(Only a bit about language.)
[TMI Warning: The following posting contains information, opinion, or reflection that some readers might find uncomfortably or unwelcomely personal, private, or intimate in topic or content: too much information, as the saying goes. As a general observation, I’m willing to go almost anywhere in my postings, including some places that some readers don’t want to go.]
Despite the title, this posting is about the routinization of arrangements and activities, so that it becomes hard to imagine alternatives. Most of the household arrangements that got set up (rather hastily) when I came home from the hospital are like this. There were good reasons to do things in a certain way, but then my abilities changed, and maybe things could now be done differently — if only we thought about it.
The case at hand has to do with the 3-in-1 commode that came home with me from the hospital :
The three ways to use it are over the toilet, at the bedside, or as a shower seat. The point of the over-the-toilet use is to raise the effective height of the toilet; low chairs, including your typical (low) toilet seat, are bad news for my hip (were then and still are). After initial attempts to use the thing as a freestanding piece of medical furniture came to naught because my digestive system was not yet functioning normally, we turned to the raised-toilet use.
(Etymological digression from the Concise OED 11: commode is a euphemism, an 18th-century borrowing from French, literally ‘convenient, suitable’, used for “a piece of furniture containing a concealed chamber pot”, then in N.Amer. simply ”a toilet”. It’s a convenience, yes, but in a very specific way.)
There followed a lot of trial and error (the commode was simply delivered to my hospital room at some point, without any information or instructions), the goal of which was to set things up so that I could manage all the toilet stuff by myself, without the aid of family and friends. The arrangement then had the commode over the toilet, and all the toilet action was in the sitting position (there turmed out to be good reason not to use the commode with its seat down for defecation (I’m sorry, but neither pooping not shitting really works for me here) and up for urination.
Ok, in this arrangement, peeing was certainly possible, though a bit cramped. Then at Gordon Biersch for lunch on Wednesday I used a urinal there, and wondered once again about those commode arrangements. And a crucial thing had changed.