OSTOMY WITHOUT BORDERS
Everyone should have the right to see new landscapes every day, discover and experience a new culture, eat the typical food of different countries, learn a few words in a foreign language, step out of their comfort zone and enjoy every moment when traveling abroad.
I went on a trip to Guatemala 10 months after having my entire rectum removed. I was excited to travel again, but I was nervous too.
It's definitely better to be prepared, so I prepared for any eventuality. I read a lot of texts where it was advised to bring a pouch for every two days of travel. For example, if I leave for 20 days, I bring 10 pouches. The texts also advised me to bring different models of pouches, in case my usual ones react differently to the humidity or temperature. I pre-cut my pouches and brought them with me on the plane to protect them from the cold in hold of the plane, as it could affect effectiveness of the flange. I also had them in case something happened while I was in the plane. I placed my scissors in my checked baggage, as I didn't want customs to confiscate them. I also needed to bring enough wetnaps and deodorant for my pouch. It wasn't the most ideal thing for someone going on a backpacking trip.
The call I had with my ET nurse was comforting. We decided that yes, it's better to bring more things than you'd usually need, bur you mustn't overdo it. She told me to bring my favorite type of pouch, because nothing would go wrong with it.
After getting ready, I could leave for Guatemala. When I got there, my bowels felt weird. I think the pressure fluctuations were hard on them. I also had a lot of gas. But it wasn't anything that I couldn't deal with. When I got there, I finally got to discover the culture and taste a lot of different food... Which made me spend a night in the hospital because of an intestinal obstruction. (You'll be able to read my article on obstructions in the next few months.) I think it's important to really know yourself as an ostomate before leaving on that kind of trip. You should experience eating different types of food before leaving for a country where the food is different from what you usually eat.
But don't worry! If you take care and respect your restrictions, you should have a great trip. I learned my lesson. In the following years I paid more attention to what I was eating, and my trips were great. I even found out that traveling when you're an ostomate is easier than I thought. Finding a washroom to empty my pouch was easy. Of course, I used the washroom every chance I got. It was the same when I needed to change my ostomy appliance. Whenever I found a bathroom I liked, like the beautiful bathrooms in the youth hostels I was staying at, I'd take the opportunity to change it even when I should've changed it one or two days later.
One of the downside of carrying a backpack was the waist belt. It was directly on my pouch, so as soon as it was inflated, I didn't feel comfortable tightening the belt on my waist. My only solution to this was to find a washroom ASAP.
But despite having to carry a heavier backpack, watch what I was eating and thinking about when I'd need to deal with my pouch, I think no one should stop themselves from traveling abroad. Everything's possible with a little bit of resourcefulness. You can find a solution to any problem that arises.
Brought to you by: Premier Ostomy Centre