Why not just wear pads?

My name is George and I am 24 years old. I am fully continent but have always had to wear nappies and pads whenever I go out of the house just because of a lack of toilets with hoists available. How would that make you feel? Think about it for a moment.

I have quadriplegic spastic athetoid cerebral palsy and I use an electric wheelchair full time. I need to be hoisted for all transfers. And, I also need the toilet, just like you!

I have lots of friends and a busy life. I love music, and getting out to socialise with my friends. Yes, disabled people have friends! I love a party and I like to have a few drinks.

George is in the centre of the photo, surrounded by smiling friends. There are so many friends crowded around that you can't see her wheelchair.
You can see me in the centre, surrounded by friends on all sides – so many people that you can’t even see my wheelchair! Just one of the girls, having fun!

When a Changing Places toilet is available, it is such an asset to me and my carers as I can simply use the toilet and feel normal in a very short period of time. (Some people will say “what’s normal anyway?”, but those people will be able to use toilets everywhere they go and would certainly not like having to wear pads themselves!)

Changing Places toilets mean that I can have a social life like other people in their 20’s without the fear of leaking pads or having to go home early to change. Without the emotional pain and hurt which comes with other people knowing that I am sat in my own waste.

One of the Changing Places toilets I use most is in Exeter city centre and was out of action for over a month recently whilst being refurbished. There wasn’t another facility near by that I could use. They didn’t hire in a portable version so that disabled people were not treated less favourably than others. As a very sociable person, this severely affected my life.

And the lack of facilities everywhere continues to affect my life. 

I don’t want to offend anyone with strong language, but, really, what 24 year old woman wants to pi*s herself in public? Or have to leave a club at 11pm because a pad has leaked? And just how do people think disabled women manage their periods out and about? Often, even when there is a facility I can use, there is no sanitary product dispenser in the room.

It all makes me feel really sh*tty. It makes my angry and it makes me unwell, both physically and emotionally.

I am now scheduled for surgery to create a urostomy as I do not wish to wear pads for the rest of my life.

Do take a look at this information from the Urostomy Association. And take note that in their list of reasons people might have this procedure there is no mention of completely continent people who just can’t access toilets out and about. Changing Places users really do seem to be oddly invisible!

Surgery carries risks. A general anaesthetic comes with risks. The recovery will not be fun There will be pain. But I can’t go on like this. Life is for living and I need to live fully.

As for those idiots who like to tell Changing Places users that we shouldn’t expect toilet facilities out and about and that we should just use pads, I would like to tell them to live my life for a day, or maybe a week. That should be enough!

And, to those Internet trolls who say it wouldn’t bother them, they can just fuck off!

A dark blue T-shirt with the words "Proudly Different" on it.

Any one of us might need Changing Places toilets in the future. Do take a look at “Who needs Changing Places?” to find out more about the facilities.

10 thoughts on “Why not just wear pads?

  1. I am shocked & so sorry that you are having to make this decision because of a lack of adequate toilet facilities. There’s still so much progress needed to overcome society’s mindset of ableism. And yes, the link doesn’t mention the reason you are having to make this choice. I hope everything works out well for you & that your freedom to enjoy life will be greatly enhanced. ❤


    1. What a beautifully written piece. I am horrified you and other people have to go through this. Thank you for making me and many others aware.


  2. A decision I also had to make with the lack of toilet facilities to accomadate us. I am a non weight bearing paraplegic. In 2009 I had a supra pubic catheter done which meant I could go out without fear of embarrasment. Today I can even go to the highlands of Tassie to fish for trout. Something I could not do beforehand. We still need changing place toilets everywhere so that people like us do not have to do surgeries to live a normal life (whatever thst may be).


  3. This is such a sad state of affairs. I must admit, I do always notice when there is a Changing Places facility at a venue, and it does raise the venue in my estimation. I only hope that more places come round to fitting appropriate toilet facilities for everyone. #KCACOLS


    1. Thank you. We need more and more people to be aware of the need. After all, any one us might need them tomorrow. None of us is immune to disability.


  4. It is disgusting that anyone would say such things. Everyone has the right to toilet facilities. I hope that we will move forward with this in England.and I am a big supported of getting changing places facilities everywhere. I am very sorry that you have to have this procedure just because there is not access to toilets but I do hope it helps with your quality of life.

    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time


  5. It was announced this week that a changing places toilet has been installed in our town (Ashford, Kent) I am so delighted that our council has seen this as a priority and is ensuring our town is accessible to everyone! #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a beautifully written piece. I am horrified you and many others have to go through this. Thank you for telling your story and making me and other people aware.



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