Ask Emma – swimming with a stoma - Trio Healthcare

A few weeks after her stoma surgery 34-year-old music teacher, Emma, was straight back doing what she loves best – swimming off the coast of her home on the island of Guernsey. Here, she shares the products, and positive attitude, which are making it all possible…

“When I woke up from surgery, I cried with relief”

I’d always had bowel issues. I thought it was just one of those things as I’m likely autistic and I live with various health problems, many of which are undiagnosed. After multiple surgeries for dislocations, a hysterectomy and prolapses I was still sitting on the toilet every morning in pain.

It wasn’t a very fun way to live. A month after my last prolapse surgery, I’d had enough and decided to speak to my surgeon. After more tests I was told I had pelvic floor dysfunction and, with everything else going on, the only option was a stoma. When I woke up from surgery I cried with relief because, whilst I’d prefer not to have it, I knew I would finally be out of pain.

“I was swimming three and a half weeks after surgery”

I live about 200 steps from the sea and just a few weeks after my surgery on World Ostomy Day I was back in the water. A week later and I completed three swims in one day – a bob around in the morning, a swim marathon with my swimming group and a full moon dip on the way home as it was just too tempting! At that point I was still figuring out my products. I can’t remember who first told me about Genii™ but I wanted to try lots of different bags because I have allergies.

“Nobody talks about being allergic to bags”

Some bags I tried made my skin flare up and I could only wear them for a couple of days before it blistered and went red. I now wear a Genii™ drainable bag in mini because, even though I have a colostomy, it’s easier to have a bag I can empty before I go for a swim in the morning. The silicone makes such a difference. Nobody ever mentions you might be allergic to the bags. They don’t discuss it. I’m so grateful that someone invented the Genii™ stoma bag before I had my surgery because I would have been in so much pain.

“I can’t tell I’m wearing a bag. It’s that comfortable!”

I was having problems with previous products but Genii™ is just so good for my skin. I also use Elite Adhesive Remover and Elisse Barrier.

I think the one piece of advice I could give anyone who has just had stoma surgery is to not let it hold you back. I travel as much as I can – we’re currently planning trips to, Norway, Malta, France, and Sri Lanka. Having a colostomy will not stop me doing anything at all. I am distance swimming again and am hoping to swim 16km to Sark in the future. There are always ways around things and as far as I’m concerned nothing is impossible.

About the author: Emma is a colostomate living in Guernsey with her husband, three children and Czechoslovakian wolfdog. We love to share your experiences and hear how our products are supporting ostomates. If you have a story to share, please get in touch.