Tag Archives: warrior

Time to make some changes.

 

11782303_787519008028644_2988925038861184861_o

Change. We all go through it whether we are ready or not. It’s programmed within us to adapt, to allow for change and to react. It can be scary, it can also be enlightening and liberating, or it can be in the form of a huge hurdle that seems almost impossible to overcome.

I have been a little quiet the past few months dealing with my own changes and most importantly, learning how to change myself to be happier and more appreciative of myself. I inadvertently stopped blogging, posting on social media and even stopped looking at myself in the mirror. I felt disgusting in my own skin, and for someone who has gone through so much health wise and changes with their body – this was the final straw for me.

After my last BB competition in July last year where I didn’t look my best because of stress catching up to me at the very last minute, making my body do some crazy things and holding a crazy amount of water and fat – I blew out. Now for those who don’t know what I mean by ‘blew out’, I ate anything and everything in sight as soon as I stepped off the stage. I still went to the gym and hit some impressive numbers with my lifts (probably the only bonus of this horrible time for me) but I was hurting so much inside and felt absolutely useless and like a disgrace. I had dieted for 20 weeks and then just threw it all away and gained so much weight I no longer recognized myself. I hated what I saw in the mirror. I hated myself for what I had become.

I was downright depressed. I had Chronic Fatigue settling in, my glandular fever was making a comeback and my Ostomy was flaring up with horrible irrigation as a result. My health both mentally and physically was appalling. I had spent just over 2 years repairing my digestive system and regaining my menstrual cycle after not having it for 6 years since falling ill, and I felt like I was the biggest failure as a result of my epic food binging.

I had every intention to compete at the Arnold Classic in March but it just was not my time, and was not for me. I could not put my body through any more drastic dieting or excessive cardio. I realise now that my heart wasn’t in it either and I wanted to compete for all the wrong reasons – Bodybuilding for me is all or nothing, and if your mind isn’t in a good place then competing is off the table. This is also why I have zero plans to compete again in the near future. I simply do not have that fire or passion that I had for my first competition prep, and until that fire ignites within me again I will not be putting myself through another arduous process.

Fast forward to today, where I have completed changed my nutrition and training habits, and have taken responsibility for it as I now look after myself. I now follow IIFYM (If it fits your macros/flexible dieting) and track everything I eat and it has been the best thing I have done for myself in a long time. I don’t eat excessive amounts of junk food, but rather I eat more volume in my food and variety. I have the choice without feeling guilt to eat a burger and chips as long as it fits. I went from a standard ‘high repetition’ training program back to lifting heavy and working my strength back up – I am now lifting for me again. I have changed from doing all the things that didn’t really make me happy, to doing things that make me excited to wake up in the morning and to go to the gym and to no longer avoid coffee dates with friends or steering clear from a blueberry bagel. I have changed the way I see myself and the way I see food and it really is a beautiful thing. (If anybody wants help with IIFYM or training let me know – preacher over here!)

I changed my job as well in the past 2 months. I had a job that allowed me to travel and work in countries like China, Thailand and Malaysia but the hours and demanding workload meant that I had no time for my partner, friends and family or most importantly myself. I now work for the University I studied at and I am so happy there in my new role. I had to change my work mentality and understand that I will no longer see my ‘work family’ every day who I had grown very fond of over the past 3 years, and realised that it was now time for me to grow professionally in a male dominated field with most people being double my age.

In the past few years I have experienced a lot of change. Some of it good, some of it bad and some of it… I still don’t know how to feel about. I had to change my attachment to people because it became all too clear that some people no longer served me and I valued our friendship more than they did. Yes it sucked. It really did. I changed the way I saw myself and what I thought I deserved. I changed my circle and those I held dear and close. What once was large, is now small and refined – somedays I get a little upset that I no longer have a large circle but other days I am more than content with those I have around me.

In order to change, we must identify what surrounds us and what is no longer doing us justice or making us happy. Happiness and wellbeing are so damn important and I cannot stress enough the importance of being happy and healthy on the inside before you see the changes on the outside – not just the physical, but what you emit.

I’ll do my best to write more – sorry I have been MIA. Changes were happening 😉

IG: @_kaitb E: kaitland.burrows@live.com

Advertisements

Shape Magazine Article!

Z-2

I was contacted a few months ago by the editor of Shape magazine Australia, Alison Turner for an interview as she saw a post on Facebook that City Gym (the gym I go to) posted about me and my journey thus far.

Never in a million years did I think that I would be contacted for an interview, let a lone have a full back page photo and article dedicated to me! Wow! I can’t even put into words the feeling I got when I purchased the magazine and flicked through the pages and saw little old me. I was beaming with pride!

Please go out and buy it if you want to have a read, or for my international followers if you would like a copy let me know!

Here’s hoping for a cover next time 😉

My Bionic Addition aka How My Ostomy Works.

When you think of the word Ostomy, most people will either have no clue what it is or they will automatically associate it with a mature-aged person with cancer, and a large bag where their faecal matter falls into from a permanent opening in their bowel and stomach.

The majority of people have no idea what my Ostomy is and how it works (This also goes for my fellow Ostomates as well!) given that my type of Ostomy is a ‘new’ technology, so in honour of World Ostomy Day coming up, I figured it might be a good time to clear the air and educate.

I have what’s called a Chait Caecostomy, and have had so since July 2nd 2009. Prior to surgery I was put through a series of ‘psychological’ tests I guess you could say, to determine if I would mentally be able to cope with the potential of living with a permanent Chait Tube. I met two Stomal Therapy Nurses who asked me every question under the sun from – ‘do you go camping regularly?’ to ‘do you play contact sports?’.

At first, I thought nothing of the questions and figured it was just a means for them to see if I had considered all possibilities (I had no other option other than this surgery or some experimental procedures that I was NOT keen to partake in, and still am not even considering), however I later found out that it was them determining if I would be mentally stable enough to cope with the sudden change in my bodily functions and my appearance – I think I passed with flying colours!

Whilst some people with a Chait can get away with irrigating their bowel every 2-3 days, I need to do it daily. I believe this has a lot to do with the amount of food I eat with training. Some also only use 500ml – 1 litre of water to irrigate, whereas I can use anywhere between 2 – 4 litres daily. Again, this all depends on the food I’m eating, if I’m tired or unwell or if my hormones are out of whack when it’s that time of the month. I can also spend anywhere between 30 minutes – 2 hours on the toilet when irrigating which is painfully boring at the best of times!

Instead of giving you a long description of my surgery and how it works, I think these two diagrams effectively demonstrate the surgery I had and how I go to the toilet:

radiology-cecostomy-tube-cmplx-illus-lrg_0

^ The Catheter, Connector and Drainage bag are not permanently fixed to me daily, I attach these to the opening of the Chait tube (See below diagram to see how it opens like a trap-door) when I need to irrigate/go to the toilet.

ctube-fig-1

^ The Chait Tube sits flush with my skin on the outside of my skin, so yes I do have a permanent opening directly into my bowel, also known as a stoma. The tube is not ‘stitched’ in, it is held in place with the coils and has been put into place through careful placement of my bowel so it doesn’t wiggle around.

My particular type of Ostomy is very easy to pull-out, whether you pull your pants down too quick or drying yourself off after a shower and you don’t have a stoma cap/bandage on. In my six years, I have only done this once … more on this later!

Most people think that having an Ostomy means I can’t pee like a ‘normal’ healthy person, but I can. My Ostomy does not affect my bladder, only my bowel and that’s for quite a large portion of us. (Some do have a Urostomy which means their bladder does not work).

I hope this has somewhat helped to explain my Ostomy without confusing or overwhelming anybody!

Triumphant Transformation

We hear the term ‘transformation’ thrown around like it’s a common term nowadays. We have ‘Transformation Tuesday and Thursday’ where we boast and/or beam with pride of our achievements. We find ourselves transforming from adolescence into adulthood and we reflect on the changes that have been made – nights out getting drunk and stumbling home at 5am turn into nights in with a movie and in bed by 10pm. Transformation can happen on so many levels, yet we tend to focus heavily on the transformation that happens through diet and exercise. The physical transformation. Yes, we may reflect on the ‘I now love my body and can accept it because…’ but it’s not something that we tend to really focus on when it’s actually the most important transformation of all.

Our emotional and psychological transformation is the one that takes time to develop. It is on it’s way. Developing and unfolding before we even know it or can even recognise a glimpse of change. We are so bewildered by the fact that we can now wear our bikini on the beach for Summer with confidence and not a care in the world, but ignore the quintessential essence that is, that we have found beauty in ourselves.

Losing a few kilos and a dress size is the easy part. The maintaining a high level of self love and worth, as well as respect for yourself and admiration for your hard work and persistence is at times challenging for the most part. We lose ourselves if we focus on the physical too much, despite our goals to look good in a Wedding dress for the big day. The beauty of reaching our end goal, is the beauty that we struggle to see and/or have difficulty acknowledging.

We constantly feel like we perhaps are not good enough. We are blinded daily by the media of a celebrity who has gained weight, donning a bikini and in contrast we are shown another who has lost a tonne of weight and is lapping it up on the beach. We are shown photos. Images. Life-stills of that very moment they were captured. We are not shown nor do we hear about their emotional or psychological journey which is the most important one of all. For all we know they now have a healthier relationship with food, and an appreciation for their bodies capabilities.

This constant focus on the physical is something that needs to be changed from both the transformed, to the spectators. I don’t want to go into the cliche terms but I think I may have to – beauty is skin deep. Your physical transformation will always have it’s ups and downs. One day you will have a six pack and the next you will be sporting a one pack. It’s all a matter of time and circumstance. What you do with your mind and the way you hold yourself is another thing all together, and in my opinion is a hell of a lot more important than the striations in your delts or the veins in your forearms.

I will leave you with this thought – Do you want to be solely remembered as a beautiful mansion surrounded by water. One that has no warmth or love, with the only value being monetary and nothing personal OR as a warm home, one that is full of memories and may be showing signs of wear and tear – but at least it’s lived a life that is memorable and shows signs of hope, courage and love.

We are all a work in progress.

P.s – my physical and my internal transformation will be shared in coming days. Stay tuned.

Chronicle II: Teething.

After the seven days of antibiotics I was up and running again. I had the spring back in my step, and I was completely mobile. No more living in the bathroom with one end on the toilet and the other in a bucket for long periods of time. My diet no longer consisted of two things – dry milk arrowroot biscuits and flat lemonade. I was perfectly fine again. Healthy. I could walk ten steps without collapsing and without holding onto walls for support. I was no longer waking up in the morning and feeling so absolutely disgusted in myself for having had yet another accident. Because this blog is supposed to be brutally honest and a true reflection and account of my story, I have no shame in admitting that I had no control of my bowel to the point where I was in nappies – thankfully at this time my siblings were still in nappies so my mum didn’t need to buy any just for me (I have to find the funny side in any horrid situation!).

No longer did my mum come into my bedroom of a morning to see if I was alive, or to check if I had soiled myself again and was completely unaware. You may think ‘how the hell did she not know if she had an accident or not?’ – let me tell you, once you lose control of your bowel you lose control of your feelings and emotions. I was numb. Numb from the neck down. My nerves were all over the place and I could not for the life of me, feel any life within me.

The morning I woke up without having had soiled myself during the night, and where I didn’t wake up feeling like I would rather had gone to sleep forever and never wake up was the best feeling ever. I absolutely cannot put into words how elated I felt knowing that I was no longer in nappies, nor was I doubled-over in pain constantly and crying myself to sleep face-down in my pillow so my parents couldn’t hear my cries. I was no longer scratching at my thighs and digging my nails into my skin because the pain was excruciating as the Salmonella tore right through my insides.

I was back to normal. Alive. Healthy. Ready to live life again and go back to school.

The three months that followed my bounce-back after a nasty bout of Salmonella were an absolute mind boggling time for me. The first month my bowel was normal, I was regular. I had control and my bowel movements were perfectly healthy. I was eating a well-balanced diet as always – my mother is a fantastic cook and my step-family is Turkish so our version of a home cooked meal is a banquet of vegetables, fruits, grains and lots of meat!

There I was, back at school having missed the first fortnight and it was great to start back and be surrounded by friends. It honestly was like nothing had even happened, like I had had no nasty Salmonella and I was completely healthy like always.

Come the second month, and something changed. My bowel was erratic. I had gone from normal healthy bowel movements to ‘where is the closest toilet?’ diarrhoea. The on and off diarrhoea lasted a month from memory. I had severe bowel incontinence. At first I didn’t tell my mum. I figured it was something I was eating or it was nothing important or of concern – I was still able to pass a bowel motion so everything was okay, right?! I finally told my mum and we both put it down to maybe I was eating too much fibre so I cut my green vegetable intake and figured that would help.

The third month brought on another change. A change that would be permanent and a feeling that would last for the rest of my life. I was constipated to the point where no matter how much water I drank, how much fibre I had and I could drink endless cups of herbal teas and still no ease in the bathroom. I was straining so much I almost passed out a few times. Throbbing migraines, haemorrhoids and a bleeding rectum were the new fun moments of my bathroom habits. Again, I didn’t mention this to my mum until it was almost a week without a bowel movement – yes, I got to the point where I was unable to go to the toilet at all. My bowel stopped to a halt and I was so disgustingly backed up with faeces and in so much pain as my waste was turning toxic inside of me. Next thing you know I was in the chemist buying some over the counter laxatives to pass a stool and I felt more at ease.

Once again I was taken back to the doctors. The same doctor I had gone to when I first fell ill with Salmonella three months prior. I told him about the past three months and my erratic bowel patterns and behaviour – healthy movements, diarrhoea and then constipation. He listened attentively, nodded and wrote some notes down. He then proceeded to say the following, “There is a small chance of people who have ongoing effects of Salmonella. It’s something as small as 2% chances of ongoing medical issues due to damage caused – but you should be fine. Don’t forget you had a severe case of a Salmonella infection”.

I was given a cocktail of laxatives and sent on my way home. Told that the laxatives taken were mild and could be taken daily and to not exceed the minimum dosage because my bowel will re-regulate again and be okay. Okay?! I was far from it.

I refer to the three months post Salmonella as my ‘teething’ period. You know, the time when you are kind of okay and your body is preparing you for the next big phase in your life. It’s going through some big changes, changes that will set you up for growth.

The amount of growth I had ahead of me physically, mentally and emotionally were definitely not preconceived nor were they predetermined. It really was only the beginning.

II VII MMIX / 02/07/2008

For my followers and those who pass on by, I thought I would share with you what I posted on Facebook for my six year anniversary (also known as my re-birth day)

Today is the anniversary of the most important day of my life. It’s the day where I was given my second chance after being given a death sentence of 4 weeks – my ‘rebirth day’ if you will. It’s the day I went under the knife and became a permanent Ostomate.

Every year I try to put into words to try and explain the toughest time of my life, but typing a few characters just doesn’t do me justice.

There’s no words to describe getting a phone call three days prior with a nurse telling you “you’re at the top of the list now after the critical cancer patients. The second of July it is”. Nothing could have prepared me for the battle and journey that would occur from then on.

I can’t use words to portray the visual of waking up groggy to the most intense burning pain you could ever imagine. A pain that I only have to close my eyes and it takes me back to the cold sterile walls of St George Hospital and that God awful bed, with white linen sheets saturated in blood.

But I can say that I am ever so thankful and grateful for the life I live today. One where the options are limitless and endless – glass always full, never half-full or half-empty. I no longer am bound to the bathroom carrying enough laxatives for 30 people daily. I now walk strong, chest proud and head held high – not hunched over in pain feeling my body deteriorate daily.

To think this time six years ago I had said goodbye to my family, and today I say “I’ll see you tomorrow”. Had you asked me six years ago if I would ever enter bodybuilding competitions, or if I could squat and deadlift more than my body weight I would’ve laughed in your face.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me in one way or another and for not showing me pity. Here’s to many more years of kicking goals and leading a good healthy life.

Chronicle I: In the Beginning – My Story

Like any typical teenager going back to school after a summer break I was dreading the endless hours of studying and the early mornings – however, this first day back at high-school would be one to remember for all the wrong reasons.

As cliche as it sounds, I remember it like it was yesterday. It’s all very vivid. Black and white; no grey in between. It was my first day of year nine (middle school for my overseas readers) and I was sixteen years of age. I awoke to a churning stomach, a sick feeling and I didn’t feel quite right. My mum put it down to ‘first day back nerves’ and sent me on my way.

I was freezing. Ice cold – despite the scorching Australian Summer. I was blue. Doubled over in pain and feeling like a complete wreck at school I was running to the toilet. A friend of mine followed, knowing I looked and felt like death. To my absolute horror I realized I had an accident. I’ve never felt so disgusted, repulsed and scared in my life. I was sick to my stomach in every which way of the word!

By 9:30am I was sent home. My mum came to pick me up and took me to the local doctor. In that half an hour at school I went from feeling a little cold and queasy to living in the bathroom at a complete and utter loss.

I was able to see the doctor immediately. He took one look at me and sent me home with a request for a stool sample and blood tests to be run. The results were to be ready in two days due to the severity of my vomiting and diarrhea. It wouldn’t stop. I cannot put into words the intense pain, the twisted cramping as though someone had my bowels in a meat grinder and the burn as my body was violently eradicating all contents of my bowels from every way possible.

Three days had gone and there was no news from the pathologist and doctor. My mum was on the phone straight away to the doctor who said the results had not come in and to call the pathologist. In a sick twisted turn of unfortunate events, the pathologist had no record of my stool sample (how the hell someone loses a stool sample is an absolute joke and beyond me!) thus, no results. I had to do the test again and wait another three days for results. As each day went on without a diagnosis, treatment or any assurance that I was going to be okay, I continuously regressed both mentally and physically.

After six days of no diagnosis, meaning no antibiotics or treatment I was on deaths door. My body was deteriorating. I could not walk. I could feel my muscles eating themselves to sustain my body. I was shutting down physically, mentally and internally. I could not keep any good or liquids down, completely bound to the toilet with one end on the toilet and my head in a bucket. Even though I hadn’t eaten or drank anything, my body still felt the need to reject any remnant left inside of me.

I honestly have never wanted to go to sleep forever. Yes, I thought I was going to die and I can’t believe I’ll admit to this, but I want to be honest and open with you – I wanted to die.

By the sixth day, we returned to the doctor. I was worse than ever. Green in complexion, posture so poor and my body had withered away. Rushed into the surgery and hearing the doctor say ‘you have a Salmonella food poisoning infection’ I was a little shocked and albeit mad. I had never thought food poisoning could absolute rip right through someone (literally and physically!) like it had done to me. I had prepared myself to hear that I had contracted some rare autoimmune disease or perhaps I had some mystery illness. But no, it was ‘just‘ Salmonella.

As the six days had passed and the first stool sample had gone missing, the food that had caused the Salmonella food poisoning infection was long gone out of my system (thus we were unable to find the original food source, and even to this day I cannot prove where I got sick from originally. In saying this I am 90% certain I know where it was from but cannot name due to legal reasons).

Sent home with a diagnosis and treatment of antibiotics and enough electrolytes to hydrate a nation, I thought all my troubles were behind me and that after the seven days of treatment I would be 100% healthy again and have no more issues. The salmonella would be a thing of the past and it would just be a distant memory.

Boy, was I wrong. And so began my never ending battle from January 2006 – full of its highs and lows, with more lows than I would like to remember or acknowledge, with the majority of ‘highs’ from pain killers like Valium.

Stay tuned for Chronicle II in the coming days as I reflect, remember and rehash old memories and experiences to not only educate and inform you, my readers – but to also inspire and put into words what I have struggled with for quite some time now.

Bear with me.