So thanks to Purple Wings Charity really kindly giving me a grant of a hotel voucher for 00Steve and I to reconnect as having Ra-Ra then falling pregnant sadly losing Bean and falling pregnant with Button we never really had a chance to just adjust as a normal couple would after having major life changing surgery. Don’t get me wrong we never let my ileostomy get in the way of our relationship but we weren’t able to just be ourselves as we had little people to take care of! Thanks to Purple Wings Charity we were able to visit Paris!
We always well I say we I always wanted to go to Paris; 00Steve wanted to take me for my 30th but we were pregnant with Button and decided to go to Disneyland Paris with both of our babies when they get bigger. So it was the perfect choice to have as our first childless holiday – plus it was a double celebration as it was my 2 year stomaversary plus more importantly our 8 year anniversary (we don’t really celebrate our wedding anniversary as Ra-Ra born on the same day!) We haven’t had a holiday abroad since we were pregnant with Ra-Ra back in 2013 when we went to Malta.
I spent ages trying to plan as much into our 2.5 days away as I could which was no hardship as I LOVE planning things. We had booked in to the Premier Lounge at Doncaster Airport which meant food, drink, a guaranteed seat and easy access to a toilet which I have to admit was pretty handy, what was even better was that no one else was in there so it was seemed more intimate. I also had an invisible disability wristband that made staff aware if I needed assistance it was to be given without questions; annoyingly I lost the darn thing after going through security but really that is where I would have needed it if anywhere. Each airport I believe have a different invisible awareness item all you have to do is email the specific airport with the dates you are flying and the flight reference.
When we boarded the flight I ensured my bag was empty more for my own comfort as it was only an hour long flight, plus we were able to have a free bottle of water from the premier lounge which as an ostomate it is always a good idea to be able to keep hydrated. I didn’t have any issues with my appliance whilst on the plane, my main concern was actually they seemed to struggle to get the cabin pressure just right and both of us struggled with our ears popping and blocking far too frequently than we would have liked.
On our arrival into France I emptied again as I wasn’t quite sure how long it would take us to get to our hotel, let alone how we were getting there. I had made an effort to remember as much French as I could from school but thankfully the staff at the ticket office appreciated my efforts and didn’t let me labour on sounding stupid ha ha! It was a fair trek through the airport to the on site train station but then it was an easy ride to then swap to a metro and after that our hotel was just around the corner.
I struggled to eat things whilst away because I am actually quite a fussy eater, I ordered asparagus with a citrusy hollandaise type sauce which would have been amazing if the asparagus wasn’t cold!! We then checked into our hotel and set off on a mission to navigate the metro to find the catacombs which was pretty cool and went down 132 steps way below the subway tracks and saw an unreal amount of skeletons. I think it’s pretty surreal when you see the bones to think that once they were living breathing people; especially when they have been set out so ornately. It was definitely one of our Paris highlights though.
We went to a steakhouse for our anniversary meal and due to being in so much pain with my wisdom tooth; I didn’t really fancy anything on the menu by the time we got there so I ordered a chicken dish with mac and cheese knowing that 00Steve would easily eat it for me! We enjoyed a walk along the Seine watching the lights sparkle off the dark rippling river which was truly beautiful, I think it was more visually stunning as it was quite dark by this point.
So over the entire long weekend in Paris I didn’t once get to sit in a cafe and have a croissant like I wanted on my bucket list as all of the cafés we saw were rammed BUT I did get to enjoy croissants at breakfast and have brie on fresh crusty bread which was delicious. Saturday was quite a busy day as we saw the Eiffel Tower on the morning and had a caricature done which was my anniversary present; before we trundled off to find the Belleville Brûlerie for a cupping or a coffee tasting which was 00Steve’s anniversary present. I know that sounds quite pretentious having a coffee tasting in Paris but it was actually quite interesting; learning about how the smells and tastes change depending on the water temperature – I’m still a milk and sugar fan though! We then wandered back into the heart of Paris and jumped on an open top bus to see the sights before enjoying a leisurely river cruise. I fell in love with 00Steve on a boat so it was quite fitting that we were back on a boat for our anniversary. We also visited the Le mur des je t’aime which is the I love you wall filled with some 250 (I believe) different languages saying I love you that was my soppy photo time and where we “locked in” our love with a padlock before nearly dying from walking up a hill to see the view from the basilique or cathederal Sacre Cœur.
Not once did we get a bag out photo even though we meant too which now is quite annoying but we were just so in the moment I don’t think I’m truly bothered, but it would have just been nice I guess. We face timed the kids and Ra-Ra got to see the Eiffel Tower in the background before we were due to go up. We went to the second floor so that we have something special to do with the kids when we go with them. I got my first ever macaron from the shop on the second floor and we had sandwiches whilst we enjoyed the view of Paris at night. at 11pm the entire tower lit up with bulbs sparkling on and off which was just breathtaking, I have to admit I wish we had seen it from the ground as well but there is always next time!
Sunday was a sad day in the Simpson family as 00Steve decided to chop off his moustache! Our waiter who had served us on Friday had commented on how good it was, even the security guards at the tower said it was very French!! Back to our waiter; he was at breakfast and had a humorous argument with 00Steve about him cutting off the moustache of glory and then told him to get out of his sight!! We saw Notre Dame up close and personal and heard the bells ring out, but there were two things that were better still on the way first of all my Nanna has a music box of a French lady that plays “La Vie En Rose” by Edith Piaf. This is the song I learnt to Waltz round my grandparents coffee table with my siblings when I was very little, it means a great deal to me and hearing a gentleman playing it on an accordion was just incredible. The second was watching a guy dressed like a steampunk similar to how I envisioned characters from Jules Verne’s books riding a crazy bike!
I am indebted to Purple Wings Charity for allowing me to have that much needed break and time to reconnect not only as husband and wife but as the different individuals this experience of being an ostomate/ the husband of an ostomate and parents of two young children. It reinforced that we are indeed each others soul mates and allowed us to realise we both have needs that have changed since we first got together 8 years ago and they need to be nurtured; I have my best friend back and it might have taken longer to appreciate each other if it wasn’t for the Time for Me grant provided by the charity.
If you would like to apply for a grant please visit the website linked above, or you may feel like just attending one of the many fantastic events held by the charity such as photo days (you may feature in a calendar!) or the annual ball – both of which you can meet other ostomates that can help you grow new friendships, you may be a keen fundraiser if you are please consider raising funds for this amazing self funded charity.