We deserve a nice holiday!
by Charlie Bremmell
At the age of 31 I was little travelled and had not often been abroad. I was not experienced or a natural when it came to airport procedures, baggage etc., but was excited to be going to Tenerife for the first time (I have since returned there a further three times so far).
I wondered how having a stoma would change my travel experience. I did some research and tried to find out information about travelling with a stoma, but alas I couldn't find all that much. I was worried about whether my bag would inflate during the flight, and what the checks would be like passing through security. Would I have to prove anything to them or show a special travel certificate? I needn’t have been so concerned, and to be honest I don't worry at all nowadays. I don't take any special documentation with me at all..............all I usually double check on is that I have packed enough supplies!
I can remember that when I was very poorly, I could never imagine that I would ever be well enough to holiday properly once again. But as I mentioned I have had four wonderful February holidays in Tenerife. I've flown from both East Midlands and Birmingham airports, and I've had slightly different experiences through the security checks on each occasion. The first time I was a bit nervous as to what they would do and say. I walked through the alarm system just like my family ahead of me, but I was asked to then go through the body scanner because something had ‘flagged up red’. I knew it would be my stoma. Amazingly, as I stood there, arms up in the air being scanned, I could see it on the screen. It showed as a white patch in the exact area of my stoma. The lady asked to pat me down and I just told her what it was and asked whether she wanted to see my stomach at all - but she didn't, and allowed me to pass through and carry on to departure. That was the most thorough check I've experienced. The second time I flew, nothing flagged up, and on my third and most recent flight all passengers were being frisked down and checked, and I didn't need to explain anything at all. I really wouldn't mind having to explain my condition and am always ready for questions or to show them, if needs be, but all has been fine. In fact I walked away feeling a little uncertain that maybe they should check a lot more than they do. However, I guess these machines pick up anything untoward and I have a good degree of trust in their security policies. There are a lot of people with stomas, prosthetics etc. and the security staff must be used to dealing with such situations every day. I find that I gear myself up for every flight for them to scan me, which they seem to be doing to nearly every person now anyway. I always feel a little nervous but there really is no need. I'm no different to anyone else and don't feel any different. It doesn't impact on my holiday or flying experience at all. On all the flights I never noticed the stoma to be any more active and the bag itself never puffs up anymore than usual either.
I hope this helps anyone with a stoma not to worry about travelling and just enjoy and experience different places - after all, we've had a pretty tough time with IBD or whatever your story is, and we sure deserve a holiday - don’t we? :-) Happy days.