When You’re in a Pinch, Here’s How to Find Ostomy Supplies

Finding ostomy supplies header

Imagine this: You head to the cottage for the weekend and bring along a spare ostomy appliance “just in case”.  That spare is needed soon after because of a leak and you’re left with nothing extra.

In an ideal world, you should be able to get by without needing to change your appliance again before heading home – but this isn’t an ideal world and your dog decided it was a great idea to jump up on your lap, tearing your “just in case” spare.

Many would say that you’re SOL at this point, but in this article, I’ll give you some ideas to try before you head home.


Medical Supply Stores

This will be the easiest place to get supplies, assuming they are open.  If it’s the weekend, chances are they will be closed, but it’ll still be worth searching for suppliers in your area to see if anyone’s open.

If you’re using an internet search, it may help to put the term “medical supply stores open on the weekend” or something similar to narrow down your results.

You should even be able to search on Google Maps to find suppliers in your current location.  A bonus when using Google Maps is that you’ll also get the store hours listed as well.

Durham Medical hours Google Maps - Copy
Google Maps will list store hours, which can help narrow down who’s open when you call.
Medical suppliers Google Maps - Copy
Finding a local medical supply store can be easy with the help of Google :)

Local Classified Ads

This is a great wildcard to keep handy since you may find that someone is either selling or giving away free supplies through websites like Kijiji or Craigslist.

Local classifieds for ostomy supplies
Remember to narrow down your search and use different keywords.

Tip: Don’t just search for “ostomy supplies” or “ostomy bags” when using these local listings. Some people might list these items under a brand name like “Coloplast” or “ConvaTec”, especially if they are selling supplies that belong to a family member and not products they’ve used themselves.


Hospitals/Clinics

Some people suggest trying a local hospital to see if they’re able to spare a few bags.  This will likely NOT work unless you are a current patient, but there’s no harm in calling ahead.


Social Media

What a time to be alive! Social media can not only play a huge role in finding support after surgery, but it could also save the day when you run out of supplies!

If you are using Twitter or Facebook you might have luck by simply asking followers in your area for help.

Asking for help on Twitter
There’s no shame in asking for help on social media.

You may or may not be a part of a local online group (to the area you’re visiting), but finding one and asking for help may produce some results.

Heck, I’ve even seen people ask for help through Reddit! You’ve got nothing to lose but the help of thousands of people online! Give it a shot.


Local Groups

You may be fortunate enough to be staying in a city or town that hosts local ostomy support groups.

If you can find a local group, try to contact the person(s) who organize the group to see if they might be able to help you source out emergency supplies.

Canada: You can find local chapters on the Ostomy Canada website: https://www.ostomycanada.ca/support/canadian-chapters/

USA: The UOAA has a great lookup tool here: http://www.ostomy.org/Find_a_Support_Group.

UK: You can use the lookup page on the Colostomy Association site: http://www.colostomyassociation.org.uk/index.php?p=172&pp=161

Australia: You can find a list of support groups here: http://www.australianstoma.com.au/index.php/about-us/support-groups


Prevention is Best

It goes without saying that if you can prevent this situation from even coming up then you’ll be far better off.

Even when going on a “weekend trip”, there’s no harm in bringing more supplies than you think you’ll need, so double or triple the spare wafers and bags in your emergency kit and go have fun!

Question: Have you ever been stranded without supplies? What did you do?

24 thoughts on “When You’re in a Pinch, Here’s How to Find Ostomy Supplies”

  1. Hi Mary, Welcome to the forum. That’s a pretty rough journey, illness is bad enough without all the extras. The pass is the past it’s the here and now that’s important. As Eric says don’t overthink the stoma. Yep accidents can happen but with help and experience you can climb up the life ladder. I second all that’s been said and hope you stick around to avail of the information and help here. Best wishes and best foot forward ??

    Reply
  2. Hi. I am a new ostomate as of 8/2/2022. A mass in my belly strangled my large intestine which caused me to have poop running thru my body. I had ischemia, left thumb was amputated and i lost the use of my legs. I spend 5 1/2 months in 3 different hospitals. With hard work i managed to walk again. I got out of the hospital on 1/14/2023. I was NOT educated on my iliostomy, ie diet, pouching systems and accessories. Everything i have learned i read myself and watched tons of videos. I am SO DEPRESSED i want to die. I don’t go anywhere or do the things i use to do. I honestly am hanging by a thread. Always checking my appliance, paranoid? This is the absolute WORSE thing that has happened to me. Mt boyfriend of 7 years dumped me which didn’t help with my anxiety/depression. I no longer have any spark left in me. I am affraid to sleep at night for fear of waking up in a shit fest. Thats totally disgusting. I keep asking myself why our LORD didn’t take me. Why didn’t i die? I hate this more than anything. I just want to die…..Thank you for listening, sometimes it helps me to vent.

    Reply
    • Hi Mary,

      I’m so sorry that you are struggling. I’ve been there, too, before my ostomy. You might want to reach out to your healthcare professionals and even see if there are any local (ostomy) groups who can offer you support.

      I’ve found that fixating on the ostomy does more harm than good, and it does lead to spiralling into despair.

      If you have any hobbies you enjoy, use them to bring back some enjoyment to your life, but I do think that seeking guidance from your medical team would be in order.

      Please consider joining our forum if you want to ask questions. We all need to vent from time to time, and I hope it’s helped you.

      Be well.

      Reply
    • Hello Mary H Munro… Thank you so  much for reaching out!  PLEASE do not give up. You worked too hard for giving up now. You are in a good safe place here & know that YOU are NOT ALONE!! 
      You have been to personal hell and back!  The fact that your boyfriend was a good times only man says he’s worse stuff then what goes in your pouch & has a lot of growing up to do no matter his age! God will deal with him in his own way & time. He’s not worth the effort & emotions if he can’t support you when you need it most.  
      Your feelings of abandonment are so true! I went through similar when my main support & love died after our almost 30 years of marriage and 5 months after my ostomy. To be fair, he had pancreatic cancer diagnosed 5 months after I got out of hospital so he would have been here if he could have but I still went thru a ton of turmoil & questioning why God saved me & not him.
      If your having trouble with meals, most hospitals in Canada have a resonably priced meal plan you can choose frozen meals from but you will need a salt & pepper shaker! Lol! Any issues with energy & strength,  seeing your GP may help esp. if your not able to eat right bcuz your guts are still adjusting or you are Anemic. Anemia can mess with you something fierce so make a list of physical issues & emotions and right out ask your GP to check that your getting the nutrition & vitamins you need & ask for emotional support too.  In Canada you can book a 20 min. Apt. (most are 10 min.)  & if not book a few apts in one week to address all your needs & be up front right away & tell your GP what you are doing & why.  Please ask about your concerns of depression. Tell him what you told us here. This needs to be taken seriously & even as believers in the Lord we need help & God helps those who help themselves. He gave us brains & smart Doctors to help us out so let them to help you.  
      Mary,  the fact that you survived ALL of what you went thru & still going thru means God has a plan for your life. Your pretty darn amazing to have lost the use of your legs & to work so hard to walk again, then theres your thumb too!  This all speaks of an inner strength that not too many may have. 
      I agree with Eric get some professional help.  I was on anti – depressants for a long time after my long bout of illness & then my husband’s death but I  was able to wein off of them slowly once my whole system stabilized but I needed help & theres nothing wrong with that at all.  
      I can’t imagine changing a pouch with one less thumb!! Yikes!  How are you doing with that ??  Do you think a prosthetic thumb would help??  Maybe asking your GP about that if your not managing.  Right now it sounds like your head is trying to make sense of whats disastrously happened to your body & theres nothing wrong with that even if you are a believer in God as I am too & anyone who says different is wrong.  If its okay with you, I will keep you in my prayers regularly. 
      I’d like to direct you to my life saving sense maker, lol,  when it came to illness and understanding why God let me go through all I did & live.   I know that well meaning people can be so judgemental but this Pastor helped me understand so much about myself & how God fit in.  I found “Dr. Charles Stanley" at 3 a.m. one very desperate night for myself.  Go to  intouch.com or .ca if your in Canada.  Through his website & his understanding of God & the Bible I learned how to survive toxic people & comments from well meaning people by understanding that God still loved me & had not abandoned me.  The T.V. Church service is called In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley. Hes on here at 2 or 3 a.m. but lives in the USA & is on  again in the late afternoon Sundays thru VISIONHD,  Ch.871 . I record the night time show to watch in the morning. There is a bunch of Christian reading material you can access and even a link to have people pray with you any time day or night. Theres also a daily devotional based on the teaching of the Bible. You can order a copy thru the mail or read it on the computer. The church service is viewed in so many countries & languages,  theres a list on the site where you can find them. Dr. Charles Stanley is not your typical fist pounding pass over your wallet TV Pastor. He teaches Gods word & the understanding of the Bible.  Once I was able to look after my Doctor provided medical needs and that of understanding my spiritual life I was able to start to move forward. 
      Mary, your still recovering & may be for a while but if your not able to work there is help for you financially out there too. I have a fair idea of whats available in B.C. Canada but we have members here who may be able to tell you where to look if elsewhere.  I’m on disability bcuz of my health & ostomy. 
      Please ask any questions you need help with. We can offer a bunch of tips to work with your ostomy & help you find what works for you.  Try giving your stoma a name. My stomas name is Rose bcuz once I adjusted to my new normal I could honestly see that having a stoma was a beautiful life saving gift. That said Rose had several nasty names prior to that but naming her helped me connect her to me & appreciate her. 
      Mary, take heart & know that things will improve for you & reach out for help at home too. If family doesn’t know your needs they can’t help.   Your doing the right thing coming here for encouragement & ostomy help. Maybe start a new forum asking questions you may have or simply telling your story so we can get to know you & say hello.  
      I’m widowed 14 + years. I’m a Gramma of 7,  babysitting one Grand-D 2 to 4 days a week. I plant a bit of a veggie garden & keep a pretty flower bed from late  Spring to Fall where I gift live flowers to those passing by on foot.  Both my kids are happily married. I have a sweet playful little dog named Missy. I enjoy crafting & crocheting, sewing & counted cross stitch. I have new friends & a pretty wonderful group of other ostomates here. 
      Thank you for reaching out! I hope this had been helpful to you. Sorry it was a  long read.

      Reply
    • I’m so sorry to hear if all you have gone through. It’s a lot different when ileistomy is an emergency rather than planned. It has to be a shock for you. I think being that no one gave you the education on your Ostomy that you deserve and you had to read up yourself has made this journey much harder not to mention the boyfriend. It’s like you have been lacking a support system. It’s no wonder you feel the way you do. Know that we are here for you for support or any questions you might have. Some towns and places, hospitals may have Ostomy support groups as well. I know there are therapists in the colorectal surgery departments in some hospitals for things like this. You defiantly need a support system. I think with that you will be able to move forward and enjoy your life again and for mr. Boyfriend….. karmas a bitch! I had a planned Ostomy but I was in pain for 4, years prior so I was begging for one. It was a huge learning curve for me even with my support system. This site and others helped me get things figured out. Oh and yes the waking up in a pile of shit. Been there done that. I sleep with a disposable bed pad under me now. I’ve had to leave full carts in the store and run out and drive home and get into my shower with the cloths still on taking them off in the shower but that was all due to not having the right pouch . I need a convex and was not wearing that. That’s when they switched me. Of course things are gonna happen here and there but as the more experienced we get with this there is less likely to be leaks. I work full time with my Ostomy sometimes 8  hours and sometimes 12 hours. For a while I had to do 19 hours a day with only going home to shower and go back. Did that a few months. I bring an emergency kit with me. I have put together a couple pouches cut and ready to go, adhesive remover wipes, soap and paper  towels. Then I have a bathroom bag put together. It’s basically a lunch bag type thing and inside I have my own toilet paper, a water bottle for rinsing a, some Ostomy deodorant and a few paper towels  in a baggie. This way I have everything I need wherever I go. I keep all this the bathroom bag and the emergency kit in a tote bag. I usually bring extra cloths as well I take a baggie and put a pair of underwear inside and in another I roll up a pair of leggings and then socks. I bring a roll of paper towels sometimes too but hey that’s what tote bags are for. It’s been very seldom I’ve had to use any of the extra cloths or the emergency kit at work. Maybe 3 times in four years. It sounds like a lot but this is the hand  I was dealt and I’m just happy to be out of pain. It’s doing a Lot of things we are not used to but the show must go on so I have came to terms with having to do things differently. I even tell people I have it like at work this way no surprises and no embarrassment I’ve already told them. know that you are not alone. None  of us really wants this thing but we have it due to some reasons or other. It’s s matter if saying Hey it’s here so now I need to figure out what i need to do different. The more experienced  you get the easier it becomes. I don’t  take my kit or my bathroom bag if I go out to eat or if I’m just going to the store anymore. I used to take it all in the start but as you see how things are going you can adjust that according to whether you need it or not. Wishing you peace and healing 

      Reply
    • @Mary H Munro Hey Mary, how are you doing? I hope you’re feeling a little better, after you were able to vent here. You went through a hell of a lot of bad stuff! It’s okay to feel depressed, just don’t go and do something silly, okay? Hang in there! Life is still worth living, even if you can’t find that right now.
      So, you’ve been knocked down pretty badly. But you can get up. There are ways to get some control back. But it’s up to you to find the strength and the will to take that second step. You coming on here and opening up to complete strangers, shows me that there is some fight left in you. You took that first step, bravo!! 
      Now take another step and reach out to the hospital that sent you home without any explanation of how to deal with your stoma. Get a little angry about that, it’s okay. I would be so pissed if I was in your shoes! And I would definitely let them know and demand some help.
      The final thing I want you to understand is, that accidents will happen. You will probably one day wake up in a pool of poo. And that is gross, yes. But you can prepare yourself so it’ll be a little easier to deal with. Get some incontinence pads (or puppy pads, if you’re ashamed to get the incontinence ones). Or a wahsable incontinence sheet. That way, you’ll save your matress. Keep some old rags near your bed, so you can stumble to the shower without soiling your floor.
      Don’t worry about leaks in public. I’ve soiled myself many times in public and people are just too busy with themselves (or their phones) to notice. Just remove yourself from the situation and clean yourself up. Keeping some emergency suplies with you, will help you continue your day as if nothing happened. 
      Your stoma happened to you and it saved your life. So there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and don’t let anybody have you believe otherwise. But it’s up to you how you deal with this. Will you get up and fight? Then make your bed every morning. Even if you get back in. I promise, it helps immensely!
      If you can’t find the strength right now, you might find it tomorrow. In the mean time, stay here with us and let us know how you’re doing, okay?

      Reply
  3. Thank you for this article, and also for this comment section. My doctors are urging me to get a colectomy and permanent ileostomy but I have been resisting for a long time. My disease is not deadly, but it has reduced my quality of life a lot. I’m also in Canada, and ostomy supplies are very expensive here. In BC, I am under the provincial disability plan, so basic ostomy supplies would be covered, but it’s only one type. I have very sensitive skin and a weird body shape, so I would probably not be able to stick with whatever the province offers.

    The idea of ever not having a replacement bag sounds like a nightmare. After all the readings I’ve been doing online, I’ve decided not to get a colectomy. It sounds like replacing one problem with another. Thank you again!

    Reply
    • Good luck, Robert. I can certainly understand the dilemma and I experienced some financial burdens after my surgery due to the cost of supplies and/or having to pay for private insurance.

      But now that my ostomy care is fairly predictable and consistent, I’m not really spending more than what Ontario’s ostomy grant money gives, and I’m free to purchase whatever ostomy product I need.

      For me, surgery really was about improving my quality of life. I wish you all the best.

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  4. Hi Melinda, If it’s London UK you will be entitled to free supplies. Contact me local Health Centre who will make an appointment to speak with a doctor. You will then get a prescription sent to a pharmacy and then collect your supplies. Hope it works out ?

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  5. Hello I am in need of a ostomy bag I am on my last one and ready to blow and no cheque for a week. New to london and no noone is there anyone that might have any they could spare please would replace them when i got my cheque. I literally have taped a bag around my stomach because its leaking .

    Reply
    • Hi Melinda, I’m really sorry to hear about your position. Are you in London, UK or London, Ontario? There may be some organizations who can help depending on where you live, but I would contact the stoma nurse at your hospital to see if they can spare some products for you until you can purchase them.

      Reply

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