According to a few polls circulating the internet, the average person spends roughly an hour to 3 hours in the bathroom per week, this equates to 92 days of a lifetime. That itself is a lot of time to spend in an unproductive environment where most people are simply getting rid of waste or upkeeping their hygiene. For individuals with spinal cord injuries, we might spend upwards of 3 hours a day in the bathroom, let alone 3 hours in a week. Bladder and bowel programs are an inconvenience to say the least. So, how much time do we actually spend wasting away on the toilet seat? I did some very elementary math, and with bladder/bowel programs that puts individuals with SCI/D at about 14 per week (give or take a few hours) spent in the bathroom alone. Personally, my bowel program takes about an hour/hour and a half, and I complete it every other day. When you add in time for cathing, the numbers just keep racking up. Then you add transfer time to and from all of these surfaces, and showers that always end up taking forever, especially if you’re like me and drop the shampoo/conditioner bottles at least 3 times each shower.
Since we spend so much time in the bathroom and specifically on our throne (toilet seat or transfer chair) what if it could work for us instead of against us? What else can we do while we use the bathroom?
First let’s talk about skin protection. As we all know, this has to be a main concern. A few years into my injury I started to notice some skin breakdown and bruising embarrassingly in the shape of my toilet seat. This makes sense considering how much time I spent on the toilet to do my bowel program, and my transfers to the toilet were more of a hard “plop” than a smooth transfer. To mitigate the skin breakdown I purchased what I call a “squishy seat” also known as a padded toilet seat or transfer chair for my toilet, instead of the regular hard material. This has helped tremendously for my skin, I have one at my home as well as in my college apartment. You do have to replace them every few years because the material can rip or become flattened, but it beats the regular toilet seats, trust me!
Now that skin protection is taken care of, what if we could use all that time that we’re in the bathroom to be productive? As a college student, I have found myself many times writing papers or studying while completing my bowel program. It’s so easy to set my laptop in my wheelchair and binge a Netflix or Hulu show, but I know that I definitely complain about having zero time in my life, so why not use the time where I’m already doing something I have to. I use a lap desk to put my computer or textbooks on to provide a solid working surface. I use my bowel program time to do my homework, but it could also be used to go through emails or order your groceries for the week. You could set up appointments, order medicine, or hell, you could probably even do a portion of your taxes while completing a bowel program. I figure, if we have to spend so much time completing necessary medical procedures, we should have the ability to benefit, if we can.
I am sure we all would agree that an extra few hours a day would be helpful, well, maybe we found a sliver of hope in bowel programs!
Link to Purchase a Padded Toilet Seat
My name is Madisyn Hess and I am 20 years old. I am currently a junior at Christopher Newport University. I am completing my undergraduate degree in Psychology and I hope to pursue a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. I am a T-10 paraplegic, and I have an adorable service dog named Oxford. In my limited free time, I love to watch movies or TV shows, occasionally “bingeing” them (whoops), and I enjoy trying new restaurants as well as new types of food. You can find me dancing, singing, or trying any adaptive sport I can!