Listening to my body

Stoma surgery 1080x1080 blog hero 1

Hi everyone!

If you’ve followed my journey for a while, you’ll know that 2 years ago I challenged myself to climb a mountain each year.

I first started climbing mountains with a friend’s son, who was climbing in honour of his brother who passed away suddenly.

In 2021, we climbed Mount Snowdon, last year we climbed Scafell Pike and this year, we had booked a trip to Scotland to conquer Ben Nevis but that didn’t quite go to plan.

While I get nervous about taking on such climbs, I’ve always really enjoyed them. My nerves are usually about my ileostomy misbehaving, but *touchwood*, I’ve been really lucky! But I’m determined to prove to myself that I can do anything with a bag.

I prepped and ready to go on my next adventure when life threw me an unexpected curveball... my whole household came down with the dreaded COVID-19.

I know. We thought we had scrapped the covid-related blogs months ago! But clearly Corona, was feeling lonely and wanted to make an appearance!

I felt completely drained, very weak and every joint in my body ached.

I was left with a difficult choice- do I attempt the climb and potentially put my health at risk or should I for once, listen to the warning signs from my body and prioritise my health?

I’m still learning to listen to my body and, as someone living with an ileostomy who wants to still achieve everything I want to, I find it hard to admit to myself when I need to listen to my body and not just ‘push through it’. Having a health condition has taught me that I need to be in tune with not only my physical needs but my emotional needs too.

It’s sometimes difficult to manage both, especially when your body is saying no to something that you’re emotionally invested in.

It was a tough decision, but I chose my health over conquest. I decided not to climb Ben Nevis.

For the first day, I wallowed in disappointment but soon decided that wasn’t the right thing to do and I needed to focus on the positives. The mountain is always going to be there, and I can go another time.

I needed to focus on the positive choice I had made to look after my physical health. I was proud of myself for admitting that I needed some TLC and down time to recover.

Living with an ileostomy is a constant reminder of the need for balance and self-awareness.

It's a journey that requires both physical and emotional resilience. Every journey, every decision made, and every adventure is one I need to plan for. While Ben Nevis was derailed from my radar, my journey towards self-acceptance and self-care continues and I’m understanding I need to focus more on me.

While I didn’t get to climb Ben Nevis, I take immense pride in the fact that my three friends did. Their determination and their achievement are a testament to their strength and purpose, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.

For myself, I may not have conquered the mountain, but I reached a different kind of peak- one of self-acceptance and self-care. Listening to our bodies is a powerful act of self-love. It’s about acknowledging and respecting our bodies limits. Reminding ourselves, that in a world that glorifies pushing ourselves beyond our limits, our wellbeing should always be our priority. I truly believe the most powerful thing we can do is listen to bodies and drown out the noise.

So, although it’s not quite the triumph I was going for. I still feel like I achieved something significant, for myself!

Please don’t ever feel down about cancelling plans to prioritise yourself and your wellbeing! Prioritising yourself is still a WIN!

Until next time...

Nathan x

Share this article:

by Nathan Wheeler

Nathan Wheeler

About the author

Hello - I'm Nathan Wheeler! I'm a YouTuber and I've had an ileostomy since 2007 when I was just 17, so I have a pretty good idea about how to deal with the struggles of a stoma! I want to share my experiences with you and bring a light-hearted approach to all the questions that no one wants to ask! You can follow me an Instagram and YouTube.