Your Sprained Ankle Is Straining Society

, , , , , , | Friendly | February 2, 2020

I severely sprained my ankle one summer and had to use crutches and a medical boot while it healed. This meant that I had to use either the disabled toilet or the adapted cubicle when out in public, as I needed to use the handrails to pull myself back up to a standing position. I preferred the latter, as it meant I wasn’t depriving someone in a wheelchair of their only option, but this wasn’t always possible.

(Encounter #1:)

I was at the supermarket with my mum, doing some shopping, when I realised I needed the toilet. As is common in British supermarkets, the entrance to the toilet from the corridor was via two heavy fire doors, both of which opened into the “airlock” in between them. This space wasn’t big enough for me to manoeuvre in with my crutches, and the doors were too heavy for me to manage on my own, so I had to use the disabled toilet, which only had a single door.

I settled down to do my business. Suddenly, I heard the door rattle, like someone was trying to open it. I called back that I’d be out shortly. The rattling stopped, and then the person outside started banging on it. I shouted again that I’d be out as soon as I could. The rattling and banging continued. It unnerved me enough that I fumbled my crutches as I stood, forcing me to waste more time figuring out how to pick them up.

When I got out, I saw who was banging on the door: an elderly woman with a cane. She’d barely managed to move out of the way of the door when I opened it, despite me giving warning of doing so. When she saw me, younger than her and not in a wheelchair but clearly leaning heavily on crutches, her face practically turned purple, and she started to splutter.

I apologised for taking so long, but that it couldn’t be helped. I also suggested that she wait a few moments before going in; my pain medication was having an apocalyptic effect on my bowel.

She didn’t listen and practically slammed the door in my face. Only to rush out and into the main toilets a few seconds later. I wasn’t kidding.

(Encounter #2:)

The main shopping centre in my city doesn’t have doors separating the toilets from the main corridor and uses bends and curves to maintain privacy and confine smells. This means I could use the adapted cubicle in the main toilets, instead of tying up a disabled toilet. It also, however, meant having to queue.

On one such occasion, I was waiting in the queue and was almost at the front. There were three or four people ahead of me when the only adapted cubicle opened up. The first person headed towards it. That was fine; I wasn’t at the head of queue, after all.

When I was at the front, I didn’t go for the next cubicle to open, or the one after. I literally needed the adapted one. It was the only one with grab bars. I let close to a dozen people go ahead of me while I waited. The first few, who’d seen the other woman go into the cubicle, were sympathetic.

When she eventually came out, wearing a completely different outfit, I went to use it and recoiled. It had been wrecked. The bowl was absolutely rammed with toilet paper. More toilet paper was on the floor. There was a bloody tampon sitting on top of the sanitary bin. A pair of knickers was sticking out of the “in” tray of said bin.

The only cubicle I could use in those toilets was unusable. The next nearest non-customer toilets were on the next floor or at the other end of the same floor. The disabled toilets were RADAR locked. And, thanks to the wait, I was now absolutely busting.

Luckily, someone managed to flag down a member of the cleaning staff, who had the ability to give me access to the disabled toilet. I pity the person who had to clean that up.

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