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.
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!
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.