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.
Translated from French by Jane Loignon
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