I had ulcerative colitis that was unresponsive to any treatments including remicade infusions. In January of 2006 I had ostomy surgery. My first comment was “It is so quiet down there.”

After three horrible years my life was given back to me. I am now disease free and colon cancer is no longer a worry. My ostomy surgery has allowed me to have a more rewarding relationship with my wife and family. Having an ostomy has not stopped me from enjoying activities such as cycling that I participated in prior to surgery.  I still ride whenever I can.

As soon as I was physically able one of the first things I did was join a local UOAA affiliated support group. The support group was a lifesaver for me. When I first joined I was having terrible skin problems and there seemed no solution. The support group facilitator made one suggestion and my skin problem was completely resolved!  

As a result of my ostomy I have discovered a new passion in my life that I probably never would have done otherwise. I am now a freelance writer on ostomy topics that are of interest and concern to ostomates and their families and friends.  My articles appear in our support group newsletter and the Phoenix magazine. I want people who are facing this surgery to know that their quality of life can be restored through ostomy or continent diversion surgery. It truly is lemons into lemonade.

After healing from ostomy surgery, people of all ages and types enjoy swimming, surfing scuba diving or just relaxing in a hot tub. We understand the anxiety from worrying about leaks can keep some people out of the pool. There are no ostomy specific restrictions to swimming in public places. “Swimming has made me stronger both physically and emotionally. It is a great outlet and has made me even healthier. I feel and look more beautiful” says Lynn Wolfson of Florida. Lynn has two ostomies and swims in triathlons. Here are some solutions to common concerns.

I’m afraid that my pouch will leak or my wafer will loosen while I’m in the water.

Remember, your pouching system is resistant to water and with a proper fit, it is designed not to leak. If you have output concerns, eat a few hours before swimming. A good habit is to empty your pouch before taking a dip. If you are hesitant about how your wafer will hold, take a practice soak in your bathtub. It is best to avoid applying a new skin barrier/wafer or pouch right before swimming. The WOCN Society recommends allowing 12 hours for proper adhesion. Using waterproof tape or water-specific barrier strips are not necessary for most, but can provide peace of mind. There are a wide variety of ostomy supplies on the market for swimming and you should be able to find a solution that works best for you. If your pouch has a vent, use the provided sticker over the air hole so that the filter remains effective.

What can I wear or do to help conceal my pouch and keep it secure?

Wearing a patterned or darker color is less transparent than a light-colored swim garment. Options for women include patterned and boyleg one-piece suits. For a two-piece suit, consider a mix and match of tankini tops, high-waisted bottoms or boy shorts. You can also look for a suit with a concealing ruffle or skirt. Men often favor a higher cut waist for trunks, or suits with longer legs. Stretch fabric undergarments and swim or surf shirts also provide support. Ostomy bands and wraps are also commonly used. On the beach or poolside don’t be surprised to know that some ostomates are comfortable with simply wearing the swimsuit of their choice- with swim fabric pouch covers or just an opaque pouch. There is also swimwear and accessories specifically made for ostomates by a variety of manufacturers.

What do I do if I am approached by pool personnel concerned that my ostomy is an open wound or believe ostomy pouches are not allowed in pools?

The best approach here is to stay calm and try to educate. However, unless you or another person tell pool personnel, no one should know you have an ostomy. Contact UOAA Advocacy Manager, Jeanine Gleba if this is a recurring issue at your swim location. The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures your right to pool access and most disagreements can be solved through education before exploring any legal recourse. Some scuba diving operations also incorrectly list having an ostomy as an exclusion on pre-dive paperwork. Contacting PADI (800) 729-7234 can help educate them that there is no reason to avoid diving if you have an ostomy pouch.

Meet with a WOC nurse for questions about what supplies may work best for you and stop by your local UOAA Affiliated Support Group or visit our discussion board at ostomy.org to ask what your peers do to feel confident and secure while swimming.

Get yourself a bathing suit and start swimming!

The 5th Annual Run For Resilience Ostomy 5k will be held on Saturday, October 6, 2018.  All proceeds benefit the United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc (UOAA) charity, a 501(c)(3) organization. Donations are tax deductible.

Registration Coming Soon!

RACE DAY SCHEDULE (tentative)

7:00 a.m. Registration
8:00 a.m. 5K Run/Walk
9:00 a.m. Kids Fun Run
9:15 a.m. Awards Ceremony

Kids Activities and bidding at the silent auction throughout the morning

RACE COURSE

The race will be held near the Southpoint Mall area of Durham. The race will take participants on the scenic American Tobacco Trail (ATT) over the new I-40 bridge extension.  The out-and-back course will start and finish at the parking lot on the grassy knoll next to the ATT located off of Renaissance Parkway in Durham, NC.  The turn-around will be on the ATT, just before where the trail crosses Dunhill Drive. This 5K course is flat except for one uphill section on the ATT just south of the I-40 bridge.  This course is a timed race.

PARKING

Ample parking is located at the Renaissance Village shops off of Renaissance Parkway at 8160 Renaissance Pkwy, Durham, NC 27713

PACKET PICKUP

Pre-race Packet Pick up:  To be Announced…

PRIZES

Prizes will be awarded to the top 3 male and top 3 female overall finishers, age group winners, Stroller winner, and the top 3 ostomates.

AGE CATEGORIES
<15
15-19
20-29
30-39
40-49
50-59
60+

T-SHIRTS

Tech T-shirts will be included with registration if registered before the deadline. Race shirts will be either unisex or female v-neck cut. You are guaranteed a race shirt if you register by September 20th. You may purchase additional race shirts for $10 each.

OPTIONAL OSTOMY POUCH

Race registration bags will have typical race/sponsor promotional items, ostomy education materials, and most importantly an ostomy pouch. We encourage non-ostomate participants to put on the pouch for the race to improve awareness and empathy for the challenges faced by people living with ostomies.

FAMILY ACTIVITIES

The Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k will be a family-friendly event including kids’ activities during the event.  Specific kids’ activities include:

– 50-meter dash

– Face Painting

-Cornhole

-Coloring

FUNDRAISING

Set up your own personal or team fundraising site and get your friends and family to reach your fundraising goals.  If you raise over $250, you will receive a unique and limited fundraising tech shirt.  Stay tuned for the new fundraising site.

SPONSORSHIP

If you are interested in sponsoring the race, please contact us at 5kregistration@ostomy.org!

DONATIONS

We will be having an incentivized fundraising challenge for those individuals who raise over $250. Those who raise $250+ will receive a custom t-shirt.  Please visit www.ostomy5k.org for more information!