Imagine if there was a place where over forty ostomy product manufacturers, accessory makers, distributors, lifestyle experts, and related support organizations could gather with ostomy patients from around the world? Well, UOAA’s 7th National Conference Exhibit Hall is that place, and everyone is invited. It will be open August 8 and 9, 2019 at the Philadelphia 201 Hotel in the heart of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

People return to UOAA’s biennial national conferences not only because of the lifelong friendships, education, and social events but also because of the exhibit hall. It is a fun one-stop experience to ask questions about your favorite supplies or discover what is the latest and greatest in the world of ostomy care. Attendees have the chance to sign-up for sample products and talk one-on-one with representatives of all the major and specialty ostomy product manufacturers. Visitors often find the passionate owners and inventors of unique ostomy products on hand to introduce you to their products.

 

UOAA is proud to be able to provide this space for our community to gather.  The conference runs Aug. 6-10, but If you can only come to our conference for one day you’ll want to consider registering for the exhibit hall days Thursday and Friday. There is even a free box lunch Friday for all those registered attendees who enter the exhibit hall. You may want to consider staying longer, however, to take advantage of the free stoma clinic, expert educational session and surgery specific meet-ups. And don’t miss social events such as the Roaring 20s Casino Night and Music Thursday and the Saturday night fashion show, desserts, and dancing. Be sure to stop by UOAA’s table where you can sign an important petition for the Ostomy and Continent Diversion Patient Bill of Rights and learn about all the upcoming events such as Ostomy Awareness Day and the Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k.

 

Here is a list of all the businesses and organizations exhibiting this August. Like UOAA, they are dedicated to improving the quality of life of people living with an ostomy. 

 

11 Health and Technologies Inc.
www.11Health.com • 657-266-0570

11 Health helps people living with medical bags by combining peer-to-peer support with unique patented SmartBags that collect patient generated data for preventative care. 11 Health thinks and acts differently from all established medical bag companies because we see the patient as a patient – not an end user.

ASCRS – Colon/Rectal Surgeons
www.fascrs.org • 847-290-9184

You are invited to visit the ASCRS Booth and receive information regarding services ASCRS can provide, including patient referrals and patient education brochures. The scope of colon and rectal surgery includes the small bowel, colon, rectum and anal areas.

Avadim Health, Inc.
www.theraworxprotect.com • 877-677-2723

Avadim Health Inc. is the Bionome Life Science company. Avadim’s flagship product Theraworx® Protect is a topical solution that supports the skin’s outer most layer, the stratum corneum, while remaining Non-Toxic and Safe.

B Braun Medical
www.bbraunusa.com • 800-227-2862

B. Braun Medical Inc. develops, manufactures, and markets innovative medical products and offers ostomy products including Flexima® 3S two-piece appliance with a unique guiding system and a High Output System. The myosto™ resource offers ostomates the ability to request product samples and educational resources on the website. Visit www.bbraunusa.com and www.myosto-mylife.com

Byram Healthcare
www.byramhealthcare.com • 800-227-2862

Byram is the leading service and solutions provider of disposable medical supplies delivered directly to the home while conveniently billing insurance plans. We provide convenience, affordability and choice™ to make a positive difference in the lives of the people we serve.

Calmoseptine, Inc.
www.calmoseptine.com • 714-840-3405

Calmospetine® Ointment protects and helps heal skin irritations from moisture such as urinary and fecal incontinence. It is also effective for irritations from perspiration, wound drainage, fecal and vaginal fistulas and feeding tube site leakage. Calmoseptine® temporarily relieves discomfort and itching. Free samples at our booth!

Cancer Support Community
www.cancersupportphiladelphia.org

Cancer Support Community is a leader in cancer support, and is the largest cancer support organization in the world that provides 100% free services and programs for individuals and families impacted by cancer. The Community serves those with cancer, who have a family member or friend with cancer and who have lost a loved one to cancer.

Celebration Ostomy Support Belt 
www.celebrationostomysupportbelt.com • 413-539-7704

Our ostomy Celebration Belt systems are designed to protect your dignity while allowing you to lead an active life. Learn how to measure for a correct fit, get wear and care information, and order your belt with confidence.

Colo-Majic Enterprises
www.colomajic.com • 866-611-6028

Colo-Majic® Flushable Liners are designed to be inserted into a two piece closed end pouch system to collect colostomy/ileostomy output. Liners will keep your pouch clean allowing for reuse and makes output disposal quick and easy.

Coloplast
www.coloplast.us • 888-726-7872

Coloplast develops products and services that make life easier for people with very personal and private medical conditions. Working closely with the people who use our products, we create solutions that are sensitive to their special needs. Our business includes ostomy care, interventional urology, continence care, wound & skin care.

ConvaTec
www.convatec.com • 800-422-8811

At ConvaTec, we exist to improve the lives of the people we touch and are committed to helping people living with an ostomy live the life they want with more confidence and freedom. Our me+ program gives you the support, insights and products you need. For more information, visit convatec.com.

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation 
www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org  888-694-8872

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is dedicated to finding cures for Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improving the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases. The Foundation is at the forefront of research in inflammatory bowel diseases in addition to educating, supporting, and empowering patients and caregivers.

Edgepark
ww.edgepark.com • 800-321-0591

Edgepark is a leading provider of home-delivered, disposable medical products. We specialize in ostomy, wound care, urological, incontinence, diabetes and more, offer comprehensive insurance options and provide free nationwide delivery. To learn how we can help meet your supply needs, please call 800-321-0591 or visit www.edgepark.com.

Friends of Ostomates Worldwide
www.fowusa.org • 502-909-6669 • info@fowusa.org

Friends of Ostomates Worldwide-USA is a volunteer-run, non-profit organization that collects donated ostomy supplies from individuals and organizations in the United States and sends them and educational materials at no cost to ostomates in need around the world.

Girls With Guts
www.girlswithguts.org • info@girlswithguts.org

The vision of Girls With Guts is to establish a national support network that assists women with IBD and/or ostomies in their search for community, acceptance, and empowerment. This rapidly growing sisterhood helps to ensure that no woman will ever feel isolated by her disease.

Hollister Incorporated
www.hollister.com • 888-740-8999

At Hollister Incorporated, we are dedicated to delivering the highest standard of quality in medical products and services, and each member of the Hollister team is committed to making a difference in the lives of people who use our products and services.

Hy-Tape Int. 
www.hytape.com • 800-248-0101

Hy-Tape’s latex-free, waterproof, zinc oxide-based adhesive is soothing to delicate skin, and removes without compromising skin integrity. Our tape is perfect for extended ostomy wearing time, adhering securely so the end user can resume normal activities such as walking, exercising, bathing and swimming without worry of detachment.

KEM Enterprises, Inc.
www.kemonline.com • 616-676-0213

KEM Enterprises, Inc. manufactures the Osto-EZ-Vent.® The Osto-EZ-Vent® is the unique venting device designed for any Ostomy pouch, which allows quick, discreet release of air pressure. Invented by an Ostomate, the OEV™ gives the wearer complete control and confidence to lead an active life. Medicare code A4366. Visit us at kemOnline.com.

Marlen Manufacturing
www.marlenmfg.com • 216-292-7060

Since 1952, Marlen has been a leading innovator in ostomy care. Offering an extensive line of one-piece and two-piece systems for Ileostomies, Colostomies and Urostomies, Marlen has always strived to provide the highest quality products while meeting the comfort and security needs of our customers. Visit our website at www.marlenmfg.com

McKesson Patient Care Solutions
www.mpcs.mckesson.com • 855-404-6727

From doctor to doorstep, McKesson Patient Care Solutions provides healthcare that fits into your everyday life. With online support to answer all your questions, a team of customer service Reps to help you choose the right supplies, and fast, convenient shipping right to your door.

No You Cant’cer Foundation
www.noyoucantcerfoundation.org • 609-464-4647

The No You Cant’cer Foundation is a nonprofit organization working to dispel the negative stigmas surrounding ostomy bags and colorectal cancer while inspiring through song. By nationally distributing informational pamphlets and creating her awareness ribbon necklaces, cancer survivor and ostomate Melissa Marshall aims to help everyone say No You Cant’cer.

Nu-Hope Labs
www.nu-hope.com • 800-899-5017

Nu-Hope manufactures ostomy devices, accessories, belts, barriers and adhesives. We specialize in custom molded pouches and custom ostomy/hernia belts. Other highlights are our oval convex pouches, and stoma wafer hole cutters. Check out the Nu-Comfort belt and new for 2019, our moldable extended wear barrier. Don’t forget the Fun Run/Walk!

Oley Foundation
www.oley.org • 518-262-5079

The Oley Foundation is a non-profit organization providing information and support to those sustaining themselves on home infused and/or tube fed nutrition. Outcome data demonstrates that those connected to Oley have better outcome: significantly higher quality of life, less reactive depression, and a lower incidence of catheter-related sepsis.

Ostomy Canada Society
www.ostomycanada.ca • 888-969-9698

Ostomy Canada Society is a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to all people with an ostomy and their families, helping them to live life to the fullest through support, education, collaboration and advocacy. www.ostomycanada.ca

Parthenon Co., Inc.
www.parthenoninc.com • 800-453-8898

Family owned and operated for over 50 years. The Parthenon Company is a manufacturer and discount retailer specializing in ostomy supplies servicing customers throughout the United States.

Philadelphia Ostomy Association
www.philaost.org

The Philadelphia Ostomy Association was established in 1949 as the Colostomy Ileostomy Rehabilitation Association. As time went on and Urostomy surgery was developed, we changed our name to the Philadelphia Ostomy Association to support all types of ostomates.

Pouch Place
www.pouchplace.com • 865-531-1285

Nurse owned and managed ostomy care and supplies. For more than 27 years the Pouch Place has offered a complete selection of ostomy, wound care and incontinence supplies treating each patient’s needs with thoughtful and respectful care from two store front locations and an online store serving patients nationwide.

Pull-thru Network, Inc.
www.pullthrunetwork.org • 309-262-0786

Pull-thru Network, Inc (PTN) is a volunteer-based non-profit organization dedicated to providing information, education, support and advocacy for families, children, teens and adults who are living with the challenges of congenital anorectal, colorectal, and/or urogenital disorders and any of the associated diagnoses.

Quality Life Association, Inc.
www.qla-ostomy.org • 662-801-5461

The Quality Life Association, Inc. (QLA) is a non-profit nationwide association aimed at meeting the special needs of the continent ostomate and to educate others on the latest advances in ostomy options.

Safe n Simple
www.sns-medical.com • 844-767-6334

Safe n simple is an innovator that develops and markets a full line of high quality, cost-effective ostomy accessory products. The patented Peri-Stoma Cleanser and Adhesive Remover wipes are their most popular product. Now offering Security Hernia/Ostomy Support Belts.

Sanitary Ostomy Systems, Inc.
www.sanitaryostomysystem.com • 805-441-6708

Discover Our Exclusive Pouch-Emptying Systems For Use At Home And Everywhere Else. THE SOS KIT: Compresses pouch contents into a detachable, disposable collection bag. The perfect reusable solution for ostomates & caregivers. THE TRAVELER KIT: Empties your pouch anytime, anywhere – even in your car! Completely disposable, discreet and easy.

Schena Ostomy Technologies, Inc.
www.ostomyezclean.com • 239-263-9957

The revolutionary EZ-Clean Pouch system can be cleaned in less than 3 minutes. Water under pressure is dispersed via a manifold inside the pouch to provide thorough, hygenic cleansing of the pouch and stoma while sitting on the toilet. See details on how to normalize life with an ostomy online at: www.ostomyezclean.com.

Simply Beautiful
www.simplybeautifulstore.com • 304-771-1773

Wraps and Lingerie that empower women and preteens to feel more confident and reveal your true beauty while thriving with an ostomy.

Stealth Belt Inc.
www.stealthbelt.com • 800-237-4491

A Stealth Belt is an ostomy support belt that is specially designed to hold an ostomy appliance securely and discreetly. A Stealth Belt may be worn 24/7 to provide comfort and give you privacy. Stealth Belt’s great design features include, light weight fabric, a zippered pouch compartment, and a range of adjustability for ease of sizing.

Stomagienics, Inc.
www.stomagienics.com • 225-939-1460

Stomagienics Inc., was created based on an extraordinary situation involving a family member who, after having ostomy surgery, solved a plaguing issue that occurs during the ostomy pouch replacement process. We use many of his original design principles to create a revolutionary new product that will change the lives of ostomates worldwide.

Surviving to Thriving
www.elaineorourke.com/ostomyprograms • 978-281-6126

Are you struggling to live a fulfilling life with your ostomy? Elaine O’Rourke, creator of the “Surviving to Thriving: Overcoming Ostomy Challenges Program, has had an ostomy since 2005 and understands the struggles are real! Stop by to claim your gift, 3 Simple Ways to Eliminate Fears About Your Ostomy.

Takeda
www.takeda.com • 877-825-3327

Takeda is a global, values-based, R&D-driven biopharmaceutical leader headquartered in Japan, committed to bringing Better Health and a Brighter Future to patients by translating science into highly-innovative medicines. Takeda focuses its R&D efforts on four therapeutic areas: Oncology, Gastroenterology (GI), Neuroscience and Rare Diseases. We also make targeted R&D investments in Plasma-Derived Therapies and Vaccines.

Trio Ostomy Care USA  

www.trioostomycare.us • 863-421-9400

Trio Ostomy USA, has an over-riding commitment to patient care with improvements to quality of life being at the heart of our business. We ensure that our products reach healthcare providers at an affordable level, offering the benefits of the most advanced silicone technology for all.

United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA) Inc.
www.ostomy.org • 800-826-0826
United Ostomy Associations of America provides educational material, resources, support and advocacy for those who have or will have ostomy surgery, their family, caregivers and medical professionals. Stop by our booth to view our resources and show your support of the Ostomy and Continent Diversion Patient Bill of Rights by signing the online petition.

Youth Rally
www.youthrally.org • info@youthrally.org
More than 30 years after inception, the Youth Rally continues to provide an environment for young people to meet others who live with conditions of the bowel and bladder. Lasting friendships are formed, in a short 5 nights, in an atmosphere that promotes self-confidence and independence.

 

Click Here to learn more and register for UOAA’s 7th National Conference Aug. 6-10, 2019 in Philadelphia, PA.

Feeling comfortable and fashionable by the water this swim season

By Ellyn Mantell

Living on the East Coast means sand and sun as soon as the calendar pages turn to May, and most have great difficulty saying farewell to the ocean each fall. The smells of delicious boardwalk foods, carnival-style rides, miniature golf and people-watching on the beach fill the days and nights of the summer months. It seems, for all of us, there are not enough opportunities to enjoy our vacations or weekends, and ostomates certainly do not want our particular issues to slow us down!

The first summer after my ileostomy presented a bathing suit challenge, and my creative energy began to flow. Since I love whimsy, I bought a black and white polka dot swimsuit bottom from an ostomy clothing company, which has a place for my pouch, and a soft drape to the fabric. I paired it with a vibrant red tankini, which I bought at a bathing suit store in the local mall. For those unfamiliar with tankinis, I am happy to extol praises on their wearability for all women – they are simply tops for a two-piece suit, but unlike a bikini top, which exposes the abdomen, tankinis cover the entire abdomen and are exceptionally flattering. Incidentally, this 2-piece approach works very well for those of us with a smaller upper body, or vice versa. I loved wearing my attractive ensemble, my pouch was hidden, and my self-esteem was certainly not deflated!

In addition to the 2-piece approach, many women enjoy wearing a sundress, since, like the ease of a “little black dress,” the fit is extremely flattering and there is no concern about pulling together disparate pieces. Most women have a preference about the type of bathing suits they want to wear, and our ostomies do not preclude us from our choices, particularly for those who wish to actively swim or dive. There are even high-neck active swim lap suits for serious swimmers.

Coverups have always been a staple for women, and they are ever more important to some ostomates. A flowy chiffon or traditional linen coverup provides a vertical line for the eye, and since color is always attractive, prints, brights, black and white all call attention upward, making the legs look longer and thinner.

Men can now find specialty ostomy swimwear online and know their pouches are safely protected while swimming or diving, as well. Some prefer to wear under their suits products such as a swimwear coverup or ostomy support wrap, made with lightweight water-resistant material to provide structured support, while compressing the pouch against the body. If there is real concern about the efficacy of their pouching system, some men and women prefer to use a waterproof ostomy cover. And speaking of coverups, men may consider swim shirts, sweatshirts or t-shirts to cover themselves.

No article on bathing or swimsuits would be complete without a conversation about sun protection clothing. This category of swimwear is growing exponentially each year, since the sun is stronger than ever, and our knowledge of the need to be proactive in protecting ourselves is better understood. If you look online you will find UV, sun-retardant and even chlorine resistant swimwear.

Now throw a good book or The Phoenix Magazine in your tote bag, add a huge hat or baseball cap, fabulous sunglasses, throw in SPF 50 Sunscreen, some ostomate-friendly nibbles and lots of cool water. Enjoy the day, summer never lasts long enough!

 

Ellyn Mantell blogs at morethanmyostomy.com and is a UOAA advocate and support group leader from New Jersey. 

Living with 2 Ostomies Since 1974

Jearlean Taylor has never known life without an ostomy. She has had two ostomies (colostomy and urostomy) since she was just two years old. But with the support of her family and her own inner drive, she triumphed to become a successful model, author and businessperson. Here she shares her story and offers ostomy fashion tips that work—both on and off the runway.

Dressing Up and Looking Great

Maybe you don’t want to be a fashion model. Maybe you just want to look good at your friend’s party this weekend. Here are some practical fashion tips Jearlean learned from the modeling business that work in everyday life, too.

When in doubt, try it on.

“Maybe not every outfit will work for your ostomy, but something will. If you like something, try it on. You may be surprised.”

You can make anything fashionable.

“Sometimes I throw on a scarf with an outfit. I might put a belt around my waist. Even when it may seem strange or crazy, I put an outfit on to see if it makes me feel confident.”

Find the right jeans.

“A lot of people want to get back in their jeans again. If you’re anxious to get back into jeans right after surgery, try maternity jeans; they stretch and put less pressure on your pouch as you get comfortable with your ostomy.”

Fashion-friendly wraps.

“Some ostomy wraps have a pocket on the inside that securely fits your pouch and keeps it flat against your abdomen to help relieve the pressure of your pouch filling. This is helpful when you’re wearing certain kinds of clothes.”

Feel good about yourself.

“No matter who you are, you’re beautiful. You’re carefully and wonderfully made. You’re a designer original. There’s nobody like you.”

 

Have questions about living with a colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy?

ConvaTec’s expert team of me+™ ostomy nurses and product specialists is only a phone call away.

Call: 1-800-422-8811 (M‍onday-F‍riday, 8‍:30am-7:‍00pm ET)

Email: cic@convatec.com

Editor’s note: This educational article is from one of our digital sponsors, ConvaTec. Sponsor support along with donations from readers like you help to maintain our website and the free trusted resources of UOAA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

You may have questions about your ostomy, how to care for your stoma, and how to keep living the life you want to live – but you don’t have to figure it out on your own. Hollister Secure Start services offer free support for people living with an ostomy, regardless of the brand of products used. Below are five common questions we are asked from people in the ostomy community like you.

I’m having leakage under my pouching system.

To help solve the issue, we would ask several questions including the current pouching system being used, and the frequency of it being changed. Other questions that would assist us in problem solving might be—How are you preparing your skin before putting on your pouch? If the products are not being properly applied, it could cause adherence issues. Are you cleaning out your pouch or do you put anything in it? Most important, where is the leakage occurring? If it’s always in the same area, evaluate the area for any creases or uneven surfaces such as scar tissue, incisions, or your belly button that may cause an uneven surface under the barrier. If this is the cause, you might try a barrier ring as a filler to even out the surface area. However, make sure that the stoma size is correct in the barrier. You’ll know it’s a correct fit when the barrier fits where the skin and the stoma meet. There should be no skin exposed between the stoma and the opening of the barrier.

 

My skin is irritated and weepy.

This can be a problem for many people with an ostomy. A person should not have skin breakdown, open wounds, or a rash under the barrier. Where exactly is the skin breaking down? How long has it been going on? Is there a situation that may have led to this irritation, such as leakage or was your barrier removed too quickly? What product are you using to prepare your skin for the barrier? Try using stoma powder to absorb moisture from broken skin around the stoma, which may help allow the skin barrier to get better adherence. The cause of the skin irritation needs to be addressed in order to find solutions.

 

I am noticing an odor and I’m concerned others will too.

There can be an odor associated with emptying your pouch versus odor caused by leakage and we need to determine which one you are experiencing. A lubricating deodorant is a great choice for neutralizing the odor of the stool when the pouch is emptied. You might also consider a pouch that has a filter, which neutralizes odor caused by gas in the pouch. Make sure that no stool drainage gets on the outside of your closure system. If neither of these situations is the issue your barrier might be starting to lift off the skin, which can allow odor to escape and can be the beginning of a leakage.

 

My pouching system is not staying on. What can I do?

It may be a problem with your barrier seal. Make sure you have one that you can count on. Everybody is different when it comes to wear time. A good rule of thumb is to determine how many days you can rely on the product to provide a secure seal without experiencing leakage. Monitor the back of the barrier when you change the pouching system. If you see stool or urine from the stoma that has leaked under the barrier, it’s a sign that the barrier seal is compromised and the barrier can begin to lose adherence to the skin. If this occurs then the barrier should be changed. It’s important to change your product on a routine basis, which can be determined by the lack of stoma drainage under the barrier as well as the condition of your skin.

 

It is important that my pouching system is discreet. What can you recommend?

When a pouch fills with gas or drainage it will start to balloon out and might show under clothing. A pouch with a filter can help release the gas. Also consider emptying your pouch when it’s a third to a half full. When a pouch is full it could cause weightiness on the barrier, which might lead to leakage. When it comes to discretion, it’s important that you find the right pouching system for your body. Hollister offers both one- and two-piece systems. For a person with a colostomy or ileostomy, there are drainable and closed-end pouches in various lengths and options of transparent, ultra-clear and beige pouch films. Those with a urostomy can also choose from pouches with transparent, ultra-clear or beige film depending on the product they are using.

 

As always, it’s important to follow up with your healthcare professional or Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurse for clinical or medical advice.

 

Have a concern that wasn’t mentioned here?

Check out the helpful tips from Hollister Incorporated, Routine Care of Your Ostomy or go to Hollister.com and navigate to the Ostomy Care Resources to find accessory sheets, helpful brochures and videos.

 

Need someone to talk to?

Hollister Secure Start services is here to help! Call us today at 1.888.808.7456.

 

Nothing contained herein should be considered medical advice. Medical advice can only be provided by an individual’s personal doctor or medical professional.

Editor’s note: This educational article is from one of our digital sponsors, Hollister Incorporated. Sponsor support along with donations from readers like you help to maintain our website and the free trusted resources of UOAA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Finding Confidence and Rocking Your Own Style with an Ostomy

By Tricia Hottenstein

I was packing to head out on a short vacation to Atlantic City and had all my outfits ready in my brand new suitcase. But when I went to pack my swimsuit, I started thinking about walking around at a hotel pool with my ostomy bag sticking out. Something about a hotel pool as opposed to just walking on the beach made me uneasy. I figure I don’t know the people on the beach and they’ll never see me again. But in a hotel for several days? Those people would recognize me. They’d see me dressed up for a nice dinner and know that underneath all that jewelry and makeup, there was a person with an ostomy bag glued to their stomach. A person who earlier in the day had a wet ostomy bag sticking out between their swimsuit pieces. And let’s be honest. A wet ostomy bag is a revealing ostomy bag. There’s no questioning what’s hiding inside of it. Something about that wasn’t okay with me.

Generally speaking, I feel pretty confident about my ostomy. It saved my life and I went from a love-hate relationship with it, to a genuine love of it, to more of a state of ignorance that it even exists. I’m not shy about telling people my situation and I will often show it to people who ask questions. But when it comes to swimsuits, the struggle has been a little more mental. I’ve previously tried one-piece suits and I hate them. I hate the way they pull on my bag when they get wet, the way they stick to every crevice of my body, the way I constantly check to make sure my bag isn’t leaking the second it starts to puff up. I tried bikini styles. My body is not made for a bikini, and the more often I wore it, the more sure of this I was. And then, hallelujah! The high-waisted trend hit stores, and I found a happy medium. A high-waisted bottom to cover most of my bag while still allowing it to breathe, and a cute colorful top that would hopefully draw attention away from the bag peeking out from my bottoms.

I love that I didn’t need to strip a whole wet swimsuit off in order to empty my bag, and I could easily flip it out after the pool to dry it off (which is a necessity in order to keep my sensitive skin from getting angry). The high waist also gave multiple coverage options and I could choose when and how my bag would be displayed. I could tuck it into the bottoms and feel secure, or leave it out over top of the suit if need be. I chose to secure my bag slightly flipped up inside the bottoms with just the top sticking out. Now this I could rock. And I did. But around complete strangers who would be seeing me over and over again, while never actually talking to me to understand who I was and what I’ve been through? It bothered me.

I bought a pretty cover-up. I tried on several new suits, but none worked the wonders I’d hoped they would. I even considered stopping on the way to the shore to keep trying. And then the lights of Atlantic City sparkled before me, and the tropical drinks and palm trees were calling me from the pool. So I went for it. I wore the cover-up and walked to the pool. Of course, I got stuck with several people in the elevator and noticed their eyes glancing down, and my fidgeting was more than noticeable.

I walked in the pool room and found a chair in the corner. I ordered a drink, hopped in the hot tub, and looked around. And I noticed every single other female in there looking as insecure as me. Ladies with towels draped around them the second they were out of the water. Women with tee shirts instead of swimsuits. Some just sitting on the outskirts, partially hidden by palm trees, in regular clothing. And suddenly I was okay. Forget this bag on my stomach. Every single person has something about them they don’t always love. I’ve got stretch marks I don’t worry about, and plenty of extra flab that doesn’t bother me. But for some reason I was getting caught up over this little protrusion on my stomach; a scar of a war I fought hard against and finally won. And I love this thing!

I was honestly upset with myself over the few days for the waver in my self-confidence. I got out of the hot tub, walked around to the pool, and held my head up a whole lot higher. And everyone who’s eyes glanced downward? They looked at me genuinely, some smiled. Because people who rock their scars in public have already changed perceptions. Chronic illness is becoming less and less of a taboo subject. We’re shaking the world by the shoulders. And THAT is beautiful.

Tricia Hottenstein blogs about life as a mother and living with an ostomy at stomama.com

Our Ostomy Gives Us Power!

Ostomy Visitor talks clothing and embracing life

By Ellyn Mantell

As president of our Ostomy Support Group in Summit, New Jersey, I have met many future ostomates over the years since I have had mine, and we have met in various places, depending upon their health, etc. The one that stands out in my mind is a meeting at a shopping mall a few weeks prior to her ostomy, with Carol, a woman who wanted not only to see the stoma for herself but to understand how it would fit into her life. She loves clothes, as do I, and was frightened she would need not only to purchase a new wardrobe but to change her style of dress.

The best way to show my stoma to her was to go into a fitting room in a store. We brought in some clothes that were of interest to her, and I proceeded to try them on, demonstrating how my stoma (Lily, as I have named her) would fit neatly and snugly under the clothing. I was reminded that as soon as I had my ostomy four years ago, I gave away all of my belts and fitted pants. I was certain I would never wear them again, despite being told that wasn’t true. To the contrary, I saw pictures of great looking women with ostomies online in tight jeans with belted waists. It was just too hard to imagine myself wearing belts and jeans with a pouch, and since these women were not in front of me, I couldn’t ask them “how do they manipulate their appliance to be comfortable and secure?”

Knowing it would have been invaluable to me to actually see an abdomen in clothing, I wanted Carol to have the proper introduction to dealing with her wardrobe. We laughed as I told her of my quest to replace my jeans and belts over the years – since I have learned I can wear almost anything! In truth, my “go-to” outfit is most frequently leggings and tunics, dresses and full-legged pants with a tank, covered by cropped tops. I am what is known as “funky and fashion-forward dressing,” as I learned when I was the fashion trainer for Macy’s years ago, and happily, my style hasn’t had to change due to Lily, who requires a high-output pouch that is so long, and I am so short, that it rests on my thigh!

Wide-eyed, but a little more able to envision her own “Lily,” Carol and I left and grabbed some tea at the nearest Starbucks. We sat and talked about the changes she anticipated and feared, and then she asked me what I really, very truthfully, feel about being an ostomate? Without missing a beat, I very simply said POWERFUL! I told her that as I look around at the many people shopping, I know I have a secret, and that secret is that I am strong, a survivor, and I can help others. Knowing that gives me the most positive feeling, and I am grateful, and want to share it!

I have checked on and even visited Carol as she recovered from her surgeries – since there were a few. Sadly, there is no straight line for any of us, and depending upon the reason for the ostomy, recovery can have many twists and turns. My own led me to need to spend weeks in the hospital and then a rehab facility. But she is improving daily and gaining back her strength and determination. I know she will join our support group or another closer to her home. I also know that before too long, she, too, will be accomplishing her goal of like me, being trained to become an Ostomy Visitor…to meet with and help others learn how to cope with their ostomy, and how POWERFUL they truly are, as well!