Travelling with a stoma

Like many people, I love travelling and discovering new things.  I like going off on an adventure without planning anything.  Few ostomates can travel without planning.  I decided to change that and leave once and for all on an adventure.  It’s been three years since my operation and I have since crossed Canada by car and visited France, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia.  All of these adventures unfolded without any untoward incidents.  However, before each departure, I had to take the time to carefully plan and pack everything that I would need for my treks (bags, flanges, paste, etc.).  As time went by, I decided not to return to Quebec right away and left to work on Australian soil – something that was not planned.

I arrived in March in the land of kangaroos and found myself a job in a little restaurant.  A few months later, in May, I realize I only have eight bags left.  The longevity of my bags was seriously compromised by the tropical sun’s incredible heat. In one day I used up all the bags I had left.  I was overwhelmed with panic.  What to do?

I decided to phone the ostomates association of the city of Perth.  Unfortunately, the association office was closed for the next four days.  I don’t have any other choice, I phone the hospital.  A kind nurse tells me to meet her because she believes she has two or three extra bags to give me.  So there I was in her office when she gives me three extra bags – the same two-piece system I use at home.  She then asked me if I would be interested in trying a one-piece appliance.  Without hesitation I said yes.  She explains that Australians only pay $60 per year for all the stoma equipment they need.  Excuse-me? $60 a year?  I was in shock.  In Quebec this stuff is pricey as all get out.  For a year it costs me $2000.  In short, I was pretty gobsmacked in front of the nurse who added that she also had lots of samples from appliance manufacturers.  That’s when she hands me a loot bag with six boxes of bags in it (that’s a CAN$900 value!) I was euphoric, seriously, I could never have imagined the possibilities.  She kindly gives me her contact information and tells me that if I need any other products I can always contact her.  What a relief!

Three years ago, when I was sick and forced to stay at home in Quebec the idea of travelling was my most cherished wish.  I thought it would be impossible.  Having lived my adventures, I can confirm that anything is possible.


Samuel in Australia

Samuel in Australia

Translated from French by Jane Loignon

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