One Diva’s Powder Room Experience: by Maria De León

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“Every great journey begins with a trip to the bathroom.” Unknown

‘Oh the places you will go!’ Never thought it would include a million trips to the bathrooms of the world. I feel like there is not much I have not seen but then again I could be wrong. Having Parkinson’s disease I never imagined would turn me into a connoisseur and more importantly a critic of bathrooms. Previously a bathroom was just a place to do your business not to linger or enjoy. Although, it always need to have some modicum of cleanliness for it to be even considered as plausible site to use. Either a bathroom was clean or not which meant it was usable or not.  A ladies powder room was not anything to fret over you went if needed the end. Now when I am out of the house I must always focus and strategize when, where and what state will I find the lavatories in and will there even be some available. I never realized that some states like Arkansas do not have bathrooms in their rest stops like they do in Texas, which means you must travel a long distance before finding a restroom never mind one that does not make you cringe.

My travel routes are now not only planned as to distance but also more importantly as to availability of bathrooms. I do not travel small roads typically because there are no easy accessible bathrooms and if you happen to find one – typically you wish you had not but sometimes duty calls and you have to just grin and bear it and hope you did not catch some disease in the process.

Although, my bladder issues are much better controlled than they were at the beginning of my illness you never know when an emergency will strike not just because of bladder but having bowel issues from PD is another reason one must always be vigilante as to location of lavatories. Over the last decade, I have developed a sense of what I like and don’t like. I now rate quality of a restaurant not only on their desserts but on their quality of powder rooms. I have had extensive experience traveling around the world and I cringe recalling some of the escapades involving outings in search of a toilet. First when traveling one must not only know the proper name of the facilities in a foreign language and sometimes deciphering a bathroom symbol can be as much a challenge as playing Pictionary with the added bonus that if you don’t solve quickly instead of losing you will soil or wet yourself. Other places around the world may require coins to open the lavatories- so you must have exact change unless there happens to be an attendant who can make change. All of this commotion only makes my bladder shut down. Then there is the issue of finding toilet paper. Some places like Mexico and Italy you have to purchase sheets of toilet paper. I simply carry some with me especially when traveling abroad.

It can be exhausting not just for person with bowel and bladder issues but also for family members whose agenda is completely disrupted each time they are traveling together. Is not only appalling having to live a life where bathrooms are the center of the universe but where every road must lead a bathroom stall?

So next time you plan a trip remember to take into account not just travel time, and mode of transportation but accessibility to powder rooms especially if you have mobility issues or need assistance because some like ones in airplane barely allow for passenger to fit much less maneuver two people when one is unable to flex. Think about what this means to your travel partners for instance added time if traveling by car, missing tours because having to step away from group to find bathroom. Consider always carrying change of clothes especially undergarments and employing depends or other absorbent materials to aid in case of accidents or no available toilets. Once in a while because of our bladder issues you might just get the royal treatment and be allowed into the pink room of the white house.


all rights reserved by Maria De Leon MD

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