Having It All

WooHOO! I’m getting a new bathroom! I can’t wait! But I’ll have to, because the contractor is booked until August or September. I forget which.


Best of all, we discussed what I absolutely need and what it would be nice to have. He watched the budget so I can have it all.

You know how I complain about the shortfalls of accessible bathrooms I run into while I’m out and about. Finally, I’ll have at least one that meets my specifications. It won’t be perfect: I have a very tiny bathroom. But it will be OK for me.

Unlike a bathroom I had in a hotel room one night last week. And it was disappointing because it was one of the more upscale chains.

I had doctor’s appointments in Indianapolis two days in a row, so I booked a room and took the grandchildren for a little mini-vacation. They could swim and hit the gym and there was a skywalk from the hotel to the mall so we could do some shopping and eating without venturing out into the cold and rain.

The trip there was a real “trip.” There was a minor problem with my car, so I swapped with my husband for the van. My grandson will drive the van, but doesn’t like to drive in traffic. My granddaughter is OK with traffic, but doesn’t like to drive the van. We got to a point where the traffic got heavy and I told Grandson to pull into a parking lot and I would drive.

Granddaughter got hysterical and ran out of the van, yelling that she would NOT ride with me. Why? “You only have one leg!” she sobbed.

Hello-o-o-o-o! The leg I do have is my right one. You know — the one you use to drive with (assuming you have an automatic transmission, which we do). It’s my fault. Since they’re fairly new drivers, I always let them drive so they can get in more practice. I should have been driving some.

Anyway, Grandson finally got out, threw his sister into the van and slammed the door shut. And I drove the rest of the way. Without incident. Nothing more was heard from Granddaughter about drivers with one leg.

But I digress.

We get to the upscale hotel and I check out the bathroom. First, I notice that, instead of installing a higher toilet, the hotel had put one of those things on top that raises the height of the seat. I mean, it worked, but it was just odd that a hotel of that caliber would resort to that.

The sink was fine.

But the shower. Oh, my. It was a roll-in shower. So far, so good. But where was the shower seat? My scooter isn’t waterproof. I suspect most wheelchairs aren’t, either. The showerhead was detachable — if you could reach it. If you did manage to get it off the holder, which was w-a-y up there, there was no place to put it. It was also sans shelf to put your soap, shampoo, etc., on. I suppose you could put the washcloth over the grab bar.

A call to the front desk brought a shower seat, but shouldn’t people know that a seat is needed in an accessible bathroom? Not everybody has a handicap that necessitates having a place to sit, but some do. I don’t know why they should have to call for a seat.

One neat thing was that the bathroom had a pocket door, so you didn’t have to deal with opening and closing swinging doors. The problem with the pocket door was the tiny little lock and the two tiny little indentations to put your fingers to open and close it. I don’t have problems with my hands, but I can see where somebody who does would have a difficult time with the door.

I am grateful for all the accessible bathrooms I’ve seen and used — both good and bad. They’ve helped me decide what I do, and don’t, want in my own. In two cases, I’ve seen things I didn’t know existed that I’ll have in my bathroom: a shower seat that folds up against the wall when not in use and rests on the edge of the tub when it’s down, and a grab bar that folds up against the wall when not in use that will allow me to have grab bars on both sides of the tub.

Now I have three or four months to figure out where to “go” when the only bathroom in the house that I can get into is being dismantled and put back together! At that point, I might be wishing for even the worst of the “accessible” bathrooms I’ve seen.

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  • jim snell

    There is hope yet that we may get the knuckleheads who design bathrooms for the fully unhindered folks without room, hand supports etc for the disabled may yet get re-educated.

    While I did not loose any part of my body used for mobility, the stroke I got buggered my balance and has never repaired. Ultimate stupidity – shower stalls that are 3 smooth walls and absolutely no hand holds/rails. Seem to be artistic extravaganzas for the Lourve or the architectural Institue on art noveau bathrooms.

    If we can keep Jan and her big guns targeted on this issue; there may yet be hope.

  • Gail P

    Hello Jan,
    I’ve been reading your posts for years and always get a kick out of them. Today I have a tip for you about finding handicap shower facilities for showering. When I travel with family for a couple of days at the beach, we are always looking to shower at the same time. I often find that there is a great handicap equipped shower in the pool and fitness area. In some cases you can lock the restroom door and use the roll-in shower with the built-in bench. The big bonus is the roomy space for changing and the fact that I can leave the room’s shower for the other folks in our party. I don’t need a handicap shower but just having an additional one saves time and aggravation for everyone.

  • marciejoy

    Don’t forget to check with the IRS about tax breaks for this kind of construction. Perhaps your state has some kind of program, too.

    You’ll be amazed by the difference a “comfort height” toilet can make — they’re lots more comfortable for people who don’t need them, too!

  • Marlene Whitby

    I would suggest you get a portable potty chair while your bathroom is being renovated. I know having access to a shower is the best, but maybe if you have access to a decent sized sink you could get by. When my Dad was in a wheelchair we bathed him in a regular shower with the shower bench. We were also able to use the hand held shower device to wash his hair/ He could turn the shower off and on from his bench and we just let the head hang down in the tub when not in use. Good luck with your Trials and Tribulations. How exciting to be getting a new bathroom!

  • Linda M.

    Some of the construction firms should pay you to be a consultant designer for accessable bathrooms. You study every detail so well and know what will work and what will not. I don’t have to use the accessable bathrooms—yet! But it sure would be great to know they are available when I need one, which I am sure I will one of these days. Now if some of the hotel people would just read your blog and take notice of what is needed it would all work out nicely. Thanks for another great piece of work.

  • Susie Herrera

    I have stayrd at almost every major chain hotel
    Hyatt seems to have the best roll in showers
    When i stayed at LaTorretta in montgomery tx by lake conroe
    The shower seat in the wall
    Fell while i was sitting on
    The slippry floor and my bad joints and my nakedness was just part of the nightmare
    I am trying to get my bathroom at home done too
    I have the shower seat that extends out of tub so i keep getting water on floor
    Well bye for now
    Oh also i will be cheking out margaritaville in desdin florida and the ritz carlton in amelia idland in florida i sure hope their roll in showers will be ok
    Bye for now