Coloplast invited Nicola to share her story and was compensated by Coloplast for providing this information. Your experience may not be the same. Contact your healthcare provider about what works best for you.
The thought of swimming seems to be something that a lot of people with an ostomy struggle with and, I understand why. It was something I was worried about too, but I worked through it.
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 leaped at. Then I went into a complete panic thinking about what I was going to do with a colostomy!
Finding the right swim suit
I thought there was no way I could wear a swim suit – the pouch would show through, it would or it might fall off and then everyone would know I had a colostomy!
At first I thought I just won't use the pool, or the sauna, or the steam room, basically anything that involved any sort of water coming into contact with the pouch was going to be off limits. This was going to defeat the point of a spa day but it was better than worrying about it.
However, I still wanted to look the part, and I was going on vacation with the family later that year so better get on with trying to find a swim suit.
Patterns that work
The great news is that swim suits come in all patterns, shapes, and sizes. 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 ostomy. Ruched is also very slimming as it gives the illusion of a smaller waist.
Once I had found a swimming costume that worked, it alleviated most of my fears and I had even decided I was going to give swimming a try. I took two swim suits and several extra pouches just to be safe.
My thinking behind the two swim suits was that I wouldn't want to put a wet swim suite over a dry pouch.
My day at the spa
When we got to the spa, I used a private changing room to change into my swim suit.
My friend, said she loved my suit and when I asked if she could see my pouch, and she said she had forgotten I had one because she definitely couldn't see it.
We went swimming and everything went fine! As I often find with anything ostomy related, the thought of it was much worse than the reality.
It felt amazing after 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 pouch 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. I had 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 go swimming with my children, lay by a pool with them, 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 vacation. After that time, I honestly wouldn't think twice about jumping in a pool.