Whenever I’m out and about running errands, I’m aware of the possibility I’ll need to make a quick stop at, ahem, the public restroom. But though I have ALS and rely on a mobility scooter, it has never been a problem. That’s because I have a mental list of handicapped-accessible public restrooms located along our route.
My first choice is to use the public restrooms of big-box stores. They typically have at least one extra-wide stall with lots of turnaround room, grab bars, and additional rolls of toilet paper. I can count on a uniformity from store to store.
But occasionally there’s a hiccup.
A case of bad schematics
One of those hiccups happened last week when my husband and I were shopping across town at a home improvement store and nature called. It was my first time in this store, and as we followed the signs pointing us to our goal, I wondered what kind of new appliances I’d find.
Once there, my husband held the door open and I scootered in, making a beeline for the last stall. I swung open the wide door and went in.
That’s when I noticed something didn’t seem quite right.
There was a toilet in front of me, and the toilet paper was on the left wall. But instead of the usual grab bar on the right wall, there was nothing. The grab bar was mounted horizontally on the back wall, right above the toilet!
Talk about misreading the blueprints!
Knowing I’d come this far and had to make the situation work, I maneuvered my scooter parallel to the toilet, grabbed that darn bar, used my scooter handles for leverage and — let’s just say this was the first time I’ve ever sat sideways on a toilet!
Once finished, I managed to reverse all the acrobatics while congratulating myself for all of those days spent practicing chair squats.
On the drive home, I shared the story. “No wonder you took so long,” my husband chuckled.
There have been a few other times when I’ve scootered into what seemed like a normal handicapped-accessible stall and ended up doing my best Spider-Man moves just to get in and out. Each time I kept my humor and tried to meet the challenge.
A portable solution
A few years ago, following a disappointing stay in a motel room that had been advertised as being handicapped-accessible, we bought a portable grab bar. It’s a lightweight, yet strong plastic pipe with suction cups that adhere to any flat surface.
The portable grab bar worked great on our next trip, and we even use it at home in the guest bathroom.
BYOB (bring your own bar)
For anyone who relies on a grab bar or has experienced the frustration of having to use a badly placed one, I recommend bringing your own. They come in all sizes and are available online or from your local hardware store.
I have my eye on one with a single handle. Maybe I’ll carry it in a little bag attached to my scooter so it’s ready to use at any time.
I’ll bet many readers have their own humorous stories to share. I invite you to do so in the comments below.
Together we can laugh at life’s challenges. Together we can live well while living with ALS.
Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.
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