Nicola: Swimming with a stoma

Nicola: Swimming with a stoma

Nicola gives her best tips if you are going for a swim on your holiday.

The thought of swimming seems to be something that a lot of ostomates struggle with and of course, I understand why. It was something I was very worried about but it just sort of happened.

A friend asked me to join her on a trip to an amazing spa close to where we live to celebrate and relax after finishing my cancer treatment, which I leapt at. Then I went into a complete hyper-melt-down-type-panic over how on earth I was going to do this with a colostomy?

Nicola: Swimming with a stoma

Finding the right swimsuit

There was no way I could wear a swimsuit – the bag would show through, it would become unstuck and float around the pool, and if that didn't happen, the large neon sign flashing 'this girl has a colostomy on' above my head was bound to give it away!

I first decided that I probably wouldn't use the pool, or the sauna, or the steam room, basically anything that involved any sort of water coming into contact with the bag was going to be a no. This was going to defeat the point of a spa day but hey, needs must.

However, I still wanted to look the part, and I was going on holiday with the family later that year so better get on with trying to find a swimsuit.

Nicola: Swimming with a stoma

Patterns that work

The great news is that swimsuits are back in fashion – yay! Pretty much everyone is selling them now. I ordered about twenty so that I could try every style, type, pattern and this is what I found worked.

Patterned – the funkier the better, as the pattern makes it so much harder to identify lumps and bumps and movement under a pattern.

Ruched – especially if it is on the same side as your stoma, this will hide all manner of sins. Ruched is also incredibly slimming, in fact most shops sell their ruched swimsuits as their 'Miracle Swimwear' as it gives the illusion of a smaller waist.

Two swimsuits and 53 bags

Once I had found a swimsuit that worked, it alleviated most of my fears and I had even decided I was going to give swimming a go. I took two swimsuits and about fifty-three ostomy bags – just to be sure.

My thinking behind the two swimsuits was that I wouldn't want to put a wet swimsuit over a fresh bag.

Are you even wearing a bag?

When we got to the spa, I slipped into the disabled toilet to change into my swimsuit, so no embarrassing moments there.

My friend, not even thinking, said she loved my swimsuit and when I asked if she could see my ostomy bag, her face was a picture as she said she had forgotten I had one because you definitely couldn't see it.

Swimming with a stoma

Swimming with a stoma

More importantly, how was swimming? It was fine! As I often find with anything ostomy related, the thought of it was immeasurably worse than the reality.

It felt amazing after all that surgery, treatment and time in bed to feel my muscles stretch and move again with the support of the water.

When I had finished I did rush to the bathroom to check, but the bag was still stuck down, no problem, so I didn't even change as I knew that I wanted to go back in the water again, which I did. Again - no problems. It was heavenly.

Nothing to worry about

This was such a break-through moment for me. I remember being so upset when I found out I was going to have a permanent colostomy that I would never get to lay by a pool with my children, go to the beach, let alone actually go swimming with them.

Once I had done it for the first time and knew there was nothing to worry about, I felt confident to swim numerous times while on holiday. Now I have done it a few times I honestly wouldn't think twice about jumping in a pool.

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