By Caroline Bramwell
It’s been years since I went camping. In my youth, I remember it was full of mud and ‘roughing it’. When my young children wanted to experience the great outdoors, the nostalgia gave me the desire to get out there again.
Now that I have an ileostomy, I have a few extra things to consider. Dealing with my stoma in the confined space of a tent made me nervous, but it wasn’t a problem. Actually, the gnats (who seemed to see me as a feast!) turned out to be a far bigger issue. All that it took was a little bit of planning.
We headed to the Brecon Beacons in Wales, the car loaded to the brim and the top box full of things that the children had crammed in. In comparison, I’d brought relatively few extras with me. I had a larger than usual bag of pouches, wipes and my usual stoma accessories. I even took my shorts and swimming costume along, as well as the obligatory wellies and wet weather gear.
The campsite had a relaxed attitude about where campers pitched their tents, so we set up close to the toilet and shower block. My body has a night-time routine, so I knew I’d wake up sometime around 4am and need to deflate the ‘hot air balloon’ that is my stoma bag. I placed my bag of stoma products in the corner of the tent, along with my jacket, torch and wellies, ready for my visits to the toilet block. The setup worked a treat and being close to the toilet was ideal for my night-time trips.
Knowing exactly where my kit was made the trip a lot easier. I used my own sleeping bag, too, so I didn’t wake anyone else when I got up to deal with my stoma. It was just like waking up to use the toilet at home, except at home I don’t usually wear wellies to use the bathroom. The toilet block had individual rooms for the showers and toilets, so I could change my pouch with plenty of space and privacy.
Before the trip, I spent some time researching campsites. This site was in a good location and in terms of local amenities, it ticked all the boxes. The toilet and washing facilities provided a good level of privacy and because we were able to pitch where we preferred, I didn’t have to trek across fields to reach them. As a stoma bag wearer, these facilities made a real difference to my trip.
The trip was a resounding success and the children loved it! My stoma really didn’t affect my holiday, but next time, I will remember to pack more insect repellent!