At a recent “capability” assessment, I was asked “Do you eat or drink if you leave the house”? At first, I thought this was a strange question, but just as I was about to answer with an ‘of course!’, I paused... Wait, do I?
My breakfast and coffee on this particular morning, was skipped without a thought and I asked myself why. Well, when going to assessments it’s pretty common to be waiting for hours and the toilet, yes TOILET singular, is through a secure door that you have to be buzzed through, so I’d rather avoid feeling like a school child and asking if I could please use the toilet. That coupled with the pressure to be quick when using the loo to sort out a leak or empty my bag, is all just a bit much.
I realised, that weirdly, it’s common for me to subconsciously adjust when I eat to make sure I keep in check with other people’s schedules and facilities.
After a morning spent having my assessment, I started thinking about all the other times that I choose not to eat to accommodate for others...
One obvious scenario for me was long train journeys. Ostomate or not, we’ve all dreaded going to use the bathroom on a train. Public transport loos aren’t usually known for their cleanliness and so I would normally try to avoid the waste filled chaos behind the door! This next reason is a common one... the dreaded sshhoom sshhoom of the automatic door... operated by the dodgy button that you can’t entirely trust not to open while your mid-toilet procedure with your jeans around your ankles and for many ostomates, your top tucked into your bra too!
On the subject of travel, car journeys! Everyone is familiar to the mid-journey service station stop, but for someone with an ostomy, this stop usually isn’t just once during long journeys. I’ve realised that I even avoid having many coffees or caffeinated cold drinks because they come out via my bag instead of my bladder.
There are many things I could tell you about trying to sort a bag leak in a service station or in a train loo, but maybe I’ll leave that for another time.
The other time I mainly don’t eat is when I’m going on a night out, I’ll usually eat up until lunchtime and then maybe just a couple of snacks in the afternoon, this is purely for leaks. One of the last things I fancy doing on a night out is running off to the loo to sort out a leak and spend a while in there, missing out on a giggle.
On a side note, I saw in the media recently, that a young woman on a night out, was trying to sort out a leak in the toilet cubicle. The bouncers decided to make the whole thing more troublesome for her, by hammering on the door and accusing her of engaging in some illegal activity, all because she has been in there longer than 10 minutes... I’m sure nearly all of us have had the joy of someone hammering on the toilet door telling us we’ve been in there too long. I’d love to know that the legal time limit is!
So, I guess the short answer is yes, I do eat if I’m going out. But subconsciously I’ve drawn up a list of places that don’t cater for someone like me when it comes to their facilities, unfortunately a list that has been created from both experience and fear.
Hopefully more places will be a little kinder to those who have extra needs when it comes to using facilities and we’ll never have to dread the public loos again!
All the best,
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by Michelle Williams
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