Rheumatoid arthritis bathroom problems?
That’s right. Bathroom. Not a big fan of potty humor. But if you live with active rheumatoid arthritis bathroom visits can create a minefield of problems.
As the bathroom became more and more difficult for me, I wondered whether I’m the only one. Today, I’m being bold to ask. Do you have a hard time in the bathroom? Or other place where no one would fathom how challenging it is for you?
Here we go.
7 reasons going to the bathroom is difficult with rheumatoid arthritis / rheumatoid disease – and what we can do
1. Knees – and ankles – hey that’s 4 reasons right there! Sitting on a short toilet demands my joints bend in a way they commonly refuse. A toilet is not like a sofa where you can just let yourself “fall” down and then adjust. You need to lower yourself more carefully onto a toilet seat so you don’t fall in! Taller toilets make it easier, so in public bathrooms, use the handicapped stall. And if you ever remodel at home, get taller toilets. Or install a handle bar on the wall. There are also toilet seat risers to raise the seat.
2. Tearing toilet paper off the roll. Who would’ve imagined this could get hard. You have to reach it. You have to grasp it. Then tear it. Too hard. It helps some if you have the roll closer, so you can tear at a closer range. Maybe you can install a closer roll holder or buy a free standing one.
3. Skip this one if you’re too sensitive for brutal honesty. If I can’t properly move my shoulder, elbow, wrist or fingers to do many other things, it’s no better when I try to reach to use that toilet paper. I know there are gadgets to help hold toilet paper with a longer reach, but they do require gripping with a hand, so you have to be sure you can hold them.
4. It’s so hard to pull up my pants. Even pajamas with soft elastic. I’m not sure how this can be helped. I’ve been known to wear a t-shirt dress so I only have to pull up panties. That can be done with the back of hands (inside) to avoid having to grasp.
5. Ok this one is the cliché people supposedly expect. But I sometimes want to ask people who minimize my RA / RD, “What’s the longest time it ever took you to button your pants?” There are buttoning hook helpers, but again, it would depend on how well you can hold the gadget. And there’s elastic waistbands.
6. Flushing. If it’s a lever type, it has to be pushed down. Again I want to ask some people, “How many times do you have to try before you can flush?” If they can always flush the first time, no wonder they don’t get it. I’ve learned to press down with my palm not my fingers, sometimes doubling up, two-handed. There are floor button flushers, but that would be a pretty major renovation.
7. Washing hands. Always wash up, right? When hands or wrists are really inflamed, they do not want to be touched or manipulated in any way. I take the not-as-bad hand and gently clean the worse hand. That helps a little unless you have days when both hands are horrible – I hope not too often.
Does going to the bathroom ever get difficult for you?
It’s kind of a grim feeling when you’re in there all alone and struggling to do what’s required. Do you have any helpful rheumatoid arthritis bathroom suggestions to share?
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