This week has been national invisible disabilities week and if you have an ostomy you automatically fall into that category as unless you lift your top up it isn’t visible and although you may not view it as a disability it is in fact one as the way you go to the toilet has been changed which can put you at a disadvantage.
I believe that although it can be a pain in my redundant bum; I don’t feel that I am disabled as I have more of a life now than I did back then. However that is in no way to say that having a disability means that you can’t live “your best life” as the cool kids are saying these days. The stigma of being disabled in any way, shape or form needs to just bugger off if I’m honest as times move forward our society has finally cottoned on that those with disabilities visible or not can go to work, can have families and social lives and do everything that an “able bodied” person can do they just may have a different way of going about it!
I was asked at work whether I put down if I was disabled or not due to my ostomy; now the lady in question wasn’t being derogatory just inquisitive – as she felt that it might have been, although I guess it might be for some people. It is actually an interesting question really because although sometimes it can leak or cause a blockage I feel more disabled with my mental health and hypermobility issues than my ileostomy. So I checked no I am not disabled but used the space underneath to highlight I do have an ileostomy and that sometimes it can cause me to dash off or have “more” toilet breaks than the average person or in extreme cases be hospitalised due to a blockage.
We are seeing more and more accessible access toilets no longer just having wheelchair symbols on them; which is great for those of us that don’t have a visible impairment. The radar system is a good way to ensure that the toilets are kept relatively free from vandalism but then this limits access to larger toilets that the general public might need; such as mums or dads let’s not be sexists here, with pushchairs also use these toilets. Let’s face it if you have ever gone out with a pushchair trying to use normal cubicles whilst ensuring your child is safe is not a fun thing to do!
Invisible disabilities cover a large spectrum like an umbrella term (which I dislike at the best of times) and it is defined as “Invisible disabilities, or hidden disability, are defined as disabilities that are not immediately apparent. Some people with visual or auditory disabilities who do not wear glasses or hearing aids, or discreet hearing aids, may not be obviously disabled.” Many mental health issues fall under this category as well as you aren’t able to see that they have issues that prevent them from doing everyday things. Most diseases or illnesses such as diabetes, cystic fybrosis and even chronic fatigue syndrome again fall under this diverse “umbrella” – I seriously shudder when I type that!
Hopefully if you weren’t aware of just how varied a hidden disability was you do now because I may live with more than one every day I wasn’t aware of how many there were!