Ostomy Outdoors: When Nature Calls
If you love camping and backpacking 🏕️, you’ve probably also felt pre-poop anxiety; doing the big 2 beneath a wide-open sky can be daunting for anyone and with an ostomy, it can be even more so. But never fear! With a little bit of preparation and a dash of yes-you-can, you can be on your way to the great outdoors!
5 Tools for a Successful Poop 💩
1. A trowel. What is a trowel? It’s basically a small shovel; discrete, lightweight, and capable of digging the perfect cat-hole in sand, gravel, dirt, or any other ground conditions you may come across. Personally, I love The Deuce or the Prairie Dog, which you can buy from REI or Amazon for less than $20. Just dig a small hole, poop, bury, done!
2. A wash-bottle. Especially with an ostomy, a wash-bottle (the plastic lab bottles with a long, thin, angled nozzle) is amazing. No packing in toilet paper, no packing out toilet paper 🧻! I feel like these were made for ostomates – just fill them with water when you need to go and use it to flush the bag out after emptying. It’s basically a portable bag-bidet.
3. Practice the squat 🏋️♀️. Believe it or not, but not all squats are created equally- especially so when you’re trying to empty a bag that is placed more to one side than the other. I love my ileostomy because I can just pull the bag out and empty it with no mess and no flies up the bum (unlike my colon-clad partner), win-win! Since my bag is on my right, I find that by squatting with my weight shifted to my left leg (or even kneeling on this leg) with my right leg held at a 90-degree angle has worked best for me. Also consider that if you are on a hill, always aim downhill to avoid some unfortunate shoe puddles 🥾. Depending on how you like to position your bag, different squats may be more or less comfortable and practical; practice different methods at home so that when nature calls, you go can take that solo strut with ease.
4. Hand sanitizer. This seems like a given, but it can be one of the most commonly forgotten items. My favorite are the ones that have a rubber ring on the end that allow them to hang from the outside of your pack. Put one on each pack, and you’ll never have to dig through your bag with dirty hands. 🧼
5. The perfect bag. My perfect bag for camping or backpacking is the Mio SenSura drainable pouch with soft outlet from Coloplast. Hollister makes a similar two-piece bag that has much of the same design, if you prefer one manufacturer over the other. The bag has a tap-like nozzle for the outlet that allows more control when emptying- rather than an opening-the-flood-gates kind like the traditional wide outlets, this one is more like a faucet. Perfect when popping a squat and not wanting splash-back on your shoes or pants. That’s my preference and it’s perfect for ileostomies (colostomies not so much), however, play around with different kinds; reach out to your supplier for samples and get a system down prior to taking them out on the trail. Whichever bag system you bring, you want it to feel comfortable in your clothes 👖 (no chafing), under a hip belt (if backpacking), and easy for you to empty sans toilet 🚽.
The more confidence you have in your system before the trail, the more confidence you’ll have on the trail! ⛰️
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