The Challenging Task of Taking a Shower With Chronic Pain
It’s been five days since I’ve taken a shower.
This will not do.
Although my American Bulldog, Maya, has been trying to groom me herself, dog spit does not a clean body make. It’s time for me to pull up my big girl britches and get my funky ass in the shower.
I’ll just wait until I finish reading this blog post and savor the last sip of my room-temperature coffee.
Shit. OK, enough stalling. Time to suck it up, Mer.
I sigh loudly for my own benefit and then climb the 14 stairs (thank God for railings) up to the bathroom. I make sure that there’s a semi-clean towel available, then I place my shower chair in the bathtub.
It makes bath time lots of fun. (Sorry, Rubber Ducky.)
I take off my clothes and turn the water on. I do a visual check of my hygiene supplies.
Wash cloth, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, the apricot stuff that I wash my face with…all within arm’s reach.
I’m ready to rock and roll, but softly so I don’t injure myself too much or wake the neighbors. The slower that I can make my movements, the better. This is still an ongoing skill that I have yet to master.
I climb carefully into the bathtub and position my shower chair right underneath the jet of warm water, letting it hit my upturned face. It feels like a gift straight from heaven, especially after almost five days without it.
I used to love to take a hot shower, but now my overly sensitive skin won’t allow it. Hot water feels like tiny pellets battering me because I have allodynia.
I also overheat easily nowadays because the fibromyalgia screws around with my internal thermostat.
I wash myself from the top, like I have since I was a kid. I shampoo my hair twice, taking mini-breaks to rest my weak and achy arms. Then I condition it, because if I skip this step, my hair will be a frizzed-up mess. I can’t skip this step, although I wish I could.
Washing my face is a breeze. At least something about this overwhelming situation is easy.
I lavish vanilla coconut body wash all over my washcloth and… well, this is where you close your eyes, unless you want to see a naked me sitting on a shower chair.
Totally up to you, but make sure that you have some eye bleach handy.
Washing my lady bits is the most strenuous part of bathing myself. Thank goodness for my shower wand. It helps me to rinse off with hardly any effort on my part. It’s also long enough to reach all of the hidden crevices.
Lastly, I wash my legs and feet. There’s no chance in hell that I’m going to be shaving anything this time around. Oddly enough, the hair on my legs isn’t as furry as it used to be. I blame getting older and general good luck that I’m not a wildebeest from the waist down.
When I’m finally finished with the herculean task of cleansing my body so I don’t offend myself or others, I just sit there and let the water envelop me. I close my eyes and begin to build myself up for the next step.
The worst part is yet to come.
I stand up carefully so that I don’t accidentally slip on a rogue squirt of conditioner or lose my always iffy balance. I turn off the water and put a hand on the wall to steady my exit from the tub. Once I’m safely standing on the bath mat, I grab the towel and begin the arduous challenge of drying myself off enough so I can limp my way to my room and fall exhausted onto my bed.
I lay there for perhaps five minutes, wrapped in my towel, trying to regain enough of my energy to get dressed and brush my hair.
My dog Maya is waiting for me on the top of the stairs.
“Well, that was a bitch, girl. But hey, I smell great!”
She wags her tail in response and leads the way down the stairs, looking back a few times to make sure I’m following her.
I tell myself I won’t let almost five days go by again without a shower, but I know I’m a liar. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being as fresh as a daisy. (Having clean hair is a beautiful thing.)
Nope, that’s not the problem. Taking a shower kicks my ass. I just find it way too easy to postpone it.
But right now, I’m just enjoying the scent of vanilla coconut on my skin and whipping my hair around like I’m in a shampoo commercial.
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Thinkstock photo by Marili Forastieri