!Warning toilet habits discussed below, if you’re squeamish or eating your dinner, don’t continue reading!
Last month writer Sam wrote a blog on being a woman suffering with an invisible illness, by invisible I mean she doesn’t have a wheelchair, white stick and she isn’t missing any limbs. Sam has ulcerative colitis, a condition that causes inflammation and ulceration of the inner lining of the rectum and colon.
The condition is a nightmare where you are plagued with bouts of diarrhoea, excruciating pain in your bowels, weight loss, fatigue and anaemia just for starters. The condition then continues its war on a body, causing joint inflammation and pain, skin and mouth blisters, bone thinning which all could lead to sufferers having their bowels removed (or part of them) or at its very worse it could lead to cancer.
There are similar conditions; Irritable Bowel Syndrome and disease but all three have varying levels of pain, symptoms and outcomes. Sadly I know people with all three.
Sam’s blog piece was a letter, from Sam, telling a woman off for tutting at her, after she emerged from a disabled toilet, because the woman saw no wheelchair she assumed there wasn’t a disability.
I’ve witnessed friends sob after they’ve not made it to the toilet in time, friends who have blushed when their condition causes a lot of breaking wind or when they’ve asked for room spray after a loo trip. These conditions have left my friends, at times, house bound, having to take days of work only for their boss to suggest they “buy a box of Imodium and get over it”. Like any of us with chronic conditions we need empathy and understanding, not sympathy and mocking.
These day’s I try and accommodate my friends by leaving, wet wipes, air freshener and a product called Poopourri(<- click="" for="" information="" it="" nbsp="" of="" span="" this="" works="">in the bathroom and since my loo is situated off my kitchen/living room I always put music on to save embarrassment from any noises being heard. ->
Due to my own conditions I’ve come closer to understanding as to what Sam and my friends go through. I have to take a lot of medication and the side effects are almost as dire as the pain itself.
Up until recently I was taking up to 8 codeine tablets a day, these are great pain killers but caused my constipation to be so bad, that at it’s worse, I didn’t go to the toilet for 18 days . On day 17, I took a lot of laxatives desperate not to have to see my GP or A&E. Day 18 was horrendous, my guy Mike, had to hold me up on the loo for several hours as I passed out in pain, whilst I finally opened my bowels (brownie points for the boy though, he took it all in his stride, he didn’t mock me or suddenly go off me after it all!).
For the next day or so I had to run back and forth to the loo at short notice, my butt was so sore, my legs numb from sitting on the loo and completely washed out from it all – I had a new view of what people go through.
Invisible conditions like IBS, UC and disease are embarrassing for people, so I wanted to put my support out there. Don’t judge those who are governed by their toilet habits, don’t assume that an able bodied person coming out of a disabled loo isn’t in need or entitled to the privacy and invest in a few products to keep in your bathroom, many people are too embarrassed to ask but they’ll be incredibly thankful for your gestures!