Restroom Etiquette: A Plea to My Able-Bodied Sisters

If you know me personally, you're probably surprised to find out that I am considered disabled even though I am a Flamenco dancer and teacher and I work at a pretty physical retail job.  That's the thing about invisible illnesses though--most people don't see what those of us with chronic illness are going through on a daily basis.  I am always in some level of pain and fatigue.  I may be smiling at an audience, my students, co-workers, or customers, but behind that smile is me trying to push through the pain.  I actually have lost the capacity of doing certain everyday things.  For example, I can't really climb stairs or hills without experiencing crushing pain, stiffness, and fatigue.  Sometimes walking up my five short porch steps makes me cry and have to lie down to recover.  I've recently purchased a cane specifically to help me walk up stairs and inclines and I have to admit, it does help take the pressure off my legs.

Another way that I am disabled that no one ever sees, and I apologize if this is T.M.I. (actually I don't apologize; deal with it) is that I cannot fully empty my bladder anymore due to Pelvic Floor Dysfunction believed to have been caused by either the Lupus or the Fibromyalgia.  I had to go through a year of physical therapy to get it to a tolerable level of dysfunction, but I was told I will never recover my full ability and I will need to do physical therapy exercises for the rest of my life to help me do something that I should be able to do without thinking.

This brings me to the point of this post.  Combine my excruciating leg pain with my inability to pee like a normal biological being, and I am definitely a disabled person when I visit a public restroom.

So to my dear, able-bodied sisters, please don't cop a squat over the toilet that is specifically designated as the toilet for the disabled.  I'm not here to yell at you or make you feel bad.  I used to be physically able to do everything I've wanted to do, so I used to live in that ability bubble, the place of privilege where you don't see the world through disabled eyes.  I used to cop a squat over the toilet assuming everyone else did the same thing.

But now I know they don't.  I cannot squat over the toilet for an extended period of time because if I'm focusing on my leg pain, the muscles around my bladder won't release.  If you're thinking, "hey, but isn't squatting better for going to the bathroom?" you are both right and wrong and also missing the point.  I own a Squatty Potty at home specifically to help me pee, but the angle of that sort of squat, where your knees are above your hips, is not the same as the hovering over the toilet, almost standing.  Plus, the Squatty Potty still allows me to sit.

And that is where you might be missing the point.  Some of my disabled sisters can't stand or walk to begin with. When you cop a squat over the toilet in the public restroom, without lifting the seat up, you tend to get urine all over the seat.  So essentially, what you have done in order to minimize your contact with germs, is to force a disabled person to wipe YOUR pee off the seat so that they can sit on it.  Does that seem fair to you?

And so I make this plea.  Please consider using the paper seat cover, or if you must cop a squat, lift the toilet seat the way men do.  I ask you to do this in any toilet stall because actually for my particular disability, the regular toilets are a better height for me and I am sure I am not the only one.  However, if you change only one thing about your restroom etiquette, please let it be that you follow my suggestions when using the toilet in the designated disabled stall.  Thank you.

Did you like this post? Feel free to Like and Share it.
Do you have a disability? What are other everyday things you think our able-bodied friends could be more conscious about when it comes to those of us who are differently abled?
If you do not have a disability, did this post open your eyes to something new? What are other ways you think you could be a good ally to those of us with disabilities?