Traveling – Worry for nothing

Here’s a post I found recently that I wrote just before my surgery last year.  It appears that it slipped through the cracks before I got around to posting it – oops! Up until recently, the vacations I’ve taken since I’ve had my ostomy have either been to familiar places or for 2-3 days in a place unfamiliar to me, but familiar to those I went with. To wrap up the summer of 2014, I had the opportunity to go to a place nothing like anywhere I had ever been before; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Naturally, I found reasons to be nervous about everything under the sun but was determined to go anyway. My main concerns were, airport security and customs, humidity, food, and bathrooms.

Here are my experiences with each:

To start, I was leaving the country, which would require navigating my supplies through TSA and Customs. No problems. At the airport I brought two closed bottles of water, and while the TSA employees were not nice to me about them, once I showed them my TSA notification card that I had a medical reason, they didn’t really have a legal reason to stop me. The first lady did question why I would need water as a medical reason, but such is life. Going through the scanner in the airport was no problem, they didn’t stop me at all. In fact, the main reason I was stopped was because I had been so focused on getting my ostomy supplies and water taken care of through security, that I forgot to pull my computer out of my backpack so they held it and went through my backpack,pulled out my computer and ran it through the x-ray machine again. A little embarrassing, but at least it wasn’t ostomy related! Customs in Mexico was fine too. I didn’t mention my stuff and they didn’t ask.

Next, I made myself really nervous about the humidity. I was warned that the area I was traveling to is really hot and humid and full of afternoon/evening
thunderstorms. This weather is very different from my Northern California semi-dry heat and I was concerned about how well my bag would stay on if I was constantly sweaty from the humidity. All that nervousness should have been put to better use being excited. I had no problems with adhesion outside of what I’ve experienced back home. I changed my first bag a few days into the trip and noticed some reddish dots on my skin. I took a picture and went around to the different pharmacies looking for nystatin powder just in case in was a yeast infection. I was unsuccessful in finding it in powder form, but they did have gel and powder to mix with water if I had wanted. It didn’t really itch consistently,just intermittently like normal (itches more if you scratch it and goes away if you ignore it and distract yourself). That bag stayed on for 6 days and when I changed it again I noticed maybe two dots that were unusual/pimply and that’s it. Six days for a bag is awesome in any weather, so no complaints here! Thankfully, all of the skin irritation went away and I didn’t need the nystatin powder.

I also freaked myself out about the food. You always hear not to drink water in new places so I did a good job ordering filtered or bottled water and made sure when I changed my bag to use bottled water as well, just to be safe. I didn’t order watery cocktails or drinks with ice. I also tried to avoid vegetables that would have been washed in regular water when we were in places that didn’t seem like they would have a filtration system in effect. My biggest problem was with modifying meals, which is a huge problem for me in the states too. I have been to so many restaurants where I’ve asked for things on the side or to be excluded and gotten my dish with them mixed in. I always feel bad sending it back and wasting the food, but there are some foods I’m just not interested in eating (ostomy or not). Most places did a fine job with ordering food. In fact, the only place I really had a problem, was the place where I ordered in Spanish. Ironic. I’m not fluent in Spanish but I know enough to know what ingredients I do and don’t like.

I was worried about was finding bathrooms to use. It was a non-issue. There was only one bathroom in a really rundown town where we were catching a boat that was really dirty and the toilet didn’t seem to flush and you couldn’t really wash your hands (thank goodness for hand sanitizer), but even that one had toilet paper. I had been warned about the possibility of some bathrooms not having toilet paper so I carried a small roll with me just in case – but I never had to use it.

My ostomy hardly affected my trip and made me feel much more comfortable
with traveling more in the future. Have you traveled anywhere with your
ostomy? What have your experiences been?

Here are some pictures from my trip, I can’t wait to go again!

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