Skiing is a sport that most people, especially those with an ostomy stay away from because it’s difficult, exhausting and requires a lot of physical strength. However I’ve never let my ostomy have a limit on my life.
In December I was lucky enough to go on a ski holiday to a beautiful little village called Grimentz in Switzerland.This beautiful village in the Swiss Canton of Valais is home to a few locals all year around, and hundreds of avid skiers in the winter! The region is famous for its beautiful mountains and picturesque views around every corner.
Being a beginner skier on your first ski holiday is challenging enough, but having to worry about your ostomy makes it even more challenging. My aim for the holiday was to enjoy myself, and not have the fun curtailed by even mild strains and aching joints.
Ski resorts are at high altitude which made it easy to become out of breath. Its pretty intense being on the slopes all day everyday. I made sure to always stay hydrated, to not over do it and to not take down a group of children learning to ski if I fell.
As a beginner, I wasn’t expecting to be great, but after having a few lessons in the snow dome I was confident enough that I wasn’t going to fall. But expectations and reality are two completely different things. I learnt very quickly that:
- You will fall down, a lot
- Its hard to get up and can be very embarrassing
- There’s going to be six year olds skiing circles around you
- You’re either going too slow or too fast. No in between
- Some children will be better than you
As I improved I eventually went higher up the mountain. I felt intimidated by the poor visibility, cloud cover and the longer, steeper slopes. My main worry was falling on my stomach, which I understand is unlikely with skis on. Or whacking myself with the ski poles (I’m very clumsy). My other worry was over doing it and having complications with my ostomy, which thankfully didn’t happen. In hindsight, I really wish that I didn’t get so anxious about skiing, I wish that I was more relaxed and actually enjoyed it more instead of worrying about my ostomy.
My main advice for future ostomate skiers would be to:
- Have light meals and snacks frequently
- Always make sure you stay hydrated
- Take frequent breaks
- Make sure you have enough warm layers on
- Take medical supplies with you including painkillers
- Make sure you have health/travel insurance
- Make sure you have enough protective clothing around your ostomy
Unfortunately there isn’t any specific clothing available for us when it comes to sports or activities. Because of this I had to make do with loads of high waisted layers which didn’t put my mind to rest when it came to skiing. But like everyone knows, when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade (or margaritas).
Wouldn’t it be great if there were specific sports clothing for us ostomates?
What would you like to see in sportswear for ostomates?
Would you like to see Aura clothing create a sports range in the future?
Personally I am and always will be aware of my ostomy. It brings cautious feelings and careful behaviour. Im not necessarily nervous or afraid of trying new things but I believe only a fellow ostomate can understand the balance between having fun and staying safe.
For me, my ostomy is simply a challenge to overcome. Much like skiing, It’s not a barrier, nor is it a disability-and I’m not about to let it stop me from doing anything. After all, it’s just a bag.
A huge shoutout to the Leliarts, Kavanagh’s and Harris’ for such an amazing holiday.