Healthier Stay

Pot Blocked and Persecuted

What’s the punishment for pulling a “dine and dash” on Donna and Eric or for framing Van Wilder? A mega dose of laxatives and explosive diarrhea, of course, strategically timed to cause the most humiliation, hilarity and hi-jinks. I’ll admit I think it’s funny, because it makes me slightly uncomfortable like all good humor should, oh yeah and it’s fake. An every day real life situation like that would be freaking awful.

I have two types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis (UC), which can cause all kinds of random and often unexpected digestive meltdowns. Just living with IBD can be highly embarrassing and humiliating.  IBDs are also invisible illnesses, meaning they affect us, and can disable us, but there are not a lot of outward symptoms, so people don’t always believe that we are sick.  I have a disability but I don’t need a wheelchair, a walker or a cane. What I do need is an available restroom.

Sunday afternoon I was Pot Blocked at my friendly neighborhood PetCo store because I didn’t look sick enough. There was no public bathroom so I asked an employee if there was one on premises, she was going to admit me to the private loo but had to finish helping her customer first and asked her superior to help me. The manager promptly stated that the bathroom was for employees, the “handi-capable” [her words} and pregnant women only. When I told her that I had Crohn’s she said she was sorry and walked away. I could have pressed the issue, but honestly I had to go too bad. I was mortified, angry and close to tears. The whole exchange left me feeling dehumanized, I can’t use their actual bathroom but my dog can poop on their floor with no problems. I would rather die than have an accident in the aisle. I could have told her that it is against the law and that she was practicing discrimination but I had to leave. It was 19 excruciating minutes before I could get to a public facility with available, um, facilities.

I am just one of millions of people who have to do battle with their bodies every day and as embarrassing as our bodies and diseases are, we are amazingly resilient. The term “Chronically Awesome” is used a lot on What the Jules’ site; it is a choice that each of us has made to keep our lives balanced and not to give power to our diseases. This week I have been continually amazed to learn just how many Chronically Awesome people would stand up for me. I told Jules what had happened and that I was absolutely livid. She encouraged me to share with you. She and I posted a few tweets each and the community ran with it; sharing my story, sending me legal advice and appealing for advocacy. I am so proud to be affiliated with such a caring and supporting group. Thank you for having my back!

This is how I will continue to take my stand:

Ally’s Law for restroom access makes it illegal to deny us entry in retail establishments. I will help in any way she needs to make sure all 50 states adopt it. We have it inOhiobut obviously we need to improve awareness and empathy in my dearBuckeyeState. Locally I will go through the proper channels to report this event and find out what else I need to do and update you with my progress. I don’t want anyone else to experience what I went through, it was quite painful and frustrating but it could have been a lot worse and no one deserves to be treated like this. We deserve our dignity and self-respect. Stop the Pot Block!

If you have a story like mine and you feel like talking about it please contact me personally or leave a comment below. I would appreciate the chance to talk to you.

*At press time I have emailed PetCo following the channels that they have provided and haven’t heard back.

3/1/12 I have received a tweet from PetCo requesting my contact information. I have sent it but have not received a response.

I will continue to keep you posted.

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