Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The ugly truth

I am looking at shower seats to make my morning routine happier, easier and less precarious. Having recently taken a little tumble in my shower I have decided that maybe it is time to consider accessibility in the home. I really suck at this part of becoming increasingly disabled. I like climbing things. I like balancing on the bed while reaching above me to change the light bulb in the bedroom. I have fun climbing on counters to paint the bathroom wall above the mirror. I enjoy storing things in hard to reach places. None of these activities are doctor/husband/family approved. In the back of my mind even I acknowledge that I am being more than a little stupid. But that excitement...that makes it all worth it.

However, slipping in the shower has made me reconsider the eventual side effects of shaving one's right leg while balancing on the left with a razor blade in the other hand and water dripping in your face. Sure it's a safety razor and if I cut my leg I won't feel it, but think of the embarrassment of visiting the emergency room, buck naked, because my pride did not allow for a shower seat. Or safety handles in the shower. And so I finally bought an electric razor/trimmer. It's pink. It's rechargeable. I can sit on the toilet and shave both legs without pretending to be an elephant balancing on a baseball. And I think I like it. It's pretty.

But this morning I realized that shaving one's legs is not the only time in the shower where one's balance is brought into question. I have questionable balance all of the time. It's just the combination of water and soap and cheap enamel tub that makes showering the ultimate endurance test every morning. And here's the bad part... I already have a shower bench. It lives in the garage and occasionally is pulled into the garden to be used as a seat while weeding. Right now, seeing as it is winter, I believe it is gathering a most impressive collection of spider webs.

It is so ugly. It's grey and big and close to impossible to use. I sit facing forward into the water and soap up. At that point I need to turn around and soap my back. There is no extra room in the tub so I have to turn off the water (so when I open the shower curtain it won't spray the bathroom floor) and haul first one and then the second leg over the edge of the bathtub and back over. So now I have effectively turned my back to the knob that I need to be facing to turn the water back on. I perform this flexible, twisty-no longer have a center of balance move that turns the water on so I can soap my back and rinse. Then I need to rinse my front. So repeat twisty move to turn off water, lifting legs over side of tub, repositioning to rinse and turn on water. By this time I am usually out of hot water, have poured gallons of the stuff on the bathroom floor, have collected an assortment of ghastly bruises on my unfeeling lower limbs and have still not figured out how to wash my hair. Hmm...stand up, remove shower stool, lean against bathtub wall and wash hair. Try not to fall while stepping out of tub. Sit on edge of tub to towel dry. Sit on toilet to put on clothes and shoes. Remove useless shower bench and store in garage because there is no room for it in our bathroom and my husband needs to take a shower (remember...bathroom floor all wet and there is no hot water). You see the dilemma. But even if I found the perfect shower stool, that folded and fit in my tub and had a lazy-susan on top for my butt so I could twirl around with out lifting a foot, the fact remains it would be ugly.

Most medical equipment is just plain ugly. Shower stools are ugly (even the pink breast cancer awareness one). Grab handles are ugly. Wheelchair ramps are ugly. Just look at the medical equipment out there and try to say that it is attractive. Its is functional. And for that I am grateful because there will be a time when functionality wins out over vanity. But not yet. My cane...I walk with a quad really not attractive. Alfred lives in the coat closet at home because he really is ugly. Trudy, my slightly smaller and more demure quad cane, is slowly being transformed into something more individualistic. But let's be honest. She was ugly when I got her. Ezra, my chair, is really quite handsome for what he is in that sort of the best of a bad litter sort of way. And he is functional. Until I can afford an ultralight wheelchair I have to be happy with functional. And everyone seems fine with this ("it isn't pretty but it is functional and that's what really matters"). You know what? That's complete bull. Why can't things be pretty and functional. Why are pretty thing so much more expensive. Pretty canes (and boy can they be hideous) always cost more than their more functional counterparts. Beautiful wheel chairs are not for a part time chair user like myself. (but there are some really sexy chairs out there). Hell, even wheelchair gloves tend to be ugly. I am a girl that likes pretty things. With the slow deterioration of my body I don't see a corresponding decline in my aesthetic tastes. So...pretty medical equipment...can I please have Marimekko Poppies on my wheel chair ramps and Chagall-esqe (I made that word up) goats on my canes? Thank you.


Elizabeth McClung said...

"I like balancing on the bed while reaching above me to change the light bulb in the bedroom." Reading this sentence gave me the shivers and a vision of you flying off balance across the room. But if you like it...

As to benches, I agree, they are ugly and worse, hideously expensive - why something that LOOKS like it costs $15 at target cost me $247 I am not sure. Also, quite honestly, it is not as enjoyable showering sitting on a bench, even with a removable shower head as the whole tilt your head back and let the warm water rinse out your hair while running down the back and bum is gone - bum is now facing the cold air and will remain so - also, even though I am extremely heat intolerant - I still like HAVING a hot shower on a cold winter day - so far the fact that I feel naseau to the point of vomiting and fall over cannot erase three decades of hot shower dependance.

Moggy said...

If it wasn't such a pain to locate anything on the site, I'd direct you to a discussion folks had over at one of Livejournal's disability communities (I think it was No_Pity) about how to make medical equipment more attractive. Unfortunately, best I can realistically do is mention that if you join, wander over to places like No_Pity, GimpGirl, etc. and ask, people can tell you how to decorate, who sells pre-decorated (or decoration add-ons) stuff, and what companies do.

I was surprised to see that you're newish to blogging... Your writing is strong enough that I'd figured you were one of the veterans!