Skydiving with an Ostomy – The Sky is No Limit
Inner Good has not shied away from the topic of action/extreme activities and adventures when it comes to living with an ostomy. While some resources out there would have you walking on egg shells for the rest of your life, we steer you in a different direction. In fact, a life changing procedure presents all the more reason to live life to the absolute fullest. You’re capable of extraordinary things. Other ostomates are proving this to be true. From climbing the Seven Summits to surfing and snowboarding, you can excel at it all. And yes, that includes skydiving.
So go ahead and go beyond the breaking point by flinging yourself out of a perfectly good airplane, ostomy in tow. Just take note of the following tips first.
5 Things You Need to do to Prepare for Skydiving with an Ostomy
1. Get Clearance from Your Doctor
While we’re all for you taking things to the extreme, we must suggest that you speak with your doctor first. They know your body and what you’ve been through. They know what you are and are not ready for. Of course, some physicians think that anyone jumping out of an airplane is nuts, so you may want to bring along a detailed brochure from your local skydiving school. Outline the safety FAQs for them during your conversation. If they see that you’re insistent upon it, they will let you know when your body has healed and is strong enough. It may be a good idea to tackle item #2 below first, to get your fitness level where it needs to be to make your doc more confident. Keep reading.
2. #OstoFit Exercises for Skydiving
Like with most action sports, core fitness is essential. Anyone with a stoma knows that getting core strength back after a procedure is an uphill climb. InnerGood has outlined a fitness regime to help you strengthen your core, and more (view the guide here). That being said, skydiving prep for ostomates should include a few additional exercises that will serve you well when hurling through the air up there (and landing). These include include planks, reverse crunches and roll-ups. This article details exercises (which are ostomate safe) that will help you prepare for your aerial adventure.
3. Watch What You Eat Leading Up to the Day
You will want to monitor your eating 24 hours before your big jump. For starters, make sure you’re comfortable on the day of the dive by avoiding less digestible foods (which pose a risk of ostomy blockage) such as corn, mushrooms, nuts, raw fruits and vegetables. This blockage can cause cramping and abdominal pain near the stoma. You don’t want that to kick in minutes before your jump.
Also stay away from foods that will produce gas. While this is important when jumping tandem (save your instructor or tandem partner from odors) there is a bigger reason to keep gas at bay. Keep reading.
4. Altitude, Specific Volume Correction, and Your Pouch
There’s some science behind this. If you want to learn more about altitude, density, and specific volume, refer to this. Want the cliff notes? It’s simple. Air expands at a high altitude. Thus, your ostomy pouch will expand. If you don’t prepare, you could arrive on land to a bit of a mess. If you prepare, you’ll be fine. This preparation includes cutting out the consumption of gas-producing foods (as per item #3 above) 24 hours before your jump. In addition, empty/drain your ostomy bag just before boarding the plane, giving it a bit of a “burp” to ensure there is no gas build-up. Follow those instructions, and you’ll be fine.
5. Positioning Your Ostomy Pouch
You’re going to have some sort of protective skydiving suit on (especially when you’re new to it). Any adjustments you need to make to your ostomy pouch support system (bag, belt, and stoma guard) should be made before putting it on. Make sure that the bottom of the pouch is not tucked under the chute pack leg strap. If it is, a high speed deployment and the shock of the chute opening may pull your bag right off. Not cool. If your instructor is strapping on your gear, let them know well in advance about your “condition” and where you system is located on your physique. They will suit you up safely around your personal gear.
That’s all you need to know, aside from the whole learning to skydive in general thing. Have you skydived? We’d love to hear about your own experience along with any insight that you can share with your fellow ostomates. Leave a comment below.