You may be hesitant to travel after having ostomy surgery, but for me it's one of the great joys of life. Just six months after my ileostomy surgery I felt healthier than ever. It had been in years since I felt this good due to having Crohn's disease. So with the green light from my doctors, my husband Michael and I decided to take the trip of a lifetime!
We spent 10 months traveling through three continents and 17 countries... and my stoma was on-board for the ride! Here are a few of the countries I've been to:
There was a small part of me that held some trepidation about leaving home for 10 months. I had relied so heavily on my family, close friends and doctors for support, guidance and strength for what seemed like such a long time. Much stronger than that slight apprehension was an overwhelming feeling of joy, exhilaration, incredulity and of course gratitude.
Ho Chi Minh City (commonly known as Saigon) Vietnam
Flying for the first time with an ostomy had me concerned, but most of the things I worried about never happen. Also on our travels, I quickly learned that toilets and bathrooms around the world are almost as diverse as people and cultures.
The number of challenges for me traveling with an ostomy were far fewer than I imagined. I can even think of some ways in which you might say it was a benefit! From pre-departure planning, arranging and carrying supplies, to emptying and changing the bag in foreign places, eating different foods, and even organizing blood tests, I really had no significant issues at all. Of course it took a bit of organizing, patience and sometimes even stamina, but all in all it was smooth sailing (or smooth pooping!).
Cape Town, South Africa
As we traveled around the world, I wrote down thoughts about Crohn’s and about what it is like traveling with an ostomy. I wanted to do this for others with a stoma, to help with hints and tips on what to do and what not to do, and hopefully prove it can be very doable!
It's important to live in the moment as much as you can and continue to make the most of every day no matter how you’re feeling. I try to do this every day, particularly while we're traveling. I'd often sit and reflect after a day out, and count my blessings for being well again.
I hope this helps and inspires other people who may be struggling with their ostomies and shows that there can be life after a stoma. For me, so far, it has given me back my life, and enabled me to fulfill some lifelong dreams that for a long time I feared would never be possible.
It’s no secret that I love to travel! You’re probably sick of seeing photos with my belly and bag out around the world by now! Well sorry folks, but you’re in for more! Michael and I are moving from the bright lights and sunshine of Sydney's summer to the brighter lights (but grayer, wetter skies!) of a London's winter. Watch out for many more “Where in the World is my Stoma?” photos on my Facebook page.
Connect with Laura at Stomalicious
All photos © Laura Zappulla