I’ve been swimming tonight for the first time since the surgery. I was really nervous about going in the water wearing a bag but after 8 weeks and with our trip to Australia coming up fast I thought it was literally time to take the plunge. It was definitely a psychological barrier, but it has been one that has played on my mind since my op as I knew I would want to be in the water in Australia so I wanted to face my fear as soon as possible.
I read up a lot on swimming with a stoma and found that it was recommended as a great gentle form of exercise, the information assured me that my ileostomy bag will hold out in the water and wouldn’t end up floating past me. The adhesive on the flange (yep, its still ok to laugh at the word – I still do!) is designed to stay on in water, in fact the water strengthens the adhesive. It is all well and good reading about it though, I still didn’t believe it!
So I used my usual dansac bag but added extra sticky patches around the edge to give me added confidence. These were actually more of a hindrance that a help as I found the water went underneath it on the side closest to my belly button and it lifted. But my ileostomy bag itself held perfectly well, no leaks, no lifting on the edges and no problems at all! So pleased!! I decided not to eat for a few hours before swimming in the hope that output would be to a minimum and that was helpful even if just to my head.
My other worry was that the bag would be really visible through my costume, Im not too worried when we are on holiday and I am planning to wear a bikini on the beach, but I felt I wanted it covered at my local pool. You can buy specialist stoma swimwear from a few places (just google!) which have pouches sewn into them to keep your bag tight against for body and protected, but to be honest Im still to find one that looks nice! Some have a nice design but are in vile fabrics, others are in inoffensive fabrics but look poorly made. Ill be damned to pay £40 for a bikini that doesn’t make me feel fab! I wore my own swimsuit tonight which is black with a heavy floral pattern and my bag was barely visible. I suppose if you really stared you’d see the bottom of the bag but that would be weird…
Changing afterwards worried me a bit, but I made sure I had all my stoma stuff with me. I was hoping to not have to change the bag but as the extra stickies I applied had lifted, they had gone sticky and when I took them off, they lifted the flange on the bag. So I did a full change and despite my concerns, it was all fine!
During the swim I took it easy, we went as a family and so I swam lengths slowly with my daughter. I felt the muscles in my stomach and chest really stretching, not painful but a good stretch. I made sure I didn’t over do it and would have stopped if I felt any pain.
I feel really good tonight, it feels great to be exercising and even better to feel more in control of my body. I would highly recommend it to anyone with a stoma. I know it is so scary but now I have done it once, I am looking forward to more swimming, aqua fit classes and mostly a holiday on the beach in and out of the sea with no worries and no stress!
Love Sam xx