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Ostomies and Swimwear – A survey

I was contacted by Charlotte from DMU in Leicester who is doing a project to make lingerie/swimwear for a purpose.

She says “Me and my group have decided that we want to design swimwear that is more suitable to stoma patients as well as concealing the bag within the swimwear and keeping it fashionable.”

I have never managed to find ostomy swimwear that suited me, I do like the idea of having a pouch that holds my bag safely against me but all the swimwear I have seen have been in fabric I thought was ugly and cheap looking, so Im thrilled that students are thinking about this issue for ostomates.

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The group have made a survey to help them in their studies.

I have filled in the survey, but if any of you can take a couple of minutes to fill it in, that would be great!

 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NQXHJGY

 

Love Sam xx

Fashion tips for women with ileostomy or colostomy bags

One of the questions I get asked a lot is how do you choose clothes to wear with your ileostomy bag, and so I thought Id do a little post on the question…

Its a funny one because my first reaction is ‘Wear whatever the hell you want to” and that is my general rule.  But there are a few things I wear for comfort and ease…

1. Maternity trousers

I know, I know, wearing maternity trousers when you aren’t pregnant seems awful, but they are FANTASTIC.  You can get a ton of different styles these days from most high street stores and they are really affordable.

I went for maternity jeans because from the crotch down they look like any other pair of trousers, but that soft stretchy band above makes them super comfortable and holds your bag snugly against your stomach so it just feels so safe.  Wearing these means I happily wear jeans and a vest and don’t even think about my bag.

2. Don’t feel that you have to hide it

The fact is that sometimes you will be able to make out the shape of your bag under your clothes, but seriously who cares?  What is the absolute worse that will happen? Someone will ask you what it is, you tell them.  The End.  Wear what make you feel good, if you can see the bag, own it and make it awesome…

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I love this tshirt and didn’t want to go bigger and get a baggy top, I know you can see the shape of my bag through and so what!

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I bought this is Australia and its totally see through… I think Im rocking it!

3.  In there like swimwear

I looked at a few ileostomy swimming costumes and never found one I liked and so I just wear what I already have! On the beach or sunbathing I am happy to wear a bikini and just let is all hang out…

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If I want to cover up on the beach, or at the local swimming pool I wear a one piece, if you are bothered about people seeing it, go for a large pattern.

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4. Tight fitting clothes.

You had your bowel removed, you did not become a nun.  If you liked wearing tight fitting clothes before there is no reason you can’t still wear them.  It comes down to confidence and self esteem – your bag has probably saved your life, its not something to be ashamed of, wear what makes you feel amazing.

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5. Loose women

If you want to go baggy then do it, but do it because you love the dress, not because you want to cover everything up.

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6. In the bedroom

I don’t usually talk about ‘bedroom stuff’ just because it isn’t really something I want my mum or kids to read, but regarding clothes Ill talk a bit.  There are some specialist lingerie sets for ostomates, I have had a look and to be honest they aren’t for me.  There are specialist wraps but in a way I find them a little bit offensive, its like saying I need to cover up my bag for my partner to find me sexually attractive.

I tend to wear a vest in bed because I feel more comfortable when my bag is close against my skin, but honestly, with the right partner, you really don’t need to worry about what you are wearing in the bedroom.  I think sex is about trust and respect, if my partner didn’t want to see my bag during sex, he probably wouldn’t be the right partner for me.

7. Underwear

I tend to wear big panties, you know the high waisted ones, I do this because I prefer to have the cotton between my skin and the bag.  Its total personal preference, you can buy specialist underwear that has a pouch in it for your bag.  I haven’t bothered with these so far as Im comfortable in what I have.

8. Wear what makes you feel amazing…

This is the main point.  Clothes are such a personal choice, there is little reason for you to change your style because of your bag.  There are a few things I avoid nowadays because of the position of my stoma, waistbands need to go above or below my stoma to feel comfortable.  I’d never stop wearing something that I loved unless it was ridiculously impractical or uncomfortable.

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Wear what makes you feel awesome and amazing, you deserve it xxx

Love Sam xxx

Ileostomy swimwear

I was a little nervous after my op about what sort of swimwear would suit me. I looked at a few specialist stoma swim wear places but couldn’t find anything I liked and so I have just stuck with my old stuff.

This dark swimming costume with large print totally disguises the shape of my bag and makes it feel secure against my body.

This was me on Christmas Day on the beach, it was a bit rainy and grey but I wasn’t letting that stop me jumping in the waves. My sister was another story though…

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For bikinis I’m going for a fuller bottom, either little shorts or high waisted bottoms.

Having my bag and scar out does cause a few stares but I’m mostly ok with that, it’s usually from curiousity than anything malicious.

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Today I was sat on a beautiful Australian beach in a bikini, I got a few looks but as I people watched, it got me thinking about just how many different shapes and sizes we all are. Some of us a skinny, some bigger, some busty, some flat chested, some of us have scars or even bags stuck to our stomachs. But the most beautiful people around are those who are confident, smiling and having fun.

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So when people stare whether it is openly or surreptitiously, my first instinct is to feel upset, embarrassed or angry. I swallow it down and just smile.

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Most people are good, I have to believe that and so I take their stares as folk being curious about something different that they probably haven’t seen before.

I hold my head up and be proud of how awesome it is that my body has healed me and my bag is making my quality of life better.

Sam xx

Sydney!!

I have been in Sydney for just over a week now and all is going well. Travelling with an ileostomy bag is a lot easier than travelling during a flare up of ulcerative colitis.

I’ve been swimming, snorkeling and dealt with 40 degree heat and my bag has been just fine! I was nervous about how sea water and high temperatures would affect the bag but there have been no problems so far.

I’m kind of feeling the pressure to be completely on top of everything as I don’t want my stoma to ruin our trip.

There are times where the heat gets to me and my skin is sore, I feel tired and dehydrated. My stomach gets quite swollen and I have had two occasions where I have felt like there was slight blockages. (For the record I no longer eat mushrooms, oranges and spring onions sliced lengthways!)

Today my daughter made me feel great. She said “I’d vote for you to be the best person ever because you only had a big operation a little while ago and you do everything with us, mum I think you’re really brave because you just do it all and you have a bag on your belly!” I gave her a massive hug and kiss, it was really lovely to hear her say something so sweet!!!

There has only been one time where it got a bit much, I had a blockage and felt quite poorly – I had to have an hour laying down till it passed. I felt bad for this but I needed a little time.

I’m determined that the kids will have an amazing time and that my stoma won’t stop us doing anything.

We are having such a great time, I can’t believe how beautiful it is here. We are loving Australia!

Clothes haven’t been too much of a worry though occasionally I’ve struggled with getting longer vests to wear with shorts. With swim wear I decided against a special ostomy swimming costume as I couldn’t find one i liked, so I wear my normal swim wear. Either costume or bikini!

Wearing the bikini means I do get the odd stare, mainly from other children which I accept with a smile. It’s normal for them to be curious and want to look and hopefully the more they see things like this the more normal or becomes for other people. I have had one man openly stare with a disgusted look on his face, I thought he was going to fall over he was so enthralled with my bag!! At first I felt embarrassed and a bit upset but that lasted only a second before I felt annoyed. Really adults should know better, but I won’t let a few nasty stares put me off wearing my bag proudly!!

Here’s a few photos of our time in Australia so far.

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Love Sam xxx