So I got thinking, after seeing a few forum posts about swimming with an ostomy, that maybe I should write about it. I kind of take it for granted now, it doesn’t really occur to me that people might be nervous about it but I guess they are.
I’ve never really been one for swimming, even without my stoma, I’ve never really liked the whole process, get in swimwear, get wet, do a length or two whilst wondering if you are in the ‘serious swimmer’ lane cos you crossed the boundary by mistake, dry off in a changing room with questionable hair on the floor (eww), put on clothes, go home, shower, eat a chocolate dipper (cos swimming makes you hungry?) – eurgh just far too much hassle. I’m more of a, I’m on holiday, it’s hot, I need to cool off, keep my head above water whilst I dip kind of girl. I’m a crap swimmer anyway, totally inelegant, I don’t have ‘beach hair’ and I splutter like my life depended on it if the water so much as touches my nose.
But one day life comes along and says “hey you, you’re a bit fabulous so I need to give you this bag to wear on your tummy, but don’t worry it’s only poo” and cue tears of ‘but I want to still wear a bikini and can i still swim’.
Well you can do both, we’ve seen the fab pics of people with stomas rocking their swimwear, proudly displaying their bags, so much so, I assume everyone does it, but I guess for every one person showing their ostomy are 20 people too scared or self conscious to show theirs.
A year after my op (I had two bags one for my ileostomy, one for my mucous fistula, because of that, both bags were a bit unpredictable) I decided a holiday courtesy of someone other than the nhs was needed. First holiday was a bit nerve racking but I made it! Of course the biggest thing was the swimming pool. River Island Are amazing for high waisted bikinis and I bought loads and still do to this day, from them. I’ve never Been ashamed of my stoma but a high waist helped me feel more confident in the pool. I remember joining in a daytime pool game activity and it was bursting balloons in the pool between each other (omg what if my bag bursts…..!) I just went for it, I just shouted not my tummy! No-one questioned it or even cared and I had a great time.
I do remember going to Turkey a couple of years ago and the main pool was closed because apparently someone had poo’d in it, I had a mini heart attack, what if that was me and my bag…but I realised it was totally illogical and I was just being paranoid! (Btw it wasn’t me, apparently it was some kid!!). Last year, 4 years after my op, I decided it was time to get some sun on my belly and wore (what I call) a normal bikini every day! I even swam like it, yes I was nervous, yes my insides were flip flopping more than if I’d taken my trusty super drys across a tsunami but I did it! I never don’t feel nervous, it’s a huge thing to show to the world but it’s really just a giant plaster.
We should never be ashamed of the things that save our lives, take a deep breath, plunge or toe dip into that water, I promise it’s gets easier! (With just wish I had fabulous wavy beach hair to go with it!).