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Travels with my toilet seat

Travels with my toilet seatAs a disabled person, I face many daily difficulties and many are the ways I have to find to combat them and cope.

Toilets for example: the vast majority of loos in public and private places nowadays are lower than in previous decades. Because of knees damaged by rheumatoid arthritis, I am unable to sit on low seats and so am seriously limited in where I can go and how long I can be away from home. Specially-adapted disabled toilets are available in places such as supermarkets, airports, stations, hospitals, etc and larger business premises - but visits to friends, family and smaller establishments such as pubs and clubs can be, for me, highly problematical.

Older folk are often criticised for not wanting to go out as often as they used to and I think inaccessible toilet facilities are very often the reason behind this reluctance. It can be an embarassing subject, so it's not discussed, and fit, able-bodied people are not aware of these problems that some of us have.

I have tried to find various ways to cope in order that I can maintain as much of my social life as possible.

Firstly, I carry in my handbag a retractable tape measure. If I am unsure whether I will be able safely to sit down on a toilet somewhere, for starters I measure the height from the floor. Anything less than 43cm (17”) is beyond my capabilities. But even when the seat height is ok, there are other factors to consider. If the space between the toilet seat and the cubicle door is not sufficient, or the seat is loose, I cannot get up unaided, so it can be a bit of a gamble! (Although the seat height in many designated disabled toilets is only 43cm, at least most of these do have hand rails supplied either side and plenty of space for a helper if needed.)

Secondly, when I am away from home and my known surroundings I use a larger handbag in which I am able to carry a "device" which has been an absolute lifesaver on such occasions when no accessible toilet is available to me. Unlike some of the other aids on the market, I've found this one (the Uriwell) by far the most reliably safe and easy to use. It can be used whilst standing in a toilet cubicle then immediately emptied, wiped down with an antiseptic wipe and replaced in a suitably anonymous plastic bag back at the bottom of the handbag.

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And finally, when I am away from home overnight, at a hotel, for example, I now take with me a portable riser seat I bought online. I have now - finally - found one that is truly portable and can be fitted and removed from any normal toilet seat in an instant. Although it is by its very nature large and bulky it's not unduly heavy and I have taken it in my suitcase when flying to Europe on holiday. I have also used it at a hotel in this country and for this I designed and made a special padded carrying bag so that there was no embarassing problem getting it from the car through hotel reception. I have actually bought two of these wonderful riser seats; one I keep in its special carrying bag for holidays and similar, whilst the other resides permanently in the closet next to the down-stairs toilet at my son's family home available for me to use whenever I visit.

Small things perhaps - but for me and many like me they're the difference between being able to get out and about and being trapped at home.

Find out more from Tricia Senior on her blog PhyzzEeze - and add your comments on this post here.