Receiving a stoma is a literal lifesaver for many, but also a life changing event. Even after a successful colostomy or ileostomy, recipients often live in fear of the limits placed on their lifestyle. Are those limits real, or perceived? Far too often, those who live with an ostomy hear more about what they can’t do, versus what they can. Thankfully, this perception no longer needs to be a reality, as communities have emerged to inspire stoma recipients to live life to the fullest.
One example, is InnerGood, a new ostomy supply and resource company based in Vancouver BC. Their mission statement is simple yet effective; To eliminate the stigma that comes with receiving a stoma and open up possibilities for a truly extraordinary life. They help accomplish this by providing content that seeks to encourage new and longtime ostomates to step outside of their comfort zone.
In the spirit of this mission, we are featuring activities that you (an ostomate) may not have deemed possible since receiving a stoma.
You can still swim after receiving a stoma. However, you may not be aware that you can hit the open ocean and hang-ten too! Most people assume that laying down on top of an ostomy bag on a board simply doesn’t add up. But with a little extra preparedness you can ride waves with the best of them, including this pro-surfing ostmate. A fitted wetsuit will help keep your ostomy bag and guard in place, but remember to apply a protective liquid skin barrier first. Start off on a soft-top longboard (even if you surfed before receiving a stoma) until you get used to paddling and popping-up with an ostomy pouch. One note of caution (sharks aside) is to stay out of the ocean when there are water quality concerns and warnings, especially those that occur after heavy rainfall. This will help you avoid infection around your stoma.
Misinformation has led many ostomates to assume that skydiving is off-limits. The speculation, is that since air expands at a high altitude, your ostomy pouch will expand. Allow your imagination to run away with what happens next. But once again, a few simple preparations can abate this concern. 24-hours before your jump, avoid consuming gas-producing foods. In addition, drain and “burp” your stoma bag before boarding the plane to prevent gas build-up. Aside from that, ensure that your ostomy bag, belt, and guard are well-secured. Inform your skydiving instructor about the placement of your ostomy wear so that they outfit you accordingly. Oh, and remember a pack a back-up parachute!
There is also a misnomer that snowboarding is to be avoided when you have a stoma, given the impact of falling on hard snow. However, improvements in adjustable ostomy belt design and stoma guards have made this a very viable activity. Provide for further care and comfort by applying a skin crack care formula and a protective skin barrier, to prevent chafing while at high altitudes. As with any action sport, work your way back onto the slopes after receiving an ostomy by sticking to beginner runs until your comfort level returns.
This is one of the more surprising activities for ostomates. How can one possibly participate in a contact sport when they have a stoma? Well, if you think about, a sturdy ostomy guard with a support belt not only protects your stoma, it serves as a deterrent to your sparring partner. Who wants to hit that hard surface? Of course, you will need to take precautions. Prepare your body ahead of time by hitting the gym to strengthen your core, with heavy concentration on abdominal and oblique exercises. Give yourself a minimum 3-month lead to get your core fitness where it needs to be before entering the ring or dojo. Communicate your condition to your instructor and never partake in a sparring session without letting your “opponent” know too. In addition, avoid martial arts that encourage grappling, which can dislodge your stoma guard and bag.
Conclusion – It’s important to note that all of the above should not be attempted without the consent of your physician. You will have to wait at least 6-months after receiving your stoma. All of these activities are intended for healthy individuals, regardless of a stoma, so be sure to focus on increasing your physical fitness levels first. Once you’re ready – the possibilities are endless.