7 Jun 2016

Anyone happy to accompany me, and wash their hands afterward?

I had the most interesting conversation yesterday, one that I want to share with you. The topic is more or less standard, it was about going out drinking with friends, and it started with the question "What happens when you need to go to the loo?". For many of you it'll be a simple matter of excusing yourself and sneaking off, do what needs doing, and then come back. For myself, it's a little bit different.

You see, I have a "designated hand washer". They're like a designated driver, but they get to wash their hands after helping me to the little disabled person's room. But that's me. Over the years, especially when I was still at university, I was--and still am--fortunate that some of my friends were happy to assist me when I need to go while out partying and so forth. If anything, it let me be free from the system and enjoy being part of the group. But that's just me. What about others? I guess this is where this article comes into play.

For a moment I want you to imagine that you are on a wheelchair like me.

See, handsome devil, aren't I? But I digress. So anyway, you're on a motorised wheelchair, reliant on others and want to go clubbing with your friends or colleagues after a long week's worth of being stuck in an office. What do you do? Here are some options:
  1. Wear a catheter bag for the night, and drink responsibly.
  2. If you are like me, and the idea of a catheter bag just doesn't sit well with you, have one or more of your friends happy to help. As they are friends with you, they'll understand that now and then you may ask help them. But remember, they have to be comfortable in doing do, but then you know your friends and colleagues best.
  3. If you're flying solo or none of your friends are comfortable with the idea of helping you, seriously consider the first option.
  4. On the other hand, if you can take your support person with you, then do so (here in New Zealand there is such a thing as individualised funding for people with disabilities to hire support workers without the need of a third party). But whatever you do here, do not be a prat and get drunk unnecessarily.
  5. If you have no one with you and you really want to go out, and a catheter bag idea doesn't sit well with you, ask one of the bar staff or bouncers. They may say "no", but it never hurts to ask.
  6. Seriously consider the first option.
  7. Go to the toilet before you go out.
  8. Don't drink to excess.
  9. Stay home.
I think that the ultimate thing here is about doing what is best for you, and as you can see I am a strong proponent of catheter bags. Above all else, be responsible when drinking. Trust me, you'll be better of in the long run.

This first appeared in LinkedIn on June 1, 2016

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