Camping with a Stoma - Such Fun!
It was recently the 2nd year of my 'stomaversary' - two whole years of living with "Sally" (my stoma), and I guess in that time I have become a little cocky with it all. I used to change my bag daily; now, I change it twice a week unless there are leaks. The reason? I don't want to be tied to bag-changing, and I sometimes sit and wonder how many more bag changes I have till I leave this mortal coil.
It's not unhygienic; I make sure I bathe. I make sure that the bag is stuck, but my way of thinking is "if it ain't broke, why fix it?" Hence, the lack of changing! Anyways, I digress...
Deciding to go camping for the first time with a stoma
The Hubs and I were invited to a wedding, but financial obligations meant that we couldn't afford a hotel, so we had to think outside the box. That thinking led us to embrace camping in a tent.
Now, being a toilet, bathroom, and comfy pillows type of girl, I had my concerns, but living with a bag shouldn't make a difference, and I decided that the tent would be sort of like a hotel, just in canvas.
Whatever possessed us to decide to go camping instead of booking a room in a B&B (Bed and Breakfast), I will never know, but the decision was made. We are first-time tent campers, and I have never camped with a stoma, so what did I need to know? (EVERYTHING!)
Mistakes we made so you don't have to
Firstly, check the size of your camp beds and make sure that they fit in your tent before you go! I cannot stress that one enough; otherwise you will be sleeping on a roll mat the width of a candy wrapper, and trust me, the ground is hard and by no means comfy.
The second thing is perhaps taking a bowl or a bucket with you to place your night bag in. I took my stand, as it was assumed we would be sleeping on beds (oh, that would have been great) but alas, due to the above, the ground it was.
Now, if your tent is on a hill or slight incline, then make sure you sleep with the gravity flow downwards as I, trying to escape from the Hubby's snoring, turned myself upside down, and the blood rushed to my head and no urine appeared in the bag. Logic, really, but when you are dealing with rain and noisy campers, all logic goes out the proverbial window.
Be prepared for leaks or accidents
Be prepared to have a leak, accident or whatever you want to call it. I thought I was safe, but at 2 AM (it's always 2 AM, isn't it?), I felt the warmth of urine as it trickled down onto my thighs. Immediately, I jumped out of my sleeping bag. It was bad enough that I was sleeping on the ground (have I mentioned that?), I did not want to sleep in a wet, smelly sleeping bag. I perhaps could have used an 'Inco sheet' (incontinence sheet with a waterproof side that can be made out of reusable material or there are disposable ones on the market), but I didn't think of this until we got home.
Have everything on hand is the best advice I could give. My bag, with all my stoma goodies, was in the car so not only did I have to deal with getting out, backward, of a tent, I also then had to find my car keys in order to get my bag.
The campsite toilet facilities
We were lucky that the campsite we went to had excellent toilet facilities, so off I went to the toilet block. In hindsight, I would have pitched the tent nearer to the toilets - hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn't it? One thing that I wasn't prepared for was that the lights were on a timer, and by the time I had organized my bag, flanges, trash bag, and cut the hole out of my bag, the lights had turned themselves off! So I had to do a quick shuffle, while holding a towel to my stoma, to turn the lights back on.
I realize now just how completely unprepared I was.
One thing that I took away from the weekend was just how peaceful and exhilarating it was to sit under the stars, roasting marshmallows. Taking time out from the rollercoaster known as cancer. Taking time to reconnect with the Hubs and nature, wondering who else is out there, camping in a tent with a stoma?
Have you tried medical nutrition therapy?