With Summertime fast approaching here in the UK (let’s pray for some gorgeous weather), I wanted to talk about ostomy life and summer.
My routine itself doesn’t really change throughout the year, but some aspects of my ostomy life do.
With the weather getting warmer in Summer, my clothing choices naturally change. Ostomy or no ostomy, this would be the case. Naturally, I do take my ostomy into account when planning any outfits any time of the year.
In hot weather, as most people do, I tend to sweat more which means more sweat under where my ostomy bag rests on my skin and also more sweat under the adhesive. When I take my bag off to change it, I always notice that I sweat more in hot weather. I can tell this is the case as the underside of my bag adhesive (the part that comes into contact with my skin) is whiter/paler in colour than the adhesive and often more malleable and gooey.
Luckily, this has never caused an issue with how effective the adhesive is when ensuring my ostomy bag stays stuck to my skin.
It goes without saying really that hydration is crucial for the human body, especially those that have had ostomy surgery.
I have definitely found it harder to get hydrated and stay hydrated since my ostomy surgery, especially in hot weather and especially when abroad in hotter climates.
This does take a bit of trial and error, and even now, nearly 11 years post surgery, I do sometimes get it wrong but most of the time I know what measures to put in place. It can still be unpredictable, but I am more likely to know how to try and get control over it most of the time than I used to be.
Spending adequate time in the shade, as well as ensuring I step up my hydration really helps, as does wearing a sun hat and using suncream helping my body in general to reduce the risk of sunstroke, which can be serious, especially after ostomy surgery.
I don’t just drink plain water. I try to drink weak squash, have an electrolyte-rich drink each day such as Lucozade Sport or a supermarket brand equivalent and also use ORS Rehydration Tablets. I also try to cut down on my caffeine intake and I don’t drink much alcohol anyway, which can all contribute to dehydration!
As I’ve just mentioned, I don’t drink much alcohol. I have had a few occasions where even small amounts combined with things I’ve been less sure of have really unsettled my stomach and actually landed me in hospital from not being able to keep on top of my hydration after my ileostomy output went into severe overdrive and I couldn’t control it.
Wine and prosecco seem to be the biggest culprits for landing me in a bad place but on the other hand, some who have had surgery can drink a wide variety of alcohol (and larger amounts of it) and not be too affected! It’s different for every individual who has had stoma surgery as is the case with every aspect of ostomy life.
Summer is usually the prime time for festivals! I have been to at least 4 now (for the day, not camped overnight) with my stoma and have got on great without problems.
I have taken Loperamide beforehand to slow my output down, ensured I’ve been hydrated before I have gone to the festival and also taken Loperamide with me in case I need it. I have also found that at festivals, it can sometimes be hard to find good quality, safer foods, so I try to chew my food as much as possible and I find flat cola somehow helps to settle my stomach.
I use the usual festival toilets, which in all fairness, haven’t been too bad! Just remember to take spare tissues in case there is no loo roll and hand sanitiser. I also wore a bum bag around my waist last time to take a spare ostomy bag change kit in and the other few bits I needed which was a dual purpose accessory… To carry my things and also to place in front of my ostomy bag if it was filling up and I wasn’t going to get to the toilet to empty it for a while!
I have never had any issues flying abroad with my ostomy and have always ensured I change my bag on the day of travel so it is fresh for the filters to work most effectively etc. I always ensure I empty before boarding and also take loperamide and ensure I stay hydrated.
I also try to avoid not eating because this can create extra gas if you take your bowel out of routine. Instead, I try to eat smaller but little and often foods which are my “safe” foods.
When travelling abroad, I also take more spare supplies than needed and split them between my carry-on luggage and my other luggage in case anything gets lost.