How do you empty your stoma bag when out and about?

How do you empty your stoma bag when out and about?

This might sound like an obvious question that you just open the tab and empty the contents down the loo. Essentially that is true but there are obstacles that can be in the way.

At home it’s all lovely, clean and you have your routine, but when you are out what then?

I have always found it more comfortable and easy to sit further back on the toilet and empty between my legs. To avoid the fun and games with splash back, I put a sheet of toilet paper on the front of the bowl. It can have it’s problems especially if your bag is a bit gassy and it kind of pops open with the pressure first, it can get messy. The worst problems occur when you are out, either at a friends or a public toilet. Friends are usually ok except if their toilet doesn’t flush fully so then you are having to wait for it to fill again to re-flush.

But public toilets are a different kettle of fish altogether. You have no idea how clean they are, the seats are often broken so sitting back on the seat can be downright dangerous. If you are someone who kneels to empty then the cleanliness of the floor is a massive issue.

Not forgetting the automatic flushes that are placed right where you sit back , great fun mid emptying and scares the life out of you. What if there isn’t any toilet roll? What if people have pee’d over the seat or floor? Not great for those who go to toilet normally but an absolute nightmare for an ostomate.

I have tried standing, but that doesn’t work for me , I feel too high up and might not control the bag empty process neatly, leaving a mess. Kneeling is a no no for me, my knees wouldn’t take it and I wouldn’t get back up without help ( and the floor could be revolting). So it is sitting back or nothing , therefore I have to prepare by having cleaning wipes ( and a magnifying glass haha) checking for splits in the seat ( ouch) and wonky seats, not to mention the more sinister items. If it is one of the really nasty toilets, it is a question of either placing loo roll round the seat to sit on, or waiting to find a better toilet somewhere else.

I am thankful that I haven’t had to change my bag in a public toilet ( except my work one but that doesn’t count) as there are often no shelves, no hooks and no mirrors. Does anyone have a different way of emptying their bag? Or any tips to help make things easier?

If you happen to own, look after or use said toilets, spare a thought for us ostomates and make sure they are really clean when you leave them. We are cleaner than most non stoma people.

If you think ostomates emptying our bags was easy and problem free, think again.

Anonymous
Parents
  • I typically take a knee. I have kneeling cushions in our bathrooms that help with that, but as you point out, public toilets are a different story. My travel backpack has all I need just in case, including sealable bags (like poo bags, but with a sealable strip). I also carry absorbent mats - the kind used for baby changing. When folded, makes a half decent kneeling pad. But still, you do need to get pretty intimate with a public toilet bowl - erk! I cant really empty a bag while sitting down (maybe a guy thing?!). So I end up taking a wide stance and take my chances with splashback!

  • There is one thing I cannot do without though - and that's a squirt bottle to rinse the bag. I have found Lucozade sport bottles to be the best, because they don't leak when inverted. Once empty, I can use the bottle to squirt water up into the bag and give it a good rinse.

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