From Aviation to Adversity: Urostomy Keeps Aircraft Engineer Jim Soaring High

Jim, an engineer and pilot who has dedicated his life to aviation, faced challenges after his urostomy surgery. Read about how research, experience, and finding the right ostomy products helped him effectively manage his stoma and live his life to the fullest. 

Learn how Jim took control of his life and embraced the opportunities that a stoma can provide.

In 2009, as part of renewing his pilot license, Jim had a medical exam that flagged new urinary problems. Those problems turned out to be a symptom of cancer, and he quickly underwent surgery to remove his bladder and create a urostomy. Now in his late 70s, Jim is still as active as ever and relishes the freedom that his stoma has given him. He still works part-time, enjoys his hobbies, and travels with his wife throughout the UK and abroad. 

Gaining confidence through research and “trial and error” 

As an aircraft engineer, pilot, and aerial surveyor with over 50 years of experience, Jim has always been a stickler for details. When he learned about his upcoming stoma surgery, he began to conduct research – and he was pleasantly surprised to find a wealth of information and support available. 

One of Jim’s original concerns was ostomy pouch leakage, but his research, along with trial and error, helped him overcome his fears. “At first, I was worried about potential leakage and how embarrassing it would be in public,” says Jim. “But after getting the hang of managing different situations, I am now 99.9% confident that leaks won't happen. For example, I wear a urinary leg bag for a whole day out and change it directly after any strenuous activity.” 

Embracing the freedom that a stoma can offer 

Jim says he is living his life to the fullest. His work and hobbies keep him busy bending, climbing, and moving about, which he does with confidence. “As an aviation engineer, I'm constantly inspecting helicopters, which means I'm scaling ladders and clambering all over aircrafts – but even with my stoma, nothing slows me down,” he says. “My colleagues have always been supportive, and I've never heard a negative comment, even when I had to make more frequent trips to the bathroom.” Jim also keeps busy tending his flourishing garden and tinkering under the hoods of his cars. 

In addition, Jim has continued to indulge his passion for travel. “Being confident with the stoma bag has allowed me to carry on with all the normal things in life, like visiting family,” he says. “Even driving to see my children who live in Wales and Worcester is simple, as there's no need to stop halfway if I have a leg bag on.” He has also embarked on more ambitious adventures with his wife across Europe. “Last year, she and I set sail on a captivating cruise to Norway, and despite the ship's numerous staircases and steep inclines, I experienced no problems at all with my stoma,” Jim says. “Having a secure stoma bag meant I could do everything that everyone else did – enjoying each stop the ship made, taking the guided coach tours, and walking around the local areas.” 

A few years ago, the couple explored and enjoyed the Christmas markets of Germany. “The whimsical lights, the delightful aromas of mulled wine and gingerbread, and the festive atmosphere took our breath away,” he recalls. “We walked through the markets without any difficulty, savouring every moment of the magical experience – and throughout all this activity my stoma was never an issue.” 

Finding the right ostomy pouch and keeping peristomal skin healthy 

Overall, Jim feels he has adapted well to his stoma. He credits this to his can-do attitude and willingness to learn about stoma care. In addition, he uses Dansac urostomy pouches, which provide him with comfort and security. “The bag is secure, comfortable, and has made a considerable difference to my life,” he says, “Nowadays I hardly think about it at all!” Jim also believes in the importance of maintaining good skin health. “It's crucial to have good skin around the stoma area for the bag to fit properly and stay secure,” he says.  

Encouraging others to follow his lead 

Jim believes that others can be successful too in managing their stoma care and taking control of their life. “To anyone new to having a stoma, my message is to stick with it,” he says. “As time goes on, everything gets a lot easier, and it eventually becomes second nature; as with most things, practice makes perfect.” Jim also wants to make sure people know that having a stoma won’t hold them back. He says, “regardless of age, a stoma doesn't have to limit your ability to work, enjoy hobbies, visit family, or travel.” 


Watch this video to learn more about Jim’s daily routine and his unique perspective on life with a stoma


Jim received compensation from Dansac A/S for his contributions to this article. 

People who provided testimonials received compensation from Hollister Incorporated. The testimonials, statements, and opinions presented are applicable to the people depicted. These testimonials are representative of their experience, but the exact results and experience will be unique and individual to each person.