My Magical Trip To Malta

Magical Malta

When I was 15 I went on my first trip abroad without my parents. The destination was Malta. A school friend had family there, so she and I went to stay with them for the month of August. Within a couple of days I had more than a hundred mosquito bites on my legs which wasn’t cool for a teenager on holiday! We used toothpaste to calm them and bought incense rings to burn at night. 

Despite a rocky start, the month flew by as we hitched our way around or caught the bus from Valetta. In those days you just sat on the bus and it didn’t leave till it was full!

I recently went back to Malta for the first time in 46 years…

I really wasn’t sure what to expect but the one thing I did know was that I was going to try a lanyard for invisible disabilities. One of the speakers at a CliniMed event I attended (and also spoke at) in October 2018, informed me about airport lanyards for people with hidden illnesses and disabilities.   

Since I acquired my stoma five years ago there have been many airport trips as I love travelling but every time I go through security I set the alarm off, no matter how careful I am with my clothing! Then of course when the security staff pad you down, they can feel you have a stoma bag so I always whisper to them that I have a colostomy. 

I’m very open about having a colostomy…

I couldn’t have made my parastomal hernia prevention video if I wasn’t! But sometimes, it’s just nice to feel ‘normal’ and to not have to talk about it.

This trip to Malta was with a good friend of mine who needed special assistance and so when we went to book her in, I picked up a lanyard for myself. I wondered how effective it would be and how I would feel letting security know I had an invisible disability. Would they ask? How would they treat me? I needn’t have worried though…

As I was placing my stuff in the security trays one of the guards asked if I could manage to take my boots off as their buckles might set off the alarm. I smiled to myself thinking this was quite nice to have people aware I had a condition, whilst still maintaining some privacy.

Amazingly for the first time in my travels with a stoma pouch, the security alarm didn’t go off!

At Gatwick Airport, I was treated with total respect and didn’t have to tell anyone about my stoma. It felt really good to have the choice to wear the lanyard.

My friend and I had a great week in Malta, despite a bit of rain.

I also had another ‘first’ on this holiday: sharing a room whilst living with a stoma. I needn’t have worried about this either as it was fine. Despite the extra food and drink there were no leaks from my trusty Aura pouch and we toured around the island, even getting a Ferry to Gozo!

The highlight for me was when we went out on a speed boat - I was so proud of my friend for going out on that boat. She had a bad accident a few years ago which affects her mobility. We both loved the feel of the wind in our hair as we sped towards the Blue Grotto!

The photo is of me outside the ancient city of Mdina. It was a very different holiday from the one I had 46 years ago when two 15-year olds hitched about having fun.

Funny thing was, my friend was bitten by a mosquito despite stating that she “never gets bitten”. I laughed and said, ‘the mossies here are lethal!’ Half the size of the ones in the West Indies but they sure pack a punch!

Until the next adventure…

“At Gatwick Airport, I was treated with total respect and didn’t have to tell anyone about my stoma” - @JustJayHyrons

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by Jay Hyrons

Jay Hyrons

About the author

Hi I'm Jay. My stoma was unexpected and very much unwanted, in fact it still is. I am a qualified Clinical Personal Fitness Trainer and a former National Champion Bodybuilder. After eight abdominal surgeries I am still Hernia free. You can see the video made in partnership with CliniMed here Core Exercises to help prevent Hernias and you can get other fitness tips on my YouTube or follow me on Instagram.

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