Thriving on Vacation: Post-Surgery Stoma Success in Costa Rica

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Danno

Hey all.

I'm currently on a vacation in Costa Rica and I was pretty worried about the trip since I'm only 3 months post-surgery. But I have to say, I feel like my stoma is more well-behaved than at home.

Could be the 20k steps, tons of water, great food non-stop, and that feeling of just letting go? Not sure.

But things have been great. I'm seeing next to no air in my bag at night, I'm only emptying 2-3 times per day, and things just seem to be working much better overall.

Pretty surprised to be honest given the level of alcohol I've consumed.

I am being very careful with what I eat though. Mostly protein and bananas. I'm a bit more risky at home but I don't want to push my luck.

This is the most free I've ever felt on vacation. Not needing a bathroom every 30 mins has its perks.

This is also my first time in extreme heat and I've had no issues with leaks or adhesive problems; I think I'll get through this 7-day trip with only one flange change which is awesome since I brought 5.

Also, the airport was a breeze.... Just swabbed me for bomb residue and didn't ask to see it, nothin.

Anywho. Things are good. :)

Ostomate & woundr

Thanks for sharing. It is really nice to hear all of your positivity. Keep sharing all that positive energy with the universe. Life is good.

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w30bob

Great to hear Danno. See..........we told you it isn't so bad. But you really only brought 5 barriers for a week trip to Costa Rica??

You are one very brave hombre!

Glad it's all working out for you and have a safe trip back.

;O)

TerryLT

This sounds amazing, Danno! You are making us all jealous! Maybe post some pics to rub it in even more? I'm sure all that alcohol is helping move things along. Enjoy!

Terry

Riva

Great. Never let wearing a pouch define who you are. You've got this. Enjoy

 
How to Manage Emotions with LeeAnne Hayden | Hollister
Danno
Reply to w30bob

Haha. I'm still on number one and I swam twice and did an 8-hour hike through the rainforest. I brought barrier strips just in case.

Still not a fan. I'll probably go to Jpouch in time.

Danno
Reply to TerryLT

Just want to spread some positivity for those who share a similar background. In the hospital, the nurses said they got rid of the only part of my intestines that was causing problems. Basically, I'm healed so I guess my life can be normal-ish since I'm technically "healthy" now.

Though things are going well, I still have issues showing my body in public. I wear a t-shirt when I swim for the first time in my life.

Considering the J-pouch since things should mirror how I respond to the bag. I hope? Worth a shot, I think.

Danno
Reply to Riva

The bag still keeps me on edge and I still have to worry and be cautious. Just nice that I can have somewhat of a controlled life if I just get to know my new system. I refuse to eat anything that might cause problems on my trip. That's better suited when I have access to a hospital. But maybe one day I'll know myself better. I'm still very, very new.

w30bob
Reply to Danno

Awesome! You'll find there's lots of folk on here that tried the J-Pouch, but failed... so you can get some good insight to help you make that decision when the time comes. Also, lots of folks who had recurrent disease at both ends of what was removed... so you can get some good info from them as well. You did good coming here!

I'm with you on your wear time. I just changed mine at day 5 and my barrier was still sealing really well. It really depends on how good of a stoma your surgeon made and what the surrounding skin looks like. Looking forward to hearing how long you keep it on!!

Have fun. Oh... the T-shirt thing. You'll find most of your fear is in your head. No one else REALLY cares that you have a bag on. Think about how you'd respond to someone on the beach that wasn't quite normal... maybe an amputation or brace or severe scarring. You'd look once or twice and then get on with your day and not think about it again. You're going to come back from Costa Rica with only a redneck tan! Get that shirt off and forget about it. It might even be a good conversation starter... if you know what I mean.

Have fun!

;O)

CrappyColon

That's impressive traveling to Costa Rica 3 months out. I can't remember what your diagnosis was that prompted the surgery/ostomy in the first place? You said you were pretty active before the surgery, right? So I'm sure that has helped in your physical healing. I had a reversal but not the J-pouch...mine is an ileorectal anastomosis. J-pouch is much easier to spell and say, but I haven't had issues with mine since the initial post-surgery complications, but from what I understand the J-pouch is a whole different beast than what I have. Enjoy the rest of your vaca!

Danno
Reply to CrappyColon

I had severe ulcerative colitis in the sigmoid and my quality of life was horrible. I was on so much medication, steroids, biologics, and it got to a point where nothing was working anymore.

The surgery was a choice for me, not an emergency. This made my decision a bit more complicated but I just wanted my life back. Sometimes I regret the decision. Even though I do have more freedom now, I sometimes still wonder if it was the right choice. But now it's done and it is what it is.

I was very fit before my surgery. The surgery was also done laparoscopically. The info my surgeon gave me was that I'm essentially cured with a stoma, so I can live my life the way I did pre-colitis. So I am.. haha

I did an 8-hour hike with very little water, and went jet skiing today on some mega waves. My output is manageable. Seems like when I wear a stealth belt very tight, it stops the "flow" of output until I take it off. Lol. Not sure if this is a thing, but it happens. As soon as I remove the belt, things start flowing and I'll get a full ish bag within the hour. (Not liquid)

Overall it feels like I have my life back. I have no pain, no hydration issues, very few issues with food, alcohol, hot sauce, etc... But I still hate it. And still wish I was normal.

CrappyColon
Reply to Danno

Sorry, I'm just circling back to this now. Last week/this weekend = me = super sleep deprived and busy. I wasn't in emergency surgery at the time of my surgery either. I'd failed all the meds available in the US and was buying some time experimenting with different amounts daily of liquid mag citrate. When I had asked for an estimate of how long that might get me, they said I had a year at most. I was already a couple months into that year at that point. Then we were told by our adoption agency, be ready to travel within 3-6 months to go pick up the little boy we were adopting from Colombia. I was maybe eating every 3 days at that point and sometimes that meant a meal, sometimes it could've been some of my kids' goldfish crackers. I told my husband I can't do life like this for 3-6 more months. By then I'd seen pictures and videos of people who were skin and bones that had really fought having the surgery til as one person's Dr put it "she was either leaving the hospital in a bag or with a bag". I really thought I could have the colon removed, and go get this kid in-between surgeries. My surgeon was just waiting for me to tell her when...I found out after the fact, she started working on a surgery plan for me after my first consult with her. The adoption fell through, thankfully for reasons not related to my colon, because I know if it had been due to when I needed to have surgery, I would've been harder on myself over it than I already am. There's power in the choices we do have...you didn't choose to have UC, I didn't choose to have this weird condition that killed the nerves in my colon. The conditions, lack of new/effective treatments, may have backed us into a corner with our choices, but it sounds like some "time" we both had in the choosing of when. Wanting normalcy and hating it are understandable. I don't want to tell you to focus on the good, because I think you already are doing that with this trip and all you've been able to do. So I just want to validate the negative feelings too. I'm pretty sure I'm unable to sugar coat things anyways. I went through a low point after my reversal and was watching a bunch of documentaries about WW2 and the atrocities of the Nazis...because I thought well this is/was worse than what I'm going through right? That proved to be really not helpful for my recovery though. I think a trip to Costa Rica was a much better idea :)

Sunshine Girl

Great!!! I am so thrilled for you! I love that you took the risk and had a great time. Thank you for sharing with all of us... I can just bet you will help many of us out of our comfort zone and into a place of daring greatly and living a more full life! Keep it up!!! :)

kmedup
Reply to Danno

You are inspiring – we the north – eh! I did the rainforest zip line when in CR as well. Scared of heights but what the hey.

Pre-Covid, I worked overseas about 5 months a year for a good decade. I irrigated so I didn't have to bring many supplies with me but always checked to see where the distributors were – just in case. I also had to learn to survival drive in many counties. (miles, kms, left side, right side)

I had a catastrophic (media's new, overused adverb darling) blowout in the Amsterdam airport so airport officials thought I should forgo my immediate return ticket and take the next plane in 38 hours. They put me up for the night – so I rented a bike and pedaled around the city. There are perks too.

Finding a place to irrigate or to comfortably change appliances (for 40-50 minutes) can be trying so I laminated a sign (in a few languages) saying “out of order.” When I had to occupy a stall, I taped the sign to the door. Worked like a charm on trains, planes, a New Jersey Turnpike McDonald's, an outhouse, wherever I be😊 Our plumbing is definitely different but compared to a friend of mine who has had a stroke, can't walk, and is permanently on a feeding tube, sometimes one has to put things into perspective. If there is no wind, row.

Ostomy Canada would absolutely love to hear stories like yours and is always looking for conference presenters – especially the youth. Just, K