Sam Cleasby’s heartfelt question, “Invisible disabilities at gigs – Why can’t I use the disabled loos in peace?” is one many people might echo. Coupled with trying to use ramps, or the only set of automatically opening doors, battling against people using two fully working legs, this question has been on my lips too.
I’m Sorry You Can’t Use a Disabled Loo in Peace
Sam, I owe you (and anyone else with an invisible disability) an apology.
I am that person who gives a cold, hard stare to someone exiting a disabled loo, looking like they have all their limbs in working order. I might even utter a naughty word if I see them jog off at speed to escape my glare.
I am guilty of forgetting not everyone wears their disability on their sleeve – or arms, or legs, or any other public body part.
I once tackled someone in a car park for using a disabled bay. Imagine my face when I learned they were awaiting a heart/lung transplant. Ouch.
I am sorry, and can only promise to try to be less judgemental in the future.
However, I also want to say . . .
Welcome to My World
I sometimes can’t use a disabled loo in peace either, why should you be any different?
I am in my 52nd year of disability; I have Arthrogryposis and in my early years disabled loos were not that common and I crossed my legs a lot – figuratively speaking. Throughout those years I’ve looked very much the same; for some of the years I walked with calipers so I was taller by a few inches. I don’t have the choice of waiting until I get home any more, which is how I coped back when I was young. Now, I’m a mature woman who can’t hold her tea and, as if I needed another reason to use a disabled loo, has an ileostomy following surgery for Crohn’s Disease last year.
- Obvious disability? Tick.
- Wheelchair? Tick.
- Eligible to use a disabled loo, then? Tick.
I have experienced the cold, hard stare myself, frequently. I’ve come out of disabled loos, apologising! I’ve felt guilty for using them, yet I obviously have the need. Perhaps because I’m often in there these days with my husband, and we can be a while, do I think people are wondering what I’m up to?
What’s she doing in there?
Well , I can tell you; it’s a logistical nightmare! Removing footrests so I don’t knock everything flying, rigging up the block and tackle to hoist me onto the toilet because they’re a mile high these days – do the powers that be think we’re all giants? – rooting out supplies from the emergency bag, discussing last night’s TV.
I can’t reach the soap, the hand dryer or paper towels, the flush handle is often over my head, literally. Oh, and the main reason he’s in there with me? He locks the door (or keeps guard outside) because more than likely I can’t reach that door handle either and I really don’t want you walking in on me, thank you very much.
And I’ve experienced the same look you have, Sam. Sometimes, it really doesn’t matter if something is visible or not. People stare, people don’t understand.
Sometimes I’m one of those people. Sometimes I’m on the other side.
Sometimes, like you, I just want to use the (disabled) loo in peace.
I’m all for discussion and you can find me here: