Swimming with a stoma

Overcoming the fear of swimming

‘Are you sure you want to jump?’ I said yes! I didn’t think twice, despite carrying the weight of fear, I took a deep breath, I closed my eyes and I jumped. My body emerged into the water and I felt so great. The cold water welcomed me and I felt again the freedom that was left behind months ago.  I was swimming in the greenish-blue clear water of the sea, amongst the colourful fishes and feeling a thrill as some of them touched my hands. Words are not enough to describe my excitement.

Four years ago, I took my first road trip after my ostomy surgery. I was very excited but at the same time nervous, afraid and apprehensive of the unknown. I planned everything beforehand, bought high waist swimming suits, precut my wafers, arranged all my ostomy supplies in a small suitcase. Perhaps I exaggerated in quantity but I said to myself: ‘better safe than sorry.  I also searched for some advice on social media and after some time and a big dose of courage I decided it was time for my first adventure with a stoma bag.

It was a wonderful trip, seven days on the road traveling through the coast of Brazil, an amazing experience. Little did I know how good it would be even with a stoma. For months I had been thinking that I would never be able to swim and enjoy the beach again. The fear was holding me back and it was the main reason I had been procrastinating. Sometimes, fear is good, it prevents us from doing stupid things, but it is also very limiting, because it can prevent us achieving what we want. The fear of any embarrassment, caused by a leak or even if the base plate would come off were now overcome and I was ready.  As everything in life, if you don’t try you will never know. Swimming is one of the biggest concerns for an ostomate as it is a daunting proposition. For a fleeting moment, if I knew how enjoyable it would be to swim again I would have done it before but I first had to overcome my fear. 

As a middle-age-woman I still expect many things in life, I’ve realised that nothing has changed except my body. I have come to realise that having an ostomy does not prevent me from enjoying life and pursuing great adventures.