My first overseas trip after my stoma surgery was a holiday to Tenerife. I was 31, and I had rarely travelled abroad previously. I had little experience of airport procedures, and I didn’t know how my stoma would affect the trip.
I did some research on travelling with a stoma but to be honest, there wasn’t a lot of information out there. Lots of my questions were left unanswered. Would my bag inflate during the flight? What would security be like? Would I need to show them a special certificate or prove that I have a stoma?
When I passed through security at the airport, something ‘flagged up red’. I knew immediately that it would be my stoma. I was asked to go through the body scanner, and I could actually see the white patch of my stoma on the screen. I was then searched, and I told the lady that I have a stoma. She didn’t ask to see my stomach, and I was allowed to pass through to departures with no questions asked.
Since that trip, I’ve returned to Tenerife for more holidays! I have flown from both East Midlands and Birmingham airports and have had a slightly different experience each time. I have been searched again since that first flight, but I didn’t need to explain anything. On other occasions, I’ve passed through seamlessly. My stoma has never been an issue. In fact, I sometimes wonder if they should check more! I do trust their policies, though, and I know that the machines pick up anything untoward.
Now, I don’t worry about travelling. I don’t take any special documentation with me, I just check that I have enough stoma supplies. Every time I take a flight, I still prepare myself for the security aspect, and I do get nervous about the scanner, but I know that I don’t need to be. My stoma doesn’t make me feel different to anybody else, and it doesn’t affect my holiday. My bag has never inflated during a flight and it doesn’t seem to affect my output.
To all stoma bag wearers, please know that you don’t need to worry about travelling. Enjoy holidays and experience different places! I had a tough time with IBD, but we have all had a tough time in our own way. So, we deserve a holiday, don’t we?