Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Behind Closed Doors: Accessibility Appraisals (ALS Humor)

It’s that time once again ALS and Wellness Blog readers: time to hit the road and take a field trip.  Follow me and I’ll show you how I incorporate little bits of wellness into my day - - especially the small parts of my day - - let’s begin with public restrooms!

Normally, when I do have to use them, I make a bee-line straight for the accessible stall. You know, the one with the wide door, lots of turn-around room, grab bars and extra rolls of toilet paper. However, I now believe that architects the world over regard these accessible stalls super-valuable, and purposely place them ‘waaay’ back -- far from the restroom's entrance.

This extra distance of course, allows me to practice lots of healthy deep breathing and bladder control skills - - a must for all aging women!

But wait, there’s more!

If I happen to enter the restroom at the same time as a frazzled mom dragging a brood of small-fry orbiting around behind her, I’ll quickly gesture for her to take the accessible stall first and calmly wait my turn. I’ve learned to hang back and enjoy the entertainment. Sure enough, within seconds, several small faces hang upside-down, peering at me from under the door or better yet, tiny eyes peek through gaps in the wall panels while miniature feet slip, slide and dance below.

No big sacrifice on my part; I’m simply helping preserve the planet and its environment. Who among us hasn’t witnessed how quickly an angel-faced tyke without a mom nearby can transform into a whirling dervish? After terrorizing hand dryers and soap dispensers; a trail of damp paper towels is all that's left behind.     

Attention: restaurant owners to take note - - 
It doesn’t matter if you have the mother-of-all-handicap-accessible-features in your restroom, if we can’t get the darn door open - - we can’t use ‘em!

If all I can manage is to pull the door open a mere inch, the “wedge-shimmy-shove” method comes in to play. This requires quickly wedging one wheel of my walker between the door and frame. Then, like a good old arm wrestling match, I keep pressuring forward and it’s only a matter of time before my walker owns the door space. With one last heave-ho I push my way in. Exercise, mental ingenuity, self-esteem…it’s all there!

Of course, if my husband is handy I’ll have him push the door open for me. By now, he’s opened more doors to women’s restrooms than are allowed on a police report!

Then there are the push-pads of automatic door openers; always good for hand-eye coordination games. I play, “Guess how many times I have to push the pad to open this door?”

Whenever I crack a door’s code it’s added to a list I keep in my head: The drugstore? – 2 pushes. The lab? – 5 pushes. The eye doctor? – 3 pause, 3 pause, 3 pause…and so on. I know, it’s a boring game, but it prevents me from uttering less than godly words.

Speaking of feeling spiritual, one of the groups I belong to holds its monthly meeting at a local church. The big double doors at the entrance are controlled by a push pad on a wall that's a good ten feet away from the actual doors. I meet the challenge by hitting the pad and taking off in my fastest shuffle while uttering aloud, Heaven help me get through these doors before they close!

Usually, I don’t make it in time. But someone’s heard my commotion and pushes the doors open from the inside. I give them a wink and say, Thanks, Good Samaritan!   

Only once have I experienced an unfortunate incident with an automatic door. It happened at our local little branch bank; once opened, their door is set to swing shut on an unusually short cycle. My first time there I dawdled a little too long while exiting and suddenly the big glass door swung inward; trapping me and my walker at the mid-way point.

Rather than get mad, I remembered that only last year they were robbed. I figured this was all part of their plan in tightening up security. Everyone is suspicious nowadays. Who knows? I could really be the bandito: Desperado Dagmar - - The wild-walker-wielding-woman of the West!  

I see can Desperado Dagmar up on the big movie screen,“…just put the money in the bag ma’am and give me a head-start to pick up speed so I can make it out your dang door!”

Funny enough, recently I did wish for a thicker, stronger door. Let me explain.

In order to provide a little more privacy to the whole process of getting a flu shot, our local grocery store built one of those swanky little medical rooms near the pharmacy section. The windowless waiting area was small and the room where the shots were administered was even smaller. Everything was so cramped that a simple sliding door with mottled glass separated the two areas. The waiting room could clearly hear what was being said in the injection room.

The day I was there, it was down to four of us sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in the waiting room, a sweet little-old-lady had just been called in and I was next. She must have been nervous and asked how long he’d been giving shots. Through the sliding door we heard the pharmacist - - enunciating very carefully and using that overly loud voice some feel is necessary when speaking to senior citizens:  Me? Oh, I’ve been giving shots a long, long time. In fact, I grew up on a farm in Illinois and learned how to give shots on the farm animals!

Without missing a beat, I turned to the man sitting next to me and said, Why don’t you go next? I’ll let you take my place.  The room cracked up.

I found the funny.

And you can find the funny too! Let's all have a laugh together!

Dagmar Munn
ALS and Wellness Blogger


  1. I saw a lady yesterday with ALS and walking with her husband..I wanted to rush up and tell her about your BLOG..all the wonderful ideas you have....I want the world to know about your blog...thank you so much ....your strength ..wisdom and humor are so inspiring....I try to save all your blogs...FOREVER..

  2. Share, share, by all means share! Thank you Sally, I'm happy my blogs bring you joy and that my stories and thoughts inspire you and others. The more of us laughing at and with the world, the merrier!

  3. Shared your blog with a group of PT/yoga therapists, and others on Facebook. It is one of the more progressive groups of people from around the world that I have encountered. Hoping they will pass it on!

    1. Wow! - Thank you Julianne! I appreciate your sharing my blog; especially with a group such as this one whose members most likely know others with ALS. Together we're spreading the concept that we all can live in a state of wellness, no matter what our condition!

  4. This is only my second time reading your blog and you make me smile again and again. I love your humor about life and it's contagious. Definitely sharing on our page, I am encouraging everyone to connect with you. Brings a breathe of fresh air and then some to life and the woes of ALS.
    Thank you so much Rivqa & Cynthia

    1. Rivqa & Cynthia - Thank you both for the positive feedback!
      And for sharing my blog forward :-)
      I'm always pleased to make new friends, welcome!

  5. I loved this blog entry, Dagmar! You made me laugh out loud with your stories of the bathroom trials and tribulations and the "automatic" door buttons. My dad has had some of the same issues with his walker and these doors! Miss you!!!

    1. Oh yes, it seems that more of us share these experiences than we've let on. It's great that we can share the chuckles about it all - - as well. Thanks for chiming in!


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