I apologise for the ambiguous title, and another apology for any anti-climax when I tell you that, yes, my article is actually going to be about pee.
Lots of us ‘disabled’ folk have a strange and complex relationship when it comes to going to the loo. Changing Places’ campaign in the past few years has highlighted this long-standing relationship with loos to the non-disabled community; who are horrified about the idea of people laying on public bathroom floors or wetting themselves on trains, they often say ‘surely not in 2018?’ or ‘But I thought everywhere had to be accessible?”
My special ‘relationship’ with toileting started, well, from as long as I can remember. I had issues going to the loo as a toddler and when I did eventually manage to go it caused me chronic pain so I would do anything in my power to avoid going to the toilet as a child. I would sit on the floor and wiggle around like a little worm. My mother who is no fool knew exactly when I needed a pee from my little jiggle, yet I would deny it as much as Theresa May denies millions of disabled people their basic rights!
I also knew from a young age that finding an accessible toilet was problematic and the fear of hurting my self in a small enclosed toilet cubicle was too much at times and I would just hold it in! When most children were concerning themselves as to whether or not they would get an ice-cream on day trips out, I was concerned with not being a burden on my family having to hunt down a suitable toilet.
I have hundreds of humorous stories surrounding toileting including more recently a friends dog using my she-wee as a chew toy. My she-wee truly is a Godsend, however, there was a time when she-wee’s didn’t exist so what did I do before this revolution?
Unashamedly I confess that if it could hold water then the likelihood is that I’ve peed in it!
On a family holiday traveling through France I’ve actually peed in a frying pan because the disabled toilet was locked and with no staff around to unlock it ( I blame the 35-hour working law) I had to think outside the box as is often the case.
Speaking of thinking outside of the box, my most creative and daring peeing story happened on a boat, once again heading to France. The water was so choppy that many passengers had been sick on the previous crossing, forcing the crew to turn up the air-con to full blast in the hopes of drowning out the vomit aroma. Now I don’t know about you but when I’m cold the urge to pee intensifies. I found myself in agony trying to keep myself from having an accident. It was still far too choppy for my mum to carry me up the stairs, because that’s where the toilets were, up stairs with no lift, so I had to find a cup, wrap a jumper around my waist, and as discreetly as possible pee where I was sat in front of other passengers.
…Dignity I hear you cry! What’s that? I’ve had to part ways with that concept many a year ago…
I’d also think twice about having a cup of tea if you come visit because it’s highly likely I’ve peed in one or two of them too!
More recently I’d been invited to a brewery opening in the middle of a warehouse estate. Surely no disabled toilet there, and we all know copious amounts of beer and small bladder equals pee on a large scale. So not one to miss out on cheap booze I decided to wear a Tenna lady adult nappy thing, a sample my lovely mother had sent off for on my behalf, to use in hospital, or when I fracture badly and can’t move. But I was desperate to go try out beer…. It was uncomfortable and itchy and I did feel embarrassed, however, I was not going to miss out on spending time with my friends.
Any activity I do heavily revolves around the loo. Can I afford to have another cocktail on a night out, or that second cup of tea before I leave my flat?
Just last week staying with my sister, who has only one upstairs bathroom, I found myself at the lovely age of 32 having to ask if I can go to the bathroom – channeling Oliver Twist ‘please sir can I have some more?’ Now, of course, my friends and family don’t see it as a burden, but not having access to a toilet really is mentally and physically draining and a basic right that shouldn’t be so problematic.
My fight goes on and I find new things to pee into. Watch this space as I think that’s the makings of a fantastic book.
Samantha Renke for Pf Magazine