All Toilets are not Created Equal

I find it interesting that the minute I ask a business about accessibility the first two thing I will hear are  ramps and bathrooms.  And though I do appreciate an accessible washroom it’s because when you wheel around all day hands tend to get a little dirty.  It’s always nice to know I can wash up.

As far as the toilet, well these businesses should ask wheelchair users about the necessity of toilets.  They are NOT the end all be all for most people in wheelchairs except to empty a leg-bag or a bladder for those who are catheter free.   Unless it’s a real emergency (and it is usually to late by then) the chances of using a public washroom for a bowel movement is highly unlikely.  I will tell you more about that towards the end.

Wheelchair friendly toilet
A toilet with enough space for my wheelchair foot plates to get under.

With that said, all toilets are not created equal.  I was whipping around Woodgrove Mall the other day and had to use the public washroom to take a pee.  This was the toilet and I must compliment Woodgrove on it.  I believe it is a Kohler K-4460 and it is perfect.  You don’t see them very often because they are a little bit more expensive but well worth the few extra bucks.  I do not know if it was a conscious plan but my point of view they are about the best you can use.

I can actually pull up close enough because there is room for my foot rests to get UNDER the toilet bowl.  I don’t have to pretend I am the Trevi Fountain and hope my aim is good enough to piss from four feet away.  That is what happens when you are sitting in a wheelchair.  Now be aware I am not speaking for everybody in a chair and particularly ladies but most of the guys I know appreciate that little thing.

Now with that said you need to know about bowel routines.  I realize it is kind of a shitty topic (pun intended) but it is a reality of disability life.  I don’t know of any spinal cord injury survivors that don’t have a regulated bowel routine.  When you have no sensation or experience muscle weakness in that area you tend to plan your bowel evacuation for specific times throughout the week.

Again a disability related cost since most people just have to buy toilet paper.  For a bowel routine you usually have to pay some service to come to your home for this function.  It’s not like you have a friend come by a couple of times a week to dig it out with a spoon, although that almost describes some of the ways to go about it.  As a polio survivor I have full sensory sensation but I have my own routine and tend to avoid public bathrooms for any bowel movements purpose.

I mentioned earlier about explaining this, well nothing teaches better that some experience.  Take a chair, any chair but one that will fit beside (or close to) your toilet.  Now sitting on the chair but without using your legs in anyway transfer to the toilet.  Tying your ankles together will help you cut back on using your legs.  Oh make sure you get your pants, underwear, etc down, remember no leg movement.  Once you’ve accomplished that you are part way there.  Now do your business, again no leg involvement.

Now that you are finished the process reverse it.  Oh and make sure to wipe your butt, you don’t want to be sitting in a wheelchair all day with butt cheeks glued together because you couldn’t wipe your ass properly.

Although they look nice they are not all that wheelchair friendly
Although they look nice they are not all that wheelchair friendly

The reality of accessible bathrooms, although appreciated, is not not the end all be all.  I started off mentioning how nice it is to have a place to wash my hands, it’s also nice to have a sink I can pull my chair under.  And these may look nice but they are extremely difficult to reach from a wheelchair.

Anyway that’s my little rant for today so thanks for visiting.  If you find any of this to be helpful I find the occasional little donation helpful which is why I have added the donate button on the left side panel.  Information does cost and every little bit helps.  Keep up to date with the #AccessActivist or drop me a line for more specific information.

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