Flying is not my favourite thing in the world but it is a necessary evil to go to all those beautiful places I want to see. One of the ways I attempt to reduce my anxiety levels is to double up on colostomy supplies. If I'm only taking hand luggage it can be a little bulky unfortunately. I hate flying in general but the thought of being somewhere without enough bags, spray or other necessities is very stressful, so I take much more than I need, just in case sudden ash clouds or other events ground the return flights. Choosing an airline with a generous carry on limit really helps. There is one airline here that I'm not a fan of but they are reasonably priced and they do allow you two hand luggage bags, which is a godsend especially for quick weekend breaks.
If I'm taking just one hand luggage bag and a hold luggage bag I will pack enough stoma bags for the duration of the trip plus three or four extras in BOTH bags. This means even if my hold luggage gets lost in transit I'll have far more than I need for the duration of the trip. If all runs smoothly and my hold bag makes it to the destination with me I have over double what I will need for the trip, which I find very comforting.
My list of must haves;
Scissors (Yes you can take the small bladed scissors on flights, they are perfectly flight legal and I have never had trouble taking them on board a plane. I was however stopped by a security guard at the Empire State Building who made a most unnecessary fuss and a supervisor had to be called over, after I explained my situation he apologized for any embarrassment caused. It'd take more than lifting my top to show my colostomy bag to make me blush these days. That said I'd prefer not to have to expose my bag in public, although lesson learned I now pre-cut any bags I might need for days out in America as I had the same issue whilst going through security to board the boat for Ellis Island too. I'm not a fan of pre-cut bags, although convenient I find that the sticky part dries out a bit near the cut line and has led to leaks in the past)
Room deodorizing spray
Dry wipes or kitchen roll
Eight Hour cream (nothing to do with having a stoma, just my lips dry out on flights.)
Spare clothes (Since my op, more than ever I find it’s very important to have stoma compatible clothes with me, the last thing I want to do in foreign lands is hunt down clothes that will work for me, so I take two pairs of trousers and 2 pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of undies and a bikini with me in my flight bag, very cumbersome but reassuring to know I can dress well no matter what.)
Rennie (not sure if it’s just me but flying causes me terrible indigestion)
Radar Key (goes everywhere with me)
All stored in a beautiful bag. (As kind as the stoma companies are to provide a special stoma supplies bags, I am not a baby and do not require a 'nappy changing bag'. There are perfectly nice bags out there to hold all my needs thanks very much.)
I un-tuck my stoma bag from my trousers and cover it with my top, it is a discreet process, this photo is for explanation purposes only. My hand luggage contains all my must haves,including spare clothes, bags and sprays.
WHAT TO WEAR; when going on a flight I of course want to be comfortable, I do fret about Pancaking and leaks. That said, as always I want to dress well. I often wear a dress for flying, which is very comfortable, or I wear my DP Eden jeggings. I will team it with a loose fitting top so once I've sat down I pull my bag over the waist band for free flow and then discreetly cover with my top. I have never had anyone notice and it’s none of their business if they did. Then I buckle up and get on with reading my book to my heart’s content, whilst pretending to be anywhere but on a plane. I have been on 10 hour flights (a little nerve racking as after that length of time my bag does tend to fill with waste and air) and 1 hour flights and my principle never really deviates. I would probably go with a dress again for any long haul flights, just to make life easier. The puffiness of the bag can bit a little embarrassing but I don't sweat it. There's people with worse problems than a windy bag in this world.
*Calling all ileostomites - If you've scrolled down to the bottom of my helpful hints section you'll have found a new product on the market called Morform, I don't need it as my stoma is a colostomy but I imagine it would be a godsend to any ileostomites that are nervous flying due to leakages.
AIRPORT SECURITY; Although I don't have a problem with pat downs at the airport, even after I was stopped in Spain, pulled over for a check and asked what was in my pocket, it wasn't in my pocket of course, it was actually my bags contents after a week of semi constipation, I think she thought I was smuggling marbles! ;). I can understand why it would cause concern for many and I am sympathetic to the problem. I can only suggest you explain the situation as best you can and hope for a caring security guard. There are cards you can get from your stoma supplies company that explain the issue in a variety of languages.
*Update on airport security pat downs. Coming through security two days ago on my way to Spain I set the alarm off as usual! The lady called me aside to be searched (I assumed those scanners were just metal detectors but she explained they also make random selections too). She asked me to lift up my top which I did, there was a small section of my colostomy bag peeking over the top of my jeans she stood back abruptly and said “ ERRRRR, WHATS THAT?!?” “my colostomy bag” I politely replied….she was mortified, apologised profusely and hugged me….we were both laughing by this point. I then quipped “and where exactly do you do to the loo?” we laughed a lot, she was really kind and very apologetic. As with anything in life, I face it with a thick skin and good humor. Is it ideal to go through such an intrusion, no of course not, but if it means flying is safer because they thoroughly check all the passengers I’m ok with it.
Bag over waistband and disceetly covered by my top.
Top - Gant , Trousers - Dorothy Perkins Eden jeggings, Boots - Phase Eight, Handbag - LV Neverfull GM in Damier Azur