Sometimes, having to leave my apartment to run errands creates the impetus to take a shower; sometimes not. See, I suffer from Shower Ambivalence. Never heard of it? That’s because I name my own disorders. (See Sleep Ambivalence.) Why should I wait for the medical industry to do it?

I don’t sing in the shower; I groan. (And no, it’s not because I have a detachable shower head, because I don’t.) While my aching muscles love the heat in the hot water, the shower experience itself leaves much to be desired. The spray of the water from the shower head can sting, is irritating, and at times, uncomfortable. Plus, my shower head makes this high pitched noise… The whole process of taking a shower from start to finish is hard work. It’s only the end result that makes it all worth it.

There’s nothing more comfortable than the feeling of being clean. And as a chronic pain patient, one has to take comfort where one can find it.

Since it’s winter, you gotta turn the heat up first (in the summer, it’s the air conditioning); controlling body temperature is an important part of managing pain.  Then I add a few drops of fragrance oil to the drain in my shower before I turn on the hot water. Do I want to shave today? The scrape of the razor against my legs and under my arms is not very comfortable (plus, why are razors so expensive?).  But once in a great while, I treat myself to the feeling of smooth skin.

Showers can be full of aromatherapy options: My liquid soap smells like cocoa butter and mangos, my shampoo smells like sun tan oil, and my conditioner smells like Dove.

Back before Unum terminated my benefits (and before I spent all my money in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program), I got my hair cut regularly. But it’s been some time since I chose to spend money on something like a haircut, so taking care of my hair has become quite a chore. I have thick hair, which is heavy, uncomfortable, and irritating. And there is more of it everywhere; hair on my kitchen floor, in my shower drain, in my way. I sure wish I could find someone that gives disabled people free haircuts… (Sorry, I digress, a bad habit.)

After exiting my shower, then comes the moisturizing session. It’s very dry here in New Mexico — when I was young and had oily skin, I would have loved it. And I thought Houston had hard water, but it doesn’t even compare to the hardness of New Mexico’s water. So, now I’m old and I have to spend money on moisturizers…

A perfect opportunity to practice more aromatherapy. Today, I chose Bath & Body Works’ Vanilla Bean Noel.

Brushing my hair isn’t any fun either, and it doesn’t matter how soft my brush is. After brushing my too-long hair, I can still feel that pressure, that feeling of the brush scraping against my head, for some time afterwards. It’s like when I wear my glasses, even for a small amount of time — after I take them off, I can still feel the pressure of the glasses on my face. It feels like I’m still wearing them hours later. The after-sensations of pressure against painful parts of the body is not something doctors usually talk about, but the painful effect is just part of the total package of chronic pain that has to be managed minute-by-minute.

I think I’ll leave the plucking-hairs part of being clean for another day…

As a disabled person, I try to do my part at conserving the Earth’s resources. Plus, cranking up the heat (or the air conditioning) and using all that hot water is expensive. But seriously, it’s all worth it. At least until the next time I suffer from Shower Ambivalence.

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