Toilets, trees and other things!

I am becoming an expert on toilets ... Especially their ability to flush! Since having my Stoma I am still slightly self-conscious. I do worry that people might notice the bag under my clothes, especially if it's a bit full, and I worry that if the loo doesn't flush properly stuff will be left in the loo or around it.
I tend to give loos a rating now. The best ones get a one flush rating! Generally these are home loos, or good public loos were there is a full flush option AND you can hold the flush down. Most public toilets are a two flush rating! And then there's Novotel rating! We stay in Novotels quite often and for some reason their loos just do not flush well! I can often alter the rating of a loo by preparing the it before I empty .. The simple trick of lining the bowl with some paper before emptying can promote a loo to a one flush rating.
The best flush I have come across was on a really old (like over 100 yr old) loo at a little station (Weybourne i think) on the North Norfolk Poppy Line. These were original Thomas Crapper toilets,and when I saw them I was worried .... But they had an awesome flush!
I have generally found that toilets on the campsites we go to are ok! Most, especially the accessible toilets are one flush, which initially I was surprised about! I rarely worry about changing bags now when we are camping ... The accessible facilities provided by most campsites are excellent.

Mind you .. Last weekend has taught me that I can change my bag in any toilet! We spent the weekend in London for my cousin's wedding. The bags I currently use are brilliant ... They are very reliable and I almost never have any problems with leakage ... I think prior to last weekend I can recall one other time I had a problem with leakage. The reliability of the bag is a good thing ... I never really worry about them to the point I often go out without spares now. Needless to say I have taken spare down to London .... 4 bags for a 2 night stay .... Double what I would need! Under normal circumstances more than enough for the weekend. Before setting off for the wedding having got ourselves up we went to the Pizza Express down the road from our hotel for lunch. I sat through lunch and remember thinking the bag didn't feel normal. I just assumed it was because I was all dressed up and had layers of vests and Bridget Jones knickers on until at the end of the meal I went to the toilet. That uncomfortable feeling wasn't down to layers! I had leakage. Fortunately we had my travel bag of spares with us so I locked myself into the disabled loo at Pizza Express for an impromptu bag change. All sorted we rushed back to the room quickly before setting off for the wedding.
I don't think I have ever needed more than one impromptu change a day ..but if there is one thing I have learnt about Barry the Stoma is that if you don't want him to be a pain that's exactly the point that he will be. So there we are at the reception and there are issues with the toilets. They're these fancy portaloos but they don't flush so by about 6pm they are full! Being the slightly self-conscious person I am and not wanting people to gag over the toilets I was kind of avoiding emptying my bag .... silly me! Bag no 2 of the day, although not that full decided to leak too!
This time I had to do a bag change in an unlit portaloo!!!!

If there is a moral in this I am learning that I must not be so worried about remnants in the loo - after all I see the remnants of most other people's poo in public toilets!!!!

Although after last weekend my trust in my bags needs rebuilding I did put them to the test whilst we were on holiday. The French campsite we were on had a series of high ropes courses. We had great fun spending 2 days climbing in the trees and zip wiring! An awesome sense of acheivement and the bags stood up to it . ..although I did keep my support belt on under the harness.
Me on the high wires!!!

Zip wire across the lake!

My final reflection from what has been such a positive summer came from a sad and unnecessary experience on our French campsite. I use the accessible toilets. They have more space, are often cleaner and flush better. I will always let people who are in wheelchairs or who have more obvious needs go ahead of me but equally I don't judge others who may have less obvious needs. One night I came out of the accessible toilet to be told by a Dutch man standing outside with an empty wheelchair that I was in wrong toilet. I thought I had misheard him and said pardon .. only for him to repeat that I was using the wrong toilet. I was slightly taken back and shocked and so I said to him "No, I have a medical condition that means I need to use this toilet"  and walked off. 
I thought about this for a long time and was actually quite insulted by his rudeness .. that he was that narrow minded.... but it was a lesson ... and a reminder ... not all conditions and needs are visible. Don't judge what you don't know! You try changing a stoma bag in a portaloo!!!!!

Sense of achievement having conquered the "acrobranche"!


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