A perfect match
Debbie describes her and her partner Jay as ‘a perfect match’. However, not many couples would include their toilet usage in their compatibility list.
Debbie and Jay live together in privately rented housing in Newcastle upon Tyne, having met online six years ago. Debbie- a former nurse- has PTSD and IBS; Jay has Multiple Sclerosis and thorasic spine lesions, meaning he uses a powerchair. Jay’s illnesses were triggered after a fateful incident at work: as a telecom engineer he was undertaking an installation at a house where the children had chickenpox- triggering his MS
“We get through! You develop techniques to overcome problems, and we’ve managed to have some equipment to adapt our home,” explains Debbie. “We care for each other, and, fortunately, on the whole, when one of us is down, the other is well enough to cope and help.”
Under a Disabled Facilities Grant, the bathroom has altered to create a wetfloor shower area, a hoist installed and, most recently, the latest model of Closomat shower/ wash & dry WC- a Palma Vita- fitted.
Looking like- and capable of functioning as- a conventional WC, the Palma Vita has integrated douching and drying, eliminating the need to wipe- or be wiped, leaving the user hygienically and consistently clean and dry. As Jay is tall (5ft 11ins), the Closomat has been fitted with a plinth, to raise the seat to a convenient height to ease his transfer. This ability to accessorise the toilet according to individual needs- initially and retrospectively- is unique to Closomat.
“It’s a revelation!” says Debbie. “We both use the Closomat, and it helps us both, in different ways.
“My IBS can make me sore, so the douching and drying is a big help to me. I appreciate the way the toilet seat is designed, to position your ‘cheeks’ to ease the whole process. Jay has little movement in his legs and has muscle spasticity, which can cause constipation. But he understandably hated me having to help him with the toilet. It was difficult to get him properly clean, to balance without him falling off, but he needed to be properly clean as faeces will burn the skin. With the Closomat, I help him transfer onto it, then leave him to it. He’s relaxed about ‘going’ now, which in itself helps the process.
“Neither of us has ever felt so clean. That helps us massively, individually and as a couple, physically and mentally.”