Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Stroke Survival and an Excerpt

I figured after my stroke I'd experience a year of firsts. Similar to the grief process or a baby. If you've been reading my Sunday blog since June, all of it has been about this year of firsts. In fact, my new nonfiction is full of stories about my first whatever since my stroke, and other dumb and hilarious things I do. I do know it may take longer than a year to recovery, but if stubbornness and effort counts for anything, two years will be my target.

You also notice that I compare myself to my grandchildren in the way they grow and learn. I'm still celebrating the fact that I've reached a teenie-bopper writing level. While with practice, I may again reach the doctorate level like my thesis. I'm just happy that I can write on an eighth grade level for my fiction writing. For when I start writing fiction again. Eventually, that is my overall goal. I still have a dozen manuscripts to write and/or edit.

Now as promised an excerpt from Don't Get Your Panties in a Wad. I believe I said this one would be about hair, but as a female I reserve to right to change my mind and I did. Enjoy.

Copyright 2012 J. L. Murphey All Rights Reserved

My first shower after I got home was an interesting event. You could almost say it was event filled. Imagine a five by seven foot bathroom. Now, my daughter was nice enough to set up my raised toilet seat and put the shower chair, adjusted, into the bath tub. I got the shower chair without the transfer bench, rails, or back unlike the one I sat on at the shower at the hospital because my bathroom was designed with a cast iron tub and shower combo.  I don't have a walk-in shower. Because of space limitations of my fifty-year old bathroom, the extra equipment was a tight fit.

Because I didn't get the transfer bench, I had her place two legs outside the tub and two legs inside so the seat straddled the tub allowing me easy access, or so I thought. The toilet sits next to the bathtub and with the added contraption of the raise toilet seat, it was one of those bedside commodes, it left me a little over twelve inches to maneuver to reach the faucets. It was poor planning on my part with space constraints, so I had no other choice short of calling a plumber and redirecting all the water and drain works. I did lay out my clothes in the order of how I would put them on; socks, underwear, and duster.

I wiggled my way into the space and turned on the tap. I don't know about your house, but my water heater is at the other side of the house, it takes some mighty long minutes to get the hot water to run out of the tap. While I was waiting for the water to warm up, I undressed leaving my AFO on. I backed my legs until it bumped up to the seat, oh my therapist would be so proud of me, and plopped my generous rear end onto the chair.

But without hand holds, I misjudged the distance and fell harder than I would have liked for full control. For the briefest of seconds, I was freefalling, not a comfortable feeling at all. My back and head stopped my fall by colliding with the ceramic soap dish and tiled wall enclosure...thunk. It took me a few more seconds before the little tweety birds stopped circling my head and the bells finished ringing, while my legs were still outside the bathtub. Talk about a "Thank you, Jesus!" moment and I repeated it in rapid succession. It sounds scarier than it was. My bathtub/shower combo two and a half feet wide and the drop, in reality, was a less than six inches. It just felt like ten feet.

Now came the part where I lifted my feet into the tub. Left leg went into the problem. My left leg is fully functional. My right foot hooked onto the commode seat leg as I swung it around to the tub. There I am holding my leg up with my foot entangled on the leg, without the AFO on, and teetered with precarious balance on a stool with no back. Good thing the toilet seat leg had my foot or I would have tumbled off the seat for sure. I placed my leg down, and swiveled so my back was against the wall for balance. The "fall" had placed the fear of God in me. So there I was sitting on a plastic chair with metal legs, my back against the cold tile, spread eagle with one leg in the tub, one leg out of the tub, and decided I needed a breather while I rethink this getting into the tub strategy.

Finally, I caught my second wind and tried again. I scooted my bottom against soap dish and lifted my leg to the top of the rails of the commode seat with my foot resting on the hand support. So far so good, I swung my leg around to place it in the foot caught the shower curtain. Man, oh man, I thought as I extricated my foot from the curtain, the things some people do for a shower. Now, I'm set or so I thought, as I pulled the shower curtain closed. The curtain would not keep the water from spilling out onto the floor without the seat being fully in the tub. I chuckled at my own ingenuity as I tucked the bottom edge of the curtain underneath my hinny to hold it in place and lifted the handheld shower. I had a poof on a stick and my favorite Olay body wash ready and waiting. My company had bought a gross of these novelty bath items for gift baskets ten years before, and this was a leftover. This is going to feel so good, I thought as I sprayed my body liberally with hot water from head to toes.

I reached for my shampoo, not the body wash/shampoo combination they'd given me at the hospital, but the real thing. In the hospital, one of my daughters had used the waterless/ rinseless shampoos they used with the Hospice patients. I was determined to wash my hair with real shampoo. I'd dreamed of it for a month...fully soaking my head, rubbing it into a full, rich lather, and, according to the directions on the bottle, rinse and repeat. Simply luxurious, not too many things are better than the simple pleasures in life. While I reached for my favorite Herbal Essence shampoo it hit me, I had moved the body wash and poof within easy reach, but my shampoo was still up in the rack hanging off the main shower head. It stared down at me from its lofty perch laughing at me, "Nanny-nanny-poo-poo, you can't get me."

I looked up and wondered two things: how could have been so forgetful, and how was I going to get my shampoo? My brain started churning, even though it worked like a dying car starter. You know the slow sound it makes, whir, whir, whir, and before it finally does the click, click sound when it finally dies...this was what my brain was like in active thinking mode. I couldn't stand up without falling. I needed longer arms, but knew that was impossible. What would make my arms longer? My walker came to mind, but it was big and bulky. My Grab-it would work, but it was two rooms away, and I'd have to get out of the tub, dry off, and put on my AFO and shoes. All of a sudden, the prospect of having fresh washed hair didn't seem so appealing.

But I've already got my body wet, my mind protested like a child whining in a store wanting a toy that the mother had said no to. There's gotta be a way to get the shampoo off the rack, and then I looked down to the poof on a stick between my knees. Longer arms! I inched my way forward on the chair as far as I dared, and swatted at the bottle. Nothing, it barely budged. The lip wire held it in place like it was supposed to do, but I was determined. I swatted again and again at the bottle. The most that happened was it fell sideways in the rack further embedding it into the holder, so I sat there thinking of a way to get it. Meanwhile, hot water is running out of my Pollenex hand-held shower massager in my lap. That's one good thing I can say about my solar powered, on-demand water heater during summer...I have abundant hot water.

I really couldn't call for help. My husband was asleep in our bedroom, and being deaf, he wouldn't have heard me anyhow. I reasoned it out. The shower holder was just hooked on the shower head. If I hit the bottom of the rack, it would eventually slide off the shower head. I would have patted myself on the back for my reasoning skills except I had the bath poof in my only working hand. It took ten strikes at the bottom, but eventually the rack came down and the shampoo bottle fell into the tub. Success! And to quote Hannibal Smith from the "A-Team" television show, "I love it when a plan comes together."

I reached down for the shampoo. I couldn't pour the shampoo onto my hand in a measured amount so I pour a dollop onto my leg, closed the lid, and put the shampoo on the tub ledge in the corner. "God, I'm good," I said as I transferred the shampoo to my hair and rubbed until I got the rich lather I craved.

After I washed my hair and leaving the soap in my hair in a beehive reminiscent of the 60's, I washed the rest of my body, and then rinsed. I remembered the maneuver from getting into the tub and repeated it until my legs were outside the bathtub. Then I noticed the water pooled on the floor. I'd forgotten that even though I had the shower curtain trapped under my hinny, there were holes all in the shower chair. I reached for the towel while seated on the stool, that's the beauty of a five by seven-foot bathroom everything is in easy reach. I laid it over the puddle.

I toweled my hair dry, and then dried my legs and feet. I put on my socks, AFO, and shoes so I could stand up. Since my shower chair had no rails, I used the rails on my toilet seat to stand. Once I had my balance, I draped the towel over the commode to dry my back as I sat on it.  Grabbing another towel from the rack to dry the rest of me while seated, I couldn't fall while firmly seated. The bathroom floor mat had darker shoe impressions where I stepped. It was soaked. I scooped it up and put it in the bathtub.

<end of excerpt>

So have had many firsts?
Keep writing and loving the Lord.


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