Heading to the gym

It wasn’t very long ago that I wrote I would be going out to run: rain or shine. The one weather element that I had forgotten about is the fierce wind that we often get here on the Front Range of Colorado in the winter. We have had some insanely windy days lately with gusts in the 60+ mph range. I can run in the cold and with all sorts of precipitation, but the wind is unbearable for me. It takes my breath away and blows sand in my eyes. After getting beat down by the wind on several runs, Doug and I decided it might be worthwhile to join a gym again so that we could work out on the bad weather days in more comfort.

Doug and I had joined gyms before and we always made good use of our memberships. They helped us stay motivated to work out. However, our memberships were always the first thing to get axed from the budget during financially hard times. Though money is tighter than ever with medical bills from last year’s health woes, I know that any dollars going into improving my post-op health and fitness are well spent and totally worth sacrifices in other areas.

Two weeks ago we toured a few gyms in our area and joined one that has a plethora of workout options. Running outdoors will always be my favorite after-work exercise activity. Beyond that though, I really like to mix it up. This gym has so much to offer that I have trouble deciding what I want to do on a given day. Yoga, aerobics classes, climbing on the wall, swimming and even ice skating on a huge rink are all options.

Swimming, climbing, yoga or ice skating... which should I do tonight?

The first thing I decided to do was the yoga class. I love yoga, but hadn’t practiced since my final UC flare and surgery. Even a year out, I still have a lot of post-op muscle tightness. I am hoping that doing yoga once a week will help restore some of my flexibility as well as get my posture back in line. I have taken two classes so far and it is going well. There are some poses that I find really difficult… especially anything with even a slight back bend.ย  And crazily I get twinges of belly pain when I lie flat in corpse pose which used to be my most comfortable pose ever. A friend suggested that perhaps it was due to scar tissue in my abdomen. I notice this mild pain when I lie flat on my back and do body scans for meditation too. I am hoping as I continue to stretch out through yoga, it resolves. Regardless of how my body is feeling on a given day, I practice yoga to the best of my ability and make modifications as needed.

I have also been swimming at the gym once a week. I usually start with a 10 minute soak in the hot tub and then swim laps for 30-40 minutes, ending with another 10 minute soak in the hot tub. I also always take a few trips down the indoor water slides to end my workout session. I have no issues with my wafers coming loose with swimming and still get my normal 3-4 day wear time.

I even tried a new aerobic class for me called Zumba. I have absolutely no dancing talent and it was really hard following the moves of the instructor, but I didn’t care. It was just fun to be dancing around to the upbeat music and pretending that I knew what I was doing. I think I am hooked.

In the next week or so I want to get on the weight machines, do some ice skating and try out the climbing wall. Doug and I usually head to a separate, much larger climbing gym every week or so, but it will be nice to use this smaller wall in between those visits.

One interesting thing about going to the gym is the subject of changing in the locker room. Usually I change at home or before I leave work and wear my workout clothes to the gym.ย  However, there are times when this isn’t convenient, or I need to change out of a wet swimsuit. Over the past two weeks, I have made great strides in being more comfortable with the possibility of others seeing my pouch. At first, I would change in the shower stall, but I hated it because it is damp in there and it was hard not to get my clothing wet. Recently, I have just been changing out in the open, but being discreet by facing the locker doors. Another technique that works is to change my top first and then pull it down to cover my ostomy pouch as I change my bottoms. Still, I have decided I don’t care if anyone catches a glimpse of my appliance. Maybe sometime down the road the person who saw it will end up knowing someone who is facing ostomy surgery. Perhaps they will think back and say hey, I saw a woman who had one of those at the gym and it seemed like she was confident with it.

A second item of note is that I signed up for a free personal training session. I had to fill out a medical form, and I was very open about my ostomy on it. I am still waiting for a call from the trainer and am curious to see how it will work out and if they will have ostomy-related questions or if they will have good suggestions for workout modifications at this point, especially with my abdominal muscles.

So overall, I am super excited about all the potential this gym has for my health and for taking things to the next level in my fitness goals.


23 thoughts on “Heading to the gym

  1. This is maybe my favorite entry yet. I am sooo proud of you and how far you’ve come and I’m so happy for you. I’m glad you’re feeling open about the locker room situation. You’re right; you never know who you’ll encounter. It turns out that at our gym, our fitness class instructor has a brother with an ostomy. If we were not open about our own, we would have never connected with this instructor the same way. Same goes for the locker room ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks Charis!

      I still think of you every time I work out and get so incredibly bummed knowing that you are stuck at home healing up. I know how much you want to be out there doing all these things so desperately too. Healing seems to go by at a snail’s pace when you are in the midst of recovery, but soon you will be looking back on this time from the perspective of a healthy and strong body once again. This awful time period will be a distant memory. Until then, I am celebrating all your victories like your amazing scooter grocery shopping trip! I think you need to get a video of that up on your blog:)

      That is a great story about your fitness class instructor!

      Take care,

  2. Can’t word my response any better than Charis. I still want to hide my ostomy in public, but I think your and Charis’s attitude is much healthier, something I should aspire to. I also empathize with the financial burden illness brings. Guess we’re all in that boat. But I decided my health is non-negotiable, so I too make sacrifices to get as healthy as possible. Health IS wealth! And you look healthy & happy. Great pic!

    1. Thanks! Feeling comfortable with my ostomy is a work in progress:) At first I was very shy about it. But after a while I realized that nothing bad really occurred when people happened to see it, and if anything, it was a chance to spread awareness in a small way. And if someone happens to judge me poorly regarding my ostomy, that is their problem. I might feel bruised for a second, but I get over it and move on. I don’t want to devote one bit of energy towards their negativity.

      Yeah… the financial impacts are hard. I am thankful that I have good health insurance and do worry about what would happen if that ever changed. Affording ostomy supplies would be extremely difficult on my income without it. But no need to fret too much about the future. You are right… I am healthy and happy now and that is what matters:)

      I ended up going ice skating this past weekend with my 4-and 6-year-old nieces and it was great fun! And I didn’t even fall. I am still a little paranoid about landing on my bum incision too hard even though I know it is completely sealed up at this point. Everyone is entitled to a few irrational fears, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. How long after your surgery was it until you got in a pool and were you apprehensive? Did you do anything special, i.e. swim wrap or stealth belt? Did you change your entire appliance afterwards? Also kudos to running in the snow. I’m a runner and ran competitively in school but the older I get the more I hate running in the cold… I guess that’s why I live in the South.

  4. Hi Paul,

    I waited four months after surgery to go in the pool, but I had unusual healing circumstances as my mid-line abdominal incision kept opening and I had to go back and get a couple of surgeries on it (the poor healing ended up being caused by a rare reaction to the dissolveable sutures used in my abdominal wall). I eventually had to heal the incision open with a wound vac. During that whole time I couldn’t submerge my belly. However, once everything finally closed up, I headed to the pool within a couple of weeks.

    I was nervous at first and started with a 20 minute swim. When I saw that worked out fine for my wafer, I started to bump up the time I spent in the water during subsequent visits. Soon I tried the hot tub and even the water slides and saw that none of it made my wafer peel up. The longest time I have been in the water is about 3 hours (in and out) at a water park last summer.

    My appliance (I use Convatec) sticks very well and I do not have to change it after swimming. For instance, last Friday morning I changed my appliance at 5:30 a.m. and then went for a swim after work at 6 p.m. The next time I changed my appliance was on Monday morning which is my normal change day (I always go 3-4 days between changes or I get irritation right around my stoma when my Eakin erodes).

    I wear a two-piece tankini suit and the bottoms don’t quite cover my pouch, so I use a black Ostomy Secrets swim wrap which blends right in with the fabric of my suit. This conceals the part of my pouch that sticks above my swim bottom waistband. It also holds the pouch close to my body so it can’t be seen through my suit. For a guy who doesn’t have the advantage of a swim suit top to help cover things, the Ostomy Secrets wrap would be a good choice. I don’t have experience with the Stealth Belt, but at my summer Ostomy Association picnic where several members were water skiing, I saw at least one guy have one and it concealed his pouch really well. Sure these wraps stick out above the waist band, but people would probably think it was just some sort of support garment or something for a sports injury.

    Thanks about the run. As fun as it was to get out on the trail, I would enjoy it much more without the ice. I think I will wait until some of the snow melts next time!

    Good luck and hope your healing progress (including your hand!) continues to go well.


  5. I see you use ConvaTec. They keep sending me Natura Durahesive samples I can’t use. If you want them or know someone who does, I’m happy to mail them. I have 4 moldable shallow convex 7/8″ wafers, 4 shallow convex 7/8″ wafers, 4 invisiclose 12″ transparent pouches, & 4 invisiclose 12″ pouches with filters. It will give me a good reason to ride my bike — going to the post office!

    1. Thanks for the offer. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to use those items. The moldables don’t work for me because my stoma is oval, and I am right between sizes. Also, because my stoma is an irregular shape, I use the cut-to-fit Durahesive wafers. I think that size pouch wouldn’t fit my wafers.. mine are the 2 1/4″.

      Do you have a local ostomy association you could donate them to? My association collects extra supplies to give to people with ostomies who don’t have health insurance etc. I have a bunch of stuff that didn’t end up working for me too, and I am taking it to my next meeting. I know Nadia and Dennis at the United Colon Vlog have a supply drive that they collect items for as well: http://ucvlog.com/about/donation/. Then you could still go to the post office on your bike:)

      1. I know Nadia and Dennis from the United Colon Vlog! Learned alot a while back from their videos. Thanks for the link. Funny, I just got an email today from Convatec saying they are sending more samples, which I didn’t ask for!

  6. Heidi,
    OMG! I’m having the same problem right now. It started as an infection, so the top of the incision line had to be opened up and cleaned out. I’ve been stuffing the cavity for over two weeks now and though there is no more puss the wound is not healing and I’ve had some significant pain and tightness around the wound, so I got into see my surgeon who poked around (I felt him pull at the suture as if it were a guitar string). He indicated that in rare instances the suture in my abdominal wall can lead to inflammation and indicated that if it doesn’t heal when I have my follow up in a couple of weeks it may need to be opened up. In the meantime I’m still stuffing the cavity.

    I did order the ostomy secrets swim wrap for when I’m healed. I was kind of hoping it would be sooner rather than later. Not to mention I have a voucher that needs to be used within the next two months for a night’s stay at the nearby resort/waterpark. The problem of no top for men is easily solved with a swim shirt.

    I’ve been doing changes every 2 days while my stoma is still shrinking but once I’m confident it has settled down I’d love to get at least 3 days. However when I had my temporary ileostomy I’d go for a 5 mile run and because of the sweat, the flange would start to come undone fairly soon after that. I found the more active I was the more frequently I changed my appliance.

    1. Hi Paul,

      So sorry to hear about your incision. Healing a stubborn wound can be a true exercise in patience. Just when my incision seemed to be improving, it would open again. My issues started about two weeks after my original surgery. The incision didn’t get infected, but opened ever-so-slightly and started to drain copious amounts of fluid out of the blue. When it got worse after a couple of days, I visited my surgeon and he said I had to go back to surgery that night, as my wound had opened in a small section through the abdominal wall. I had been on high doses of Prednisone which was thought to be the cause. My surgeon fixed it up beautifully and things were looking great.

      Unfortunately, the wound started to open again two weeks later before the new set of staples had even been removed. This time it only opened in the upper tissue layers. I began to pack the part that had opened with gauze. I know EXACTLY that guitar string feeling. My husband would pack my wound for me, and whenever he bumped on of those deep sutures it would make me yelp out in pain.

      Things were looking great over the next month and the wound opening became so small that we could barely pack gauze in it. That is when the trouble began again. The wound started to tunnel so that the skin was mostly closed, but there was space forming underneath, much like a cave. Then I got a really painful red bump along the incision line. My surgeon decided I needed to go back to surgery to see what was going on. That is when he opened the wound and discovered that all these woes were caused by a rare reaction to the suture material used in my abdominal wall. It had not only caused the poor healing, but also a small abscess. He removed the offending sutures, replaced them with a different material, cleaned out the wound really well and then left it to heal open. When I woke up and saw the wound I just about passed out. It was 13 cm long, about 3 cm wide and a cm or so deep and I could see my abdominal wall in the bottom. However, 6 weeks on a wound vac healed it up wonderfully, and I never had any other issues once the offending sutures were out of there.

      Through the whole ordeal I was so glad I had a great surgeon who continuously checked up on me and even called me at home to help me with wound stuff. Whenever I was worried about how something looked, he would squeeze me into his office schedule to check it out and advise me on next steps. I think I would have gone crazy with worry otherwise. Hopefully you won’t have to go back to surgery for your issues, but if you do, the wound operations are much more minor than the main ileostomy surgery. I only had to stay overnight for them.

      I had issues with my appliance sticking well with my open wound because my wafer overlapped it a bit. Not sure if you are experiencing that, but things get much better when the wound finally heals and there isn’t moist drainage and the scar flattens out a bit. I had to change my appliance every 2 days when I was healing and every 1.5 days when I had the wound vac.

      I am lucky in that sweat doesn’t make my wafer peel up. Of the three major brands I tried, Convatec seems to stick the best through strenuous activity for me and Hollister is pretty good too. Coloplast wafers would peel up, but if I taped the edges with 3M Medipore tape, they worked pretty well. However, I got a heat-rash type skin irritation with Coloplast wafers when I exercised, so I had to stop using them.

      I wonder if the resort would be willing to extend your voucher due to your health woes? Right before I got really sick with the UC flare that led to my surgery, I had bought a season ski pass at our local resort. I thought I was out of luck and had wasted my money, but decided to ask if they could help me out. They gave me a complete refund! And I didn’t even have ski pass insurance. Good customer service does still exist sometimes:)

      Sending incision healing vibes your way!


  7. Heidi,
    My situation got worse over the weekend. My issue turned out to be a major infection. My abdomen swelled up like a soccer ball, was red, and extremely painful. CT scan on Friday didn’t show anything but when the swelling got worse and my temperature spiked above 103 I got to the hospital. My surgeon performed emergency surgery yesterday and removed a golf ball sized abscess. Now I’m stuck with a horrific opening along my midline incision. A wound vacation is being installed today.

    My setback seems similar to yours and would love to ask you a few questions

    1st set of questioners – How was your experience with the wound vac. My doc said Im no longer going to have the small scar I had. How did yours heal? How uncomfortable/painful was the wound vac?

    2nd – How were bag changes with the wound vac so close? Did you have a lot of swelling? How sore was your abdomen after you were opened and did it affect you bag changes?

    I appreciate all your input and advice.

  8. Hi Paul,

    So sorry to hear you are going through all this. It sounds awful and I hope you are hanging in there. It seems like healing up from surgery presents one crazy thing after the next sometimes. Along with all my incision stuff, I too had a scare about 1 month post-op with some abdominal pain and a low fever. I had a CT scan as well. Mine showed a pocket of fluid that the docs thought was possibly an abscess so I had a CT-guided drain put through my butt cheek into the fluid pocket in my abdomen and spent 4 days in the hospital while the doctors monitored what was coming out. Fortunately the fluid that came out of the drain showed no signs of infection. It ended up just being some harmless random fluid, and the fever was a completely separate issue caused by a small infection in my incision. Within a week I was feeling fine again. I was an anxious mess during all those ups an downs. Trust that it will get better! Just take it day by day, deal with the issues at hand, and before you know it you will finally be on the other side of recovery and fully healed. Even with the healing issues I had, I have absolutely no regrets about surgery and feel great now. You will feel better soon too. It sounds like you are working with a great medical team.

    As far as the questions…

    I did not have laparoscopic ileostomy surgery, so my midline incision went from an inch above my belly button down to around my pubic bone. At first, it was a thin line with staple marks on each side. After that third incision surgery when I had to heal it open, the wound looked massive! My muscle wall was intact and stitched up perfectly, but the skin and underlying tissue on top of that was completely splayed open. I joked that it looked like something had taken a bite out of my belly. I could not imagine how it could possibly heal, but it did. As it healed, the whole thing started to fill in with pink tissue called granulation. During this stage the wound got shallower and narrower. The top end of my incision healed the quickest and sort of zipped itself up for the first inch or so… it was unbelievable ! After that the lower end continued to fill in and got shorter and shallower until skin started to form over the top. For the last few days, I just put a bandaid over the tiny part that was still open after the wound vac was removed and then it was completely closed. For me the process took 6 weeks and was slow at first but picked up in pace towards the end. I was in awe of the whole thing because I kept wondering how my body was programed to know exactly what type of tissue to put where:)

    In regards to my scar… yes, it is larger than it would have been had I not had to heal my incision open. However, it is nowhere near as large as the open wound that was there. The wound vac shrunk it down A LOT, and I am really happy with the way it looks. It is about 1 cm wide now… but filled in and a slightly pink, purplish color. There is an indent and my belly looks a bit like a split top loaf of bread now. I just changed my appliance this morning and it overlaps my incision. When I change again on Friday, I will snap a photo and email it to you. Unfortunately, I have no photos of my open wound or stages of wound healing. I have no idea why Doug and I never thought to document any of it. I hardly took any photos during any of my hospital stays for UC or surgery… or the recovery process. I really regret this now, as I would love to have a visual reminder of the progress I have made. I think I was just really overwhelmed by the whole experience and didn’t think to take pictures at the time… or maybe thought I wouldn’t want to be reminded of it.

    The wound vac will help a lot. I had a nurse come to my house on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to change the wound vac sponge dressing for me and make sure everything was suctioning correctly. My nurse also helped me put on my appliance in the beginning since it overlapped the wound vac dressing and was tricky to do. After a while I got good at it though, and she would get the wound vac on and then leave, and I did the appliance part on my own. Basically we put the wound vac sponge and plastic sheeting on first and then overlapped my appliance over that. We would end by using some more of the wound vac plastic sheeting over the left side of my wafer to get the seal tight. When we took off the wound vac dressing the next time, we had to take the appliance off too because it was all connected. With a few exceptions, I worked with the same nurse the whole time and she was great. She really knew her wound vac stuff and was good with ostomy care as well. I was so grateful! The wound vac helped me to see my healing progress as well. Every time the sponge dressing was changed, it got smaller and smaller. The piece that was put into my wound at first was huge. By the end it was the size of a tiny string bean.

    I won’t sugar coat it… healing my incision during the various surgeries was painful (though there was minimal swelling). The final incision surgery where I had to heal it open was the worst because the wound vac was extremely painful for me. Both my wound care nurse and surgeon said they had never had a patient experience so much pain from one. Usually they are painful for people in the initial week or so, but then the pain subsides. Hopefully this will be your experience:) Unfortunately, this was not the case for me and the vac continued to hurt the whole time. I would yelp in pain when the nurse pulled out the wound vac sponge dressing. Even for everyday wear, the suction hurt me very badly. My surgeon ended up prescribing liquid lidocaine for me to squirt down the tube and into the sponge 20 minutes before the wound vac dressing changes. This would numb the tissue so when the nurse removed the sponge, I felt nothing. I also took Vicodin sometimes when the general pain of the wound vac got to be too much for me. My surgeon felt the wound vac just aggravated some nerves in the area as everything was healing beautifully. Still, the pain was completely worth the healing the vac gave me, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I was able to carry my vac around with me for my daily activities, so I didn’t find that aspect of it too bad. I was also able to shower with it by taping Glad Press and Seal around the whole dressing area and turning off the machine for a little while. The clear hoses were a bit gross, so when I was out and about I tried to tuck them into my clothing the best I could so others didn’t have to see the stuff coming out. When I finally got rid of the machine after wearing it 24/7 for 6 weeks I was so relieved. I felt like I could move around so freely and wanted to dance and do cartwheels:)

    Getting the appliance to stick with the wound vac was difficult, but I never had any leaking mishaps. I was using one-piece Coloplast appliances at the time. My stoma nurse felt the two-piece wafers were too heavy and rigid. I would offset the hole while cutting the stoma opening in my wafer so that it shifted everything to the right and made the wafer overlap my incision on the left as little as possible. I would sometimes still have to trim the left side of the wafer as well. The secret for me was Adapt Rings or Eakin Rings. Even when my wafer would peel up on that left side due to the odd shape of the wound, the Adapt Ring would hold firm and prevent leaks. Yes… there was a narrow margin of safety there and it made me nervous, but it worked. Changing every 1-2 day during this time period helped too. I was super paranoid about getting output into my incision, but my nurse and surgeon assured me that if this happened, cleaning it out would be fine. It never ended up happening for me though. I was also worried that once the incision healed, the indentation left in my abdomen would keep my wafers from sticking well, but that hasn’t been the case. Once it healed, they stick very well where they overlap it.

    Hope this answers your questions. I know how incredibly scary this is. Best wishes as you continue to heal. Feel free to email me or post here if you continue to have more questions. I am happy to help. I don’t mind writing responses publicly either. Maybe others can gain insights from our experiences too:)

    Take Care,

    1. Heidi, thanks so much for keeping this discussion public. You are right about others gaining insights from these posts–I’ve learned quite a bit from your forum and consider it an invaluable source of information. I always look forward to your continuing the exceptional work. And Paul, I’m thinking of you, hoping that the worst is passing. I know the pain and fear of surgery and hospitalizations all too well. It’s not fair for any of us, but Heidi is spot on about the amazing healing properties of one’s body–hopefully you can find some hope in that knowledge and let your spirit heal as well.

  9. Hi! I found your blog from the Y.O.D.A.A site page on FB! I had an ostomy for 9 months and now have a jpouch, but I remember dealing with all of the things you were talking about! I love your confidence about it, because I was the same way! I remember once going swimming (in my bikini) at my husband’s parents house. I felt comfortable there and had an opaque appliance so I didn’t worry… UNTIL… I jumped off the diving board and the force of the water ripped off my bag and it floated to the top of the pool! LOL!!! I totally cried at the time, but now it is HILARIOUS to remember! And it taught me that while I can be adventurous… I still needed to be slightly cautious! Being in college and having an ostomy was challenging for my self-esteem, but I learned that being open about it and not worry about what others thought really helped me help them. Now, I can’t believe all the ways that time and still now with a jpouch have helped me to encourage other people! I just wanted to say that I am proud of you and to hold your head high, because your strength is what draws people to you!

    1. Vanessa,

      Thanks for the comment. What a great story. I also love the fact that you were so confident about wearing your bikini. I know someone who had his pouch pull off when he fell water skiing and he had a good sense of humor about it when he was telling the tale too. You are right that there are a few situations where some caution is needed ha ha. But these things happen and you clean up and move on. It is so much better to take the chance and try new things rather than live in fear all the time. I also agree that being open is important. When I tried to keep all this stuff to myself at first, I really suffered. Plus the people around me were uncomfortable because they didn’t know how to approach the subject with me. Now that I talk about it freely, everyone is a lot more at ease.


  10. Relatively new to Ostomy due to Ulcrative colitis 10/2012 . Have one piece system coloplast convex and use a small belt that fits the tabs on the pouch with eakin ring seal. Getting back to running and Hiking. Read a lot about 2 piece systems (Wafer + bag ) vs one piece. What is your take on better set up for running -4-5 miles 3 x weekly to keep pouch stable. Advantages /disadvantages? Best belts/protection to use when hiking /running especially with warmer weather coming. Does the stomaplex system work with one piece bag system? Interesting and helpful reading.

  11. Hi Roman,

    Thanks for the great questions.

    I used a one-piece appliance for the first four months after surgery. I had some mid-line incision healing complications and my stoma nurse felt that the lighter weight of the one-piece would put less strain on my incision. I stuck with them for a while after healing and was able to hike and snowboard with them. That said, once I finally was able to try the two-piece, I liked it a lot more. The best part about it is that you can swap out closed-end pouches onto a two-piece. If I am planning to be on a crowded trail or in an area where it is hard to dig a hole to empty (such as a rocky or steep area), I can put a closed-end pouch on my wafer. Then, when it gets full, I can duck behind a tree or boulder, take off the used one, snap on a new closed-end pouch and pack out the full one in a double-layer ziplock in my backpack. I doubt if I will ever go back to a one-piece system.

    I do use drainables 95% of the time though. For my runs right now, drainables are fine. As long as I empty before I leave the house, I am good to go for several hours. Once I start doing long trail runs again, I will probably put closed-end pouches on beforehand and swap them out much as I do when hiking. I wear a small Camelback backpack when I run and there is room in it to pack out a full closed-end pouch.

    For running (and all strenuous fitness activities) I wear my two-piece appliance system (I like Convatec Durahesive cut-to-fit wafers with an Eakin Ring underneath). Over that, I wear a Nu-Hope, Cool Comfort Flat Panel hernia prevention belt (http://www.nu-hope.com/beltlit.pdf). Sometimes when running and doing other activities, the hernia belt will ride up. Therefore, I wear a pair of Comfizz (http://www.stomawear.uk.com/) briefs or boxers over it to hold it in place. It seems like a lot of layers, but it is really comfy. Due to the incision healing complications I had, I have a slightly higher risk of getting an incisional hernia. Also, ostomates have a chance of developing parastomal hernias in general. I just feel better about the extra support a hernia prevention belt gives my abs, so I choose to always wear one during strenuous activities. If you don’t wear a hernia prevention belt, the Comfizz briefs or boxers work great on their own for holding the pouch in place during running and do not stop the flow of output from reaching the bottom of the pouch. I don’t prefer the various spandex-style ostomy wraps for running. Wraps tend to roll up on the bottom for me because they must extend past the bend in my leg in order to cover my pouch (my stoma sits a little lower on my belly). I find the briefs or boxers stay put a lot better through the movement of fitness activities. I am not sure if you had a chance to see this running video I created which shows a bit about my layering system: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR_Nx7D2kNo&list=PLEA7152267FDB4005&index=2&feature=plpp_video

    I have not tried the Stomaplex, but it looks like a good product (here is a review of it that my friend did: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U8dzuacBk8). I would think that the Stomaplex would work okay with a one-piece. I have a product called the Sport Gard (http://cmostomysupply.com/cm_html/p_stomspt.html), though I haven’t found the need to use it much yet. I find that my clothing has protected my stoma just fine for all the activities I have done so far. I have a great stoma placement, so my backpack belts, rock climbing harness, and clothing waist bands do not rub on it. When I start climbing again outdoors and have a lot of gear dangling from my harness, I may look into stoma protectors more. There is an interesting product by Comfizz that I might like to try someday. It is a hernia prevention belt that has a stoma protector that attaches separately with velcro. http://www.stomawear.uk.com/mens-stoma-protector/.

    Glad to hear that the site has been helpful. When getting back into the sports you enjoy, there is some trial and error involved. However, once you find the systems that work for you, you will find that your stoma will not stop you from doing anything. I will keep writing posts and creating videos to share what I learn on my own journey with my ostomy:)


  12. Hello Heidi. I am a 39 yo female and also live in CO. I have just discovered your blog and am so happy and relieved that I did. Before I found this, I had found Charis’ website which was the first thing that helped me overcome the devastation I felt when I first learned that b/c of my rectal cancer, I would need to have a permanent colostomy. I am still pre-op and just starting my regimen of chemo/radiation. I ride 100 bike rides, weight lift, hike 14ers and backpack and when I first learned of my diagnosis/future, well, I didn’t know what I would be able to do in the future. I am beginning to believe that I will be able to do all of these things again. I have been trying to find someone local, and it sounds like you are, to meet up with to talk. Whether that’s possible or not, I will certainly keep reading here. I just wanted to say that your blog has been helpful to me. Thank you.

  13. Hi Denise,

    Thanks for sharing your story. I am glad my site has been able to give you a glimpse of all that is possible after surgery! It takes time, and there will be moments after your operation when you will wonder how you will ever be able to do anything again. However, once you heal, get used to the patterns of your body, and figure out which products work for you, things become much easier and you will find yourself excited to get back on your bike or on the trails. Once I got to to that stage, I actually kind of enjoyed the challenge of trying different products and testing various techniques to see which ones worked best for backpacking, hiking peaks etc.

    It would be great to meet up. It helps so much to meet with someone with an ostomy in-person before surgery. I had a friend who had an ostomy visit me in the hospital when I was facing my operation and it eased my fears immensely. I am heading to work right now, but will send you an email tonight with some contact info.

    Take Care,

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