Saturday, 18 April 2015

Friction, Or Surface Tension. Whatever.

I know I should write something elegant, something reflecting the long, sweeping drive yesterday as we wound our way out of the rocky ramparts of the ancient and great Canadian Shield which covers all of northwestern Ontario. I know I should describe cracking the forest edge of the wide Canadian prairies, finding as land as vast as the sky above. Certainly I should write of the joy in meeting friends for dinner, in sharing wonderful company. Instead, alas, I am going to write about sitting on the toilet.

While the journey on the road was lovely yesterday, passing a thousand lakes and rivers, singing along with the radio and laughing at each other's jokes, my blog is about my journey with ALS too. Today, and lately, I am coming to grips with another challenge brought forward by this disease; friction, or surface tension. I'm not sure what to call it; it's that tendency for skin to stick to the toilet seat, the infernal grip which that porcelain throne takes on your butt cheeks.

For most of you, this is a nothing event. You stand up. The seal is broken. For me it is becoming increasingly difficult to push myself off from that glue like seat. I can do it; it's just getting more and more difficult. You might wonder why this is a challenge. Think of the process for me when I go to use the toilet.

First of all, I sit on the toilet to pull my pants and underwear off. No big deal, except that my body weight makes this increasingly difficult. I'm getting fatter and weaker at the same time. Nonetheless, I get there. Now I am skin to seat, ready for action, which almost always takes place. Then comes the fun part, cleaning and dressing. I can still wipe my own ass, although it is becoming more of a challenge as time goes by. It's the dressing part, and the transfer to my wheelchair which is annoying these days.

When I go to pull up my underwear, I have to lift myself off the toilet seat enough to slide cloth past cheek. Unfortunately my skin sticks to the seat. Because my butt and legs are so saggy, thanks to lack of muscle tone, my skin continues to maintain contact in spite of my somewhat limited lift. So I resort to sideways rock and roll, using the angle of my body to lift one side high enough, then moving to the other, assuming the toilet position allows this amount of wriggling and wiggling.

Sometimes I just can't do it. Once or twice I have had to ask Katherine for help, lifting me just enough for the required enclothing. Other times I just say to hell with it, transfer to the chair half done, transfer to the bed, finishing the process there. Except that my weak lift means it is often more of a slide into and off of my wheelchair, often pulling the cushion cover out of shape, sometimes tearing the seams on the cover.

It's an awful lot of work just to put on underwear. I can see why so many PALS go commando.

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