The “what-if” Game

People can be good at all sorts of games. Some are awesome tennis players, and others play a mean game of poker. A few might even be able to pull off an amazing backbend to win a Twister tournament. I am great at the game of “what if,” and wish I wasn’t so competent at it. I find that my mind constantly likes to worry itself over how I will handle some challenging aspect of having an ostomy.

This week, despite no differences in diet or timing, I had a nightmare appliance change. The second I took my wafer off, my stoma started to spew like crazy, and it wouldn’t stop. Minutes whizzed by, then an hour, as I went through half a roll of paper towels trying to keep up with the mess while still trying to make progress with the change. As the clock struck the two-hour mark, I finally had successfully placed a new pouch on. At that exact moment, my mind also decided to play the “what-if” game.

What if this happens on a backpacking trip while I am trying to change my appliance? There won’t be room in my pack to have ample supplies of paper products along. And then, on top of it, I would have to pack out all that extra soiled material as I would never leave TP behind in the wilderness.

Honestly, I am not exactly sure how I would get through this. I am an obsessive planner, and I work hard to be prepared for everything with a plan B and maybe even options C and D. However, this is often impossible, especially in the realm of outdoor adventures. As unpredictable as a stoma can sometimes be, there are even more variable factors in the outdoors: fickle weather, injury or illness, and terrain obstacles, such as high water on a river crossing or an icy snow slope. These can all change the best-laid plans. Even a fun spontaneous side-trip can alter the flow.

Undoubtedly, if I am ever faced with an over-active stoma during an appliance change in the backcountry, my ingenuity will figure something out. Until then, I have to realize that for some of my outdoor adventures, there are going to be things that come up with having an ostomy that I will have to solve on the fly. I will have to quiet the “what-if” contest in my head and replace it with a bit of tolerance for uncertainty.

One thing is for sure, I am not going to let fear of a spewing stoma keep me out of the wilderness.


5 thoughts on “The “what-if” Game

  1. Why would you not leave TP in the woods? It’s biodegradeable. That’s why we can flush it – it breaks apart and fairly quicklybreaks down, and eventually dissolves (compared to, say a paper towel, which takes much longer). I’d have zero problem digging a poop ditch and burying output plus some TP.

    I’ve had some of the worst colostomergencies ever. At the end of the day it’s just poop, you deal with it and move on. The less you make it the center of your existence, the more freedom you’ll feel (although it looks like that’s not really a problem for you).

    1. There are varying opinions on leaving TP in the wilderness. The Leave No Trace ethic leans toward packing it out, and I agree with that philosophy. You’re right, it does biodegrade, but in alpine areas, where I tend to do most of my trips, it takes a very long time due to environmental conditions. Plus critters often dig up human waste and the TP ends up getting scattered about. I hate it when I am out in some pristine, remote area and I find TP lying around. Many national parks and other wilderness areas with high usage require TP to be packed out, and some go a step further and have a rule that you have to pack out your fecal matter as well.

      Your blog is great! Looks like you lead a fun and active life. You are right… it is only poop:) It is just a matter of figuring out the systems for managing my ostomy and appliance in the outdoors. It’ll happen with some trial and error and then I bet I won’t think about it nearly as much.

  2. Pour some hot water on it? I don’t know…LNT seems a bit too much in this case, but it’s personal choice. I’ll try and get a picture of sea turtle poop for you – it looks exactly like people poop, and they aren’t too concerned about packing it out.

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