Dear Annie: I am a woman in my mid-60s with multiple sclerosis, which is under control. Although a trip out to an appointment and a couple of stores is no problem, I am very limited in how far I can walk, and with my neurogenic bladder, I must make frequent restroom stops.
My concern is what I would do if my car broke down. We are automobile club members, but I know I would need a bathroom before help arrived. I don't know whether it would be OK for me just to call the police and notify them that I am having an emergency and temporarily leaving my car to take a taxi to a fast-food place and promptly return to the car afterward.
My neuropsychologist responded to this question by advising that I take a change of clothing with me at all times. She said I would have to change under a blanket in the car. That sounds difficult and unpleasant to me and might need to happen more than once if I were waiting for help. I make regular use of incontinence pads, although under normal circumstances, I almost invariably make it to a bathroom without any accident. I also know about adult diapers. The problem would be to know what day my car is going to break down so I could be sure to wear a diaper that day!
Although we are retired, my husband has a very busy schedule and is often not available. Many of my friends still work and would also be unavailable.
Do you have any other ideas? — Afraid to Be Humiliated
Dear Afraid: First off, know that you're not alone, and you should not feel humiliated if something like that ever were to happen. However, I completely sympathize with your wanting to have a plan in place to prevent it.
Your tentative solutions are good ones. Have a list of taxi companies and their phone numbers in your car, along with an emergency cellphone (you can buy one at Walgreens, Target or a similar store) loaded with minutes from a calling card. Depending on how vigilant you want to be and how much space you have in your vehicle, you might consider buying a portable toilet or building one. (There are tutorials online.) For privacy, you could have makeshift curtains that stick to the windows via suction cups while you're pulled over on the side of the road.
Finally, get your car inspected and serviced regularly. The best defense is a good offense.
Dear Annie: Your response to "Fed Up," who was tired of a co-worker's running commentary on her lunch, was perfect. It is quite rude and annoying to make comments relating to the calorie count or nutritional value of what another person is eating. When the co-worker made a comment to "Fed Up" about pasta's tasting better than her protein smoothie, what she was really saying was, "Look at me. Look how virtuous I am denying myself pasta, and look at what a slacker you are." It's a thinly disguised insult and an unwarranted shaming of both the food and the person eating it. Healthy eating is important, but manners, especially in the close quarters of a workplace, are more so. Thank you for taking a stand for the right to eat in peace. — Minding My Own Lunch in PA
Dear Minding: My knee-jerk reaction to a comment such as the one her co-worker made is the same as yours — to feel offended and regard it as a passive-aggressive insult. But I do think some people don't even realize how it comes across, so it's always good to try to give them the benefit of the doubt. Thank you for taking the time to write in and underscore how personal our food choices are.
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