Travelling Overseas With a Stoma Child
... by his carer, Anne
Travelling with a child who has a Bladder Stoma can be daunting, but with plenty of thought and lots of lists, it can be done. We have been to Greece, Turkey, Italy and cruises to PNG and New Zealand without incident, but because of the Travel Insurance issue and his pre-existing condition, (he was born with B.E) we gave up years ago fighting to get him insured. However we are aware there are companies who will insure ostomates, his condition can be complex and insurers are frightened of what they do not understand. We take out insurance not mentioning his condition and with supplies of Antibiotics, Ural and Panadol, just in case, have been very fortunate all has gone very well.
Travelling with a child, (he is 12 now) who has to catheterize every 3 hours takes some preparation, with many check lists made weeks in advance. Although many countries have reciprocal agreements with Australia re stoma supplies we would prefer to take our own. So we start with laying out what supplies are needed in a day and multiplied by the days away plus extra in case of blockages, including night bags and saline with syringes for flushes, Dansac wipes, gel, hyperfix, catheters etc. the list goes on and on. It is all divided between 3 suitcases in case one goes missing.
Declan started the holiday with a leg bag on and each of us had extra supplies in backpacks with a letter from his doctor explaining the supplies. Everything went well emptying his bag 3 hourly, (we got some strange looks both squeezing into the plane toilet at the same time). 15 hours to Doha with a 2 hour stopover gave us the opportunity to flush his bladder so it would run on the next leg seven hours to Birmingham. At Doha Security they picked up a 100ml Saline in one backpack, (they missed mine), which could have been hairy as there is a no water policy even in unopened bottles but with the Doctor’s letter they allowed us to keep it.
Our 8 days with friends and then 6 days in London went well as most toilets were marked "ACCESSIBLE TOILET – NOT EVERY DISABILITY IS VISIBLE". A wonderful idea as how many of us have had to put up with dirty looks because we dared to use a Disabled toilet. Declan coped very well taking charge of his procedures as he does at home although I was pushing the cleanliness more – he used the pocket catheters when out as he did not have to use gel or touch the catheter at all.
Paris disability toilets are another story – we were not aware that they could only be used if you carried a specific disability card, this we found out the hard way at the Louvre. We were standing waiting for one to become vacant when a man came in and started banging on the door, I said very quietly in French that we were next, holding up the catheter bag, well that started a tirade in perfect English, he dragged out the wallet, took out the card and told me if I didn’t have a card he was next! We found a lovely hedged rose garden outside and watered the roses, smelt better and cleaner. For the rest of our time in Paris I smuggled him into the ladies.
In all our holidays both overseas and within Australia we have been very fortunate everything has gone well but we are always wary, ensuring that he drinks plenty of water and I have hand gel with me at all times – sounds pedantic but it has paid off. Our 2 weeks in UK and time in Paris were wonderful, we even enjoyed a day trip to the Somme and Villiers-Bretonneau and Declan loved the Eiffel Tower which was the main reason he wanted to go to Paris,, this has instilled in him a sense and love of travel, he knows his bladder is not going to stop him from living his dreams.
Written by Anne (December 2019)