Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Key Didn't Work: a question

So much of my life as a disabled person revolves around bathroom issues. Is it accessible, can I get into the stall and close the door, how heavy is the door into the bathroom - will it break my footrests, can I use the toilet, where are the bars, and the like. Then there's the need I have to simply not being a jerk and not thinking my disability needs trump anyone else's need. It's a physical and emotional and cognitive challenge just to get around, just to use the toilet, the most basic of needs.

I'm staying in a wonderful hotel, with an amazing room and welcoming staff. The public washrooms though aren't so great. Many I can't get my chair in the stall and none are good for going number 2, for that I need to go to my room. I can make this work.

On our first day here, we checked in early and then used our time differently. Joe went to pick up beer, I went to the gym. The gym has some accessible equipment and I really wanted to get some real exercise in. I'd done about an hour work out and then had to go to the bathroom. The key card did not open the bathroom in the gym and I was afeared that it wouldn't work in the room either. I headed downstairs with a bit of urgency.

There were hundreds of people checking in and the line up were long. I knew from the morning the the concierge was able to check people in so I went to his desk. There were three people in front of me. I had to go to the bathroom, I couldn't use any of the public bathrooms and my key to my room wasn't working. I'm getting increasingly panicked.

The women in front of me all looked very nice. They all looked understanding. But they also looked tired from travel and that they'd been patiently waiting their turn. I had to fight down the urge to ask to just get my key card redone so I could go to my room and thus go to the bathroom which I really needed to do.

I don't like, and I know you won't believe this, talking about my bathroom needs with real, in the flesh, strangers. I don't like the idea of them thinking that I'm thinking that my need is bigger and more important than theirs. I don't like the possibility that they may think I'm using my disability to get to the head of the line. I don't like any of those things, but mostly I don't want to be thought a needy jerk, a man who puts himself before others.

So, I waited my turn. With moist eyes I told the concierge what it was I needed and it was fixed quickly and I was up in my room in moments. Thank heavens.

I've faced the bathroom issue pretty much every day since becoming disabled. It's the balancing act I'm wondering about. Do any of you have issues when needing something disability related, that non disabled people don't worry about - like bathroom access, and worrying about how to deal with the balance between your needs and the needs of others?


Frank_V said...

Basically, building codes, even for private homes, should oblige more accessibility so that grandma and grandpa can have a nice visit. ESPECIALLY accessible bathrooms!

Anything less, is to live in denial that those who don't die at an early age, WILL GET OLD AND EXPERIENCE LIMITATIONS. Imagine how less stress disability would cause, if we all pushed for building codes that addressed mobility, vision, and hearing limitations?

We are humans dagnabbit, it's time engineers and contractors started using those brain cells!

Unknown said...

Disability aside when you have to go you have to go and anybody's need to go is the most important. I think most people would understand this. Dont overthink it Dave it only adds to your urgency. PS I have an overactive bladder the size of a pea. Whether its age, childbirth or children, I lost my embarrassment of bodily functions a long time ago. Everyone has to do it and it doesnt smell like roses.

L said...

When deciding whether to ask to jump the queue, I consider how urgent my need is and what the consequences are if I don't.

So, if I thought I would have a bladder accident and therefore a wet wheelchair cushion for the rest of the day (which can cause me skin integrity issues), I would have asked to jump the queue. And I wouldn't feel guilty about skipping the queue, because sitting on a wet wheelchair cushion can lead to ***months*** of painful skin issues.

If I thought I wasn't in any danger of having an accident, I would wait my turn.

Shannon said...

Well I definitely have disability related bathroom problems. Not being able to use the toilet at all (without being carried into the bathroom) is most often a problem in other people's houses. I don't visit other people's houses that often as I usually have to be carried into the house or have a bunch of people lift the wheelchair, which requires the presence of at least 1 strong person, and when I do I rarely stay the night. I think this is the worst disability related bathroom issue that I have. I don't think I've ever felt I had to ask to go ahead in line for the toilet. I can't really tell when I need to use the toilet so I have to make sure I use it periodically. I know that many people who are not disabled or don't look disabled have conditions where they need to use a toilet urgently, probably more urgently than I do, and might not be able to control it. Also I wear some kind of protection if I am out as the consequences of an accident would be highly embarrassing. Fortunately it's rare with #2 but the possibility that it could happen is not zero and that's always in the back of my mind. I also have to worry about the amount of liquids that I drink if I am out. Yesterday I was reading one of the many accessible bathroom stall threads that can be found online and a couple of disabled people said they knocked on bathroom doors and were trying to hurry up the person inside and when the person came out without visible disability they were angry at that person.. I just wait on the line and if the person ahead of me offers me the accessible stall when it opens up, I usually say thanks and accept.

Utter Randomness said...


wheeliecrone said...

Oh, the bathroom stories!

As a sweet little old lady (snort!) who uses a wheelchair, I have had to become accustomed to involving strangers in my toiletting:

in buildings where the only accessible toilet is in the basement and I need to get the security guard (usually male) to open the door for me.

in buildings where the accessible toilet has an inward-opening, heavy, fire-rated door, which effectively traps me inside. I have had to shout "Help!" through a sliver of open door, until someone comes to set me free. Terrifying.

in buildings where the door to the accessible toilet opens outwards, which means I cannot close it after me. I have to ask some passing stranger to close the door behind me.

And there are so many more.

Trust me, I have more accessible toilet stories than you would ever want to hear.

Unknown said...

Years ago I was in one of those team building office sessions that the company I worked for sponsored. We were grouped together about four to a table, different company levels, not people I might have seen everyday or worked very closely with, and were told to decide who would get the candy in the centre of the table. I made a simple cock and bull case implying that I needed it because, well, of how I was, you know. I said nothing outright or dramatic but implied it was because of my 'disability'. It actually surprised me that they didn't question me at all, just passed it over. It was a powerful lesson to me that appearances can be used so easily and I am very careful not to take advantage of so called 'normal' people. Like you say, Dave, I also don't want to be known as a 'needy' person. I admitted that I had used the disability advantage to win. I wonder if taught them something as well.

Unknown said...

Not personally Frank V so eloquently states.
I have worked with elders who had falls getting on/off toilet at family member's home - did not want an adult child to assist them, but a tiny bathroom requires all sorts of maneuvers of a walker or cane...or it gets left outside the door. A person who manages easily and safely at home or in a public restroom may not be as confident in a 'strange' bathroom.
And have known more than one person who decided not to drink fluids on outing days, to prevent the entire problem...and to omit their diuretic that day, too.....
for some folks, this decision leads to significant dehydration or imbalanced blood chemistry..triggering dizziness, fainting and falling, developing a UTI, change in mental status, etc....

And someone with bowel control issues such as colitis/Crohns/ irritable bowel syndrome, or a new or not functioning well ostomy has a whole set of worries and concerns...and incontinence products not tailored to help at all.. You don't know this is an issue..until they don't get to the toilet on the person who does cut the queue may have good reason.....

Dave, you have already written eloquently on the problems with 'handicap accessible" bathroom facilities...and the misuse of these facilities by persons who do not appear to need them...or who linger to use the phone, change an outfit, have a bit of a wash up, etc...

L said...

One thing that really angers me is when Disabled toilets are locked up, but the abled toilets right next door are not.

So, you have to find someone with a key (which takes time), and sometimes ask three different people because no-one knows who has the key, whereas the abled person can just waltz into their toilet.

Considering that Disabled people are much more likely to have bladder urgency issues (and that bladder accidents can cause skin integrity issues which can lead to life-threatening pressure sores), this seems very nonsensical and unfair.

Often when you complain, you are told "it is to keep the toilets clean" or "it is to stop abled people using the Disabled toilets".

Shannon said...

Advice to businesses: Please don't use the accessible restroom as a storage room! Don't block your accessible entrance with objects, such as the large potted plant which was in my way when I went to an office building some months back and they had to nerve to tell me I should have called ahead. Accessible stalls often contain a sink and the diaper changing table, and are the only stalls where you can fit your baby in a stroller. I know someone with irritable bowel syndrome..when she's got to go, she's got to go or an accident may happen. I read a while ago about some bill that was being proposed in one of our states to allow people who have urgent needs to use the employee toilets at businesses. Yes, that was DisBoards where I was reading an accessible stall thread a few days ago. My biggest worry about toilets (besides their being accessible at all) is the layout... how low will the toilet be, and what will be the arrangement of the grab bars.. because I don't want to miss and end up on the floor.

Rickismom said...

I think in case of possible accident, that takes precedence, otherwise, no.

My husband has become completely disabled other that last few months, and quite frankly, (since he has been a a jerk for the last several years) he has become a super jerk over the last month. Suddenly he feels that he has the "right" to jump to the head of every single line because "I'm disabled and they have rights". I have tried explaining that other people have rights as well, and that like it or not, he will need to respect that. Unfortunately we have people who do use disability to gain uneeded benefits. And we don't need to promorte that.

But needed benefits are a different matter-- and there have been times where I have supported moving to the front when necessary.