Qualifying for the blue disabled parking badge has actually been a matter of personal amusement for me. While my bones have been weakened by cancer and I am less mobile than I was, the ability to park on double yellow lines for free and avoid paying at pay and display street meters cheers me up no end. In part because I still like to think of myself as able bodied and like a freebie. I even have a code of honour where I won’t park in the most convenient disabled space, leaving it for someone in greater need. Unless it’s the last space!
But, last night came a painful reminder that I am more physically limited than I like to think. I had a bath in a hotel.
On my drive down to London I’d paid a visit to the gents at a motorway services. When I came to stand after doing what needed to be done it became immediately obvious that there was nothing to lean on to get myself from sitting to standing. It took more than a moment to achieve this simple manoeuvre.
While I’m not the kind of person who would be rude to a slow moving elderly individual walking in front of me I’ve certainly thought irritable thoughts to myself about wanting them to get a move on or get out of my way. Now I realise I am that old person. I’m slow and lack mobility.
My pre-Wimbledon hotel proved that point to me last night. I enjoyed a bath. As my time in the tub drew to an end I started to think about how to get out of the thing. A vertical handle behind me was out of reach unless I turned over onto my knees. I realised I couldn’t. Opposite was another vertical handle. I couldn’t safely reach it.
Using my feet I turned the plug to open and let the water out. Then I decided to lift my bulk from the floor of the bath, right leg over the side, balancing precariously. Nearly out. Not very safe. Then I slipped. I was able to control my fall back into the bath without injury, other than slightly twisting a few pained muscles that have been giving me grief for days.
I lay there, cold. Feeling stupid. Then I lay there feeling angry. A simple side handle and I’d have been able to haul myself out in seconds. But there’s no compulsion on hotels to incorporate such a thing. My funky room included an expensive coffee machine. But no way for a frailer person to exit the bath safely. I’d have a guess that the Tassimo device costs a lot more than a safety handle.
In the end, I somehow managed to reach the front rail and find the strength to lift myself to a standing position from which I stepped out of the bath. Shivering. The planned soothing benefits of the bath lost. Dignity removed.
But at least my new strains were minimal and I was safe.