May 22, 2012
There’s a bit of a warning on this post, it may seem quite gross and even an over share on some of the things I’ve mentioned. If you’ll judge me for that, then please don’t read anymore. Maintaining personal hygiene is a big problem for any person struggling with a debilitating illness. When your illness is invisible, people wonder why you look so rough.
This is Ted. I bought him for Paul the first Christmas Paul and I were friends, he’s been enjoying baths with either Paul or I since.
But, that has changed in recent weeks. I’ve never been able to have daily baths like some sufferers do to relieve their aches- I just find it too tiring. In fact, at times I’ve struggled to bathe once a week, and I haven’t been able to stand long enough for a shower in a very long time. My baths in recent weeks have been far from the relaxation bliss I’d come to love, they’ve become almost torturous.
I’ve been willing to keep my mind open and hoping my body would slip back to accepting baths as a time to let my muscles relax, my body just isn’t ready though…
I had a bath today, which convinced me I may even need to increase my painkillers on bath day. It’s the simple things that become so difficult which make me frustrated. I’m not able to run my own bath so Paul has to take at least an hour to an hour and half to help me have a bath. I feel especially guilty about this at the moment because he’s supposed to be revising. Today, I thought I’d mix it up and I used a lovely bottle of bubble bath some women from my Church gave me. The bottle makes me feel like I’ve stepped into the 1940s (and the way I shuffle to my bath makes me feel like I was born then). The vanilla and patchouli smell so great.
After Paul has run the bath for me, and helped me get undressed, he has to lift me into the bath because it hurts too much to lift my leg high enough to get into the bath. When I’m immersed in the hot water, my muscles begin their tug of war. It feels like part of my muscles wants to give into the soothing water and just relax, and the other half is determined to tense until they become as rigid as a bone. It means I’m not able to even lay back in the bath unaided anymore. I have to sit there trying not to be sick from the dizziness I feel while Paul washes my hair and my body. It’s hard for me to write about this because I’d like to not think about it. Times like this make it feel like I’m not in a relationship with Paul but like I’m his elder mother, who is too sick to look after herself anymore. For most people watching their girlfriend bathe is really sexy, if Paul feels that then he has to switch it off because it’s painful even to be touched by hands.
I have to shampoo my hair twice every time I wash it. I never had greasy hair before, but now I can’t wash my hair more than once a week. Thank goodness someone created dry shampoo.
When I said how long Paul has to set aside to bath me, you must have wondered why it takes me so long to bath. It’s not because I’ve gotten drawn into my book, I don’t read in the bath anymore, it’s because everything has to be done so slowly because of the pain. The whole thing feels ridiculous. Sometimes that thought overtakes and I go to take over and wash my own hair or try putting the shampoo in myself. When I do, I regret it immensely because of the pain that follows.
When I’m all shiny and clean, Paul carries me from the bath to the bedroom where I fall asleep for a couple of hours. The whole thing just feels so exhausting now that that’s all I can manage that day.
I remember when I used to have a shower, shave my legs, and put make up on to go on a date with Paul. Now I can’t do any of those things on my own anymore. I can’t put a pretty little dress on, I’d resemble more of a hairy hippo with stretch marks than anything else. At the moment I can still manage to pluck my eyebrows, it might take me over an hour but I can still do it, I’m holding onto that. Not least, because Paul would not have the first idea about shaping eyebrows. I really hope one day we can afford for me to get my legs waxed and my eyebrows threaded by a beauty therapist, then I’d feel like I got some dignity back. I think I’d feel like a princess being beautified. I used to get my nails done when we could afford it and that made me feel a bit prettier.
I can’t even moisturise or put product in my hair after getting out of the bath anymore. My hair is becoming like straw. I remember the first time I couldn’t squeeze conditioner out of the bottle because it hurt too much, it felt like the most pathetic thing in the world. The idea of blow drying my hair is laughable, I still keep my hairdryer though, just in case one day…
Love Katie x
N.B. Paul has to carry me in the flat if I can’t shuffle along because the doorways are too narrow for me to use my wheelchair.