Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Most Embarrassing Doctor Moments

I'm a tall girl.  Not an amazon (wish!) but a healthy 5'9.5".  So I like the handicapped toilet better than the regular toilets.  I feel like I am sitting on a regular chair, rather than a child's seat.  Much easier to get up afterwards.

Once, about five years ago, I went to the bathroom at work.  Stopped in a public hallway one on the way to a thyroid needle in another building.  Walked straight back to the handicapped stall and got situated.  All of a sudden I heard someone speak.  "It's ok Mom, just try to hold it.  The stall is occupied.  I am sure they will be out soon.  Sorry for your wait."  I looked down through the gap under the bathroom door and saw wheels.  I was mortified.

I quickly attended to my business, all the while sweating and stressing.  Not only was I an able bodied, ambulatory individual, I also had my doctor's coat on.  I flushed, got dressed, and decided no way in heck could I walk out wearing that coat.  I took it off, rolled it up, and stuffed it underneath my armpit.  Took a deep breath, opened the door, and muttered my apologies as I escaped the bathroom to my needle.

I am still guilty of using the handicapped stall in restaurants, but not until after I have cased the area for those who might need it for reasons other than comfort.  I have not since used the handicapped stall at my hospital, despite never having seen another wheelchair in that particular bathroom in the last five years.


  1. Wow, being a short girl, I had no idea that was an issue.

    I don't think using a handicapped stall is the same as, say, parking in a handicapped parking spot. If you park in a handicapped spot and leave, then you are screwing over someone who needs that spot. This is a matter I've actually discussed it with disabled friends, who will concede that point. I've been to bathrooms where there are only two toilets, one accessible and one not... would everyone be expected to use only one toilet, just on the off chance that someone might urgently need the other toilet? And sometimes there's only one toilet period... are you just supposed to never use the bathroom? Also, sometimes the handicapped stall contains the changing pad for babies so it might get occupied by that.

    Honestly, I would disagree with the stereotype that just because someone is in a wheelchair, they have so little control that they can't wait a minute for one person to be done in the bathroom. After all, there are plenty of ambulatory adults who have urgency issues (especially women) and also pretty much all kids under 8 or so. Are we never allowed to use the bathroom because someone might need it urgently?

    Frankly, if I were an able-bodied female with urgency issues, I would be incredibly scared to go out in public, especially to places like the movies, because they hardly ever provide enough facilities for females. But considering how common it is for women to have these issues, I guess you learn to plan ahead.

    Wow, I didn't expect to go on a rant. I guess my point is that you shouldn't feel guilty about using the handicapped stall!

    1. Thanks Fizzy, I think I may now have the courage to use that handicapped stall again in the hall here. I agree, in retrospect, I shouldn't have come quite so unglued. It was the tone in that voice - and my empathy for that person who probably required a lot more help to get on the toilet than me.

      The waiting in line for females is a big issue, I never thought about urgency problems, but kids are usually urgent (mine are getting older, so better) and that can be such a pain. I've snuck in singe men's rooms a lot to avoid kid accidents in public.

  2. Replies
    1. It took me five years to get over my angst and embarrassment of that incident to finally post - thanks!

  3. I am also a tallish former user of the handicap stall until I needed it! After my knee surgery I needed to clumsily fall on the toilet sideways while holding the rails like my life depended on it. I was completely incapable of using a regular short toilet stall and as a result HATED when people were using the handicap stall unnecessarily!! After that I (try) to stop using handicap stalls!

    1. I have tried this week, unsuccessfully, to enter the handicap stall at work again for the first time in 5 years. There are plenty of other unoccupied stalls in there. And Lord knows I can probably use the effort required to get me off the small pot. I can't promise to never use them, but I am certainly more aware after that incident.

      I really do love that tall throne/chair. And will continue to use only judiciously from now on, promise.

    2. But Cutter, playing devil's advocate:

      1) If someone happens to be occupying the handicapped stall at that moment and you have to wait a minute, is it really so horrible? I mean, if you're at a movie theater or something and there's a big line, people using the handicapped stall probably makes the line move faster.

      2) How do you *know* those people were using the stall unnecessarily?

      As you can see, I am passionate about bathroom issues!

    3. But Fizzy, playing a second devil's advocate, wouldn't you expect an able-bodied person to leave the handicapped stall alone if s/he's using it for convenience rather than out of need? It's the kind of thoughtfulness that helps our society run more smoothly. Sure, Mom might be able to hold it another minute, but she shouldn't have to.

      Once I was lining up in the bathroom, and the woman ahead of me said, "Go ahead." I was like, "No, you're ahead of me"...until I realized she had a cane and was waiting for the handicapped stall. I felt like a troglodyte. So I totally understand Gizabeth's embarrassment. Good call taking off the white coat.

    4. My point is simply that there's no reason to think that a person with a cane is less capable of holding in urine for one extra minute than a person without. Frankly, as a person who works a lot with people with disability, I feel like it's a little offensive to the disabled.

      Whereas there are tons of people who have urinary urgency who don't necessarily need the handicapped stall, and may be embarrassed to go up to people ahead of them in line and tell them they're on the verge of an accident. By not using every available stall and leaving the handicapped one free "just in case", those people have their wait time increased.

  4. I just spent the day in the airport and had to wait at least five minutes TWICE for a restroom while the guys were just rolling in and out. Long lines. Maybe we need to tackle this bigger issue, ha ha.


Comments on posts older than 14 days are moderated as a spam precaution. So.Much.Spam.