September 27, 2016

Bathing Does Not Have to Be Exhausting

As an OT I had my clients practice a single ADL skill in isolation, but I never watched a client do a whole morning routine.  I did not know how tiring bathing, grooming, and dressing can be until I did all of them one after the other as a stroke survivor.  Self-care is not supposed to be so exhausting that all I can do is watch TV and become a zombie who cannot stop clicking the TV remote. 

I want to be independent so I can close the shower curtain and take as much time as I want to enjoy the feeling of warm water cascading over my body while I sit on my shower chair.  I want to leave the shower feeling refreshed - not exhausted and frustrated.

Washing.  Using shower gel and a nylon poof means I do not have to struggle one-handed to soap up a washcloth or chase a bar of soap after I drop it.  I pour shower gel on the nylon poof and knead it a few times to get it soapy.  To wash my sound arm I need only a gross grasp to hold the nylon poof.  Instead of struggling to wring out a washcloth one-handed I hang the nylon poof on a suction hook and hose it down the way you rinse a car and then let it air dry.  I use shampoo suds to wash my face
OT helped me regain the ability to open my hemiplegic hand and use a gross grasp to hold the head of the shower hose close to my crotch.  This leaves my sound hand free to deal with the nooks and crannies that running water does not reach.  Even if my husband were still alive I would want to bathe this private part of my body myself.  It may look like a pathetic amount of hand function to an able-bodied person, but it keeps me from feeling embarrassed which is priceless.

Drying.  My towel rack is close enough to the shower that I can reach it while sitting on my shower chair.  I drape the towel over one shoulder to dry my arms and trunk.  After I get out of the shower I don a terrycloth bathrobe which dries my buttocks and thighs.  This means I do not have to twist around to dry these hard-to-reach places.  While standing I dry my crotch with the towel draped over my shoulder.  It is easier for my sound hand to manipulate the free end when it does not have to deal with the full weight of the towel.  Keeping the towel draped over my shoulder makes it easy to put the towel on the towel rack.  Letting my calves air dry while I brush my teeth means I do not have to huff and puff while holding up my leg to dry it.  In the summer when evaporation is not as effective, I air dry my calves while lying on the bed and listening to music.  I put a towel under my calves to keep my bedspread from getting wet.


  1. I really like the poof and shower gel idea. I also tend to get very tired and light headed when I shower and I rest for at least a little while afterward. Air drying is a happy bonus.

    1. The other good thing about shower gel is that it does not leave soap scum on the tub the way hard soap does.