that it is actually about cancer, and when you're trying to escape your cancer riddled reality, often these shows just aren't what the Doctor ordered when he said to "Netflix and chill".

Sometimes it could be handy if a show came with a disclaimer/warning, similar to that of the warnings put in place in Australian media when warning that there may be footage/images/voice recordings of deceased Indigenous Australians which may cause distress for viewers:
 "WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following program may contain images and voices of deceased persons.” (ABC) This source also explains the cultural signifigance and meaning behind this practice too. 

With this in mind, there should be something similar to be considered when it comes to TV shows or movies that involve cancer, especially to the point that it may cause distress to viewers with The Australian Cancer Research Foundation stating that "most Australian's will be exposed to cancer at some stage in their life either personally or through family or friends" as sourced from "Cancer in Australia in 2017". When you consider that the Australian Cancer Council state that "1 in 2 Australian Men or Women will be diagnosed with cancer in their life before they are 85", that is a HUGE portion of the population that are exposed to cancer either inadvertly or advertly.....

So surely a duress warning is warranted after all, due to the amount of population exposed?

When a show ends up revolving around cancer or the premise of dying, it can be rather emotional watching it and if you're in a bad headspace mentally like I have been lately, you just end up bawling for hours on end and can sometimes lead to feeling in a funk for days if not weeks and can even unravel how well you are indeed coping with life. 

Very rarely however, I can find myself actually learning something from one of these movies or shows; which is rather surprising and unexpected when it does happens. I recently and surprisingly learned that how I have been feeling in regards to my prognosis, actually had a name!

Anticipatory Grief: The grief you experience without realising there's a name for it!

I recently stumbled upon a Netflix Original Rom-Com (romantic comedy, how it is a comedy is beyond me) called Irreplacable You, which introduced to me the term Anticipatory grief. Once I heard it, that this phrase actually had a name for it, I felt somewhat calmer about all the shit I had going on in my mind and started to get some clarity within myself. Choosing to read on may contain in spoilers of the movie, so spoiler alert friends.

But knowing about anticipatory grief made me feel normal in what I have been spending so long trying to process.

Anticipatory Grief, as presented in the movie, was in the way that Abbi (the lead, the protagonist of the story) was so caught up on being worried about how her partner (and fiance) Sam would cope after her death, that she created an online dating profile with the aim of seeking out "the right woman" whom she could ensure would have Sam's best interest at heart and that he would be okay and taken care of. Abbi was so focussed on making sure that everything was ready and prepared for that she had hoped this would make her anticipated death easier on herself and those around her.

It had the reverse effect as it made Abbi so focussed on life of her loved one's after she was gone that she lost sight of the living and the being present in the now. She alienated herself and by pushing Sam into another woman's arms, she lost him too. They did eventually rekindle their relationship and the day their wedding was planned for, it became her funeral, as she had died in the days prior.

But it really made me look long and hard at my own life.

I didn't know that there was such a term as anticipatory grief, and I hadn't realised that I had been living and navigating through it.

But once I knew that there was a name for a lot of what I have been trying to do, for the sole reason that I had died, such as:
Writing letters to my loved ones;
♕ Leaving behind memory boxes;
♕ Doing special things such as the photoshoot with my sisters as they wanted a letter and nice photos of us sisters together;
♕ trying to tidy up our finances so Russ can manage on his own and with ease;
♕ Planning my own funeral so that others could focus on their grief;
♕ or even in leaving gifts behind for future milestones I will have missed.

There have been other moments I experienced Anticipatory Grief without realising it:

I remember breaking down crying at my mum's wedding February 2017, like I mean full on hysterical tears. Everyone (all my siblings) were dancing and my mum came and sat with me and hugged me. She asked what was wrong: that was when the tears started and they wouldn't stop. I felt so guilty that I was ruining her special night with my sadness and grief, I was just so sad at the thought of all future family events and milestones I was going to miss, such as the wedding's of my siblings, and it all just got too much for me. I apologised afterwards and the following day, mum said it was okay and she acknowledged that it must be hard.

But I didn't know then that it was anticipatory grief, it also wasn't the only occasion that has thrown me for six either:
I remember tears felt for my nephew's first birthday as I was surprised I was still there to see him celebrate (was 6 months since entering palliative care), but the thought of him growing up not knowing me or knowing how much he meant to me does still upset me. For his first birthday I named a star after him, for his second birthday I got a bunch of kids books and wrote a heap of heartfelt inspirational messages inside each one, that I hope will help motivate and inspire him in the years to come.

There are so many other times too, poor Russ has had to deal with me and the various stages of my grief for so long. He sees it all and knows this stage is hard for me.... it is hard knowing that life will go on and that I will miss out on things, but I am also worried my life would have meant nothing or I would be easily forgotten, so I am trying to do memorable stuff and make a difference as I don't want to be forgotten... which is another form of anticipatory grief.

I often break down at the thought that Russ and I won't get to live out our dream of sitting on our back verandahs in our matching rocking chairs just laughing and chatting together, or we often find ourselves talking about our 10 year plan and what we will be doing without thinking and then it hits us and one of us is crying. I get upset at the thought of missing out on having a career, missing the wedding of my best friend and siblings too. I was fortunate to live to see one friend get married last November, a day I didn't think I would live to see, and we both hugged and cried so much that day she just kept saying how happy it made her that I could be there and the feeling was mutual, gah - I am crying now just remembering that powerful and emotional moment.

I must admit the thought of Russ moving on and finding love after I've gone has been on my mind a lot, but not to the extent (yet?) that I would actively seek out my replacement and set him up before I had died (like Abbi, in Irreplacable You); I know I tend to do things a little pre-emptively, but that (seeking out my own replacement) for me is a little too much. I had considered writing a letter to whomever came after me, but trying to put that pen to paper was just far too difficult everytime I have tried. What do I say or how do I begin, "so you're banging my husband and could give him a life I couldn't because my body was too stupid go ahead and have fun kids"... nah, it is too much. I want him to be happy and hope he isn't alone but at the same time I often cry at the thought that he will have a life I won't be a part of and I won't be here and it hurts thinking of him having a family and having a relationship with someone who is normal and can do normal things like walk or shower without assistance, and who isn't such a burden. I do worry about him though, if someone takes advantage of him when he is vulnerable (such as take our house from him) or his next partner doesn't understand Autism, how his mind works and just how patient you need to be at times; he says he probably won't try dating again. 

Noticing anticipatory grief in those around me:

Now that I know that it (anticipatory grief) exists and it has a name, I have been noticing it more and more in my own everyday life and pracitices. I have also been noticing the anticipatory grief that others have in their interactions or behaviours towards me.

Ways or some examples have been:
- Not inviting me to something because it was easier to exclude me than to try and accommodate me;
the list could go on but I would be here for days if I listed the experiences faced, and you'd be horrified if you knew some of the truth too.

Time for change, let's talk about Anticipatory Grief to Normalise it:

For so long I have felt guilty or ashamed for feeling grief or grieving over the loss of something due to being terminal, such as: the loss of friendships or social relationships; loss of my independence and being so reliant on Russ; loss of my ability to do normal everyday tasks such as dressing myself, showering, even walking; I know I felt grief over the loss of my bowel; grieving the loss of my connectedness to my community and feeling like I don't offer a valuable contribution to society; loss of career prospects; loss of being able to have a family and fertility.

I wished I knew then that anticipatory grief was normal and that it was what I have been feeling for all this time, it might have made accepting and acknowledging these feelings easier, rather than bottling them up because I felt like something was wrong with me for feeling how I did and feeling like it was all trivial, not realising this is a totally normal process and grief to experience.

Perhaps if people read more about anticipatory grief, they might then know to speak with a mental health professional to help work through their issues, like I currently am.

But most importantly there is nothing to feel ashamed of for feeling this grief or for grieving the life you're going to lose, it is only natural, but finding the right counsellor to help you through your issues is key. If you don't feel they are a right fit, try and search for someone who is.

Know you aren't alone and what you're feeling is completley valid, important and worthy of being acknowledged.

Posted by: Talya AT 02:25 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Wednesday, April 18 2018

Stoma Nurses are the heroes of the ostomy community, well I know I wouldn't have made the last 5 years without my wonderful nurse by my side. So it was why it was an absolute honour for me to have been asked by the WOCN society to contribute to a tribute video they were collating for WOCN week, to say thanks for our nurses.

It was even more of an honour as it was to mark 50 years of WOCN contribution, and I felt in someway that it was a way for me to leave a mark in the world to say thanks to my Nurse and all the nurses out there. I am big on saying thanks and ensuring that I say thanks for those I love or those who have made an impact on my life.

This week 15th-21st April, is the WOCN appreciation week. WOCN stands for Wound Ostomy Continence Nursing, in Australia this is a Stoma Nurse who is also a Stoma and Continence Nurse.

If you wanted to see the tribute video, here it is. If it doesn't load below the link is here.

Thank you to all of the nurses for all that they do to help ostomates navigate life with an ostomy more smoothly. Most importantly, thank you for having our backs.

OstomyConnection shared their thanks for the amazing WOCN too, have a read of their post here.

Congratulations to the WOCN society on celebrating 50 years of service! And thank you for everything!

Posted by: Talya AT 11:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, February 25 2018

Did you know: there is an International Day for just about everything!

Feb 20 was International Love your pet day, but that is just about everyday amiright?? It is made easier when your pet is beautiful, funny, compassionate, photogenic and clever.

Fabmewlous Dusty:

Dusty is my (well, I should say OUR) beautiful little ragdoll kitten who will be 2 later this year! He came to live with us when he was just a wee kitten and it was a matter of love at first sight, Russ and I fell in love with him straight away. He was just so, so tiny and adorable!

Dusty was so tiny he refused to go anywhere without me and often demanded I carry him or he slept on my chest, of a night he refused to sleep unless he was snuggled up to me in my bed and he has snuggled up to me every night since. He is like a soft, plush teddy bear but he helps to make you calm when he purrs.

We have been gushing over him ever since he came into our lives and will show off pictures and talk about him every chance we get and to anyone who'd listen... yes, we are THOSE type of fur-parents.

Russ and Dusty have their own special bond and routines, just as I have with Dusty. 

I can honestly say with my hand on my heart that Dusty saved me and has made my life significantly better! 

Life BD (before Dusty) was fairly lonely and boring, to be honest the days were long! 

But since, it has been filled with: love, friendship, so many cuddles to count, laughs and companionship. He senses when I am sad and forces me to cuddle him, he is incredibly emotive and he has the most beautiful big blue eyes that just melt your heart.

Russ leaves for work at 8am and I am no longer alone while he is gone for the day, Dusty looks in on me when I am sleeping and often is close by. He can even sense when I am in pain and unwell and is extra affectionate! Dusty also makes me laugh a lot and makes me feel so very loved.

Did I mention he is so clever too? He plays fetch with me everyday! I throw his toy and he fetches it and brings it back for me to throw all over again.

I never realised I could love my kitten as much as I could, I always never understood people when they said their cat is not JUST a cat and is a member of the family... that was until Dusty came into our lives!

Dusty is our child, he is our furbaby and he has helped to make our house a home. He greets everyone who enters with excitement and love and he tries to protect our home too, he also seems to know everything that is going on within our house often you'll find him at the door or window being a stickybeak. But his most important job is excitedly greeting Russ when he walks through the door after a long and hard day at work.

Dusty is famous:

So when OstomyConnection shared their "15 ostomates who love their pets more than anything" I was so honoured to see that not only did Dusty and I make the list, BUT we were number 1 too!

Pop on over and meet 14 other ostomates who share a precious bond with their pets, click the link here.

I have been sharing Dusty's shenanigans on Instagram and Facebook, he gives me so many reasons to smile and he has become a reason for many others too, often I am emailed and they make mention of how they love Dusty or when I run into someone down the street they say he makes them smile too.

He has THE BEST facial expressions!

You can find more of Dusty on my Instagram/facebook account under @feelingostomistic, he also has his own page @fabmewlous_Dusty on Insta and facebook. 

I am grateful to the joy and love Dusty has given me and I am sure it is one of the major factors in me still being here. He helped improve my spirits and my outlook on life.

The best advice people gave me when I got sick was that I should get a pet as they are the best therapy, I am just glad I listened! Maybe a pet will help you too!

 

Posted by: Talya AT 08:22 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Monday, February 12 2018

Please Note: All views in this blog are my own (and I don't claim to speak for or on behalf of anyone other than myself)... also, spoiler alert if you haven't yet watched episode 14 of the Good Doctor. I am just sharing my dismay at how something that saved my life was shown so negatively inflicting a stigma that so many fight to erase.

I have finally got around to catching up on the most recent episode of The Good Doctor, which I was rather enjoying up until this week. 

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Let me start by sharing (an ironic) quote from the episode:
“Questions are good: Leads to awareness and understanding. Who knows, even acceptance.”
- Season 1, Episode 14 titled "She"

The irony is that they could have shown more compassion surrounding how they approached the idea and livelihood with an ostomy.

Instead, they made the idea of an ostomy as this tragedy and that it was THE worst thing to happen in life. I get that it is a show, it is made up, but it doesn't make those living with the conditions feel any better or at ease knowing "it is just a made up TV show that thinks this" when the reality is so many look down on life with an ostomy and struggle to see that a life can still be lived....

"I’d rather an ostomy in tow than a tag on my toe" - Talya Goding

I really was enjoying this show and often talked of the compassion felt in each episode, but this week I find myself as someone with an Ostomy to be disappointed in how it was perceived and quite angry too.

Maybe some more consultation from those with lived experiences could better make the show better.

Just an idea?

Myself and so many in the community work tirelessly to try and help people understand a life isn’t over with an Ostomy and comments on tonight’s show sets our work back 10 steps... arrogance isn’t helping anyone.

Ostomate and proud!
I took to twitter too to share my frustration and dissapointment, but I also wanted to write a proper post here that hopefully can show the inspiring side to ostomy life too.

 

Here are what other ostomates and advocates said about the episode too:

No You Cantcer @NoYouCantcer

Here are some ostomates who inspire me and others:
I know that for many an ostomy is an emergency and can come as a shock; I know that for many (like myself and others) they have many issues with their stomas and constant issues; I also know that It can take some a long time to adjust to ostomy life and it can be rather hard; some struggle a lot with adapting and this affects their mental, social, physical and financial health.

But then there are other ostomates who have regained their lives and done things they never would have imagined, because of their ostomy and because they had the surgery, that in their cases were life-changing as much as it were life-saving.

I will introduce you to Zoey Wright, Laura Zapulla aka @stoma_licious, Sam Abarca aka @Aussie_Ostomate, Gaylyn Henderson aka @Gutlessandglamorous, Blake Beckford and Dana Marie. You may have heard of these guys before or seen them on instagram, you may remember Laura and Sam from my 20 Aussie Ostomates on Instagram post.

While these are just 6 ostomates, there are so many others out there showing life with an ostomy can still be lived and loved, but also that this can be a second chance many didn't have.

I am sharing these 6 ostomates because they have inspired me and I know they will inspire you too!

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Introducing Zoey Wright @zoeywrightx - Pro Fitness Model:
Zoey is such an inspiration to many! She is a Pro Fitness Model with an ostomy, she has helped inspire so many others with IBD and an ostomy to do fitness and to also be a model too. She helped many, including myself, see that fitness is a reality with an ostomy. She shares videos, words of wisdom. She is stunning and beautiful and incredibly courageous to boot! Zoey has an ebook launching soon, so keep an eye out for more deets. Find her on: Instagram Facebook Twitter 

Introducing Laura Zapulla @stomalicious - Ostomy travel blogger:
In the 6 months post ostomy surgery Laura travelled 3 continents, 17 countries over a total of 10 months - all with her ostomy in tow! Laura helped me to realise that travelling with an ostomy is achievable and can happen. I know she has helped many others to see this too. Laura loves to get her bag out on her travels and below is pictured in front of the iconic Eiffel Tower! Laura had always had a dream of travelling and living abroad and her health put a halt to her plans, now she lives in London and travels every chance she gets. She shares her tips for travelling with an ostomy and living abroad on her blog and social media. Find her on: Instagram Facebook Blog

Introducing Sam Abarca @aussie_ostomate - RN with an ostomy and training to be a STN too:
Sam is an Registered Nurse (RN) from Australia who became an ostomate after living with IBD. She had surgery and 8 months later she was back in her scrubs and helping to save lives everyday! She documents life as a nurse with a stoma, including pesky bag leaks, but she continually inspires others whether it is running for a marathon or training to be a Stomal Therapy Nurse, or even helping new ostomates as they adapt to life post op. I know my STN is my rock and I couldn't have done this without her, and I know how valuable a good STN is to an ostomate, so Sam having her experience as an ostomate is really going to be such a resource and tool. Wishing you all the best as you finish your STN certification Sam x Find her on: Instagram

Introducing Gaylyn Henderson founder of @gutlessandglamorous - helping to inspire the beauty in all of us:

"Anything that has the power to save a life can be nothing but beautiful!"
- Gaylyn Henderson

For over a decade Gaylyn adapted her life around her pain, her health issues caused from her IBD and struggling to find normalcy. It affected her emotional health too. It was then when she had her total colectomy and became an ostomate that she regained her love of life again. She often has spoken out about the stigma attached to having an ostomy that was the reason she held off for so long. Determined to change this for others, she founded the Gutless and Glamorous foundation with aims at helping to inspire and improve the lives of people with chronic illness and pays special attention to those with an ostomy or need to undergo life altering surgeries. She said (in an interview with BlackDoctor) her ostomy "saved my life and I want to highlight that those living with one can be both #GutlessandGlamorous. It is my goal to help erase the stigma." I think she has done an incredible job and believe she deserves a huge applause for all her tireless work from advocacy, support, education and fundraising for a cure. The world is a better place because of people like Gaylyn. Find her on: Instagram Facebook Twitter Blog

Introducing Blake Beckford @Blake_Beckford - Model, Body Builder and advocate:
Blake battled bowel disease for over a decade which led to him needing surgery for an ostomy. Blake became determined to get back into shape and regain his bodybuilder career and it led to him becoming a model. He has inspired ostomates around the world to get into shape and enjoy fitness, he shares tips and videos on his blog and socials. He even founded a site called OstomyReviewer which is this amazing site where you can rate and review ostomy products and see what other ostomates have said about it before you have ordered or purchased it, how genious and is such a good platform too! Blake started the hashtag #myillnessisnotyourinsult after ostomy life was insulted by some leading "news" sites and he tirelessly advocates and fights for ostomates. Blake is often quoted saying "my bag gave me a second chance" and he tries to be a positive role model for ostomates, continuing to instil hope in others. Find him on: Instagram Facebook Twitter Blog

Introducing Dana Marie Arnold @lovedanamarie - country music singer/songwriter, recently married:
If you haven't followed Dana on insta yet, get onto it. She is so positive and beautiful, she is an amazingly talented country music singer/songwriter (I love her music) and her feed always has you feeling warm and fuzzy. Her love of life and gratitude for all things, including faith, is contaious and she is so down to earth. She got married recently to her husband Tanner and looked absolutley stunning on her wedding day. On her blog she shares some great advice on living with a stoma, how faith can help you heal and more importantly, she shares tips on how to love yourself bag and all. I actually first discovered Dana back in 2015 when I came across her online course she had for "rock the bag" where she helped you find confidence and to love yourself post ostomy surgery, I started following her online and her feed constantly leaves me feeling positive. I'm not religious but I find comfort in her words at times. Do yourself a favour and follow her, you won't be disappointed. Congrats Dana on your wedding Day too! Find her on: Instagram Facebook Blog

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I have talked before about how my ostomy gave me my life back and how it saved my life, my ostomy is the reason I get to cherish the gift of each day I wake up, my ostomy isn't perfect and is complicated but it gives me life and that is precious. In the future I hope that there is more acceptance for life-altering and life-saving surgeries like an ostomy and that it is more accepted.

This is why I started my blog 5 years ago, so that I can share life with an ostomy and hope to inspire others to live their best lives. I am so grateful now that there are so many wonderful ostomy advocates and bloggers on social media.

My wish is that in 10 years there won't be a stigma for ostomy life, that ostomy life will be accepted and not made to feel embarrassed for pooping different... I have seen how much the landscape has changed in 5 years and it gives me hope for future ostomates and the next generation of ostomates that they will feel love and acceptance and never have to feel ashamed for something out of their control anyway.

As I say all the time, I'd rather an ostomy in tow than a tag on my toe, ostomy life has been a rollercoaster ride for me, but it has also gifted me the joy of living too - so I will always be grateful for that.

 

Posted by: Talya AT 11:43 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, January 19 2018

I had wanted to write about this topic so many times last year, but each time I feared if I did it could somehow come across that I am some angry hermit who doesn't like visitors. 

I don't claim to talk on behalf of all the people who are chronically or terminally sick, I simply am sharing mine (and my husband's) views of how we feel when you have surprise visits. Sometimes surprise or short noticed visits are difficult and stressful, you mightn't realise but there are reasons that make surprise visits difficult.

It could be very easy for you and your loved one who is sick to know how you can better support them and what things or actions don't help them. Finding how they feel about their needs or issues and how you can better help could be a starting point so you both can understand.

It is hard when you're chronically (and also in my case) terminally sick and trying to navigate the waters of keeping up appearances, being social and people visiting often surprised and unnanounced. I know people care and they decide as a last minute thing that they wanted to visit me for the day but don't bother telling me as "it is fun to surprise you" thinking it will make me feel great about myself having visitors, but they don't realise surprise visits cause me a lot of stress and anxiety which I explain below.

Don't get me wrong, I like when people visit but only if 2 conditions are met:
#1. I have notice and #2. Providing I am feeling up for it.

There were a few times over the past couple of years when people had surprised visited me and despite continually asking for no surprise visits, they still happened.

Family and friends were outside waiting and were upset and bothered when I didn't answer the door, because I was asleep and had my phone turned off so I could sleep.

I NEED notice when it comes to having visitors for a few reasons.

#1. I sleep a lot:
I'm not lazy, I am sometimes tired of having to explain and justify my pain or tiredness, but there are days if not weeks or months where I am asleep and resting. I turn my phone off on my bad days or when I have had very little sleep and need un disturbed sleep. So telling me the day before gives me notice for then being able to make sure I am up and ready if I am ready.

#2. My stoma leaks a lot:
My stoma leaks a lot, 95% of the time when I wake I am dealing with leaks. It is really stressful when woken and knowing people are outside knocking and waiting/expecting me. It is something that makes me anxious when I do realise people are waiting for me, as if I am home alone I have to try and deal with a leaking stoma whilist trying to get to the front door quickly (often I miss the postie or courier and have to drive to Coffs to get my parcel). It is also why I get upset when Palliative care would randomly rock up without telling me and then were cranky when I wasn't home to answer the door when I was, I was just in bed asleep... so when my stoma leaks it can take me time to get ready. It means needing to get dressed and cleaned up and clean my linens if needed. It is something that I can need time to be ready, and knowing someone is outside waiting for ages makes me feel more flustered.

#3. I often sleep starkers:
Because my stoma leaks a lot, it is just easier to sleep with either no clothes on or just undies and no PJ pants. Sometimes I wear a top sometimes just undies and no top... so it is less laundry to wash because guaranteed my stoma leaks often in the middle of the night or when I wake and it is hard to have to strip down while trying to do a bag change - all while magically avoiding making a mess! If it is just going to be me home it is best if I know if anyone is coming so that I can have notice and get a chance to get ready. When you surprise rock up it can be hard as my clean clothes could be in the laundry (in the dryer) and I have to try and get through the house with just a dressing gown on and hope if you're outside waiting that you don't catch my streak through the house to get my clothes.... so I need notice if you plan on coming for obvious reasons.

#4. I am often in pain and bedridden:
When Russ leaves for work of a morning he shuts and locks the door as he walks out. So sometimes if I know someone is coming to visit I would ask him to leave the door unlocked and shut. If this is a day when I am barely able to get out of bed it can be stressful knowing someone will arrive and I can't exactly get up to open the door. I was criticised last year (well, 2016 too) when I wasn't much of a host and "don't make people feel comfortable or welcome" because I can't be a host. I think it is hard for people to understand that it is painful and difficult to stand and walk let alone be a hostess. If you come and visit, please have zero expectations of what I am meant to do... don't expect me to go above and beyond to impress you. I am not being rude, you might think I am, but if you wanted a cuppa help yourself. 

On days when I am bedridden I would love visits, providing you are understanding that I am in bed and you can sit in my room chatting with me. But don't expect me to get up and entertain you, defeats the point of being in bed resting. Don't ask "when are you getting up" or "why aren't you getting up" because it makes me want to kick you up the butt if I could because I don't need to justify myself to anyone.

#5. I can't just simply duck out to the shops:
If you just surprise visit me and I don't know you're coming, you very well could be having a cuppa without milk. Some days Russ will make his coffee for the day in his thermos and takes it to work, it is a guzzler for milk. So its very likely that he uses the last of his milk as he leaves for work knowing full well that he has to buy milk when he finishes work in the evening.

If you arrive and we don't know in advance, even if you tell me in the morning, if Russ has already left for work it is too late. I don't have a car and can't drive much anymore, so if you surprised me it would mean I wouldn't have milk or cake or anything and would be a terrible host (again) and I would be feeling so anxious all day if you arrived worried that am I going to hear about this from others about how I am a horrible host... I don't mind if you do turn up unnanouced, just don't be upset if I don't have milk or coffee and can't get to the shops.

#6. I need a chance to cancel:
I always will try and attend something regardless, but there are times when I am in too much pain or phsyically unable to attend. Giving me warning and time in advance of a visit gives me the chance to cancel within reason. If I had notice I could tell you ahead of time to not waste your petrol in coming up if I wasn't up for the visit, I would hate you to be disappointed with your visit or feel like I wasted your time. If you surprise visit me I can't give you the chance to avoid being disappointed with me.

#7. Our house mightn't be visitor friendly:
The entire household chores and running falls mostly on Russ' shoulders. He also works full time. He has a roster system of how he does the house, one day he does the rubbish and kitty litter (and every second day) and some days he would do the bathrooms or vacuum. If you surprise visit us, we will feel embarassed because the kitty litter might be due to be done that day or the rubbish. It can be hard when you surprise visit that I am anxious if you are judging us the entire visit and will go off and tell others about how we live, which has happened, and makes us less inclined to invite you back. 

I could go on about scenarios, there is so many more.

But I do love a visit, just prefer at least a couple of days notice at the very least to make sure the house is ready or that if you're staying the guest rooms are ready. You can visit, please just understand that turning up and surprising me isn't what works best for us. 

I know it is hard to understand, but please do reconsider and try to give us as much notice for when you want to visit. I want to have a nice visit with you but I don't want either of us to feel uncomfortable.

If you do decide to that day or morning to visit, please give me as much notice as you can. If you arrived in Coffs at 9am but aren't visiting until 4pm Don't wait until 3pm to call me! Tell me first thing so I can have time to assess if I am up for a visit or under what terms. If you don't hear back from me or Russ before 4 hours before you're planning on visiting then it might not be the best day. If you don't hear from me, try Russ. 

But if Russ says "today isn't the best day she isn't well" please respect his call.

Don't continue to turn up and then be upset if you're outside waiting for me for a while and I am asleep and don't know you're there until an hour after you've sat out there waiting. If you haven't heard a conifrmation at least 4 hours before arriving on if I am aware you're coming or if it is the right time, than maybe it isn't the most apporpriate time for a visit.

Again, none of this is said to upset anyone, I want visitors I really do - I just don't do well with surprise visits. My health IS declining and I am spending more time in bed, so surprise visits really aren't ideal for us anymore. #sorrynotsorry

As I said, ask your loved one how you can support them and what they need from you, in my case try to avoid surprise or unnanounced visits.

Posted by: Talya AT 10:19 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, January 12 2018

I know I have chirped on and on (and on) about how we are struggling financially and that I am concerned about when I die and if Russ can manage it on his own. I know you're probably sick of hearing me go on about it, but it honestly is so stressful.

It is hard being on one income, I know it is overwhelming for Russ too.

So last week we got a letter from our bank informing me that as of today (the 12th) our mortgage will be going up $500 a month.

This really scares me.

Not only do I not know where I am going to pluck that extra $500 from this month considering we are already halfway through the month, but that I really am so stressed and upset.

Yes, I acknowledge my priviledge in that we have our own mortgage, but even when we were renting things were hard and the rent assistance really made the world of difference when it came to our budget. But it doesn't mean that things instantly became easier when we got out mortgage. I didn't realise how much harder it was to have your own place.

I see how worried Russ is over this and I know he is on the fritz of losing it as it was before this letter, now he is just even more stressed. I feel so guilty, I know it isn't my fault and that I couldn't help getting sick but it is my age old issue with that I should have gotten life insurance earlier or made more of an effort to do extra super contributions when I worked as it would mean I have more than $3000 in super.... which I am still fighting to get out mind you.

Argh.

That is a fight for another day.

My Solution:

Yesterday I got a copy of Barefoot investor in the mail (thanks to a beautiful friend buying and sending me this copy) and started reading it, I have heard everyone rave about it and how effective it truly is, so it gives me hope for the first time that maybe I can get things under control this year.


So many have raved about the books!

It is one of my goals to get things neater for Russ, I don't know how much time I have and I think it will just be a massive peace of mind to know it is under control.

We have our mortgage, debts, car loan plus our other bills. So I try each year to review things to see if there is savings to be found, so I am hopeful that this book will help me even more.

Plus, it is one of my goals to read more too, so this is already tackling my goals for the year.... maybe this year is getting off to a stressful start but it might be turning around? Always hopeful that things will get better, surely they have to?

A friend has put me in touch with a broker and hoping we can find a new bank with a better rate and can consolidate our debt which will mean freeing up a lot of weekly expenditure and might mean we can afford to start saving.

So tell me, have you read the book? Did it help you? What was the biggest take away you had from it?

I will let you know when I have finished reading it and what progress I make.... until then, wish me luck!

We also got Solar Panels on recently, they had a 5 year interest free offer, so we are really hoping that on our next bill we can see a difference, otherwise I am going to be rather upset. Russ assures me we will be better off and that it will improve the value of our home too. Do you have solar panels and do you see a difference? Next bill is March, so will let you know if there were savings to be had.

As always, thank you for listening and wish me luck as I tackle this mammoth task!

What goals are you hoping to tackle this year?

 

Posted by: Talya AT 07:35 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, January 12 2018

NB: This post contains talk about poop

You always remember your first time doing a milestone. Well today I am celebrating the first time I showered without my bag on and boy I felt like a rockstar afterwards as though doing something mundane but great.... If you know what I mean.

There have been times where I have had a really bad bag leak, I'm not talking about a little seepage from under the wafer, I am talking a leak of cataclysmic proportions like a volcanic erruption or a poosplosion (the latter is real, trust me). My clothes, my linen and my mattress protector needed to be washed and soaked with napisan.

Then there was me, not only were the clothes I was wearing drenched, but so was I.

You know when you go to the beach once but for the next month you find sand everywhere and it gets into every nook and cranny? Well, that is how it is for me when I have a bag leak of epic proportions, except switch out sand for poo and you've got yourself a winner.

So in times of a cataclysmic bag leak it is best to just get in the shower and be hosed off and clean up the mess later.

I have always been hesitant though at jumping into the shower without a bag on, normally I would clean my self up the best that I could while sitting on the toilet and once a new bag is on I would then jump into the shower. Which often meant changing my bag afterwards.

I know what you're thinking, but WHHHHHHYYYYYY?

Well, it was simple....

I was scared.

I have never, in 5 years, showered without a bag on. 

I know many do and many have many times, but I was always hesitant.

One of my fears, with my first stoma (May 2013-feb 2016), was because essentially your bowel is stitched to the outside of your abdomen I was worried about the run off from my shower gel or shampoo/conditioner would affect my stoma or cause irritations that might leave me presenting to the emergency department explaining my issue and people think I am silly for not knowing better. It really used to play on my mind.

So I never did try with my old stoma.

Then this new stoma (feb 2016 to now) is a total pain in the ass, it is retracted and sits under my skin, essentially I poop out of a belly button looking hole. So because of this I was always worried that the run off or chemicals would get inside into my small bowel and cause issues, because, well, soap and shampoo/conditioner shouldn't naturally be in your small bowel... so I worried it was just a recipe for disaster.

But with both stomas I was also worried about the mess side of things, like what if it were active during my shower, what if it were active while I was drying myself and would have to shower again and the circle would go on, and on, and on. I also can't bend over or get down to clean, so I was worried about leaving another chore for Russ to do, so I feel enough a burden when my bag leaks this badly and he has to help clean me up.

So back to my story.

I was in bed asleep all day and woke around 6pm to find my bag leaked, I called for Russ to help me as it was too much for me to manage to clean on my own.

Each time it is this bad he always says "just jump in the shower and hose it off", but every time I say "uhh, no it's okay I will figure it out".

Except yesterday I really had no energy and said "what the heck".

I took my bag off and disposed of it, that way I could clean my stomach better and easier.

I had my first shower without my bag on, it was nice to have water running directly on my belly as opposed to wet towelling and washers. It was nice. I have a handheld shower head which has different notches you can turn it to for different settings, so I put on the more gentle of the settings and didn't hurt.

I was worried about the repurcussions of an active stoma.... but to my surprise there wasn't any disasters. My stoma had probably expelled everything it had stored in there (daily I have bowel blockages due to tumour issues) so sometimes it works all of a sudden and leads to poosplosions like this.


Me post shower, feeling like a freaking rockstar!

Now I know next time when I should just jump in the shower and hose off that it will be okay, that I won't die because my soap chemicals burned an ulcer through my small bowel or that showering with my bag off won't damage my skin if anything it helped it.

Thankfully it isn't everyday that I wake up with a leak like this, some days it is more managable, but it is uncommon to have a day where I don't wake with a leak. There have been a couple of times when a leak like this happened during the day when I was out (once at a wedding and once at a restaurant), so in those moments I can't just hose myself off. 

Have you tried showering without your bag? Were there worries you had too?

I know my worries might have seemed over the top, but I live with bad anxiety and that anxiety rules a large part of my life and very quickly my mind can esculate a situation.

I am used to bag leaks now, but it took a while to not be flustered. At first I would cry every time my stoma leaked and I would be so flustured and overwhelmed, so much that my husband would step in and help me. He always was the calm one. I used to play songs or music when I did a bag change to help distract me. When I got my new stoma and it leaked almost hourly I basically had an ipad set up and would watch something funny to distract me, the steps involved in doing a bag change took almost an hour each time and it just helped the time to pass by being distracted.

Now when it leaks, I am just so focussed on getting a bag back on as quick as I can because sometimes it can take a long time to stop being active long enough to whack the bag on.

If you have a frequent leaking stoma, welcome to the club.

But be sure to see your stoma nurse about why you have a leak and what you can do to prevent it, I know not all leaks can be prevented but sometimes there could be a new or better product for you to try.

With my first stoma I was have regular leaks every few days, I realised that my output was getting under my base plate, so my STN gave me rings/seals to try and it really helped improve the longevity of my bags and I was able to go 7-10 days between changes and my skin was still good... I do miss my old stoma, and it is important to note what worked for me in that situation might not work the same for you.

Of course there isn't anything to be done about this current stoma, and it could be the same for you, but sometimes your nurse or surgeon can help.

Posted by: Talya AT 03:40 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, December 14 2017

If you have just read part 1, You will have learned: how heat can affect those who are vulnerable or sick or with an ostomy; what are the different heat related illnesses to look out for; what are the symptoms of the heat illnesses; and lastly, how/what to do under each situation.

NB: It is important to remember that this is just an informative guide only and I am not a nurse or doctor, and any individual circumstances or advisement is based on each person's own circumstances. If you have questions to follow it up with your team.

So in this Part 2, I will be sharing tips to help you be more prepared for the weekend

But just in case you haven't read part 1 yet, basically here in Australia we are preparing for an extreme heat wave which will occur over the weekend and most of Australia will be experiencing temps of 35'c-45'c+.


Image from Higgins Storm Chasing, providing a visual of just how much of Australia is to be affected

I have an ostomy, ileostomy to be exact, I also have other chronic co-morbid health issues/illnesses and take various medications which put me at higher risk of sun related illnesses.

I started writing this post a couple of years ago but never finished it in time for it to be relevant, so I am finishing it ahead of this weekend, I only hope it might help someone to be more informed of their own circumstances and to know what to do.

To read part 1, click here:

Also keep in mind anyone you know who might be at a higher risk of suffering with the heat, it could be a neighbour who is elderly and lives alone, or it could be checking in on a friend, just to make sure they are doing okay - as the heat can affect many in different ways.

Part 2: Being prepared and tips to surviving the heatwave

I thought it might just be helpful to share different tips to help you get through the heatwave, if you have your own be sure to comment.

Tip #1: Never leave kids or pets alone in a car
I know this hopefully is common knowledge, but you'd be surprised how many times I have been at the shops and found pets or kids sitting in the car while their parents or owners shopped. Even with the windows down or leaving the car running with the air conditioning going, the car is still going to be hot.

Even on a "cool day" this is a no-no. While the temp outside might only be 25'c the temps inside that car can be 55-70'c! It can rise 40 degrees hotter than the outside temperature, so imagine how hot it would be on a day during a heatwave.... scary to think. The damage it can do is increase a child's body temperature, which could lead to brain damage... not to mention what it does to pets too. 

I have seen videos and experiements where a chef has cooked a lamb while inside a car, to a vet documenting what it is like in a car. I do not suggest trying it out yourself, there are plenty of videos and information out on the interwebs about the consequences to leaving pets or kids in cars, which can be deadly.

A child left in a parked car under those conditions for even a few minutes can very quickly become distressed, dehydrated and can die from organ failure. If you see anything, you need to act quickly. If you wait, it can be too late.

What to do if you see a child or pet in the car?
The NRMA advises: You must make a judgment call as to whether it is a life and death situation and you would need to break a window yourself and call an ambulance, or whether you should call 000 and ask for police, who will get there as urgently as they can (and will break the window themselves) and they will call an ambulance.

If the child is clearly distressed, do not wait for help. Instead, break a window and remove the child from the vehicle until help arrives. If you break a window, and the child is simply asleep and it turns out not to be an emergency, it is possible that you could be required to pay for the window.

You don't have to be an NRMA member to call for roadside assistance if it is in less urgent circumstances. Because of the grave danger involved, the NRMA drops everything to respond immediately to calls where a child is locked in a car.

For pets: Visit Just 6 minutes, a site by the RSPCA which outlines that it takes only 6 minutes of a dog left in a car to die. Here is a factsheet of pet first aid if you can rescue the pet from the car and can wait until the owner arrives. Call 000 immediately and ask what you're legalities are if you can smash the window. But some states you can receive a $200k fine and imprisonment for leaving a pet in the car.

Tip #2: Have plenty of water
Water is important for helping you to stay rehydrated, make sure you have plenty to drink. Consider taking a bottle of water to someone who is experiencing homlessness, they might not have adequate access to water, it might not be a lot but it is a nice gesuture to look out for someone who is at high risk of heat related illnesses.

You should drink two to three litres of water a day even if you don't feel thirsty. 

Tip #3: Have electrolyte replacement on hand
If you're like me and have an ostomy and need to replenish lost electrolytes, make sure you have enough to get you through the weekend. I try and have a 1L bottle of sports drinks, I get the powder and mix in the water, and have a few of these made up in my fridge ready. You can consult with your Nurse or dietician over what is the best option for you to replace your lost electrolytes. Due to having no large bowel I am at risk of dehydration, which is worse in Summer and extreme heat. Salts and minerals are vital for your body's functionality.

Also important if you don't have an ostomy but have gastro or vomiting bugs during a heatwave too. Hydrolyte is an electrolyte drink which also comes in the form of icypoles too and can be found from most supermarkets or chemists.

Tip #4: Stay cool
This is important, especially if you struggle with body regulation, you need to find somewhere cool. Air conditioned is preferable, if your home isn't air conditioned maybe ask a neighbour or friend if you could join them, otherwise hit the shops and enjoy their air condiitioning too. If you don't have air conditioning find somewhere cool in your house and put on a fan. You could go to the library, cinema, art galleries, cafes too.

If you are outdoors try and find a nice shaded tree and be sure to keep hydrated.

You could also use one of those battery operated hand held mist fans Kmart have them for $5-$10, or a spray bottle with water in it to help.

A cool tip, get it (lol) I have one of my heatpacks in a zip lock bag and in my freezer. This turns into a cold pack and means I have a cool option too. I get my heatpack/cold packs from Chatterbox City.

Tip #5: Keep plenty of drinks in the fridge prepared
Fill as many bottles as possible and put in the fridge, some could be cordials or soft drinks, but limit the alcohol. Plenty of cool drinks will help keep you cool

Tip #6: Have ice packs or blocks in the freezer
Firstly, ice blocks or icypoles are a great way to keeping cool and hydrated in Summer. You could also freeze water bottles so they last cooler for longer, if you are going to the beach. Ice packs are good to keep on hand in case of first aid and if you need to aid in cooling someone down. See part 1 for how this works.

Tip #7: Keep blinds drawn
This will help keep your house cooler, even if you have air conditioning going, keeping the blinds drawn will help your system to not have to work overtime too. But if you don't have air conditioning it will still help if you have a fan too.

Tip #8: Wear light summery clothing
Avoid wearing lots of layers and wear something light and breathable, this will not only help in keeping your body cool but will aid in your body trying to regulate it's temperature. Avoid wearing dark or black coloured clothing. Clothing light in colour reflects the light better.

Tip #9: Be sun smart and sun safe
Slip, slop, slap. Sunscreen, a hat, sunnies and a shirt are not only safe ways of being out in the sun but also help in preventing melanoma. If you must be out in the sun keep out of the sun as much as possible - during a heatwave you should be minimising your sun exposure. Seek out shade.

Tip #10: Reapply sunscreen often
Even if it is overcast, you can still get burnt and when you're swimming sunscreen washes or rubs off after time, so everytime you come out of the water or as often as indicated on the bottle: reapply. Also if you do happen to get burnt, have some cooling after sun gel in the fridge to help your skin cool down, aloe vera fresh from the garden helps too.

Tip #11: Don't lie in the sun exposed
If you're planning on laying on the beach and reading a book, chances are you could fall asleep and get sun stroke. A heatwave isn't the right time to do this, seek out shelter or shade or plan your trip to the beach on a day where the weather isn't as hot.

Tip #12: in case of a blackout
It is important having items such as a torch, a battery operated fan, extra batteries, bottled water and first aid kit on hand in case of a power outage. Also, wrap medications that need to be refrigerated (such as insulin pens) in foil or place in an heat repellent container with some ice in case of power failure.

Tip #13: Open the house at night or evening if a cool change is forecast
This is self explanatory, but this might help to keep the house cool of a night or the next day if air gets circulating around, remember to draw the blinds early in the morning to keep the heat out and the cool in.

Tip #14: Pets or wildlife
Pets can be particularly vulnerable to the heat. Make sure they have shade and plenty of cool water to last the day. If you live near the bush, consider leaving a bowl or bucket of water out for any Koalas, kangaroos, dogs or cats or other animals that might want water.

Fill a kids clam pool sand pit thing with water and put in the shade and let your dog cool down when he needs to.

Tip #15: Keep your body cool but not freezing
It is important to remember that while you want to cool your body down that you aren't changing your temperature too quickly or suddenly. You could go swimming or lay in a bath if you run the cool water before the hot to cool down. You could set the sprinkler up or a water slide, brings back good memories being a kid and having a tarp and sprinkler on the yard and having a good old time. Just remember to be sun smart too!

Tip #16: Check in on those at risk
Keep a close eye on those most at risk, like the sick, the elderly and the young (a full list of vulnerable at risk perspns is in part 1). Do this at an arranged time at least twice a day. The heat affects everyone differently and adversely, be sure to make sure they have plenty to eat.

Tip #17: Watermelon
Would it be an Aussie summer without watermelon? I love watermelon, it is full of water plus it is a good source of electrolytes too! Make it fun by using cookie cutters to make fun shapes too. If you get sick of water, maybe have some watermelon to help replenish you. Your body will thank you too, it is oozing with benefits too. 

Tip #18: Foods
Enjoy delicious salads and cold meats for dinner, while a hot meal is delicious, it will only make you sweat and feel hot cooking away in the kitchen. But with the heatwave foods like strawberries, cucumbers, watermelons, celery, tomatoes and broccoli and lettuce contain water, which can be benefitial towards your water intake.

Tip #19: Wearing a stoma cover
I get rashes on my stomach under where my bag sits against my skin, especially when it is hot. I found last year if I wore an ostomy pouch bag cover it helped to relieve the rash as it wasn't plastic on my skin and it worked as a barrier between my skin and bag. If you find you get rashes too maybe speak to your nurse as she might have some bag covers or be able to point you in the right direction to where online you can find them. I had a friend make me some. Theres heaps of options if you google too.


My cover a friend made for me

Tip #20: Mashmallows
I find when I am dehydrated or in Summer my output is more watery. It is hard sometimes to keep my hydration up when this happens, but I have some marshmallows and immodium to help thicken my output. Sometimes a watery output is a sign of a blockage too, be mindful of this as you may need medical attention.

☟ ☟ ☟ ☟ ☟ ☟

I hope that you have found these 2 posts helpful on how to prepare for a heatwave with an ostomy, I know they have been long posts but there was a lot of information I needed to share with you. These posts do not replace the information of that of your nurse or doctors, it is a guide to help inform you of the risks and tips on getting through the heatwave safely.

Please be sure to seek medical attention if you require it and don't delay, heat related illnesses are deadly serious.

More Links through my research:
- On how medication/heat affects you:
- Heat related illnesses and what to do: NSW health
- SES heatwave fact sheet
- SES heatwave tips
- ABC heatwave tips
- Know your risk
- Heat and children: NSW health
- Cancer Council Australia slip slop slap seek
- Just 6 minutes pet first aid
- NRMA children in a hot car

If you have another tip, be sure to let me know in the comments below. To read part 1, click here

Posted by: Talya AT 10:15 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, December 14 2017

NB: I am not a doctor or nurse, I am sharing information through my own experiences and also that of various credible sites online. The heat and how it may affect you can differ based on personal health issues, so please do speak to a professional regarding how to be safe in Summer based on your own needs. I am sharing the advice I have found and learned in the hopes it may help you to have a better awareness of how to prepare and endure the heatwave.

Here in Australia, we are 14 days into our Summer. We had a fairly non-existent Winter where we live near in northern NSW, and it honestly felt like a mild Summer. I don't recall having to wear a jumper at all and some nights we needed the air conditioning on. But temps were always around 30'c, it was so dry and warm that our grass and plants were rather dead looking - thankfully, after a lot of water and work, the lawn and garden are thriving.

But it did make me worry about the sort of heats and Summer to prepare for, and if going off the predictions for this weekend - I had a right to worry.

So this weekend, particularly Sunday and Monday, most of Australia will be experiencing temperatures ranging between 35'c to over 45'c, we are told this could be the first of many extreme heatwaves we'll need to prepare for this Summer.


Image from Higgins Storm Chasing, providing a visual of just how much of Australia is to be affected

..... 14 days in to December, this is going to be a long hot Summer!

Part 1: Knowing your risk and what to do

I know you're probably thinking, "big deal just go to the beach, no biggie" - well it actually is a big deal, especially to those vulnerable in the community which includes:
The homeless
The elderly
Children
Pregnant women or breastfeeding women
Those who are sick, including those who have health conditions such as Diabetes, lung disease, breathing issues, asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure or who take medications that make them vulnerable
☀ Those with conditions that affect sweating
☀ People with cancer
Those with an ostomy
Those who work outdoors or in factories or hot working environments
Athletes or people who exercise vigorously in the heat
Those who are obese, overweight or aren't very mobile
☀ Those with an acute illness such as an infection, fever, or gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and/or vomiting)
☀ Those who live alone or don't have much social support
☀ Those who enjoy the outdoors including gardening
☀ Those with Mental health issues or dementia
☀ Those who drink alcohol or use drugs
Not to forget our furry friends too!

During heatwaves you can be at risk of heat related illnesses such as heat stroke, dehydration, overheating or hyperthermia, heat cramps. Heat can also worsen health conditions too. During this time the extreme heatwaves can attribute to bushfires or power outages (blackouts) too, so it is important to be prepared.

Summer and heat realated health issues and illnesses need to be taken seriously as it can lead to deaths, heart attacks, strokes and more.

How does having an ostomy put me at risk during a heatwave?
If you're like me and have an ostomy (or have had bowel surgeries before) you could be at a higher risk of dehydration and feeling vulnerable to heat related illnesses. This is to do with the loss of bowel and without your large bowel your body might not be reabsorbing essential vitamins and minerals such as electrolytes. This is why doctors and stoma nurses suggest replenishing your electolytes to avoid dehydration. So it is essential at the best of times to monitor and replenish your minerals and stay hydrated.

Then add in sweating and extreme heat to the mix and you're more susceptible to becoming dehydrated and suffering due to the heat. Aside from drinking plenty of fluids, also drink electrolyte drinks such as sports drinks or even icypoles filled with all of your delicious minerals and vitamins. Be sure to ask your stoma nurse or dietician what else you can do to help.

With the dehydration issues aside (I will share signs to look out for below) heat can also affect your stoma, such as: by your bag not adhering to your skin properly, using tapes/boomerangs these can help to secure your bags; you might get a heat rash, I know in Summer I get a heat rash where my bag sits against my stomach, I find wearing stoma covers helps with the irritation; Your output might be more watery due to dehydration, so have some marshmallows or gastro stop/immodium to thicken your output. Just remember your spare stoma kit and supplies if you do go out, just incase you happen to have a leak.

It is important to also keep in mind (during the heatwave) that if you are outdoors, doing any strenuous activities such as sports or gardening with an ostomy, you are at risk of heat cramps too. I will explain more about heat cramps below, but essentially due to excessive sweating the body loses water and salts (electrolytes) and when the salts in the muscles get really low these cause cramps. If your electrolyte levels are at risk of being low consider avoiding activities that might put you at risk of heat cramps, at least until you are rehydrated and the weather is as normal as it will be during Summer.

So what is dehydration and what are the signs to look out for?
According to NSW health, when the weather is very hot, the body has to work very hard and produce a lot of sweat to keep itself cool. During extreme heatwaves, our bodies sweat a lot, which can lead to dehydration if we aren't careful. Mild to moderate dehydration makes the heart work faster and leads to reduced fluid available for sweating.

NSW health says the symptoms/signs of dehydration to look out for are:
Dizziness and tiredness
Irritability
Thirst
Bright or dark yellow urine
Loss of appetite
Fainting

So what should you do if you or a loved one are dehydrated? NSW health offers this advice:
☀ Drink plenty of water or diluted fruit juice (1 part juice in 4 parts water) and avoid tea, coffee or alcohol
☀ Move somewhere cool, ideally air-conditioned
☀ If possible use a spray bottle with water to cool yourself down
☀ If you start to feel unwell, seek medical advice

So what are heat cramps and what are the signs to look out for?
According to NSW health, "Heat cramps usually affect people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity (e.g. sport or gardening). The sweating causes the body to lose salt and water. The low salt levels in the muscles may be the cause of heat cramps and they can be a symptom of heat exhaustion".

NSW health says the symptoms/signs to look out for are:
 Muscle Pains
Muscle Spasms

So what should you do if you or a loved one are suffering with heat cramps? NSW health offers this advice: 
☀ Stop all activity and lie in a cool space, legs slightly raised
☀ Drink water or diluted fruit juice (1 part juice in 4 parts water)
☀ Have a cool shower or bath
☀ Massage your limbs to ease spasms, apply cool packs
☀ Do not return to strenuous activity for a few hours after the cramps subside (exertion may lead to heat exhaustion/heat stroke)
☀ Seek medical advice if there is no improvement

So what is heat exhaustion and what are the signs to look out for?
According to NSW health, "Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt contained in sweat. If heat exhaustion is not treated, it can turn into heat stroke."

NSW health says the symptoms/signs to look out for are:
 Heavy sweating (cool and moist skin)
☀ Pale skin
☀ Fast and weak pulse rate
☀ Shallow and fast breathing
☀ Muscle weakness or cramps
☀ Tiredness and dizziness
☀ Headache
☀ Nausea or vomiting
☀ Fainting

What to do -FIRST AID- according to NSW health:
 Move to a cool place, ideally air-conditioned and lie down
☀ Remove excess clothing
☀ Take small sips of cool fluids
☀ Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath
☀ Put cool packs under armpits, on the groin, or on the back of the neck to reduce body heat
☀ If symptoms worsen or if there is no improvement, seek urgent medical advice and call an ambulance if necessary

So what is heat stroke and what are the signs to look out for?
According to NSW health, "Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency and occurs when the body temperature rises above 40.5°C. Immediate first aid is very important, aim to lower body temperature as quickly as possible."

NSW health says the symptoms/signs to look out for are:
 Heavy sweating (cool and moist skin)
☀ Sudden rise in body temperature
☀ Red, hot and dry skin (sweating has stopped)
☀ Dry swollen tongue
☀ Rapid pulse
☀ Rapid shallow breathing
☀ Intense thirst
☀ Headache
☀ Nausea or vomiting
☀ Dizziness or confusion
☀ Poor coordination or slurred speech
☀ Aggressive or bizarre behaviour
☀ Loss of consciousness, seizures or coma

What to do -FIRST AID- according to NSW health:
 Immediately call 000 and ask for an ambulance
☀ Get the person into the shade, lay them down, and keep them as still as possible
☀ Give small sips of cool fluids if conscious and able to drink
☀ Bring their temperature down using any method available (sponging with cool water, cool shower, spraying with cool water from a garden hose or soaking clothes with cool water)
☀ Put cool packs under armpits, on the groin, or on the back of the neck to reduce body heat
☀ Do not give aspirin or paracetamol; they do not help and may be harmful
☀ If unconscious, lay the person on their side (recovery position) and check they can breathe properly
☀ Perform CPR if needed

I know that this is a long and comprehensive guide on the signs and symptoms pertaining to heat related illnesses and what to do in terms of First Aid, in the next post (part 2) I will talk about being prepared and tips for enduring the heatwave.

Again, I am no health professional, I have only done 2 years of Nursing, but I just wanted to put as much information out there from reliable sources to help you be more informed when it comes to the heat and Summer... especially with an ostomy or any health issue, which can make your risk heightened. Please seek medical attention and don't delay, also remember to slip slop slap!

Please be safe and be mindful of how your medications can affect you with the heat, speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you are worried.

To read Part 2, click here

 

Posted by: Talya AT 08:15 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, December 10 2017

You don't need me to remind you that Christmas is around the corner and fast approaching, I am sure everytime you step into the supermarket you're reminded with visual cues.

But just in case you live under a rock.... there are exactly 2 Sundays left until Christmas.

so #keepcalm, don't panic - you've got this!

I have always had this dream of hosting Christmas one year, not realising the full extent of what that might involve, I naively and dutifully spent time preparing and getting the house and ourselves ready last year - as it was indeed my turn.

As my family live 2 hours away, this meant they needed to travel up the night before (for those who stayed the night) or the next day (for those who didn't stay). I am the oldest of 10 kids, then there are our partners and now nephews, so there were a lot of people coming for the couple of days.

So here were the things I did to help myself prepare and get ready for having guests over the holidays or throughout the year, based off of various guest's experiences or feedback over the past year....

My 10 top tips to getting ready for guests at Xmas time: 

#1. Ensure there is plenty of toilet paper:
It is just usually my husband and myself, so we buy our toilet paper from Who Gives A Crap which is good stuff for your bottom and the environment, plus every roll of paper goes towards giving someone access to a toilet for a week. Living with bowel relatable illnesses for years, I know how important proper sanitary access is.

So a normal shipment lasts us 3-6months, but as we were having around 15 extra people in the house we decided to order our shipment early and have toilet paper supply at the ready.... last thing we wanted was on Xmas day to run out and the shops are closed. I felt a little less stressed knowing that we had ample supply.

#2. Knowing the meals or menu ahead of time:
A month before Xmas I had finalised the meal plan and menu for Xmas day, I had spent the month beforehand getting input from family attending on the day and curated a menu that I then knew was to everyone's liking. I asked people to bring their own alcohol or seafood, as everyone has their own preferences and that shit is expensive, so this helped me to stick to my budget too.

By having the meal organised ahead of time it meant I could shop where items were on sale and could get things such as soft drinks when on sale and kept aside. I just had to get the fresh stuff like bread rolls, meats and salads Xmas eve.

By also knowing what I needed to grab Xmas eve it made a quick dash to the shops a breeze, we even had to get the wheelchair out, but we had a list, we checked it twice, and we were in and out of there in a jiffy. 

Yes, I designed and sent out a flyer for Xmas day - I informed the menu plans, what they needed to bring, accommodation options and also offered to wrap presents... I think the last part people may have thought I was joking about. But Talya doesn't joke when it comes to wrapping presents - I love it!!

#3. Prepare things before Xmas day:
I am unable to stand for long periods of time, so cooking is something I delegate to Russ nowadays as it gets too painful and tiresome. If I can prepare things seated, I will. But knowing my lack of energy and ability to cook I knew I couldn't be the host slaving away in the kitchen all day and as a result missing precious family time.

So I had most things done the night before in the fridge, then I spent some time in the morning quickly doing the salads and cooking some foods. I was lucky and grateful that my family did most of the cooking for me, it made the day less stressful.

#4. Ensure your guests have easy access to items:
I know when I have been a guest at someone's home, I always felt awkward when asking where things were such as toilet paper, towels, soap etc. So keeping this in mind, I tried to make my guest's stay easier.

I know if I am resting people don't like to bother me, but I know this is out of a place of courtesy and caring but also they don't wish to be a bother. So I tried to organise my guest bedroom and bathroom with this in mind too, trying to keep people feeling welcome and at ease is important to me... as I do hope people come and stay again.

So in the room I have a basket of various toiletries and items I have collected throughout the years. Whether it is hotel soap or shower caps, or a pack of disposable razors, or pads/tampons, or even sunscreen and aeroguard. Most items were on sale or as part of a 3 pack and were naturally spares. I also have toothbrushes too, in case a guest forgets theirs. I also have spare heatpacks too.

I hope that by having all the items one may need readily and available to them, that it might help offer dignity to their stay.


The basket looks more full now, but this was the first items put in there. I just add things when on sale etc.

#5. Have plenty of towels available:
When you have over 10 people staying in your house, you need a lot of towels!

I spent the weeks leading up to Christmas re-washing our spare towels (they had been in storage since the move) and made sure that these were fresh and in ample supply. I gave at least 2 on the bed for each guest (in case one was needed for hair), along with a face washer, soap bar, and had all of this ready for when they arrived.

In the linen cupboard were 50 more towels ready, we just wanted them to be prepared.

#6. Have empty and clean bins near all toilets:
I found this tip on a blog by Rebecca Senyard who blogs at "The Plumbette" which said to save your plumbing this Xmas, to have an empty bin near your toilets for guests to dispose of sanitary items. I was shocked to think people flush them, and as a home owner, I would hate to foot the bill to repair the plumbing (especially over Xmas) because something blocked it. Gross!! So to avoid this fiasco this Xmas pop a bin nearby, if you already have a bin there just be sure to make sure it is empty before guests arrive! This again helps your guests to have dignity when they visit too!

#7. Have a toilet plunger, toilet brush and spray ready too
As important as step #6 is, this one also applies. Guests may require the use of a plunger, toilet brush or spray, so make sure you have your bathroom stocked and ready for guests this Xmas. Saves them the embarassment of needing to ask.

#8. It's okay to need 'me time' and step away for a breather
I am a person with high functioning anxiety, I tend to get overwhelmed very easily and even around my family or in social settings sometimes I don't say much or I just say drivvle because my brain just freezes and I just don't know how to act or what to say. I tend to be over analysing every word said, every social cue, what someone is thinking of me, and this is rather tiresome.

It can be hard when you're hosting Xmas or any event as it is your house and everyone is there or everywhere, you tend to feel a bit overwhelmed. It is important to have somewhere in your house that is YOUR (underline YOUR) space and somewhere that is off limits to everyone. You might not necesarrily make this a known no-go-zone or add signage to the door, but as long as you know you have somewhere you can escape to it will help you.

I love my family, I love spending time with them, but there can be times where I need to just disappear for 5 or more minutes for my ability to keep calm and carry on, so when it is at your house it can be harder. So have a space where you can just be alone to regather your thoughts or to practice mindfulness techniques or to just take a breather... it is important to know your own limits too. This can be a form of self care too.

#9. Have a fan or cooling option available, especially if it is summer
Here it can be pretty hot and muggy (humid) around Christmas or Summer, so while we have ducted air conditioning, we also have a pedastal fan in the guest rooms to have options to what makes them more comfortable. It is hard sometimes in Summer to get a good night's sleep, so if you have a big day planned your guests might need plenty of rest.

A fan is good too, as sometimes people have trouble sleeping away from their own beds and a fan offers white noise which may help them to feel calm or relaxed, even if the fan is kept in the cupboard in their room for example, it gives them the option of not having to ask or be embarrassed because they need a fan.

#10. Have fresh linens on the bed ready when guests arrive
When you know you have guests arriving, especially if they are having to travel, having their beds already made with freshly washed linens will help them to retire early if they are tired without the delay of waitiing for sheets to dry or the bed to be made; and by having the bed ready to go when they arrive, your guests can rest whenever they need to without the embarassment of needing to ask. I know when I travel I am in pain and I often just want to have a nap, so it helps to have this all ready for them when they arrive.


Dusty loves when people visit - as do I!

bonus tip #11. Have plenty for your guests to do
I know not everyone likes to be social 110% of the time, so we have tried to have things that people can do if they wanted to. Whether it be a TV in their room to watch their own TV shows (my MIL always watches Star Trek or Castle box sets when she visits) and having a spare TV means we aren't bothering each other with our own shows. We also have a board games cupboard with a massive range of games, not to forget our book shelf with heaps of books, or our large DVD collection. We also got some toys for when young children visit and to keep them occupied.... we have bikes and spare helmets, a dart board too, we have so many different things that we hoped guests won't find our place boring... we aim for fun yet inviting, so it is a work in progress!

So while I know there are plenty of ways to help prepare yourself and your house for guests, whether it is the holidays or anytime during the year, these are just some of the ways I have tried to ensure my guests had a good time when they visited.

Wishing you a lovely holidays, hope that you have a wonderful time with your family or friends and thank you for your support during this year and beyond, it really means so much to me! Every comment, message or email doesn't go un-noticed and are very appreciated.


Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year from my family to yours (2016 photos)

p.s what other tips do you have for getting your house ready for guests or to ensure guests have a good stay? Let me know in the comments

Posted by: Talya AT 09:31 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, November 27 2017

I am feeling a mix of emotions right now, I am feeling so relieved that the magazine is finally ready to be published and shared with the world... but that part terrifies me!

I feel guilty for the delay, health issues happened, but I still worked hard when I could manage to get the issue out.

I also feel mega proud right now!

I hope you enjoy this issue, there is some great content in there and work for issue 3 is underway (summer/xmas/holidays issue) so if you have any content you want to contribute get in touch asap, or keep an eye on the facebook page too.

If you're a business and wanting to advertise - we offer affordable advertising options and also offer affordable graphic design too. I am also open to collaborations, just get in touch.

I am really hoping you love this issue, there are 2 giveaways too.

In this issue I launch my NEW Stoma Diary, this is an ebook that you can download for FREE  and print or edit via your computer or tablet. It is aimed at helping NEW ostomates navigate the first 6-8 weeks post op and as they approach surgery. I have had my own stoma nurse look over it and she excitedly shared it with her colleagues too.

So sit back with a cuppa and have a flip through.

I have tried to get more male relatable content out there but struggling to get the guys to contribute, anyone that knows me knows I am stubborn and persistent and I endeavour to have more male content in here, I am trying my best so please don't be disheartened.

Finally, If anyone is wanting to join the team on a voluntary position I would love some social media help and develop a content strategy etc, I recently posted about this on the magazine facebook page too.

Anyway, have a wonderful night and I will anxiously await your feedback.

Posted by: Talya AT 12:02 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, September 22 2017

WARNING: This post discusses death, dying, suicide, euthanasia and could provide a trigger. Continue to read at your own risk. Opinions discussed are of my own and I have no paid or unpaid political affiliation with Dying with Dignity NSW, nor have I been asked to write on this topic. This is purely something that I feel deeply about and it is a topic I have been wanting to write for a long time. These are my views so please be respectful

I am not one to usually talk politics with you, but this is something that is quite personal for me and something I have had discussions with Russ at length about. It is a topic that is misunderstood or misrepresented in the media, in order to create fear and hate and divide people. This is more than just a topic for me, it is something I think about daily, and that is that I deserve to die with dignity and compassion.

This week (on the 21st of September) in NSW legislative parliament, a bill was presented to the NSW upper house called the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017. This bill was created to help terminally ill adults to die on their own terms with compassion, respect and dignity.

There has been many heated debates referring this to "euthanasia" which is misleading a lot of people, politicians included, by the myths and fear mongering tactics employed by those who are so loud in their opposition of this Act. According to "Assisted Dying: Setting the record straight" an e-Book written By NSW Dying with Dignity, euthanasia is referred to as "life ending medication administered by a doctor". Under the proposed bill in NSW, a person who is at least 25 years of age, of sound mind, who is living with a terminal condition and is estimated to be in the last 12 months of their life based on the opinion of several medical experts, and is Experiencing severe pain, suffering or physical incapacity to an extent deemed unacceptable to the patient, can SELF-administer a lethal substance to end their lives and if they are unable to they can nominate a doctor or loved one to help them.

There is a need for this, a need for a law that protects and has the interests of those (like myself) who are dying from cancer or other terminal illnesses to die with compassion on our own terms when we deem the pain and suffering to be too much AND give us dignity in our deaths.

I have read reports of persons ending their own lives under horrific circumstances as they can't face this anymore. I know there have been times I have considered this, not out of depression but merely out of desperation. How can I go on knowing that the pain and my quality of life will only get worse - I didn't have any hope for the life I could still live as it is so hard... then add the feelings of guilt knowing you are hurting those you love and the FOMO (fear of missing out) on life and it can be too hard to bear. So YES, I can empathise with how someone can choose this.

Then referring to the above comment can lead to families suffering after witnessing a loved one's traumatic or "bad" death. By choosing this law families could ensure they get to say goodbye, a person could feel at peace themselves knowing they have no unfinished business, a dying person and their loved ones could make a beautiful moment or ceremony or way to commemmorate a life before it was over and it could help them to have control over their deaths and give everyone a better experience of the death.... I am not saying the loss of a loved one is easy by any means, but it could help give comfort to KNOW that they were not in pain, they were happy and they were surrounded by love.

I know my biggest fears are dying in pain and dying alone.

It scares me everyday.

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But at the end of the day it comes down to the fact that I want to and believe that I should have the ability to die with dignity.

I remember back to my first university lecture on Ethics and the law when I was studying Nursing and the topic came up on Euthanasia. The whole room was literally divided and there were many debates, we even had to do an assignment on the topic. I got a High Destinction, but it was such a hard topic. I know then my heart was divided, I was being told that "NO, it is illegal" but my heart felt that morally it was unfair that someone should die in pain.

This lecture was before dad's cancer and many years before my own, but regardless of my own experiences of mortality, I do still believe that there can be dignity and compassion and respect in dying.

Because there are so many myths out there, I want to try and dispell some, to help show this bill won't affect anyone other than those who are terminally ill and living in their last 12 year of their lives.

Firstly, I am not saying my life or those with terminal cancer isn't worth living or anything like that, I believe in living life to the full and strongly belief life doesn't have to stop being lived. I plan on squeezing the most out of my life, and it is something I try to do everyday, but I know there will come a point where I am too sick and I am just simply existing and suffering in pain and only then is that when I want to say "hey let's do this". If this bill was already law (and it is something I have discussed at length with Russ) we would wait until we knew there wasn't much of my life left.

Truth be told, I have been told that my death is likely to be extremely painful and that pain meds won't help me... My pain levels now are barely managed and I am on high dosages already, knowing my pain is going to be tenfold compared to what it is now scares the crap out of me... I would much rather die happy and at peace... wouldn't you?

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Myth: This will hurt those who are vulnerable within the community.
I know there are a lot of arguments against in the community as it could hurt those who are vulnerable such as the elderly or those with a disability, those who are of low socio economic status or even those with mental health issues.
Fact: To be considered under this bill you HAVE to meet criteria including being in the last 12 months of your life and living with a terminal illness, be confirmed to be eligible by not 1, not 2 but 3 different medical professionals including your GP, specialist and a psycologist.
Fact: YOU CANNOT JUST REQUEST IT if you do not meet the criteria

Did you know? That under this bill you can change your mind at any time too. You won't be forced to proceed if you no longer wish to. It will always come down to your choice, afterall it is the point of all of this which is to give you a choice in how you die if you're palliative and 12 months or less to live.

Myth: Assisted dying is suicide, legalising it will ruin society as a whole
Fact: People who are dying and want to control the manner and timing of their death are not suicidal. I know I am not suicidal but I am going to die, I just want to die on my own terms and have control. 
Fact: Having a choice is empowerment, having dignity is empowering.

Myth: A doctor can kill any patient and can cover it up by saying it was an assisted death
Fact: Only a patient will be administering the medication and would have met strong criteria as well as having 3 medical practitioners sign off, it isn't something that can instantly be done.
Fact: as this is patient administered it removes the need for a doctor to assist, therefore they are not going against their hippocratic oath of 'thou shall do no harm'. Again, it is not causing harm it is offering dignity.

Myth: Doctors don't know when you'll die, only GOD knows, no one can know these things so don't listen to a doctor they are wrong all the bloody time
Fact: You can look at a patient's scans and assess an esitmated life expectancy, yes nothing is ever certain but doctors know what signs to look for in someone who has 12 months to live.

☟ ☟ ☟ ☟ ☟ ☟

I could go on about all of this for a long time, but you can view these myths and more in the "Assisted Dying: Setting the record straight" an e-Book written By NSW Dying with Dignity, to learn more about how this law WILL ONLY AFFECT those who need it.

I know it is a heated debate, I know some oppose it under religious beliefs, but do have a read up of just how important and life changing this could be to someone like myself - a young person dying from cancer.

Dying at 26 sucks enough as it is, it is painful, it is scary and most of all I have no control or relief. I know at some point in the next 6-12 months things will get a lot worse and more painful and I just wish that this was available if I felt it was too painful. Just to know there is an option to give me control in the end would give me hope that I won't be in pain forever and I could be at peace in the end.

I know I would only do this IF or WHEN the pain got too much, I would try and hold out as long as I could before. 

Please visit Dying With Dignity NSW to learn more or to follow the progress/updates of the legistlature or to read other people's stories on the bill.

Regardless of your personal stance on the issue, do consider reading up on the benefits this could help to people like myself dying from cancer. It might not be something that will be able to assist me through my death unless it is passed within the next 6-12 months, but it is something that could at least help those in the future to have dignity in their death.

P.S If you feel that this bill should be passed please consider writing a letter to your local MP to voice your concerns and to help get this bill passed. Click here to find out how you can help! 

Posted by: Talya AT 10:40 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, July 16 2017

I am going to set a scenario:

You have been called back to your doctor's office to review recent tests done and while you're waiting patiently (and anxiously I might add) to find out what has or is going on you can't help but hope that you will hear these three words "ALL SEEMS FINE". You try not to think about what you will do if that doesn't happen as you don't want to "rock the boat" or whatever the colloquial phrase is.

You know speaking of things you tell yourself, I was in hospital once with this lady who told me that she "willed herself to get cancer" and that it is possible that I did too... It is safe to say we were not on the best of terms and those 4 weeks of my life were horrible!

So back to that Doctors appointment...

The door opens, the receptionist calls your name and you walk in and take a seat. There isn't often time for small talk and the Doc gets straight to the point. "The results are in.... the test show you have [insert illness]....". By this point you may have zoned out completley (why you should always have backup) and gone into shock, it is naturally your bodys way of protecting you.

But you will leave and head home, all while you are wishing you knew what the doctor said.

Instead you turn to DR Google and start googling your disease and symptoms. You shouldn't have gone there, you have opened yourself right up to trouble and a vortex of stress/worry! Dr Google brings up all this images and medical reports that are so grim and scary and you feel yourself on the brink of a panic attack...

You compose yourself and stop for a moment...

You know NEED support but you don't know where to turn... so that is where this post will hopefully provide some insight.

Where to find support and information after a diagnosis

I know the above scenario might seem over the top or seem unlikely, but I can tell you that it was from my own personal experience on how I handled situations where I got bad news.

I learned Google was not my friend nor was Dr. Google, I found after the first few times that it really wasn't helping the situation aside from making the diagnosis a bit traumatic.

But here are ways to find support without causing yourself harm in the process:

#1. Speak or consult with a professional:
If you felt you missed what had been said in your initial appointment, consider making a second appointment and bring a support person with you - in case you zone out again and struggle to rememeber what was said. You could consider recording on your phone so you can take notes later, or you could even take a journal filled with questions to ask away and write it all down.

When I was told that I had bowel cancer it was during my lunch break at work and I had just quickly ducked off to get my colonoscopy results back, presuming it was going to be another "all good see you in 6 months" type of appointment I wasn't phased and didn't take anyone with me. I did zone completely out during the consult and returned to work barely holding it together. I didn't remember anything after the initial words were spoken.

So I booked another consult and took my husband with me this time as he was eager to hear the plan going forward, and to be honest so was I. He told me the game plan going forward, my hubby heard it all as I zoned out again, but he referred me to a stomal nurse. She became my biggest life-line these past 4 years and has helped me on so many occasions.

By being referred to a health specific nurse, she not only became an invaluable aid and support but also someone who really knew her stuff and you felt safe in her hands. She guided me through the surgery, what an ostomy is, how it works, what a stoma appliance looks like, how it will feel, how or what would change... she also told me the support that was available to my husband as well as there being a local support group too. 

You could even find value in speaking to a professional like a counsellor or social worker to help you process your diagnosis, help you to even find the support networks available (they might be inclined to search for you) and there might even be financial help available as well (that you otherwise wouldn't know to access).

It is important to really get a good grasp on what is available, so don't underestimate the support from the professionals.

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#2. Lived advice and experiences are very valuable and helpful:
If you want to learn first-hand experience, or if you want to know how life will be like for yourself or maybe a loved one, then lived advice is always going to be the best. Not only can you learn about how it is to have the disease and any issues pertaining to life, but you can also know how to tackle that issue head on. You might find that the lived experiences to help inspire you on your journey. 

One of the benefits of learning from lived experiences is that it can offer you a perspective or advice that a Doctor or health professional might not necessary know, and while a Doctor might know the text book side of things they might not be able to give you a total view of things. Still refer to your doctor for any health issues and management, but don't discount the account of a real person either.

How will you find these types of advice?
Through blogs of course! A lot of people at different stages of their illness, diagnosis or life decide to start a blog. Sometimes the blogger is even happy to answer questions or allow you to reach out. Search (on google) your illness followed by blog and it may show up with blog names. Otherwise, sometimes on official sites of a disease there are links called "resources" where bloggers might be listed. You can always search youtube as well for any vloggers (video bloggers) who might talk about their health issue or journey.

HOT TIP:
If you are on social media consider searching via the hashtag use too, to help you find and connect with people sharing their lives online. For me if I were wanting to search for someone with an ostomy to reach out and connect online I might try: #ostomy #ileostomy #stoma #youngostomate #nocolonstillrollin. I could always try disease specific # too like #_diseasename_ e.g #cancer #bowelcancer #fap #thyroidcancer #endometriosis.

Keep in mind:
Some bloggers, like myself, talk about life authentically and openly with a chronic illness and disease. We don't do this for sympathy or to look for attention by showing the bad parts of our life. I know for me personally, I would find more value in following and reading a blog that talked about the good and the bad as opposed to sugar coating everything - it wouldn't be of much help if my lived experiences were censored. Just keep in mind that it can be raw, it can be emotional, it can be confronting but it is real!

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#3. Search on facebook for groups or support groups:
You would be surprised if there isn't a group out there for your illness or disease, with there being 1.94 billion users (according to Facebook's recent report), there would be someone out there with your disease looking to connect with others online. I thought when I was first diagnosed with FAP that there wouldn't be a support group, but even though it is a rare disease there are still plenty of people online looking for support.

You can also google "support groups for _INSERT DISEASE_" as there are some forums online and support websites dedicated to helping to support you during any stage of your illness.

I learned a lot from connecting with others in groups, especially about treatment options or stoma issues, so there is a lot of value in groups. 

HOT TIP:
If searching online don't limit your searches to a specific location or country, this will give you more chances for getting results. And don't be afraid to search on the 2nd and 3rd pages of google too.

Keep in mind:
With the group situation there are people in there from all stages of their illness or health journey, some might have more symptoms than others or might live with other co-morbid diseases. Some people posting could be posting about their current situation but that doesn't necessarily mean that it will be yours either, so don't let that scare you off from posting. Everyone is new to their diagnosis or reality at some point, so don't be afraid to ask for help or ask what other's stories are, just remember they won't all be the same story to tell.

Some members posting might be partners or parents of a person who is unwell, some groups only allow patient members to join others allow carers to join too. If you are a carer and if your daughter or son is in the same facebook group as you, be mindful of what you post ABOUT THEM, it is their story to tell afterall and you might disclose personal details that they hadn't told their best friends let alone strangers online, so be mindful of their privacy and respect what they have told you in confidence too.

One last thing I have to add is sometimes being a member of facebook or online groups can get a bit too much at times, I know when I am struggling myself I tend to either leave the groups or I turn off notifications so that I don't see posts on my feed, sometimes it gets too much dealing with your own health issues and being privvy to others' too.... it can feel like you just can't escape your disease, and sometimes you go to facebook to just escape life and it is hard when you are surrounded by your reality online too.

For me, I struggle a lot of times with my mortality and hearing/reading about a member of the group who passed away is really confronting. Friendships made online are real and just as much valid as real life friendships, so it can be hard at times when a friend passes away.

☟ ☟ ☟ ☟ ☟ ☟ ☟ ☟

#4. Ask your Doctor, Nurse, Case worker, Counsellor or Social worker for local support:
Finding local support can sometimes be hard, not everyone likes to be social and meet face to face or you might find a lack of local resources or people with your illness if it is rare. Your Doctors, Nurses, case worker, counsellor or social worker might be privvy to other support networks that you aren't aware of. If there isn't anything specific relating to your illness, consider asking your doctor or nurse if they have any other patients looking for support, like a buddy program or start your own support group!

You could offer to write an open letter that your doctor or nurse could pass on to local patients who might benefit from some peer support, be sure to leave your contact details on the letter... You could help be the change that is needed locally! Imagine, if you are struggling and feeling alone the chances are others are too!

Otherwise you could consider making a flyer (canva is a great place to start and east to use) and you could advertise your new group in the paper, on noticeboards or even online in local groups!

The above suggestions are just a few ideas I have used on finding support after a new diagnosis, if you have any suggestions feel free to let me know in the comments below!

I know that a new diagnosis is hard and can come as a shock but googling your diagnosis or illness will only cause you more upset and harm you, these are ways I have found support after a new diagnosis that is not only positive and supporting but it is constructive as well.

Dr Google doesn't always have the right answers and can lead to damage or traumatising you, which isn't what you need when facing a new diagnosis.

Take a deep breath and big hugs, there is always support out there just waiting for you to find it. It might not always be an easy or quick overnight find, but be patience and perservere, someone out there at some point felt alone too.

Please be kind to yourself, this is a hard and stressful time. Take some time out for you and self care and try and do something that makes you happy or takes your mind off things.  Here are some things I do for me and to add happiness to my day

If you're in hospital and are looking for things to do to pass the time, I wrote an article in issue 1: of The Ostomistic Life (pages 34-36).

Posted by: Talya AT 12:46 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Tuesday, June 13 2017

 

“Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% how we react to it” 
- Dennis P. Kimbro

Facebook memories can sometimes be a double edged sword. On one side it shows you the silly and mundane status updates that have you questioning what on earth you were thinking way back when. Then there are the moments that your life changed in an instant in what feels like a lifetime ago, but was in fact a year to date. It has the power of instilling those emotions you felt at that time and can feel like a sharp stab at one’s own heart.

Sometimes it can be bittersweet and reminds me of the little ‘wins’ in life: like the time my husband got his P’s after 20 years as a learner driver and I felt immense pride for him but cried tears of relief that I now can take a step back and not be the sole driver; or that time that I drove a 4 hour round trip to spend Good Friday with my family (having had chemo the day prior) and felt so sick, but I was able to hold my nephew for the first time since his birth and he smiled and laughed with me and in that moment I felt an overwhelming sense of love and happiness, as if all is right in the world, for that boy has the most infectious smile that makes you feel so happy.

1 year = 12 months = 365 days = too many minutes and seconds to be happy

Today’s memory however, was that it was 12 months to the day that I was told chemotherapy was stopped, that I had exhausted all other options and was admitted to hospital under palliative care… I was given 12 months to live.

I remember that day clearly, I had turned up to my chemo appointment thinking it was a normal chemo day. I drove myself to the hospital and had expected to drive myself home; instead I called hubby and told him I needed him.

I remember feeling so terrified, I was scared now having been given a timeframe and I didn’t know what to make of any of it. What if I did life wrong, what or how was the best way to spend each minute of the day, was there even a right way? I didn't know what to do, I just knew I wasn't done trying just yet.

But amongst all the fear felt, I also felt so much guilt. I felt that I had failed my husband, my family, my friends and myself.

Most of all I wasn’t ready for the end.

I remember crying so much that day just being held and consoled by my husband, we cried together and despite no words being spoken we knew what the other was feeling.

So I started writing my bucket list and planning how I wanted to spend the next year, particularly, my final moments. I began organising my funeral and how I wanted my life to be celebrated. I tried to include my loved ones in organising/talking about my funeral and joining me on bucketlist experiences in the hopes that it helped them somehow.

But one thing I knew for sure, was that I was determined to spend the next year living life as fiercely and to the fullest as possible. 

Choosing my legacy and how I want people to think of me:

I wanted people to remember me not for the hardships I faced but for how I chose to face life, I wanted people to not pity me but to think “hey that is one strong, badass and positive chick”. I didn’t want the next 12 months of health issues/decline and struggles to define me, I was determined to try and help others.

I feel like the last 12 months have been incredibly exhausting, I feel like not only have I struggled with daily challenges but that I also have lived the most I possibly could have too.

In the face of adversity and a time I should have been selfishly focusing on myself, I started a magazine for other young people with a stoma that has been well received all round but also what I hope will be my legacy.

But my determination to try and help others didn’t end there:

I have tried to empower people to make better choices through learning from my mistakes, I have tried to challenge people to think about how they talk to or treat someone who is chronically or terminally unwell, I have tried to help others feel less alone in sharing my story openly and I have tried to encourage others to live their life as they see fit.

The last couple of weeks I have been struggling with depression and felt myself in a downward spiral. I have been told I am dying too slowly, that I am a burden on Russ, that I am a fraud because I am not on my deathbed now; all in a matter of weeks. 

I am feeling a lot of self loathing (and as a failure) as I had hoped a year on our finances would be in a better state, that things would be less messy and more manageable for Russ to takeover. Yet, despite all the frugal efforts made, I still don’t feel things are better 12 months on. I had also hoped to be prepared enough and finish my funeral preparations by now too.... but things need a lot more working done. I also hoped to have saved/paid off my funeral too (I don’t know who I was kidding). 

I just regret not having life insurance so much, it could have made life a heck of a lot easier.

So please if you can learn anything from this story is to never just take one opinion/advice from a person who is “an authorised representative”, to always get another opinion. 

I HAD life insurance and when I stopped working I was told that my life insurance would be void if I had no EMPLOYER contributions made, that I couldn’t just make them (the contributions) myself. My insurance lapsed as a result. I later spoke to them again (6 or so months later) only to be told that the information I was told was incorrect and I could have made contributions all along and I would still now be covered or be receiving the benefits owed to me.

That one person who incorrectly advised my rights has caused so much stress and inconvenience to my life and while I have been told that person no longer works there I have been left to live with this mistake $600,000 poorer… I didn’t question the advice as it had come from someone at the company, that I assumed them to be right. 

If only someone had of told me to get a second opinion. 

Same went for my thyroid cancer, a respected endocrinologist told me there was nothing wrong with my thyroid and a week later I was in Sydney having thyroid biopsies done as it was actually cancerous, sadly in “the sticks” there isn’t always a second opinion you can get but I am lucky that I sought one in Sydney. Or that time I was told I was diabetic from a Doctor without any testing being done and started medication, it didn’t feel right and made me sick, I saw a different doctor a month later and was diagnosed with anaemia not diabetes. 

Moral to the story, if it doesn’t sound/feel right always get a second opinion. 

Your best teacher is your last mistake

Though all of these moments impacted on my life, I learned valuable lessons about myself or others around me.

If you do happen to make a mistake along the way just learn from it, don’t be too hard on yourself and be forgiving - you wouldn’t really be living if you didn’t make mistakes. Just learn from them and make yourself more informed for next time.
"A mistake is doing something once, the second time it is considered a choice."

So here is to time and life, may we all take everyday as it comes and try to stop every now and then to take it all in, or smell the roses as some say. Life is so precious and I am just grateful to still be here 12 months on and living by my promise of trying to help others. So learn from my life if not for helping yourself, help someone you know.

Time and life is something that can go by so quickly and before long it is a year or 5 years later, so it is important that you make the most out of it. To be cliche and all, it really can be taken away at any time. I know I am cherishing everyday I have; as I know age, time and life are all a privilege.

Always remember:

“Life always offers you a second chance… it is called Tomorrow!”

Posted by: Talya AT 01:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, May 05 2017

NB: This post was also written to be published on abiggerlife.com

This week marks 4 years since I had surgery to remove my large bowel and to live life with a permanent ileostomy due to bowel cancer. I was 22, and until only a couple of months prior I had no idea what an ileostomy was; I naively thought that anyone living with a stoma had a colostomy and didn’t realise that wasn’t the case.

So you can imagine how much I had to learn and understandably was very overwhelmed with information.

One thing I struggled knowing was what exactly it were that I needed to not only see me through my surgery but subsequent time recovering at home and in hospital.

So I thought I would share with you my 10 must-haves on surviving the early days of ostomy life!

I wished I knew these when my life with a stoma began 4 years ago...

#1. A hairdryer:
Do not underestimate the importance of a good seal around your ostomy appliance. This is usually achieved by heating up the base plate or wafer. Sometimes I find sticking under my breast or armpit can suffice, but I know in winter I struggle with body heat. Learn from my mistake and avoid having to send your other half out at almost midnight searching for somewhere that sold a hairdryer (no joke, this is what happened), thankfully there was a chemist open and voila my bag was finally sticking. I now take my hairdryer everywhere with me, even if it is only going away for the weekend! 

p.s It is also very helpful at drying your stoma bag after a shower if you aren’t needing to do a change and require it to be dry... we also use ours in winter to quickly warm up our bed before jumping in.

#2. Invest in some supportive garments:
Not only can wearing supportive underwear help to support your stomach after surgery and help with preventing a hernia, it can also make you feel more secure and safe when you are adjusting to wearing a bag and having it sit against your skin. I found wearing high waisted briefs helped me to feel secure with my bag tucked under my undies. I even found some sites online that made underwear specifically for Ostomates like Vanilla Blush or White Rose Collection (to name a couple).

With the help from my Stoma Nurse I was able to order some hernia belts from some of the companies/manufacturers. She helped to measure me and choose the right one to suit my body and stoma.

#3. Hydration:
When you’re an ostomate and have had part of your bowel (intestine) removed, you are at risk of becoming dehydrated and lacking in certain vitamins/minerals. Not only will you need to drink more glasses of water, but you will also need to be replenishing the electrolytes lost through your output. I met with a dietician and nutritionist who told me to have some sports energy drinks and hydrolyte on hand and to have one a day. I look for the specials and will buy a few bottles at a time, but I also buy the powder to add to water and reuse the bottles that way. It is always important to consult with your stoma nurse or dietician or nutritionist to determine what will be best for you, as your body will need to replenish the important stuff that you’re losing.

In summer if you sweat more or if you are unwell with a fever or a case of gastro, you may need to increase your electrolyte replacement drinks to avoid dehydration. Again talk with your healthcare professionals on what works best for your situation.

I also find the enery drinks can also help to thicken output as well

#4. Metamucil, Marshmallows, Jelly Beans and Peanut Butter:
These are a staple to have on hand, especially if you tend to have watery output as these tend to help your output thicken. Chat with your dietician or stoma nurse to see what would work best for you. I keep a pack of jellybeans in my stoma kit, just in case I do need some urgently.

hot tip: I take a few marshmallows half an hour before a bag change, I find it helps to manage my output a little better while I am doing a bag change.

#5. Gastro stop or loperamide:
My ileostomy output has always been all over the place, but I was advised (by my stoma nurse) early into my life as an ostomate to have some supply on me. Sometimes my output can be so watery or too much output and need it to slow down or I might be unwell, I take a couple of tablets to see if things begin to settle and thicken. It is important to seek advice on if this is right for yourself by your stoma nurse or to determine how much you should be taking as you don’t want to risk being blocked up either. I have a supply of tablets in my handbag and in my stoma kit (for when I am out and about) and I also have some in the bathroom.

#6. Linen and mattress protection:
My stoma tends to leak often and sometimes I will wake up with my bag having leaked. I found it important to have a waterproof mattress protector to protect my mattress. As an added measure of peace of mind for myself I also sleep on a “Kylie”, it is this padded with a rubber waterproof underlay and any leaks I do have don’t go through to my bed. It is really difficult to change my sheets and mattress protector on my own as my mattress is so heavy, so if it is soiled I just put it in the wash and put a new one on the bed ready for next time I go to bed. I found these at a home care aid store locally, or your nurse might be able to help source one for you.


My bed with a kylie

#7. Stoma supply storage:
Where or how you choose to do your stoma appliance change is up to you and differs on personal preference. For myself, I like to sit on the toilet when doing a change. I found a craft trolley with drawers and have it set up in front of the toilet so I can easily grab things. A friend I know likes to stand near her vanity basin and in her cupboard is her supplies for easy reach and use. It is important to have everything somewhat organised, as when you are mid change it is frustrating to search for something you need, so I have plenty of stock in easy reach and ready to go.

If you want to read a post I wrote on stoma supply storage inspiration, click here!

#8.  Wet wipes or Chux cloths:
I know it is personal preference how you might choose to clean your stoma when doing an appliance change. Wet wipes (like baby wipes) are handy for when you are out and about you might be forced to change your stoma in public, and without access to water these are a lifesaver! At home you might prefer to fill up a bowl or basin with warm water and use chux cloths to clean your skin ready for a fresh change. I tried different methods at home to see what I was most comfortable with until I found what worked best for me. I also make sure I have a pack of baby wipes in my stoma kit too.

#9. Scented garbage bags:
When I was new to life with an ostomy I would be overwhelmed each time I had to do a stoma appliance change. A few months after being home from hospital, my husband thought he would help by bringing home scented garbage bags from the store for me to try and see if it helped with the overwhelm of the smell. I have since used these and they really help a lot. I have a roll in my stoma kit I take when leaving the house and another for using at home.

Here is a post I wrote about choosing to use scented garbage bags and adding them to my stoma kit.

#10. Room spray or freshener:
I am saving the best kept secret for last, but you can thank me later! I was always so embarrassed when using public toilets and the stench of my output, that I started carrying around a can of toilet odourising spray with me in my handbag…. it only drew more attention to myself. I searched for compact sprays or spritzers that I can carry in my handbag or stoma kit and spray before I empty my bag or do a change. I found mine from scentsy or Poopouri but friends have found theirs from chemists or stores that sell scented wares. I take mine everywhere and is a lot more discreet.

Here is a little post I wrote a while ago along with the room spray I use.


See! It fits discreetly inside my kit

....................................

I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information (I could be here for days sharing my wealth of knowledge), but these are the 10 best tips I have for managing the early days of being an ostomate. 

You will be sore for a while so listen to your body if it needs to heal and rest, as you have been through a massive ordeal, even mentally/emotionally/spiritually. I wished there were sites like a biggerlife.com when I became an ostomate, it really would have helped me to adjust to life as an ostomate knowing there is lived advice to help me on my way.

Posted by: Talya AT 09:13 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Sunday, April 09 2017

One thing that I have noticed time and time again since I have been sick and spending a lot of time in bed, is that I often felt uninspired and unmotivated. I feel if I wake up happy or feeling somewhat inspired I usually have more energy to tackle the day.

It all started when I was having chemo, I was so sick from chemo that I spent almost 6 days out of 7 in bed and feeling like absolute shit house. My room didn't inspire me at all, I had a beautiful and comfy bed (a must when you're sick) but as we were renting hubby was reluctant to let me make the room my own. We knew we would eventually be moving house and it was just more things to have to move.

So in June I stopped treatment and entered palliative care.

A week or so later I went into pillow talk and my brief was "I need a quilt cover that will inspire me, motivate me but make me feel happy". I found the perfect quilt with the thanks to a sales assistant, who was undergoing chemo herself at the time and she really understood how important it was for me. I wrote away thanking her and Pillow talk HQ.

It has been 6 months now since we moved house and aside from the quilt and a print on the wall, it still felt like I was missing a little bit more. I had a bed side that felt so clinical and reminded me of being sick every time I woke up or rolled over, it was covered with needle bins from my clexane or boxes and sheets of tablets strewn over. It really reminded me every day that I was sick, and it had really gotten me into a funk of late.

The before☟☟☟☟

So I had been planning a little bedside table makeover for a while, well had talked about it.

It is school holidays and 2 of my siblings (Macka 14, Carson 12) came up to help me do things around the house, so we decided now was the time to makeover my bedside table but also my bathroom vanity.

So I am sure it ended up being the most memorable house clean or bedroom makeover they've ever experienced!

We emptied all of the contents off my bedside table into a basket to go under the bedside table for ease of access, then we dusted it down and went about the house finding items I had been collecting or already had.

Some of the items had been found on clearance or at a cheap price.

So I found some books on the bookshelf that I got for Christmas and have been meaning to read, and from all the images I have seen of "pretty bedside table stylings" it usually has books stacked on. The marble canister is good for hiding things like remotes for the fan, tablet sheets or jewellery.

My brother said it had to have a necklace in there too.

So this is the after, and while I am no interior designer, I am feeling pretty proud of how this looks... and I don't feel like I am reminded of being sick everytime I roll over.

The After☟☟☟☟

So now the memorable (and humiliating) part to the story....

The basket wasn't fitting in the cupboard when we knew it should and was as if something was blocking it. The door was closing but was still ajar.

My sister reaches behind the basket and pulls out a red dildo (I hadn't seen it in about 5 years and didn't care for it) so I had no idea that it was in there, so my face I assume was as red as the adult toy.

I still feel so embarrased, haven't felt so humiliated in a long time, but it will be memorable story to tell in many years time or after I am gone. I did try to say it wasn't mine, they laughed and said "what it is Russell's?" which had them even more confused when I said it wasn't... how embarrassing indeed!!

"Hey, remember that time at Talya's when we were cleaning her room and found a giant red dildo in her cupboard".

I can now pass on knowing at least I have left them with one solid and hilarious memory.

Note to self: KNOW where you have hidden such toys, preferably in a safe place no one will EVER find again.


Have you ever had a mortifying moment at the hands of kids? Comment below or comment under the facebook post, please make me feel a little less embarrassed!

Posted by: Talya AT 05:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, February 04 2017

The moment is here - The magazine was born!

Welcome to the first issue of the Ostomistic Life, a free quarterly eZine dedicated to helping young people with an ostomy to navigate their lives. It is founded by a young ostomate for young ostomates... but anyone can read it.

When I originally started my blog it was because I was struggling to find relatable content because representation in the media matters and since was a passion of mine to try and help other young people with a stoma to feel less alone. I learned graphic design and had a dream of one day starting an online magazine... and I have!

I had originally planned this to be created and launched at the end of 2015 but I started chemotherapy and wasn't able to dedicate the amount of energy, time and love that this baby needed... which brings us to now!

I hope you enjoy the first issue, it has been curated with incredible content from an array of contributors as well as some pages to win.

Thank you for sharing in this exciting moment and happy reading.

ISSUE 1 | The Ostomistic Life eZine

I know I only have the Australian Stoma support groups/sites listed, I underestimated how long it would take to collate the whole world. I am still working on this and will be added as each page is ready (apologies)

If you love it let me know.

Work on issue 2 has begun, click here to sign up to receive the next issue straight to your inbox. For articles I am looking for or if you have a topic you want to discuss please get in touch. Some ideas can be found via the pinned post below or on the facebook page

Posted by: Talya AT 12:16 am   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
Friday, January 13 2017

 

It is a little over 2 weeks until the launch of the first of it's kind and a very needed eZine aimed at helping young people with an Ostomy, it is launching on 28th of January. 


COMING SOON - JANUARY 28TH, 2017

There is some pretty amazing content that has been generously contributed by Ostomates and proffesionals all around the world with topics that will help a young Ostomate to navigate life with an Ostomy, so I am pretty excited about this and I know I am not alone either.

I have been working with the incredible Vanessa from Becomingness who has contributed some delicious and ostomy friendly recipes (stay tuned for the launch issue to find out more).

But it got me thinking, as there is interest all around the world with the eZine, what if they measure out ingredients in a different manner?

So rather than the hassle of readers needing to convert different measurements and to prevent any confusion, I decided I would design an A6 conversion reference card for different measurements.

You can either download and print at home for FREE via clicking here 

or

if you would like a professionally printed A6 postcard on glossy cardstock for $2 WITH FREE postage* within Australia, simply click here to pay via paypal. *If you are overseas, please email me first with your country and address so I can provide a postage quote.


CLICK THE IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD

 

I hope you enjoy this quick reference card I designed, and don't forget to sign up for the eZine ahead of the launch to be the first to read it! There will also be some pretty cool prizes up for grabs too!

 

Posted by: Talya AT 09:12 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, November 21 2016

I have never been much of a morning person even before I got sick, and the last year or so I generally don't start my day until later in the Morning.

Moreso lately, my health often sees me in bed until mid afternoon.

So it can be understandable that I might miss the occasional knocks at the front door, especially if I am in a deep sleep, or there's been many times where I have been in pain and tried to jump out of bed (read slowly stagger) to only get to the front door and missed getting to it in time.

It is so FRUSTRATING!

I always thought there should be a doorbell that can connect to your iphone and alert you to when someone is at the door, or better still if you could communicate with them.

So Russ and I in planning our house, we thought about issues like this and considered having an intercom system set up near our bed, but it was looking to be rather expensive.

But alas, imagine our delight when we found a doorbell at our local JB HIFI store that not only allowed us to get push notifications on our phone (providing our phone isn't on silent like last weekend where we didn't realise my mum was outside waiting for over 15 minutes), but also has video and audio too (acting as a video intercom)!

It has been such a help to me since we got the 'ring' doorbell.

Most of the time when I get out of bed my stoma is leaking, so it is rather difficult to try and get to the door in time with a leaking bag. So I have found it helpful when I am dealing with a bag leak or if I am in bed too sore to get up just yet, that when someone rings the doorbell I can see who it is and talk to them.

Often it is the postman with a parcel (not that I shop online a lot, but I get my Xmas shopping out of the way early and online) so it is convenient to say hello and to ask if the parcel needs a signature. I just explain that they can leave the parcel at the door for me and I will collect it when I can get to the door.

I also have spoken with the parcel lady before about having cancer and quote often it takes a moment for me to get to the door.

But it is also good having this doorbell when there is unsolicited doorknockers and I don't have to feel rude for wanting to slam the door in their face. I can just open the Ring app, see who it is and talk to them.

They also have a security camera system available too (we have a couple of cameras set up) where if there is motion in the area you get alerted to it, or you can live stream the video if you are out and want to check up on the house (or the kids) and you can also talk to and hear noises going on.

They are a little expensive, but for the convenience and amount of times it has helped me since we moved in over a month ago is significant. For me it is a tool that is helping me avoid hurting myself getting out of bed in a hurry.... and to give me a little bit of dignity in the mornings too.

DISCLAIMER: This is not a paid or sponsored post, I was not asked to write about the product by the manufacturer or by JB HIFI. I am also not biased on my opinion or experience because it was purchased from my husband's place of employment. I nor my husband receive any benefit by me sharing my experience on this product. This view is purely my own and I am sharing in the hopes that others (like me) who have struggled in the past with trying to get to the door in time, might now have a more convenient solution.

 

 

Posted by: Talya AT 10:40 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, October 23 2016

National Bandanna Day is coming up, and is this Friday the 28th of October. It is a day where people nationwide are encouraged to purchase and wear bandannas with the proceeds raised to support a charity called Canteen. You can read about the work they do by clicking here, or to read how Canteen has helped me personally, click here.

In the lead up to National Bandanna Day, I was approached by Canteen to be an ambassador (always wanted to be one) and talk about my cancer story and how canteen has helped me with various media outlets.

One of these outlets was a local ABC radio station, and I had always wanted to be interviewed on radio so I jumped at the chance.

Russ, my husband, was present with me the entire time I spoke and after I ended the call he praised me for how articulate I sounded and that he was proud of me.

I was a little nervous, but I made sure I was prepared.

I thought I would share 7 tips that helped me to stay calm and level headed during my radio interview, and I hope that they too help you.

#1. Find somewhere quiet to sit
My radio interview was done over the phone as opposed to meeting in the studio, so it was important that I had somewhere quiet to take the phone call that also had really good bars of reception. It also is important that you have a good/clear microphone on your phone and don't put the phone on loud speaker as it can interfere with the clarity.

#2. Remove any distractions
To make sure that you can give your full attention to the questions being asked, and to not sound at all disrespectful and distracted, it is important to make sure that there is nothing that can distract you or take the attention away from you. I made sure to close my laptop, and put my husbands phone on silent, but about half an hour before the interview call I made the decision to go and sit up at the headland in my car. This was also because I find the ocean calming and is my go to place to think if I am needing to be with my thoughts.

#3. Know your stuff, and know your 'why'
For me the interview was about my cancer story and journey and how Canteen has helped me and can help others. Because the story is that of my own I didn't need to worry about a script as I know this, but I also was prepared in knowing some statistics that I was able to casually throw into the conversation without sounding scripted or forced.

#4. Don't have a piece of paper to read off of
I only say this purely for two reasons. Firstly, the rustle of the paper might prove to be an added noise and distraction; and secondly, it might sound forced rather than a naturally flowing conversation. If you need to know statistics maybe memorise them beforehand or put them on an iPad to read or better still put the paper on a clipboard so it doesn't move or rustle.

#5. Have a bottle of water handy
As with any speaking gig, you might need to keep your mouth and throat moistened to avoid coughing or sounding hoarse.

#6. If able to, ask what questions will be asked
This is important if talking about a sensitive subject that might bring up emotions or might be a question that is off the table to be asked. I had a very respectful interviewer who asked me prior if there were any topics or questions that I didn't want to talk about, such as mortality, but in true nature of my blog I said I am pretty open and transparent and that I didn't have any objections to what is discussed.

#7. Know the name of your interviewer
This is important for courtesy and respect, but you also don't want to look like a fool when you said the wrong person's name. The interviewer has taken the time to research you and your story and it is respectful to show the same courtesy in return.

I know these are only a handful of tips, but these really helped me in preparation for my interview and I hope they help you. Feel free to add your own tips in the comments too.

Also, keep an eye out on my facebook page for when the interview will be aired as I am not too sure yet.

P.S Not sure how to wear your bandanna or how to fold it? Click here for a HOW-TO printable guide

 I ask (if you feel inclined to) that if my blog or my writing has helped you or made  a difference in your life, please consider treating me to lunch or a mango  smoothie by clicking through to my paypal.me account.

 I am mostly housebound  so being able to go out for a nice treat would really help  make my day that little  bit brighter. Would also help me to feel appreciated too.

Posted by: Talya AT 08:48 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, September 05 2016

Russell, a.k.a The Ostomistic Husband, has a second blog post or an open letter that he wanted to share with you.

While you might have only said this to us once or twice, and you might not mean anything more than just a compliment, but you are more than likely not the first person that has made that comment to us today. Everyday we are faced with these comments and it is making Russ rather upset as he wonders what do people actually expect of him.

And worst, is that this is how society expects men to behave, that they can't commit and that they won't stick around when shit gets real. Russ is a modern man, and a man true to his word.

☟  ☟  ☟  ☟  ☟  ☟

My open letter to those who continually say "you're a good guy for sticking around" or those who continually say to Talya, “Russell is a good bloke for sticking with you through all this…”, I have the following to state:

I’m not sure how often you’ve heard that little gem, but I’d really like to open people’s eyes to how I feel when they say it without obviously thinking it through.

I’ve been with Talya for 7 years now, and she’s progressed through varying stages of unwell since I first met her; I proposed to her in her hospital bed while recovering from brain surgery (with a golden staph infection on her brain) for Christ’s sake.

I know I’m not going anywhere.

The thought that I could leave only occurs to me when you tell me I’m good for not leaving. Talya knows I’m not going anywhere (I tell her often enough), but she starts to wonder when she keeps hearing, “Russ is good for sticking around” which her inner voice relays as, “I’m a massive burden so why should Russ want to stay?”

Love:
Talya and I have a connection that may only come once in a lifetime.

Why would I want to give up on that just because Talya can’t go for a walk with me? We have access to a wheelchair now so we can still wander through the botanical gardens.

Why would I leave just because she can’t cook or clean? What is this, the 1950’s? Those are basic life skills everyone should learn, man or woman.

Why would I deny myself the true pleasure of simply seeing her smile when I come home from work? That is the highlight of my day. Every day.

Commitment:
I vowed to be there in sickness and in health. That was a promise I made in front of our friends and families, but more importantly, one that I made to her.

We are only as good as our word. I gave her mine, she gave me her heart.

Forever:
I have stuck around because she is worth every second I can give her. I will continue to be by her side until she becomes the angel she’s always been inside.

And you’re right, I am a good bloke......

Because I met her!

About the Author:

Russell, a husband in his mid 30's, is a computer salesman by day and a unicorn husband by night*. He enjoys long walks on the beach, playing Pokemon Go, he loves lamp, and he loves all things nerdy! He hopes through his writing and sharing of his experiences of having a young and terminally ill wife, might help other men to understand what not to say (to avoid getting yelled at) or how they can better support their loved one. If you want to connect with Russ (or send him topics/questions or areas of concern you have) send him an email via russell @ feelingostomistic.com.au. Russ really loves his wife and wants her to enjoy what remanining time she has, so he has asked for help to build her a garden escape and needs your help ---> click here to read more about the why behind the garden.

*He is the sort of husband that everyone wishes were real, but doesn't believe actually exists.

 

 I ask (if you feel inclined to) that if my blog or my writing has helped you or made  a difference in your life, please consider treating me to lunch or a mango  smoothie by clicking through to my paypal.me account

 I am mostly housebound  so being able to go out for a nice treat would really help  make my day that little  bit brighter. Would also help me to feel appreciated too.

 

Posted by: Russell AT 07:26 am   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 22 2016

NB: This post is purely satirical... proceed to read with sarcasm

Recently, I was called Gross.... I was asked "how can you live like that?"

Well, I can and I do, and it is pretty simple. I wake up, I live my life and do stuff through the day and then I sleep... and repeat! See, easy!

You see, my daily routine is somewhat similar to a 'normal bodied routine'... I say somewhat as it is slightly different as it involves me essentially shitting myself 24/7 (oh the horror) but I can point out many similarities to our daily routines...

A typical day of mine goes like this:

7-8am: I wake up in the morning, and one of the first things I do is go to the toilet. Nothing like that first pee in the morning, except I also have to empty my bag. Which is usually mostly air, as most people fart all night. I fart too, just you don't smell or hear mine as it is trapped in a stoma bag.

8.15: I am sure this is where you take your coffee, the one thing that you probably need to get you through the day? I consume something too, my medication (thyroxine, endone and folic acid), I need these to survive and can't live without.

8.20-8.30: Just as my husband is getting ready to leave for work I call him in for a quickie.... he quickly jabs me and he puts on his shoes and then is off on his merry way. Then he can rest easy all day knowing that he helped to keep me alive that day with my blood thinning injection.

9-11.59am: The elusive siesta... some might call it sleeping in, some might call it taking a nap. You probably prefer an afternoon nap, but I have mine in the morning so by lunch time I am wide awake.

12-1pm: I have lunch.. this may vary day to day from leftovers the night before to eating dry crackers. If I am feeling adventurous I might even go out for lunch.

1-5pm: I would call this my 'work time'. I only have a 4 hour work day and mostly my work involves writing a blog post, designing fun little pictures.. who am I kidding, I am on facebook and shopping.

5.30pm: My husband comes home and cooks dinner. Dinner is usually something fancy like bangers and mash. In our household we aren't atypical to the stereotypes of the roles of a 1950's housewife; my husband does the cooking, the cleaning and the bringing home of the bacon.

6pm: We have dinner, talk about our days (he acts like I actually did more than just sit on fb all day) and then we just watch netflix and chill

7pm: We have our showers, everyone needs to shower. I just happen to need to do a bag change afterwards.. No biggie. We all need to change our underwear everyday (and my stoma bag is the underwear of my stoma)

7.30pm: Husband goes to the study and does computer related stuff (as he hasn't just spent all day around computers) and I go to my office (the dining table) and belt out songs. This goes on until bedtime.

8PM: Husband comes to give me another quick prick for the day, ensuring that he has kept me alive for the night.

10pm: We head to bed and read. Well, he tries to read; I just try to have a chin wag and nag at him about what he didn't do or needs to do the next day.

Annnnnnnd then I go to sleep.... and get ready to repeat it all the next day!

So that is my typical day, but also throw in having to do a bag change whenever I just decide to shit myself (you know because I have control over that and all).

So I am sure there are many similarities to our day... we all eat, sleep and shit. I just do it a little differently to you, but doesn't make me gross. Who wants to be normal when you can just be unique?

Oh, and having a stoma isn't the worst thing in the world.... some people have a stoma as it was either that or death.

It can be rather convenient too!

Imagine you're standing in the long queue at Big W to do the no deposit toy laby, and all of a sudden you need to do a poo! Oh what are your options? Either leave your trolley unattended in queue while you run off and pray that no one steals your loot or your spot in the line, or you just stay and wait and have an accident? Well, for me I can just do a number 2 at any time of the day and it conveniently collects into a pouch (that doesn't smell I might add) and then as it is full I empty into the toilet. No more missing out on sales for me!

But tell me, aside from now pooing differently has your life changed too much with a stoma?

 

 

 I ask (if you feel inclined to) that if my blog or my writing has helped you or made  a difference in your life, please consider treating me to lunch or a mango  smoothie by clicking through to my paypal.me account

 I am mostly housebound  so being able to go out for a nice treat would really help  make my day that little  bit brighter. Would also help me to feel appreciated too.

 

Posted by: Talya AT 07:05 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, July 05 2016

When it comes cancer and sharing your story/journey, there is always someone who either seems to know the cure for cancer or has some advice for you... commonly it is telling you what you're doing wrong and somehow making you feel that you are to blame for it (having cancer).

Quite often I am told if I don't eat sugar and avoid it then my cancer will stop growing and will go away.... or that if I wasn't fat then I wouldn't have cancer.

Another piece of 'advice' I got a couple of months back, was that if I LOVED my cancer unconditionally that it will be unwanted and will just go away.

Uh huh?

But what was rather upsetting recently was advice not given to me, but to my little 15 year old sister.

My sister has the same genetic cancer causing gene (FAP) that I have and that my dad had (that is killing me, and killed him)... so you can imagine how hard it would be at her age knowing she has a 100% chance of bowel cancer and has seen her dad and older sister sick from the disease.... it would be rather distressing not knowing if she too would experience what my dad and I experienced.

My sister went on a recent school camp and was asked to share her story in front of her peers, teachers and also to an audience of people attending at a church.

She gave her story and at the end a gentleman stood up claiming to be a doctor and told her "if you avoid red meat for the rest of your life you will never get bowel cancer".

My sister came home all excited and filled with hope. She said to me and my mum "guess what mummy, I am now a vegetarian as I was told by some doctor on camp that  IF I never eat red meat again I won't ever get bowel cancer and be cured".

My heart just sank and broke, here she was filled with hope all because someone told her advice that they shouldn't have... regardless of what you eat, if you have this gene you will get bowel cancer.

I had to fight hard to hold back my tears as I told her the reality... I watched that bubble literally burst and it broke my heart.

She had hope... but it wasn't the right advice to be given... he doesn't know our story, he doesn't know our gene and hadn't consulted with our many specialists who are specialists in the field for a reason.

All she could keep saying was "but he was a doctor".

But even doctors should know when to keep their opinion to themselves.

But bless her dear heart, she plans on studying hard to become a scientist to find the cure for cancer.

If you are talking to someone and you are about to give advice of the latest 'craze' going around, please refrain from offerring unwanted advice as the damage can be a lot to someone who is vulnerable, scared and is looking for hope.

Just look at the fall out from Belle Gibson telling people she cured herself of brain cancer, WHEN SHE NEVER HAD CANCER TO BEGIN WITH.

Just remember, words can cause damage... and starting or ending with 'Just sayin' doesn't make it any less of an insult or offence.

Posted by: Talya AT 05:01 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, July 02 2016

I had my scan a month ago to check on my tumour growth and if it was responding to chemo or if there was any new growth. The scan showed a couple of new developments and one massive surprise.

I found out that my tumour was stable and showed no new growth or shrinkage (the surprise).

The two new developments were that I have a 17cm mass on my ovary and I also have 2 large blood clots (Pulmonary Embolisms) in my lungs.

I was called back to the hospital that day and taught how to inject myself with clexane needles twice a day. I was in shock and rather upset and my amazing husband took over and has since been giving me my twice daily injections.

I was so shocked as it was an incidental find and if it weren't for the oncologist bringing forward my scan by a fortnight I could have died... and as much as I thought I was okay and at peace with it....

Turns out I am not ready and that I still have so much life to live.

I thought maybe I did something wrong, but my doctors reassured me that I didn't. Apparantly the chemo and cancer combo can lead to blood clots due to my blood not clotting right... the only symptom I had experienced was a cough and shortness of breath.

So I have to have my injections twice a day.. my husband comes and gives me one in the morning before he leaves for work (along with my thyroxine medications) and then the other is at night before bed. I need to have these injections for at least 3-6 months.

Some tips if you need to have clexane injections:
#1. I find being jabbed in my thigh hurts a lot less than my stomach... maybe it is because my stomach is so sensitive from the tumours but it hurts a lot for me.

#2. Find an area that has more fatty tissue so you can kinda pinch the skin, I find the fattier part of my thigh hurts less

#3. After you receive the injection gently rub the area or tap on and around your thigh, it helps to relieve the pain and I don't know how but it just really helps to relieve the sting.

P.S if you are experiencing chest pain that is new or shortness of breath that is also new, please don't hesitate in seeing your doctor or presenting to the emergency department at your local hospital

 

Posted by: Talya AT 06:01 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, June 20 2016

It was almost a year ago now that my husband and I finally got a pre-approval for a home loan, after trying for over 6 years!

We were looking into buying an established house, and then a townhouse within a resort (but the strata was over $12k a year), so we were back at buying an established house. But we struggled to find something within our price range and budget that didn't need work done to it or had a pretty decent (and not squishy) bathroom.

But we couldn't find one that we fell in love with.

We then thought about buying either a block and building on it or a house and land package. We were out at Woolgoolga (where we have been wanting to move to for 6 years) and found the perfect house and land package that was well within our budget (and meant a little left over at the end for incidentals).

But when we enquired that afternoon, the contracts had just been put through and signed and was no longer available.

We felt a little disappointed that we missed out, but on the way home I decided we would call into the display home at North Sapphire Beach and just ask if they had any others coming up in the area within our price range.

The sales guy said there was actually a bigger block of land that was also cheaper that had come available that morning (due to finances falling through) and if we wanted a bigger house than the other house and land package offered that it was certainly affordable... all we had to do to secure the block so it wasn't available to anyone else was pay a deposit of $1000 which we did on the spot (we weren't letting this one go).

So fast forward to November and the land was finally registered with council, which meant we had 28 days to finalise our finances and sign the contracts, which happened a couple of days before Xmas... what an expense Xmas present to us!

So it wasn't until March this year that the slab was laid and the framework started, and we have been told last week that we are at the 4 weeks to completion mark, and I just cannot wait!

But during the process of building, especially as this is our first house and we have never built before, there were some things that we hadn't factored into our budget or allocated money to, and I thought that I would share these in case they help you too.

#1. You start paying electricity bill when the house starts getting built
This one really shocked me, I remember receiving the electricity bill and was from the same company we were with now but was in my husband's name, so I was pretty confused. Then I realised that it was a bill for the connection and installation of power to the site and that we needed to pay a second power bill during the build. This certainly wasn't in our budget, as we didn't realise.

#2. Budget in an extra 2 months of rent to allow for delays
When we bought the block and paid for the house plan deposits, we were told that we would be in our house by June, which was what we really wanted. We are now halfway through July and the house still has a lot of work to be finished and ready for us to move in.

#3. If you are renting, consider cheaper options to live to make building and living easier
If you are a two income household (we are a one income household) you might be able to afford to continue paying both rent and a mortgage, and could afford the mortgage repayments as they increased as the build progressed. For us the last couple of months it has been rather tight. Our weekly rent is almost equal to our weekly mortgage repayment and it isn't leaving much money for other bills and food. We wished we had of thought to sell our furniture or put into storage and possibly move into a cheaper place or look into renting a room off of someone. But while it would have made things financially a lot easier, as my health has declined over the last year I am liking having more space and privacy being sick... so if I wasn't sick we would have really considered cheaper alternatives. But you might also have parents or family that you could rent a room off cheaply too... the more money you can save will help you in the build.

#4. Really know what is and isn't included in your build
When we were looking into building the house we made sure we clearly knew what was and wasn't included included so that we could factor and budget for incidentals after the build. While we received a free kitchen upgrade it included all the appliances except for a dishwasher. Other things that weren't included in the final build were air conditioning, turf, fencing, landscaping, tiles on the front and back patio and blinds. We also needed to add in additional power points and aerial points as there is never enough included.

#5. Ensure that there is insurance on your house from the moment construction starts
One thing that was a peace of mind was that the builder had their own insurance they took out at the start of the build that covered the house for any damage during storms and the build process, or if vandals broke in and trashed the place. But knowing that there is insurance helped ease a bit of worry, as it is so much money you're putting into building a house that you want to make sure that it is protected if the worst was to happen.

#6. Ensure that your insurance is ready to kick in a couple of days before the hand over of keys
A friend told me of a story where a couple received their new keys and upon inspecting their house they noticed that their kitchen was stripped and stolen as well as other things. They had insurance but it didn't kick in until the day the keys were handed over and the builder's insurance lapsed. Such an unfortunate thing to happen and would be heartbreaking, so I have been getting quotes from insurers already to make sure the house will be covered before the keys are exchanged.

#7. When buying furniture or planning your space, take your house plan and measurements.
I excitedly went and shopped for furniture to fit out our new house, but luckily I took a copy of the house plans with me so that I knew just how big each room was and how much space I had to fill. It saved me from buying too big of a lounge.

#8. Prepare to need to upgrade somethings as the house comes with very basic versions
When we went to the bathroom showroom, we 'sampled' the toilets and bath that came with the house as a basic and realised we needed to upgrade. I felt that a chrome bowl and lid might be more economical in the long run and I wanted soft close lids to avoid being woken by the slamming and banging of the toilet in the middle of the night. The toilets were also rather low for me to bend over and empty my stoma output so I upgraded the toilet to an 'accessible height'. Russ also tried out the bath and he felt a little crammed in it, so we got a longer bath with a headrest so that he can comfortably fit in the bath and not feel cramped.

#9. Before the build starts make a inspiration board
There was about 3 or so months between when we paid our deposit to secure the house plans and when we had the appointment to choose everything for our house. Only thing was that appointment where EVERYTHING for the house got chosen was while I was 800km away in Sydney in hospital and my husband had to choose it all on his own. But what really helped him was knowing that I had been scouring pinterest for ideas of colour schemes, or searching through google images and saving pics for inspiration, and we had even found different design apps that allowed you to choose your roof type and colours, bricks or render and garage which Russ had saved on his iPad. So armed with his iPad he headed off to the colour appointment and said "this is what my wife has in mind, can you help me to choose as close as possible". But it was helpful knowing what colours I wanted beforehand.

#10. Try and allow money for turf, fencing and blinds
I mentioned earlier that turf, fencing and blinds wasn't included in our build, so we had to try and find ways to allocate the money for these. We spoke with our bank and borrowed to the capacity of what the bank would loan us. But we also sat down and worked out a priority of what needed to be paid first. For us we felt that we needed to have the turf laid when we moved in to avoid dirt being blown into the house, but that we can gradually buy the blinds as we save up over the coming months with the exception of the blinds for our bedroom and loungeroom as they were a priority. With the fencing, we received a letter/contract from the council saying that our neighbours had requested we pay half the fence and if we didn't pay in 30 days they would take us to court, so this was something we have had to pay early on to not only ensure friendly neighbour atmosphere but to avoid court costs.

#11. Consider buying giftcards to coles or woolworths for those weeks where money is tight
Before we started the build and when we had a little extra cash in the bank we decided to use this money to buy giftcards for our grocery shop for when we knew times would be tight during the build.  We also knew that if we didn't plan ahead there could be times where we were struggling to find money for food. I am so glad we had these giftcards though, as it has certainly come in handy to buy groceries. I have also been extremely fortunate to have received financial assistance from Redkite this year too in the form of giftcards to coles, which has been a lifesaver. I underestimated just how tight money will get when you're a single income household and you are building a house while paying rent and bills.

#12. Go into the tiler supplying your build and play with tile orientation
One of the first things that we did after we secured our house plans was go into the tile shop that was supplying the tiles to our build and see the tiles in our range that we could choose from. Our builder had set tiles that were in their price allocation range and we could only choose from those, but if we wanted more expensive tiles we could have just would have been at our cost. We were pretty lucky that the tiles we wanted for our house were within the builders range. So we went into our local Beaumont Tiles and saw the tiles in person and got an idea of texture or gloss, but it was good to see the tiles contrasted with say the wall tiles of the bathroom. What was handy, was that Beaumont Tiles had this software that they could choose the tiles you wanted and a room layout and you could see on the screen how they would look. Best of all you could change orientation of the tiles and see what you liked better.... Once we knew the layout and orientation we liked, we then printed off the sheets and I am so glad that we did... It is 5am and I sitting here waking myself up to go and visit the tiler onsite to make sure he knows the tile orientation we want. Without those sheets or playing around with the tiles I would have had no idea... so I am glad that I did, as the tiler only called me last night after 5.30pm to arrange to meet today.

I am sure that there is more to add to this list, so I will continue to add to it and edit it as I think of new list additions. But for now, I hope these 11 tips help you if you are considering building a house.

Posted by: Talya AT 02:53 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, June 18 2016

I was asked recently by a couple of readers if I could share some inspiration ideas for storing your stoma supplies that is practical, affordable and also easily reachable.

Then when I presented at a local stoma education day here in Coffs Harbour, I was asked the same question again, so I thought maybe it was best if I did a blog post with some inspiration to how I store my stoma supplies and how a fellow reader stores theirs.

Idea #1: Invest in a small cupboard
When I had my first (original) stoma I was doing my bag changes in the bathroom while sitting on the toilet. In front of the toilet is a massive gap between the toilet and the shower, so I wanted to find a cabinet to put there (like a vanity without the sink) so that when I am sitting on the toilet I can easily reach into the cupboard and grab my supplies and it had a bench space on top so I could rest my supplies and easily grab them. This cupboard I found on a local buy swap sell site for $15!

Idea #2: Invest in a craft storage trolley on wheels
With my new stoma (the one I got back in February) it is rather problematic and bag changes are often lengthy. So more for comfort than anything I now sit on the lounge and do my bag changes (I found my legs were going numb on the toilet after sitting for so long). So now I have a craft storage trolley on wheels set up beside my lounge that has a draw for each supply and it is really easy access... I got this as a gift from my dad (the last Xmas before he passed) but you can pick them up from officeworks for around $60.

 
Image 1: how I organise my supplies | Image 2: a photo from officeworks website 

Idea #3: Invest in a craft storage drawers not on wheels
These you can find at officeworks (or I am sure the reject shop too) and these are a great size to sit inside a cupboard or freestanding. They have 4 generous draws and come either in black and clear or white and coloured. They are also only $29.98 and a much cheaper alternative to the storage trolley on wheels that I have.

 
Image 1 and Image 2 from the officeworks website showing the two styles available

Idea #4: storage drawers to fit in under your vanity
A reader Belinda sent me in her nifty storage idea, she purchased a set of 4 storage drawers from officeworks for $19.98, and it is so convenient for her after she has a shower to just reach into the vanity cupboard and grab her supplies. She said the plastic dividers are movable so it can make the drawer have bigger compartments if needed.

I know it is a personal choice of where and how Ostomate's prefer to do a bag change, and I know some of these inspiration ideas might not be ideal for everyone but they work for me. If you too have a nifty stoma storage idea you would like to share feel free to send me an email or message me via facebook.

Posted by: Talya AT 02:50 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, April 10 2016

We know that chemo can be toxic to ourselves and we can get sick, but did you know that it can make those around us sick too if they are exposed.

Before I started chemo, I was invited to attend a chemo education session where I learnt things about treatment, nutrition and what it means to be cytotoxic.

When you have chemo you are considered 'cytotoxic' for the next 7-10 days. This means that your bodily fluids such as urine, tears, sweat, saliva, semen, poo and blood contains chemicals that can be toxic to others if they are exposed to it. They can be near you and not get sick, just as long as they don't come into contact with your bodily fluids.

So when you have chemo it is important that you be mindful of what you're doing to help protect those around you.

Here are 10 steps I take to ensuring the safety of others around me when I am cytotoxic

#1. Double flushing the toilet with the lid down
This helps to keep the toxic waste inside the toilet and avoid splashing. Double flushing also ensures that the toxic waste is removed from the toilet and is safe for the next person to use. Make sure you also wipe the toilet seat properly.

#2. Try and use one toilet for my use only
I know this one can be hard especially if you only have one toilet being used by all the members of your household, but I am lucky in my house that we have two toilets and I try and keep one toilet for my use only. This is just to minimise the risk of me being cytotoxic with my husband or guests visiting our house.

#3. Don't share drinks/cups
As saliva is one of the ways in which I am cytotoxic it is important for your own safety that you don't drink out of a bottle I have drank out of, or a cup. If you (like me) prefer to drink out of the bottle of milk or softdrink rather than in a glass simply mark that bottle with your name or just make sure others know not to drink that drink.

#4. Don't share food/utensils
This very much goes with #3, don't eat the food off my plate or use my utensils after I have used them. I have to keep reminding my husband to not eat my leftovers. I am getting more into the habit of having smaller meals and going back for more if I am hungry as opposed to food going to waste... but sometimes my eyes are just too big for my tummy!

#5. Use condoms if having sex even if it is just oral
Not only do you not want to get pregnant while undergoing chemo (I imagine it wouldn't be good for the baby), but it also isn't safe for your partner if you have unprotected sex.

#6. Double line your garbage bags when disposing your stoma bags
This is something that I was told to do by my stoma nurses which helps ensure the safety of those working in the garbage disposal industry in the event that the original bag you've disposed of your stoma bag in has broken down or torn open, that you aren't exposing workers or the environment to your toxic waste. To be safe I put my soiled stoma bag in a garbage bag and seal it then place it inside another garbage bag and seal that one.

#7. Make sure you have disposable gloves handy
If you are likely to have someone at home who would jump in willy nilly and help you clean up if you vomitted, had a bag leak or made a mess, it is important that you have gloves at the ready for them to wear to protect themselves. My husband bless his soul really is my night in shining armour, he sees that I am in trouble and his first instinct is to jump in and help me. But, I have to keep stopping him and reminding him to get gloves if he wants to help as I don't want to run the risk of making him sick. Also put the used gloves in a plastic bag and seal it before placing in the garbage bin.

#8. If you are holding a newborn
My brother (and his partner) recently had a beautiful little boy. Easter was approaching and I had started back on chemo and I knew I would be sad if I could see him but not get cuddles. So I asked the chemo nurses if it was okay for me to hold him and they said that it was providing I wasn't sweaty, I don't kiss him and my bag isn't leaking. Thankfully, I got a couple of cuddles in on Good Friday and I made sure that there was always something between my skin and the baby to be safe. 

#9. Wash soiled items seperately
When you do have a leak it is important that the clothes and linens are washed seperately to your normal (non-chemo person's) laundry. I find one wash cycle to be enough to clean the clothes, it is just more to protect other's clothes from being exposed to cytotoxic waste.

#10. Wash your hands and make sure others do too
Whenever you go to the toilet, do a bag change, deal with soiled linen or clothes or if you sneeze/cough always make sure you wash your hands. Not only is this good hygeine practice, but it helps eliminate the spread of germs and chemicals. Make sure others around you wash their hands too and if possible ask them to use hand sanitiser.

Posted by: Talya AT 09:50 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, April 05 2016

Stomas come in all shapes and sizes, just like us! We all have different body shapes and types and have issues when it comes to fashion.... well I know that is how it is for me.

I am plus-sized, and have been the entire time I have been an ostomate. So while the tips I share below might be helpful to some with a stoma, it might be irrelevant to others, which is just because our body shapes are different.

Here are my: 5 quick fashion tips when you have a stoma

#1. Avoid pants with button up or zip up flies
One thing I learnt early on in the game is that pants with zip or button up flies were rather uncomfortable. It could be due to where my stoma sits which was exactly where I would be trying to do my pants up, and if I were successful enough to get them done up it was rather uncomfortable as my stoma started to fill up and felt like it was going to burst.

#2. High wasted and elasticised pants will become your new wardrobe staple
When I realised I couldn't wear my beloved jeans anymore, I had to get rid of them. I have these elasticised wasted pair of jeggings (looks like jeans but are leggings) and I bought them not long after my stoma surgery. Imagine my excitement when I could wear comfortable, elasticised pants that look like jeans without the uncomfortable zips. I loved these so much that I bought myself 3 pairs, and 3 years on they are still going strong and I wear them most days. Even maternity pants are great!

#3. Find dresses that you are comfortable in
I used to love wearing tight fitting dresses that showed off my curves and boobs, but I found when I had my stoma it sometimes became noticable if my stoma filled up, but it also was a little uncomfortable as it was filling and the dress was tight. I learnt to find dresses that still made me feel feminine but were rather loose fitting around my stoma. I also like tunic style dresses that I can wear black tights and boots with.

#4. Wear PJ's that are one size bigger
I have found that by wearing bigger sized PJ's that they are more comfortable of a night when you're trying to sleep. Not only are they loose but they aren't compressing on your stoma and it has the room to fill up. I know this if favourable for me, as I find my stoma becomes rather gassy over night and sometimes in the past when I have worn tight PJ's my stoma bag exploded as it just didn't have the room to move.

#5. One piece swimwear can be more comfortable than some shapewear
I know this might sound strange and I know the whole point of shapewear is for it to be rather tight and fitting, but sometimes I find it is too tight on my stoma and I feel like I can't eat or drink as to avoid it filling up and having to worry about trying to empty it every 10 minutes so it doesn't get too full. Then I thought I would try wearing a one piece swimsuit instead, and not only does it hold things in place but it feels a little more roomy and comfortable around my stoma. Obviously this wouldn't suit if wearing a strapless dress, but it might be an alternative solution to finding shapewear being too tight.

So these are just some of my quick tips that I incorporate into my wardrobe, and it might be something you've already worked out or might help you to try something new.

But I want to hear from you, what fashion adaptations have you had to go through after you had your stoma surgery? Feel free to comment below if you have some tips that help you.

 

Posted by: Talya AT 09:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Sunday, March 13 2016

I first became a member of the ostomate world back in May 2013, when I had all of my large bowel and most of my rectum removed in a procedure to save my life from the perils of bowel cancer.

It wasn't until July 2015, that I experienced my first really bad bag leak during the middle of the night resulting in soiling not only the doona and sheets, but the mattress protector too.

Worst of all, I wasn't even at home. I was staying in a hotel for a few days in Melbourne.

I had to call the front desk at 3am in tears asking for fresh linens, when they replied they don't have any until room service come in later that morning and that it will be best to change rooms. I was absolutley humilated and mortfied but the guy reassured me that it was okay and it wasn't the worst he has seen. (Got me thinking about how dirty some people can be!)

So when I continued that short holiday (was actually down there for a big bloggers meeting, which was exciting) and then when I got home I made the decision to sleep with towels on my bed and wrapped around my belly, that if my bag did leak it would be somewhat protected and not cause a mess.

Afterall, my mattress and bed cost me $6k and it is white leather, so I am rather protective of my bed... initially I was too scared to sleep in it with the leaky stoma... and it isn't just at home I am scared of a leak, I am hesitant to stay at other people's houses for that reason.

I know that you're thinking "just get a mattress protector", well I have one but I worry it won't give me a lot of protection if it is a heavy leak (which most are).

And it got me thinking about what disposable and cheap products could I use to help give me peace of mind when sleeping.. and I came up with one great one (and will also share what one reader's suggestions were too).

So if you have a unpredictable and leaking stoma like me, here are some affordable ways to protect your sheets.

Cheap, thick and disposable table cloths
I was lucky that I had a garage filled with all these party supplies I wasn't using after purchasing and attempting to sell through a failed business venture.. so I have been putting the table cloths to great use and they are rather thick and durable and best of all cheap and disposable. I know the reject shop or other cheap shops sell them too

Some suggestions from a reader were:
Plastic shower curtains
Garbage bags torn open
Rubber-backed curtains

Update: What I use now and how I protect my linens

Since writing this post a year ago almost (it is now May 2017), I have been trying out new methods and ideas to help protect my linens and mattress from my leaking stoma in a way that was easy to manage and was being savvy too.

So I found a product called a "Kylie" which is a quilted mattress topper that has a rubber/waterproof underlay so nothing will seep through to the mattress and sheets underneath. I found these at a local homecare aid store for around $40 for a double, I purchased a couple through the help of a local service and have one on my bed and one spare.

So now when I do have a leak, I simply take the soiled Kylie off the bed and into the wash and put the new one on the bed. I find it is easier for me to manage when I am at home on my own while hubby is at work.

Here is a look at how I place it on my bed. I make my bed/sheets as normal, I put the kylie down then a disposable bluey as an added measure. I know the Kylie is meant to go under the sheets and tucked under the mattress, but given how heavy my mattress is it is not something I can manage/change on my own.... so this is what works for me and for a year now I haven't looked back. I also take a kylie with me when I go and stay at family or friends places too.

 

Have you found something that helped you during leaking bags of a night when you were asleep? Comment below to share or join in the conversation over on the facebook page.

Leaking Stoma Tip:I just got home from being away for a couple of days staying with family.It wasn't the first time I...

Posted by Feeling Ostomistic on Sunday, March 13, 2016
Posted by: Talya AT 06:41 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, February 23 2016

I know having a loved one in hospital or unwell can be rather distressing, and I know more than anything just how much you want to help them get better.

I myself, have spent a lot of time in hospital and after a recent surgery with a hospital stay I thought that I might give you some ideas or suggestions on how you can support a loved one while they're in hospital. I guess these could even apply to when a loved one is at home chronically ill or unwell.

When a loved one is sick, you don't have to buy flowers to show them you support them. Here are some ideas to help you next time:

Suggestion #1. Calling them
I know that you're concerned for them and want to call them daily or every other day for updates but as much as I know you care and want to support me this actually is something that I find frustrating.

You see you might call me once a day, but so are a lot of other people all asking the same questions so I feel like I am constantly repeating myself and all the phone calls can become rather exhausting after a while, or you might just be having an 'off' day and just want to be left alone.

Also keeping in mind that when someone is in a hospital room sharing with 4 other people it can be hard to have an actual conversation without feeling like everyone in the room is listening... there just isn't privacy when you're in hospital and this makes me uncomfortable so I prefer to text or facebook message.

Solutions:
#1. Nominate one family member to call and relay the message back to those who are asking. Or if too many are upset they're not getting a turn to speak to the person in hospital create some sort of roster and take in turns of calling and relaying the message to others.
#2. Send a text message before calling and ask if now is an ok time to talk, as they might be asleep or might not be up for a chat. If they don't answer straight away then they aren't available, but they can reply when they are.
#3. Send texts instead of calling as it can be easier to reply to when they're up to it or as I mentioned above I prefer text is just more private than having a conversation in such a public room.

Suggestion #2. Flowers
I know when you're visiting or thinking of a loved one your first instinct is to buy them flowers. But flowers while they are beautiful and can make someone feel loved and smile, they also are rather expensive and will die.

Instead of buying flowers think of practical things they might need and either are unable to go buy it themselves while they are in hospital or they mightn't have the funds to purchase (especially as money can be tight when in hospital and if they have to take time off work to be there).

Solutions:
#1. If they have a laptop and are using a prepaid wireless dongle, purchase some credit or recharge for them to use
#2. If they have an iPad and enjoy reading books purchase an iTunes gift card so they can get some new books to read
#3. Make up a little care package with some comfy slippers and essential toiletries if they were in a rush and didn't get to pack these even include an eye mask and ear plugs to help them sleep a bit better
#4. If you know that they've been colouring in to keep them occupied you could buy a nice set of pencils or colouring in book in case they have used up all their book or pencils
#5. If you drive past their house and notice their lawns are looking a little neglected offer to give it a mow, or keep an eye on their pets it can be a stress they don't need to worry about

Suggestion #3. Food
Unless you're in a nice private hospital, the food in most public hospitals I have been in can at times be rather inedible leaving you rather hungry and annoyed.

I spent so much money this last admission on food as I found myself having to resort to the hospital's expensive cafe in order to get something that was half decent to eat. But sometimes you don't have the option to walk to the cafe to get food.

Solutions:
#1. Offer to bring in a nice home cooked meal for them to enjoy
#2. If there is a cafe but they're unable to walk there themselves offer to go get them something enjoyable
#3. Pick up or arrange delivery of some yummy take away and sit somewhere in the hospital and have a meal and chat

Suggestion #4. Make them feel at home/comfortable
When I am in hospital for long periods of time I quickly become homesick especially when home is so far away. For me I have some things with me that makes me feel comfortable and a bit at home which are some cushions/cuddle pillows (I can't sleep without cuddling up to these cushions) and also have my Redkite blanket with me.

These are some things that I find brings me comfort but others might find comfort in having a photo on their bedside of their family.

Solutions:
A reader suggested after reading this post, that if they have pets it can help with their recovery and feeling more at home if you brought their pets in for a visit. There might be a garden or somewhere close by that you can sit at, and if you can't walk far you might be able to be wheeled out in a wheelchair. She went on to say a visit from her fur babies really helped her in her recovery.

Suggestion #5. Respect their privacy
When you're in hospital you can feel vulnerable and often feel like you have lost dignity. But when you are visiting a loved one it is important to be mindful and respectful of how they might be feeling and to not make them feel worse.

Don't take a photo of them without their consent, and especially don't go posting that photo on social media.

Another thing you shouldn't do is share things they have told you in private or that the doctors may have said without their permission, this goes for social media. I know that your first instinct is that you want to update people on their condition but don't give out the specific and private details of the ordeal, not everyone needs to know the specifics. And if they share an image with you, don't text/send that image out to your contacts. It can be rather upsetting when they find out to know that things about their life/recovery have been shared without their permission.

Suggestion #6. Offer to do their laundry
If you are really wanting to offer support and help while they are in hospital, offering to wash their dirty clothes can be a huge help. But you need to be prepared that some of those articles of clothing might be dirty or soiled. It might be embarrassing for the patient to accept you washing their clothes especially their delicates, and it is important that you make them feel comfortable and not embarrassed about the state of their clothes, as they might be a little anxious about handing over their PJ pants that became soiled after a bag leak.

If you do end up washing their clothes, and if their clothes are rather dirty and soiled or stained, it is not your place to tell others in a gossip sort of way as it would be humiliating and tarnish any chances of the person asking/accepting help again.

While these are just a few suggestions I know the list could be longer. So if you have a suggestion that you think would help others comment below and let me know. I would love to hear your ideas of what makes you feel more supported when in hospital.

Posted by: Talya AT 05:57 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, February 04 2016

NB: Some images of my stoma and ulcer might be confronting, proceed with caution view at your own risk

For the past month I have been dealing with a new challenge in relation to my stoma.... not that changing my stoma bag isn't enough of a challenge but I have had to deal with an ulcer that had formed mere centimetres from my stoma and required a lot of attention.

I was in hospital early January (the day after New Years) with an infected portacath, and I did a bag change before I went off to surgery and there was this giant ulcer which just more or less appeared near my stoma.

Boy was it sore!

It was fairly deep and over the first week or two was painful to touch but thankfully 5 weeks later, the ulcer has almost fully healed.

But it was certainly confronting and I learnt some new techniques and products (which have become a lifesaver).

I also owe a lot of thanks to my stoma nurse, without her advice and knowledge I would not have known what to do, and luckily she has had plenty of experiences with ulcers near stomas and knew what to do.

I don't want you to feel alarmed or worried that you too will get an ulcer, mine just happened to be caused from a necrotic tumour that is dying and causing an infection under my skin, and that infection was trying to break out to the surface and the pressure formed an ulcer. I hope you aren't unlucky and don't endure this, but hopefully I can share my experience and tips that might help you too.

Some of the products I recently learnt how to use and some application tips:

#1 - Prontosan
This was introduced by my stoma nurse and she gave me a bottle of prontosan to use for when she came to my house for a home visit and stoma bag and wound care change. It is a solution that is great for wound irrigation and has an anti-bacterial property that helps your wounds to heal. It doesn't sting either.

Application: We soaked some cloth in the solution and then placed the saturated cloth over the wound for around 5 minutes, letting it soak in

#2 - Kaltostat
This is a wound dressing that is known for helping to inhibit heamostasis (the body's process to stop bleeding).

Application: A small piece was cut to the size of the ulcer, initially there were two pieces layered on top of one another then as the wound began healing only one piece/layer of dressing was required.

#3 - Coloplast stoma paste
I haven't used stoma paste before, but as we really needed to ensure there was protection of the wound from my stoma output the paste was used to form an added barrier.

Application: Squeeze out some of the paste over the dressing so that it is a line going over it. Using a cotton bud that has been wet, spread the paste out so that it covers the Kaltostat and has formed an extra barrier. It is best to wet the cotton bud to prevent the paste sticking to it and helps the spread of the paste easier.

#4 - Eakin Cohesive seals
I hadn't used these seals until recently, and I love that the seals are big and round and provide a lot of added protection to your stoma and the skin around your stoma.

Application: With these seals you can stretch out the inner circle (looks like a donut) to the size of your stoma. You simply place it over your stoma and press down so that it adheres to your skin. I found this helped to provide an added barrier between my stoma and my wound. You can also cut a line and then wrap the cohesive seal around your stoma and cut a piece from a new cohesive seal if you don't want to stretch it out and want it to be more sturdier.

-----> Now I applied my stoma bag and secured it with the elastic tape seals and now I was ready to face the world

If you're in Australia, these products (minus the prontosan and kaltostat) can be ordered through your ostomy association if you need some assistance be sure to ask your stoma nurse.

I highly suggest if you do get an ulcer or experience skin breakdown near your stoma that you seek the help and advice from your nurse or doctors. My blog is merely a sharing of my experience and tips and I am not a healthcare professional.

Images:

    
Left: stoma and ulcer first day it was discovered approx 2cm. Right: Two days after it was discovered approx 3cm

 
Left: week 4 slowly healing over. Right: it is almost all healed (week 5)

Posted by: Talya AT 11:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, December 27 2015

Late last year, I decided that I would organise a fundraiser event for a charity I have been personally involved with the past 3 years. This charity is called Canteen and they help support young people (like myself and my siblings) who live with cancer in our lives.

We first became members back in 2012 after the loss of our dad to cancer, and they have been a huge support to me while I have been on my own cancer journey. So I wanted to do something to show my appreciation and have a bit of fun, and that was to host a Halloween themed high tea!

The turn out was great, so many dressed up and we raised a total of $1200!

To the attending guests they thought the event ran smoothly, but for me I realised so many things I could have done differently and I thought I would share these with you all. To see the full page of the event sponsors and images courtesy of the professional photographer who donated his time to run our photo booth, click here now.

10 mistakes to avoid when hosting a fundraising event


One of the decorated tables, the venue loaned me their candelabras for the event use

#1. Give yourself plenty of time to organise it
I only decided less than 4 weeks before the event took place that I was going to organise it. It was rather stressful trying to secure a venue, organise ticket sales, promote the event, organise donations and the works. If I were to host another event I would start organising at least 4-6 months ahead of time to allow for plenty of publicity and support to be engaged.

#2. Have a committee or team to help you
If it weren't for a couple of friends stepping forward to help me, I know my event wouldn't of been the same. I was in and out of being in hospital (one of the downfalls of being chronically sick) and was still trying to organise the fundraiser. One friend had a lot of connections within the community and helped to establish a lot of the donations and support from local businesses as well as organising a stall at the local market to help sell more tickets, and my other friend helped me to also arrange donations from businesses but also was a life saver on the day helping me to set up as well as selling raffle tickets for me on the day.

If I were to do an event again I would seek out those who want to help and delegate to them a job/task they can do and have regular meetings just so everyone can touch base with how they are going and hear how the event is coming along so far.

#3. Always have an authority to fundraise from the charity
This one is a given, and while I had the authority to fundraise from the start of organising the event, it is something I wanted to add here as it is crucial to your event. Not only does the authority to fundraise add legitimacy to your event, but it also shows that you are authorised to act on behalf of the charity to collect goods and is a legal requirement.

I gave a copy to each of my friends that helped me to arrange donations as well as having a copy available when I did the market stall to promote the event.


The lolly buffet.. was a HUGE hit

#4. Make sure your phone is charged
On the day when I left the venue an hour before it started, my phone was fully charged. Then half way through the event my phone died and I had no charger and it made life rather difficult as I had things stored on my phone that was imperitive to the afternoon running smoothly! I wasn't expecting so many people to get lost and ring me requiring directions. Next time I will bring a phone charger as back up, but importantly would have everything I need in a hard copy.

#5. Get an MC
While I am no public speaker and I felt rather intimitated standing up being the MC for the event, it was also rather difficult to host the event be the MC as well as doing the errands I needed to do... all at the same time! I think next time I would enlist the help of someone to specifically be the MC to help the event run smoothly and allow me to focus my attention on the running of the event.

#6. Time management
I didn't anticipate how fast time flies by when you're having fun, and the event ended up going over by an additional 30-45 minutes! A big part of it was my phone dying and having to think on my feet what I could do to replace the lost technology, and also trying to MC as well as running the event. But even time management leading up to the event is important as I was up all hours the night before finalising things and all the morning in the lead up to the event too, which made me run late and not on time. So time management is a must!

#7. Find monetary sponsors for the event
If there is a business that is unable to donate goods towards a raffle or auction item, ask if they might like to sponsor the event with money to help you cover running costs. I didn't think of this until after the event and ended up using $500 of my own money to ensure the event ran smoothly. This was things like the photo booth props and backdrop, the lolly buffet, the jars for the lolly buffet, the bags for the goody bags, printing of the tickets, printing of signage/shirts/flyers to promote the event, decorations for the event and more!

#8. Don't forget to thank your sponsors or supporters
I wanted to do something fun but simple to show my support to those who helped out the event, and I did this by designing a postcard that said "thanks a latte for your support" and it was an image of a takeaway coffee cup with a cuppacino sticking out top, with a message on the reverse saying how appreciative I was of their donation or support and let them know that $1200 was raised. These were handed out in person where possible as well as posted out.

 
These are my cup of thanks I gifted to the sponsors

#9. Get the support of local media behind your event
If you plan early enough you might be able to get a story run in your local paper to help boost ticket sales. I wished I had of gotten a story in the paper but I was lucky to get an editorial mention in a local magazine as well as in the upcoming events section of the local newspaper. But if your event has a special meaning behind you organising it than by all means sell your why behind the event in hopes of getting media attention. My "why" was because of being a Canteen member myself I know firsthand the benefits of the programs and rec days and counselling provided, canteen have helped me so much on my own journey I only wanted to try and give back.


The media editorial mention

#10. To save costs do as much DIY as possible, trust me it can still look awesome!
I wanted to add my own touch on the event so I purchased plain calico drawstring bags (like santa sacks) and with the enlisted help of my teen sisters we painted stenciled images (I also cut and designed myself) onto each bag. These turned out pretty cool and were fun to do.

I also made the trophy to be awarded to the best dressed, which I found some plastic couldrons and plastic mouldable skeletons and created a funky trophy.

I also used the plastic cauldrons to make little gifts of lollies for those who would win the group trivia games.

So if you're wanting to host a fundraising event, I highly recommend it! I still have people telling me over a year later how much fun they had and even on the day I had people asking when the next event would be held. I had hoped to run it again this year as an annual thing but I have been too sick to do it this year and especially undergoing chemo it was just too much pressure I was putting on myself and hope that one day when my health returns and I am in a better position I will host an event again.

 

 
Posted by: Talya AT 01:18 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, November 17 2015

Recently, my 18 year old brother graduated from year 12 and in the lead up to his final year 12 exams I gave him a piece of advice that I wish someone had of told me when I was undergoing my HSC in 2008.

I told my brother that no matter what his final marks were, that they didn't dictate his future or his ability to succeed. I told him that I loved him and all I expect is that he do his best and be happy with how hard he worked.

I wished someone had of told me that I was worth something even if I didn't get that perfect 83 that I wanted... or that someone told me that I wasn't a failure because I didn't get that mark. I felt so much pressure to get the perfect grades and that if I didn't go to university my life wouldn't amount to much without that university degree and a huge debt.


Me in my senior years of school

While my HSC marks were great (lowest exam mark was a 79 for Extension History *cough* nerd *cough*) because of my grade my university admission mark was only a 55.5, which I only JUST scraped into uni for Nursing (which I had to cease studying due to health reasons) but I until recently have felt like a failure because I am 24 and have no solid career or university degree.

But it took me telling my brother that his life won't be over if he doesn't get into uni, to realise that my life was never over when I didn't get into the course I wanted or because I didn't finish that university degree.. instead I have had a pretty interesting life the last few years and I have done my best to grab life by the metaphorical balls and to make the most of it.

I am a big believer that when one door closes another door opens, and that opportunities exist everywhere you just have to be looking for them!

I always wanted to have a career in health helping people and I thought that it was because I could do so through nursing. But I have since learnt that I can achieve this through my blog and writings and that I want to be a social worker and counsellor. It was through my nursing studies that I realised I was more interested in the holistic picture and the social aspect of my studies and that I can make a difference in other ways. Then I started my blog when I needed to have my bowel removed and an ileostomy, when I couldn't find ANY resources pertaining to life of a young female with a stoma, and so began Feeling Ostomistic.

This wasn't the only opportunity I have found by chance.

I know I don't talk about it a lot, being a taboo subject and all... but I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder and as my way of coping (in a healthy way) I turn to crafts and keeping my hands and in turn my mind busy so that I can distract myself... this had always been sufficient in helping me to cope. That was until I was diagnosed with FAP and dealing with my dad's terminal bowel cancer when I realised I needed something more dynamic.

So I turned my coping mechanisim of a creative outlet into a cottage enterprise Made With Love Cards And Crafts, where it quickly turned into a busy little handmade business that became respected not only around Australia but globally too (with products being sent to Ellen Degeneres!!). I had eventually gotten so many orders I had waiting lists and had to turn clients away as I just couldn't physically do all the work. But then my health got the better of me and 18 months ago I stopped taking on orders as it got too hard being in hospital. I sometimes do the occasional card for family or friends but haven't formally taken orders for a while...

But because I now had no creative outlet and was spending weeks and months in hospital, I quickly found myself feeling down and in a bad place mentally. I knew I had to find another creative outlet and venture that could be fulfilling of my creative needs, that was busy and kept me distracted, and also was mobile so that it could come to hospital with me and didn't require being made or supplies.

Then a lightbulb moment happened, and I decided to invest in myself and start Goding Consulting where I offered graphic design (logo, flyers, business cards) and assistance with setting up social media pages. This was a business that I had the skills for, and being entirely based on my computer meant it was 100% mobile and could be taken to hospital with me... 

In fact it was so mobile that it followed me to Sydney for 5 weeks during my hospital stay and RPA media called me "a hospital bed entrepreneur". I have taken a break since October 2015 to focus on my health more.

So 7 years on since my HSC my marks mean nothing to me and hasn't dictated the path I have created for myself.

My marks didn't dictate my self worth or my lack of future accomplishments, it just made me determined to look for my own opportunities and make the most of what life gives me.

So to all those students whom like my brother are awaiting their final marks, I hope that this message helps give you perspective that there is life after year 12 and there are plenty of paths you can take... just be mindful of the opportunities that present themselves as they might not always be obvious and will need to be found... but they are out there!

 
Posted by: Talya AT 12:26 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, October 27 2015

I have spent a lot of time over the last couple of years in hospital, often my stays (90%) have been in the public hospitals as a private patient and while you don't always get a single/private room due to these being given on an availability or clinical needs basis, it often means you are needing to share a room with other people.

There are two types of shared rooms in a hospital, there is twin share meaning there is one other person in your room or their is a 4 share room meaning you are sharing a room with 3 other people whom should be of the same sex as you.

I just got home from a 12 day stay in hospital and it reminded me of this post I started writing earlier in the year after having had spent 5 weeks in RPA and it was a horrible time mostly because I feel that others don't quite know or understand the etiquette that should be practiced when sharing a space with others... mostly it comes down to being respectful, but I will share some etiquette that should be followed (and if you have your own feel free to comment below).

Hospital etiquette when sharing a room in a public hospital

#1. It is not the time or place to LEARN how to play the ukulele
This legit happened, I was in RPA sharing a room with someone for the entire 5 week stay and in around week 2 she purchased a used ukulele downstairs at the flea market and decided that now was the perfect time to learn how to play. This involved trying to tune it, playing youtube videos over and over and over and attempting (I use that word lightly) to play.

It not only was annoying, but I don't think this is the place for it when you're in a hospital which is a place of rest to be playing or learning an instrument.

#2. Use headphones
I know that when some people are in the comfort of their own home that they might like to play their music or movies from their laptop at a loud volume, that you shouldn't do the same in hospital.

By all means bring your laptop to listen to music or watch movies to entertain yourself, I know I do, But I ALWAYS wear my headphones as to not disrupt or be disrepectful to others in my room.

#3. Rest periods mean rest periods
This means that your visitors should be mindful of the times and leave for the hour or two hour break. It also means this is not the perfect time to watch your TV loudly or have conversations on your mobile.

While you yourself might not be tired, your room-mates might be feeling exhausted from having had visitors themselves, or they might be wanting to use the time to rest and recoup with a nap before the evening.

But the rest period is also a chance that the Nurses or Doctors can do dressing changes or consults without interrupting your visitors and give you some privacy.

#4. Privacy
This one should be a given, but not everyone might be as social as you or might just be wanting some privacy. If a patient has their curtains fully closed it might mean that they want some privacy and are not wanting to chat, but it could also mean that want their own space.

When I was in RPA earlier in the year, I felt my personality clashed with my room-mate and she just couldn't understand no matter how many times I or the nurses told her that I wanted my privacy. Yet she would continually walk in through my curtains and sit on my bed and talk to me. Or this one time she picked up my hand and tried doing a palm reading and I asked her to stop and go away but she didn't understand boundaries.

It also is important to be mindful that when a doctor is visiting a patient (as hard as it is) to not eavesdrop on their converstation and if you are please do not talk over the doctors and interrupt the conversation with your opinion. I was told I had thyroid cancer during that hospital admission and I was so upset from the news and my room-mate was talking over the doctor telling me "stop crying, get over it and her life is so much worse than mine" (no joke that was what she said). Thankfully my doctor spoke back and asked her to mind her own business and that I had every right to be upset.

It is important to remember that others value their privacy.

#5. Being in hospital isn't the time for a get-together
I know it isn't a given rule that you shouldn't have 10 people visiting at the same time that it should only be 3 at a time, remembering that those whom you're sharing a room with might be having visitors as well and if there is say 30+ people in the room it can become rather noisy and crowded and disrupting.

I know when my whole family (there is 10 of us) come and visit I walked (or was pushed in a wheelchair) to a more private part of the hospital where there were lounges and a place to sit. We even sat outside in the courtyard to talk and catch up, as I didn't want to disturb my room-mates as I know how annoying it is when someone has 10 visitors at once.

#6. Try not to be so negative
It has been spoken about a lot (and I did a research paper on this at uni when I was studying Nursing) that negativity can be rather toxic on your body and those around you. If you are someone that is constantly negative and wallows in self pity and enjoys throwing a pity party, this can soon become toxic and make those around you feeling down as well.

They say positivity is contagious, and I know when I am around negative people I feel so much worse as I am a bright and bubbly person and I am someone who will always see the positive side to things. I live by the mantra (thanks to my ever so wise dad) that "No matter what happens today the sun will always come up tomorrow".

#7. Do not talk about others behind their backs
This happened when I was in a local hospital earlier in the year, I went to the toilet and this guy and a girl I shared a room with (who were truly horrible people) thought that I had left the room completely and that it was the perfect time to gossip about me. (Ironically it was the same room and same bed that I had just been in the last 12 days)

I heard one (the guy) say to the lady "so what is her issue other than being fat. Gees has no one told her she needs to lose weight".

I walked as quickly out of the toilet as you can when you're wheeling the drip pole, and I lost it. I don't normally lose it but these people had it coming! I told them how dare they think it was okay to be so judgemental when they not only didn't know me or my story but to think it is okay to gossip about someone so loudly when they are in the room.

They replied "we will just wait till she leaves to continue gossiping". I ended up walking to the nurses station crying asking to be moved either to a new bed/room or to the private hospital as I shouldn't have to put up with that shit. Besides I was in there for pancreatitis and stress makes it even worse.

---------------------------------------------------

While this is just a short list of etiquette practices that should be followed when  staying in hospital and sharing a room, it is important to remember to treat others as though you would like to be treated and it should just be common courtesy to be mindful of your surroundings and respectful of other's right to quiet and privacy.

If you have had a bad experience when sharing a room, feel free to comment below.

 

 
Posted by: Talya AT 06:40 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, October 08 2015

October over the recent years has become known as the 'pink month' a month dedicated to the sole purpose of raising awareness of breast cancer but also to encourage women young and old to take charge of their health and become more breast aware.

It wasn't until a breast cancer scare earlier this year that I realised I needed to be more aware of my breasts (even though they're so in my face I can't not know they're there) but more be more aware of the changes and dangers going on inside.

In February I had my routine pet scan which my thyroid, breast and stomach lit up on the screen. I was told that there is something suspicious going on in my breast (left) and that I needed to have it checked out.

The following week I was admitted into hospital to undergo a bunch of routine investigations into my breast, thyroid and armpit. First I had the ultrasounds done on my thyroid and breast and stomach, which were followed by fine needle biopsies done of my thyroid, stomach and breast.

The breast biopsies were inconclusive, so I was scheduled for core needle biopsies, a mammogram, another biopsy this time putting in metal clips as identifying markers, another mammogram, then a CT scan a few days later.


My left breast after several biopsies and core needle biopsy... ouchies!

Thankfully my breast wasn't cancerous and I am monitoring it every few months for changes, and while I am lucky that the changes going on in my breast were detected early, there are thousands of Australian women who aren't as lucky.

Did you know that in Australia 1 in 8 women will have breast cancer by the age of 85? Breast cancer is up there with bowel cancer as the leading cause of death among women (according to the ABS).

So I am wanting to raise awareness of breast cancer this month and also as a unique way of celebrating 200 likes on Facebook (thank you all for the support), I decided I would set a little challenge!

If you head over to my facebook page by clicking here, you will find an album of 10 FREE fb awareness covers for you to download, save and upload, these you can see below.


But there is a catch....

As I have created these awareness covers for you to use for FREE, I ask that you join me on a challenge I have set for this month...

#1. I ask that you become more breast aware this month by giving yourself a thorough check of your breast and armpits for any lumps of noticable changes. If you're eligible to visit the breast van for screening, look into making your appointment. You can also speak with your GP about having a breast aware check done.

#2. If you happen to see any fundraising being done this month for breast cancer awareness, even if it is only $2 please donate and support the cause!

So... will you join me this month towards being more breast aware?

Not sure what involves a breast mammogram, biopsy or breast ultrasound? Stay tuned for these posts coming soon!

 
Posted by: Talya AT 02:07 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, October 05 2015

NB: This is a Sponsored Post

For most of the families or couples I know, live on a budget and it is often paycheck to paycheck. I know this is the case for my husband and I aswell.

It wasn't until my husband lost his job in 2012 (when his employer went into administration) and at the same time my hours had been reduced from 24 contracted hours weekly to 4 (unless I picked up extra shifts), so I had to learn quick smart a) how to budget, b) how to make the money we have from each pay count and c) how can we manage when there is more money going out than coming in.

Up until this point, I had never created a budget. But once I had, I saw how much EASIER it made managing the bills, and three years on I am still finding the success it has helped us to better manage our finances.

I wrote a list (table) of all the money that we had coming in, and all of the money that needs to go out on bills and also allowing for food. Because of how tight things were I didn't allow for things like shopping, movies, going out for dinner or date nights as these were 'luxury expenses'.

My expense list looked something like this: (NB: this is an example only)

Then there were the yearly bills like car registration and CTP Greenslip (so roughly $1000 annually) which I put $20 a week away into a seperate savings account so that we had the money there when we needed to register the car. 

Up until the last month, I have been paying the same amount in bills as I had done 3 years ago. But it got me thinking that IF I reviewed my current bills what potential savings could I find?

Reviewing the mobile phone plans:
The first thing I reviewed was my current mobile plan. I thought years ago (when I worked at a local Telstra Business Centre) that the best plans for value were the ones for business customers, so the last however many years I have been paying a lot when I was barely getting any value.  And being in the country, I needed to have the best mobile coverage so it kept me loyal to telstra.

Turns out, if I went back to being on a consumer only plan I can be paying less a month with unlimited calls, unlimited SMS and a whopping 6 GB of data (considering I went over my previous 1GB allocation each month, this was exciting). I also was given 25GB as bonus data during my first month and I could also get an iPhone 6 for less than I was paying previously!

With this new plan, it also meant that if my husband transferred his phone account into my name, and if it were on the same bill as mine he could drop down to a $50 a month plan with 2.5GB of data (when added to my data we now have 8.5GB to use each month) and he gets $1000 in call allowance too.
We saved $50 a month in my husband's plan alone, and $60 a month in mine so $110 a month in total!

Reviewing your bank accounts:
I have found before from my own personal experience and from working in a bank, that it is good practice to review your loans and bank accounts at least annually, as circumstances change it is important to ensure that the loan and products are still working the best that they can for you especially as the interest rates are always changing.

I recently reviewed our Personal Loan we took out when we purchased our car, and found that the current interest rate we have is almost 3% lower than the current rate offered.

However, while we haven't saved any money from reviewing the loan we are in the process of hoping to buy our first house and have plans to incorporate that loan into our mortgage, which will mean we save $135 each week

It is also important to give your loans a health check to make sure that you are still covered with the protection side of things, not only does it offer peace of mind if you were to become sick, to lose your job or pass away, that if you're eligible for the protection it is worthwhile having. I know I had to use the insurance side of my loan and credit card when my husband lost his job and the payments were covered for 3 months. Going off of our loan, that was a saving of $135 a week or $1620 in total that was then able to be used towards other bills.

Credit Cards and Balance transfers:
I know how hard it can be to fall into the trap of having a large credit card debt, and no matter how much you're paying in repayments each month it still feels like you're being killed by the bank's interest rates!

I have learnt over the years how to save money on your credit card, and more importantly how to make your credit card work for the best for you. (keeping in mind that advice is general based on my own experience and you should always consult financial advice and read the Product disclosure statements)


With the Credit cards, sometimes it can feel like you can never get in front of the repayments, and when times have been tough I had a balance transfer of our credit card and it helped us save so much money! The benefit of the balance transfers is usually the banks offer a promotional period say 12 months where they won't charge you interest on balance transfers during that period.

We did this on our bankwest credit card for $5000, and we were able to budget and pay it off in a whole year! We set a minimum of $50 a week payment and if there were weeks where we had the $100, we would pay that amount.

By doing a bank transfer we were able to save ourselves paying 19% interest p.a on the credit card, and it means that we now saved ourselves approx. $915 p.a in interest!

Reviewing our Home insurance:
A few months back, I was speaking to a friend about "adult things" which included talking about insurances and stuff. She told me that she was paying almost HALF of what I am paying, and she was the same age just different suburbs.

I always put down the fact that our insurances cost more than my friends was that it apparantly "floods" and a "high crime area", so I never thought anything more of it.

So I started to shop around and get quotes, and while I found a few that were happy to offer a cheaper rate it came at the risk of "due to the known risk of flooding, we will insure your property excluding flood". Knowing my luck (since I am not THE MOST LUCKIEST person that it would flood).

So I went back to our existing insurer whom we were currently paying $3000 a year in premiums, and said we were looking at going elsewhere unless they could help us with a better quote.

They came back and said as we were only renting we could have just contents insurance. Imagine my surprise when it came in at only $612 a year! That was less than $60 a month and less than $15 a week! We were paying $250 a month before or $60 a week!
So we saved ourselves over $2300 a year!!

Reviewing our Private Health Insurance:
I know in the past when things have been a little tight, my private health insurance (along with my car and home insurance) were some of the expenditures I was willing to let go. Not because I felt I didn't NEED them, because I did but because it was an expense I couldn't justify between meaning if we have insurance for this week or if we ate food this week.

There was no doubt the struggle was (and for many) real, and I know how important it is for your money to be spent in the best way possible for yourself and your family.

One thing I recently learnt, was that I needed to review my Private Health Insurance more regularly than every 5 years!

I have been with my current provider for going on 5 years, and I thought I was happy with the cover being top hospital and no extra's and that I thought at $70 a fortnight I was getting a great deal.. I was happy until a couple of recent circumstances where 1) they would only cover my chemotherapy IF the drug was on the PBS, and 2) they no longer cover aneasthetics and I had a $1000 bill from the aneathetists for putting in my port. After speaking with the aneathetists secretary she explained that my health fund WAS the only fund they have to charge to the client.

So I was on a mission and enquired through Health Insurance comparison with the type of cover I have now and what I pay, and wanted to find out if there were comparative policies that:
1. covered aneathetiscs
2. was top hospital cover and covered surgeries
3. Had a partnership with the hospitals I frequent
4. Included ambulance cover

The consultant was SO helpful and talked me through my existing policy and comparing policies that were better.

He came back with a plan through AHM that was $3 less a fortnight, included extras like optical/dental/chiro/physio/remedial massage. Or if I wanted just the extras for my husband it was only an extra $10 a fortnight of what I am paying now!

Not only has Health Insurance Comparison helped me to save a lot of money such as $1000 aneathetists bill for 1 hour for admissions I needed it... and if it were based on my surgeries this year it could be over $20,000 a year it helps me to save! PLUS the rebates with extras like dental and optical too!

Hot tip: If you are done having children and no longer require having pregnancy or birth related inclusions, remove these from your policy and you will already be saving!

Thank you Health Insurance Comparison for such a seamless process to help compare the right health insurances for myself, and for helping me to save money on future surgeries. Don't forget to compare, save and go in the draw to win a year's health insurance for free!

So while you might feel loyalty to a particular company, you also need to feel loyal to your wallets and if you can shop around and find a better deal on other areas of your financial spending (power/gas/phone/internet/loans) you can afford to go on that nice holiday, or better yet buy that pair of shoes you WANT but probably really don't need...

or better yet... do what I am doing and using all of the savings and money you would otherwise have spent on bills towards purchasing your first home!

Thank you for reading my 5 top things to review when you're living on a budget to help save yourself a lot of moolah!

Posted by: Talya AT 06:18 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, October 05 2015

NB: This is a sponsored post

Sometimes in life, things happen that can be unexpected and often out of our control. But if we are prepared and have a contingency plan in place, it can help us to navigate through those difficult times with a bit more ease.

A contingency plan, is a plan that is designed to be implemented during a future event or circumstance. A contingency plan is also sometimes referred to as a back up plan or a risk management plan.

In my life, I have several of these risk management plans that I have shared with those that it most affects, and in each of these plans it explains in detail the steps that need to be taken.

Some contingency plans you might have (or need) in your life may include:

1. A will
This is probably (in my honest opinion) one of THE.MOST.IMPORTANT  risk management plans you can have in place. A will not only explains your wishes for your belongings and assets, but also can be important if you have young children to detail whom you wish to care for them in your absence.

If you have a blog or an online business (digital assests), there is also now an added clause that allows you to explain what is to happen to these when you die. You may wish to have your social media accounts closed, or request to have these left open as a memorial; or in my case I have specific instructions regarding my blog such as the hosting is to be continued to be paid and my site is to be continued to remain active for a resource that my younger sisters or anyone needing a safe place to turn to, can still do so. I even have a blog post (unpublished) and content that is to be updated to my site when I do pass away, so that others know that there won't necessarily be someone to answer any queries directly.

But your will should be updated every 2-5 years, as life happens and circumstances change, it is important that these are reflected in your will.

2. A funeral plan
You might have specific instructions in your will on where you want to be buried or cremated, or how you wish to pay for your funeral, or you might have been super prepared and met with a funeral home and have your funeral already pre-paid and planned out so that when you did pass away your family were able to grieve and be there for each other as opposed to making funeral arrangements.

I know that talking about your funeral wishes can be rather morbid, personal, upsetting and confronting to our family and friends, but it might help you feel at ease when times are tough and you are battling some serious health obstacles that you know your wishes are known.

For me, I know this is something I have done, and it was really hard being only 24, but the reality that I am faced with is one that is uncertain and I know when the going gets tough that this is a plan that might need to be actioned.

I have told my husband (and have it in writing and in my will) that I am to donate my body to science due to my rare disease and progression of said disease so that they can use my body and tumours to study and hopefully I can be part of a cure moving forward. I wish for my remains that aren't needed to be cremated, and for a joyful ceremony to be conducted at the botanical gardens where everyone is to wear bright and happy colours, and where it will be a celebration (a memorial service as you will) rather than a saddened atmosphere.... after all, I am a happy and bubbly person!

Up until I got sick, I had always wanted to be an organ donor. But knowing now that my organs and body parts wouldn't be able to be used by another I decided instead to donate my body to the organisations studying my disease and making a cure.

3. How you will pay your mortgage and bills if you were to lose your job?
When you take out a loan, credit card or mortgage you will be asked if you wish to take up loan protection. A lot of people are reluctant as they see it as an additional expense, and in truth we think that our jobs are secure and we are safe.

The reality is that you can never be too safe or secure in a job, and from my own personal experience it is something I realised was important to have in place.

My husband and I had always had protection on our loans in case we got sick or lost our jobs and was arranged through our loan provider. We had this for one of our car loan. Then in early 2012, I found ourselves applying for a quick fix finance loan for $15k to consolidate a couple of credit cards and a loan I had to take out to pay for my colonoscopy (which was $5k). 

My husband and I thought we were safe in our jobs, he had been working for a national company for 5 years and I working for a bank for the past 18 months. We were on really good incomes and planned to only have this loan for a couple of months so we could pay it in one loan and have a bit more breathing room. Because we only planned on having it temporarily we declined the loan protection.. our interest rate was 40% so we knew it needed to be paid quick smart.

Three days later, I was told my contracted hours were being reduced from 24 to 4 a week due to the bank doing a massive job cull and reshuffle and there wasn't the hours there.... it was okay, I knew we would be fine as we still had my husband's job...

The next day we got a phone call saying his employer had gone into administration and that they were closing in a month.

HOLY CRAP!  We now had $15k of debt that wasn't covered and we had no idea how we could make the repayments at 40% interest... we regretted the decision 4 days earlier to decline that loan protection.

Lesson learnt, never be unprepared again! I have since made sure that our loans, credit cards are covered and that my husband has income protection through his life insurance, which our friends over at Life Insurance Comparison can also help with!

4. What were to happen if you were no longer able to care for yourself and you needed to move into a residential facility or home?
I know we often don't like to think of what will happen when we get older, or what were to happen if we were to become permantly incapacitated, but this is a plan we should certainly talk to our family about and express our wishes while we still can.

While we might want to always stay living our life out in the home we love surrounded by family, this might not always be as easy as we wish. If there is round-the-clock medical care we need this can become rather expensive to organise to happen in your home and it might be easier on ourselves, our family and our carers if we were to live in a residential facility where we had the help and support we need.

It is also important to consider the safety aspect, will this be safer for me as a long term plan? And the finance side of things needs to be discussed to, whether you can afford it or how you plan on paying it. This could be something you incorporate into your retirement plan to accomodate for additional later-in-life medical costs.

5. How will you or your family survive if you became sick and unable to work or if you unexpectedly passed away?
I decided it was best to leave the most important contingency plan for last, which is of course, talking about our life insurance.

We protect our homes in the event of flood/theft or fire, and we protect our cars in the event of a crash, but surprisingly we often don't think about insuring number #1 (ourselves).  I know I thought of insuring my husband before I decided to insure myself, which by the point I enquired I was 19, recently diagnosed with FAP and was told that if I "got to 40 without cancer and had a total colectomy, I could then be insured".

I always assumed that life insurance was only of benefit when we died to help pay for things like our mortgage or help support our families.

But DID YOU KNOW that you can access insurance if you were to become sick or disabled? Well it can! Our friends over at Life Insurance Comparison, helped to explain in a guest post for us how Life insurance can help you while you're alive and when you become ill or disabled. I really reccommend having a read, as I know I (and a lot of my readers) found it rather valuable and learnt something new about the importance of insurance and how it can help them!

This post was sponsored by:

 

Posted by: Talya AT 12:53 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, October 03 2015


Today is World Ostomy Day, a day celebrated worldwide through a social campaign "Many stories, One voice" and using the hashtag #MyOstomyStory.

I first joined the ostomate club back in May 8th 2013 after a 6+ hour operation to remove my large bowel, most of my rectum and to have my permanent ileostomy formed. It was probably one of the hardest decisions I have had to make, I was only 21 when I was told my bowel was showing early signs of turning cancerous and that I only had mere months to have it removed before it had fully turned and spread, which by the point of the surgery I had just turned 22 (read my story here).

While it was hard to go into my surgery excited (or OSTOMISTIC as I put it) as I didn't know what life as a young person (especially a female) would mean after I had an ostomy, but little did I know it was one of the best decisions I could have made.

I am aware that there are many reasons people get a stoma and while these aren't always planned surgeries and can be done in an emergency situation, or that there are some that are permanent and some that are temporary, I think it is important that we celebrate ourselves and our ostomies, as I know without mine I wouldn't be here today. And for that I am eternally grateful.

So in celebration of World Ostomy Day, and for those who have or are considering having one, here are my 20 pieces of ostomy advice I have for you. If you are unsure of what a stoma/ostomy is, you can read about it here in one of my earlier posts!

Stoma tips and life-hacks:
#1. Keep Hydrated
This might be something you hear a lot, but it is so important when you have an ostomy (and even when you don't) that you keep your body hydrated at all times, especially in summer. But when you have an ostomy you are at greater risks of dehydration and dehydration can also cause fatigue. I have also been told by my stomal therapy nurses to drink an electrolyte sports drink at least once a day to help replace the salts and minerals that my body is losing. I drink a 1 litre drink of this a day plus a couple of litres of water. But I know when my body is feeling dehydrated (and especially when my output is more watery I get tired, really shakey and have no energy.
Read: my tips on avoiding a watery output

#2. Your boobs become a valuable asset
An important thing to remember when doing an ostomy bag change is that in order to get the most out of the bag and to prevent leaks you need to a) have a good seal and b) you need your bag to be sticky... so whenever I do a bag change the first thing I do is put the bag I intend to use tucked under one breast, while the seal/mouldable ring (I use coloplast mouldable rings) is placed under my other boob. I sit there for at least 5 minutes before starting the back change process so that it has time to heat the glue. Reason I use my breasts is that my stomal therapy nurse in our first consult told me "placing under your boobs is one of the warmest parts of your body and makes things more stickier". If you don't have boobs you can utilise, read the next tip.

#3. Invest in a hair dryer
In all honesty, the very first time I bought a hair dryer in all my life was the first day I was home after being in hospital from my bowel surgery, I remember sitting on the toilet naked and crying as I was about to do my 10th bag change for the day, I was sore, my skin was sore and I was like "f#$% this, I can't do this anymore". My husband kept asking "what can I do to help" and as it was middle of winter and cold I couldn't produce enough body heat to keep my bags sticking... so my husband had the best lightbulb moment ever and ran over to the supermarket and purchased the most decent looking hair dryer they had (from memory was about $20) and he plugged it in and sat there heating the bags up... they became so much more sticky! I now take my hair dryer everywhere with me!

Other tips to help make your bag more stickier can be read here!

#4. You'll find many uses for your hair dryer
Apart from your hair dryer being used to make your bags more stickier, I also use mine to help dry my bag after a shower especially when I don't need to do a bag change. I am one of those people that can get a few days out of each bag so I just sit there for about 5 minutes after my shower drying my stoma bag and stomach. Also, it is great to use in winter to quickly warm up your body after a shower, I don't know about you but where I'm from it gets so cold in winter!

#5. Avoid foods that cause blockages
One thing you really don't want when you have a stoma is a blockage, trust me when it is not only painful but is rather scary. There is a list of foods that you should avoid because they don't break down or they often would in people who have all their bowel. I remember when I first had my stoma I had a craving for Hawaiian pizza (Ham and pineapple) and imagine my horror when out come pieces of pineapple whole! Same goes for peas, corn, nuts, coconut and some foods like celery and tomato also don't break down. Your stomal therapy nurse can provide you a list of foods to avoid.

#6. Avoid foods that cause winds
Foods, when you have a stoma can a bit of a nuisence whether it is foods that cause blockages (mentioned in #5) or these can cause wind. Wind, when spoken about when you have a stoma is referring to your stoma farting.. and sometimes it can be rather noisy (when you don't want to be noticed for the girl with the farting tummy), or cause your bag to fill up quickly with air (sometimes so much your bag literally pops off or explodes). Although, sometimes stoma farts can't be avoided and just happen. But my husband is so sweet, when we are in a meeting and my stomach farts and I start turning red he just makes noises or coughs to draw the attention away... what a sweet heart!

#7. Avoid drinks that cause winds
Foods aren't the only reason for wind or fart production coming from your stoma bag, what you drink also plays a big part. Foods that are fizzy and gassy or alcohol can also cause wind. I also find after I have had aneasthetic from a gastroscopy, ERCP or from other surgeries that my bag fills up with more gas too.

When out and about:
#8. Take your stoma supplies kit everywhere you go when you leave the house
This should become part of your routine, I have two stoma kits one I keep in my bathroom and the other is a smaller and discreet version I keep in my handbag. Trust me when I say that when you don't have your kit on you, you'll probably experience a bag leak. I know my worst bag leaks in public have been when I didn't have a kit on me and it was horribly noticable through my clothes. Was a horrible and traumatising experience and one that brings me to my next piece of advice...

#9. Always pack a spare change of clothes
I find if I am going to a conference where I will be gone from 8am to 6pm or when I was doing studying on campus at Uni (and can even apply for work situations), have a big day of shopping planned or spending a good part of 16 hours travelling to Sydney to see specialists and driving home, I always take a change of clothes. I at least pack one change of pants, a shirt and a pair of undies. Thankfully, I am a bit of a crazed nut when it comes to my clothes and I have 4 pairs of the same pair of jeggings and they are the most comfortable versatile pairs of pants I have ever owned, so thankfully it just looks like I change my shirt.

#10. Jeggings or any elasticised pants will become a staple in your wardrobe
I wear jeggings... there I ADMIT IT... and I am not ashamed! Thankfully my jeggings actually look like jeans and are almost as thick so you can't really tell, but I found it so uncomfortable to wear pants with zippers and buttons, as I found they always sat RIGHT.ON.MY.STOMA and when my bag would start filling up either the bag would explode and I would be left in an embarrased heap, or  it was rather uncomfortable. I love my jeggings that they are elasticised waist and can wear them up higher over my stoma and much more comfortable.

#11. Baby wipes aren't only used for babies
I know what you choose to clean your stoma comes down to personal preference, I know some prefer to buy some chux sheets and cut up to use as a rag for cleaning your stoma, or others use wet toilet paper.. but personally I prefer baby wipes for a number of reasons. Firstly, they come in handy travel packs that can fit in your handbag; secondly, they are always wet and if you are out and about and don't always have access to water it is handy; thirdly, I am sensitive to how things feel on my skin and find baby wipes are much smoother where I find cloth rags are rough and scratchy. I use huggies shea butter baby wipes and have for years. I also sometimes (when at home) sit the wipes in a small container of warm water to remove a lot of the chemicals and to water it down. But most of the time I don't bother.

Stoma kit advice:
#12. Add scented garbage bags into your stoma kit
For the first couple of bag changes I was relying on using plasic shoppings bags to dispose of my stoma bag, and my husband wanted to try something when shopping one day and found these scented garbage bags that are small in size, and not only do these help to mask the smell of the contents of the bag when doing a bag change, but if you happen to be somewhere that there isn't an immediate place to dispose of in the bin and need to carry it in your handbag, it is discreet and you won't smell it. Just double bag it to ensure one layer doesn't pierce and the contents goes through your handbag.

#13. Invest in some sort of room spray
Have you ever emptied your bag when you're in a public rest room, and you feel so embarrassed by the smell coming from your cubicle that you hide and hope no one realises it was you when you emerge from the change room? Well if you have, you're not alone. So many times I was left feeling embarrassed that things were a bit too smelly and spraying toilet spray (if you're carrying a whole can around in your handbag) can not only be bulky but just as noisy... so I have the perfect pocket sized solution for you that was given to me as a Christmas gift last year, it is a thing called Room spray by scentsy and I have it in my handbag and in my stoma kit and promise there is no more embarrassing moments in public toilets! You can read my review of it here!

#14. Always have at least 3 of each item on hand in your portable kit
I have developed a bit of a rule when it comes to my stoma kit that I have with me in my handbag, is that I have at least 3 quantity of each item in my supply kit (excluding my scissors, stoma powder). So I have three stoma bags (in case I have more than 1 leak or accidentaly pierce a hole when cutting out the hole), I have a handful of adhesive wipes and barrier wipes, a handful of the brava elastic tape (banana wafers I call them), 3 mouldable rings and at least 6 of the scented garbage bags (in case I need to double bag, or a bag gets a hole in it). Here is a guide and checklist I wrote for when packing for a holiday with a stoma!

Storing your supplies at home:
#15. Have a cupboard within a reach of your toilet
I learnt very early on, how much of a hassle it is when you need to do a bag change and you're stuck sitting on the toilet home alone and can't reach your supplies. I was lucky that I have a large bathroom which could perfectly accomodate a cabinet that fits in between the toilet and the shower, which I have filled with stoma supplies. It also acts as a bench/table for me to lay out my supplies I need to use too. And to the untrained eye, guests just think it is a towel cupboard! But I do know not everyone can have a bathroom that is as accomodating, so you could look into getting a portable trolley with shelf space underneath and a flat table like top and you can wheel it into the bathroom when you need to use it, and when it's not in use you can store in the linen cupboard or wardrobe etc.

#16. Never wait until you're on the last handful or box of supplies before you re-order
Postage can always be unpredictable here in Australia, so I find it is always best to have a buffer when you need to re-order your next order of supplies. I find once you are almost at the last box to order your supplies that way you can allow for any delays in postage arriving, or if you have any unexpected bag leaks. 

Mental preparedness and a stoma:
#17. When doing a bag change play some music
I know sometimes I get rather flustered or overwhelmed when doing a bag change and especially found this was the case when I first had my surgery. I now have it as a part of my bag change routine that I have some music playing in the background which helps me to feel calm. Others might find that by playing a movie or tv show on their ipad/TV can be a pleasant distraction too.

#18. For me, my life truly began when I had my stoma surgery
I know that it is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking pre-surgery that your life is over and that you won't be able to live a normal life once you have a stoma. I know I was guilty of thinking this way, but my life honestly was given back to me when I had my stoma surgery. Before my stoma, I would be house bound because I had irritable bowel and always needed a toilet near by but also that going to the toilet and eating was a very, very painful experience. I can now enjoy going places, going out to dinner eating foods I once couldn't eat and I have more freedom now. I have control back over my life and my bowel was no longer defining me or what I did in my life. Although there is the chance of bag leaks when out and about and there is more involved when you go 'number 2' these are manageble and long term think of the how much life you were missing out on!

#19. If he truly loves you, having a stoma won't matter
I know sex and a stoma are two taboo subjects, but just because you have a stoma doesn't mean you won't ever be intimate with your partner or husband ever again, and if he loves you he can look past the stoma and not make you feel insecure about having one. Just because you have a stoma doesn't mean you're no longer considered sexy or attractive, you just now have a new adaptation to your body. If you feel insecure or conscious about your stoma during intimacy, there is lacy bag covers you can wear or put a towel over your stomach. But no one if they truly love you will make you feel ashamed for having something that saved your life.

#20. You can still swim when you have a stoma
When I first had my surgery, I was a bit saddened during summer when everyone was going to the beach and enjoying the water or swimming in the pools, I was worried because I had a stoma that this wasn't for me anymore. I was worried the bag would fall off during swimming and would be humiliating, but when I eventually realised I can go swimming I was so much more happier. While I admire those who can rock a stoma and a bikini, I don't quite have the confidence yet to do so (or have a bikini body) but I feel more safer and secure wearing a one piece that has a lining in the stomach area and I feel this gives me more confidence when swimming and isn't a noticable giveaway that I have a stoma. I also love doing water aerobics and find it is much enjoyable for me having a stoma than exercising and sweating and my bag becoming unstuck. 

[end of advice]

While, I have so many more tips to share than just 20, I thought that 20 would be enough for now and to help you get some tips at your fingertips. But if you have some other stoma hacks or tips you wish to share, feel free to comment these below!

Posted by: Talya AT 09:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, August 30 2015

There is something about being chronically sick and told you're essentially "a ticking time bomb"  that really helps to put things into perspective.

When I was first diagnosed with FAP in 2010 (I was 19), I was told that I wouldn't be at risk of bowel cancer until I was 30. It made me realise just how much I wanted to do and achieve while I still could.

Then in late 2012, I found out the polyps in my bowel were turning cancerous and that I only had a matter of months to act and have all of my bowel removed. You would think that this would cause more of an alarm and prompt me to want to do a lot more with my life, but as the bowel cancer risk was removed, I naively thought that my risk of cancer would be removed and I could get on with my life..

But boy was I wrong.... My cancer journey didn't end there. In fact, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer earlier this year too which thankfully was successfully removed in April while it was still in the stage I phase, remained contained within my thyroid meaning it hadn't reached nearby neck tissues.

It wasn't until a year ago that I had this drive and motivation to want to do everything I have ever only imagined in day dreams, was re-ignited and has been a continual driving force (and distraction this past year). It made me realise that while I was content with my life and my accomplishments so far, that I didn't feel entirely happy, and I knew that there was more I wanted to do and see.

So I decided I would write a happy list, as opposed to a bucket list for one of two reasons:
1. it sounded more positive than saying bucket list
and
2. it would be a list of things I want to do, that would truly make me happy within myself.

What was the changing point for me, was when I was in hospital for pancreatitis when the doctors did a CT scan that revealed there was this new and rather large tumour and suspected it was a desmoid tumour. These types of tumours are really rare, but they can also be rather deadly and life threatening and these 'aggressive fibromatosis' can cause death.

To put it bluntly, when I was first diagnosed with FAP my doctors said that they "hope that you don't develop desmoid tumours... if it isn't the cancer from the FAP that kills you the desmoid tumours will".

So while I am only 24, I have come to terms with the fact that this condition will kill me, I just don't know when. Some doctors mentioned up to a year if the tumours continue to grow at the rate they currently are (thankfully last lost of treatment is keeping them at bay and no new growth) but others have said 5-6 years.


So it helps me to have a list of things that I want to do, that will make me happy but also offer my life more meaning. 
My 5 reasons for having a happy list as opposed to a bucket list is:

#1. Happiness
It was a no brainer that happiness be one of my reasons for wanting to have a happy list, as the word happy was in the title of it. Now, I'm not saying I'm not happy at the moment because I am but I want to be more happy.

For me a big part of my happiness has always been results driven and I am more happier when I feel like I have accomplished something, which brings me to my next point.

#2. Sense of accomplishment and fulfilment (purpose/direction)
My husband always seems to be getting cranky at my when I mention how I feel like I haven't accomplished much and want to have more of a purpose or direction of where my life is headed. The comparison thief plays a big part of this, but no matter what I do or try to do I still feel that I need to do more and often meaning bigger things.

And this has only gotten worse over the last year as there is still so much that I want to see and do and I don't know how to achieve it all. I want to die knowing that I made the most out of every day and I want others to see me as this amazing and successful person as opposed to "that girl that was really sick".

I want to be known as more than what my illness defines me as, as I am so much more than that girl that's really sick. But I also don't want my family or friends to say I was a lousy person because sometimes I was too unwell to make it to social events.

#3. Is more empowering and motivating
I find having a happy list helps me to feel more positive and optimistic about my future plans, as opposed to being depressed at the thought that I want to do things because I could die.

For me it is more empowering to see it as a positive of things I have dreamed of, and motivating to help me want to do it. I find other's are more accepting of my happy list of things to see and do as opposed to it being my bucket list.. which brings me to #4.

#4. Offers inclusion of others
Through being more positive about things I want to do and especially things that involve others (like my family and friends), I find they are wanting to join in and get excited about the activity or goal at hand, as opposed to being depressed that I am only wanting to do these things as I might die.

I also find that through having a happy list and being more positively about things that I hope this helps my family to remember the times shared and make memories with me and link these memories with happiness and fulfilment rather than sadness and loss.

#5. Works as a distraction
If I said it was easy knowing you have a chronic illness that can kill you is easy, I would be telling a major fib... and that isn't what my blog is about! Some days it can be extremely hard when I have new progression or diagnosis' or travelling the 16 hour round trip to see specialists in Sydney. Some days it can be too much and I easily feel overwhelmed, and not wanting to get out of bed to face the world.

But I find that my happy list serves as a distraction tool, and while I don't think I can ever completely forget the reality I am faced with every day, I can use my energy to focus more on the things that are important to me and that I want to see/do... and for me keeping busy is the ultimate distraction and one of the many coping mechanism I have.

Things on my happy list include (in no particular order):
☐ Being tumour free
Have confidence to be the real me and show others who I am
☐ Finishing a counselling course
Making a difference to someone's life
☐ Writing a book and telling my story
☐ Come up with a kick-ass start up idea
Win an award
☑ Have my product in a national newspaper
​☐ Travel around Australia
Have my own house
☐ Have a Japanese garden where I can escape my reality
☑ Get a kitten preferably a Ragdoll
☐ Have an office where I can be inspired to write and create
☑ Go on an all expenses paid business trip for my blogging
Do motivational speaking
☐ Be an entrepreneur and make at least $100k in one year
☐ Become a successful blogger, so successful and influential that I would be given a car (if not free, at a huge discount)
To have a family and my husband to have a child of his own 
☑ Have a celebrity receive a product you made (Ellen received one of my Santa Keys last year!!)
☐ Being there for my siblings when they need me
☐ Reaching 1 million views on my Made With Love-Cards and Crafts blog (currently at 390k)
☐ Reaching 500k views on Feeling Ostomistic (currently at 285k)
☐ Have my own magazine column
Start an online magazine
☐ Start a Not For Profit
☐ Do something newsworthy
☐ Lose a lot of weight, and be healthy enough to start exercising
☐ Become rich enough to have someone cook for me and drive me around
☐ Finish a university degree
☐ Go on a cruise
☐ Travel the Great Ocean Road (Melbourne- Adelaide)
☐ Travel to Kangaroo Island
☐ Vist Tasmania
☐ Visit the Pink lake in WA
☐ See a sunset from the West Coast
☐ Visit Coober Pedy

☐ Learn photography
☐ Meet Ellen Degeneres
☐ Have my own TV show making crafts... be the next Martha Stewart (without being in prison)
☐ Write for a big blog

I know some of these may sound over the top, and I admit they are but if you're going to dream you might as well dream big as well as being realistic... now if I could just find the next multimillion dollar idea, I will be well on my way to taking over the world (not quite literal).

So tell me, do you have a happy list and what is one thing you want to mark off your list? Feel free to comment below.

 
Posted by: Talya AT 05:50 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Monday, August 24 2015

I recently had a brain MRI as I was experiencing recurring symptoms I had when I was first diagnosed was arachnoid cysts on my brain in 2009, so as the symptoms had returned (the headaches, hearing loss and vision issues) I thought it was best to have a repeat MRI. The scan confirmed that the cysts that had been fenstrated (drained) back in 2009 had returned and were as big as they were then, and after consulting with my brain surgeon we agreed to monitor it for 6 months as this is the least of my conerns right now health wise.


My most recent MRI scan showing my brain (yes I do have one) and the cysts

So I had a reader message me after my scan, sharing that she too was going to have an MRI but she was feeling a bit concerned as she didn't know what to expect as she hadn't had one before, so she asked if I could share my experience and any tips to help her prepare.

What to expect when you need an MRI scan
& how to prepare for one in 10 easy steps!

What is an MRI machine?
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and according to Better Health Channel it is a scan used for diagnostic imaging that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to help view what is going on inside your body, but is more commonly used to look at soft tissues (such as organs, and muscles) that don't show up on an X-ray.

An MRI also takes high resolution images of soft tissues and the picture is more clearer than a CT or X-ray.

How does the proceedure work?
You will be asked to lay on the scanning bed, which moves and slides you into the MRI tunnell. Sometimes (depending on what part of the body is being scanned) they will strap down or put a cage around the area so you don't move that part of your body, reason being if you move at all the images become blurry and you may be asked to re-do your scan. When I had my brain MRI they put this cage/mask over my head and secured it to the table so I couldn't move.

Some scans can take up to an hour to complete, and the tunnel you slide into is very small and it is normal to feel a bit claustraphobic as well, but there is an intercom inside the tunnel and you're given a button to press if you need to speak to the imaging technician.

The machine is also very loud (can be compared to that of a jackhammer), so you may be given ear plugs or ear muffs to wear. Some machines also have headphones that play music.

How much does a scan cost?
As the MRI is a specialised pieces of equipment it is also very expensive to run. Depending on the reason for the scan or where you're getting the scan done at can influence the price of the scan. Medicare (is the system we have here in Australia) bulk bills in some cases, but most of the time there could be an out of pocket expense. But it is best to ask when making your appointment what costs will be involved. One MRI I had in 2009 cost $685, so it is best to check up front.

Some places may also allow you to pay the gap and charge the rest to medicare, but as I mentioned before it is best to check with medicare and the imaging place what costs will be involved.

Can anyone have an MRI?
While most people can have an MRI, it is always best to check with your doctor or the radiologist if you have any concerns. While it is considered a safe procedure, some people may not be able to have the scan if they have a pacemaker or any implant, any metal in their body (that can't be removed) or people who are pregnant. It is always best to check with your doctor though if you have any concerns.

How to prepare for an MRI in 10 steps:
#1. You will be asked to not have anything to eat or drink for at least 4-5 hours BEFORE the scan, but this can vary depending on the part of the body being scanned or the time of day. It is important that you follow the fasting guidelines to ensure the best result of your scan.
#2. Allow at least an hour for the scan, and allow for additional time involved if they are running behind schedule or if you have paperwork you need to fill out.
#3. Remove all piercings and metal from your body, if you have any internal implants or metal objects it is best to tell someone immediately BEFORE having your scan.
#4. You may be asked to remove all clothing and put on a hospital gown, this is incase there is any metal on your clothing such as your bra, studs on your jean pockets or a zipper etc.
NB: Wear comfortable loose fitting clothing that doesn't have any metal to avoid having to strip down into a hospital gown, but not all practices will let you wear your own clothing either, so always ask. But I always wear tracksuit pants and a loose t-shirt when I have any scans.
#5. Turn your mobile off or to aeroplane mode before your scan
#6. If you find yourself feeling claustraphobic in confined spaces, it is best to tell someone before your scan. They can sometimes offer a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to help you relax. Otherwise if you know how to meditate and if it helps relieve your anxiety you can practice that.
#7. If you have an iPod or phone with music on it they may be able to play this for you and you can hear it through your headphones. The machine can be really loud with a lot of banging and clicks (sounds like a jackhammer).
#8. If you don't wish to listen to music and want to try to meditate or have a nap bring a set of ear plugs.
#9. Pack some panadol if you're prone to headaches which are brought on by loud noises to offer some relief after the scan (consult with your doctor first if panadol is right for you)
#10. It can be quite cold in the scan room, so bring a pair of socks to wear on your feet to help keep you warm. You may be offered a blanket too.

ONE thing I like to do after my scan, is to go for a nice lunch or coffee with a friend. Not only does it help ease the anxiety I feel while waiting for my results to come back (can be a couple of days) it also is nice after having had starved all day prior to the scan.

These tips are based on my own experience of having multiple scans, and I am sharing to help you in the lead up to your own scan. The scan isn't invasive and no need to be scared of the scan. But it is perfectly normal to be anxious about the results, I know I usually am (especially when waiting to review my tumours).

As always, if you're needing to ask a question you can always connect with me through email or via facebook. Please remember I am no Doctor, so it is always best to consult with your physician as your first point of contact. I am only sharing my experiences on this topic.

You may also like the following topics:
* PET scan and what is involved
* CT scan and what is involved
* Thyroid biopsy and what to expect
* Breast Mammogram, biopsies and what to expect
 

p.s If you find my tips and blog helpful, please take a moment to vote for my blog in the Heritage savvy bloggers competition. With your help I (and if I win) I am starting a new support website (and app) to help other young people who live daily with a chronic illness. By taking a moment to vote not only will you be helping me to help others but I am confident that this website will change the lives of many (and if you're in Australia you could win $100). Please remember to confirm your vote via clicking the email they send (check your junk/spam too).

 
Posted by: Talya AT 06:48 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, August 23 2015

One thing that annoys me the most about having a stoma, is needing to carry around my stoma kit everywhere I go (when leaving the house, you know... to prepare for bag leaks as there is nothing more unpleasant than walking around with poo leaking everywhere... trust me) and to be honest I don't really have the room in my handbag to carry it around what with all the bricks that I must be hiding in there, because that thing weighs a ton!

So last week I went away to the Gold Coast to the ProBlogger conference and had one of those lightbulb moments where I don't know why I never thought of this before... and it was converting a toiletry bag (that is rather small) that I got for free when travelling on the Indian Pacific train into a stoma supply kit that was equipped enough to handle at least 3 bag changes....


The small toiletry bag filled with my entire kit!

Surprisingly, it fitted everything I needed from my kit including: 3x Stoma bags (really can't forget those), scissors, elastic tape (or banana stickies as I call them), 3x mouldable rings, garbage bags (scented), my scentsy room spray (a god sent trust me), stoma adhesive powder as well as the barrier/adhesive remover wipes!


All of these items surprisingly fit!

The best thing about this is that it is compact and more discreet, and is the perfect size for my handbag. It also means that it is perfect for on the go whether at school, work or shopping and if you do have to do a bag change just remember to replenish the supplies used and it is ready for the next day out.


See! Told you it all fits (if you doubted me)

I feel less embarrased now as there isn't this big, black and bulky toiletry bag sticking out of my handbag! See the comparison below!


A comparison shot of the sizes of my stoma supply kits! Big difference now!

Honestly wishing I had thought of this years ago! And if you had and I am behind the 8-ball please don't judge me... I realise life simplifying tips and resources eventually (and then I share them with you all).

p.s If you find my tips and blog helpful, please take a moment to vote for my blog in the Heritage savvy bloggers competition. With your help I (and if I win) I am starting a new support website (and app) to help other young people who live daily with a chronic illness. By taking a moment to vote not only will you be helping me to help others but I am confident that this website will change the lives of many (and if you're in Australia you could win $100). Please remember to confirm your vote via clicking the email they send (check your junk/spam too).

 
Posted by: Talya AT 10:45 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, August 21 2015

NB: This post is an entry for the Heritage Bank Savvy Blogger Awards  please click on the icon at the bottom of this post, to vote for Feeling Ostomistic and you could be in the running to win $100 and help me to win a share of $11k which I want to use towards my chemo (and medical costs) coming up. Would mean a lot if you could support me.

Without a doubt you might have heard about the extremely over-the-top wedding in Sydney recently, if you haven't you may have been living under a rock... in that case I will summarise it for you. This super rich couple had a wedding which they closed down entire streets in Sydney causing traffic chaos, and their wedding car fleet involved cars worth a collective of $50 million dollars, as well as hiring helicopters, sea planes... but to have a nice wedding do you NEED to spend millions?


My dad and I at my wedding

I remember when I was planning my wedding years ago I wanted to have the big white wedding, and I was panicking at the cost it was all coming to (something like $10k+) and so was my husband well then fiance... and very quickly the wedding planning was becomming more about pleasing everyone else and catering to their needs rather than creating a day that was perfect for my husband and I.

Because of how much our wedding was going to cost we were planning it for 2 (almost 3) years away. But then something happened (rather fate as you might call it) and in the middle of June my then fiance (who struggles with large numbers of crowds and public performance) was rather overwhelmed with the wedding guest numbers and gave me an ultimatum....

He said either we get married in a month at the courthouse or we don't get married at all!

So I said that I will change our plans and organise a wedding in 4 weeks on a limited budget as long as we have a nice honeymoon and I get to have a nice 21st 2 years later and it be the wedding reception I had of hoped for....

Let's clear one thing up... there was no way I was getting married in the courthouse and I knew I had to plan a nice low-key wedding that was still memorable, that my husband would agree too and decided to make it as nice as I possibly could on a limited budget.... 

All in all, our wedding cost us just under $2500 and that was including everything!

Here are 10 ways I helped to save money on my wedding in under 4 weeks of planning, and I don't regret it at all!

#1 the dress = $220
My top tip when it comes to shopping for your wedding is to head to the stocktake sales in either June or after Christmas, as you will find some amazing bargains! It was lucky that all the stocktake sales had just started when I started planning my wedding in June something like 5 weeks before I was planning on getting married.

I knew it would be almost impossible to find the perfect traditional wedding dress in my size and budget within 4 weeks, and I knew I also wanted to be different to the norm as well.

So my wedding dress was this beautiful purple formal dress that just happened to be on special for $220 and was a perfect fit. Purple is my favourite colour too, so I knew it is a dress I would be happy in and happy to wear again.

#2 the tux = $250 (including jacket, pants, tie, vest & shirt)
We were lucky that we found the perfect suit on sale (thank you stocktake clearance) and imagine my delight when the entire combo including the tie, vest and shirt came in at just $250! The tux alone was normally $500 odd.

My husband has since worn the suit to weddings, funerals and job interviews.... and if you too saw him in the vest and suit you'd hire him too (bow chicka wow wow) [He would kill me if he knew I said that...truth...]

#3 the wedding bands = $300 for both
When we walked past the Micheal Hill Jewellery store, and Russ decided he wanted to check out wedding bands (and saw they were on special) and decided to buy them to put them away, it was the event that sparked his sudden need to get married and realised that the longer time went on the more he was getting anxious and couldn't do it.

So we found the rings were on stocktake clearance my wedding band was $200 (including a gorgeous row of diamonds) and his simple 'boring' band (as I say) was around $100. Was an absolute steal!

#4 the celebrant and photographer = $1200
How I found our celebrant and photographer was by an absolute fluke. I was at work (at the time as a telco department manager in a now closed electronics department store) when a customer came in needing a new phone contract. I happened to sell him the top of the range iPhone 3s (was THE.BEST.THING.AT.THE.TIME) and we got chatting about his business.

He told me he was a wedding photographer and organised elopement packages or small wedding packages which included the celebrant and photography during the ceremony and 1.5 hours afterwards (and all the photos printed in an album and on a disc too).

I went to the lunch room and found Russ (we happened to be working together at the time... he a computer salesman and I in the next department over selling phones and iPods.... no we didn't start dating when as co-workers.. and yes I got the job there after we were engaged) and told him I might have found us our celebrant and photographer. Russ came downstairs from his lunch break and the guy was still in the store (now needing to buy a new laptop) and we got chatting more about what he could offer us.

He said he had packages starting at $700 but for what we were wanting he could offer a small wedding ceremony and photography package for $1200. This was strictly 25 guests, the set up of the ceremony, the photography (including disc and images printed), the celebrant and filing of paperwork and any other legal fees.

While this meant we could only invite a small number of people to the ceremony (and I know some were a bit peeved about it) but it was all we could afford and had the most important people to us there. However, as we were having the reception/after party back where all my family lived (2 hours south) everyone was invited and most people understood (having had been married themselves knowing too well the cost involved).

#5 writing my own wedding ceremony = Priceless
I wanted our wedding ceremony to be really special, and to also help save on the costs of the celebrant I decided that I would write our entire ceremony (except for the legal blurb the celebrant has to state and a couple of readings), But otherwise the rest I wrote and composed myself (with of course the help from Russ).

#6 2 tier wedding cake = $200
When I went around getting prices of cakes from different bakers most were in excess of $600+ which just wasn't in my budget. I thought I would test the waters a bit and ask how much it was to have a 2 tier cake made (and left off the word wedding) and surprisingly it was much cheaper.


Our wedding cake

#7 bouquet of flowers = $30
Similarly, I found flowers (just like cakes) suddenly had a surcharge applied when you mentioned the word wedding. All I wanted was a nice bunch of white lillies with some nice white ribbon tied around them. These were $30 when the word wedding wasn't mentioned, and when it was it became $150.

I also thought it would be pretty yet simple if my sisters held one pink gerbra (with ribbon tied around) instead of a bouquet. I also gave them bubbles to blow through the ceremony so they wouldn't be bored and run a muck (they were afterall only 7 and 8). And a lot of the photos with the bubbles turned out beautifully!


My flowers

#8 Flower girl dresses = $50 each
Just like our attire we found the girls flower girl dresses reduced on the stocktake clearance racks for just $50 each! They needed a little adjustment to be made to the bodice, but otherwise were a perfect fit.

#9 Food at the reception (free for us)
We decided to have our reception/after party at a local pub that was a familiar spot for my family. I wanted it to be informal and inclusive of everyone, and as the pub did $5 feeds, I asked everyone instead of buying us a gift to insted pay for their own meals and drinks. My dad and pop ended up putting a tab on the bar as a wedding gift, which everyone (including us) were appreciative of. Although, it didn't last terribly long (even though it was only covering beer, soft drink and wine).

#10 Venue hire (free)
When I was looking into planning my wedding I was searching for places that were FREE or very low cost involved for both the ceremony and the reception. For the ceremony we got married on a headland overlooking the beach (and had whales breaching just off the headland- was magical) and didn't need to pay a fee (although check with your council as some require a permit). And then for the reception, we just hired out the pub as a private function and although I offered, they didn't accept money for the venue hire.

I didn't have it decorated much, just some tablecloths, DIY balloon centrepieces and the cake table decorated. But you can find some amazing DIY wedding decor on pinterest or local selling sites.

More ways to save on your wedding..
* I did my own DIY invitations (which were rather basic) before I had even dreamed of starting my own handmade invitations business (making my wedding invites seemed to have sparked an interest in handmade invitations for me).
* Hair, I visited my hairdresser a week prior to have my hair colouring and trim/tidy up done along with a hair trial. Best to get the colouring done at least a week before and not the day before so you have time to prepare in case you don't like it.
* Makeup, sometimes you can find students at TAFE who are studying and needing experience who can offer their services at an affordable rate. Otherwise, you can always reach out to your friends or family who are familiar with makeup and ask for their help.
* Wear in your shoes before your wedding day, nothing worse than walking around with sore blistery heels and feet.

While it may seem like my wedding was rushed (honestly had 4-5 weeks to plan it) I am so glad that I got married when I did rather than waiting until 2012 like we initially planned on getting married, as this meant my dad was able to walk me down the aisle and be there on my wedding day (not long after our wedding he was diagnosed with terminal Bowel Cancer, and passed away in March 2012).... I now have memories I will forever cherish from that day and conversations had (that still make me laugh). I don't regret have a cheaper low-key wedding, and after 5 years of wedded bliss this year, only proves that you don't need an expensive wedding to make a happy marriage.... also saving costs where possible meant we could go on a nice honeymoon to Hamilton Island for a week.

One last tip... A wise person told me before my wedding that I needed to savour every moment of the day and take it all in, as the day goes rather quickly especially when you're excited, and you don't want to miss out.... they also went on to say that if you make it back to your hotel suite and you are too tired (or drunk) to consumate your marriage, that it is okay and not to feel pressured that you HAVE to do it on that night... there is always the next morning and you have your whole marriage to worry about that (hehe).

Hope some of my tips shared can help you on your wedding planning, if you have a tip for others feel free to share it in the comments below.

 

 
Posted by: Talya AT 10:56 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, July 25 2015

I have been thinking a lot lately about my life and especially my health and what I have gone through and learnt. One thing that keeps popping into my mind is just how much being sick affects every aspect of my life!

When you think about it, being chronically sick interferes with your physical, mental, social, spiritual and financial health. I know my bank account has taken a massive hit since I had to stop working almost 3 years ago and with the never ending medical expenses (scans, blood tests, doctors fees, surgical fees, hospital excess fees). I also know people stop inviting me places because I often cancel last minute because I am stuck in bed, in pain and unable to drive (and have no one to drive for me).

I know a lot of people only associate health with just being physical, but I wanted to bring the attention to our health being holistic and incorporates the several key aspects of our life.


Here are some ways we can make small, manageable changes to our health:

PHYSICAL:
Try to do at least 10 minutes of walking 2 times a day, start off small and gradually build it up. They suggest doing 30 mins of walking a day. But start off doing what you can handle. 

My hubby won a free fitbit through his work, and he has been using it for almost a year now and loves it. He wears it everyday and he isn't happy until it celebrates that he has reached 10,000 steps. Even on his days off he will offer to walk home from the shops so he can get his count up. It has been a good way for him to improve his health as he is competitive and it makes him want to work more (and in the end earn more sales and bring home more commissions)

MENTAL:
Find a hobby, especially one that is reliant on you using your hands to build something not only will it act as a distraction but it will also help you to feel accomplished by building something or making something... something you can say "I made that".

When I was first diagnosed with FAP I wasn't coping AT ALL. I was trying to come to terms with my dad being terminally ill and the stress of what was in store for me was too much. I quickly found myself in a downward spiral and started doing creative things to help me cope. I always had loved scrapbooking and craft, so I started doing card making classes. I realised there wasn't any handmade invitations out there so I started a handmade business which kept me so busy! Within days my husband had commented on how much I have changed and seem happier and it has been my saving point the last 4 years. I know when I am in hospital for lengthy stays I feel myself getting a bit depressed and once I get home and start making things again I feel myself feeling more content and happier. For me it works!

SPIRITUAL:
Spiritual health isn't just solely based around your religious or cultural practices or beliefs, spiritual also involves your own personal beliefs and values. If you are someone who believes in Karma and the importance of doing a good deed, set yourself a challenge to do one selfless act at least once a week where you are doing something good for someone else. It doesn't mean necessarily footing someone's entire grocery bill but could be something as little as sending a card and gift voucher anonymously to someone you know who isn't coping well with life lately, or walking up to a stranger in the street and giving them flowers. Or asking the cashier to use the change from your groceries towards the next person's.

There are so many ways you can perform selfless acts, and it will make you feel better about yourself by bringing jo and happiness to others.

SOCIAL:
It is important when you're chronically sick to have a support network of not only family but of friends too. I know it can be hard as someone who is an introvert and suffers social anxiety on top of being sick to suggest to make changes. But think of it as making progress towards improving this aspect of your health rather than the word "change" which can seem daunting.

Some things you could consider is if you're not well enough to go out to a restaurant, organise a little lunch or morning/afternoon tea with your friend and catch up over coffee and cake. You could even join a group of people with like minded interests or hobbies, or volunteer somewhere.

Or if you're anything like me and enjoy writing things down and helping others, you could always start a blog. It is a great way to connect, network and meet new people, while predominately online there could be blogger meet ups in your area or workshops you could attend or conferences.

I am heading off to Problogger and there is an estimated 700 attendees so I have 100 promo handouts for my blog and will challenge myself the task of talking to and introducing myself to 100 people over the course of 3 days... as someone who is an introvert and suffers from social anxiety I AM SHITTING MYSELF!! (gotta laugh that it is quite literal... stoma humour)

FINANCIAL:
There are some people that can save really well, then there are others (like me) who have been using shopping as a way to deal with my emotions (bad, BAD habit to have). So instead of calling it saving, change your mind set of creating financial targets. If you work out a small or achievable amount you could save each week, after 6 months or a year you will have more money than you realised.

Even saving as little as $10 a week will give you little over $520 for a year (plus whatever interest you made) or as little as $20 could be an extra $1000. Do that for 5 years and you have earnt yourself over $5000 (plus interest, I suck at maths so don't ask me to work out compound interest). To help remind you to transfer the money, either do it once your pay comes in and you pay your bills or write on a calendar $10 on each Wednesday to remind yourself to transfer it. If you can afford $50 a week to save, then you will have $2600 (plus interest) each year!

We can all do little changes to start improving our holistic health, and hope that I have given you something to think about on how you can start 'progressing' towards better health.

P.S if you have any suggestions or ways that you improve your health through small changes, please leave a comment and share ideas for others reading.

 
Posted by: Talya AT 08:58 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, July 17 2015

NB: This post contains the word 'shit'. If you'll be offended by the use of the word, please stop reading now.

Sometimes when things go horribly wrong, all you can do to keep yourself from breaking down and crying is to just laugh... this was a scenario I found myself in this week... and after all 'shit happens'.. in my case quite literally!

You see, I was invited to Melbourne this week for an exclusive bloggers workshop and was amongst the company of some of my blogging idols and heroes (even being in the same room let along being invited to the same event was pretty huge for me personally).

But what is one thing that can go wrong when you have a stoma... and something that you only ever think you're being overly paranoid about when in public?

........

........

If you guessed having a huge bag leak then you guessed correctly!

I was halfway through a 4 hour meeting/workshop when I quickly ducked off to the toilets only to realise that my bag had started leaking and was causing a bit of a mess. Of course the toilets were all the way down stairs and my stoma kit was all the way up in a seperate room (where everyone's bags and luggage was kept).. so I was sitting in the disabled toilets panicking thinking "shit, what the heck am I going to do?".

See I knew if I was in the toilet too long it might look suscpicious, or it might be even more suspicious if I ran upstairs grabbed my stoma kit, ran back downstairs and spent the next however long doing a bag change... so I realised where it was leaking and the bottom part of the bag that you close up was no longer sticking closed, so I emptied it, gave it a bit of a clean with some handtowels and ran upstairs.

I then did a bit of a McGyver trick and got the elastic tape (or I refer to them as banana wafers) and taped the bag closed.

I returned to my meeting and resumed my seat until the intermission (when everyone was mingling over wine, cheese and appetisers) I raced downstairs with my stoma kit and DID THE QUICKEST BAG CHANGE IN MY HISTORY OF HAVING A STOMA. No joke. It was the quickest change I have ever done, and thankfully no one noticed I had gone to the toilet for a second time in only a short period of time.

But it made me realise that I could have been better prepared and in hindsight I realise how, and I hope to share 5 ways to be better organised for when shit strikes...

5 ways to be better organised for a meeting/work when your stoma bag leaks

#1. Inside your handbag, briefcase or laptop bag have a seperate clutch or toiletry bag, that is dicreet and doesn't look like a toiletry bag and inside have enough for 1 bag change. So when you need to duck off to the toilet just grab your clutch and own how discreet you're being. Even if you don't have to take care of a bag leak, at least then you are prepared for when the moment strikes and you need to transform into a stoma bag changing Ninja!

#2. Always get to your meeting earlier than expected to so that you can allow time to go to the toilet and empty your bag, as nothing is more embarrassing than trying to excuse yourself from the meeting and as your bag is full and you apply pressure standing up your bag more or less bursts and it can be rather embarrassing (this has happened to me before when I was studying on campus).

#3. Always have a change of clothes or underwear with you. This one can be a bit hard if you only have a small handbag, thankfully I have a larger tote style handbag that is big enough to fit a change of clothes in. But if you have a locker at work or school/uni always have a spare change of clothes on hand, so that you are ready for when you have a bag leak and you don't have to go home in poo stained clothes, or sit in soiled clothes for the rest of your shift.
TIP: If the toilet in your bathroom at work has a cabinet under the sink, leave your spare change of clothes wrapped up in a plastic bag or within an enviro bag so that you don't have to walk all the way out to your desk to retrieve your clothes, it can help you be more discreet. The same can go for places where your meeting or workshop is at, leave your stoma kit/change of clothes in the cupboard as a precaution. Just remember to collect it before you leave!

#4. Always carry some scented garbage bags in your handbag and stoma kit, so that if you have to dispose of your bag and there isn't any bins around and you have no choice but to carry your soiled stoma bag in your handbag until you can find a bin to dispose of it in.. at least it will help mask the smell a bit. Just soon as you find a bin, dump that shit (LITERALLY).

#5. If you have had to leave your meeting and people notice you have been gone for a length of time and start commenting (and rather then saying what really happened, unless you want to) just pull out the period card... no one especially men will ask more questions and your female co-workers will just look at you with an empathetic tone that says "I totes get how you feel".

I really, really hope that no one finds themselves in any situation where you have a bag leak in public, let alone at work or in a meeting. But I hope that this guide helps you to be better prepared for the worst case scenario. And by having these measures in place, it will help you to be more calm and collected when the 'shit hits the fan' and also helps put your mind/anxiety at ease.

p.s have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had to do a bag change or had a bag leak and it was the worst possible timing? If you are brave, feel free to share your story in the comments below. You can always post 'anon.' by simply writing this instead of your name.

 
Posted by: Talya AT 07:47 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, June 30 2015

NB: THIS IS A SPONSORED GUEST POST

In life, we all have our regrets and in hindsight wished we could go back in time and with the knowledge that we know now and not repeat the same mistakes again. I have many of these moments where I wished I did things differently or better and one of them was going to see a financial planner when I was 18 or 19 and something that was in place before I was married.

You see, not long after my wedding my dad broke the news that he was terminal with bowel cancer and that his type was caused by a rare disease called Familial Adenamatous Polyposis (FAP), which was caused from a mutation of the APC gene (a tumour supressor gene) and that it was also genetic. I underwent tests and was confirmed that I too had this disease, and as I was a newlywed I decided to apply for life insurance and was rejected on the grounds of the condition and as it is something that I have seen numerous insurers about and none can find an insurer willing to insure me as I am at high risk of cancer and more than likely will die earlier than healthy/normal peers my age.

Then I got sick in 2012 with severe endometriosis and required surgery to remove a 15cm round mass off of my ovary along with the lining of said ovary and removing/excising hundreds of sites of endometriosis. My surgeon said it was one of the most severe cases he had seen and especially in someone who was only 21. Because of the extent of the damage I was placed in a medically induced menopause which was truly horible. It made me so sick I was unable to work as I had these insufferable migrains and the nausea and hot flashes were cruel.

The week I stopped working was the week I was told that my bowel was turning cancerous and needed to have my bowel removed. So either way I would have been forced to stop working as I was told I needed 12 months off of work to recover, and then I was diagnosed with pancreatitis in 2013 which meant every other week I was in hospital for 7-10 days undergoing treatment for that, and then the desmoid tumours were diagnosed along with the thyroid cancer this year has meant that I haven't been able to return to the workforce as I am just not well enough to be considered reliable for work.

I can tell you the last 3 years have been hard financially, emotionally and physically and one thing I wished I had in place was life insurance to help me financially while I can't work, and money has been so tight and often stressful. I am just thankful my husband can work so hard to provide for us and support me while I am unable to work.

I really wished I had some sort of security in place, and it is something I hope through my mistake you will consider.

So I asked our friends over at Life Insurance Comparison to help explain how life insurance can be used while you're alive and become ill or disabled, and Sally has written a great guest post for us on this topic.

How Life Insurance Can Help If You Become Ill or Disabled

Wondering how you'll pay the bills if the main earner in the household gets ill, has an accident or dies can be a hugely stressful experience that can be avoided through life insurance. At Life Insurance Comparison, we're here to help you to navigate the often confusing world of life insurance so that you can get the right protection for your needs. We'll work with you to buy the right amount of cover and the most appropriate type of product to support your family if the worst happens. 

When you first think about life insurance, what comes to mind? If your initial thought was to with death, you may be unaware of the full benefits of life insurance. Many people mistakenly believe that life insurance only comes into its own if the policyholder dies but it can actually be an invaluable form of financial support if you become seriously ill or disabled and cannot work as a result. None of us want to think about the idea that we might be unlucky enough to experience this but it pays to be prepared.

In this post, we look at the ways in which life insurance can offer peace of mind if illness or disability occurs during the lifetime of the policy.

Life Insurance and Illness

If you become ill and are unable to work because of this, the subsequent stress could make your situation worse. Even if your lack of income is only a short term proposition, you could be under severe pressure to make ends meet if you don’t have savings to fall back on to tide you over. Fortunately, life insurance can provide an income to ease financial stress.

The exact nature of this income depends on the type of life insurance product that you buy. Income Protection Insurance will provide regular monthly payments that can be anything up to 75 per cent of your usual salary, which can be used for day-to-day living expenses while you are not working due to illness or an accident, while Trauma Insurance offers a lump sum payment if you are diagnosed with one of the medical conditions that are covered by the policy.

You’ll therefore need to think carefully about the kind of life insurance protection that you would want to have in place if you were to become seriously ill or disabled. Would you prefer to have a regular income stream coming in each month that can be used regardless of the situation? Or would you rather receive a lump sum payment if you diagnosed with a serious and traumatic condition such as cancer, a heart attack or stroke?

Life Insurance and Disability

Life insurance can also help if you become disabled and cannot work. In particular, Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) cover provides a lump sum payment if you become permanently disabled and this stops you being able to work. This type of life insurance cover is usually needed if a professional has confirmed that you will never be able to work again due to a new (and not pre-existing) disability. 

How Much Life Insurance to Buy?

Underinsurance is a huge problem in Australia in general, and this is definitely true for life insurance. This is because many of the Australians who do have life insurance don’t have enough cover to provide full peace of mind if the worst were to happen. You may already have some degree of life insurance through your superannuation fund but this is usually extremely basic and does not offer much protection at all. To be safe, you’ll need to have additional life insurance cover in place to fully meet your needs so that you are not caught out financially if you need to rely on the income.

With Income Protection Insurance, you’ll want to safeguard as much of your salary as you can afford (up to 75 per cent of it) so that you can still experience a good standard of living while you cannot work.

With Trauma or TPD cover, you’ll need to make sure that your lump sum payment is substantial enough to cover everything that you would want. You’ll therefore need to think about how much you would realistically need for regular outgoings and also factor in medical and rehabilitation expenses (if you don’t have health insurance that would cover some or all of these latter costs). Trauma insurance is generally the most expensive type of life insurance but it can turn out to be the most cost effective if you need to call on it.

Ideally, you should look to buy as much life insurance as you can realistically afford so that you are less likely to be underinsured. If you want the lump sum payment to be able to act as a long term source of income, this will obviously be more expensive to buy but would be very useful if you are unable work for over a year due to serious illness, an accident or temporary disability.

Thank you Sally and Life Insurance Comparison for explaining how beneficial it can be to have Life Insurance while you're alive! If you found this post helpful (or any on my blog) please feel free to leave a comment below.

 
Posted by: Talya AT 04:20 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Saturday, June 13 2015

NB: This is a sponsored post

Lately, I have been thinking so much about how differently life as an adult actually is when compared to what I thought it would be like as a teenager. Oh how naive was my younger self.

There are things I never thought were important or necessary until the time came and I realised it was too late.

Here are my 5 things I believe that every adult should have in place:

#1 Life Insurance Policy
Growing up, I always thought that a life insurance policy was something that was only necessary when you had died to help you pay for your debts or your funeral or to help your support your loved ones.

I didn't realise that having a life insurance policy can actually be of help if you get sick and need time off work, or if you suffer an illness or injury and become disabled or unable to work again, the life insurance policy can help you out.

What I wished was that someone had of said to me when I turned 18 to get insurance, as it wasn't until I got sick that I went to take out a policy and told that I am now 'unsurable'. There were so many times that I wished I had that extra financial assistance when I was too sick to work.

I did however make sure that once I was married that my husband has the necessary cover in the event that he becomes sick. We met with our financial planner at our bank and set up the policy to be paid out of his super fund. It is convenient for us paying it this way, as I am often in hospital sick it is one less bill to remember to pay. We were able to nominate the total insured amount we wanted as well.

#2 A will
I know a will isn't something that a young person often thinks about taking out, or a common misconception is that "I have nothing to leave in my will, so having one is pointless". A will is more than a document that states who will receive your car or the balance of your bank account, it is also a document that can leave instructions for your afterlife such as whether or not you consent to your body being used in organ donation, or where you wish to be buried or if you are to be cremated.

A will also has instructions over who is responsible for your digital assets such as a blog, facebook etc and what you're wanting done with these digital assets when you die. My husband understands my clear instructions of what I want to be done with my blog etc when I die, he knows that I want to keep my blog open as a resource for all the young people in the future who have FAP or will be needing a stoma and are looking for support when they feel alone.

My husband and I were struggling to find a time that suited both of us to visit a lawyer, so we were so happy when we came across Nest Legal an online legal firm, not only did it mean that we could organise our wills from the comfort of our own home, but also meant working around a schedule that suited us and not around when both my husband and I could make it. It was a very convenient solution, and so lovely to deal with.

#3 Enduring Power of Attorney
It is a false reality that only 'old people' need an enduring power of attorney in place. The sad reality is that we have no control over what misfortunes or illnesses may come in the future, and it is important that we have things in place to not only help yourself but to help those around you to understand your wishes.

An enduring power of attorney is a document that is as important as your will, and is a document that nominates someone to act on your behalf for financial, legal and health matters if you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself.

It is important that you discuss with your loved ones whom you wish to appoint and what roles you expect of them. It is important to choose someone there won't be conflicts of interest with or someone who can remain impartial to decisions and can act with your best interests in mind.

To learn more about the different roles and responsibilities of a power of attorney, the NSW Trustee's and guardians has some great info.

#4 A Regular GP
Up until 2011, I didn't have a regular GP. It was more of a 'what ever doctor can bulk bill and is available' sort of situations I was finding myself in. Tell you what, it was rather an inconvenience... You would see a doctor and tell them all the issues you've been having lately and your past medical history then he would come up with a diagnosis and then the next time I needed to see a doctor it was starting the process all over again. It wasn't just wasting my time, it was also wasting the doctors time.

As my medical history was becoming more and more indepth with each visit, I made the decision to 'shop around' for the right GP and I happened to have found him 4 years ago and never looked back. It is really helpful now having 1 GP who receives all the correspondence from doctors, scans and blood tests rather than having a few doctors and not remembering which GP you saw for what issue.

Trust me, having a regular GP will make life easier!

#5 Health insurance or Ambulance cover
I know I have mentioned before how beneficial it is to have health insurance (read my 12 reasons why here) but it is also important to at least have an ambulance cover in place. A trip to the hospital in an ambulance can very quickly become an expensive excursion, I have received bills for $800+ just to go to the other side of town! Luckily, I had cover in place.

You never know when you or your family might need an ambulance and there is nothing more stressful when you're dealing with an emergency than worrying about how you'll be paying for it, instead focusing your energy where it is needed.

If it is health Insurance cover you need, speak to the guys over at Health Insurance Comparison to find out what policies there are to match your needs or lifestyle.

I have no idea why I was in such a hurry to become an Adult, some days being a kid sounds so much easier.

So while these might be my list of 5 things I believe every adult should have in place, I know that you might have other suggestions. Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below, it might be of value to another reader who hadn't thought of it.

DISCLAIMER: While this post was written by myself about my experiences and the 5 things I believe every adult should have in place, all views expressed in this article are mine. This post was written for Health Insurance Comparison.

 

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Posted by: Talya AT 10:45 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Saturday, June 13 2015

There are some things in life that people shouldn't have to endure, but thankfully there are organisations out there to lend a much needed helping hand when you need it.

When I received my Cancer diagnosis earlier this year, Redkite were there for me and without their support I am certain my journey would have been completely different.

Redkite were there for me when I was alone in hospital for over a month in Sydney, 800km south of home.

Before I was referred to Redkite by the hospital social worker, I had seen Redkite on tv but never actually knew what it was that they did or how they helped others. Little did I realise that they were an amazing organisation helping young people aged 0-24 with Cancer and their families.

Here are 5 ways RedKite helped to make a difference:

#1 Red Duffle bag filled with goodies called a support pack
I remember when I was in hospital and got my diagnosis I was pretty devastated to say the least. I was anxious about what the future had in store for me, and I felt so lonely as my husband and family were 800km away.

When my youth support worker from the RPA Youth Team came in carrying this huge Redkite duffle overnight bag, I thought it was the coolest gift. Inside the bag was some amazing essentials that made the biggest difference to my hospital stay, and also since coming home.

There was:

  • a toiletry bag filled with toothbrushes and toothpaste and toiletries;
  • this super snuggly redkite blanket I take with me everywhere;
  • redkite travel coffee mug;
  • redkite drink bottle;
  • $50 coles gift card;
  • magazines;
  • visual arts diary with coloured pencils;
  • and there was so much more!

I take the blanket with me everywhere I go and snuggle up with it everyday, it is so soft and warm. I also use the bag heaps as well, often accompanies me to hospital.

#2 Financial assistance in the form of Coles or petrol gift cards
With all the travelling to and from Sydney this year, these petrol vouchers have made the biggest difference between whether or not I made it to the appointments. Let's just say things have been super tight this year with so much being spent on medical expenses (doctors, pathology, medications, radiology, hospital excess, surgery costs etc). The coles vouchers have made a huge difference too and has meant being able to buy groceries.

I am so appreciative that there is the support there when times are tough to help you manage financially.

#3 Education scholarships
If you're a young person with cancer and you're also studying or still in school, Redkite have education grants for up to $1000 that can help you with things like tutoring costs, course fees, stationery, or equipment.

These education grants can be a huge help if you're studying and help you to achieve your goals or ambitions. For more information click here.

#4 Dare to dream scholarships
These are national annual scholarships open to 15-24 year olds who've had cancer. The scholarships require you to enter a creative entry based on what your dream is and how having cancer has gotten in the way and how the scholarship can help you to make your dreams happen.

Applications close on the 13th of July. For more information visit here!

#5 counselling and help
One thing I have learnt from my cancer journey is just how lonely and distant you can become from those close to you, cancer can also be really isolating as well. There were times where speaking to Redkite really helped me to cope and learn new coping skills, but to also just have someone to talk to that isn't directly involved. It was hard talking to my family or husband about how I was feeling as I didn't want to burden them with my feelings and thoughts, so it was good talking to someone who understood.

Redkite can be contacted via 1800 REDKITE (1800 733 548), Monday to Friday, 9am – 7pm AEST or support@redkite.org.au.

Did you also know that they offer help and support to help you return to studies or the workforce? They can offer an individualised plan for 15-24 years who've had cancer and are wanting to return to studies or work. They work with you through setting a range of goals and a realistic plan to help you achieve them.

I would like to say a huge thank you to Redkite and for everyone reading this who donates and supports them. Their work that they do to help support young people like me who have had cancer is so important and has made the world of difference to my life. I will always be grateful for the support and help. 

Disclaimer: I wanted to write about my experiences with Redkite not because I was asked to or felt obliged to, but because I don't know how I could have gotten through this year without their support and help. I am sharing my experiences as they have made the world of difference to my cancer journey and I know first hand how important their work is. Please donate and support them so that they can continue helping young kids with cancer and their families.

 

 
Posted by: Talya AT 02:58 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, April 02 2013

You might be wondering what an ostomy is, and I will try my best to describe from my knowledge and research. Often you will hear or read ostomy and stoma that are used but have very different meanings. Most commonly you would have heard before 'colostomy'. Until my surgery I assumed an ileostomy was a colestomy. So I found it great to know the difference.

An ostomy refers to the surgically created opening in the body for the body's natural waste to be eliminated.

stoma refers to the actual end of the small bowel or large bowel or ureter that can be seen protruding through the abdominal wall.

I live with a permanent ileostomy. This means the end of my small bowel (ileum) is brought to the surface of my abdomen to form a stoma, I had all of my colon removed.

There are also other ostomies that you could have relevent to your circumstance and case. Such as a:

  • Colestomy which refers to a surgically created opening (stoma) of the large bowel/large intestine/colon. A colestomy is created when a portion of the colon or rectum is moved and the remaining colon is brought to the abdominal wall. 
  • Urostomy a surgical proceedure that diverts urine away from the defective or diseased bladder.

I hope that this helps you to understand the difference between a ostomy and stoma and the different preceedures requiring the use of an ostomy and a stoma.

Posted by: Talya Goding AT 09:53 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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~  Living with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis - Effects of FAP  ~

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Talya Goding - Feeling Ostomistic   talya@feelingostomistic.com.au  |  0447 426 860

Thank you for stopping by Feeling Ostomistic. It has taken a lot of courage to share my story and I ask that you show me and my site/blog respect and courtesy. Views expressed in this blog are my own and I am not a nurse or a doctor. If you need medical advice please seek your medical practitioner.

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