Everyone knows Calgarians love to have fun on a big night out, eat tons of delectable charcuterie boards (I totally heart Alberta beef), and get a little feisty with a few Canadian Club drinks. But for 250,000 Canadians, C&C takes on a whole other meaning. I'm talking about Crohn's and colitis.
These chronic diseases don't get the amount of attention they need (many afflicted with the diseases may find it embarrassing to talk about with friends), and unfortunately, we have not yet found a cure.
People with Crohn's or colitis face serious challenges during truly painful and unpleasant flare-ups. Episodes may send the person rushing back and forth from a washroom over 20 times a day. It may get so bad that one may choose to stay at home for worry of being too far from a washroom, causing social isolation and depression.
To help avoid serious FOMO, here's where the good news comes in (finally)! Crohn's and Colitis Canada have developed the GoHere app, an interactive washroom finder. It just launched across the country and the charity is asking businesses to sign on and open their washrooms to people in need. Basically, they need support from brick and mortar store owners to make it a success. And who wouldn’t want to support such a cause?
Via GoHere App
So just imagine: the next time you have an afternoon booked with client visits downtown or you're meeting a friend for lunch and you really have to go, just open your GoHere app, and locate the nearest washroom!
You could even be riding the C-Train and quickly check the app for the best stop with direct access to a loo.
And for after work drinks at the beer hall on Stephen's Ave, (or wait, are we meeting at the National on 8th, 10th or the one on 17th??), or even heading for brunch with your bae in Inglewood, you can now calmly excuse yourself from your crew and discreetly slip off into the washroom to do your thing.
Going for a jog around Eau Claire and need to take a pause? No sweat, the app knows your location and can direct you north to Kensington or south to Eau Claire plaza for the nearest rest stop.
For many, flare-ups can be triggered by diet. And sometimes you might miss the chance to quiz the wait staff about just what exactly is in that delish-looking hors d'oeuvre. This is when the app becomes a total lifesaver.
According to Jennifer, an Event Planner from Calgary, who was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at 21during her second last year of university, living with Crohn's means she was in and out of doctor appointments and even underwent surgery, having to take a semester off and defer her last year of university to recover. "It impacted my life quite a bit - I wasn't able to graduate with all my friends".
So much attention is given to conditions that affect our diets, "which is awesome, but unfortunately, there is not a whole lot people with Crohn's or colitis can eliminate," says Jennifer.
"The diseases have many more complications. For example, it can impact your eyesight. I mean, who would have thought?"
What impacts Jennifer the most, however, are flare-ups and the intense amount of pain. "It can make the difference between whether or not I choose to go out and do social activities. I try not to let the disease control my life. But sometimes you just have to stay home ... flare-ups definitely impact my life because knowing where the washroom is, is a huge thing for me. If I'm not sure where one is, I'm going to second guess whether or not I should go out."
So what about the other dreaded scenario that every Canadian has experienced: desperate to find a washroom, you rush into a shop only to have the store manager tell you, "the washroom is for paying customers only".
Using a washroom is a basic human necessity. So why is it not treated as such?
Restauranteurs and local businesses can do their part too by registering their business as a spot with a public restroom by emailing email@example.com.
"It's a huge comfort knowing that some businesses would have the GoHere sticker on their window just to let you know that you could go in," says Jennifer.
So for all those restaurants with squeaky clean bathrooms, please register and maybe your business will become a preferred meeting place for local students and YPs to hang out in for long study sessions. Not a bad way to increase your millennial fan base.
GoHere also gives people living with Crohn's or colitis peace of mind. As Matthew Sebastiani, Vice President of the Crohn's and Colitis Canada Chapter in Vancouver puts it, "a lot of people [with Crohn's or colitis] are scared to leave their home" - and any app that helps with that is a HUGE win.