By: Mariann Martland
This is a love letter to all those for whom showering is repeatedly a laborious exercise, physically, emotionally or both.
To those who spend days putting it off because you know just how exhausting or painful it feels, right down to your bones, just to stand under the water for that long.
Those who do not feel refreshed upon stepping out of the steam, but rather feel like they’ve run a long, arduous race, only there’s nobody there to greet you at the finish line with your medal, because damnit, there is no finish line.
This is your medal.
This is your letter of achievement or recognition or love.
This is for each of you who has to sit or lie down for the next hour or more with your wet hair in a towel, because there’s no energy left for hair drying or body moisturizing or even putting on clothes.
To every person who week after week feels like crying when lather-rinse-repeating, and then one day it feels even tougher, more exhausting, more acutely painful, more, just more, and you stand hoping nobody can hear your deep body howls as you cry out in agony under the water before you’ve finished washing all the shampoo from your hair.
This is to the one who is forcing yourself through it, because you know you must leave your house tomorrow, and you know that as hard as it is now, showering and going out just would not be possible in one day.
And this is for the one who, despite wanting and needing and longing to be clean, cannot bring yourself to shower, physically, emotionally or both.
This is a love letter for everyone who lives day in day out, chronically, with illness of any kind, for whom seemingly simple tasks that most take for granted, like showering, feel like mountain climbs.
And to those climbing these mountains, and to all those who simply cannot make the climb today, this is for you.
I see you.
I’m with you.
I’m one of you.
Thank you for breathing and continuing to breathe.
Thank you for existing.
For most people who don’t live with chronic pain conditions, a shower in the morning helps them feel refreshed, fully awake and ready for the day. Unfortunately, this isn’t the experience that many fibromyalgia sufferers have. It seems like such a small thing, but when you’re living with this condition, even taking a morning shower can be exhausting.
A shower can be very physically demanding for someone struggling with fibromyalgia, causing pain, fatigue and making it difficult to do anything else but recover for the rest of the day.
THERE ARE FOUR REASONS WHY TAKING A SHOWER CAN CAUSE EXHAUSTION IN FIBROMYALGIA SUFFERERS:
Physical Exertion: People with fibromyalgia struggle with nearly constant fatigue and even the simplest physical activities can be extremely taking. Showering involves more physical exertion than most people would assume. Think about it: you’re standing, stretching, bending, reaching and so on. For someone with fibromyalgia, it can be very difficult.
Relaxation: A hot shower can be relaxing, but if you’re fighting fatigue and having a hard time waking up in the first place, relaxation may be exactly what you don’t need.
Temperature Sensitivity: Temperature sensitivity is a common symptom of fibromyalgia and getting into a hot shower could throw off your temperature balance and make it hard to cool back down, leaving you sweating and exhausted afterwards.
Vertigo: Dizziness is another frequent problem for people with fibro and moving around in the shower combined with the hot water can make it very hard to keep your balance. No one wants to have a dizzy spell or take a fall when they’re in the shower, which can be a truly frightening experience.
Sensitive Nerves: If you have an overactive nervous system (which you do, if you have fibro), the sensation of water hitting you in the shower could be painful in itself or cause you to be especially sensitive for the rest of the day, leading to pain all over your body.
HERE’S A QUICK WAY TO SHOWER WITHOUT GETTING EXHAUSTED:
Try showering right before bed instead of in the morning. The fatigue caused by the exertion of showering might even help you get some much needed sleep.
Try switching to baths. Although baths have some of the same drawbacks as showers, you don’t have to stand so they can be a little less physically demanding.
If temperature sensitivity is an issue for you, try taking a shower or bath with the bathroom door slightly open to let steam and hot air escape and keep the room cooler. This can also help you to cool down more quickly afterwards.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE TOO TIRED TO SHOWER OR TAKE A BATH:
When your pain and exhaustion are just too much and you can’t face the prospect of showering, you can freshen up with wipes. You can find wipes especially for your face; unscented baby wipes are great for the rest of you. It’s not something you want to rely on every day, but when you’re having a really bad day and just getting out of bed is enough of a struggle, this can be a lifesaver. I’ve also gotten hooked on the Mary Kay Dry Oil Mist that just came out. It sprays on, has a pleasant scent and is dry not greasy. What I like about it is that it can make you feel smooth and soft and smell gorgeous even when you feel lousy. Getting cleaned up can make you feel a little better about yourself and give you the pick me up you need to fight through another day with the chronic symptoms of fibromyalgia.