No sitting here

Some words of wisdom from my sister:-

Once you can’t sit down on the toilet your life is basically over.

Harsh, but with an element of truth.

It’s our mother who has the sitting problem; not just on toilets but on anything and it’s not really the sitting that’s the problem but the standing after the sit. She is riddled with arthritis – knees, hips, back, wrists and shoulders and once she gets down on a chair (which are always impossible low) she can’t get back up. She uses a walker to get around so when we’re out for lunch or shopping she just sits on the seat of the walker and she can get up okay because it’s high and has handles she can push up on but trying to find a public disabled toilet that she can use is almost impossible.

Whoever designs the public toilets in my area is obviously as sprightly as a spring lamb and as strong as an ox and I think that if I went around and smashed their kneecaps with a sledge hammer, broke one of their arms, then made them use every disabled toilet in town they might try a bit harder next time. Or hey – why not ask disabled people what they’d like to see in toilets for disabled people – radical idea I know.

Mum and I went to the art gallery on Wednesday because she wanted to see the Archibald prize exhibition and while we were there she said she’d check out the toilet because she thought they’d be clean. Sure they had a disabled toilet with lots of space in there but there was no railing beside the toilet so she couldn’t have got up anyway. So we went next door to the library to see what they had and they had a good sized disabled toilet, with a rail (yay) but it had a big heavy door that anyone trying to push or pull, hold open and get through while using a walker, a cane or a wheelchair would find to be a real struggle. It’s so annoying that they don’t seem to put much thought into access or facilities for disabled people, they’re more of an afterthought – something they have to have because it’s the law but nothing they spend a lot of time or money on. Until you’ve spent time outing with someone like my mother (or my father when he was alive) you don’t appreciate how difficult it can be. Even if they have ramps they’re always uneven or steep or have bloody uneven paving.

I can feel a letter to council coming on.

Anyway this is all leading to the point that Mum wants to go to Hawaii to meet Emjay next year and I’d travel with her. She of course doesn’t want to fly because of the toilet and the plane seat problem so she thought we could cruise there.

Do you know how long it takes to get to Hawaii from Australia on a boat??

18 days.

I almost have a panic attack every time I think about it. I can’t swim, I don’t like boats and I don’t want to be out in the middle of the ocean with 2100 other people. But I’ll take one for the team if thats what she wants to do. I’m sure there’s a way we could fly and believe me I’m working on it. I’m going off to a rehab place on the weekend to see what sort of travel items they have that could help. Even if we fly one way and cruise back which is what I think we’d have to do anyway because cruise ships don’t frolick back and forth between Aus and Hawaii on a regular basis. What I am going to have to do is a sampler cruise just to make sure I don’t get sea sick because a friend of mine just came back from a cruise and she spent the whole ten days terribly ill. She spent the whole time away in the ship hospital. So there’s a two night one that does a loop out from Sydney then back again, or maybe I could cruise to Brisbane from Sydney then fly back.

Emjay said – it all sounds like it might be a bit difficult. I said to Mum – lol, not for her it’s not!, she just has to fly to bloody hawaii and meet us there!

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24 thoughts on “No sitting here

  1. I can barely fit into airplane toilets. But I’m not sure how much better cruise ship ones are. I’ll bet you have to spring for an extra-expensive cabin to get anything big enough. And you’re forever having to get into and out of things. The flight is long, but there are only so many times you have to pee and you won’t have to change planes.

    Sorry to hear of the bad public access there. Here, they all have rails and the doors are the same as the other stalls.

    You’ve bought her a higher toilet seat for home, maybe with rails too, I’m sure. Does she have a walker with wheels to help her along? And build up all her chairs at home and one for her to use at your house. I plan to get one of those chairs that has a motor to lift you up and down when I get to that stage. And a portable inflated seat for the toilets.

    • They have rooms set up on the ships for disabled people and she has a toilet seat raiser that she could put on there then leave. On the plane we’d have to carry it up and down the aisle plus the seats are pretty small and we’d have to take a cushion of some sort to make it higher. At least on a cruise she could get about with her walker (yes it has wheels) and they have lifts.

      She has one of those chairs that lift you up, she loves it.

      What disabled toilets need are automatic sliding doors. It was impossible for Dad to get in and out of a toilet easily – one arm didn’t work at all due to the stroke and he had his walking stick in the other one, he’d have to let go of the stick to open the door.

      • Front doors often have push-buttons for the disabled, they ought to put those in toilets. Swing open and closed very slowly. Seems to me they could add that to the way they work right now.

        My father carried a cushion around for chairs the last… 30-40 years of his life. Restaurants, airplanes, whatever, dad had his cushion at the ready.

        Am glad to hear the chairs work as advertised, it’s good news for my future.

  2. Well, I have to hand it to your mom for wanting to go that far! I think that is pretty great that she wants to find a way. I hope it all works out. If not, I could go in her place. 😛
    18 days on a cruise ship sounds like it could get a bit dicey for me. I am not sure how I’d deal with seeing only sea and sky for that long, I might have to hole up in the room and sleep it off every couple days.
    geez. I think I spent 19 days in Australia.

    • It’s a long time isn’t it – but the more I think about it I reckon it’d be fun, something different. You stop at Tahiti and New Zealand which would be pretty cool. The girl was showing me the different types of rooms and she showed me the balcony room where you get a little balcony outside your room but I said – no way, that would freak me out I think just sitting on my balcony and seeing only water for days. I think once you leave Hawaii you have six days sailing the middle of nowhere before you get to Tahiti.

  3. I don’t know why some toilets are so low to the ground and others are like thrones. (higher and easier to use)

    Cruise with your Mum sounds like the way to go to keep her comfortable. There is a patch you could look into for seasickness.

    Not sure what airline you would fly to Hawaii on, but maybe research to see if you could pre-book seats that are close to the bathrooms?

    • These ships the girl was showing me look amazing, I reckon my husband would love it so maybe I’ll send him! Certainly look comfortable. I’ll leave it up to her to decided what she prefers. We did ring Hawaiian Airlines who were pretty helpful but even if she’s close to the toilet she still wouldn’t be able to get off it. I’m going to go out to this shop I know is not far away and see what sort of devices they have that might be helpful.

  4. I daresay you could book first class round trip for less than the cost of a ridiculously long cruise and a one-way ticket home. Those seats are larger (some of them even turn into beds!) and first class has their own toilet only a few steps away, not mucking around with the peasantry like we usually do. Plus more attendants with greater patience. And the booze is included.

    If you’re going to be on a plane one-way, might as well be round-trip; that’s always cheaper and faster. Plus, cruise ship food — you’d trigger excess luggage fees on your own waistline. Heavy on the meat and carbs, light on veggies.

    • No way – I couldn’t believe how cheap the cruise was – no wonder some people buy suites and just live on them – much cheaper than a nursing home or retirement village.

      I’ll end up like Raymond (Everyone loves) did when he went on that cruise with his Mum – she was off having fun and he hung around the buffets eating and drinking 24/7.

  5. I know what you mean by handicapped toilet stalls that were obviously designed by someone who had no idea what it’s like to be in a wheelchair or walker. I never took notice until my husband lost use of his legs and I had to haul him around in a wheelchair. He would need to use the restroom, but I couldn’t go in and help him because it was the “Mens” room. He’d go in alone and discover the damned door was too hard to open, or there wasn’t enough room to maneuver his chair in the stall, or the toilet was this dainty little thing that he couldn’t get onto without falling out of his chair. At one of the more posh department stores in Minneapolis, a sweet old man came up to me while I was waiting for my husband and told me that he’d “had an accident” and needed help: so if it was alright with me, the old dear would help my husband clean up. My husband, to say the least, was humiliated and distraught. He wept in the car as I drove him home. It made me realize how horrible it was for people with disabilities to get about in public.

    Happily, in California, they have large, single-user restrooms that allow a person in a wheelchair and a helper to both go in together. There are usually heavy-duty rails and sinks and toilets at a suitable level for someone who has trouble using his or her legs. But it’s amazing how much difference a few inches in height makes. I hope your mother has a much easier time when she sails the Pacific to Hawaii.

    • She wouldn’t want me in there with her and if they just put in rails and a higher seat there wouldn’t be a problem because she doesn’t need any help. They really musn’t put much thought into it and most people aren’t aware if they’ve never had to go out with someone who needs easy access to places. The other day I got into the car and said to Mum – it’s hard work going out with you!! Now I usually plan ahead and ring places we want to go to and check if they have dsiabled car spots, ramps to get in etc etc.

      Your poor husband, it’s just so hard for people to lose dignity like that and even though people like that lovely old man are willing to help it must be so hard to accept.

      I was just thnking that they put a fair bit of thought into mothers rooms, I’ve seen some really fancy ones in shopping centres, disabled rooms seem to be last and least.

  6. I really sympathize with your mother. I only had my bad knees & crutches to deal with and still found myself trapped in a regular stall… unable to get off the toilet. I eventually worked it out but it’s only be recently that I’ve trusted myself to use them again (despite the knees being substantially better for almost 2 years now). I can’t imagine trying to navigate a bathroom, especially a smaller one, with multiple handicaps.

    Whatever you decide, GOOD LUCK!

    • She’s such a trooper, never complains but I know she hurt her shoulder the other day pulling up on the railing. Some toilets are ridiculously small, you can barely open the door without standing on the toilet let alone get extra equipment in there with you.

  7. A few weeks ago I was in a public bathroom when an older lady in a wheelchair came in. Her husband pushed her to the door, and then couldn’t come any further. She manuvered herself to the handicapped stall, and then stopped because she couldn’t get the door open. I opened the door for her and pushed her in, but then she couldn’t get her chair turned around properly because there wasn’t enough space. I helped her to get next to the toilet, and then shut the door. I was hoping she wouldn’t need further assistance, because I have never helped anyone go the the bathroom before (and she was a stranger).

    I stayed in the bathroom for awhile to make sure she could get out ok. I guess the moral of my story is that I had never before thought how difficult it must be for someone in a wheelchair to go to the bathroom. My second thought was, “What if I wasn’t there?” Shouldn’t the bathrooms be large enough that someone in a chair can properly use them by themselves? The husband can’t come in with her, and if I wasn’t there she probably couldn’t have gotten into the bathroom by herself. I’m sorry your mom has to deal with things like this every day…it must be very difficult.

    • Disabled toilets really should be stand alone toilets so that other sex helpers can get in there with them if they need to. Those mothers rooms in shopping centres have big push buttons on the walls that open a sliding door, that’s what disabled toilets need because as you saw it’s impossible to open doors and maneuver wheelchairs, walkers, etc at the same time. You must be getting some idea about access problems places have just by pushing a pram around. I used to have a double pram, one seat in front of the other and my arms have never looked so good as they did when I was getting that thing about town.

      • I definitely have a better idea now! I never even thought about how difficult it is for some people to go into stores until a couple of weeks ago when I took the baby to run errands….and had to go through a double set of doors (non-automatic, of course, with a very tiny alcove between the doors). It was not a fun experience, that is for sure!

    • Lol, god can you imagine! I’d be saying bon voyage everyone, see you in about three months. Nah, she thought DC was just too far but Hawaii was do-able.

  8. Impressed that you mother would consider a 18-day cruise. More power to her! I just was on a 7 day Alaska cruise. My third BTW.A week is just long enough for me-though this time it went by way too fast! There have always been a few people in wheelchairs,etc. on the cruises I’ve been on and they are well taken care of/catered to.

  9. I am getting shallow breathing and a slightly claustrophobic feeling on your behalf just at the thought of it – 18 days trapped on a boat….. Huge thumbs up that you entertain the idea doing it for you mum.

  10. I could think nothing of nothing worse than flying with an old person, except being stuck on a ship with them. Have you looked into medical insurance for the trip – that might be a surprise for you.

    • I don’t think of her as ‘an old person’, I think of her as my mother and I’m not worried about being stuck on a ship with her, I’m just worried about being stuck on a ship in general. I get nervous on the manly ferry. Haven’t looked into insurance yet but if she wants to go we’ll cover it.

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