Apologies that it has been a while since my last post but Margaret and I have been relaxing pool side on a two week holiday to Spain. Although I have been away with Margaret over night to friends houses or weekends away, we have yet to venture out the country, for longer than 3 nights or on a plane. I'll be honest, I didn't really give it much thought. I like to think Margaret and I know each other pretty well by now and we muddle along just fine - it is rare that she plays up or does anything unexpected, so I thought we'd be fine, and largely we were.
I packed enough supplies for one bag a day which is three of four times what I would usually need - I normally change everything two or three times a week. I then pre cut every bag - this is where you cut the right size hole in the adhesive 'flange' (ERGH) so that your stoma ('Margaret') can fit through and sit snuggly. I normally do two at a time and then get bored so having to cut 14 was very boring. I then packaged up 14 pieces of everything else I needed and made up 4 little packages of supplies. Each one went in to a different suitcase or my hand luggage. I couldn't stand the thought of losing my case and having all of Margaret's stuff going with it. That would leave me in a right pickle and would be a faff to get new supplies in a foreign country.
The mass or Margaret stuff EVERYWHERE
Throughout the two week holiday there were a couple of Margaret related tales which popped up...
1. The plane journeys & airport experience
I had read up on plane journeys with an ostomy bag and found out that it is pretty common for them to expand with gas as you change altitude. Sure enough, that is what Margaret did. It wasn't a huge issue just slightly uncomfortable as the bad becomes solid. I avoided fizzy drinks on the flight as they make it worse and in the end it wasn't too bad.
One thing I was worried about was getting through security - the last thing I needed was to be flagged up for having metal on me, patted down by a security woman and then having to explain that the package you can feel underneath my clothes is definitely not an attempt to smuggle drugs. I was relieved to stroll straight through with no bleeping machine.
3. The heat
The heat is something Margaret never had to really deal with before. Obviously her functionality was never going to change but having a big adhesive, sometimes heavy, thing permanently stuck to your stomach in 35 degree heat can get very uncomfortable and very irritating. I surprised myself with how well I coped. I thought I would go crazy and want to rip the thing off but in fact the majority of the time I stayed pretty cool and calm. I found a lot of it was a state of mind thing, if I let myself become agitated and overwhelmed by the heat then things felt ten times worse.
Dehydration wasn't something I had given much thought to. A couple of times it did however get the better of me. I was definitely not drinking enough water and sometimes went a considerable amount of time without food, due to early breakfasts and late lunches. My salt intake was also decreased, I am not one to particularly add salt to my food and normally get the extra salt I need through a packet of crisps. The crisps in Spain are largely plain and have very little salt on them compared to the UK. All of these factors meant that at times I ended up feeling very flaky, sick, headachy and shaky. Every time I got a full fat coke and something salty down me, I felt a million times better. It is definitely something I need to be more aware of in the future.
5. By the pool
The more times Margaret gets wet, the more weakened the adhesive seal becomes. I was in and out the pool or the sea all day so had to be very aware of drying off the bag and especially the adhesive after getting out the pool. The weather dried it off pretty well every time so it wasn't as big a deal as I thought it would be.
Despite having Margaret I was convinced I was going to do everything that everyone else did. I went swimming off of rocks, ate all the same foods and ventured up a waterfall for 45 minutes - swimming through valleys of water, battling currents and climbing up rocks. It was pretty exhausting and not helped by the freezing fresh water but it felt like such an achievement to have done it with everyone else! It made me realise how healthy I am. Only a few months ago I would never have been able to do that.
7. The disabled toilet incident
Finally, there was one particular incident on our return journey home. Caryl (my brothers's girlfriend) and I headed to the toilets before boarding our flight home. There we found that the ladies was closed and it was a one in, one out system for the disabled loo. After a longish wait, in I went. There I was emptying Margaret before the flight, minding my own business when the sliding door began to open. I looked up to see an elderly man stood there holding the door open for the long waiting queue to see...
The shock had me rooted to the spot and I barely made a sound. He didn't even seem to bat an eyelid, muttered an apology in French and then began to close the door. Very slowly. I continued to sit, on the toilet, whilst the sliding door was slid shut.
The embarrassment was horrific, especially having to then leave the loo and face my audience AND the elderly man himself. Safe to say I will be barricading myself in to every public toilet I use from now on...
Apart from that little incident the holiday was amazing. I relaxed after a pretty stressful few years, being poorly for over a year, two hospitalisations, Margaret, a break up and my final year of university - it was safe to say I really needed a break and I definitely got it. It was great to stay somewhere we holidayed as children and so close to where we used to live in Spain. Two weeks of eating amazing food, relaxing by the pool and spending time with my family - it was bliss and I am definitely fed up that I had to come home!