Explore the blog
Wednesday, 19 May 2021
Happy World IBD Day! 
This time last year I was sharing my story after recovering from Loop Ileostomy surgery and it's not surprising to say that things have changed yet again, thus the life of someone with a chronic illness.

This year, Crohns and Colitis UK have been driving the message there's no going back.
When you live with an invisible illness "going back to normal" (as the UK now are after Covid-19 lockdowns) can actually be very difficult. I've spoken before about my own work life, where in my previous job working from home was very helpful.
I've come to see many with a whole range of disabilities and chronic illnesses be told; 
"Well yes, we let you work from home because we had to have everybody work from home, there's been a pandemic".
This is where the work Crohns and Colitis UK have been doing to raise awareness has been very important. If Covid has shown us people can work effectively from home, then why can it not be possible for those with disabilities and illness to carry on doing so?

I'm going to be sharing my own experience, other peoples stories and information over on my Instagram (@HannahMarieBrankley) but I'm going to post some links below if you would like to read up.

Links

https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/about-crohns-and-colitis
https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/get-involved/world-ibd-day
https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/get-involved/fundraising-from-home
https://www.noteverydisabilityisvisible.org.uk/
https://www.mywalkit.org.uk/
https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/news/for-journalists

As always, thanks for reading...
Monday, 29 March 2021
Beauty Eggs have been a thing the last couple of years and although I wasn't in the best health position to be writing blog posts about them, I still investigated and saw that over the years some have evolved, more companies have got involved and overall I still believe this concept to be a brilliant alternative to Chocolate Easter Eggs. 

My Vitamins Beauty Easter Egg

Inside you get; Hair, Skin & Nails Gummies, 2 x Beauty Collagen Stick Packs (Orange & Strawberry Flavour), 2 x Beauty Hot Chocolate Stick Packs and 2 Beauty Bites.
I was very surprised to see a more "health conscience" egg. I wouldn't say there wasn't a market for something like this, but it's not what you think of for Easter. You mainly think of products like this after devouring so much over Easter. I like the idea but I do feel that it's something that can be gifted negatively towards someone and that puts me on the fence. Priced at £21.99 you can find it on the brand own website.

L'Occitane Cherry Blossom Beauty Easter Egg

Inside you get; 1 x Cherry Blossom Shower Gel (75ml), 1 x Cherry Blossom Body Lotion (35ml) and 1 x Cherry Blossom Hand Cream (10ml). 
L'Occitane is always the top contender for me, they were one of the first brands to do beauty eggs and it's always kept simple which I love. You know they will always include bathing / body products so no need for wastage if certain ingredients in skincare end up not agreeing with you. It's a brilliant price at £16.00 and you can find them on their own website as well with other retailers. 

Rituals The Ritual of Sakura Easter Gift Set

Inside you get; 1 x The Ritual of Sakura Shower Foam( 200ml), 1 x The Ritual of Sakura Hand Balm (70ml) and 1 x Fleurs de I'Himalaya Eau de Parfum (15ml).
Rituals are newer on the Beauty Egg scene and although the £32.50 price tag makes you go woah! it is very much worth the price. The contents are larger than other Beauty Egg and it's unusual include a perfume which will drive up the cost. Nonetheless, this is a gem of a beauty egg and I can see why It's already sold out on their own website. You can still find it in stock on Look Fantastic. 

LOOKFANTASTIC Beauty Egg 2021

Inside you get; Eve Lom Gel Balm Cleanser (100ml), Colour Wow Kale Infused Dream Cocktail (200ml), Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Oil (15ml), Rodial Dragon's Blood Eye Cream (15ml), Diego Dalla Palma The Lipstick 46 and Kerastase Ciment Thermique (20ml).
This has an incredible £220.00 worth for a £65.00 price tag. This is definitely an indulgent Easter gift and I'd say one to treat yourself with than gifting to someone else. Firstly, because you deserve it and secondly can you be 100% confident the person you gift it to will use everything? Available on the brands website this is limited to one per customer.

Alternative Easter Gifting

Earlier this month I was contacted by Pure Essence Greetings Gifts For You, who sent me information about their Mother's Day gifting. But because Mother's Day was another in lockdown here in the UK, I felt I'd leave out Mother's Day and Father's Day gift guides this year as there are those who can't spend it with their families and are finding the situation difficult. However, they do have some really lovely religious Easter products I wanted to share with you. 
I think, more often than not, when people can't eat an Easter Egg you'd buy sweets instead and then for younger children you may buy something like a soft toy but keepsakes aren't always thought about. I've found over the years I hadn't included many products showing the religious aspect to Easter and when this company reached out, not only did I like the personalised service they offer, I liked seeing that religious aspect.

As always, thanks for reading...
Wednesday, 17 February 2021
One year ago today, I had Loop-Ileostomy surgery and gained stitch (my stoma). I wrote a post about how and why it came to be that I had stoma surgery and you can click here to read that post.

This last year has been difficult for everyone, I never expected to be just under 2 weeks post surgery before being told I'd be housebound again. Ulcerative Colitis had already taken away three years and so far covid has taken away another. Nonetheless I've gone through this year with no laxatives, one flare up and in significantly less pain than the previous years. 
I didn't know how to celebrate my stomaversary because of covid. It's something I want to celebrate because it's made such an amazing impact on my life. I also want to break the stigma that comes with having a bag. People assume that only older people have them, that they leak and smell on a daily basis which isn't the case at all. If you go over to my Instagram stories, I'm going to be sharing posts of people with stoma bag(s) who've inspired me. 

So I decided to put this post together, to look back on what I achieved this year (big and small) and then make a list of what I want to achieve in the year to come (covid pending!).

What I've Achieved In The Last Year

- The blog had a huge overhaul and I'm so happy with it.
- I managed to leave my house without a panic attack for the first time in years.
- Pre-Covid I was able to walk to the corner shop and back. 
- I can eat dairy again, meaning lots of Ben & Jerrys!
- When lockdown restrictions were eased, I was able to visit my friends flat for the first time and they'd been living there for years.
- I was then able to attend their wedding!
- I visited this lovely restaurant in Ross-On-Wye with my family.
- Had a redecorate around the house and learnt some new skills.
- I received the highest amount of views on my blog this year. Calendar Countdown was more successful than ever.
- More people decided to use their time researching their own family history and/or taking DNA Tests. I found a whole lot of family and learnt so much.
- I started my own little business; Novella Prints.
- I had my first Covid vaccination!

What I Want To Achieve This Year

- I'd like to see this blog space grow.
- I'd like to see Novella Prints grow.
- Once I've had my second vaccination (and it's allowed) I want to go spend time with my grandparents. My grandma is going to show me a lot of places I've been researching as part of my family history journey.
- Spend time with my younger cousins.
- Spend time seeing friends and eating out. 
- Treat myself to some beauty treatments.
- I have a few project ideas that I'd like to explore and see if I can develop on them.
- Learn British Sign Language. This is something I've wanted to do for years but was unable to attend classes with my health. Now because of covid, a lot of them are online.
- I want to travel a little more. I feel like most, that I haven't seen enough of my own country. 
- Finish the first volume on at least one line of my family tree (I've been collating research into a book).
- Start driving again.
- Get back into therapy and work on my mental health to help achieve all these goals.

Why I'm Not "Cured"

I opened up a Q&A on my instagram and the most common question I got was if I was "cured". A Loop-Ileostomy means I still have my colon, so I still have Ulcerative Colitis. There is no cure for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, you can only have better management of it. I actually flared up over Christmas 2020 and that's something I naively thought wouldn't happen to me because I had my stoma. In all honesty, there are breakthroughs everyday and medications are rapidly becoming available to help manage, but as to a cure, you don't hear as much about the research or results of that. I don't think there will be a cure for IBD in my life time.

Other Questions I Was Asked On Instagram

Is it painful?
Having a stoma? No, the stoma has no nerve endings so you don't feel anything. Sometimes people find discomfort or have sore skin on the area around the stoma when they have ill-fitting stoma bags. 
Is it permanent? 
At the moment I have the chance to have it reversed and still keep my colon. It's something I'm not thinking about too much as I chose to go the surgery route to have a better quality of life, then Covid hit. 
Why surgery?
I had no control over my bowels. There were other medications I could of been put onto, but I felt that the three years I spent housebound was enough. I also have complications with trying to find the right medication combination to control my flares to begin with and the constant pain was adding to my depression. Surgery won't be for everyone but if everyone had a choice it would be to not have inflammatory bowel disease. 
Why did you name your stoma?
Many people who have stoma's say that giving it a name can help you come to terms with the changes to your body. For me, the image side of having a stoma was the worry. I found naming him Stitch did help. I also find referring to my stoma by his name easier than saying my stoma. 
Are you happy?
Immensely. 

As always, thanks for reading...
Wednesday, 13 January 2021
As it turned 2:00am on Friday 11th December 2020, I was laying in bed unable to sleep when my phone starting to buzz with notifications...a lot of notifications. I knew Disney were going to make a few announcements but oh my gosh I, like most of the fandom(s), was not ready for what was unleashed.

Just to clarify: SPOILER ALERT!

WandaVision

With a brand new trailer debut, this series is an exclusive to Disney Plus. Bringing back Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany as Vision. This is a sitcom styled series and from the trailer it seems we will be going through the decades. I believe they are starting with the 1950's and I'm already getting "I Love Lucy" vibes. 
This takes place after Avengers Endgame, which we know wasn't the happiest ending for Wanda and Vision. With superhero movies, you don't naturally always get an in depth look at the romantic lives of the characters and it seems Marvel is giving us a little bit more of that with this series. Landing 15th January 2021, I'm interested to see where they take this. 

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

I have been waiting for news on this series! With filming shutting down early 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, this has been dubbed the biggest Disney Plus original series. Those in the fandom have been bubbling with excitement and anxiety over it. Another series taking place after Avengers Endgame, the fun, wind up and banter filled relationship between Sam and Bucky that we first saw in Captain America: Civil War is back. 
In all honesty after Chris Evans left the role of Captain America I was heartbroken. Captain America is my favourite Marvel character and although I appreciate them keeping it close to the comics I do wish they left it open. Nonetheless, seeing Anthony Mackie as Sam come into the role as "the new Captain America" is exciting and I ponder to whether they'll mix some of the comic avenues because I'd love to see Redwing. 
Bucky, after being in Wakanda and getting back control over himself, it'll be interesting to see how he comes to acclimatize to the modern world as he didn't take the option of going back in time himself during Endgame. Scheduled for 19th March 2021, it'll consist of six episodes. 

Loki

Internally screaming and fangirling as it was gone 2:00am when I saw this trailer, my heart couldn't take it. Tom Hiddleston is reprising his role and in all honesty, they couldn't of done this series any other way. Again, this takes place after Avengers Endgame but the timeline is a little skewed so it'll be interesting to see not only where but when he turns up. This series has been described as a "crime-thriller" which after seeing the court scene with the TVA before flicking to Loki spinning his daggers and then finishing with what looks like an undercover mission, I would say it is an accurate description. 
This silver tongue, god of mischief always has something up his sleeve. The flashes of cities in destruction and a red head (who I'm praying is Natasha Romanoff) sitting at the bottom of what looks like the cliff on Vormir, I can see this series opening up a whole new can of worms. 
Coming May 2021, my birthday month, it's the best present! 

Hawkeye

Another series pushed back because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Jeremy Renner is reprising his role as Hawkeye. Also after Avengers Endgame, Kevin Feige has said that the inspiration from the series came from Matt Fractions Hawkeye comics, published between 2012 and 2015. What has been announced is Hailee Steinfeld's involvement as Kate Bishop, who is being trained by Hawkeye to take over the mantle. There has been a lot of talk about the Hawkeye series being the Ant-Man of the new Disney Plus Marvel Series world. Some say it sounds like it'll be a bad idea but will be brilliant and then others question if it'll live up to the hype.
I think this is going to be a killer series. Scheduled for Fall 2021, I'm keeping my fingers crossed it isn't delayed any further!

What If...?

An animated take on our favourite Marvel characters, it's as the title suggests, a whole host of What If's. I already love the idea of Peggy Carter as a female super soldier and can't wait to see a young T'Challa explore the world with Yondu. 
I'm also in such a bittersweet mood with it, after losing Chadwick Boseman. I'm keeping my fingers crossed it lives up to the hype and that those in the fandom come to love their characters in animated form. Expected to be released mid-2021, there are 10 episodes and a plan for 10 more to be developed.

Ms Marvel

To be part of Marvel Phase 4, this is an exclusive series to Disney Plus and is based on Kamala Khan as Ms Marvel. A newer character in the Marvel comic superhero world, Kevin Feige announced Iman Vellani as the 16 year old Pakistani-American from Jersey City. 
He also let on that Kamala Khan will appear in Captain Marvel 2. Already from the trailer you can see the 16 year old going through the normal coming of age confusion of who they are, what they want, who they'll be...etc and then having all the superhero stuff on top. I cannot wait to see how they not only bring this character to life but how she intertwines into the Cinematic Universe. Also scheduled for late 2021.

Black Widow

The Black Widow movie follows the events of Captain America: Civil War and see's Scarlett Johansson reprise her role as the spy turn Avenger. From the trailer we can see that Natasha will have to deal with the enemies of her spy past, including her time in The Red Room. I really like that we see her family in this too. Although I can see Black Widow being this amazing bad-ass superhero, not every superhero can do it alone. So seeing her family not only creates depth to the character but avoids any of the other Avengers being unnecessarily involved or the creation of new one show movie characters.
Delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has a schedule date for the 7th May 2021 with the hope people will be able to go to the cinema to see it. There are rumours that you may be able to watch this at a premium rate on Disney Plus, but after the backlash of the Mulan Live Action costing an extra £19.99 and it under-performing, I personally don't see it being the avenue they choose. I'm thinking possible early DVD release.

Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings

No official trailer as of yet, but the release of the titles, casting and some possible test footage floating around the internet, we know Simu Liu is taking on the title character, Shang-Chi, who is referred to as the "Master of Kung Fu". I am really hoping this film is (for lack of a better way to say) a Marvel film and not a cheesy Kung Fu movie. The story of Shang-Chi almost has a dark Batman vibe to it. Raised in China and trained from infancy in martial arts by tutors and his father who, spoiler alert, turns out to be the villain in the comics, it'll be interesting to see how much of Shang-Chi's story you'll see and how much they may save for future productions. Throughout the many dimensions in the comic book world we do see Shang-Chi with other marvel characters such as Captain America, Captain Marvel and Spiderman. Although we know most of those storylines couldn't be explored due to the current timeline there are some which I think would be interesting to see play out on some of the new Disney Plus Series. Due 9th July 2021.

Eternals

Again, with no trailer as of yet, the Investors Day announcement gave us the titles, some of the cast and a possible release date for the 5th November 2021. This is another film delayed by the Covid-19 Pandemic and in all honesty, out of all the productions going on, this is the one I am most on the fence about.
So for a little back story; The Eternals are a part alien race who have lived on Earth for thousands of years after the Celestials came to Earth and experimented on humans. From these experimentation's you also got the Deviants, another part alien race who have a whole lot of evil intention. In this film, the Eternals come together to protect humanity from the Deviants after the events of Endgame.
It sparks a lot of Fantastic Four/Inhumans vibes in terms of storyline and character formation but this is where, in my opinion, Marvel took the wrong avenue. I was so excited for the Inhumans film, which then became a series, which then completely bombed.
The Inhumans has too many story lines in the comic world that making it an origins style stand alone film (possibly having a sequel) would of been better. The Eternals don't have that extensive comic world baseline and have three amazing comic series that would of been better explored as a TV series. With the amazing cast that has been announced for this, I think it could be good but have this feeling it could of been so much better. 

Untitled Spiderman 3 Film

I know Spiderman is currently under Sony but I couldn't leave it out of this post. With a due date of 17th December 2021, so far we have no titles or trailers but some confirmations of cast. Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon and Tony Revolori are all confirmed to reprise their roles. It is also confirmed that we will see Benedict Cumberbatch reprise his role of Doctor Strange for the yet to be titled Spiderman 3 production. Now there is A LOT of rumor going on that we will see both Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire reprise their Spiderman roles, as well as Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. When interviewed, Kevin Feige said "The biggest clue is the title of the second Doctor Strange movie. That's the biggest clue of where the Multiverse of Madness is taking us and how we're exploring that." Now that doesn't confirm anything for the upcoming Spiderman film but the rumours have sure created a major buzz amongst the fandom. 

That's everything Marvel, I'll be talking about Disney, Star Wars and Pixar in upcoming blog posts. 

As always, thanks for reading...

Latest Pins

@HannahMarieBrankley