A woman has hit out at a nightclub bouncer who only granted her access to a disabled toilet when she showed him her stoma bag.
Lauren Parkes, 25, from Wolverhampton, West Midlands, was enjoying a night out with friends when the incident occurred earlier this month.
The social media executive has suffered with Crohn’s disease – which causes the digestive system to become inflamed – since the age of 19 and has had a stoma bag fitted since 2016.
After arriving at the Wolverhampton nightclub, Lauren says she initially had no issue accessing the disabled toilets at the facility.
She explained: ‘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.’
However, when she returned with a friend later, Lauren was told by a bouncer she couldn’t use the larger toilets.
She continued: ‘He was turning people away from the disabled toilet.
‘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.’
Lauren claims the bouncer then demanded to know why she was entitled to use the toilet.
Aware that he probably wouldn’t believe her, Lauren then showed him her stoma bag to put an end to the discussion.
She continued: ‘That’s when I got my stoma bag out and said, “this is what is wrong with me”.
‘He was a bit taken aback as I don’t think he expected me to do that.’
After this, the man allowed Lauren to go into the toilet – but tried to stop her friend following her.
She said: ‘My friend has colitis and I said she is allowed in as she has colitis. Another bowel condition.
‘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 then went on to describe how ‘disappointed’ she was in the way the nightclub handled the situation.
She added: ‘I felt like they were gatekeeping the toilets saying I didn’t look disabled enough.
What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is an agonising digestive condition that blights the lives of 115,000 people in Britain and as many as 1.6 million in the US.
Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhoea and potentially dangerous weight loss. Magician Dynamo is a famous sufferer.
Eight out of ten patients will need a part of the intestine removed as it becomes so damaged it prevents digestion.
Its cause is still not known and there is currently no cure but some with the condition have considered their diet to be a factor.
However, bacteria is already known to play a major role in causing Crohn’s disease, in addition to genetics and diet.
Conventional treatment is with drugs that suppress the immune system’s production of a protein called TNF, which causes inflammation.
‘I’ve never had this issue before with people saying these things using a toilet.
‘When I showed him my bag it was quite empowering. 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.
‘It was quite scary when I was first diagnosed with ]Chron’s disease] , but I have learnt to love my body.’