The Daily Shower

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.

8 Replies

  • True, true words. The simple tasks transform into a series of multiple steps, and can feel demeaning to the ill person and frustrating to the loved-one and/or caretaker.

    I've been thinking about the content of you post a lot recently. While I'm still able to take care of my hygiene needs, more and more days are spread between showers. So I guess I'm really not. The reason is I feel unsturdy standing in the shower to an unsafe degree. Never mentioned it to my daughters but the evidence of the situation spoke for itself. The bought me a shower chair for my birthday and it was very welcomed.

    On my bad or not so good days, I keep telling myself, "But THESE are the good old days; enjoy them with all my might." Sometimes it works, sometimes, not.

    Thanks for posting a realistic version of what used to be 'one simple thing' becomes much more complicated as PSP progresses. Not what some people may want to hear, but I choose to stay grounded in reality.


  • What I meant to say I was thinking about the content of your post days before you posted it; my birthday was last week when the girls gave me the shower chair...but I'd been contemplating how simple things are getting more complicated and I thought I was slick:) covering it up when I surely wasn't....

  • What I meant to say I was thinking about the content of your post days before you posted it; my birthday was last week when the girls gave me the shower chair...but I'd been contemplating how simple things are getting more complicated and I thought I was slick:) covering it up when I surely wasn't....

  • Ah, Judy, my inspiring friend. So glad you got a shower chair. If you don't already have them, have you thought about grab bars in your shower for added safety?

    These ARE the good ol' days, indeed, and regardless of how difficult or tedious they may be, we need to create joy whenever we can.

    Happy belated birthday, Judy. Dale's was July 20.



  • Happy Birthday to Carl. Over my lifetime I decided July birthday's are the best...nice time for a celebration mid-year.

    Yes, I've thought about several things I can use now or will need in the near future for my safety.

    I used to say "The best adult day of my life was when I was able to un-safety-proof the kitchen my 2 little girls.". It is truly memorable. The simple pleasure of opening a cupboard or drawer was amazing!:)

    Funny how life comes full circle, doesn't it? Now I need to start safety-proofing the whole house for me, and not just the kitchen...:)



  • Thanks, Judy. I remember too well not being able to easily open a cupboard, or plug in an electric cord because of all the baby-proofing. But oh man, it certainly did come full circle. I run into walkers, physicians' stools wheelchairs, etc. at every turn. I'm almost as bruised as he is as a result. :)



  • You are all doing so well and at least you are planning ahead for safety. Only yesterday I was washing down mum's trollies that she used when she was still semi independent and seeing the spillages on them made me recall my deep admiration for her self determination to keep going, despite her demise being an exceptionally fast one. I feel at last I can return all the things she had to use in her daily fight. Next to go will be the wheel chair-the symbol of our last jolly outings out together. It's very hard. I miss her so much.


  • My heart goes out to you, daughterno 1. When you are in the throes of mourning, seeing those physical vestiges of your times together cuts to the core. Later, of course, you'll have the wonderful memories in your mental library, but for now it's bitterly painful. I'm sending up prayers to ease your pain, dear.



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