I had to show my stoma bag on a night out

I was challenged by a bouncer about using the disabled toilet on a night out – so I confronted him by showing him my stoma bag

  • Lauren Parkes, 25, needs to use stoma after developing Crohn’s Disease  
  • Must read: Nurse with heart condition is attacked for parking in disabled spot

A woman who was refused entry to use the disabled toilet on a night out has revealed how she was forced to show her stoma bag to use the toilet.

Lauren Parkes, 25, from Wolverhampton, west Midlands, has suffered with Crohn’s disease since the age of 19, and had a stoma bag fitted in 2016.

She was on a night out with friends when a bouncer refused her entry to the disabled toilets. 

Lauren said: ‘I had used disabled toilet already a few times that night and it was nice and easy as there wasn’t anyone on the door.

‘But when I went later with a friend there was then a security man on the door.’ 

Lauren Parkes, 25, from Wolverhampton, West Midlands, showing off her stoma bag. She has worn it since 2016 after she developed inflammation of the bowel

Lauren said there were five people waiting to use the toilet and he was turning people away.

She added: ‘He started asking me why do I need to use it so I told him I was disabled and that I needed to use it. He then asked me what my issue was and what’s the matter.

‘That’s when I got my stoma bag out and said, “this is what is wrong with me” and he was a bit taken aback as I don’t think he expected me to do that.

‘He then wasn’t going to let my friend in, but my friend has colitis – another bowel condition – and I said she is allowed in.’

She added: ‘I have never had an issue before, or have I ever been asked what is wrong with me.

‘Showing the bouncer my stoma bag to use the toilet is something I never thought I would have to do.’

Lauren has had to adjust her life after getting Crohn’s, a disease which causes inflammation of the bowel. 

She said that it was ‘quite scary’ when first diagnosed but she has since ‘learned to love her body’.

And she is upset that the bouncer made an issue out of going to the disabled toilet.

She said: ‘I know I look normal from outsiders view, but I still shouldn’t be questioned about it as not all disabilities are visible. 

‘When you go into supermarkets now there are signs saying all disabilities aren’t visible which is good.

‘It’s just really disappointing how security handled it, I felt like they were gatekeeping the toilets saying I didn’t look disabled enough.’ 

Lauren said that it was ‘quite scary’ when first diagnosed but she has since ‘learned to love her body’

Lauren was forced to show a bouncer her stoma bag in order to use the disabled toilets on a night out 

The 26-year-old lives with a stoma bag and was denied the use of a disabled bathroom as she didn’t look disabled

She said that when she showed the bag to him, it actually felt quite empowering.

She said: ‘Someone had to confront him and this was my way of confronting his wrongdoings. 

‘Luckily I am quite confident so I am happy to get it out, but someone else who may have an invisible disability probably wouldn’t confront them.’

She adds that the incident is classed as discrimination under the equality act of 2010.

She added: ‘I was prevented from accessing a disabled toilet because I didn’t look disabled enough and had to prove my disability after being questioned.’

What is Crohn’s Disease and what is a stoma?

Crohn’s Disease is a lifelong condition where parts of the digestive system become inflamed.

The main symptoms are diarrhoea,  stomach aches and cramps, fatigue and blood in your poo. 

People with it can sometimes need a stoma if the gut is too badly damaged or if part of it needs to be removed.

A stoma is an opening on the abdomen that can be connected to either the digestive or urinary systems.

It allows waste  (urine or faeces) to be diverted out of your body. 

The waste is collected in a pouch – called a stoma bag. 

It needs to be changed regularly.  

According to research carried out by the NHS, there are 176,824 people in the UK living with a stoma.

The most most common conditions resulting in stoma surgery are colorectal cancer, bladder cancer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and accidental injury.

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