We had a handicap-accessible shower built.
I can now take showers by myself. When I want to. Not on anyone else’s schedule. Not asking to bathe myself.
Showering by myself is an art. Easy for the normal. A harsh task for the handicapped.
Putting the shower chair in the stall. Knowing where the soap and shampoo is, there will be water in my face, I’ll need to know by feel. Having my scrubber close. Already having clothing set out. Transferring out of my chair to get undressed. Getting the towels in the chair in the right order, one I’ll sit on, one to dry my body. Transfer back when I’m naked.
Ready to take the actual shower.
I only get one shot. There is no getting out to grab something. Once I leave the wheelchair, there’s no going back.
Clean the body. Wash the hair. Use one hand. Remember what it was like to feel the shower pound on my back.
It hasn’t in three years.
Stand naked, wet, carefully balanced. A bathing gamble.
Once back in my wheelchair I face the mirror.
I brush the teeth that once were straight.
I wash the shin affected by the medications I have to take. Blemishes the trade for life.
I apply deodorant. Making my right arm lift and performing Circe de Armpit with my left.
I style my hair. My left hand wielding brush, dryer and curling iron with the confidence born of time.
I get dressed. A feat of it’s own.
I leave the bathroom to “start my day”. As if my work didn’t already start.