Oh, we humans love our ruts, our daily routines that we take for granted, and assume will be as constant as the sun rising in the East. We choose our ways of doing things, then practice those ways over and over until they become habits. After thousands of rehearsals, the habits are part of us, inextricably woven into our being. When our habits are changed or interrupted by external forces, we, too, are changed -- and we begin to lose ourselves.
For many years, Dale would get up before dawn, enjoy freshly brewed coffee, spend some time in prayer, and catch the morning traffic report in preparation for his commute. Then he would shower, shave, dress and launch his day.
No more. No longer can Dale autonomously decide when to take a shower, because he can no longer take a shower independently. He must coordinate it with my schedule. The daily rite now looks like this:
At an agreed-upon time, Dale rides his scooter to the bathroom door and swivels his seat to face the doorway. While he undresses, I run the shower to warm the water and lay out fresh clothes on an armchair reachable from his scooter.
I take the “transfer stool” out of his closet where it’s stored and place it next to the shower. (A “transfer stool” has an extra-wide seat with large suction cups attached to the feet of the legs on one side. The legs can be placed across the threshold of a shower or tub so that the user can slide safely into the shower and “transfer” to a shower stool.)
Dale then shifts from his scooter to a physician’s stool in the doorway of the bathroom while I turn off the water and set the “transfer stool” in position.
Dale wheels over to the “transfer stool,” moves onto it from the physician’s stool, and slides into the shower to the shower stool. I remove the “transfer stool” and when he nods that he’s ready, I turn the water on, and close the shower door. (All of his toiletries are arranged on a low shower caddy.)
When finished, Dale opens the shower door, I hand him a towel, put the shower stool back in position, and wait for him to slide out. As a fall-preventive measure, I help dry his lower legs and feet so he doesn’t have to lean over so far.
Dale shifts back to the physician’s stool, finishes grooming in the bathroom, and transfers back to the scooter where he dresses.
I stow away the “transfer stool” and we’re done for another day.
What used to take minutes, requiring no forethought, is now a grand production. One of many.