Saturday, June 27, 2009

Clear for take off

My flight to Germany last week was my first since the operation, so I was keen to experience travelling with an extra bag, so to speak. As with any trip it all starts with the packing. Now I’m an ostomate I can’t even go to Sainsburys without my colostomy bags and the whole kit and caboodle that goes with it, let alone a foreign country. So a little extra planning was required. Firstly I had to make sure I had more than enough bags to see me through the trip. I took about 50 for 7 days, which looking back may have been a little over-cautious. But better safe than sorry, I say. And because I wouldn’t be able to take my nail scissors with me in hand luggage, I pre-cut plenty of bags in advance. Also just in case my suitcase went missing I took the precaution of taking everything UC/colostomy related in my hand luggage. I can get by without underwear, toothpaste and travel plug, but without my medication and bags, I’d be on the next flight home. For drug mules, shoe bombers and ostomates airport security is perhaps the one part of flying we approach with most trepidation. As a first-timer I didn’t quite know what to expect. Would my hand luggage cause concern going through the x-ray machine? Would I be frisked so hard my bag would burst? Would they lift my top up for the whole airport to see? All I can say is the security staff were very discreet. I was frisked and obviously the security controller discovered my bag, but he took one quick look and then continued the search without even mentioning it. I guess in their job they see all sorts, and compared to say, a prosthetic penis concealing a nail bomb a colostomy bag is pretty run of the mill stuff. During the flight itself I wasn’t sure if cabin pressure would have any effect on my bag. At take off would I have to pop a boiled sweet in it or something? But it seems colostomy bags work just the same at 35,000 feet as they do at 3 feet. All in all travelling with a bag is no different to travelling without one. It perhaps takes a little more preparation, but being an ostomate doesn’t mean you can’t be a traveller, too.