Chapter Crohns

The next part of the journey, begins here.
To be honest, one of the most annoying thing about Crohns Disease is the fact that every computer/phone wants to auto-correct it. The fact that technology doesn’t even identify it as a known word is in line with how little knowledge or information there is out there; not reassuring when you’re trying to work out what your body is telling you. 

On 25th August 2015, I was admitted to the gaestronology department of the Hospital for a Colonoscopy, following an initial bowel cancer screening. I kept relatively quiet about all of this to my friends and family; partly because I didn’t want to provide false information and partly because I was terrified. I knew I had been ill since October 2014, but I put it down to stress of running my own business and general poor diet. Anything to do with your bowels or toilet terrors still seems to be such a taboo subject, and definitely not something I was a fan of talking about; despite how ‘trendy’ gut issues seem to have become. So I suffered in silence for 7 months, not knowing what was wrong and not knowing how I could make myself better. 

In the end, Will and I made the important decision to shut our business, so that we could each invest more time into ourselves – something that had become so crucial with my deteriorating health. I was nearly completely absent from social media and increasingly more anti-social, swapping days out with the girls for days unable to move from my bed. I tried cutting out gluten, cutting out dairy, cutting out caffeine and alcohol – but still no improvement. I took medicines for IBS with little success and eventually my doctor said I needed to be checked out for bowel cancer; not words you want to be hearing at 23 – but progress. People were finally beginning to accept that there was something deeper than just having a ‘dodgy stomach’ and in a way, I was relieved. 

The screening itself was traumatic; it’s bad enough sitting in a clinical room, plastered with ‘How To Make It Through Cancer’ and ‘Call Macmillan Nurses for Support’, metal implements, gloves and jelly staring you in the face, but to have two male doctors and a student nurse greet you and carry out a highly personal, trousers down, knees up, let’s pump you full of carbon dioxide examination trumps most experiences I’m sure people have had. The results? Cancer free – the most likely outcome given my age, so I was told. What this did mean, however, was that it was something else. Which meant being referred for a colonoscopy.

Now, unlike an ear problem or an eye infection, a bowel disease is hard to see. And unfortunately, the only way in, is a way that is normally your body’s way out. Getting over this fact, and the matching robe and shorts (with hole cut out the back) they give you when you go into the surgery ward is the first part. Having the physical examination is the hard bit; 53 minutes of having a long camera tube shoved through your insides, all whilst you lie there, drugged up as you like, watching it on a monitor, as they take biopsies throughout your various tubes and passages. Having small parts of your bowel cut out feels like someone pinging an elastic band on your insides by a tiny, irritating school kid. 

And that brings me to today, October 21st 2015 – a whole year since this saga began. 

I have now been officially diagnosed with Crohns Disease, and am on a cocktail of anti-inflammatory tablets and steroids to keep myself in check and to reduce the number of severe flare ups I encounter, until I am back in hospital with a specialist. My weight is constantly fluctuating, I feel fatigued most of the time and am constantly dehydrated or on the verge of a migraine due to the loss of blood and fluids. I’ve been able to reduce the number of times I go to the toilet from 20 daily, to 2 and most of the time I am able to be pretty lenient with what I eat and drink. 

I am only at the start of an uphill battle, and although this condition does not affect huge amounts of people, once it’s hit home, you realise how alienating it can be to have a life-long illness that currently only offers the options of steroids or surgery for any form of long-term fix. I’ve only been able to classify myself as a sufferer of an Inflamatory Bowel Disease for two months, but I am already suffering the stigma of having an internal illness; how everyone thinks that because your face isn’t green or you’re not sneezing and spluttering, that you must be fine; that it really can’t be that bad. So on weeks like this week, where I can’t sleep at night because I am constantly on the toilet, unable to digest any food, throwing up bile, suffering from shakes, chills, cramps, fatigue and unable to move from the severe inflammation to my joints, I invite you to sympathise. Just because you cannot see something, doesn’t mean it isn’t there; and if there is one thing I have learnt very well throughout the course of my life and through others, a brave face hides a thousand sadnesses. 

Advertisements

Barcelona

IMG_2165

With all that’s been going on in my life lately, a last-minute break was exactly what the doctor ordered.

There have been a huge number of changes in my life over the last few months, and whilst my main concern has been my health, wellbeing and agenda, I’ve noticeably neglected a lot of friends and family along the way. Without dwelling too much on the negatives, it was about time I was able to do something positive for myself and at times like these I am lucky enough to have a constant in my life who pulled it out the bag and booked a week away in Barcelona.

DSC05683DSC05682

I think my main note to self is to never get stuck in a place you don’t like.
Whether it’s geographical, emotional or psychological, individually we have the power to change our situation; we do not have to always play victim to circumstance.

IMG_2207

#GIRLBOSS

GirlBoss1

The Unapologetic Truth:

I’ve been considering writing a post like this for a while – an insight into what life is really like as a ‘business owner’, what it means to be the ‘boss lady’ and how exactly it impacts on your life. I’ve spent so much time reading inspirational stories from people who made it, the classic ‘something from nothing’ story. You see images allover Pinterest of glamorous lifestyles and sleek office spaces, all the more shaping our idea of what life must be like when you’re own boss. But my experience could not be further from that, which is why I wanted to give a small insight – the untainted, unfiltered, unapologetic truth.

White Dirt was like a light at the end of the tunnel for me. It was a reason to escape, an excuse to remove myself from the increasingly suffocating situation I was dealing with at home. It became an opportunity to prove to myself that I was as worthy as I knew I was and to prove many un-supporting individuals wrong. I wanted to create something that was mine and I was prepared to stop at nothing to get there.
But what exactly has stopping at nothing become?

DSC05188edit

It means working 6-7 days a week.
It means choosing to put your (already minimal) salary entirely back into the business.
It was about compromising aspects of my independence in favour of cutting costs.
It’s paying for Business Rates rather than boxes of bleach; & making appointments with mentors instead of nail technicians.

I spend numerous hours staring at spreadsheets and bank balances, with many a sleepless night wondering if the leap of faith was a little too optimistic. Did you know that on average, 3 out of 4 start up businesses fail? And that 70% off them don’t start to see profits until after 2 years? Giving up your whole life and relocating away from everything and everyone you know, based on those statistics, is a pretty daunting prospect. Will and I decided to take the chance, because life is short and the opportunity was presented to us – right place, right time and all that. But although I don’t regret a single decision I made, I was totally unprepared for the amount of work, energy, confidence and stamina that was required.
In my opinion, most businesses probably fail because their figureheads lose patience and passion.

DSC05324

In many ways, this shop is like my child.
It requires constant love and attention, to make sure that it thrives and grows with every opportunity.
It needs nurturing and encouragement to allow it to succeed and achieve in every aspect.
There are times when it will test you to your limit and moments where you will despair.
During it’s early stages, it will consume your being and take away your social life; but you know that as it grows, so will it’s independence and it’s ability to stand on it’s own two feet without you.
And at the end of the day, unless you’re willing to be a good parent, you can not expect to have a good child.

JumperSeller2

LITTLE BLACK WARDROBE

LBW3 LBW2

In the store now, we have badass girl brand Little Black Wardrobe.
I actually reached out to them after discovering the brand on social media – to be honest, they had me from the word ‘black wardrobe’ as it basically summarises the entire contents of my own! Basing a lot of their looks on trend-led, high street styles and sticking to a rather modest monochrome pallet, it really does create the staple wardrobe that every girl needs. Whether it’s some cute layering pieces (as I’ve styled with a Gemma Goldstone dress, above) or acting as your go-to night out accomplish, there genuinely is something for everyone, and as I’ve found, limitless ways to style it up.

Girl-boss, Hannah, is also an absolute babe.
Most styles available in my store or on her website.

LBW1

LOVING YOUTH

LovingYouth3LovingYouth4

Last week I was sent this uh-mazing two-piece by Loving Youth as part of their new blogger collaborations.
I’ll be honest, my blog is looking rather lazy lately as all my time and effort seems to be going into the White Dirt account; which has resulted in my lack of fake tan, selfies and root maintenance (yawn). So still being able to work with such an awesome little brand despite all the above is an absolute pleasure! The crop top/high waisted bottoms combo is one of my personal favourite cuts, as it’s so flattering and you can almost get away that you haven’t been to the gym, well, ever.
I can’t wait to whack this one out in the summer; boho vibes come at me.

LovingYouth2