Don't forget the bug spray
by Caroline Bramwell
It’s been years since I went camping; in my youth I remember it was full of mud and ‘roughing it’, but now my young children want to experience living in the great outdoors and there is that desire in me to get out there with them. However, now I have an ileostomy I have a few extra things to consider. Admittedly, I was a little nervous of the idea of having to deal with my stoma in the confined space of a tent. But it really wasn’t an issue at all… in fact, dealing with gnat bites (who must see me as a feast on legs) was a far bigger issue.
All it took was a little bit of forward planning. We headed off to the Brecon Beacons in Wales with the car loaded to the brim. Compared to the amount of stuff the children were cramming into the top box, my only extras were a larger than usual bag full of stoma bags, wipes and my usual stoma accessories. I even made sure I threw in my shorts and swimming costume…. along with the obligatory wellies and wet weather gear, of course.
The campsite we had booked had a ‘pitch where you like’ attitude which allowed us the freedom to pitch up quite close to the toilet and shower block. Now, my body has a night-time routine all of its own; I knew that I would wake up sometime around 4am and need to deflate the ‘Hot Air Balloon’ that is my stoma bag. So planning to be close to the toilet block was ideal. I had my bag of stoma products, my jacket, a torch and wellies sat in the corner of the tent ready for my night-time trip. It worked a treat.
Being in my own sleeping bag meant I didn’t wake anyone else up as I got up, and knowing where my kit was made the whole experience easy. It was just like getting up at home, except I don’t usually wear wellies to go to the bathroom. The toilet/shower block had individual toilet/shower rooms, so it meant when I needed to change my bag, I had a sink and shower to hand to get myself sorted out with plenty of space.
Spending a little bit of time researching some good campsites that not only ticked all the boxes for the family in terms of local facilities, but gave us the freedom to pitch where we liked and had appropriate toilet and washing facilities, made all the difference to the trip for me as an ostomate. No remote location, no trekking across fields, and plenty of running water.
All in all, the camping trip was a resounding success and the kids loved it. Having my ileostomy really didn’t impinge on any aspect of the holiday, but I will remember next time to pack more bug spray!