As my arthritis became worse, one thing I had difficulty with was getting off the loo.

I started gripping the toilet-roll-holder as a ‘push me up.’ However, while this helped me to get back on my feet, it still caused a nasty crunching pain in my knee. I was also concerned that one day the toilet roll holder would give way, causing both me and the toilet wall a significant problem.

After a discussion with the man of the house, we went looking for a ‘proper’ grip holder that could be attached to the wall. We found they were all large, for hospitals and nursing homes, not at all dainty but strong. They would make an attractive but functional addition to our home. We also figured these holders would need some wall-stabilising packing or I might pull the whole wall off.

It was then I remembered a conversation about taller toilets (known as adult height toilets) and how much easier it is for people with a mobility problem to get on and off toilets like this. Our own toilet is as old as the house, some 30 years, and you have to contort yourself to clean behind it. It didn’t take too much of an effort to sell myself on this smart-as, easy-clean, new loo idea.

Val Bird: To loo or not to loo, that is the question!

So the quest began…

The first thing we discovered was there is a limited range of adult loos to choose from. Secondly, they are more expensive than a normal loo.

One salesperson suggested buying a specialty toilet seat. This fits over the standard seat (making it higher), but the thought of cleaning one toilet seat, then the other (and what gets between) didn’t turn me on. There was also this floaty vision of our place looking like it was inhabited by an arthritic old duck who collected toilet seats. I soon dismissed this as an option.

We continued shopping around. And while everyone was caring and helpful, I felt a dinkum goose popping on and off loos with all eyes on me (can she do it?) Yes, it was a self-conscious performance, but I needed to prove that I could indeed arise without having anything to grip onto. And yes, I could! Once I got into the hang of it, embarrassment faded as I found I could go up, down, up and down without the pain of a crunching knee.

Price-wise we found a happy deal and then, with a quote from a plumber, the toilet and its installation worked out to just over $1000.

Was it worth it? You bet your bottom dollar it was…

How many times a day do I go to the loo? Too many.

So how many times a day was I wrenching the knee getting off the seat? Too many.

With that problem solved, however, I still have a cause for concern when I need to use a public toilet, which I try to avoid like the plague.

After becoming accustomed to using the adult height toilet, the family height seems very low. When getting established on the seat of a public loo, I feel like I’m going to hit the floor, and getting off is a nightmare in the making. I fear the day this nightmare comes true: Stuck on a toilet, nothing to grab hold of to get off, door locked… ouch.

Most modern toilet blocks are built to cater for the disabled, but there are still many old-fashioned ones around that are traps for the likes of me.

So if you are ever in a public loo, and hear a small voice calling out for help… You never know, it might be yours truly!