Living With A Stoma And Accessing Toilets

Nathan Disney Mall

Hey everyone!

If you have read my story in previous blog posts, you will know that gaining a stoma didn’t take me long. I wasn’t ill with ulcerative colitis for long enough to have to worry about accessibility. Fast forward to now and I always like to make sure that I know where the toilets are in case I need to empty my bag while I am out and about. 

To have a toilet close by is almost like a comfort blanket. If you know where the toilets are, you can go about your day and not have to worry. 

It’s something that people without a condition or a stoma don’t understand.

I like to travel a lot; I am often going to new places and I do get this sense of anxiety beforehand because I like to know there are toilet facilities available. Before I go to these places, I take a quick look online to locate the toilets or when I get there the first thing I do is check around to see if there are public toilets, or even coffee shop that I can stop at! It just makes me feel a little safer when I’m there. 

When I head into London or travel around the UK, I always take my Radar Key. 

If you haven’t got one, I really recommend you get in touch with your Stoma Care Nurse or home delivery service as they will be able to provide one. They allow you to enter locked disabled toilets around the UK. I have only ever needed to use it a couple of times, but it’s just another safety blanket when you are out and about. Just as a side note, if you feel worried about using a disabled toilet because you don’t ‘look’ disabled – don’t be. You are more than entitled to use them! I used to feel so scared because people would give you that look of ‘you don’t need a disabled toilet!’, but I am finally at the point now where I educate these people. I lift my top to show my stoma bag and it soon stops them tutting and they feel terrible!   

Thankfully, in the UK we aren’t really short on toilets. There’s always a coffee shop, there’s always a place to eat somewhere, even if there aren’t any simple public toilets around. So, you’re never too far away from a toilet, thankfully. 

Another helpful tip is to carry around an URGENT card. 

You can also get this from your Stoma Care Nurse or home delivery service – SecuriCare can provide them when you join. It’s a little card to keep in your purse or wallet that states that you have a medical condition and that you need to use the toilet urgently. I like to think that most places would allow this and let you use the toilet free of charge. However, at the start of my stoma journey, I did go into a well-known chain restaurant here in the UK and had to pay to use the toilet if I wasn’t going to buy anything from them! Since that day, if needing to use a loo in a coffee shop or restaurant I have bought something to save embarrassment, but that doesn’t mean you have to! 

Another tip I would suggest is downloading a toilet finder app! Most of us nowadays have smart phones and we always have them on us. There are apps in the App Store on Apple and the Play Store on Android that have been created to find the closest public toilets to where you are located. It’s fantastic for the times you are in an unfamiliar place and you need the loo! 

I know it might seem like you are always chasing toilets, but honestly – it gets easier. Once you realise that everyone needs to use the toilet – it’s a normal thing, it takes the stress away a little and with these tips, it should help you navigate your next toilet stop! 

Until next blog! 

Nathan x 

“To have a toilet close by is almost like a comfort blanket. If you know where the toilets are, you can go about your day and not have to worry.” - @thatsnathan

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by Nathan Wheeler

Nathan Wheeler

About the author

Hello - I'm Nathan Wheeler! I'm a YouTuber and I've had an ileostomy since 2007 when I was just 17, so I have a pretty good idea about how to deal with the struggles of a stoma! I want to share my experiences with you and bring a light-hearted approach to all the questions that no one wants to ask! You can follow me an Instagram and YouTube.

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