Chris and I have just returned from a few days chilling out in the Spanish sunshine. Our intention was to relax and for the most part we did but the very beginning of our holiday was somewhat marred by the sheer incompetence at Stansted Airport.
If you have read my blog before you'd know I like to get out and about and I fly a lot (incredible in itself as I had such a fear of flying for a very long time I have been known to get to the gate but refuse to board the plane, but two lots of cancer in the family and one terrifying yachting experience changed all that)
Anyway, we arrived at Stansted in good spirits only for that to be soured by what I can only imagine was either a very new, unseasoned security staff member or an utter jobsworth, hard to tell really. Either way it was most unpleasant and infuriating.
So far this year I have flown from Gatwick, Heathrow, JFK and Stansted multiple times... but on Wednesday I was given the full on suspect treatment...suspected of what I am still none the wiser.
I went through the body scanner, as I do most times, my bag flags up, it usually does and usually I say to them I have a colostomy and they do a quick pat down and a explosives wand check and I'm good to go....oh not this time!
First I was asked for paperwork for it...Of course I don't have paperwork for it!!! It's a colostomy bag not a pet dog off on its holidays!!
I was asked for a doctor's note, but I'm not a patient, I don't have an illness, I'm not poorly in any way...I'm not even feeling in the slightest peaky - I simply use a colostomy bag due to my lack of bowel, that's not me being in denial, it's just the facts. I do NOT need a doctor's note to fly. I had an illness a long time ago, one that I fought and thankfully with an amazing oncologist and surgeon I was able to survive. I'm fully fit, fully recovered and even were I to have an ongoing illness it's no ones business how someone poops, and unless you're carrying needles or controlled medicines a colostomy bag is not enough of a reason to stop someone. What next? Checking babies nappies or come to that sanitary pads??
I explained what my bag was, I showed her even. But no, she radioed to another staff member and I was escorted by both of them to a side room...at which point I'm positively crapping myself that they will strip search me or something.
Turns out they needed to fill out a form. Which I had to sign. I didn't read it, which was stupid of me but I was too stressed thinking I was going to be cavity searched...not an easy task when you lack that certain cavity I would have thought! ;)
They then repeated the explosives wand test again, only this time I had to stand with one leg at a time on a step stool for it. But other than that and the paperwork nothing was ascertained. They didn't check my stoma bag...roll of eyes here...if it was my bag that flagged up, you'd think the bag would be checked.
Well we can all sleep well in our beds tonight, the flow chart form was filled out correctly!!
An absolute joke. Of course I want to be safe on a flight, but as I said they didn't actually check my bag so they are no closer to knowing what it is or what I have in it. They simply are in possession of a form that says nothing of any real importance. And all of this could have been done out in the open rather than being escorted to that little side room, you know the one, the room none of us want to end up in at airports!
Stansted up your game!! If I can pass through JFK of all places with no stress or interference then I should be able to here!
To add insult to injury the second lady, who was very nice said that were I to have had a urostomy bag the other side of my abdomen as well as the colostomy it probably WOULDN'T have flagged up at all as it would have been equal on the scanner.
I'm a tough old bird but even I was unnerved by this experience!
Yes, all was fine in the end but the stress caused was as ridiculous as it was unnecessary. And could have been easily avoided if Stansted put a bit more effort and money into staff training. Basic training in awareness, empathy and common sense would serve them well!
Top from No.27 in Colchester, Jeans from Topshop, Shoes from Tods.
We then arrived at our little villa near Mazarron, to find that the Bougainvillea plant that I had insisted we buy had overgrown and was completely out of control, not a huge problem until we realised that one of the vines had climbed into the door track for the front door and wedged it shut. We literally had to break in with chisels and hammers. Fortuitously they were stored in a box by the front door, they're not now as we realised if we used them to get in so could others.
They say these things come in 3's ...day 2 I discovered my favourite ice cream shop in the world was closed for the winter! ... how!? Why?!...the suns out and I want one! Hahahahahahahaha...
Thankfully our holiday couldn't be ruined, what's not to love, I'm with Chris, the sun is shining and menu del dia (a four course meal in Spain) is only €10 each, four courses for what? £8.90 - oh and for drinkers that price includes a bottle of wine between two!
We're huge fans having only discovered it's wonders earlier this year...after 17 years of coming here.
We had an really wonderful time away. Vomit inducing though it may be Chris is my best friend and any time with him is utter bliss.
We sun bathed, we ate delicious food...we went on the beach for all of 5 seconds...he's a sand phobe. I guess he had one too many egg sandwhiches ruined by the crunch of sand as a child! Hahahahahah.
I brought a full range of clothes with me, this time of year is perfect as it's not too hot and you can actually get some wear out of them.
I love this dress, I bought it ages ago in Ted Baker while I was out shopping with my niece Jess. I hadn't got round to wearing it before now. It's so comfy.
Although it's flat fronted, which can show my bag, it's A line design kept everything hidden away.
Top From Micheal Kors, Jeans from Topshop, Shoes from Jeagar about 10 years ago.
I love this top, I bought it in NYC. The simplist design but so utterly effective.
Top from Micheal Kors, Jeans from Topshop, shoes from Jimmy Choo.
I read somewhere that Micheal Kors designed his mothers wedding dress when he was five years old and continued to design flattering clothes for women since then. I'm not sure how close he actually comes to the ready to wear range but I love pretty much all of it.
Cardigan from Phase Eight, Dress from Primark, Flip flops from Havianas.
For sun tan cream days you can't beat Primark for practicality. There's really no point in ruining good clothes with yellow stains.
Top from M&S, Cardigan from Gap, Shorts from Next, Shoes from Jimmy Choo.
Heading off to the Port for churros by the sea. Happiness is relishing the small pleasures.
I have a food intolerance to chocolate, I avoid it at all costs usually, there's pretty much only two occasions I make the exceptions for and risk the consequences - 1 is for dipping churros into and 1 is a hot chocolate up a mountain in the snow.
I Absolutely love this top. It's another from No. 27 in Colchester. I asked Chris if he liked it and the response was "oh, another navy top, makes a change"... cheeky bugger, firstly I love navy, far less harsh than black and always classy and two, this top is charcoal grey!
I was asked recently why I write my blog. I'm not sure I know the answer to that fully, it's not like I make anything out of it, in fact it costs me money to even have my website up and running.
But I love writing it and in some way I want to give back, pay it forward as they say. Besides I have met (online) so many lovely people from literally all over the world that email me and share their experiences.
What I really want is to do is show stoma's in a positive light. That it's not the end of the world to have one, for me it was an entirely new beginning, one I will never tire of gratitude for.
Have bag will travel but more than that, have bag - have a life. A really really very good life.