I have always been one of those people that adores the great outdoors but not so fond of just sitting about in the garden (obviously since renovating part of our back garden that has changed a little bit) I need to be doing something outside. Due to my multiple chronic health conditions I always had some anxiety in the back of my head regarding solo treks; this year I decided to break that fear and go off by myself, don’t get me wrong having Kobe helps plus the odd friend who will join me on occasion too. Having an ileostomy certainly hasn’t stopped me from going off and enjoying myself.
During this lockdown we have been able to travel to exercise and I have certainly noticed an increase in people getting out to my local beauty spots. This is both nice and irritating as I can walk to these areas and it is a pain when you are people dodging; but nice that where I live is getting enjoyed. I hope that going forward people continue to get out and about but also think about joining the many charitable foundations to keep the countryside and its areas of interest alive.
For a lot of people they rule out wet, windy and muddy walks this time of year but it is great exercise for you and your pet which can help your mental health no end plus you can grab a friend and socialise with a bit of distance to keep in line with current regulations. Plus autumn/winter has some amazing sunsets!
When it comes to hiking with my stoma, I have a few things always packed in my bag and they are:
• Bag change supplies – only a blockage is worse for the everyday ostomate than a leak and nobody wants to be caught short especially away from home. I have experienced leaks on a walk before and I’m always thankful for carrying my spares.
• Compostable dog poop bags and zip lock bags - you wouldn’t leave your pets mess on a walk so why would you leave yours for that unsuspecting walker? You can empty into these bags and know that because they are compostable, they aren’t going to cause unnecessary harm to the environment. You can carry it with you or lob it but I would suggest putting it in a large zip lock bag so it is a way from other items in your bag. Wipes however need to be taken with you and disposed of properly so again the zip lock bag is ideal.
• Electrolytes and loperamide – so when it comes to medication type items these are the only two aside from paracetamol that I bring along with me. The electrolytes for me personally are in the form of dioralyte that way I can just tip it in and shake it about to mix it. Dehydration is a big thing for us with stoma’s especially ileostomies and many people forget to keep hydrated through the winter. The loperamide is in there for if my output frequency increases more than is comfortable and I need to slow things down.
• Plenty of fluids – now we all have our own preferences with what we like to drink and of course I always preach that you should mix them up a bit so that your body gets a range of hydration. When on a walk/hike or even a run I like to take a bottle of strong diluted squash and if my hike is a substantial distance or the weather is a bit warm I like to have a bottle of flavoured water as a back up to fill my sports bottle back up.
• Food – when it comes to snackage on the trek you need to think about what can your stoma and digestive system cope with. So, I can eat dried fruit and nuts with ease but I have friends with stoma’s that can’t at all! I like to have a little tub of trail mix which you can make up yourself with foods your body can tolerate. I also like to have some protein or carbohydrates with me and that just depends either what can I be bothered to make or what the shops have in to buy.
If you are new to hiking or you haven’t done much in the way of exercise this year (I mean 2020 has been a weird one for us all) or since your surgery there are a few things you should take into consideration before setting off and they are:
1. Give yourself enough time to do your chosen route. It doesn’t matter if you give yourself too much time but don’t get caught out in the dark even if you have a head lamp. Trust me this has happened to me and I was just lucky I knew the area but everything looks different in the dark.
2. Carry a bag for life with you or get some waterproof trousers. This way you always have something dry to sit on because trekking with a wet bum is most certainly not fun! Also, no need to pack a picnic blanket as they are far too bulky. In the spring and summer, we use a bag and in the autumn and winter I wear my waterproofs it is just one less thing to worry about.
3. Have a map or a screenshot of where you are going. If it is on your phone make sure your phone is fully charged and seriously take a screenshot in case you get no signal!
4. Let someone know where you are going, what time you are setting off and aiming to get back. Emergencies can happen as I learnt a few weeks ago when I got to my destination and became suddenly unwell; I had to walk a further mile to find signal to ring 00Steve to pick me up as the idea of walking back 4 miles across moorland few people travel was a bit too scary.
5. Layers. Layers are everything!! For instance, I wear a t-shirt, thin hoodie (currently it’s my GNR one) then a weather proof jacket. I have a hat and gloves too. It’s easier to stay warm than it is to get warm!
6. Take breaks as and when you need them. The only person you are in competition with is yourself and really you should allow yourself to catch your breath, eat and drink oh and take in the sights.
I genuinely love going for my weekly hikes or long walks around somewhere in the middle of nowhere; it really helps clear my mind and keeps me physically fit. Hopefully it has sparked something within yourself to look at going on a hike yourself!