soap dispenser and razor with grip

19 Products That Can Make Showering Easier If You Have a Chronic Illness or Disability


For the average person, taking a warm, luxurious shower might be one of the best parts of the day. However, what many people consider a brief, everyday activity can actually be one of the most challenging chores for those with chronic illness.

Standing in the shower, picking up bottles of soap and shampoo and scrubbing your entire body can quickly lead to fatigue, dizziness and pain. Often, these tasks don’t all get done in one go, and they certainly don’t happen every single day. Just know that if showering is difficult for you, you are not alone.

To help those who struggle with showering, we asked our Mighty community to share which products they use to help make showering easier with a chronic illness. Here are their recommendations.

Just so you know, we’ve selected these links to make shopping easier for you. We do not receive any funds from purchases you make.

1. Shower Seat

Shower chair for people with a disability or chronic illness.

Whether you struggle with fatigue, chronic pain or dizziness, having a place to sit can make showering so much easier. It can also be helpful for propping up your legs to shave or scrubbing hard-to-reach parts of your body.

Normala DeLaney told us, “Shower chairs or stools. I can’t stand up long enough to finish showering even on medium pain days so my shower stool is a lifesaver. Great for shaving legs without too much bending. I also love it on pain days when I just needed a hot shower on my back to relax it and all I do is just sit under it till I feel better.”

“My shower seat!” said Samantha Rubin. “Wouldn’t make it out alive without it! It doesn’t get any better than being able to sit when I need to yet I’m still able to do what I need to…wash hair, face, etc. Showers have always been a major challenge for me as fainting is very common for me, especially when I get hot. I used to dread showering but my helpful friend lets me take breaks and doesn’t let me stand that long so I’ll take it!”

Buy the shower seat above for $31.49 from Amazon.

2. Pump Bottles

blue pump bottles

Buying large bottles of shampoo, conditioner and soap is often cheaper in terms of price per ounce, but they can be heavy, awkward and slippery to handle in the shower. Try filling a few pump bottles with your favorite bath products – that way you don’t have to expend precious spoons on lifting and prying open the lids of regular bottles.

Janey Grover wrote, “I use push pump shower gels, shampoo and conditioner bottles. It’s so much easier on ouchie mornings with stiff, achey hands. Having to squeeze bottles is hard. Now I can just push down the dispenser and hey, presto! So much easier.”

Buy the pump bottles above for $8.99 from Amazon.

3. Shower Water Filter

shower water filter

If you are sensitive to chemicals or odors, a water filter can help purify the water in your shower by removing chlorine, heavy metals, sulfur odor, bacteria and sediment, making the water feel “softer.”

“Shower head that filters chlorine out,” recommended Sarah Langer. “I’m chemically sensitive, and the chlorine in the water makes my skin painful and tender, and it hurts to breathe in the steam. The filter has helped calm all those problems down to a minor and tolerable level!”

Buy the shower filter above for $32.99 from Amazon.

4. Dove Shower Foam

dove foam soap

This foam body wash makes it super easy to lather up your skin with minimal effort and minimal scrubbing. Plus it comes in a pump bottle – so you don’t have to deal with lifting or holding it in the shower.

Alison Wonderland said, “My Dove brand shower foam…so much gentler against my skin than a washcloth or loofah! Sometimes I’m so sensitive that the water stream hurts…this foam has made it so much better.”

Buy the shower foam above for $11.66 from Amazon.

5. 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner

suave 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner

Washing your hair can be exhausting, painful or even cause dizziness from keeping your arms elevated. Instead of going through the motions twice, try using a 2-in-1 product to combine shampooing and conditioning.

Tawnie Ashley wrote, “I occasionally like to use 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioners to save time/energy.”

Buy the shampoo/conditioner above for $2.94 from Amazon.

6. Non-Slip Bath Mat

green non-slip bath mat

Showers can be dangerously slippery whether you’re sick or healthy – but for those who have conditions that cause you to struggle with balance or dizziness, a non-slip bath mat can be extremely helpful (and keep you safe!).

Cindy Sink Kepley recommended, “A shower mat not only on the floor of the tub but placed over the side so it isn’t slippery.”

Buy the bath mat above for $8.71 from Amazon.

7. Spa Gloves

spa gloves

Wearing a pair of these gloves while showering (or bathing) means you can scrub and exfoliate your hands as well as the rest of the body – without having to hold on to a sponge or loofah.

Chailine Markey said, “They exfoliate, make it easier to grip even when soapy and are under $2 at most Big Lots and dollar stores. These have been the biggest help for me with my rheumatoid-arthritis-damaged hands.”

Buy the gloves above (four pairs) for $5.98 from Amazon.

8. Soap Dispenser

soap dispenser for the shower with three compartments

Similar to pump bottles, a soap dispenser is another great alternative to lifting heavy bottles in the shower. One benefit of the dispenser is you can attach it to the wall in your shower at whatever height works best for you, so you don’t have to bend over to access it.

Michelle MyBelle told us, “I couldn’t live without a liquid soap dispenser like this one [featured above]. No more bending down or struggling to pick up and open several different bottles with each shower. It’s installed at just the right height for me.”

Buy the dispenser above for $19.99 from Amazon.

9. Grip Bars

shower grip bar

If you struggle with exhaustion, dizziness or balance, installing several grip bars in your shower can help keep you safe and prevent accidents or injuries. Bars that suction onto the wall (like the one above) can easily be moved or even packed for travel.

Jordan Lum said, “I highly recommend having the [grip] bars. Those have been lifesavers for me when I’ve almost fallen down or slipped!”

“I put in a [grip] bar and it’s priceless! It keeps me from falling backwards when I rinse my hair. My balance is terrible now!” added Jennifer Strickland Deese.

Buy the grip bar above for $15.48 from Amazon.

10. Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Bath Wash

johnson's baby bath wash

Just because the label says “baby” doesn’t mean adults can’t enjoy this bath wash, too! It is gentle and has calming aromas that can help you relax.

Jill Kessler said, “[I] use the Johnson’s baby soothing aromatherapy wash as it helps with headaches.”

Buy the wash above for $4.88 from Amazon.

11. Microfiber Washcloths

microfiber washcloths

If you have chronic pain or sensitive skin, it can be difficult to find towels that aren’t too hard or scratchy. Microfiber tends to be very soft, which would be especially helpful for washing your face or other sensitive areas.

“Microfiber washcloths are very soft and don’t hurt my sensitive complex regional pain syndrome skin as much as normal ones do,” said Sally Rolfe.

Buy the washcloths above (set of five) for $8.99 from Amazon.

12. Razor With Grip Handle

razor with large grip handle

For those who struggle with muscle control or weakness, handling a razor (especially when it’s wet and slippery in the shower) can be a challenge. A large grip handle can make the razor much easier to hold onto.

Deborah Furniss said she uses razors with large grip handles so she doesn’t drop them.

Buy the razor and grip handle above for $14.95 from Amazon.

13. Adjustable and Detachable Shower Head

sliding adjustable and detachable shower head

Having a shower head that is both adjustable and detachable can be helpful in a variety of ways for those with chronic illness. If you are sitting down on a shower seat, you can slide the shower head down so it is just above you, rather than being several feet higher. Detaching it gives you more control over where the water hits you.

Khana Kassandra Carvajal said, “[A] handheld shower head is life. Allows me to get a quick cleaning when I don’t have the energy but really need to shower.”

“Adjustable shower head,” Jill DeVol told us. “They make ones that slide up and down so you can take an actual real shower sitting down with normal water pressure. I had one in my college dorm and I’m dying to get one at home.”

April Less told us she uses a shower head with a lower shower head that can reach her while she’s sitting.

Buy the shower head above for $58.99 from Amazon.

14. Swivel Shower Chair

swivel shower chair

A swivel shower chair not only allows you to sit down during your shower, but you can also easily rotate to be in or out of the stream of water and reach bath products at both ends.

Amber Roth said, “I’ve got a swivel shower chair and a shower head that detaches. There are days where I’ve subluxed joints, including ribs, just getting out of bed. So everything from washing my hair to shaving is exhausting. The chair allows me to at least halfway relax and swivel around instead of shifting my weight too much and stressing painful areas.”

Buy the swivel chair above for $179.99 from Amazon.

15. Long-Handled Loofah

long-handled loofah

If you struggle to wash certain spots of your body due to chronic pain, hypermobility, stiffness, etc., a long-handled loofah might make those areas a bit easier to reach.

Diana Estell Butler wrote, “[I use] my shower poof/loofah attached to a long stick, since my arms don’t work well and I can’t reach most of my torso.”

Buy the loofah above for $8.49 from Amazon.

16. Shower Caddy

shower caddy with wall suction

For many with chronic illness, bending over or reaching up to access your bath products can be painful or trigger other symptoms, such as dizziness – which can be dangerous when you’re in the shower. If you’re searching for a shower caddy, make sure to find one that keeps all your products at an accessible height.

“I am all about not falling!” said Tawnie Ashley. “Shower caddies are great for keeping everything at an easily accessible height and preventing slip risk.”

Buy the shower caddy above for $19.91 from Amazon.

17. LUSH Shampoo Bars

lush shampoo bar

These shampoo bars from LUSH offer a smaller and easier to handle alternative to big bottles of liquid shampoo. They are packed with essential oils and are supposed to last for up to 80 washes.

Jacinta Howells told us, “LUSH hard shampoo. Froths quick and easy and no need for conditioner. Helps my dry scalp too. And it lasts ages!”

Melissa Mansell also recommended, “LUSH just bought out a solid shower gel, I find it so easy to use. I can just grab it, rub some of it on, lather with a shower puff and let it rinse off. It makes a massive difference not having to mess around picking up and opening bottles!”

Buy the shampoo bar above for $21.43 from Amazon.

18. Hand Towels

green hand towels

If large, bath towels are difficult for you to use due to pain or limited mobility, a hand towel (or a few!) might be a more manageable option.

Kim Hobbs-Paolino said, “I use a small towel to dry off. A regular size is too heavy for my hands and the hand towel is easer to maneuver.”

Buy the hand towels above (set of six) for $25.50 from Amazon.

19. Water Pressure Regulator

water pressure regulator

While some might find a shower with high pressure helps them relax and feel better, others might prefer low pressure if they have chronic pain or sensitive skin. Either way, installing a water pressure regulator can help make sure your shower is at the perfect setting for you.

Tiffanie Burrows wrote, “Water flow regulator. If the water pressure is too high it really hurts my skin. My boyfriend likes high water pressure. This has a little lever that you can move to allow more or less water pressure. Easy to install and use. And pretty inexpensive, too.”

Buy the pressure regulator above for $10.99 from Amazon.

Have a product you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments below!

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An Asian woman sitting on a couch, reading a book and drinking a hot drink.

When Your Best Form of Self-Care Is a Hibernation Bubble


Over the course of my illness I have learned a few things that have helped me immensely during my worst flare times. One of my most important “coping tricks” is my hibernation bubble. This is my fortress of solitude, my self-care zone. Every few weeks (or sometimes every week) when my symptoms get so intense that they overwhelm every single one of my senses, I activate my hibernation bubble.

You may be thinking, “What on earth is a hibernation bubble?” Well, it’s pretty much like it sounds: I go into my form of hibernation. I log out of most, if not all, of my social media accounts. This is not because I don’t love my friends, but I’m an extremely empathetic person and my emotions and stress levels can send this horrible illness into more of a devastating spiral, if I don’t control them.

Another part of the bubble is, I don’t have people over. It’s nothing personal, but I don’t want you to see me like this. I can’t get my house clean or presentable, and I can’t entertain anyone. I can’t even handle myself, let alone adding more people and their stresses into the mix.

I give myself permission to not answer texts or messages or right away, without feeling guilty about it. This is huge. I use to feel guilty about not responding right away, but there are times where I need to focus on me and my needs and not what other people need. This sounds incredibly selfish and it took me a long time to be OK and not be overwhelmed with guilt for this. But, me and my health are also important, and if I can’t take care of myself I won’t be able to help my friends. It’s a win-win, actually. I get to recharge and get myself better so that I can actually focus, give my best advice, and be the friend they need me to be, instead of this weird brain-fogged zombie with sometimes terrible advice.

Now I know that no human contact is not good, and isolation can be overwhelming as well. So, when I’m feeling semi “with it,” I log into certain social media accounts. I have found that Snapchat and my hibernation bubble cannot co-exist and that’s fine. It goes back to I don’t want people to see me like this. I know it’s hard for them, and it’s hard for me too.

The other side is, I would much rather be out there with them doing what they’re doing: shopping, going out for drinks and food, hiking, etc. But, that’s not in the realm of possibilities for me in my flare times, and I don’t need the added guilt of not being able to be with them… or having the heartache of knowing they know I’m sick, so they didn’t even ask me to go.

I’m extremely careful when logging into Facebook from my hibernation bubble. I usually check The Mighty and read their articles to help boost my spirits and not feel so alone. I scroll past anything that is controversial, and I don’t even try to read articles that I know will upset me.

I have found that Instagram is amazing for my hibernation bubble. I love to go to ocean dive accounts and look through their underwater videos and pictures. One of my favorite places to be is snorkeling in the water. This allows me to feel connected to something that I love and gives me positive feelings, which can be very helpful for putting me on the course to healing. I also love watching (and re-watching) my favorite movies and shows on Netflix. It allows me to put my focus elsewhere for a little bit, and not be consumed by my flare.

For my fellow chronic illness warriors who are also struggling right now – know that you are not alone. Give yourself permission to activate your hibernation bubble, without any guilt. If it helps, just let your friends and families know you need to rest and do some self-care. They will understand, and they want you to be your best self.

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Thinkstock Image By: DragonImages

CBD bottle and Target logo

Target Pulls CBD Products From Its Online Store After One Week


Last week, Target became one of the first major retailers to start selling CBD-based products. As news of its new offering broke, Target quietly pulled the products, CBD-containing pills and oils from Charlotte’s Web, from its online inventory on Thursday, just one week after they were posted on Target.com.

In a statement emailed to The Mighty Thursday evening, a Target spokeswoman said, “We started carrying Charlotte’s Web hemp extract items last week on Target.com. After further review, we have decided to remove it from our assortment.”

Cannabidiol, or as it is more commonly known, CBD, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in hemp plants. Unlike marijuana, CBD is legal in all 50 states because it contains less than .03 percent THC, the compound known for making people feel “high” when using marijuana. CBD, unlike THC, does not have those mood-altering effects.

Those who use CBD oil say it has the potential to treat a wide range of health issues including anxiety disorders, chronic painepilepsy and side effects related to cancerCharlotte’s Web is one of the more popular CBD products and was named after child Charlotte Figi, who used the product to treat her epilepsy.

black and white photo of lady gaga

How Lady Gaga's Cancelled Shows Can Remind Us There's Strength in Vulnerability


When I heard Lady Gaga cancelled shows because of pain from her chronic condition, I thought, “How unbelievably brave!”

The world loves stories of people overcoming their illness and pushing through their pain. We honor people who don’t let their health condition define them. We are taught in so many ways to never give up and never give in.

No excuses.

No pain, no gain.

Set your mind to it and you can do anything, be anything.

Don’t let anything stand in the way of your dreams.

Always keep fighting.

 

I admire the strength, determination and grit it takes to push through the pain. I know what it means to hurt so much and to still put on your armor and mask and face the outside world. From my own experiences I know how much someone who is ill can pay in private, with days of pain and exhaustion, for all those public displays of strength and normalcy. I admire the resilience it takes to continue to work or care for your children while unwell, and I respect the choice not to let illness kill your dreams. These things all take fortitude and bravery.

But you know when my hands shake and I can’t breathe and I feel most terrified? It’s the days when I take off the armor and the mask, peel off all the layers of my public self, admit defeat and crawl back into bed. It’s when I call in sick to work, renege on promises to my children, cancel social plans or otherwise turn away from the world.

When you are sick more days than not, stopping can be intimidating. I worry that giving in will make it harder to get up again. Canceling plans on one day is betting the odds that the next day or next week I won’t be even sicker. I worry about appearing unreliable. I worry people will be annoyed that I’m talking too much about my illness. I worry this time the world will turn away from me.

It has taken me years to realize (and I’m still learning) that admitting that some days (or weeks or months) your illness owns you is not a mark of failure. Being sick is not an excuse for not doing things, it’s a reason (the reason). Staying home is not “letting your disease win,” it’s accepting that your illness puts hard limits on your body. It’s understanding that a chronic health condition is sneaky as hell and will bite you in the ass when you least expect it. It’s seeing that your disease draws different lines and contours for how things get done. It’s acknowledging that you may have different markers for success than a healthier person.

Conceding defeat to your illness and staying in bed is defying social norms in order to protect your health. It’s standing up for your body when it has been pushed too far by illness. It is showing yourself the same empathy, caring and patience every sick person (whether chronically or periodically) deserves.

I know the rest of the world will not celebrate you or me (or probably even Lady Gaga) for calling in sick. It’s unlikely someone will write books or poems about the valor of not going, of not doing, of saying, “Today, I cannot.” I doubt a hashtag in our honor will trend on twitter. But those of us living with a chronic illness can know and share in the strength and bravery that it takes to be incapacitated and vulnerable.

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Lead photo courtesy of Lady Gaga’s Facebook page

two smiley face stuffed toys sitting on a bench

Why I'm Happy Even Though I'm Sick


Yes, I’m sick – so why be happy? Good question. And I think I have an answer. I’ve been ill for years, starting way back when I was a little kid. Anxiety and depression kept me from a lot of things, and I felt ill a lot…achiness, sore throats, excessive tiredness…that kind of thing. But somehow I muddled my way through all the way to age 36 when I became mysteriously and severely ill and had to have a transplant! I have no idea how, but I was fortunate enough to get one (that doesn’t always happen, sadly). But I was lucky, so after my liver transplant I figured that was it. I had always felt sick, then I had my big scare, so now I’m all done with bad news. Still, I had sick days, but I was happy. I was alive, after all!

But it wasn’t the end of bad news.

After a couple of serious bleeding incidents I ended up with chronic kidney disease. I was not happy. But eventually it sunk in, I accepted it and carried on. Now, at 50, CKD thinks it’s going to take me down because I’m going to have to start dialysis. But that’s not gonna happen.

 

Yes, I’m extremely upset. Yes, I’ve cried. A lot. But believe it or not, I’m still happy. Why? Well, why not?

Not as easy as it sounds though, right? And to be perfectly honest, I do have days where I’m not happy and feel trapped in a messed up body. It sort of feels like an encasement all around my body that no one can see. There’s a whole person in here dying to get out. I’m only human. I try not to let my brain go there too often but when it does I just cry it out. Crying is OK. It’s such a good release. And then it’s over.

I don’t enjoy being sick. I feel like I have lost so much time and it angers me. But here’s my logic: I don’t feel well most of the time, so why would I want to make it worse by being miserable during the good times? Why not find happy moments and relish them? Why not try to find all the good things I can and throw away the bad?

Also, it has sunk into my brain that even if I might die younger than I thought, it doesn’t mean I’m not here right now. And even though most days are difficult, I still get some good ones now and then…and the best thing is that even if I do have pain or feel awful, I can still have joyous things happen. For example:

I didn’t feel good the day my son graduated. But I was pretty darn happy.
I drove to my sister’s once (500 miles away) and I was so exhausted from the trip I spent the entire time on her couch. But I saw her, and had so much fun just catching up and goofing around…it was well worth it. Hell, I’ve even been happy after throwing up all day, just because it finally stopped and I felt better! Plus I can laugh at just about anything if it’s funny enough.

 

It’s impossible to be happy all the time, even if you’re a regular, healthy person. For us it’s an uphill challenge for sure. But it’s so important for you to really try to see things other people may miss every day. From our position, the little things can bring a lot of joy. Normal people walk on by and pass them over because they’re often too busy. We take happy moments, even little ones, and hold on to them for dear life. We know how precious they are.

But I don’t think anyone really understands things the way we do. It’s not that we’re better, just in a more peculiar place where happiness comes in different ways. I can find it just about every day. If you can’t, look more closely – maybe just knowing someone is happy you’re still around is what it takes. If you weren’t here, how would they feel? (You are more special than you think.) Or maybe you realize what good friends and family you actually have, you just forget about it in day-to-day moments. There’s something good everywhere. It’s up to you to find it.

So yes, I am sick. And I am happy. I’d be happier if I weren’t sick, but that’s not going to happen. So I take life as it is and find my happiness, because it’s right here.

Follow this journey on Missing My Life.

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black and white photo of person wearing an oxygen mask

Dear Doctors: I Am a Person First, Not a Sickness


Dear doctors everywhere,

I come to you with fear and exhaustion. I have set my expectations too high for a mortal to accomplish, and yet I still expect you will meet them. Before I even see you, I know my hopes are too high, but that doesn’t stop them from rising every moment.

From the second you walk into the room, I lay my problems down in front of you. Out of my mouth they pour like a waterfall. They keep going until I pause and look to you for an answer. My eyes are fixed upon you, watching your every move. I cringe on the inside as you open your mouth, but I stop you and ask before you answer, please remember one thing.

I am first a person, not a sickness.

I have never gone to medical school, but I assume the work is hard. To learn the complexity of the human body in only eight years and then to be expected to regurgitate all the information on a moment’s notice is a heavy responsibility. In those eight years, I assume you read over studies and syndromes and learn the quickest way to diagnose people who are of only two dimensions. But I am not of paper. My story starts before my symptoms did. Before I became sick, I was a person and I still am.

 

How to deal with humans cannot be taught through a test but through listening. I have a voice that needs to be heard, and you are my microphone. My medical story is not simple, and to find the answer, you must understand my past. You can’t put a puzzle together if the frame is lost.

Who I am before I got sick is still there. My likes and dislikes have not changed. I am simply a new version. Please understand the mystery before you try and diagnose me.

From,
A chronically ill patient

Follow this journey on Falling Scales.

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