Monday, November 16, 2009

How to Use a Shower Stool and Survive

I never thought about shower chairs much except for the time old Mrs. Tilly lobbed one out the back door at Mr. Tilly because he came home drunk. The Tilly's were neighbors when I lived in Columbus, but by that time I'd lived in college apartments and a shower chair lobbed out the door didn't even register on my radar.
I did think of them briefly, however, when two years ago Ken brought home this. . .this. . . thing. . . in a big plastic bag and set it out in the bathroom just before my first foot surgery.
It was a shower stool exactly like this one. And nothing has ever made me feel so completely geriatric in my entire life.
I soon learned, however, that to use one of these babies by yourself you must be anything BUT geriatric.
You must be lithe.
You must be nimble.
And you must have lots and lots of towels handy.
The first thing you have to tackle is waterproofing your injured limb. They make these great sleeves that slip over your leg and keep it from getting wet but I just use a ForceFlex garbage bag and a roll of blue painters tape. Not real purdy, for sure, but all I'm after is dry bandages and the least amount of plastic tossed into a landfill as possible. I'm quite proud of the fact that I'm still using the same garbage bag I started out with. I will admit that I've probably used 4, 197 feet of blue painters tape, but using a big rubber band just seemed to be begging for a whole new set of problems.
Your shower chair is a handy thing to sit on while you do all this, but I should mention that it's a good idea to get naked before putting on the garbage bag or you'll discover only too late that those cute little jammies you have on won't come off now and you'll have to untape yourself and start all over again. Considering that the entire showering process is going to take five or six hours, you want to save minutes wherever you can.
I should also mention that it is never a good idea to sit naked on a dry shower stool without a towel between the two of you. Another lesson from experience: taping yourself into your garbage bag will make you sweat. And separating youself from the shower stool in that condition is exactly like pulling duct tape off your skin. Not pretty and it will involve screaming.
OK. So let's review. You're naked and have a garbage bag taped onto your leg.
The next maneuver is to set the shower stool into the tub while balancing on your good foot and being careful not to touch the floor with your Bad Foot. By this time, your good leg will be tiring from exertion so your first instinct will be to sit down for a minute. And the easiest place to sit will be the edge of the tub.
Even if you live right smack dab on the Equator, the edge of the tub will be approximately the same temperature as Walt Disney's cryogenically preserved head. This will cause a sharp intake of breath and an expulsion of expletives followed in the next nanosecond by shooting into an upright position whereby you will forget your slippery Bad Foot and do the splits right there in the bathroom.
Avoid this at all possible costs.
Just slide yourself onto the shower stool, doing a little hop sort of thing to avoid contact with the edge of the tub and you'll be fine. Prop Bad Foot up onto the edge of the tub, turn on the shower, and off we go.
If you're lucky, some sweet person (AOK) will have already fetched the soap off the top shelf of the tub surround and left it thoughtfully within reach along with a clean washcloth. If not, don't panic. Just slowly and carefully stand up to retrieve what you need and make a mental note to whap their ankle with your crutch later on.
And so now you begin to lather everything up. You might have to lean this way or that to get out of the stream of water to do this, depending on how well the showerhead is aimed. But that's okay because being nimble and lithe really comes into play next when it comes time to rinse. For instance, you might find that your right elbow needs to go over by your left ear in order to rinse your armpit. As a matter of fact, you will find yourself putting arms and legs into positions they've never been in and do it all while precariously balanced on a plastic shower stool inside a porcelain tub with faucets and ledges sticking out at you everywhere.
All while you're covered in slippery soap.
Give yourself no more than five minutes of this contortionistic torture and whatever soap remains at that point can just be shammied off with your towel.
Turn off the shower and - if you're like me - remove the sock from your Good Foot that you forgot to take off before you got into the shower. Wring out both your sock and your washcloth and grab a towel.
This is very important: lay the towel over the edge of the tub BEFORE scooting off the shower stool. Don't want a repeat of what happened before, do we? Drying off will be a breeze after the rinsing escapade, but just make sure to dry off your garbage bag, too.
All that's left now is to get dressed in clean jammies so you can go back to bed because this olympian event will have left you with barely enough energy to crutch your way to the couch. I personally think this nation has far too little appreciation for the effort our crutchbound citizenry puts forth just to smell good on a daily basis.
I hope I've been able to help you understand that showering while incapacitated can be done safely, but is not for the faint of heart. It's a good thing that most insurance agents never go through this ordeal because I'm quite sure this little activity would be excluded from homeowners policies just like chainsaw juggling and trampoline target shooting.

Shower on, Wayne.


  1. Oh Lori, Lori, Lori.... I can only just picture this, and while I'd prefer not to, and prefer not to laugh at your expense... Well, sorry. ;)

  2. My stomach hurts from laughing so hard!! Dh thinks I'm nuts and told me to keep it down he's trying to watch tv...insert eye roll!! This is the guy who wants to spend another $50/mo on HD TV...insert second eye roll!! Oh Lori, hope you are better soon!!!! Hugs!!

  3. OMG, Girl you are killing me! I, too, am laughing at your expense!! Tee hee!!!