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.