Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Shower Help

It's happened. Today I had my first home care assisted shower. It wasn't that big a deal, except that it was. It is the demarcation point, the stepping stone from one level to another, a change in my level of care indicating the progression of ALS. Yesterday I showered without help; today I showered with someone there to help me.

It was a bit awkward at first. The Home Care Aide who normally works with me on Wednesday and Friday is off on sick leave with a broken arm. So I have been getting a rotation of new caregivers, people I have never met before. In addition, whenever there is change in the care plan, a nurse/supervisor comes by to check the care plan and ensure the HCA is able to do the work. Today the nurse happened to have a new nurse employee with her for orientation. In the end I had three women in my bedroom all looking at me, naked except for my boxer shorts, and discussing how to handle me in the the shower.

In the end, there was only the one caregiver, a woman who had never seen me before but clearly knew what she was doing. The others left; this new woman and I got to know each other a bit, a polite prelude to her dealing with me completely naked. I used the toilet first, enjoying that last moment of privacy. Then in she came to assist with my transfer onto the shower seat. I drew the shower curtain, stripped off my boxers, and showered. She stood on the other side of the curtain, ready to help if I called out.

Once my shower was complete, I drew aside the curtain and was fully exposed. Nothing happened. The world did not end. There was no reaction on her part or mine. Our job was simply to see that I transferred safely back into my wheelchair and then onto my bed, where I would dress myself. In fact she had a couple of helpful suggestions for the process, all very professional and appropriate. There was no embarrassing moment, no feeling of inadequacy or awkwardness.

As I dressed we discussed possible changes to my care schedule. I am going to shift from Monday-Wednesday-Friday to Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday. When I first started care I was trapped in the "weekend" metaphor. Over the last year I have come to realize that my whole life is a weekend; no day is better than any other. With a shift to Tuesdays and Thursdays, I get to sleep in longer on the other days. Since I go out Tuesday and Thursday evenings, it will mean I can get some extra sleep on the morning after my late nights.

And it means I will have a shower before I go out.

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