Having recently got back from a trip to Spain with a friend I realised how far I had come with being comfortable with having a colostomy apart from in one area, and that is having to share my home with people other than my immediate family.
This could very well just be a personal thing but I struggle to share a bathroom with friends for fear of the smell of bag change time causes them embarrassment and extreme emotional discomfort for me. My husband and boys are well used to it and couldn't be more kind and supportive, they truly give me strength, but when it comes to house guests, I flounder. Lets face it, going to the bathroom is a private time for all of us on the whole but its made so much worse by the fact that I change my bag generally once a day, so any waste in there could have been sitting there for 24 hours before I change it. The smell therefor is intensified (there's no polite way to put it I'm afraid).
Its incredibly cloying and takes a long time to disperse. I remember a trip to Champney's with my best friend about 12 weeks after my op, I had thought a lot beforehand about what to do when it came to changing my bag, I took cans and cans of store purchased air freshener. It couldn't have gone more badly if I had tried, in the end she asked me not to use the spray as it was making it worse not better. I have to concur, it was awful. Made all the worse by the fact that hotel bathrooms are usually on internal walls and lack open-able windows.
A chance conversation with someone who's mum had a stoma brought to my attention the actual ostomy room sprays. I immediately contacted my stoma supplier who sure enough said that the air fresheners were available and more to the point work really well. I have tried a few different ones but I prefer ones with a minty scent, they work really well to counteract any smells and its a normal bathroom odour, unlike the fruity ones.
At home I've taken to burning beautiful smelling candles, I find them especially useful when we have house guest or early morning visitors. Just gives me a little reassurance that the house smells pleasant.
I have gone to extremes to avoid this problem whilst staying with friends, I have changed my bag in their sheds, garages and outbuildings (although a green house would be less than ideal and a step too far). Don't get me wrong it doesn't stop me from going and doing anything I want to do, NOTHING would. I just have to think about how I'm going to tackle the situation.
Its a little extreme but at my house in Spain we had an outside loo built, it is absolutely brilliant! Best money I've spent in years. I really wish I could have one built here too, its an absolute god send.
I was recently contacted by a very kind lady to say that she had discovered using perfume sprays from M&S work very well as room sprays and they come in a handy little 10ml bottles which makes it ideal to carry round in handbags as well as in the home.
* FYI - Staying with Auntie Sue is a story by Enid Blyton that my mum read to me when I was a little girl, it really has always stuck with me.