travelling with a stoma

Sue: Your stoma is by no means a barrier to travel

The key is to be prepared and carry enough supplies in your hand luggage.

Sue is 59 years young and from West Yorkshire. Diagnosed with Crohn’s in 2014, following a 30-year remission from ulcerative colitis.

Start by taking a short trip in the UK

I had read all the helpful information on the various websites regarding the issues of travelling with a stoma but still had a few concerns which I soon realised could only be overcome by giving it a go. We decided to start by taking a short trip in the UK staying in a hotel for a couple of nights to overcome my misgivings about being able to deal with my stoma routine whilst away from home.

In reality, of course, there is no difference in dealing with your routine whether at home or away and therefore there is no problem, but it was an important first step for me. Also, despite never having suffered any at that time, I was more than a little worried about leakage issues on all the crisp white bedding you get in a hotel, so, just in case, I took along an old towel which I placed over the bottom sheet to sleep on. I need not have worried but again this gave me some added confidence.

I started planning our 8-week trip to New Zealand

Now confident that I could cope away from home, I turned my attention to planning for our extended stay in New Zealand. It meant taking enough stoma supplies to last, plus sufficient to cover any contingencies. Some articles suggest taking double your needs in separate cases to avoid possible problems with lost luggage. I decided to carry sufficient supplies for my entire trip in my hand luggage, which would stay with me throughout, with some contingency supplies being packed in my hold luggage. A letter to my GP explaining my travel plans and prescription requirements enabled me to place an order for supplies in advance and to ensure that it was delivered in plenty of time. Preparations went to plan and on the 4th January 2016 less than 7 months after my stoma surgery we set off for the airport.

I could deal with anything necessary to achieve that goal.

I was both excited and anxious. We were at last on our way to visit our family and to meet our beautiful new granddaughter for the first time but first I had to get through airport security X-rays with a hand luggage bag full of strange medical supplies and wearing the latest Coloplast SenSura Mio one piece ostomy pouch. Do these things show up on the X-ray scanners? Would I get pulled over and searched?

The queue at security was long so I had plenty of time to ponder these issues whilst I waited and as I did I realised that it didn't really matter. After everything I had been through in the last fourteen months what was important to me was that I was there in the queue waiting to board a flight to visit our family, I could deal with anything necessary to achieve that goal. In the end, there were no problems at all. I explained my situation to the customs officer at the screening point and breezed through without any fuss.

The first leg of the flight was around 13 hours

We had a 10-hour stopover in the airport hotel in Singapore. This allowed me to do two things. Firstly, I could take my first swim in the rooftop pool at the airport. Secondly, following the swim, I could shower and change my pouch before embarking on the second 9-hour leg of the flight to Auckland.

Our greeting at Auckland airport was made even more special when our three-year-old grandson, flew across the arrivals hall and jumped into his grandad’s arms showering us both with hugs and kisses. Our three-month-old granddaughter was also on hand to say hello for the first time. It was just magic.

After eight glorious weeks, our return journey was as uneventful as our outbound flight and with hindsight I wonder why I was worried in the first place.

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