Travelling with Tomas

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I was excited and apprehensive about going away for the first time abroad with Tomas. I had heard lots of different things, good and bad, lots of scare stories too. I was told my bag would blow up ( possibly not off, just like a balloon) on the plane. I read that the stickiness that held the bag onto my skin would melt, and my bag might come off in the heat. I might be taken to a room in the customs part of the airport and my bag swabbed. All these things made me a bit anxious waiting in the line for customs and beyond.

This is what happened to me.

I ordered a free travel booklet from Charter that had an explanation of my condition in various languages, I needed Greek and that was there too. There was a part that the GP could sign to say I needed certain things in my luggage. I was miffed to note that the GP wanted to charge just from signature, so I didn’t bother. I couldn’t see a problem there, it is obvious what I have. I still took the booklet just in case. ( and in case…. get it?).

Don’t give up the day job, I hear you say.

Anyway. We were flying at 6.40am eek. I packed some of my stoma kit in the big case for the hold, then some in my hand luggage too, with my adhesive remover and barrier spray in the clear plastic bag. ( I would struggle if I didn’t have the big case, as all my other fluids, makeup etc were in there. Not sure I could fit it all in the plastic bag). As we were in line for customs I noticed they had body scanners and most people were put through them. I knew I would have to mention the stoma.

As I walked into the machine I mentioned to the female customs officer that I had a stoma, and she was lovely. She said it would show up and they would probably swab the area too. She passed me to another female officer who was lovely as well. She discreetly took me to one side and just swabbed and scanned with a hand held scanner very quickly over the top of my clothes. She said, “There, no one needs to know”. I was very grateful and sent a thank you tweet to them via Tomas the stoma twitter afterwards.

After we took off, I kept checking my clothes for signs of ballooning, nothing happened. All was as it usually is. I had to empty once on the plane which was fun, as it was very tight in there and my output wouldn’t flush, I had to get some more loo roll and help it down then flushed again. That did the trick. The thought of having to ever change my bag in there was a scary one though, so I feel for anyone in that situation.

The holiday was wonderful and Tomas behaved himself impeccably. I changed him twice in the apartment and that was it really. I ate a fair bit so the bag filled up quite a lot, but my output was exactly as it is supposed to be, to the point that I only needed Loperamide once a day. The heat didn’t melt the adhesive either, and apart from a slight sore bit where the bag edge sits on one occasion, I wouldn’t worry so much next time I go away.

I even sunbathed with my bag out ( with Tomas cover on), I think I saw one or two people glance but that was all. With all the media coverage for ostomies, I don’t really care now.

On the way back through Greek customs, I got my booklet handy in case they frisked me, but they didn’t and I passed through without problems.

Bag ? what bag?

Don’t let it stop you, there is nothing to scare you except your own thoughts.

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