The issue of needing to use the restroom urgently is unfortunately not foreign to most people who suffer from Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. There are many symptoms associated with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) but the most embarrassing and the one that made me feel like a prisoner in my own home was the fact that during a flare up, I had maybe ten seconds to make it to a toilet. Being unable to have control over a basic bodily function is beyond humiliating, frustrating and anxiety provoking to say the least.
When I came across an article about a woman in the UK who was refused access to a bathroom, it sparked a lot of emotion in me. You can find the article below:
I wish I could use the phrase “I can only imagine what this woman must have been feeling” during this situation but in all honesty, I can. I know what it is like to feel that terrible urgency of needing to find a bathroom immediately. I know the panic that arises, the pain, the anxiety, and the terror that comes when you need to all of a sudden use the restroom when you are out in public. It is a reminder that you don’t have full control of your body.
When I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 13, I had no idea what I was in store for. I had no idea what it was like for my body to betray me the way it had. I had to micromanage every single thing I put in my mouth. I had to constantly worry about where the nearest bathroom was. I was always embarrassed that my friends would wonder why I spent so much time in there. I had to think about things that I never knew existed. I was on harsh medications, was in and out of the hospital, and it was a struggle to get through every day.
But through all of the struggles that I had to endure, the thing that made it worse for me was the fact that no one understood what I was going through besides the people in my immediate family. When my parents told their friends what was going on with me, they were obviously sympathetic but most had no idea what was really wrong. My teachers couldn’t understand my needs. I would be met with asinine comments simply because the public thought Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis was on par with the stomach flu or food poisoning. The lack of education and awareness made my life a living hell and consequently, I felt the need to isolate myself whenever I wasn’t feeling well (which was fairly often.) It wrecked havoc on not only my physical health, but emotionally and socially as well.
The public needs to be educated about the devastating effects that come alongside with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. If people understood more, patients wouldn’t have to suffer in silence as much, be as afraid to leave the house, and there would just be a more general understanding of what people with these diseases go through.
I completely understand some businesses not wanting customers to use their employees’ only bathrooms. There are rules that must be followed in order to protect the privacy of the company and protect the safety of everyone who works there. I get it and I am all for that. If I was a small business owner, I probably wouldn’t want random customers walking into my store and using the facilities throughout the day either if I could avoid it.
But this situation was different.
The people who worked at Kiln House Job centre in Pottergate knew about Nicola Martin’s condition beforehand. They knew she had a chronic disease of which she may require to use the facilities somewhat urgently (or at all). The staff was aware of her situation because she filled out paperwork indicting this.
Mrs. Martin also held a “Can’t Wait” card from the Crohns and Colitis Foundation of UK which respectfully says that the person holding the card has a legitimate medical situation that is not infectious or contagious but that they may requires the use of the restrooms.
As I previously stated, I am not naïve to the fact that there are laws and regulations that need to be taken into account. But there is such thing as common sense and human decency. This all stems from the fact that if more people were aware of what Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis were (auto immune disease where the body essentially attacks itself), it would save people like Nicola Martin from the humiliation, stress, and terribleness that she had to endure.
Never Stay Quiet!