Someone reply to my tweet about taking a shower today, mentioning: "Psshhhhh Shower? Don't you lead a luxurious life!" = And I couldn't agree with that statement more!
The thing about Stroke it, most times it affects the victim's mobility and ability to physically be able to do the thing he/she had done before Stroke, and one of them more likely is taking a simple bath.
Because my ability to maintain balance and limited physical ability post-Stroke was severely affected initially, I had spent my first two months in hospital, showering while sitting down. And nearly the first month of that, unable to even shower myself - as I could hardly reach or stretch to reach certain parts of my body (my entire right side of the body was affected by Stroke, and still is) hence soaping myself was a chore, much less be able to stand up after a shower, to dry myself with a towel. I struggled and managed to dry my front-of-body, but could not reach my back.
Hell, I was wheelchair bound in the initial weeks, and subsequently struggled with a 4-Legged Walker, how could I expect to stand for a certain amount of time to soap myself and rinse it off afters? LOL
After over 3 decades bathing myself, being unable to do so now, is quite a shock to get over, let me tell you straight out. But instead of feeling crippled and invalid, I struggled hard in my rehabilitation, and managed to be able to shower by myself (without any help) near the end of my first month in the hospital.
Imagine folks whose physical disability is further/deeper set in, and to be not being able to even shower themselves, or even take a shit or dump (that's another post for another time, I'd rather not rack up old stories of me peeing in my pants uncontrollably as I watched the stain get bigger…). The humility of needing help to do the most mundane of tasks everyone takes for granted, is most times greeted with silence, from both the care-taker, and the person being showered or bathed. Most times folks associate that with old decrepit folks unable to care for themselves. That notion needs to be re-assessed, methinks.
And no, I did not enjoy my sponge-baths in the early days of my Stroke. "Embarrassing" is a mild description but for the sheer fear of being unable to take care of yourselves. And as mentioned, most times maintain a certain silence to this situation. Especially us Asian folks, who tend to clam up especially from older-folks who do not want to feel even more burdened to their family or care-takers, and you know what happens when folks clam up? Other folks think everything is "okay", everything is "fine" and not needing to further investigate or further placate any misgivings. This notion needs to be re-assessed, period. . And as well to be addressed, but do bear in mind the sensitivities involved in such a situation. Being more caring by far outweighs "tough-love", IMHO.
The second month saw me transferred out of the acute-ward in Changi and into the recovery ward at St Andrews. By then, I had still relied on a wheelchair to scoot around, BUT I was able to shower myself! Funnily enough, I showered sitting down thru my one-month+ stay in SACH (as was the rule there) and was even strapped some of the time - as in strapped with a canvas strap ala a saftey-belt (but a looser-one, as was the rule there).
When I wheelchaired my way home for Christmas at the end of 2010, it took me a few months before I gained the courage and strength to literally STAND in the bathroom, to take a shower! But of course the horizontal bars newly erected in the bathroom helped me conquer the fear, and I gripped it for dear life! LOL
These days, I am thankful I can rinse myself off the sweat and grime of my twice-weekly rehabilitation, and after every perspiration-filled days, as the humidity in Singapore can be pretty merciless. And funnily enough, I shower still in cold water at home, and even gagging for it, while the hot showers in my hospital stay made me feel even more "needy" LOL
Oh but for the luxuries of being able to shower myself, and for that, I am grateful :)