I am an Ostomate - Can you tell ? :-)
SO! A year has gone by and decided to take a moment to reflect. REWIND! Surgery is done, I’m slowly healing. Chemotherapy and Radiation is done and definitely healing from that too. So of course I’m super excited to be planning my next “first” hike back since the diagnosis.
Nthabiseng and I went Hiking. Yes, you’ve guessed it… Drakensberg is like a freaken drug that addicted hikers know to keep climbing so feel alive. Its around April 2021, so Gudu Falls and Cathedral Cave it was. I had not been to Drankensberg in a long time and certainly had never been to these Gudu Falls, it’s such a beautiful trail situated in the Royal Natal. Drakensberg was as majestic and picturesque as I last saw it, let’s just say whoever used this tagline first was certainly on the money “Mountains are going nowhere so there is no rush"... Yup the mountains were waiting for me to heal. We used the Mahai Camp as a starting point and not the Witsieshoek start.
We arrived on the 2nd April and slept at Amphitheater Backpackers which has such a stunning Gympy look and feel vibe to it. If you know me you’d understand, Wink wink. On Saturday morning we drove out to Mahai campsite to start the hike. As we drove past the gate we see a couple of hikers and so as custom, we slowed down to greet. Lo and bloody behold, what are the odds that I’d meet a few hikers I know. I go mad, I seriously go buckwild mad, they go mad, the other one scream yhoooo o buyile girl, “you are back babe”, okay okay Nthabi is probably rolling her eyes reading this now because i'm being modest... the lady actually said "ibuyile inja ye game" *Hides face"...
The welcome was so heartwaming. We drive on and agree we will meet at the start of Gudu hike.
What an amazing time that me and Nthabi met up with them. We took a couple of pictures as they discussed amongst themselves that I had gone through Cancer and now I’m back. I felt so welcomed when the one lady said “If anyone is strong its you, I’m so inspired” – truth be told I never know how to welcome positive outbursts like that but on this day my heart was happy because #MyGod they are celebrating... I could not start with them as I was a little worried about my strength and new body and if at all I’ll slow them down, delay them or even stop along the way and give up. So we let them be on their way.
The guy at the gate told us there were two ways of taking Gudu Trail. The one was rather a steep ascent and the other a mild gradual climb. Nthabi looked at me and I just said babe lets shock the body and take the tough uphill climb via the cascades.
What a beauty but my goodness what an interesting body shock of an uphill. Hahaha. We did a 15,8km round trip with a 528 elevation gain. The higher we went the more gorgeous the view, the higher we went the closer to the clouds I felt, and the more I felt like an eagle soaring the heights past the clouds seeking for that higher rock to renew itself...
And finally we got to the waterfall. I know I know at this point I was also worried about my bag change. I changed when we arrived at the waterfall with no one in sight. I didn’t secure my bag with a special belt as usually advised, I just used my normal seals and all worked well.
Sunday morning we took a drive on our way out from Drakensberg National Park to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park to explore another icy cold semi-hidden gem called The Cathedral Cave hidden away deep in a sacred place behind the rocky formations of the park. That was a 6km walk to the cave and back. Did I get into the water? yes of course, and the Ostomy bag you ask? yes of course its water resistant with a proper seal and safe for my Stoma, so water play was the order of the day.
Man oh man lots has changed, but the inner me is still the same... its a matter of now introducing and adapting the new body to the world of adventures that feed my soul and renew my strength. But hydration key, rest is of the utmost important now and constantly working out to remain fit and healthy is key.
1. What is an Ostomy? It’s an artificial opening in an organ of the body (my colon), created during an operation such as a colostomy, ileostomy, or gastrostomy; a stoma. The colostomy is probably the most common form of surgery which requires the creation of a stoma, and it involves bypassing part of the large intestine and creating a new artificial opening to remove body waste, output or poop (whichever you prefer to call it). So an Ostomate is referred to a person who has this opening
2. It can be temporary or permanent so mine is permanent
3. While in Countries like US, UK, Canada its seen as a disability, In South Africa, being an Ostomate is not recognised as being disabled, although to a degree one is.
4. My backpack not only is prepared with Hiking gear and food but now includes my Supplies which add to the load - I not need supplies but need extra supplies incase my ostomy becomes active, so when you see me struggling with the bag haha know I have medical necessities that added to my load
5. I’m still learning to accept my new body, its scars and changes and learning to be kind to myself and learning to be okay with not being okay, stubborn as I am.
6. Embracing the new me and I believe many hikers will support and encourage me too
7. If you are on trail with me and want to know more, i'll probably spot you starring at my lower abdomen trying to figure out where the bag is hidden haha but if you ask nicely I will explain this to you LOL
8. I’ve joined forces and am part of a Non-Profit Organisation called South African Society of Ostomates formed by Ostomates for Ostomates to create awareness, empower, educate and change the narrative and stigma around having an Ostomy Bag. If you know any one in your family, please refer them to our pages:
South African Society of Ostomates
Here are a few other ostomates that Opt Out and love adventure: