Here in the UK disabled people are rather bullied into giving up their baths in favour of showers. This is regardless of what their disablement is. However, the benefits of bathing have been known for millennia. One could pay a fortune to go to a spa or you could have the common person’s alternative.
For me, I’ve just the same danger of falling in a shower than I have of falling in a bath. So it it’s definitely worth the risk of the bath because I benefit from the bath, where the shower is just anxiety and not beneficial to pain relief, it just cleans me.
So, the following advice is how I get around all these little problems and bathe as safely as possible, whether it will be suitable for you or not I cannot tell. I can tell you that I am a fifty year old woman who has taken herself off Tramadol, and many other life limiting pain killers in favour of more natural methods.
I have Ehlers Danlos Classical cross over Hypermobility with some Lung and Heart incidentals such as MVP and Bullous Lung Disease – I have more things to cope with but these are the conditions mainly affected by temperature and/or standing for any period of time. I also have spinal pain and internal damage which is helped by the thermal properties of water.
It’s strange that I have to sit here really to justify the use of a bath but that is the world we currently live in. The UK claims constantly it is short of water, although we are an island with many fresh water rivers. And although it rains all the bloody time here, the water companies have managed to convince us to use less and for years I did.
Many people will correctly point out it is possible to sit down on a shower seat. If you’ve ever sat down on a shower seat and applied any type of soap you will know it’s very slippy so it also carry risks. There are straps (sometimes fitted) but they don’t make you feel secure and it is very stressful thinking you may slip.
Caution is always a key consideration when bathing and I am not saying you should bath – especially if you know or your carer knows it’s really dangerous for you. What I am saying is that with good organisation a bath could be had which could benefit a sufferer of aching joints, bad back or skin complaints.
It is also very good for calming the central nervous system if you are anxious. If I am having a bout of Chronic Vomiting Syndrome there is nothing which will halt the retching other than a bath or being out in the rain…although the rain could just me.
Here is my bathing advice.
Having a Bath When You Have Health Considerations.
Preparation For Disabled Independent Bathing
Change all shower and shampoo bottles into a container with a pump action. This will make it is easier for you to gain soaps without straining yourself. You want a bath to be relaxing. This is about bathing being an aid wellbeing.
Make sure your pain patches (if you have them or HRT patches) are placed on your upper stomach or arms where they will not be immersed in the hot water for a long length of time – hot temperatures could affect the rate of patches absorption. If you have a pendant alarm put it near the bath but not somewhere will it may get wet.
Put, flannel, towels and things you will need next to the bath, where you can reach them from sitting in the bath easily. This may mean bringing a small stool into the bathroom, if so place it near the bath on a level surface – then it can be used when you get out of the bath should you feel you need it or have mobility issues.
If you have incontinence issues then please ensure you have your pads and underwear somewhere nearby too…nothing worse than doing that just after you bathed and have already let the water out.
Prepare the bathroom with your clothes or something warm to put over you in reach from the stool. For me, I use a thick dressing gown, and have hooks nearby the bath so I can reach the items from the bath without having to strain or stretch.
Does your bath have rails or something else to help you get in and out of the bath? Seriously consider whether you will be able to get in and out of the bath with the things available to you in your own bathroom.
Get rails added – they make a huge difference to how secure you feel. If you cannot for whatever reason look for other options. How close is the sink? Is it possible this could be held on to – if it doesn’t look strong enough don’t do it.
I slide out over the top of the bath tub and onto a stool on days when I’m too faint to stand and hold the rails. However, I am currently underweight and slip around easily, if you are overweight please consider that this could be too much effort for you so install a hoist for your safety or configure a way to ensure you are able to get out safely that works for you.
My method of bathing involves allowing all the water to drain away when finished before attempting to get out of the bath. There are several reasons for this. One is that it allows my temperature to come down and my heart rate to steady. Two is that it is hard to pull yourself out of water, more effort is involved which can make breathing difficult. And three is the bath is less slippery with no water in .
Another benefit of draining all the water is it enabled you to pull a towel in with you before you get out of the bath without it getting soaking. This way I can start drying myself and wrapping my hair up before attempting the move and keep myself warm.
I’ve been asked what I put in my baths. Quite often just water but I do swear by Epsom Salts for proper relax and a bit of rosemary. The salts help the hot water get right into the skin for deep thermal healing. They also draw out any impurities in the body.
These salts have been very important for me. They have a great property for drawing out things like disposable stitches before they become cysts. Whether that is the same for others without EDS I cannot say.
However I will warn you not to use too much Epsom salts in the bath or use them too regularly as they can dry the skin out a little too much. Also, if you have any sort of implant (I have bladder and rectum implants) you will find the area aching afterwards. Whether it’s the salts action on the implants I do not know however, this feeling is reduced if I only use salts once a week.
So there you are, please take my advice or leave it. I feel once you have rediscovered the wonderful feeling of hot water seeping into your joints and driving away your pain, if only for a few minutes, you’ll be hooked on taking a bath rather more painkillers.
Please remember that preparation is key and enjoy the joys of hot water safely.