Sun, Sea & Stomas

Some people have asked me how I got on going on holiday with a stoma. Can you swim? Can you eat? Was insurance expensive? Did you get leaks, did you struggle with the heat, were you able to wear summery clothes? Where did you get that awesome skull bag cover from (it is awesome, isn’t it?!)

I thought I’d just answer a few of these. I really hope this can encourage others because, believe me, I never though I’d manage to do any of this, from going on holiday, to living day to day, to wearing a bikini etc. It is possible, have a little hope, you are stronger than you all think, whatever you are dealing with.

Firstly, I was incredibly nervous and stressy planning the holiday. It was the first time I’d ever been away on a proper holiday, let alone with a stoma. This was a daunting experience for me being such a newbie, but there are answers to almost everything online so it’s easy enough to figure out what’s what, get some advice, contact insurers or travel agents to ask your questions.

Insurance

This is a tricky point for most people, and it’s an important one for anyone with pre-existing health issues because you need to feel fairly confident you’re covered. I used price comparison sites like Moneysupermarket and tried to go through the small print of some of the cheapest options. I opted for ‘Your Travel Cover’ but I’ve seen a few people also speak highly of ‘Insure With’.

Make sure you declare everything. That’s crucial. You don’t want to have a claim denied because you missed something the insurer can say wasn’t covered. I noted everything, from pernicious anaemia and osteopenia to the ileostomy. Print a copy to take with you in your hand luggage and if you do it online, save a copy in your emails. I also took a spare copy of mine and all other paperwork as a back-up should one get damaged or lost with luggage.

Baggage

I opted for a package holiday to include the hotel on an A/I basis, flights, transfers and fees through Thomson. Going to Spain, they include 5KG hand luggage and 15KG hold luggage, which is pretty ample even if you’re not a light traveller. Be careful to check the weight, and especially the dimensions, of the luggage you’re allowed. The hand luggage with Thomson, for instance, seemed a little narrower than with some other airlines, and it was a squeeze to get all of my supplies in there without going over by about 2-3cm. I gave their Welfare department a call to let them know I had a stoma and would need to be taking medical supplies; they told me not to worry if the hand luggage goes over by those odd centimetres, and they also added an extra 5KG to hand and hold luggage both ways.

Due to the potential for hold luggage to be lost or delayed, as much as you don’t want to contemplate the possibility, it’s important to take everything you need in terms of stoma supplies (or the vast majority) in your hand luggage. Scissors need to go in the hold so pre-cut a few bags. I went for 2-3 times the normal amount of bags I’d normally use in a week (one per day) and packed around 18 of them ‘just in case’. I ended up changing mine maybe 2 times a day (3 times one day) given the heat and swimming/showering.

Can you swim?

Yes, there’s nothing to stop you swimming with a stoma per se. With a bag like the Sensura Mio, you get little stickers to put over the filters; I put about 3 of these on to fully cover it before swimming, swimsuit on top and got in, staying for around 40 minutes without any problems.

Can you wear bikinis and summer clothes?

I challenged myself when I was away by braving a bikini. I’d not worn one before, let alone with a stoma, and when you don’t like your body and/or have issues with how you look, it’s a tough thing to do. Not once did I see anyone else with a bag, not at the hotel or any of the beaches or while walking around. But don’t let that stop you. Being the ‘odd one out’ is empowering when you realise you can do it, and you may kick yourself and regret not feeling free enough to do it if you don’t.

As for summer clothes, a support band or big Bridget Jones style pants, or the ones from Vanilla Blush, are great for helping keep the bag more flush to your body and the contours less noticeable. If it fills, as it does, don’t panic and try to avoid unintentionally drawing attention to it; keep your cool, it happens, and you can deal with it. The important thing is to wear what you like, what you feel comfortable in, and care a little less about what others may or may not think (because they’re probably too busy worrying about what they look like themselves anyway!)

Super Stoma Covers

I bought a cute stoma bag cover from eBay which arrived the day before I left. The seller was incredibly helpful and friendly and I gave her the measurements for the Mio maxi. You can find her here. It was a little on the wide side (my fault with the measurements most likely) but it still looked funky and I just folded the edge and secured with a hair grip. The cover also helps when going in direct sunlight because it makes an otherwise hot plastic bag more comfortable next to your skin.

You can find the seller hereΒ with lots of awesome designs!

 

So there we have it. A little on holidaying with a stoma. Dealing with an invisible illness, including the pains I get and exhaustion, adds another challenging dimension to the mix, but I’ll post a little about that when I put up some holiday pics. Have you ever seen anyone with a stoma when you’ve been on holiday or lounging outside in the sun? What was your reaction?

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54 Comments

  1. July 19, 2017 / 5:32 pm

    Aw this was a fab post to read, hope you had a great holiday!x

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 4:50 pm

      Thank you! πŸ™‚

  2. July 19, 2017 / 6:09 pm

    You’re rocking that skull bag cover in your bikini…love the look!

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 4:50 pm

      Thanks – I seem to have a ‘thing’ for skulls!

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 4:51 pm

      Thank you πŸ™‚

  3. July 19, 2017 / 7:43 pm

    Sounds like you got all the bases covered. You are looking gorgeous in your pictures. Praying you have the best holiday!!

  4. July 19, 2017 / 9:21 pm

    Thank you for sharing. Have a good holiday.

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 4:51 pm

      It was certainly a new experience, thanks Liz πŸ™‚

  5. July 19, 2017 / 10:03 pm

    Great post with lots of helpful info.

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 4:52 pm

      Glad it was at least somewhat helpful, I try to aim for a balance between personal & helpful πŸ™‚

  6. July 19, 2017 / 10:15 pm

    Hope you had the best time! I really loved this post, I found it super interesting. Also, you look bloody amazing! xx

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 4:53 pm

      Aw thanks Ella, really appreciate the awesome comment! x

  7. July 20, 2017 / 12:59 am

    Aren’t you so amazing???? Just beautiful. Get over your self consciousness…..you really are so beautiful and look amazing in a bikini! Soooo glad you were encouraged to go and try this. What a success it was and look at all you learned along the way….and now you can help others!
    No, I have never seen anyone with a stoma….

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 4:54 pm

      I don’t know what to say to this, I want to say ‘naaaah I don’t look amazing’ but I’m trying to learn to take a compliment so thank you! Really do appreciate you taking the time to read and leave a comment. I hope it helps others in future, stoma or not, to care a little less and live more freely.xx

      • July 26, 2017 / 7:40 pm

        Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I say it!!! Even Christie Brinkley said she didn’t think she was all that! No one does….

        • InvisiblyMe
          July 27, 2017 / 6:28 am

          Hah, that’s true!x

  8. July 20, 2017 / 1:26 am

    Your bikini and bag cover are so cute! I’m so glad you were able to go on vacation, and that the travel services were so accommodating. I hope you had a great time! πŸ’œ

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 4:55 pm

      Thank you Elizabeth, I really appreciate you stopping by to read and comment! =]

  9. July 20, 2017 / 4:03 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m glad to hear you had a great Holiday. <3

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 4:56 pm

      Thanks Brandy, I did – certainly want to go back to Spain, it’s the first time I’ve felt warm in ages! πŸ™‚

  10. July 20, 2017 / 5:44 pm

    I’m so glad you had a nice Holiday (it sounds like!) Thank you for sharing your post! You look so fashionable with your swimsuit. I love this. Thank you for showing that life doesn’t have to stop with any medical condition.

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 4:57 pm

      Life carries on, and you can work around problems and medical issues, it’s just not always that easy. I hope this helps carry on the cycle a little, as others have inspired me. Thanks for the comment! x

      • July 26, 2017 / 8:21 pm

        And you inspire others… β€οΈβ€‹πŸ™‚β€‹

  11. July 20, 2017 / 8:24 pm

    Awesome post !!
    Good on you and inspiration for others xx

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 4:57 pm

      Thank you!! β™₯

  12. July 20, 2017 / 9:23 pm

    No, I have never seen anyone out and about with a stoma.
    You are brave and you are beautiful.
    Looking forward to more holiday pics.
    <3

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 4:58 pm

      It’s odd because I’ve always heard things like ‘well, so many people have a stoma’, ‘at least 1 in 10 you see will have one you just won’t know it’ etc, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way. I don’t want others to feel put off by taking a leap, with a stoma or not, to be different and be proud. Thanks for the comment! β™₯

  13. July 20, 2017 / 10:51 pm

    Look at you in the bikini having fun! Well done and great that you didn’t let anything impair what you could wear or do πŸ™‚ xx

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 4:59 pm

      It wasn’t easy, and I’ll admit I didn’t walk around like that – next time I’ll have the guts to, I’m working my way up to it! Thanks Christy πŸ™‚ β™₯

  14. July 21, 2017 / 10:47 am

    Love the sugar skull print, it looks awesome. I’m so pleased for you that you challenged yourself and I am sure your post will be helpful for so many. It looks like you had a wonderful time πŸ™‚

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 4:59 pm

      Thank you Donna πŸ™‚
      β™₯

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 5:00 pm

      I did, and thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment πŸ™‚

  15. July 22, 2017 / 10:34 am

    Thanks for sharing all that with us. It really is interesting having questions answered about something you know nothing about, so I am glad you wrote this post. I love that bag cover. Very cool and you look amazing.

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 5:01 pm

      Thank you! β™₯
      Caz x

  16. July 23, 2017 / 10:42 pm

    Wow. That is a very brave act, in my opinion. Your bag cover is very cute.

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 5:01 pm

      Brave, but not quite brave enough to walk around like that. Next time, next time…. πŸ™‚
      Thanks for the comment! β™₯

  17. Natalie | Surviving life's hurdles
    July 24, 2017 / 11:45 am

    No, I can’t say I have ever noticed anyone with a stoma when I’ve been on holiday but like you say I was probably too worried about how I looked to notice! You look great in your bikini, I’m so glad you faced your fear! Thanks for sharing your holiday tips too, I’m arranging a holiday to France next year and I’m sure your insurance tips will come in really handy! xx

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 5:02 pm

      I think you’re right; often we’re too worried about we look ourselves to actually notice others and judge all that much, we just think others are doing it! Thank you so much for the lovely comment. Where are you going in France Nat?xx

  18. July 25, 2017 / 7:24 pm

    I am inspired. You are beautiful. Great job of being in action to create the holiday you wanted to have.

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 5:03 pm

      That’s such a lovely comment – thank you Ali! x

  19. Annie hair sisters
    July 26, 2017 / 2:39 am

    Great post.
    Have a good time for your holiday !

  20. July 26, 2017 / 4:37 pm

    I am so proud of you πŸ™‚

    • InvisiblyMe
      July 26, 2017 / 5:04 pm

      Thank you Walt, that means a lot! πŸ™‚
      Caz x

  21. July 28, 2017 / 10:42 am

    So beautifully presented! ☺

  22. July 28, 2017 / 1:29 pm

    Good for you, why should you have to hide away with a stoma. I have a feeding tube and if I could I would go on holiday and Wear a bikini. X

    • InvisiblyMe
      August 1, 2017 / 9:15 pm

      I hope you can get away for a few days at some point, and feel well enough to do so. It’s hard when you’re not well, and I can’t imagine what it would be like with a feeding tube in terms of travel/staying away from home. You are a very inspiring young woman from your blog, and I really appreciate you stopping by to leave a comment πŸ™‚

  23. August 1, 2017 / 7:49 pm

    OMGosh! You are inspirational! πŸ™‚

    • InvisiblyMe
      August 1, 2017 / 9:13 pm

      That’s very kind of you to say, thank you for stopping by! πŸ™‚

  24. August 13, 2017 / 11:40 pm

    I am sure your post will give hope and inspire anyone who feels isolated and alone. Great story of facing fears! πŸ‘πŸ’•

  25. September 12, 2017 / 7:56 am

    I think you are simply amazing. I’ve dealt with Crohn’s disease most of my life, so I know what it’s like to have an invisible illness. Though I had an intestinal resection, I didn’t have my colon removed. Reading this made my evening. You have a lot of courage, girl! Thanks for sharing this.

    • InvisiblyMe
      September 12, 2017 / 3:15 pm

      Aw, thank you so much, I don’t know what to say… I’m glad you’ve found the content relatable, but the same time I’m not because I wouldn’t wish any of it on anyone. Have you found the resection to be helpful, to let you get back to a more ‘normal’ life? I’ll follow your blog now as I’d like to read more and keep in touch πŸ™‚ Thank you for the comment! x

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