A smiling woman peeks out and waves from behind a door with a urostomy bag on it.

Behind the Door of an Ostomy Organization

Last updated: December 2022

It's Monday Morning. Back at work after two days away from my day job. E-mails to catch up on. Busy? Yes, however, I am buzzing from my trip during my days off.

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to travel down to Wales from Scotland to visit an ostomy manufacturer and my ostomy delivery company. In the UK, each manufacturer also has a delivery arm. They will use the delivery arm not only from their manufactured ones but from all ostomy manufacturers.

I was very excited about the trip, especially as it included a tour of the manufacturing facility where the ostomy bags are made.

Preparing and planning

I was also a little apprehensive as this was my first flight since March 2020, just before the pandemic. I am an experienced traveler, and traveling on my own has never phased me, even as an ostomate.

The trip also involved a photoshoot, and with an unpredictable urostomy, I needed multiple outfits for the photoshoot and duplicates in case of a leak.

I had heard that due covid there were staff shortages at airports, and security was particularly busy. I decided to pay for a pass for both airports, allowing me to fast-track the security queue. This gave me more confidence as I would have less time standing in line.

Signaling my hidden disability

I also chose, as I have previously since traveling with my ostomies, to wear a hidden disability lanyard. There are mixed views about these in the UK Ostomy Community. It doesn't automatically get you any perks, but it alerts staff that you have a hidden disability, not what it is, but that you may need a little extra time if needed.

When I travel alone, I find it a comfort to know if, for example, I had a leak and had to leave a queue suddenly, there would be awareness.

Thursday: Warm introductions

Travel on Thursday went well without too much to report, apart from an hour delay on the flight and a 2-hour taxi ride due to rush hour traffic.

I arrived at the hotel in time to check in and meet with fellow ostomates and the marketing team from the ostomy organization.

We had a lovely dinner in the hotel. It was nice to get to know the people behind the brand, and so insightful to meet other ostomates. We all have our ostomy in common but have very different stories and experiences.

You can learn so much from fellow ostomates.

Friday: Tour of the manufacturing facility

Friday started with breakfast together. Then we went to the company's offices to meet more of the team. Understanding all the processes and teams behind the final product was great.

We then had a tour of the manufacturing facility; it was so interesting. It is fascinating to see the different manufacturing processes - the rolls of material to make the bags culminating in the end product. A lot of technology and big expensive machines are used in the process.

There are also several manual processes as well. All bags undergo two quality checks to ensure they leave the facility in perfect condition.

We got to see new bags and bags for children too. I must admit, when I saw the size of the neo bags, it did bring a tear to my eye.

I am always appreciative of my ostomy supplies, but I look at them with extra gratitude after seeing all that was involved before the products were delivered to me.

Rocking my 2 stomas

The afternoon was the photo shoot. Not exactly being petite or considering myself "model material," coupled with a fear of leaks, made this a daunting prospect. However, I knew it would be a great, liberating opportunity.

Photos were taken in the hotel and then at a photo studio. Some were taken, fully clothed, and showing my ostomy bags in underwear and swimwear shots. I did laugh when the photographer told me I was more relaxed and natural in the underwear shots. I am not quite sure what that tells me.

I really enjoyed the experience. That day I felt like I was rocking my 2 stomas! I hope once they are used online and in printed materials to market the products, it will help others who are facing surgery see that they can still be comfortable in their own body after ostomy surgery.

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