My First Holiday With A Stoma

by Billie Anderson

Billie Flying With A Bag

I was so worried about flying with my stoma bag. Before I’d even left my house, I was checking, double checking and triple checking if I had everything: a 2 week supply of bags, ostomy powder, seals, bin bags, wipes and remover spray.

Most of my things were in my hand luggage, so I’d be prepared if my suitcase went walkabout.

We arrived at the airport and snaked through security; my hands sweating as we got closer to the scanners. I was worried that airport security would pick up on my unconventional stomach and strange objects in my hand luggage. Not to mention how nervous I was about getting a leak at 30,000ft; racking my brain as to how I would sort out a potential ostomy pouch explosion in the shoe cupboard of a bathroom high in the sky.

Thankfully I sailed through security without any beeping from the scanners, and the security staff didn't even bat an eyelid. I landed in Ibiza thinking more about what the pool was like, rather than how my bag held up flying over Europe. I’d conquered my fear of flying with my added baggage and was tucking into a daiquiri within hours of landing.

Not only was this my first time flying with my stoma, but it was my first girls holiday.

My best friend and I spent a week at beach parties, watching the sunset with a sangria in hand and making friends with everyone. I was more worried about how my tan looked than my bagged bod. I love my stoma but she was moved pretty far down the pecking order after this trip.

For the first time in years, I genuinely laughed and just had fun. I partied in a swimsuit at the beach clubs and no one had a clue about my unconventional stomach. All my fears floated away as I let the paranoia go and just let my hair down; I drank a little too much and partied a little too hard but it was the first time I’d had fun in 2 years.

In amongst the parties, I lazed by the pool and topped up the tan; bag on show.

Apart from the occasional point and stare, I was just like everyone else around that pool - there to relax in the sun.

However there was one incident where someone was clearly not happy that I was there. Part of me was upset and wanted to cover up because of their disgusted looks. For the first time I had someone being obviously negative towards me. My new body has been made so normal by my family and friends because it doesn’t change who I am. I’m still the same Billie I was pre-bag, but they were revolted by the fact I was swimming; pointing and staring at me every time I was poolside.

One ignorant holiday maker threatened to ruin my experience – but I stood strong.

Even though half of me was upset by their reaction, I realised that this was the very reason why I had to show off my stoma: educating people that my stoma isn't disgusting and it isn't unhygienic. The only reason I was able to swim in that pool was because of that bag they didn't like. The whole reason why I was able to go on the holiday in the first place was because of that bag. So I didn't cover up, I didn't change what I was wearing and I didn't hide. I made a point of having the bag out and I made sure they could see me. I just thought ‘’if you don't like it, don’t look.’’ I wasn't going to change or move from my sun bed because they were ignorant about my situation. Had they known that this bag of poo saved my life, they might've acted differently towards me.

It made me wonder - how many other people think the same as they do?

How many people think that a stoma bag is ‘disgusting’, ‘gross’ or ‘unhygienic’? It made me see the side of society that isn't so inclusive and isn't so welcoming to those of us who are different. And that is where my blog, my Instagram, and my willingness to share is so crucial. If they actually understood how much I love this bag and how grateful I am to be able to sit by that pool, then maybe they wouldn't make those comments.

Regardless of their comments, I was on cloud nine all week.

I fell back in love with dancing and found out what it means to be 21 again. The bag and Rosie, my stoma, might be pushed down the pecking order - underneath beach parties, a good cocktail and clubbing - but she’s the only reason I can actually do all of that. And no amount of pointing, staring or nasty comments will ever change that - I love my extra baggage!

So watch out Ibiza, I’ll be back in your alcohol soaked arms once again.   

About the author

My name is Billie Anderson, I'm in my twenties and study history at Portsmouth. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2017 and after a year of very aggressive drug therapy, I became an ostomate. To help raise IBD and stoma awareness I started a blog https://trustyourgut.blog and an Instagram account @billieandersonx.

This is my attempt to make my very unconventional stomach, conventional. I hope to show the world that you can love yourself - with your insides on the outside. 

Recent Comments

  • Tarneka Harrison

    Thanks for sharing, I am on my way to have an Ostomy placed and this encourages me because I am feeling alone. I have been searching for groups or anyone who has already been through the surgery to help me to get clarity on living with a Stoma. I am in my mid 40’s and am a dancer. I am unsure of what this means for parts of my life like continuing to enjoy the whirlpool. You are brave

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