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14 April 2016

Man with epilepsy denied access to disabled toilet in Burger King because he is 'lazy'

A man with epilepsy who was refused access to the disabled toilet in Burger King has said he is 'disgusted' with the chain.

Jay Bryan, 27, felt the aura of a seizure coming on while shopping on Saturday and asked to use the disabled toilet of Burger King in Gloucester.   He was told by a member of staff that it was for disabled people.

Epilepsy 'isn't a proper disability'

"I said to her 'I've got epilepsy'", said Jay.  "She told me epilepsy isn't a proper disability and to stop being lazy and to use my legs to go to the toilets for normal people."

"I've never been so shocked.  Usually I'm quite mouthy but this shocked me.  I found it really embarrassing having to explain myself in front of a queue of people."

"I went a bit red and called my mum who came out of work and took me home."

'We're not all lazy'

Jay is determined to raise awareness through his experience, that epilepsy is a disability.

"We're not at all lazy.  Just because you can't see that someone has epilepsy unless they have a seizure, it doesn't mean it's not there, you just can't tell."

The experience, which was first reported in the Gloucester Citizen, has elicited many angry comments and messages of support on social media.

Seizures developed after mugging attack

Jay has had seizures since he was 17, after being mugged and very badly attacked.

He began experiencing blackouts and night seizures, and was diagnosed with epilepsy but MRI scans have been unable to identify what kind it is. 

Jay keeps busy as a charity volunteer

As a result of his epilepsy, Jay, who previously worked as a barman, is signed off from work until a clearer diagnosis can be made.  However, Jay keeps busy volunteering as a fundraiser for St John Ambulance.

Epilepsy Society's Stella Pearson comments

Epilepsy Society’s information manager, Stella Pearson, said: ‘ Unless someone has a convulsive seizure in public, epilepsy is very much a hidden condition and its impact can be under-estimated by those who have little knowledge or experience of it.

‘We often hear of people being challenged about their disability because it is not instantly obvious. But the reality for people with epilepsy is that one minute they can be walking around as normal, shopping or going to work, going to the cinema or maybe out for a drink with friends, and the next moment they will have a seizure. This could be a convulsive or tonic clonic seizure which is very visual or it may be one of the many other types of seizures where only a part of the brain is affected and the person may or may not lose consciousness.

Not everyone gets a warning aura

‘Some people experience a warning or aura before a seizure and are able to find a safe place to retreat to, but this is not the case for everyone.

‘At Epilepsy Society we are always trying to raise awareness and understanding of epilepsy so that others, either in the workplace, schools or the public domain, will feel more confident in knowing how to support someone who is about to have a seizure or has had a seizure.

‘There are instances when a person comes out of a seizure and they are still feeling dizzy and disorientated and are mistaken for being drunk and this is very distressing for that person. The more we can educate the public, the more we can increase understanding.

‘We have many resources on our website that can help people understand more about epilepsy including a series or videos which illustrate the different types of seizures from the perspective of the person with epilepsy.'

We asked Burger King to comment but at time of publication we had not received a response.

 

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