Whenever I speak with other ostomy patients, I'm often asked about how I deal with my ostomy while I'm on an extended climb. It's really not that different than while I'm at home. I live an active lifestyle regardless if I'm at home or in the mountains, so I have to plan ahead for situations where I may need to change my ostomy appliance. While climbing, I always use a closed-end pouch. It gives me the security I need while wearing a harness and being very active.
On this trip to Everest I only have access to a shower while I'm in base camp. So far, we've only been away from base camp for three or four days at a stretch - it's been easy for me to plan around appliance changes in base camp while I can have a shower. I've been showering and changing my appliance proactively every three days to make sure my skin stays healthy and that I don't have any trouble while I'm climbing.
Soon we'll be headed up higher, where it's colder, and I won't have access to a hot shower to properly clean the skin around my stoma. Thankfully, ConvaTec has an awesome product that I use on all my mountain trips. It's called Aloe Vesta® Wipes and it's a waterless, handi-wipe style cleaning product. I simply take off my pouch, clean the skin around my stoma using the Aloe Vesta® wipe, dry my skin, then put on a new pouch.
As we near summit day, I will have to plan my appliance changes. I will shower the day before we leave base camp, making sure my skin is in good condition and that my flange is securely fixed to my abdomen. We'll head up to camp two the first day, where we will rest and wait for a clear weather window to head to the summit. Our initial plan is to be in camp two for about 36 hours. The day before we head to camp three, I will change my appliance in camp two. Round trip should be about four days - day one we will head to camp three, day two camp four, day three summit and back down to camp four and day four down to camp two. I should get four days out of this change, but if I need to, I will have to change the pouch up high, most likely in camp four. If this is the case, I'll very likely do a quick swap of appliances in the tent. Skin exposure to the freezing temperatures above 8000 meters is not a good idea. This kind of a change probably wouldn't be recommended by your ostomy nurse, but I think they'll understand given the circumstances, right?
For more details, visit Rob's No Guts Know Glory Everest Expedition blog.