Stuff and Nonsense: Ostomy: Travel Kit & Accidental Poopage


11.21.2016

Ostomy: Travel Kit & Accidental Poopage

We were on vacation recently and so I thought it'd be a good time to talk a little about what it's like to travel as an ostomate. I don't know about you but, for me, traveling as an ostomate can be a bit nerve-racking. While I actually love flying, I am always slightly terrified I will develop some catastrophic pouch or faceplate failure on the plane and be stuck changing it in the tiny, tiny airplane toilet. During some delightful turbulence, no doubt.

Happily, I've flown many times since my surgery and this nightmare-scenario has yet to happen. It's probably just luck, but I like to pretend these actions help:

  1. Changing my appliance the morning of my flight so it's at maximum freshness and hold
  2. Eating very lightly before and during the flight so there's not a lot of gas or poop to pass
  3. Drinking lots of water (avoiding sticky poo pileup)

I do pack an "ostomy kit" in my carry-on when I travel, as well as an indentical kit in my checked luggage because I'd rather have too many medical supplies than not enough. I've never had a problem getting my kit through the checkpoints, although I've occasionally had to explain the contents. Given a choice, I go through the line for families and travelers with disabilities/medical conditions and I think that makes it a bit easier for everyone.

I do always get my pouch area patted down and my hands checked for explosives, but the screeners have been very fairly discreet and impersonal about it (unlike some of my rubbernecking fellow travelers) and it doesn't bother me. (I'm also quite sure that the smoothness of screening is helped by the fact I'm a completely innocuous-looking and pleasantly-mannered middle-aged white lady and, god help me, I will play that privilege hard to make my travel experience as comfortable and easy as possible).

So what's in my carry-on kit?


  • 4 faceplates
  • 4 pouches
  • 1 tube stomehesive
  • 4 skin cleansing wipes
  • 8 hand wipes
  • 1 pair of blunt-tipped nail scissors

You might think that's a lot of stuff, but it's enough to cover us both supposing we both fail twice during travel ... or our checked luggage is temporarily misplaced. Again, I'd rather too many medical supplies than not enough!

And it's all zipped up into an unattractive transparent plastic storage bag. I keep my work kit in a cute batik cosmetics bag, because it's much more unobtrusive when tucked under my arm and carried across the reference floor, but the travel stuff ... it's just easier to have "out in the open" for when I have to explain it to the screeners, etc.

Incidentally, the worst thing that ever happened to me while traveling happened on this most recent trip. I drank rather heavily one night (I think we can all guess which night that was) and, sunk in a deep sleep, did not waken as my bag reached capacity due to a combination of poop and gas. Indeed, I only woke up after I had rolled over in my sleep and the bag popped right off the faceplate, spreading poop all over me and the beautiful king-sized hotel room bed (but none on The Husband, lucky bastard).

Unsurprisingly, there was some screaming. Then I showered, stripped the bed, rolled everything up into a horrible bedding burrito, and pushed it into a corner. I called housekeeping and asked for a new set of linens, mostly remade the bed, and went back to sleep. In the morning, I left the housekeeper a twenty dollar bill on the burrito along with an extremely apologetic note. (And, of course, I also left a good tip when we checked out. My mother, grandmother, and aunts have worked as hotel chambermaids/housekeepers and I've heard all their horror stories, so I try to be a respectful guest ... but poop happens).

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