How I Learned to See My Shower Seat as a Power Seat


Living with chronic fatigue syndrome as a teenager can be quite intimidating. As a means of trying to explain to my peers what it’s like, I often use the description of “It’s like having an old lady in my body but I just look like a teenager.”

 

This description seemed to stab me in the back when my occupational therapist suggested I invest in a shower seat so I wasn’t tiring myself out standing in the shower, or being caught by a sudden temperature fluctuation and having a long way to fall. I had been adamant that I didn’t want a wheelchair at college because of the attention being “disabled” can draw, and I felt the same way about this shower seat. Even though nobody could see me behind closed doors, I felt like an elderly lady. My wonderful mum brought me the chair a few days after my session with my OT and was super encouraging and attempted to make me feel better by saying we could “pimp it up a little.” But I was too focused on how it reminded of something you’d find in a hospital.

The first night I eventually managed to get myself to use it instead of sitting on the shower floor, I cried. I sobbed my way through the shower, feeling weak and incapable of looking after myself. Being 18 years old and filled with hope of independence, this feeling was overwhelming. I felt like even my ability to stand – which you learn as a baby – had been taken away from me.

But as I sat there, I suddenly had an image of a throne in my head, and that’s when I realized this appliance wasn’t there to be disabling, but enabling. I could shave without getting dizzy from bending constantly, and meant I could straighten my leg more easily so it would be easier for the razor to glide across my skin. I could wash every part of my body with ease and even though it took a long time the first time I used the seat, once I got used to showering with it, it has made the whole process a lot quicker and less energy consuming. I can finally do more with my morning than just shower, as it leaves me with a little energy left over to either save or to use on an activity I want to do that day. It turned into an empowered shower!

Even though I was in the shower and no one could see me, I still felt like people were judging and assessing how ill I really was when I still appeared able when I would go out and do various activities. This shouldn’t be a concern though – we should do what we feel we can do without letting the expectations and opinions of others dictate how we feel we should behave.

As chronic fatigue fighters (and anyone who feels like they connect with this), we are allowed to feel weak – particularly in the safety of our own homes. If you need walking sticks, railings, wheelchairs or seats to help you, then use them please! They are there to enable you.

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Thinkstock photo via LarsZahnerPhotography.


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