Legs and Bathrooms

After some adjustments were made last week, my prosthetic leg is feeling much better, but memories of swelling, bruising, and pain are not making me want to wear it.


I was supposed to begin by wearing it two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening, and adding half an hour each time every four days. By now, I should be wearing it all day. I’ve probably worn it less than 10 hours total. Extreme discomfort (OK, pain) will do that to you, I suppose. But, truly, I’ve got to get with the program!

My next meeting with the prosthetist is March 22, and he plans to cast me for my permanent prosthesis at that time. The permanent one will have a cosmetic cover. Before that, however, you need to see what my “fun” one looks like.

We’ll meet again at the therapist’s, but the physical therapy (PT) intern will be there this time. She was in class last week.

It’s been fun being involved with a PT intern. I’ve been helping teach her about amputations, prostheses, diabetes, insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, transfer boards, and the like. In the meantime, I’ve also been learning what exercises are best and things like that from the therapist. I believe I’ve even been getting more information than normal.

For the curious, my therapist puts an emphasis on wheelchair push-ups — which you don’t need a wheelchair to do. Any firm chair with arms will work, and I’ve even used the console and armrest in my car. The goal is to lift yourself up off the seat using only your arms. The best “seat” for me to use is my potty chair, which has arms. Every time I go to the bathroom, I do 5 to 10 push-ups. You should see how fast I can get myself back up now when I fall. The first time, it took four EMTs to pick me up off the floor. How embarrassing. Upper-body strength rocks!

Speaking of pottys, I’d had it Monday night at Walmart. My granddaughter and I were out and she needed some notebooks and other school paraphernalia (beginning of the third trimester). We’d been at a nearby store to get cake-decorating supplies, so I just rode my scooter over. It wasn’t running well because it doesn’t like the cold and the battery was low to begin with, so I changed to one of the store’s scooters when I got there.

With those giant shopping baskets on the front, store scooters don’t fit into the bathrooms, much less the stalls, well. I kinda had to go to the bathroom, but didn’t even give it a try.

Shopping over, I retrieved my scooter. By that time, I really had to go to the bathroom. When I got there, the door to the handicapped stall was closed and there was a little girl — maybe 4 years old — running in and out of the regular stalls. A woman’s voice was coming from the handicapped stall, instructing the child to “just go in and close the door.”

Patiently, I waited, as the bodyless voice continued its conversation with the child who, clearly, did not want to go potty without Mom.

Then came the part that chilled me to the bone: “Mommy’s going to be a while. She has to (do something that takes a while).”

“Lady,” I said. “You’d better be handicapped.”

“Um…no.” came the voice.

“’cause I only have one leg and I’ve had to pee for half an hour.”

Out she scrambled, still groping with the zipper and button on her pants, apologizing all the way.

Does she think we don’t go to the bathroom? More importantly, how stupid is she to leave a child out to run around the bathroom by herself? Doesn’t she realize it can be dangerous out there? (“Wanna go for a ride, little girl? I’ll let you steer.”) Back in the day, moms stood in the doorway of the stall while their child went potty. And that’s when we didn’t lock our houses when we went out!

If you physically need the handicapped stall, fine. If you have small children with you, have at it. Otherwise, stay out of our territory. Somebody may decide to speak up to flush out any imposters.

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  • Bob

    I do not agree at all. Anyone at any time can use any toilet. I agree fully that those without handi-cap should, at all times, yield to a handi-cap person if they need to use the facilities that are made accessible by them.

    However to somehow feel that they are not a public facilites to be used by all people who need to use them, is simply entirely, well ridiculous.

    We all have emergencies and I do not know of many people whom go out planning to have to use them.
    Until a person whom can only use that stall needs it, anyone should be able to use it They are not the same as a handi-cap parking spot and the same laws do not apply.

    Sorry but you are dead wrong on this one if you think the stalls are only for people with disabilities.

  • Jan

    OK, how’s this?

    They are for people with disabilities (which I said).

    They are for parents who have small children with them (which I said). And meant in the stall with them; not running loose around the bathroom.

    And I will add: They are for the general public if none of the other stalls are available. In this case, the handicapped stall was the only one occupied: All of the others were available. And I’ve found that to be the case on several occasions, where either all or several of the regular stalls were empty.


  • Lin

    I’m between both of you. I also need to use the handicapped stall, because I use a walker. It’s amazing how often the handicapped stall – the only one most of us can use, by the way, is occupied by people who feel no compunction in staying in far longer than it takes to use the toilet. Not long ago, I waited for a ridiculous amount of time while the woman in the handicapped stall changed her clothes, put on makeup and did who knows what else. I regret that I did not have the courage to ask what Jan did, although I did make several comments about having to wait for the handicapped stall. Young, fully-abled women stroll out of the handicapped stall all time. I can understand using the stall if all the others are busy, but if that is the case, it’s simple courtesy to use it and get out in case a handicapped person is waiting. The handicapped stall is not the place to change clothes, repack your suitcase, or whatever.

  • Ana Angulo

    And I really don’t agree with you Bob.
    As the mother of a young woman who walks with crutches, only when there is no other stall available, should the handicap stall be used.
    As Jan describes it, there where others, bacause the girl was in and out of them.
    So handicap stalls should only be used by non-handicaps in emergencies and not just because they are empty!
    Good day

  • Sharon

    I do not consider myself “handicapped” in the sense that I don’t need to use a walker, cane, crutches or a wheelchair, but I do appreciate the taller toilets in the handicapped stalls. I have arthritis in my knees, and I find it so much less painful to sit and rise from a higher seat. My knee pain would not be obvious to anyone who saw me walk out of the stall, however, and I’m grateful no one has ever challenged my right to use the handicapped stall. I do try to be in and out as quickly as possible, and agree that no one should monopolize a handicapped stall for an unreasonable amount of time.

  • Deb

    Bob, I sincerely hope you are never disabled. But while you’re in robust health, you might learn some empathy for those of us who are not.
    Before there were handicapped stalls, ablebodied people who had emergencies or needed to change clothes used the smaller stalls. They still can.

  • Patricia Pollard

    I agree handicap stalls are that….for the handicapped. Some people seem to have a handicap of not being able to read or realize . May they someday “Need” that stall and have to wait for
    someone to switch clothing . The associates at WalMart use the handicap stall all the time.
    Also what’s up at some medical offices that have no handicap stalls or else the stall is not large enough to get a wheelchair into. This is ridiculous. AND why, at some restaurants the handicap parking areas are so far away from the door. This makes no sense either.

  • Richard

    There are no laws dictating how one has to use a handicapped or regular lavatory stall. Handicapped stalls are not like designated parking spots.

    If somebody yelled at me “You had better be handicapped” while I was using a stall I would have hurled some pretty interesting %$#@ language back.

    There are plenty of reasons to use a handicapped stall. Such as the other stalls being too dirty to reasonably use, or the toilet paper is out in the locked dispensers. Also how does one determine if the other stalls were not occupied when the non-handicapped person used the handicapped designated stall? Do we need restroom police or monitors? How about cameras? Also many smaller restrooms have only one stall and it is marked as handicapped and designed to accomdate wheelchairs.

    Handicapped people can hold it just like everybody else and wait their turn. Those stalls are designed for wheelchair use and marked as such. They are not marked because they are the exlusive potty domain for handicapped people.

    Again most people are not camping in toilet stalls. It’s basically get in & get out. Handicapped people want to be like everybody else & guess what? Sometimes that involves waiting your turn. Get over it.



  • Nancy

    I’m a bit claustrophobic about the smaller stalls sometimes, I admit, especially if they’ve been reduced in size to accommodate a disability stall. The main reason I use the disability stall at my work location is the automatic toilet flushes. They’re adjusted to be too sensitive to motion & flush 3-4 times before I can get out of the stall. This waste of water really upsets me, so I use the handicapped stalled because I can step far enough away from the toilet to keep it from flushing repeatedly. I agree with Jan entirely, but wasting water is a real issue for me as well. Some of the other commenters make useful points about cleanliness or lack of paper and those things can be checked before using the disabled stall. Thanks.

  • Cathy A.

    Like Sharon and her knee pain, I appreciate the handicapped toilets for their heighth. Some toilets are way too low and there are no bars to help me get up. No, I am not handicapped – just very tall & it is hard to stand from a sitting position when the seat is really low.

    Jan, if we were ever in the same restroom at the same time, I would gladly defer to you because I am proud of all you have done. I can manage. So can you, with a bit of assistance.

    Now let’s all be civil. And if you and Bob are ever in the same restroom at the same time, one of you is in the wrong place.

  • Lorraine

    I have been challenged by a mall employee when I asked him to open the handicapped door for a private toilet with sink. He could not see my colostomy bag for which I prefer some privacy. I also cannot get up on some of these regular toilets because I have a problem standing up from a sitting position and most toilets in the regular booth are to low. I once let a mother go tothe handicapped toilet before me because she had a child with her. As she went in she motioned to her husband and another child. Now thats chutzpa (nerve) as she said we won’t be long , maybe I should stop being so polite.

  • Terry S

    I don’t see the wisdom in “deferring” to people in wheelchairs. If it’s their turn then okay then! But what makes one think that a handicapped person or somebody in a wheelchair is any less capable of holding it until they get their turn then somebody who isn’t?

    What if somebody is about to do it in their pants literally? Would they be rogues or boorish individuals for not deferring to somebody in a wheelchair?

    I am not down on or against handicapped folks but a lot of this restroom argument over handicapped stalls is just so much kaka. I have heard people stating that in event of somebody in a wheelchair showing up that they would let them right to the front of a restroom line. I simply don’t agree with that and I would not give up my place in line unless the person stated that it was an emergency, in which case I would defer to anybody with an emergency (about to do it in their pants) unless of course I am already having such an emergency.

    Those restroom stalls were engineered to accomdate wheelchairs and meet certain standards. They perfrom dual-duty and accomodate both handicapped and non-handicapped folks alike.

    Stop with the militant response and actions already. It sounds like somebody has an attitude problem along with their handicapp. Seriously. It’s totally wrong to yell at somebody and say “You had better be handicapped!”. That is so boorish and absoultely ridiculouse. Not to mention childish.


  • Bob

    First, I ahvetaken alot of heat for my comment but I stand by it. Cathy, If Jen and I were in the same rest room and she had an emergency, I would gladly give her my seat because that is who I am.

    To the others, how dare you assume I am not handicapped. I simply do not believe things that are labeled handicapped were ever intended to be reserved like a bank vault for only a select few with proper clearance.

    The gerenal public has gone to great lengths to make sure people with disabilites can function as normally as possible within society. They cut down every other stall so us (non perfect,non handicapped)people can no longer fit in them properly.

    So now we have made an entire community that can no longer fit in the smaller stalls and you want to say we cannot use the large one that we do fit into.

    Wake up and think about everyone not just yourself. Jen, I love most of the things you wrote and like I satated earlii would gladly give my seat to you. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have a stall to use simply because I am a little larger than the average person. (my handicapp.)

    Good luck to all and remember – everyone needs help every now and then. Help them and you help yourself.