Have Bag, Will Travel

CrohnoLaura

(This is a guest post by Laura. She lives in Australia and blogs at Stomalicious; you can follow her blog on Facebook.)

I’m a traveller. Ever since I was little, my parents took me on overseas holidays, and as a teenager I caught the “travel bug”. I was blessed with many amazing trips to exotic, faraway places. If I didn’t go overseas at least once a year, I would get itchy feet!

Then I turned 30, and I got a different kind of bug. This one was called IBD. It was way more than just a bug. Medications, diets, nothing seemed to work for me. My symptoms, side effects, and anxiety worsened. My joys of overseas travel — and dream of living and working overseas — came to an abrupt halt.

For 4 years I struggled with very active Crohn’s disease. Most of my travel was to and from the doctor’s office or hospital. Outside of flares, I did manage a few trips within Australia to visit my dad, and for a friend’s engagement party.

These trips were manageable, but I was on very high doses of steroids and grew incredibly anxious as soon as the ‘fasten your seatbelt’ sign came on for take-off and landing. Travelling with IBD is doable, but with my severe Crohn’s and being unable to reach remission, it was hard. At times I wasn’t sure I would ever be well enough to travel overseas again.

I refused to give up hope. In 2013, guided by my doctors, I made the decision to have surgery. Although I knew this was not a cure, I had failed all medication and felt I had no other option. I’d fought long and hard. I wanted my life back! I wanted to travel again!

I was scheduled for a pan-proctocolectomy with permanent end ileostomy. Weird as it sounds, after the operation I almost immediately felt as if all the ‘badness’ was gone! Although it took some adjusting, I managed my nifty little new ostomy bag very well.

A few months after surgery, with the medical green light, it was time to embark on the trip of a life time! My fiancé and I were off on a 10-month round-the-world adventure.

I had some trepidation about leaving Australia, my support network of family and doctors — plus the unpredictability of IBD and travelling with a stoma. But having come so far, I knew we’d be okay.

For me, travelling with an ostomy had no significant issues. In some ways, it was a benefit! Pre-departure planning, arranging and carrying supplies, emptying and changing the bag in foreign places, eating different foods, organising blood tests — all took some patience and stamina, but was ultimately smooth sailing (or smooth pooping!).

Through 3 continents and 17 countries we experienced incredible things: paragliding in South Africa, hot air ballooning in Turkey, and trekking in Vietnam, to name a few! I documented by getting my belly and bag out for photos all around the world — even on my wedding day!

I am so grateful to have adapted to being an ostomate easily and without issues. I try to acknowledge my thanks every day and feel so blessed to have had this adventure.

I hope my story helps others who may be struggling with their ostomies and shows them that there is life after a stoma. Mine gave me my life back, enabling me to travel again and fulfil some lifelong dreams that I feared would never be possible.

If you are interested in reading more, please check out my blog:

https://stomalicious.wordpress.com/

(If you would like to share your story on Crohnology’s blog, please see our guest post guidelines.)

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One thought on “Have Bag, Will Travel

  1. Well done Laura and thank you for telling your story.
    I myself am an ostomate and have a FREE to join facebook group for ostamates around the world to share experiences, stories and what ever else is on one’s mind. A link to this blog was posted by one of our members and how I cam across it.
    Anyone who would like to join us we can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1620990708156092/

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