The My Hip T: a great product for ostomy pouch coverage

I have always been a bit of a gear junkie. I like having just the right backpack, sleeping bag or outdoor clothing for the specific adventure I am embarking on. This plethora of outdoor gear often comes at the expense of other things. For instance, our home furnishings are a hodge-podge of hand-me-downs. Living room color scheme—what’s that? New couch or climbing gear? The climbing gear wins every time.

I have found that just as I like the right piece of outdoor gear for a given objective, so do I like to have specific ostomy products for different circumstances. I love my Ostomy Secrets swim wrap for trips to the pool. My Vanilla Blush undies are really comfy under my jeans for everyday wear. Comfizz boxers are my favorite item for holding my ostomy pouch and hernia belt in place when I rock climb. Each of these products is unique, and I wouldn’t want to be without any of them. I always promised myself after surgery that I would not hold back on getting the ostomy items I needed to make me feel comfortable and confident—even if it meant cutting other things out of the budget.

Recently, I had the opportunity to try a product that has a very unique niche in my wardrobe and has become one of my favorite ostomy-related clothing items: the My Hip-T.  I had never heard of this product before, but last summer the designers of the My Hip-T sent me a few samples at no cost to test out and provide feedback. They have customers who wear the My Hip-T to cover ostomy pouches as well as diabetic insulin pumps and wanted my thoughts and feedback on the product. After testing the garment out, I loved it so much that I have wanted to write a blog post about it for some time. A deluge of difficult news lately put a damper on wanting to write about much of anything, but I am feeling more at peace with all the things that are happening and am ready to blog about all my favorite ostomy subjects.

Showing off the grey colored My Hip-t.
Showing off the grey colored My Hip-T.

As ostomates, we often hear about many of the products that are designed specifically for life with a stoma. However, there are many mainstream items out there that are very helpful too. The My Hip-T is a stretchy cotton wrap that is actually designed to help conceal the bum exposure and muffin top that so often occurs with lower-rise jeans. The tube-top-like garment goes over the upper portion of your pants and ends up looking like a nice layer when worn under a shirt.

Since surgery, many of my favorite shirts have ended up at the back of my dresser drawer because they are just a little too short length-wise and expose the part of my ostomy pouch that sticks out above the waistband of my pants. The My Hip-T has allowed me to re-introduce so many of these much-loved items back into my wardrobe.

I generally do not have good luck with the regular ostomy wraps that are designed to wear under jeans, skirts and trousers. My stoma is located lower on my belly, and the bottom of my ostomy pouch extends past the bend in my leg. When I try to wear an ostomy wrap to cover my entire pouch from top to bottom, it always rolls up near that crease in my leg. As it rolls up, it cuts off the flow to the bottom half of my pouch. The My Hip-T is different. Because it is designed to be worn over the top of your jeans, it clings very well to the fabric and stays in place. The My Hip-T fits snugly around my hips without being too confining and does not block the flow of output from reaching the bottom of my pouch.

Ostomy-specific wraps that are designed to be worn under my pants often cut off the flow in my pouch due to the crease in my leg.
Regular ostomy-specific wraps that are designed to be worn under my pants often cut off the flow to the bottom of my pouch when they roll up at the crease in my leg.

When I want to be absolutely sure my ostomy pouch won’t show when I reach for something and my t-shirt rides up, or if I am wearing something form-fitting, I usually wear higher-waisted ostomy underwear. They do a great job at hiding my pouch without rolling up, and I wouldn’t want to be without them in my clothing quiver. However, sometimes it is nice to wear my comfy non-ostomy undies and just let my ostomy pouch flop over them. The problem with this is that it leaves the top of my ostomy pouch exposed above my pant’s waistband. The Hip-T has given me another option for smoothing out and concealing my pouch when I don’t feel like wearing ostomy-specific underwear. It is so easy to throw one on at the last minute and have confident coverage. If I am traveling, I automatically put one into my luggage. I know that no matter which jeans or shirts I packed, my pouch will be easily concealed with the My Hip-T.

When I wear t-shirts with shorter hem lines, my pouch often shows above my jean waistband.
When I wear t-shirts with shorter hem lines, my pouch often shows above my jean waistband.
Th My Hip-T provides coverage for my pouch.
The My Hip-T provides great coverage for my pouch.
When worn under shirt, the My Hip-T looks just like a layering piece without all the extra bulk.
When worn under a shirt, the My Hip-T looks just like a layering piece without all the extra bulk or warmth.

My Hip-Ts are made out of a thick spandex cotton fabric. It is soft and looks just like a layering t-shirt or tank under my shirt but without the added bulk or warmth of a whole second layer. The product comes in basic colors, prints or an option with lace on the bottom. The one with lace looks pretty with some of my dressier shirts.

The My Hip-t comes in a version with lace on the bottom edge.
The My Hip-T comes in a version with lace on the bottom edge.

As soon as I discovered how handy My Hip-Ts were for everyday wear, I decided to give them a try for active outdoor sports. I wore one over my running tights on a trail run and was pleased with it. It held my hernia prevention belt in place well and kept my pouch from flopping around. It concealed my pouch well with my running tights and tank.

I always wear a Nu-Hope hernia prevention belt when I run.
I always wear a Nu-Hope hernia prevention belt when I run.
The My Hip-t held my hernia prevention belt in place well and helped conceal it-- even in form-fitting running clothing.
The My Hip-t held my hernia prevention belt in place well and helped conceal it — even in form-fitting running clothing.

Overall, I am impressed by this piece of clothing. At $19.95 each, the price of the My Hip-T may seem a little high at first glance, but the quality is great and mine have held up well through multiple washes. It is also made in the USA. The product can be purchased in a two-pack which reduces the cost per item. My Hip-Ts can be found at: www.shophip-t.com.

Thanks to the My Hip-T, I won’t have to part with some of my favorite t-shirts and blouses that had hemlines that didn’t work well with my ostomy.  However, that doesn’t mean a trip to Goodwill still isn’t in order. Hmmm–maybe it is time to get rid of that dress that I sewed to wear at my friend’s wedding back in the late 1990s!

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Opening up about my ostomy

Last weekend I took a course to recertify my Wilderness First Responder credential with the Wilderness Medicine Institute. The first order of business in the course was to do short introductions with the other class participants. My heart pounded as my turn to introduce myself to 25 absolute strangers fast approached. I had planned to say something about my ostomy to the group, but I was having second thoughts. Maybe I should just stick to a standard intro and move on to the next person? After all, we only had to say four basic things: our name, where we were from, what we would be doing outside at that moment had we not been in class, and what our previous pertinent medical experience was. None of these things really had to do with my ostomy, right? Why did I feel this huge need to let everyone know?

It would not be my standard practice to announce my ostomy if I was taking a class on computer programs or art techniques. However, wilderness medicine courses involve a lot of mock wilderness medicine scenarios where we role-play rescuer and patient. As course participants practice patient assessments on each other, abdomens are palpated and shirts get peeked under to see if there are any clues to injuries. It is not unusual to have fake bruises or wounds put on our bellies and other body parts with stage make-up to make things more realistic. I knew it would be impossible to hide my ostomy. I wanted to have everyone know about it right away so there were no awkward surprises. And I didn’t want to explain it individually to each team I worked with — I only wanted to have to mention it once.

Recovering from a fake head injury after a wilderness medicine scenario.

As my turn to introduce myself crept closer and closer, and my palms became sweatier and sweatier, I had a decision to make. It would have been so easy to give into my fears and not say a thing about my ostomy — but that is not what I did. Instead, I took a deep breath and spoke:

Hi, I am Heidi. I am from Golden, Colorado. If I wasn’t in class today, I would choose to be rock climbing with Doug, who is my husband. (I motioned toward Doug who was sitting beside me as a classmate.) I have been a Wilderness First Responder since 1998. I have also had a lot of medical experience in dealing with one of my own health issues. Eighteen months ago I became severely ill with a disease called ulcerative colitis and had my entire colon removed. I now have an ostomy where my small intestine sticks out of my belly and I wear a pouch over it. If you see this over the next couple of days, it is not part of a scenario (I smiled and chuckled).

I looked around the room to see if anyone was looking at me in a strange way, but they weren’t. The instructor nodded and smiled at me like he did with each person, and the introductions continued without the loud sound of a record-scratch. As the heat in my flushed face dissipated, a huge sense of relief washed over me. Now I could relax and enjoy the course, knowing that everyone would know what the pouch on my belly was for, should they see it.

Sure, I probably could have worn a wrap. But it is likely that people would have been just as curious about that. Anyway, as much as I like ostomy undergarments, nothing is quite as comfy for me as my regular low-rise undies with my pouch flopped over the top. I knew I was going to be sitting in class for two days and wanted to be comfortable.

My pouch is easily visible when my shirt is lifted, but it ended up being no big deal during the course.

As the class unfolded over the next two days, I was happy to discover that people didn’t treat me any differently because of my ostomy. When we ran through head-to-toe exams and practiced “log rolling” to check each other’s spines in the wilderness medicine scenarios, there were times that my shirt rode up and everyone could see my pouch. Yet not one person acted awkwardly towards me and no one tip-toed around me when it came time to touch my belly or move me around. I had a great class, refreshed all my skills, passed my exams, and was successfully recertified.

My mock broken radius is all splinted up.

Looking back, I am so glad I decided to share the information about my ostomy with the group in those initial moments of class. Being open about it not only helped me feel more relaxed about people seeing my pouch, but it allowed the other course participants to be more comfortable with it as well. More and more, I am discovering that this is true in so many aspects of my life with an ostomy.