Hi to all my readers. I hope you’re doing well despite all that life currently launches at us. Yes, sorry to mention we’re still in year 2020!
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Chronic Illness Shower Hacks
You won’t be surprised that my chosen subject today is showering. Oh not again! Yes, again. Not a ditty on the joys or woes. As in Singalong-a-Shower Day or My Friend the Shower Seat. Yes, I’m obsessed. But a conversation on how a few adjustments over a period of weeks has helped the process of dare I say it “personal hygiene”. There, I said it!
The adjustments have been so pressingly necessary. As at one point over the last few months I was experiencing 5 hour post-shower crashes, what felt like a form of hypothermia and days of PEM – Post Exertional Malaise. And not recovering adequately enough for the next shower or crash. Thus causing a domino effect of not being able to shower at all! That was making me a bit annoyed.
Changes need to happen
Yes, I do get annoyed and then start swearing at inanimate objects. That’s always a sign of rising stress and utter exasperation. Measures are needed to help address that. Once I’ve stopped expressing my angst at the nearest mug in the sink. No not my mug, mug being a UK colloquialism for face. I refer to the floral mug just emptied of herbal tea approaching the dishwater at pace!
Let’s get back to strategies. I sense my crockery cupboard quaking somewhat. ‘Be our guest’. You know how I love a song interlude!
Moving on. So what are these mind blowing strategies that I have stumbled upon by way of my weary *cogs?
The first strategy was actually my husbands suggestion. And proved extremely valuable during the lockdown period. He graciously gifted me the ensuite shower room to myself. We are fortunate to have two shower rooms. I now have my own, tailored to my needs. Well, as much as is possible. This means that it remains set up to suit my requirements all the time. It just needs the finishing touch of an extra shelf.
I finally ordered a folding plastic chair which stays permenantly in the shower room. I already have a shower seat. But by adding a folding chair, the shower seat only needs to be removed from the shower cubicle when the shower is being cleaned for me. I also no longer need to drag a chair across the bedroom to the shower room for post-shower business, and then drag it back again. It’s lightweight, but still sturdy and very comfortable.
I had my hair cut short. After lockdown. There was obviously a wait of several months to have this done. We’re now back in measures in this county, so it’s growing! My hairdresser, who cuts my hair at my home, took some delight in chopping my crazy hair. I feel empowered. I had short hair a few years ago during a very bad relapse. I’m enjoying the freedom from scrunchies, hair claws and a sweaty neck once again. I have such a poetic tone!
Help from friends in the know
How did improved mid-week-non-shower-day maintenance happen? Following a facebook mope, a lovely facebook friend shared some invaluable tips on personal hygiene products. There, I said it again!
These include (not an exhaustive list):
A change of skin wipes. Baby wipes are very useful, but as their title indicates, they’re for infants. So the product doesn’t always hack it if you haven’t been near running water for a few days. Catch my drift. These new improved items are marvellous. They are slightly textured though, so you do need to be careful.
Waterless shampoo. I admit that I am yet to try this. As the product I bought was a bit too highly scented. But I will be investing in non-scented. As all that is needed is to put it on dry hair, foam it up then towel it off. I think it would be easier to use on short hair, but with help long hair would be doable too.
Nilaqua Foaming Towel off Body Wash. This product is AMAZING! It really is. It is already foamy straight from the dispenser. It cleans the skin so well, applied directly to skin, is effective and leaves a gentle clean aroma and soft skin too. I use a damp flannel to remove it, but you don’t need to. I know many may say, what is wrong with a bar of soap? Nothing. It’s only that that takes energy that often is absent, this is such a brilliant alternative.
Other products include:
shampoo or conditioning caps. Shampoo or Conditioning Caps. Which I am still yet to try.
Dry shampoo. Again, I’ve delayed, as I’m hesitant to put something on my hair I then may need to wash off due to struggling with a scent.
New soft towelling flannels in colours I like. If you’re a mum like me, you tend to use things that have been put to one side. No more. I have new ones!
Feel special – just popped into my head! An instruction I heard from a World Ballet Day class as a Corps de Ballet rehearsed 39 consecutive arabesque!! Gulp
Using a spray deoderant. It dries instantly and applies more easily. I use a non alluminium paraben free brand – Bionsen. I do use the roll on also (which is also alcohol free), depending on the day.
I did try an organic roll-on years ago, but unfortunately it succeeded in blocking my pores. I’ll say no more.
Routine Changes when a shower can happen
Only shampooing my hair once and applying conditioner to towel dried hair.
Not blow drying my hair – whilst being careful not to catch a chill.
Delaying shaving foam – I’m sorry to my readers, but all I’m going to say is ‘armpits’!
No moisturising – You may cringe at this. Although I do prefer to whenever energy permits.
Setting everything up in preparation – Which may seem obvious, but it does help so much. Then when my brain announces ‘I can confirm an energy allocation for showering is going to be released between (for example) 15.00 and 17.00 GMT (next Thursday week!). I can go for it.
Add some more loveliness
I have experimented with adding a couple of drops of essential oil to my shower scrunchy for some extra sweet loveliness. I can’t decide if my body agrees or not. So I suggest being cautious. Plus an extra Note of caution: Please be sure to choose an essential oil which is suitable for being added directly to the skin, or if it needs to be diluted in a carrier oil. And one that agrees with you.
Oh, and don’t forget the post-shower snacks, pillows and blankies. No, there is no getting away from postshower resting. Which can be anything from 1 to 5 hours. Not including post-shower PEM, which can last anything from 2 to 5+ days onwards. Hence why I cannot shower every day.
*PEM = Post Exertional Malaise
Being kind to yourself
Being honest with myself that ‘look, I know showering would enhance my ‘eau de being present in this world’. But PLEASE be honest with yourself and leave it for one more day. And preferably later in the day. Seek out the plethora of other hygiene beautifying aids and USE THEM!…if you feel up to it of course
SO there you have it. It may be that after reading this you have consumed your shower energy
allocation. I do hope not. I do hope that the tips are of help. It’s taken me years to have lightbulb,
pride extinguishing moments that help preserve dwindling energy. But I’m glad of them. Pride really has no place in the realms of chronic illness and personal hygiene.
I think from all these adaptations to my routine, I have probably shaved off (excuse the pun) about 10 to 15 minutes shower and preparation time. That equals 15 minutes of precious energy not poured down the plughole. Literally. Along with managing the inbetween days better and not feeling so awful about them.
I can sense readers thinking ‘how can anyone still have so much to say on the subject of showering’.
Believe me when I say, I’ll very likely be back with more! Haha!
Take care dear readers. It hopefully won’t be several months until you hear from me.
While you’re here, why not check out more posts in the ME/CFS LIFE Category below.