I have been away a couple of times with my stoma and each time has been slightly different in the way customs have treated me, nothing too awful but still singled out I suppose.
The first time, I went through the body scanner and the female customs officer was very caring. I explained about my ileostomy and she took me to one side and said that she would scan my bag on top of my clothes “ No one needs to know anything “ she said. It was over in a flash and I was on my way. This time I again explained before I walked into the scanner about my stoma, she was still very nice and said for my privacy she would scan the bag in a room at the side. This was all well and good but everyone was watching when I was led away with two female officers, so I did think that everyone would assume I had something suspicious on me, when in reality it was very normal to have the bag tested and they chatted to me and made me feel as comfortable as possible.
On the way back in Spain, I made the walk- through scanner bleep so was taken to the side and frisked, she felt my bag and I tried to explain but she didn’t understand and just kept touching it over my clothes. In the end I pulled that part of my trousers out and just showed her. That did the trick and I was allowed to go through with no further issues. I had left my leaflet that explains in lots of languages inside the side pocket of my bag which was, of course, going through the scanner at the time, I won’t do that again in a hurry.
I must admit I was nervous both ways, not just because of the stoma but also because of the perineal sinus tract. Let me explain…. I have to use rolled up gauze dressings in between the cheeks of my bottom because I leak fluid from the sinus. So you can imagine all the thoughts that were going through my mind on how to explain what it was on the screen. I needn’t have worried, absolutely nothing happened either way.
My bag didn’t balloon up and blow off on the plane like I had read about, it behaved absolutely normally.
Some people stared at me on the beach when I had my bag/ Tomas cover out. I am quite a strong person so it didn’t really bother me that much, but when I don’t want the attention I wear high waisted bikinis or shorts to feel ‘normal’.
I am still unable to swim or go in the sea because of the dressings to my bottom so that annoys me, and although water and heat don’t cause too many issues with the adhesive, I do feel that I am constantly checking. I also have to make sure I have a toilet nearby on the beach to empty my bag when I need to.
I am a bit more careful with alcohol as with that and the heat, dehydration can be a big concern. (I did have the odd evening of pink gin / wine /cocktails though)
With my stoma support band and shorts bikinis I can honestly say that I didn’t stand out as an ostomate at all.
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