Voices of IBD (15) - Rachael's Story

Welcome to PART 15 of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease series, where we talk to people from all walks of life with this condition; to give everyone a platform to share their story, and help to raise awareness.

This week we talk to Rachael about her battle with Crohn’s Colitis.

What is your name and age?

Rachael, 28 years old.

What is your occupation?

Teaching Assistant.

What form of IBD have you got?

I have Crohn’s Colitis, Peri-Anal Crohn’s.

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I was diagnosed when I was 13.

About the disease...
What were your main symptoms that led to your diagnosis?

It’s hard to think back to then, but I had lost a lot of weight and slept pretty much all the time.

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

I was confused when I was first diagnosed. No one had heard of the disease, so it was all new.

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

The support I received was fantastic. The Paediatric team were amazing, and there all the time. So are the team I have now, going above and beyond in helping me.

Do you take medication , if so, what?

I take two lots of medication – Humira and Azathioprine.

What are your experiences with hospitals? Have you had many stays in hospital, or colonoscopies? Do you have an IBD nurse?

My hospital has always been fantastic, I couldn’t fault them. I’ve been quite lucky. I’ve not had many stays in hospital – once a year maybe. Which I think is quite lucky compared to most people! So far, I’ve had a Sigmoidoscopy each year due to my Crohn’s and before that I had a Colonoscopy. I hate the prep, so I bargain with my surgeon to not have them. I have an IBD nurse, who is amazing. In fact, all three, with Jo being the main one, are great, knowledgeable and caring people. They speed things up, and see me in clinic.

What seems to affect your IBD the most? What triggers it?

I would have to say that stress can aggravate the symptoms, which can cause me more problems.

Do you currently, or have in the past, struggled with mental health? If so, what?

I can’t say that I’ve been diagnosed with any mental health issues, but I can say that emotionally – it’s hard to get around. Especially for me as I’ve been told in the past and even now that I need a stoma bag. I’ve had days off because I cant cope very well with it. I think you go through all the emotions with it, especially if your medications don’t work either.

Do you get support for your mental health?

My IBD nurse and GP were there for me when I was having a tough time. My friends where there and we would more cry than talk about it.

How do you cope?
What is your go-to routine for when you are flaring?

I cope with it by keeping busy, colouring all things calming, and even just lying in my room. Sometimes I go to bed early, just to catch up on sleep.

What lifestyle/diet/changes have you made to cope with your IBD?

I think I was lucky as I didn’t have to make many changes to my lifestyle or diet. I think it’s because I’ve always been a fussy eater too. I’ve had to cope with a stoma, which changed a few things - like not being able to lift things.

What advice would you give to someone who may think they are experiencing early signs?

I would definitely say go get checked out if you have symptoms. I was quite young when I was diagnosed. It was my aunt and mum that noticed I’d lost weight when I got poorly. I know they were quite persistent too.

What advice would you give to the friends and family of those with IBD?

Take it easy on them and let them rest. Don’t go on at them. I know that’s the hardest bit!

If there is one thing that keeps you motivated and focused through it all, what would that be?
The thing that keeps me motivated is my job. I studied to be in the job I do and I love it. I work with children and watching them grow takes the pain of the Crohn’s away. Because I’m so busy I’m like a flamingo really. Burying my head in the sand and getting on with it. I like to be busy so it helps.

What is your favourite quote?

I have loads!

“What goes around comes around”

“Ironing boards are like surf boards that give up on their dreams. Don’t be an ironing board!”

“If you get tired, learn to rest not quit”.

Thank you Rachael for sharing your story here on BecxBlogs. If you are affected by Crohn's or Colitis; please go to the Crohn's & Colitis UK website for further support and information.

Mermaid Makeup

I got the Makeup Revolution Mermaids Forever eyeshadow palette at Christmas, and I've used it most days already. I'm in love with all the shades it has in it. I created this pastel makeup look that reminds me of mermaids or unicorns (are they still on trend?), and I'm not exactly 'into' that sort of thing but I thought it looked really pretty!

I started with the shade Pretty in the crease of my eyelid, really working it up to the brow. I then made it even deeper using the shade Pink Sea, which has more of a red undertone. Because I have hooded eyelids, it helped to accentuate more definition.

For the eyelid itself, I used 3 different shades. I started with Sea in the outer corner, which is a beautiful blue shade. I went across the centre of my lid with Land, a lovely mermaid green, and then took Song on my inner corner which is a lilac colour. I blended plenty to makeup sure the colours didn't look out of place. 

I then took the shade Seashell on the very inner corner of my eye as a highlight. I used my Marc Jacobs Highliner in the shade Pink Of Me on my waterline which is a pretty light pink eyeliner. Of course, I finished everything off with my Kat Von D Tattoo Liner and you can use any old mascara.

I added the Kat Von D Liquid Lipstick in the shade Lovecraft which is probably my favourite lipstick at the moment. I only have a mini, so I will definitely be getting the full size. I love this makeup look so much. I've been wearing it almost every day. I don't even care that I'm almost 25 and wearing mermaid makeup!

New Years Resolutions - 2018

I've seen quite a few of these posts. I'm not going to lie, I'm mostly writing this for myself; as a motivation to make me push to do it. I'm very much a "give up" person, and I feel like maybe if these are written down, for everyone to see - maybe I'll actually do it... who knows!

I'm keeping my resolutions realistic for me. Like I said, I give up a lot, and I never usually stick at anything I set out to do. So I didn't really want to make things that I'm likely to give up whether its a week or months into the year.

1) Eat less meat.
I originally wanted to go vegetarian or pescatarian, but I was already struggling within a week. Now before anyone says "how hard can it be to not eat something", I do have medical needs and a very restricted diet already so cutting out a food source completely that I'm actually ABLE to eat without getting ill is hard when there so many foods out there that do the opposite. So at least until I'm in some kind of remission from my illness I think eating less meat is better than not doing anything at all about it.

2) Do more for charity.
I did the odd bit here and there last year and I definitely want to do more this year. Especially for Crohn's and Colitis UK and local cat and dog shelters because they're pretty important to me. I've already started collecting dog food for the shelter which I'll continue to do all year then donate it just before Christmas when they're at their busiest.

3) Move to cruelty-free cosmetics/skincare.
I'm super proud that a week into January and my skincare is already all cruelty free thanks to The Body Shop and Superdrug. My makeup however, will get used up and then when it comes to replacing products I'll only buy cruelty free brands. So that should slowly happen over the next few months, since I didn't think wasting products (and money) is useful for anyone!

4) Go out more.
I have a real problem with going out. Things have to be very well planned, I like to know exactly where I'm going, where toilets are and how long I'll be out because of my illness. I don't want to let it dictate my life anymore and I want to make a point of getting out more since I did turn down some things last year because of this stupid condition. Not anymore!

5) Stick to a regular gym schedule.
Now I actually enjoy the gym, and I enjoy working out. But I just don't do it. I just don't get up and get out. I have a real problem with fatigue and motivation so I want to make a point of doing it more. It might mean building it up slowly or doing a few workouts at home too, but I want to make a real difference to my health with things I can control myself. Since medication and 'doing less' has caused me to gain a couple stone, I want to feel a bit more comfortable in myself so actively doing something about it should help!

There we have it. I will do this.

What are your new years resolutions? Are you like me and find it hard to stick at things? Fingers crossed that 2018 is the year I really get my butt into gear and get things done!

Voices of IBD (14) - Natalie's Story.

Welcome to PART 14 of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease series, where we talk to people from all walks of life with this condition; to give everyone a platform to share their story, and help to raise awareness.

This week we talk to Natalie about her battle with Crohn’s Disease.

What is your name and age?

Natalie Hayden, 34 years old

What is your occupation?

I'm currently a blogger and freelancer. Prior to having my son, I worked as a television news anchor and reporter for nearly a decade. I've also spent a few years doing public affairs PR and media relations.

What form of IBD have you got?

I have Crohn's disease.

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I was diagnosed in July 2005, I was 21 years old.

About the disease...
What were your main symptoms that led to your diagnosis?

Luckily, it only took two months for me to receive a diagnosis. My symptoms included excruciating stomach pains, extreme fatigue, high fevers/chills, inability to eat without feeling pain immediately after and lots of bathroom breaks.

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

I felt like a ton of bricks came crashing down on me. I knew a couple of people with Crohn's, but I had been perfectly healthy my entire life. Knowing that you have a chronic illness, for which there is no cure, at age 21...was a lot to process. I felt overwhelmed and isolated.

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

Back in 2005, there really wasn't a whole lot of conversation on social media or online. I didn't have anyone but my friends and family for several years.

Do you take medication , if so, what?

When I was first diagnosed I was on 22 pills a day (prednisone, cipro, flagyl, asacol, prevacid)...in July 2008 I was hospitalized with a phlegmom abscess and was put on Humira. I've been on Humira more than 9 years. I also take Lialda along with several vitamins (Vitamin D, calcium, a prescription prenatal and folic acid).

What are your experiences with hospitals? Have you had many stays in hospital, or colonoscopies? Do you have an IBD nurse?

I have had several hospitalizations and ER visits since being diagnosed in 2005. I believe I've had seven stays of 5-7 days and then multiple ER visits. I've had one Crohn's-related surgery. In August 2015, I underwent a bowel resection and had 18 inches of my small intestine removed. I've had three colonoscopies, I go for another in January (19th). My GI doctor has great IBD nurses, but when I've been hospitalized, I have not had a specific IBD nurse for my care.

What seems to affect your IBD the most? What triggers it?

Stress and excitement are my biggest triggers. I find my emotions really play a big role in how my gut feels. If I'm flaring, certain foods can also be difficult to digest and give me pain. Luckily, I really don't have any dietary restrictions. I stay away from diet soda, beer, nuts and popcorn.

Do you currently, or have in the past, struggled with mental health? If so, what?

Luckily, I have not had any mental health issues. Each day with IBD you have a constant inner dialogue that can make your anxious and feel uneasy. The worry of the next flare is always looming over you.

How do you cope?

I cope by writing my feelings and sharing them with others. I find it to be incredibly empowering to blog and inspire people through my own patient journey.

What is your go-to routine for when you are flaring?

I put myself on a liquid diet to calm my bowels and rest.

What do you do to give yourself a break or relax?

I used to be able to relax, lay on the couch and take it easy...now I have a son, so being a mom can be a challenge at times. There is really no downtime, I have to push through, even when it's not the best day.

What lifestyle/diet/changes have you made to cope with your IBD?

I've learned not to spread myself too thin and to be more aware of the signs my body is giving me when something is not right. I find exercise and breathing exercises help to clear my mind and put me at ease.

What advice would you give to someone who may think they are experiencing early signs?

Don't be afraid to tell someone and speak up about your worries. Do what you can to get answers for yourself before your disease spirals out of control. If you catch it early on, you will be better off. Know that you are not alone in your fears and concerns. Those of us in the IBD family have been where you are and we are readily available to offer comfort and advice.

What advice would you give to the friends and family of those with IBD?

Show empathy. Have compassion and patience. Don't pretend your loved one or friend is perfectly fine and never ask them how they are doing. When they are in the hospital or flaring and you know about it, do a random act of kindness. Don't act like you get it, if it's not your own personal reality. Educate yourself and those around you. IBD is an invisible illness, those of us who battle it are very good at pretending everything is fine, even when it isn't.

If there is one thing that keeps you motivated and focused through it all, what would that be?

Yes, my son and my husband inspire me to be strong.

What is your favourite quote?

"Keep Swimming"


"Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it. Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfil it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it. Life is life, fight for it” – Mother Theresa. 

Thank you Natalie, for sharing your story here on BecxBlogs. If you are affected by Crohn's or Colitis; please go to the Crohn's & Colitis UK website for further support and information.

You can find Natalie on her social media:

Instagram: @natalieannhayden
Twitter: @nataliesparacio

Simple Steps to Improve Your Nail Health

Our hands and nails are often neglected since we use them every day for so many different tasks. They become dry, cracked and nails can break. Here are some simple steps you can take to improve your hand and nail health!

  1. Wear rubber gloves when doing housework. This prevents nail chipping and damage and avoids chemicals getting on your skin.

  2. Use hand cream regularly to keep your skin hydrated and moisturised... just like how you use a face moisturiser.

  3. Avoid metal nail files. They are too abrasive for natural nails and damage them. Stick to regular nail files!

  4. Keep your nails at a workable length. Natural nails aren't designed to be very long, and keeping them at a good length prevents damage and breakage.

  5. Drink plenty of water. It's good for our overall health, including our hands and nails!

  6. Do simple hand exercises to keep joints supple. Things like finger and wrist rotations make a big difference.

  7. Avoid hard or drying soaps. Harsh and scented soaps leave your hands coarse and dry. It's best to use natural, skin-kind soaps.

  8. Don't use your nails as tools, like opening cans. This weakens the nail.

  9. Use cuticle cream or oil daily to keep your cuticles moisturised and prevent them sticking to the nail plate.

  10. Use acetone-free nail polish to prevent damage to your nail, and always use a base coat to protect your nail from polish. 

I'd recommend regular manicures too. Manicures can improve healthy nail growth, increase blood circulation, increase hand and wrist flexibility, improve some skin issues, increases cell renewal, and relaxing treatments can sometimes aid stress and anxiety! So if you haven't had one before, definitely give your local salon a visit.

A look back on 2017: My Life.

I really like seeing what others have achieved in the year, and what they’ve overcome… I thought I would make a similar post. Mainly, for me to look back on, and be able to remember not only my accomplishments but also the things I’ve struggled with and come through stronger. 2017 was a big year for me in many ways; perhaps not big in comparison to others who maybe got their first home or had a baby, but I definitely feel like I achieved a lot, and met some real personal goals!

January 2017

I had my first ever personal trainer session at the gym and I was very proud of myself (I didn’t keep it up.)

We went on Eric’s belated work Christmas do because they made it January instead of December (not sure why) at The Earl of Pitt Street, Newcastle.

February 2017

Eric and I went to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the theatre, it was lovely!

I had my last day as a Deputy Manager at a preschool after 2 years, I got so many flowers, cards and gifts and it was very emotional. I was leaving for a similar job with more hours, so I could save up more money for a house.

Eric and I visited our friends who lived in Bracknell at the time. We went to Stonehenge, Clearwell Caves and played games while we ate pizza.

I started Skinnypigs Fitness Classes (I didn’t keep it up).

March 2017

I had my last session at Cognitive Behavioural Therapy because my anxiety and depression improved, and I felt like I left with some useful coping mechanisms!

I started my new job as a Deputy Manager in a different preschool, which I thought was really going to make a difference to me and Eric getting a home (I was wrong).

I kept up Skinnypigs twice a week for the whole month – I was so proud of myself!

April 2017

I turned 24 on the 22nd April. I celebrated with a meal and drinks with friends.

My illness started to get worse even though it had recently improved. My colitis was flaring. I wasn’t enjoying my new job which was creating a lot of stress and affecting my anxiety and depression. I was placed on heavier drugs.

Eric took me to a beautiful lodge in the Lake District for my birthday. It was beautiful, the weather was perfect – despite being very poorly with my colitis and tonsillitis, I loved it.

May 2017

I got sicker and ended up off work with a sicknote. I was experiencing gaslighting at work, and found myself crying most days.

I did the Crohn’s and Colitis WALK IT Charity Event despite being very poorly. It was silly hot weather for the UK so I was super sweaty.

May was a difficult month. I was more depressed, and very anxious about everything – work, my illness, going out.

I decided to quit the job that was making my illness worse, that I worked so hard for a year to improve. I handed in my notice.

I had an MRI scan on my spine to check for Arthritis, and it was good news. No Arthritis!

June 2017

I was unemployed properly for the first time since I was 18, and was in a dark place in my life.
I decided to start blogging and YouTube to fill a lot of my new spare time!

I got a professional photoshoot from Sit Stay Capture for my puppies before they get very grey. I wanted to remember their youthful faces!

I had several job interviews with no luck – so I kept myself busy with a regular blog schedule and lots of social media promotion.

I had my 3rd Flexible Sigmoidoscopy in 10 months because of my stupid Colitis, I hate those things.

July 2017

I went on my first hen do with a friend, and really enjoyed it!

I signed on to Universal Credit because I was struggling to find a paid job, and was so worried about bills! My first time on benefits and for some reason I felt ashamed…

I quickly got over people’s judgements about being unemployed and on benefits. I worked solidly for many years – if I need some support temporarily, I’ll take it.

August 2017

Eric turned 26 and we celebrated with a meal and drinks, and doing an Escape Room with friends.

I went wedding dress shopping with one of my best friends, and cried when she found ‘the one’!

Eric and I attended a friend’s wedding together with our group of friends, it was lovely!

I went to my first bloggers event, and it was with The Body Shop. I was so happy my blog was doing well!

Eric and I went on our first holiday abroad that we’d waited over a year for! We went to Ibiza and it couldn’t have went any better. We enjoyed the Hippy Market, Ibiza Old Town, live singers and lots and lots of food.

I enrolled to go back to college and change my life. I decided to do Beauty Therapy.

September 2017

I started college. I was extremely anxious about it, but I’m so proud of myself for making such a big decision!

My blog hit 10,000 views. I was over the moon! All the hard work was paying off.

October 2017

I went on a Speed Awareness Course because I was stupid and did 36 in a 30 zone. I have never gone over the speed limit since.

I started getting invited to more blogger events, like with intu Metrocentre!

We celebrated my 2nd favourite holiday… Halloween! Eric and I dressed as a Day of the Dead couple.

November 2017

Eric and I went to see the fireworks at Whitley Bay for Bonfire Night.

I started feeling better in myself… both mentally and physically. So, I started a new gym membership. I went to Yoga and Pilates.

I had my first ever smear test. Got freaked out that I bled a lot, but I had good results!

December 2017

Eric and I went to Edinburgh for the day. Our first weekend away almost 3 years ago was Edinburgh, so it was lovely to go back. We explored the Christmas market and made a day of it.

I had my final assessments at college for my first term. I had convinced myself that I’d do badly, but I left with 3 distinctions and a merit!

I got referred to the Breast Clinic for a cancer scare and had an ultrasound scan. It was good news, and it was just that… a scare and nothing more. It was a very stressful week as you can imagine!
Because my Colitis wasn’t improving, I was put on even more drugs (I was already taking a hefty amount).

I arranged a blogger night out with some local bloggers and I was so proud of myself for overcoming my anxiety on this one! Everyone was lovely, and I thought it went really well.

Eric had his Christmas work night out at Jesmond Dene House… so technically we had 2 Christmas nights in one year!

My blog hit 20,000 views! I was ecstatic.

I completed a spray tan course and became qualified!

I stuck at my new gym membership – a first for me!

Celebrated Christmas with lots of family and friends.

Saw the New Year in with Eric and our closest friends.

I’m still unemployed, and my Colitis may not have improved. But I achieved so much in other ways with changing my career path, going back to college, not allowing a workplace to treat me the way they did, and achieving so much through my blog and YouTube.

I’ve received so much support from the people around me, and I’m also really proud of myself for the choices I’ve made and the things I’ve achieved. I’m really hopeful that 2018 will bring even more accomplishments! 

A Christmas Tag 2017

I was recently tagged in a couple different Christmas Tag posts, so instead of choosing between them, I thought I would mix the two together by choosing some questions from each... and kind of made a new little tag.

1) What's your favourite Christmas movie?

My all-time favourite Christmas movie has got to be Love Actually - it's heartwarming, funny, and EXTREMELY festive. I did make a list of my top 10 Christmas films if you want to see those!

2) What's your favourite Christmas song?

I love the classic Christmas songs... but my absolute favourite is Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody! Again I have a list of my top 10 Christmas songs with my whole Christmas playlist linked too, if you're interested!

3) Explain the perfect Christmas outfit.

If this means for actual Christmas day - it has to be a good cosy pair of Christmas leggings (or plain leggings) and a Christmas jumper. For a Christmas party it's always going to be a good old glam dress either covered in glitter or a timeless velvet material.

4) Bold up or nude up for Christmas?

Well, I usually go for a bold lip, but this year I've really gotten into nudes. For a recent Christmas party I even wore a nude lip, which was a first for me.... I usually go for a red lip!

5) What's your favourite Christmas memory?

As I child I always loved eating plenty of chocolate for breakfast. But also, it's the only time of the whole year (pretty much), that my family actually sit together and eat a meal, and just chat.

6) What's your favourite festive food?

Homemade Yorkshire puddings and gravy. Nothing can beat it.

7) Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

I've always opened up a brand new pair of pyjamas to sleep in on Christmas eve night with some chocolate to eat as a treat!

8) Where do you spend Christmas?

Because Eric and myself don't live together, we spend Christmas Eve together with my family, and Boxing Day together with Eric's family. But on Christmas Day we just spend it away from each other and with our own families - so we don't have to choose between anyone on Christmas Day! Makes life a bit easier... but it means we get 3 Christmas's technically!

9) Do you like giving or receiving gifts more?

I love giving presents more. I like to think I'm quite a good gift-giver, and I love looking for good bargains, and going to town on wrapping and making things look good!

10) What makes Christmas special to you?

I love the build up to Christmas and the whole atmosphere at that time of year. December is such a beautiful time with streets lit up with beautiful colours, everywhere is decorated and looks stunning, Christmas markets with the smell of hot food, Christmas carolers and big bands even if you just pop to your local Asda. It just feels like a special time for me, and it makes me happy. I also love getting together with friends and family, and just making the time for eachother.

I hope you liked this post, and I'm not tagging anyone in particular. I think everyone I would tag has probably already done it, so if you do want to give this a go feel free! You certainly don't have to be tagged to do it!

This is my last blog post until after Christmas, but I will still be uploading vlogs and content over on YouTube!

Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

Charitable Things YOU Can Do Before the New Year.

I like to do what I can for Charity, especially for ones that are close to my heart and mean a lot to me. Sometimes it's hard to know exactly how you can help someone or somewhere, without always donating money - so here are a few ideas of things you can do to help a charity or a person before the year is up.

1) Buy Charity Christmas Cards

If you haven't already handed out your Christmas cards, I genuinely think it's worth spending the extras £1 or so for cards that donate to a good cause. It's a great way to help, but without taking up too much time. Most shops sell charity cards, including Asda and Tesco.

2) Give to a Food Bank

Food banks always struggle this time of year, and there are collection points in Sainsbury's, Asda and Tesco so you can drop things off at your weekly shop. They're usually looking for items like cereal, pasta, rice, tinned food, powdered milk, long life food and toiletries. Some of these items can be bought for as little as 30p, so while on your next shop pick up a couple of bits and donate them to a great cause.

3) Give to a Dog and Cat Shelter

You can grab a bag of dog or cat food for as little as £3 on your weekly shop, so why not drop a packet off at your local shelter. Just like people, there are lots of homeless pets this time of year, who also need to be fed and looked after, so this is a great way to help out. Especially as shelters are always bursting full of unwanted Christmas pets!

4) Give Blood

If you're able to, sign up to be a blood donor. Did you know that appointments often get missed around this time of year? It doesn't cost a penny to give blood, just a bit of time, and it could save a life this Christmas.

5) Sign Up to be an Organ Donor

Becoming an organ donor saves lives, and takes minimal effort. It takes 5 minutes to sign up to donate your organs and tissues after you die, and once you've done that you don't have to do a single thing! You can rest knowing that one day, you might save someone's life.

If you're short on cash, or even time, and still want to make a difference before the year is up - see if you can do one of the above things, or even do several if you can.

Some of the Charities I'm currently supporting are Crohn's and Colitis UK, Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter, and the Trussel Trust. If you haven't already, go and check out their websites!

Voices of IBD (13) - Phil's Story

Welcome to PART 13 of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease series, where we talk to people from all walks of life with this condition; to give everyone a platform to share their story, and help to raise awareness.

This week we talk to Phil about his battle with Crohn's Disease.

What is your name and age?

My name is Phil Harris and I’m 35 years old.

What is your occupation?

I am a training manager/ driving examiner for a bus company.

What form of IBD have you got?

I have Crohn's Disease. 

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I was diagnosed around 14 months ago.

About the disease...
What were your main symptoms that led to your diagnosis?

My main symptoms were severe and quick weight loss along with extreme fatigue. All I needed to do was sit down and I would be asleep. This was accompanied at the end with blood in my stools.

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

At first, I was told it was cancer. I was placed on the 2-week cancer pathway. This was the week before Christmas, so as you can guess it wasn’t the best Xmas last year. Following all the cameras it was then diagnosed as Crohn's. So, it was a relief at first. However, I soon became to worry about the condition.

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

Following my diagnosis, I received regular contact from my IBD nurse and with the consultant.

Do you take medication , if so, what?

In relation to medication, I struggled; as all the steroids I tried made me extremely depressed and then came the Azothiprine. I was slowly increased to 100mg a day, however, they then started to give me extreme sickness . I was eventually taken off all medication and surgery was completed.

What are your experiences with hospitals? Have you had many stays in hospital, or colonoscopies? Do you have an IBD nurse?

Over the last 12 months, I have had 4 hospital stays. Overall, I have found Blackburn hospital to be very well educated in relation to my complaint. I have had cameras both up and down and many CT scans along with MRI.

What seems to affect your IBD the most? What triggers it?

In relation to triggers, I can't really state for definite -  one week some things are good for me the next a flare-up happens.

Do you currently, or have in the past, struggled with mental health? If so, what?

The only mental health issue I suffered with, was whilst I was on the steroids. I do regularly worry about not being able to fully enjoy my life with my 13-year-old daughter and my loving wife. When enduring a flare up I am usually admitted to hospital for pain relief; however, I am now able to self administer morphine at home. Following recent surgery on the bowel, I have yet to really suffer a flare up.

How do you cope?
What is your go-to routine for when you are flaring? What do you do to give yourself a break or relax?

I usually find that relaxing on the sofa or engaging in fun with my daughter and wife reduces the stress and assists in managing the pain.

What lifestyle/diet/changes have you made to cope with your IBD?

Lifestyle changes have mainly been diet, at first it was a liquid diet and now it is a low fibre diet.

What advice would you give to someone who may think they are experiencing early signs?

I believe I had this condition for about 3 years before I was diagnosed. Being a man, it was embarrassing to discuss bowels with a doctor. I would advise anybody who has any signs at all to not be embarrassed and seek advice early.

What advice would you give to the friends and family of those with IBD?

I am fortunate enough to have a fantastically supportive family. However family members need to let the sufferer do what they think works and not tell them what to do.

If there is one thing that keeps you motivated and focused through it all, what would that be?

The thought of one day being able to fully enjoy my life pain free is what keeps me going.

What is your favourite quote?

My favourite quote in life is “It'll be reet”. 
This quote is used every day in my battle with Crohn's.

Thank you Phil for sharing your story here on BecxBlogs. If you are affected by Crohn's or Colitis; please go to the Crohn's & Colitis UK website for further support and information.

My Current Christmas Playlist

I'm not going to lie, I may have been listening to Christmas songs since November. I can't help it, I just love the festive season! I thought I would create a post about my top 10 Christmas songs, and have my whole Christmas playlist over on my Spotify at the very bottom, which has 58 songs and 3 hours worth of Christmas magic!

10) Kristen Bell & Idina Menzel - Ring In The Season (Olaf's Frozen Adventure) 

9) Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas 1984 Version

8) CeeLo Green - What Christmas Means To Me

7) Michael Buble - It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

6) Elton John - Step Into Christmas

5) Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You

4) Wham! - Last Christmas

3) Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday

2) Shakin' Stevens - Merry Christmas Everyone

1) Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody

My Top 10 Festive Films

Everyone's list is always different, but these are my go-to festive films to get me in the Christmas spirit that, I reach for every year!

10) Frozen
The reason it's at the bottom of my list is that it's not technically a Christmas film, and it's actually set in summer... but it's one of those films I seem to watch only at Christmas. If this was a Disney themed list, it'd be much much higher.

9) Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer
PLEASE tell me you've heard of this film? I watched it over and over as a child, and I'd still watch it today as a 24-year-old grown woman. It's like a classic Christmas film for me, even if it was one of those things on repeat on Cartoon Network!

8) New Years Eve
I've always been a sucker for a good rom-com, and New Year's Eve is definitely a guilty pleasure. It's packed full of famous actors and actresses and this film is perfect for the after Christmas blues, to get you prepped for New Years.

7) The Snowman
Another classic I watched every year as a child. It's so simple but honestly, I still love it. For me, this film is the epitome of Christmas as a child, with the magic of snowmen coming to life and a party with Santa, and the innocence around Christmas. It's magical.

6) A Christmas Carol (2009)
I'm not one for very old films, so the 2009 version of A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey is my favouroite adaptation of the Dickens novel. To be honest, I like most movies with Jim Carrey in it, and the animation in this film is absolutely brilliant.

5) Elf
 I think Elf is on everyone's list, only much higher. Elf is another classic Christmas Comedy that everyone loves. I'm always shocked if someone says they haven't seen it. How could you not? It's on every TV channel around Christmas time!

4) The Nightmare Before Christmas
Some might argue this is a Halloween film, but for me, it's a bit of both. I'd watch it at both Halloween and Christmas, and probably all year round. I'm always a sucker for a Tim Burton film, I think he's extremely talented and creative. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a great "bridge" film for the time between Halloween and Christmas and is probably my 2nd favourite Tim Burton film, after Corpse Bride. 

3) The Holiday
I don't see this film cropping up too much on people's lists, but it's genuinely one of my favourite Christmas films and most definitely deserves to be in my top 3. It has some of my favourite actors in it... who doesn't love Jack Black and Jude Law?! I really like the whole story, and like I said before, I always love rom-coms.

2) Dr Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas
I've already declared my love for Jim Carrey and The Grinch is one of those classic favourites that everyone loves. I have no exceptions, I always found this film hilarious as a child, and even today I love how it shows the magic of Christmas and how it brings people together.

1) Love Actually
I think anyone could have guessed it really. Love Actually is one of my all-time favourite films, nevermind my favourite Christmas film. I always feel happy when I watch this film. I love how it explores what Christmas is to lots of different types of people, and we get to see several story lines, that all link. I think it's not only extremely clever, but it's such a heartwarming film, especially in the run up to Christmas. If this film doesn't have you feeling festive then nothing will.