Just back from an amazing week in St Lucia. My first beach/swimsuit/hot holiday with the ileostomy. Before we went I was feeling completely frazzled and so it was just what I needed.. proper relaxation which didn't involve running, cycling or climbing mountains!
All that fretting beforehand was for nothing. I didn't need to worry about the bag blowing up on the plane (my boys weren't keen to sit next to me just in case!) or being frisked at the airport and asked to remove the bag. Nor did I end up in hospital with food poisoning or a blockage. In fact my wonderful little stoma worked like a dream and I was able to have a fantastic time and almost forget all about it. I even went water skiing!! Ironically I was more worried about twisting my knee rather than what might happen to the bag. I haven't been waterskiing for 10 years so it was a little nerve wracking. But there's part of me wants to prove to myself that having an ileostomy won't stop me doing anything, and that includes water skiing! In some ways I think it will end up making me more determined. It was great fun and just made me feel so alive and 'normal'.
I also wore a bikini, ate pretty much what I wanted and I can guarantee that 99% of people on the beach didn't have a clue. The one person I did mention it to, couldn't believe I had a bag and was staring at my stomach wondering where it was. I did have to empty almost every 45 minutes to keep it flat and had a 'cover up' on hand in case it decided to bulge more than normal. It also didn't like the salt water too much and as I was swimming a lot the sticky wafer was soon losing its stick, but other than that it honestly was no problem at all.
When I had the surgery last July, I did ask my lovely surgeon to position the stoma as low as possible so I might be able to wear a bikini again one day. And I'm super grateful to him for that :-) I promised I'd post a photo and here it is.. for no other reason than to give hope to other people facing surgery or who have an ileostomy already. If you look super closely you can just see the top of the bag poking over the top of the waistband - but probably best not to look too closely! I'm not in the shape I used to be :-(
That is starting to change though as my diet slowly gets back on track and doesn't revolve around white carbohydrates anymore. I'm able to tolerate more protein and vegetables and the horrible bloating and weight gain around my middle is slowly going. My leg continues to improve and my knee is much better. So much so that I'm back running a bit again and up to 40 minutes with no pain at all! Yippee! I'm doing lots of rehab though, hopping, squatting and foam rolling like a woman possessed. Even though I haven't run for about 6 weeks I haven't lost any fitness thanks to the tough bike rides I've been doing with Steve, so my run on Friday was 3 minutes faster than the last time I did it, on the same average heartrate. Yippee yippee yippee!
I'm doing the British 10km on 8th July in London in aid of Ostomy Lifestyle - this fantastic charity are all about helping people with an ostomy live a positive life. Having a stoma doesn't mean your life is over. It's the perfect charity for me to be involved with as that's exactly my philosophy and I hope I can do more with them in the future.
The race will be almost one year to the day since I had surgery to form the stoma, so will be a great way to celebrate being healthy, well and able to run again and I'm really excited about it. Here's my fundraising page if you want to help me raise a few pennies.
Before that though, I'll be doing Cranbrook Sprint Triathlon on 3rd June. It will be almost 2 years to the day when I first got rushed into hospital with stomach pain. Its hard to think about how much has changed since then. The last triathlon I did was Weymouth Half Ironman on 6th June 2010. This one is just a short sprint so 400m swim, 24km bike and 5km run and a nice small quiet one where I won't know anyone (apart from Steve who's doing it with me). I won't be breaking any records or picking up any trophies, but I can't wait and now my leg is improving feel really positive to be able to train consistently and it's lovely to finally see a tiny bit of progress :-)
The holiday has been a fantastic turning point for me and I've come home loads more positive and feeling stronger about my body, coping with the ileostomy and what the future holds.