One lady stuck in the lavatory…
Actually the way I remember the bastardized version of the children’s nursery rhyme it was three ladies, but who’s counting?
So anyway, this morning after physio I thought I’d grab a quick coffee before heading home to see my plumber (who’s investigating a leak of another kind in my bathroom).
Caught short, I needed to use the disabled bathroom at Gleneagles Hospital, Kuala Lumpur.
And that’s where my problems started. (by the way the picture above is not the offending loo itself, but a good representation of all that is wrong about disabled loos in Malaysia and possibly all the places I visit.)
First was the height of the toilet bowl. As noted in previous posts – made for midgets. Perhaps 30cm off the ground. Being generous 40cm at most.
Differential in height between toilet seat and wheelchair: may as well have been Everest (i.e. insurmountable)
Then there was THE railing (note SINGULAR railingG (again)): Broken.
Chances of pushing myself off midget loo? Zero.
Alarm bell? None.
So that’s a Broken, a Zero, and a None
Oh… (choose expletive of your choice)
Good job then I’d kept my phone near me, through force of habit. Quick call to the hospital switchboard and I soon had half the hospital security trying to fight their way through the door.
A bit of shouting later about ‘ladies only’ and a woman appeared, which eventually became two nurses. (So we ended up with three ladies after all 😉 )
And after telling them that yanking at my arms would not get me upright, just dislocate my shoulders, and a suggestion of how about lifting me up? we got there.
Me back in chair. Me pissed as hell (in both senses).
Complaints were made. Unacceptable for a hospital. Unacceptable for an international hospital. What were you thinking? Were you thinking? Shut it down until you make it useable and safe. grrrr etc etc
Chances of them doing anything?
Not holding my breath.
Now to understand how Malaysia treats its disabled (and associated facilities) you need a quick language lesson.
‘Disabled’ in Bahasa Malay is written as Orang Kurang Upaya or shortened to OKU. The problem with this is that it can literally be translated as ‘person with lesser ability’ which is NOT OK.
And to negotiate half the disabled loos in this town you really need super-human abilities, not lesser ones.
Researching this post, I found an article talking about negative attitudes associated with the acronym OKU (ya’ think?) and how to change them with a different translation. But it also noted that although the conservative estimate for the number of disabled people in Malaysia was 2.7 million (in 2007) only 220,000 people had registered as disabled, suggesting stigma associated with disability was part of the problem (again, ya’ think?)
After I got home, still fuming, I flicked on the tv to see a promo for Victoria – a British costume biopic of the late Queen.
As she herself was known to utter: WEe are not amused…