Sam Cleasby was at a Stone Roses concert in Manchester when a potential disaster struck—she had to use the bathroom. Cleasby has an ostomby bag, a "medical device worn to collect waste from the body" that attaches to her intestine. So her situation became even more fraught with anxiety (on top of the fact that she'd have to leave her comfortable spot at the show to make an odyssey to the restroom) when a security guard wouldn't let her use an accessible bathroom.
I had the BEST time seeing The Stone Roses at the Etihad stadium in Manchester last night!!! Absolutely amazing gig and I cried like a baby, super emotional to see a band who were so important to me when I was getting into music and even better to share it with my 15 year old son.
But yet again, disability ignorance struck when I needed to use the toilet with my ostomy bag.
My bad as I forgot my radar key, so I asked a security woman if I could use the accessible toilets, I would have happily explained my needs but she immediately barked at me that "they're for people in wheelchairs!"
"No. They're not, they're for people who have extra needs"
"They're for wheelchairs, you're not using them!"
"You're wrong, they are for people who have extra needs" I said "I've got an ostomy bag..."
"I don't care what youve got, you're not using them and if you're not happy go speak to that security man over there" she said, obviously thinking I was a blagger.
I went and spoke to another guard, asking for access to the toilets, he asked what my needs were and I said "I have an ostomy bag..."
"Say no more!" He said. Come on over, and let's get you sorted. I said I was sorry to cause a fuss and he was lovely, said there were loads of people who needed them.
I went in and dealt with my bag that had started to leak underneath, threatening to completely ruin the gig for me and my family. I cleaned myself up and went back to the best gig of the year!
As I left he told me if I needed to use it again to speak to the security I'd first approached. The cheeky cow said "oh she asked me first and I said I couldn't as I didn't have a key!" The lying toad!!!
Anyway crisis averted by a lovely guard who knew his job and was willing to listen and help. Surely all staff should be trained in disability and accessibility?!
Going out and about with an ostomy bag can be really scary, the fear of leaks or accidents is enough to make you want to stay home. So facing people who are unwilling to help and ignorant makes life so much harder.
Just be aware that everyone is fighting their own battles, that disability doesn't just mean being in a wheelchair and denying someone use of a toilet may give you a power trip but is soul destroying for those who are just trying to live a normal life despite any illness and disability we may have.
Be kind yo
To empty an ostomy bag in public is a process often aided by the use of an accessible toilet, and in the UK, people with ostomy bags often have a "radar key" that allows them in. Unfortunately, Cleasby forgot her key, and one security guard at the concert had zero sympathy for what many people refer to as an "invisible disability."
Since the security guard claimed that only people in wheelchairs could use those bathrooms—something patently false—she was forced to search out a more sympathetic authority. Luckily, she was able to find one in the form of a much more understanding guard. His basic decency classifies him a hero, which is sort of sad.
Cleasby's obviously proud to advocate for all people with invisible disabilities, and hopefully through her story, incidents like this will become less frequent. You shouldn't have to completely expose yourself to gain access to a bathroom. In other words, just be kind yo.