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The 'Disaster' That Is Showering With a Chronic Illness

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Showering is really tough when you have a chronic condition. At one point in time I would take an hour-long soak in super hot water and come out of it feeling refreshed and ready for a good night’s sleep. That’s not the case anymore. I’d say showering is one of the hardest things I do and I know it’s hard on others too. You are not alone.

Recently I’ve had a flare-up of POTS symptoms that make sudsing up that much worse.

My need for a shower starts the day before. Baby wipes and dry shampoo just aren’t cutting it. I make sure I have nothing else planned for at least a couple hours. I’m probably really grimy because one of my symptoms is always sweating, so I ask my husband if he can change my sheets while I’m washing up, because if I’m gross so are my sheets, even though they were changed two days ago.

The next morning I get up and drink my coffee and evaluate if I can stand the water hitting my skin. It’s probably a no, but I’m sticky so I’m getting in there anyway.

I lay down for a while and anxiously surf Facebook and talk to my bestie (she gets the whole showering thing). I drink a bunch of Gatorade and water, prepping my body for this endeavor. Get undressed while I’m still sitting down and grab my soft towels.

Then I sit on the edge of my bed with my husband telling me I can do this. I need to do this, self care is important. I glare thinking, This is not self care.

Once in the bathroom I make sure everything is in reach so I don’t have to raise my arms above my head and don’t have to bend over. I get the water going at a lukewarm temperature because hot water sets both my fibromyalgia and POTS off.

I get in the shower and stand in the water for a few minutes not doing a thing because I’m dizzy, nauseous and in pain. I look around and figure out, once again, that there is absolutely no way to fit a shower chair in the coffin I call a shower. I don’t know who decided to to put miniature fixtures in my bathroom (seriously, our separate tub won’t fit anyone larger then a toddler), but that person is on my hit list.

Finally I start washing my hair by tipping my head over so I don’t have to raise my arms very high. Scrub and rinse, get the soap out of my eyes, add conditioner.

While the conditioner is setting I brush my teeth because I haven’t stood up long enough to do it at any point during my morning. I also pick up my razor, look down at my hairy self and decide against it, put my bright pink piece of plastic down. I’m wearing leggings and sundresses from now on. Then I rinse my hair, getting soap in my eyes again.

I stand there for another minute because I’m nauseous and wondering if I’m going to have to book it out of the shower and to the porcelain god.

By this point my husband checks on me, making sure I didn’t hit the floor (a regular occurrence). I tell him I’m fine. He knows I’m lying through my teeth.

I grab my baking soda face wash and slather it all over my face and neck as quickly as possible, I’m done with this whole showering thing by this point. Rinse, choke on water that’s gone into my nose.

I’ve been in the water for eight minutes and I’m a mess.

By this point I can’t do much and I’m too stubborn to ask for help so I lather up the parts of my body that really need it. Bending over would end in tragedy so I grab the shower head and hope the water is enough for my legs.

I rinse for two seconds, turn off the shower, and get out of there. I still have soap residue in various spots, but I don’t care by this point.

The total time spent in the shower was 15 minutes, and most of it was spent debating moving out to the middle of nowhere so no one has to smell me.

I sit on the edge of the tub to towel off and take a deep breath. I did it! I’d dance but my chest hurts too much so I stumble back into my bedroom and drop into my freshly made bed (thank you, hubby). I drink more water and Gatorade.

Nap time. I’m wiped, pale, and shaking. I’m also still trying to figure out if I need to make friends with the toilet but at least I don’t smell anymore and that is a huge accomplishment.

To everyone who also faced the shower this morning, give yourself a hug. You did it! Achievement unlocked.

This story originally appeared on

Getty photo by Carol_Anne

Originally published: August 20, 2018
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