Thursday, July 26, 2012

Swimming With An Ostomy

Swimming... Back In The Pool! 
Edited by B. Brewer, UOAA Update 7/2012
Swimming is an excellent exercise and activity you can enjoy with family and friends. So, why are so many of us afraid to get back into the water? Here are some of our issues and solutions.
I’m afraid that my pouch will leak or come off while I’m in the pool. This is by far everyone‘s number one concern. The thing to remember is that your pouching system is designed to be leak-free and water-proof, and your wafer adhesive actually gets stronger in water. As long as your seal is strong and intact, strap on your swim fins and jump in. Check out these tips:
    1. Don‘t go swimming immediately after you have put on a new pouching system.
    2. Make sure your pouch is empty.
    3. Picture framing your wafer with water-proof tape isn‘t necessary, but may give you the extra confidence you need.
    4. Avoid wearing pouches with filters in the pool. Water may get into the pouch through the filter.   Filters may become ineffective after they are wet.
I’m concerned that people will be able to see my pouching system under my swimsuit. Dark colored suits with a busy pattern will camouflage your pouch better than light colors like white or yellow, which can become almost transparent when wet. Consider the following tips:
1.      Women, choose a suit with a small, well-placed ruffle or skirt.
2.      Men, choose a swimsuit with a higher cut waist or longer legs. Add a lycra or spandex undergarment. Consider a tank top to cover any scars and/or a waist high stoma placement.
3.      Colostomates who irrigate may wish to wear a smaller, non-drainable pouch.
I’m embarrassed about changing into/out of my swimsuit in the locker room and people noticing my ostomy pouch. If you are a little modest, try to find a spot that is out of the way or a time that it is less crowded. Some tips follow:
1.  You may wish to change and towel off in a convenient bathroom stall.
2.   Put on a dry, oversized shirt as a cover-up while you change.
3.  A dry suit is easier to take off than a wet one. Relax by the side of the pool with a good book or a talkative friend before heading for the locker room.
4.  Wear your swimsuit under a jogging suit/sweat pants and don‘t worry about changing at all.
What about using the hot tub or Jacuzzi? Go ahead. Again, as long as your pouch seal is good and your pouch is empty you should have no problems with your ostomy.
General Tips:
·          Take it slow the first time out. Save those strenuous swims and dives until later.
·          Always leave a little air in pouch, to permit stoma drainage to fall down into the pouch.
·          When sun bathing, take a magazine or book to the beach or pool. Lay it open over your    pouch to protect your pouching system (wafer) from the heat of the sun.
·         Test your pouching system. Fill the bathtub with water and soak for a few minutes.
·         Don‘t talk about your ostomy surgery at the community pool.  If asked, talk in private.
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