I used to love swimming as a child and I was a full on water baby. Taking part in swimming galas (my stroke was breaststroke) and life-saving clubs.
I always felt my true self and at one in the water. Any hard times in my life or stress with exams, I found myself in the pool...swimming. It was the instant stress buster. I felt happy and peaceful in the water and in my true element. Now I have been drawn back to the water and back to the swimming and spas.
Preparation before swimming
This may change from person to person and is an individual preference regarding preparation before swimming. I personally on both of my stomas will put the Brava base plate extenders on to add that security. They are brilliant and after swimming I usually do not have to change my bags. However, I would point out to put the extenders on the night before, otherwise, if you do it just before you go in the pool it will go gooey and peel off.
With an Ileostomy, some people use the Filter stickers to waterproof the filter. I do this sometimes but last week I forgot. In my case it was ok and the filter didn’t leak but I know some people prefer to use the filter stickers to stop any water getting into the bag. I have not experienced this myself.
Swimming with my stomas
I have had a little break from swimming since Easter because I badly burnt my leg due to spilling peppermint tea on my thigh. I caused myself second-degree burns and it has taken all this time for it to heal. I was advised not to swim in the pool until it had fully healed. The scar is still very visible but it looks better. I have added the photos because I never knew how badly I could burn myself from hot tea!!
Although I must say when I first got my Ileostomy 5 years ago I did not swim for years. Until 2 years ago I had an SPC for 7 years before my bladder was removed and Ileal conduit formed. It was so horrific swimming just wasn’t an option but I missed it as every year went past not being able to swim.
Since getting my Urostomy my plan was to regularly swim, but due to the 3 months admission and the following year and a half consisting of 8 refashions operations for my Ileostomy prolapse I wasn’t able to. Every refashion was through my scar and in between each op there wasn’t much time for it to heal and go swimming.
Now surgery for the prolapse is no longer an option since October so I decided to start back swimming. Before my burn, I was going once or twice a week regularly.
When I am in the water I DO NOT FEEL DISABLED. Due to the prolapse, I use a crutch to help with the pain and for support. In the pool, I feel completely fully able and forget about my illnesses. I can’t put into words how this feels. It is a tonic and the only time I FEEL FULLY ABLE like I did before I got ill at 21.
Have I gone to a spa with my bags?
Hell yes!! In January I went to a very posh New Forest Spa called Careys Manor Hotel & SenSpa. It was amazing they had a swimming pool, herbal sauna, crystal steam room, experience showers which were so cool, ice room and they also had a Thai restaurant in the hotel. I even treated myself to a full body massage as well which was heaven! For this day out with my carer, I wore my vintage spotted high bikini bottoms and bikini top. I felt so chilled and relaxed. Definitely worth it!
Also 2 weeks ago my ex-partner treated me to the Marriott Spa and an outdoor pool. I bared all in my small bikini with both bags on the show and I felt CONFIDENT! This is really the first time I felt fully comfortable in my own skin in a public pool. I ended up speaking to a lady who was on holiday and her friend had a stoma and her husband had just been diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer.
It got me thinking that these bags are a way for people to communicate and talk about their health or families health. I encourage people to ask me questions because on a small scale that is how I spread awareness that we are not our illness and people with stomas can still enjoy life and be proud of our bodies. Why should we not enjoy a spa because of our stoma bags? I bared all in one spa but in another, I covered the bags with my vintage swimsuit. I guess it is down to the individual if you cover the bags or wear them out but our stoma bags shouldn’t let us affect not enjoying the water or having a relaxing spa J
I love a bit of self-love and pampering. Since getting my stoma bags I was adamant to still try and live life and not stop doing things because of them. I have had low and hard times but now I want to live! I love swimming and it is where I feel most at ease and fully myself. Having a stoma does not mean you cannot swim. As long as your wound is healed and your doctors give it the ok and you want to go for a swim you should go. I am going to get back to swimming once maybe twice a week it is where I feel my true self and most relaxed.