Peeing Down Under

My ideas get goofy sometimes.  Plenty of evidence of that.  Last night, I had dinner with a couple of old friends.  We were fighting yesterday’s wars and not drinking water.  Alcohol only stimulates a bladder already confused by MS, the gift that keeps on giving.  I had never eaten at this place and did not know my way around.  I grabbed my cane to head toward the back of the restaurant, where I assumed the facilities were.   I discovered what I always hope to avoid.  There was the dreaded steep stairway down.

My descent was slow and cautious.  I felt I was on a ladder with steps.  God bless handrails.  The slow speed of my trek was made more exciting by the urgency to reach my destination.  I have yet to lose that race but have come close to a tie.  Relief was tempered by anticipation of the climb back north.

I got back to the table, glancing at my wine glass, still not quite empty.   I was not even tempted.  Two round trips were not gaining entry to my future.  I said to my companions, I am going to put together a short guide to identifying eating and drinking establishments where restrooms are located on the same floor as the tables.  Meredith suggested finding places without stairs to gain entry from the street.

As with any city, New York has an army of older and disabled residents and visitors who would appreciate any guidance they can get.  Ours is an old city full of dungeon bathrooms in public places.  The Americans with Disabilities Act exempts public structures that predate the legislation.  That means a huge group of restaurants are free to stick restrooms twenty-six feet under.

My only question is how I am going to identify these businesses spread all over New York City.  I don’t see taking my cane and hobbling around five boroughs, much as I would like to do that in the freezing cold.    This is going to be a challenge.  Anyone have any ideas?  By the way, you are welcome to steal the idea of writing this short book.  I would rather read than write it.

16 Responses to Peeing Down Under

  1. Mimi December 24, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

    How about letting your fingers do the walking? I don’t like surprises (especially from my bladder), so I call before going to ask about accessibility. I was diagnosed in 2008, and that was also my last visit to NYC. I could walk up and down those subway stairs then. Not now. I wasn’t aware of the ADA exemptions. I would love an accessible guide to NYC.

    • Richard M. Cohen December 25, 2013 at 7:33 am #

      Please srite it. I will buy copies. Happy holidays.


  2. Anne December 24, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    Hi Richard!

    At first I thought it was a story about peeing in Australia!

    My suggestion would be to COMPLETELY let your fingers do the walking. If you call places and ask for details on the location of the restrooms, saying that you’re ‘disabled’ and concerned that it’ll be a problem on your visit there, you’ll probably find that most places will be very accommodating and kind and won’t mind answering your questions. It might, at least, cut down on the amount of footwork you’ll have to do.

    Alternately, you could get out of the cold and move to Tucson, Arizona, where the vast majority of places are on one level!

    Take care, stay warm!

    • Richard M. Cohen December 25, 2013 at 7:36 am #

      Oer we could move to Australia.


  3. (Another) Mimi December 24, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    I have been to restaurants that say they’re accessible but the accessibility stops once you enter the establishment. When my daughter graduated from college, we went out to lunch afterwards and were shocked by the lack of access to the bathrooms.

    The answer from the staff was that I could use the employee bathroom located off of the kitchen. Since I’m unable to walk, that was the only option I had because I use a scooter. Very humiliating.

    As for the accessibility of restaurants in NYC, you can perform a search on Google, but unfortunately some restaurants’ definitions of accessible don’t jive with the ADA requirements or with the actual requirements of people who need accommodations. (Usually getting to a bathroom trips it up.)

    There should be some type of signage outside of buildings that states Handicapped Accessible…Really.

    • Richard M. Cohen December 25, 2013 at 7:31 am #

      Your first suggestion was good. I figure I can complete the book in 2525. I was in Tucson as a very young man during the ’68 McCarthy campaign. Horses and saloons. Maybe there are organizations that can help. Happy Holidays.


  4. Esther Vasa December 25, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

    I can totally relate to this sadly. I’ve had a similar experience on Dec 23rd at a restaurant in Lexington Ave. So embarrassing especially when you have to get off those giddying staircase in a short time with the wonderful balance and coordination that MS offers.

    • Richard M. Cohen December 26, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

      Fun, isn’t it?
      Happy New Year.


  5. Desinie Smith December 26, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

    Hi Richard, I think you’re aware of Jason DaSilva as I’m pretty sure I’ve read you talking about him and his movie When I Walk in a previous blog. Anyhow,he’s the author/ founder of I haven’t spent too much time on the website,but I believe the majority of the places he has on the site are in NYC. Hope this info’s helpful!

    • Richard M. Cohen December 27, 2013 at 7:37 am #

      Thanks. Will check it out.


    • Mimi December 29, 2013 at 10:58 am #

      Checked it out. It lists accessible places wherever you are. I am in New Orleans and it automatically gave me places here. Interesting and not confident that all the places listed are accessible. Would have to check them out further. Maybe have back entrances not known to me. Thanks for the resource.

      • Richard December 30, 2013 at 8:57 am #

        I think accessible places should register somewhere. Good for veryone.

  6. jleanette mckillop December 30, 2013 at 2:48 am #

    First thanks so much to you and Meredith for educating those of us
    with stem cells. I live most of the time in Denver (9 mos. of
    the year), but part of the time in NYC (3mos.). As a result, I have an
    appt. with Dr. Sadiq’s office on Jan. 27th and 28th. i was
    diagnosed 1/21/87. I’m ready to graduate and move on to something else!

    Thanks again to you both,
    Jeanette McKillop

    One suggestion re: bathrooms. You kind of alluded to it I have
    always found handrails on stairs to work great. How about
    redesigning them to lead right to, or at least close by bathrooms
    to make it easier/closer for those disabled?
    those disabled? A thought …

    • Richard December 30, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      I agree. But no one does anything without a gun to their heads.

  7. Beverly Beutell January 11, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

    My husband and daughter both have MS and I’ve become acutely aware that the term “accessible” is relative. I find myself wishing that I could somehow get involved in making architects aware of the needs of people with disabilities. One parking spot and a ramp does not mean the facility is accessible. I can’t even imagine NYC.

    • Richard M. Cohen January 18, 2014 at 8:25 pm #