Away with the girls and Tomas

I have just come back from a lovely five days with my best friends to Barcelona. I was so ready for this break after having just recovered from my third surgery.

I had been buying clothes and bikinis for months so that I was prepared to feel great and confident on that beach and when out and about. Yes I am in my early fifties, but that doesn’t mean I should be make do with a knitted all in one swimsuit and a potato sack. I have enough issues with feeling good in what I wear with a stoma, so adding my age to the mix would just stop me going anywhere.

I am always nervous at the airport, this time not just because of Tomas causing mayhem in the customs queue, but because I have the added fun of rolled up gauze between my cheeks of my arse to absorb the perineal sinus leakage. My imagination was running wild with the that one through the scanner I can tell you. As it transpired, nothing actually happened.

This time I went through the scanner as usual and explained the stoma. The female customs officer was again lovely and said she would test the bag with the hand held drug scanner in a private room. ( Last time they just check the area of clothes over the bag. She shouted to her colleague that she had to take me off to scan me, this was embarrassing as I had to walk off to a private space behind a curtain with a second officer present. Everyone looked and I felt that they must be thinking I was a suspicious character if they needed me to go off to be searched. I felt I needed to explain to the second officer why I was being scanned as this hadn’t been explained. They were both good with me and I undid my trousers for them to put the drug detector thing on top of my bag. She went off to test the swab and came back saying all was well and I could go.

The flight was uneventful too ( my bag didn’t explode) and I was able to enjoy it.

I know that heat and alcohol are not good for us ostomates, but I still had a bit. I made sure I drank plenty of water in between and didn’t have any ill effects. Even after an evening ended with four shots of Limoncello 🙂

I decided to bite the bullet and eat seafood for the first time. I chewed well and had muscles, octopus and squid. In fact I enjoyed the seafood paella that much I had it about three times. Tomas coped perfectly and I now feel I can eat almost anything I want.

( Excuse the goofy teeth effect, it’s my brace lol)

For the first time I decided to use my  stoma support band, I am glad I did because I felt great in my dresses and you couldn’t see the telltale bump of Tomas. No one would know about my hidden stoma if I chose to cover up.

I had a couple of moments when my stomal skin itched, but this happens to me anyway because of the fistula. I changed my bag twice in the five days just because it felt dirty and the stickiness had been disrupted a bit with the shower and beach. I took a suitcase as well as hand luggage, I think just hand luggage would be hard work with the liquids I need. Not just stoma sprays but makeup etc , suncream and other toiletries. Luckily some of my friends felt the same and took cases too.

It is weird to not catch the sun all over your tummy, you end up a bit like a dart board when the bag comes off. I noticed this before…..

At Barcelona airport I forgot to take my leaflet out my bag that has my ileostomy explained in lots of different languages. I walked through the scanner and it must have flagged something because the Spanish women took me to one side and frisked me. She came across the tell tale bump of my stoma and I tried to explain what it was ” Stoma”…… Nothing from her….. ” I have stoma” ” Ileostomy ?”  . She didn’t seem to comprehend and kept patting it. In the end I pulled my trousers out a bit to reveal the bag, that did the trick and she moved me on.

Although I don’t usually mention the MS  illness in my blogs because I tend to disbelieve the diagnosis, I walked into the town with my friends and my left leg was just a complete pest. Whenever I walk any particular distance my leg becomes so weak and wobbly that I get foot drop. I then often go over on the ankle which I did then. It is such a nuisance as it makes me slow and I need to hold on to someone for the rest of the walk.

I felt very relaxed and enjoyed my break, just not looking forward to my fourth surgery, this will entail the surgeon and plastic surgeon using either the gracilis muscle from my thigh or the gluteus maximus muscle to fill the dead space in my pelvic cavity. It is the only option I have to get the best chance of stopping a perineal sinus tract  reforming. Who knew that these complications even existed? I certainly didn’t think that after my initial near death major bowel surgery , I would still be in and out of the operating theatre.

I will definitely be needing further holidays after the next one.




Tomas the stoma on holiday

Nerves are kicking in just slightly. Looking forward to going away with the girls to Spain, but still have some reservations regarding Tomas and my sinus etc….lots of potential issues.

Tomas is behaving pre holiday so that’s good to start with. Hopefully he is good while we are there.

As I was going away with close friends I was ok, but just because of my leak and bottom problems I was nervous on the way to the airport. I was given a  Diazepam to calm my nerves and it worked a treat. I was totally calm, probably too calm as I fell asleep on the plane.

At the airport I had to go through the body scanner at East Midlands. I mentioned the ” bag” and all was well, I was just patted down and was on my way. They didn’t even swab me this time which I was surprised with because the bag was a bit full and could have been anything. We then had a coffee and then we were off.

After a few hours of me snoring on and off and waking myself up, we landed in Spain. It was lovely and warm. After we unpacked we went to the beach. I had two pina coladas and was totally drunk because of the Diazepam I expect. When we got back to the apartment I fell asleep, woke up later and felt brilliant.

I noticed a lot of looks on the beach at my bag, or maybe it was the cover with Tomas on , who knows. Because I am a member of a lot of forums and groups I see stomas and ostomates all over the web all the time and marvel at how many of us there are, so was mildly surprised to find that I appeared to be the only one on the whole of the beach each day. It brings it home just how uncommon it actually is despite the push from the media and us lot.

One woman said ” I like that” pointing to my cover, I thanked her and said I had had a big operation, she looked embarrassed and apologised, I think she thought it was a fancy bum bag lol. Now that is an idea !!!

I couldn’t go in the sea or pool because of the sinus leaking, I even had to wear a pad in my bikini bottoms. We went for some lunch and that was where I had an accident which upset me. Whenever I sit i tend to leak through the sinus tract, but this time I leaked through my shorts, my lovely friend Helen came to the toilet with me and took my shorts to dry under the hand dryer, and I changed the rest. I was in tears and felt so fed up. The feeling passed and I got on with it again. I was constantly checking myself though which was very annoying but it was something I couldn’t help. I remember lying in the sun with my friends next to me and knowing that I was the only one that would have to check my bag and my bum constantly, and would need to know where the loo was. luckily it was very nearby.

Talking of toilets, Spanish toilets are on the whole very nice. Their disabled loos are amazing. At the airport there were three disabled toilets, all were massive and clean, and had all the things you could possibly want. ( see previous post about toilets in Japan).

I changed my bag twice over the five days mainly because of the heat, I felt the skin was starting to itch but there were no other issues at all with the bag. I drank plenty of water ( and alcohol) and ate lovely food. I over did it one evening and was sick in the middle of the night, I say it was over indulgence, everyone else said it was mixing my drinks.🙄

I did enjoy the holiday and because the friends I went with are my very closest, I could relax enough to tell them if things were not great, but be open enough that I could change and air Tomas in front of them. I had fun, I drank, I ate and I sunbathed.

My stoma looked a bit like a dartboard though, white bits and red bits, but the red is just where the mouldable ring has pressed onto the skin and where I got a bit itchy with the heat.

On the way back from Spain, the airport again was non eventful, I didn’t even travel with a note about the stoma or any extra stuff relating to it. I just thought I would explain when the need arose, and it didn’t. They could hardly deny the facts. A few of us took extra suitcases and hand luggage, it meant I could take whatever I needed without worrying about space. Hand luggage on it’s own would have been a struggle, I wouldn’t be sure what to do with make up solutions , suncream AND stoma solutions in those see through bags.

I would definitely go on a girlie holiday again , but would be so much happier with the sinus gone. Having a constant leak is no fun at home, but on holiday it is a menace. The actual stoma side was ok up to a point ( you are never totally normal). There were some clothes I would have liked to have worn but the bag showed through a bit so  couldn’t. Playsuits and some tighter fitting stuff, usually the lighter colours. I really need to invest in a nice not too tight stoma band, just to stop it dangling. If anyone has any ideas of comfy bands that are not totally tight like the support bands I would be very grateful.

The moral of this blog is… don’t be afraid to go away, nobody is perfect so why should you be the only one?