I’m going to split this into two parts otherwise you will be reading forever!!
As you all know by now I went to the Purple Wings Charity event. I was lucky enough to snap up a free ticket so I could go. I was so excited but incredibly nervous about going; to a city I’ve never been too, by myself to meet people I’ve never met before! I had messaged Lauren a few times and felt quite an instant connection to her, she has such a big heart and is beautiful inside and out. She managed to make it so 00Steve could come with me as well after an unfortunate turn of events occurred. I don’t think she will ever truly understand what that meant to us both.
We arrived in Birmingham on the Saturday ready and raring to go to the conference/open day. Well except 00Steve he doesn’t do social events of any kind really but he was there to support me (he however surprised himself by finding it interesting ha! I suppose he hears a lot from me about it all) We signed in and had a quick chat about where we were going to sit, was I expecting him to walk around with me or not!
I had a quick look around the room to see where I wanted to start. I spotted Stoma Style run by Lisa Wilkinson, she creates stoma bag covers. I snapped a picture before moving on as she was talking to someone, however I went back later on more about that shortly!
Dansac had a stall also but I didnt stop at that one since I used to use their products before trying Coloplast.
There was a Hollister stall but at that time no one was on there I grabbed a free lip balm (odd thing I thought but is really good!) They do leaflets on pregnancy and living with a stoma which are pretty good. My stoma nurse sent me one when I found out I was pregnant.
Next was Jasmine Stacey Collection this is a very luxurious lingerie brand. I want to point out she is such a babe! She totally got how I was feeling with regards to feeling fat and hideous but knowing it’s not how others view you. I picked up the Autumn/Winter 16 catalogue which is lush. At some point soon I will buy some of her lingerie and let you all know about it. She seems to be very passionate about empowering women with ostomies to feel sexy and confident.
I couldn’t get much of a look in at the ConvaTec stall which left me gutted as I wanted one of their water bottles which are the perfect size for my isotonic drinks.
IA Support were up next, they are the Ileostomy and Internal Pouch Support group. One of the women I spoke to asked me if I had tried to get in touch regarding a my osto story which I believe I found via the Coloplast website. I passed her my blogness card ( I handed a few out whether they prove useful or not remains to be seen) which she recognised my picture (yay) They had a range of freebies such as USB sticks, magnets, pens, lanyard phone holders and leaflets. I picked a leaflet up on how to join (£15 a year reasonable I think) their quarterly journal and a leaflet on exercise with an ostomy (I do whinge on about wanting to get back into exercise)
If you have IBD and you haven’t heard of CCUK then why not? It’s the charity that supports finding a cure and/or treatment for Chrons and Colitis sufferers in the UK. They again only ask for £15 a year to join.
Not going to lie I was incredibly excited about the next stand! It was Comfizz! If you don’t know how much I LOVE my comfizz waistbands then clearly I’m not saying it often enough! I am waiting impatiently to have enough money (I’ve used my prescription quota on trying everything I could) to buy the vests and boxers. I got the opportunity to speak to the man behind the company (although it is very much a family business) Nozar. 00Steve and I both could have spoken to him all day, he is so passionate about his company and the reasons for the companies change from sports wear to ostomy support wear.
The name comfizz if I remember what he said correctly is made up of comfort and life I feel this is very apt because you want to feel comfortable with your support wear during your day to day life. I told him I spoke to Megan on Instagram a bit, he then told me that was his daughter. I mentioned a review I had done and he said that he had been told about me which was nice. I told him how much I liked his products which I think made him happy. I got some sneak peaks at future products which I will keep a guarded secret but I can tell you its exciting! I definitely want to keep in touch with comfizz and hopefully work with them in anyway I can so Megan if your reading this keep me in mind!! We only moved on because other people were beginning to mingle round the stall and they may have needed information.
Purple Wings themselves had a stall selling wristbands, bumper stickers, badges (Ra-Ra has a butterfly one on her leather jacket to go with my wing commander one on mine) and the Here Come The Boys 2017 ostomate calender which you can buy here. Whilst at the Purple Wings stand I spotted Lauren and went to give her a hug. She seemed slightly hesitant and I panicked thinking I was a bit daft thinking I would get a hug when she didn’t know me. She asked my name and when she realised she laughed, apologised and gave me a hug which put my paranoid mind at rest. She was such a busy bee no, no busy butterfly fluttering around from one person to the next.
Vanilla Blush had a stand filled with all of their pretty lacy items and swimwear. I personally like their underwear because of the internal pouch, I can’t stand feeling my bag against my leg. At that stall there was this little woman talking passionately about the underwear. I looked and felt a little star struck it was Shell from Stoma In A Teacup I’ve been reading her Facebook for awhile!
Coloplast/Charter had a stand but as I use their products/delivery service I again moved on.
We then sat down for the inspirational talks. Boy were they moving, I cried other people cried, people were nodding their heads knowing what the speakers were feeling and talking about.
Adam Vince was the first speaker, he spoke about being a man with an ostomy and how different it is for them than us women. It never really occurred to me it would make a difference, but women are usually open about these things to other women at least. He started a male only Facebook group called Male Ostomy and IBD, so if you are a guy with IBD or an ostomy please check it out. Can I just say his little girl is amazing she clearly is his number one fan.
Gemma Sales was the founder of the female only Facebook group osto-MY Fashion that I’m a member of. It was quite upsetting listening to her story, I ended up crying quite early on during her talk so I missed most of it. So I apologise about that!
During the intermission I went and spoke to Lisa so I could find out about her covers. She told me she makes covers for children and osto bears too. She can make covers for any size or shape bag you need in any material you like. Covers start at £7. I have got 3 covers on the way to try and review. I am looking forward to them because then I can wear my existing underwear and not have my bag scratch.
After nipping to the bar to get a beer, Jasmine was there getting a prosecco for Dutch courage. In her talk she spoke about intimacy and loving yourself first. Which I think is hard for anyone to do. She got a lot of laughs and said a lot of wise words that stuck with me. Now this doesn’t directly affect me because I have 00Steve but maybe useful for others. She said she would tell potential partners about the bag, this would act like a filter for those actually worth her time. Because let’s face it your bag has probably saved your life in one way or another, do you really need someone being negative? No no you don’t so move on and find someone worth your time.
The last speaker was Shell Lawes the founder of Stoma In A Teacup and the support groups brought about from that. She spoke about her journey to diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis and I for one could relate to of alot her story. I also fancied one of my consultants when I was younger! She spoke about how Purple Wings gave her a “Time For Me” grant. She was able to get her hair done and have a day out with her partner and her two beautiful children. This helped her regain some of her self back and the children got to spend some valuable mum and dad time.
At the end of the talks I looked in my orange bag that had been on our chairs. I found a little fold away bag that has pockets and a little shelf thing. It hooks up onto your mirror and holds all your ostomy bits whilst you change your bag. If you have seen my videos then you know I will find it useful!!
I will post about the ball later on so keep posted!