Sunshine. Warmth. Relaxation. Not having to talk to anyone for an entire week. Vacation.
A little over a week ago, my boyfriend and I disappeared to an all-inclusive resort in sunny Mexico. While the trip itself ended up being absolutely wonderful, it was not without its stresses.
Despite being a seasoned traveler, there’s something about traveling and staying at a resort during the holidays that… isn’t the same as normal traveling.
The morning of, you wake up at the crack of dawn and rush to the airport only to find yourself waiting in line after slow-moving line full of people who barely ever travel, if not for this being their first time on a plane. Lines full of people who have no idea how to check in to the flight, no clue where to drop their bag off, and have no understanding that they are not allowed to bring a full bottle of water through security…
You make your way past check-in and on to security and you find yourself face to face with a TSA agent who has just about had enough of this time of year (with 3 more weeks to go) and decides to take it out on you by getting all up in your personal space. Sometimes, they even ask you about what they saw on the full body scanner, and you have to whip out your ostomy bag so they’ll leave you alone. (Yes, I’ve had to do that before.)
Then, after all that, you realize you have 2 hours to spare before even getting on the plane.
It takes a lot of effort to relax.
Of course, the biggest stress is always figuring out what to pack. You’re not exactly sure what the weather will be in this foreign land for that specific week (sunny, raining, windy, cold or warm at night?) and you can then only hope that the massive amount of crap you have shoved into your suitcase will somehow result in outfits that can work.
Well, this trip, my suitcase was stuffed full of bathing suits.
There aren’t a lot of opportunities for me to wear bathing suits over here in cold, snowy, Canada, so any chance I get, I want to wear them. I actually find wearing bathing suits kind of a fun challenge.
Cause, you know, it’s not easy wearing a bathing suit with an ostomy.
Figuring out the size, shape, stretch, and pattern of the suit, as well as how to fold, stuff, and choose what ostomy appliance to wear are all elements that come into play when trying to pull together a suit that is suitable (ha) for the pool, the beach, and the eyes of the people around you.
So, for this trip, I brought and wore 5 different bathing suits across 5 different days. Each day, showcasing a different way to wear, and tuck away, the bag.
Some of you may have already seen that I posted these pictures on Instagram, and many of you were shocked as to how I was able to pull off looks like this. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t as easy as it might look. Thanks to my almost 12 years of ostomy experience, I’ve managed to pull together some tips and tricks that make dressing for the sun possible. You’ll also notice that each bathing suit is a completely different style. No matter what your body shape, size, or where your ostomy is placed, I bet at least one of these styles will work for you (bag or not!)
Before I begin, instead of wondering what I’m hiding underneath my suits, I’ll let you in on the secret – I’m wearing the Coloplast Assura base plate and the small closed bag that you can see here, on the left:
Now, how did I do it?
Day 1 – High Waisted Bathing Suit
Well, ok, this one doesn’t need much explanation. I literally just bought a pair of high-waisted bathing suit bottoms and paired it with a cute bathing suit top. The bottoms are so high, that it hid all of my ostomy, and then some!
Day 2 – Bikini Skirt
If you happen to be like me, and have a very low ostomy, a lower bathing suit bottom can be possible. The best part about this suit is that it also comes with a skirt. That means, it covers the bag if it happens to peak out the bottom. I just tuck the top of the bag into the top of the suit, and voila!
Day 3 – Cut-out Suit
This was one of the ones I actually picked out when I was researching for my summer bathing suit blog. I actually liked this one so much that.. I bought it. The cut-outs for this particular suit fit my ostomy just perfectly – I only had to tuck in the bottom to hide it from peaking out. For others, however, the cut-outs may not be in the right spot. Don’t worry, there are a ton of different cut-out style suits out there that could work.
Day 4 – Regular Bikini Bottoms
Ok, not going to lie… this one even shocked me.
In this picture I am actually wearing regular bikini bottoms.
Again, I’m lucky that my ostomy is very low, so that was one bonus in my favour. The other bonus, however, was that the Coloplast products I use are small and flexible enough that I was actually able to fold them together, behind the bathing suit, and lay them flat against my body. With a fold on the bottom, a fold on the side, and then a fold on the top, it managed to keep it tucked away perfectly! It takes a bit of skill, but with the right product, and the right fold, it can work. I did, however, have to make a few extra trips to the bathroom, but totally worth it to get a better tan! (PS – If you look closely, you can see the plastic of the plate!)
I also paired it with a bathing suit wrap (meant to be worn in the water) so I could still hide it if I wanted to. I did wear the wrap when I went into the ocean, cause, you know, things move around in water.
Day 5 – Regular Bikini Bottoms with an added Piece
So, fully recognizing that not everyone can pull of regular bikini bottoms like I miraculously was able to do (for the first, and maybe even the last time), I also wanted to sport my additional ostomy bathing suit piece. There are a number of companies out there that actually produce special bathing suit bands that can be worn with bathing suit bottoms to keep the bag tucked in and in place. In this picture, I’m wearing a simple black band tucked under the same bikini bottoms from the day before.
By Day 6 and 7, I ran out of new suits to wear but it really didn’t matter. Recognizing that I didn’t know anyone around me, I decided I would go a little bolder. I decided to let it hang out.
Some of you may know that I prefer to keep my ostomy hidden under clothing so that I can portray myself, and others with ostomies, as being able to dress the same way as those without ostomies. However, by the last few days of vacation, something inside me just said screw it. Did I know anyone here? No. Was I ashamed of my ostomy? Certainly not. So why was I trying so hard to hide it?
If I wanted the best tan lines, I was going to have to show some bag.
So, I did.
I think that’s what’s different about vacationing at a resort. Not the traveling, not the packing, but the freedom.
The freedom from responsibilities, the freedom from worrying about what people might think of you, and the freedom to just be yourself.
And myself includes my ostomy.
Oh, and sorry boys, I didn’t have any pictures of me wearing any mens bathing attire. What I will recommend, though, is that wearing a pair of underwear high enough to cover the bag, with a bathing suit on top, will do just the trick. Of course, you could always just let it peak out the top!
Don’t forget – Coloplast is still giving away free samples of their products, just click here!