In the Shower with…

showerEyes closed, I see myself standing alone in a glass cubicle. The water, a little hotter than necessary, is cascading over my head and down the natural curves of my body. The glass fogs up as the steam rises off my bare limbs, giving me complete privacy to find comfort in my own nakedness.

I start moving, twirling slowly under the spray, as if I’m dancing sensually to the rhythm of the water droplets. I can feel myself relaxing, enjoying the warmth and safety of this private cocoon.

While inhaling the sweet, aromatic scent of the handmade bath soap, I run my hands along the contour of my nudity, without any inhibition. I’m touching, massaging, caressing and feeling my body all over, valuing the freedom to explore myself physically and intimately, without judgement from anyone other than me. My skin, slightly reddened, is tingling all over.

Abruptly, the stream of water is cut off. I open my eyes and, through the haze, I see that I’m sitting, not standing. There is no glass cubicle, just a big, open shower. It all feels kind of cold and stark, really. I’m aware that I’m not alone. Instinctively, I want to cover up my body.

As my arm is lifted, I’m brought reeling back to reality.

Minutes earlier, I was wheeled into the bathroom on a commode by my personal care assistant for my daily shower.

As she positioned the commode, I caught a glimpse of myself, from the shoulders up, in the mirror. My hair looked as if I’d been dragged through the woods backwards, resembling a wild woman who’d had all night, carnal sex and whose body had been tamed by paralysis.

Instantly I felt self-conscious and wished that I could straighten my hair. I glared back at the pathetic image in the mirror, feeling a deep sense of shame.

My care assistant turned on the water behind me and adjusted it to the right temperature. She pointed the hand shower onto the back of my neck and awaited my approval. I instructed her to make it a little hotter.

I closed my eyes as she let the water wash over my head at full pressure and, for a few moments, I remembered what it felt like to shower, really shower, all by myself.

As she closes the tap, I long, with every fibre of my being, to be able to take one last shower on my own.

She continues, now, through the routine of washing me, methodically moving the soapy cloth in a gentle circular motion, working her way down my body. Neck. Shoulders. Right boob, lift, wash, drop. Left boob, lift, wash, drop. It all seems so mechanical, without any feeling.

I attempt conversation by asking her something. She mumbles an answer. She’s grumpy, and probably tired. So am I. I’d had a bad night. Feeling a tinge of guilt for waking her too many times through the night, I decide to quit the chat.

She’s not much of a morning person anyway, and it doesn’t help that I’m not either.

She gently spreads my legs apart at the knees. After all this time, I can still barely stand the thought of anyone washing my fanny, let alone watching her do it.

Embarrassed, I look away, focusing my attention on the music now, using it as a distraction.

Soon, I’m singing along to the tune, loudly, skipping a few words here and there. I don’t care much for her reaction to my poor singing ability. At this point, not even a scathing character assassination from American Idol judge, Simon Cowell could humiliate me more.

I’m vaguely aware as the water is turned on again and directed at my body to rinse away the soap.

Before I can even get to the end of the song, the hot water is gushing, gloriously, over my head again.

My care assistant stands there, waiting patiently, for me to indicate by nodding my head that I’ve had enough. I don’t want it to stop because in those few brief moments I find reprieve. With my eyes closed and the water streaming over my face, I can forget, just for a while, that I am paralysed from the neck down.

Eventually, reluctantly, I nod my head. She closes the tap.

The song is still playing. I come in at the chorus, singing even louder than before.

Mindfully, I thank my friend, Chris, for making it possible for me to have music in my bathroom and bedroom. And, of course, Sexy Legs, for climbing up into the hot roof to put the speakers in the ceiling.

With the water off, I quickly start feeling cold despite it being the middle of summer. Although I’m grateful for the warmth of the specialised, bathroom heater above my head, I want to wrap myself snugly in a fluffy, white towel as quickly as possible.

The next song is more upbeat. I have the urge to get up and dance. But I’m stuck, motionless, feeling frustrated. I begin nodding my head, fast, in tune to the beat for a half a minute or so.

Feeling a bit silly, and exposed, I glance sideways at my care assistant, wondering why she is so slow this morning. As she turns away to grab the bath towel, hanging on a rail against the wall, I roll my eyes in annoyance because by now I am really cold.

She dries my face and drapes the towel down the front of my body. As she pulls it firmly around my neck and shoulders, the soft texture of the towel brushing against my throat and face bring me instant comfort.

With renewed confidence, I’m feeling refreshed and less irritable.

There is almost something magical about the combination of an invigorating shower in a steamy-hot bathroom with good music and singing your lungs out in a private idols audition at the start of each day. It certainly is cleansing, body and soul.

The care assistant even seems to have a slight spring in her step as she releases the brake to wheel me out into my bedroom, almost in time to the music.

As if specifically planned, and on cue, Josh Groban’s, You Raise Me Up, fills the room, and my spirit is soaring as I sing as loudly as I can, challenging him to hit, and hold, those high notes.

He said himself: “There is no half singing in the shower. You’re either a rockstar or an opera diva.”

C’mon Joshie! Let’s go!

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains.
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas.
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders.
You raise me up… to be

I concede, breathless, but smiling, and ready to face the day, to be more than I can be.

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About Tracy Todd

Although I need a wheelchair to get around, it is most certainly NOT what defines my essence as a woman. I am also a mother, teacher, wannabe writer and an inspirational speaker with a positive outlook on life.
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33 Responses to In the Shower with…

  1. Alta smit says:

    Tracy, I must admit my eyes filled with tears. However, you can write and I still think you should take it to a higher as your style grabs attention!

  2. Olivia Broderick says:

    Dearest Tracy – I am silent – you are amazing.   Attached is a life lesson that a friend shared with me when I was experiencing difficulties that almost destroyed all my dignity and pride.   Just sharing. Olivia   

    ________________________________

  3. Paula Willatt says:

    Hi Trace, found a little quote which I think is so appropriate for you, “Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and twice as beautiful as you’d ever imagined.” That’s you to a T. And my brother thinks so too,

  4. Lisa Kus says:

    Oh my dear comrade. You have an army with you experiencing the same things about which you are brave enough to write. Please feel our solidarity with you…all around the world we are going through this, and your writing makes it possible to join hands. Thank you

    Sent from my iPhone

  5. Carol-Ann van den Bergh says:

    Love it! I cried and cried and cried……. my sister also needs The Wheelchair to get around – she transcended this limitation years ago – Lorraine must be one of the bravest, most loving, most inspiring wise soul on earth. I salute you too Tracy! xxxxx

  6. Nico says:

    Tracy, you have just made me realize how much we need to be thankfull off, i will not take a shower aghain without thinking of you. I will do a lot more thinking about the things I take for granted. We all need to be on our knees more and thank the Lord for our blessings, Tracy, you can be excussed and sit and thank the Lord. Somebody once said to me:”how do you think your day would look like if you only got what you thanked the Lord for the previous day.”

  7. tetraplegias says:

    Sue This is what I don’t want to sound like.

    Sent from my iPad

  8. Chuck Brandner says:

    Tracy, you are simply amazing. What an inspiration. You made my day, week, month, year, life…

  9. Diane Liuzzo says:

    Tracy you are a inspiration to all who go through this everyday in life. May Our Lord bless you.

  10. Your wonderfully written glimpses into your life and thoughts are a gift to all of us, Tracy. I know that we all learn a great deal from the sharing that you do. I wish I had someone like you to share these things so many years ago when my first husband was alive and dealing with his paralysis from MS. I wish he had thought about writing down his own feelings and experiences.

  11. When these glimpses of your life are so intimate and direct, it’s more satisfying to read. I guess because it’s more real. It put me right there, and since it’s by your invitation I didn’t feel like a voyeur. I think your sense of shame is quite healthy, psychologically speaking. It’s the emotional conflict. You know it’s all still you, really you, despite the parts that refuse to obey your control, despite the disconnect in cabling.

    During my health care training years I discovered a mental switch I threw when positioning unconscious people for imaging, and when bathing and toileting those who couldn’t voluntarily control their bodies. I knew it was a person with an identity, but I was also simultaneously perceiving their bodies as anonymous tissue, just meat. It made it easier to do the job, to temporarily not relate to the person. Perhaps it’s an emotional shield for the carer, so we can do things for our people that we know embarrass them, but still must be done. I expect you did the same sort of thing in a lesser way when changing your son’s nappies, but I didn’t perform similar tasks frequently until I was over 50. Now it helps when dealing with mushy puppy poop.

    And thank you for the opportunity to sing along. I’m always up for that!

  12. NoidSirNoid says:

    You are an inspiration

  13. Annalene says:

    Thank you so much for reminding me how much I have to be thankful for. Makes my day to read your postings, such an inspiration to me>

  14. Tracey Gass says:

    I think I should install speakers in my shower/bathroom! Sounds like a great way to start the day :)

  15. Grant says:

    A great read … as always! Continue writing, Tracy.
    Love your work.

  16. Emma says:

    Hi Tracy, this post brought up so many emotions for me. Thank you for reminding me that I have a lot to be thankful for. You’re an inspiration and I always love receiving your latest blog. Emma xxx

  17. Tracy, I admire your candid voice with sharing what so many others cannot. You are a true inspiration who shouts out from the hills tops for everybody to hear. You are one awesome lady! :-) Mandy xo

  18. Wilma says:

    Dearest Tracy, You touched me once again with your candidness and beautiful writing. You are an awesome woman!

  19. Daleen Hillicks says:

    Thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts -

  20. Stunning writing from a stunning person being more than she could have been!

  21. Dolores McDonald says:

    Nobody on earth could have written that more beautifully Tracy darling – love and admire you sooooo much !!

    Aunty Dolores xxoxx

  22. Ahhh Tracy, I am just so glad you are enjoying the music in the shower! :-)

  23. MaanKind says:

    What a beautiful writer you are, Tracy!

  24. Allan Viviers says:

    Hi Tracy, what an awesome,yet sorrowful,but amazing look into your most intimate moments of your very different way of life ! You are awesome, brave and extremely humble in the way you portray your being who you are ! God Bless you !

  25. Tracy, what a special woman you are!! Cant wait to read your blogs! This was touching, once again!!

  26. Beautifully written Tracy.. you have such a special way of teaching us not to take things for granted!

  27. Yvonne Wright Thirkettle says:

    Tracy you have an amazing gift , I was a carer for many years and how ashamed I feel in that I just wanted to get the shower over with and move on to the next step of caring….all written down step by step. I would like to think that after reading your blogs I would be a much nicer , more caring carer…..thank you. Xxxxxx

  28. Sharon says:

    I will never again rush through my shower! Thank you for making me be more aware. xx hugs xx

  29. Jacquie says:

    I agree completely with Anton! Feel ashamed, because I take so many things for granted. Thank you, Tracy, for bringing me back and for making me gratefull for all I can do without limitations. B
    ig hug

  30. Wenchy says:

    Sometimes I read your blog and I feel happy or sad…. today, although I have full function of my body, I feel so much of what you are writing…. except that it has left me crying.

  31. LOL! Getting a bit steamy, Tracy ;-)
    I love your spirit :-)
    I can’t wait for eternity, when all our physical limitations fall away …
    Love you!

  32. Anton says:

    Showering is one of life’s great pleasures, whether it is to get clean after a hot dusty day, to wake up in the morning or to spend some relaxing time together. I will enjoy showering even more after reading this. Thanks for making me appreciate showering even more!

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