Overcoming Obstacles

Shockingly, I haven’t had a bath for over nine years.

Where once I liked nothing more than wallowing in boiling hot, heavily-scented water with a good book to hand, MS heat intolerance has rendered this a sepia-tinted memory.

The only problem is, my shower is over this bath, a pre-MS relic. It is also very curved, very high to step in to and completely impractical. My feet are never quite flat in the bath, I’ve fallen out a good few times, once cracking my head on the toilet (very unglam) and now I live alone, taking a shower each day is a persistent worry. Despite my friend installing a couple of grab rails, it’s an obstacle course.

I am my own worst enemy, in that I rarely ask for help. Instead, I muddle along, accommodating way beyond what is reasonable. Desperation drove me to apply for a Council Disabled Facilities Grant and I didn’t hold out much hope. The plan was to take the bath out and replace with a large walk-in shower, something my paltry income would never extend to.

A wonderful Occupational Therapist visited me at home, chatted through everything with me, had a good look at the offending bath and agreed we had A Problem. The relief was intense. She filled in forms for me, contacted my MS nurse and asked the Council to visit me for a Financial Review. This took place last week and I had every single piece of paperwork to hand, with the upshot being that I am poor enough to qualify for help.

I cannot describe the utter relief that something I am increasingly finding so difficult will now be made so easy. I think all of us constantly scan obstacles and work out how to make them easier – I took my kitchen door off its hinges when I walked into it too many times. I have a cordless vacuum after tripping over the cord far too often. I ignore dust, batch-cook when I have energy and live off re-heated meals when I don’t. I don’t work when I can’t and I do when I can. It’s all about being flexible.

I wish I had asked for help much sooner, but pride got in the way. Now, I can’t wait to not worry about having a shower. It sounds so simple?

If I have any advice, it would be, don’t wait until you put your health in danger as I did, ask. You may be knocked back but just keep asking.

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14 thoughts on “Overcoming Obstacles

  1. Teresa McTernan says:

    Good advice – the shower over the bath is a nightmare. I can’t lift my leg high enough now to get in and recently have had days where I’ve just stood at the sink to be honest. Thx

  2. Annie Bishop says:

    I haven’t had a bath for years, my heart sinks when I stay in places with a shower over the bath as I daren’t risk it, I resort to an all over wash and dirty hair

  3. Joan (Devon) says:

    I’m glad things are working out for you regards the shower. My husband had a shower put in in place of the bath just after we moved here, but didn’t consult me and the doorway is too narrow for me to get through comfortably, so I can’t use it. It’s a major achievement getting me in and out of the cubicle. I am a bit overweight (lack of exercise), but I’m not huge.

    An Occupational Therapist came here to assess the situation and agreed that the doorway was too narrow, but all she did was give me a smaller stool to sit on in place of the one I had in there. A waste of time for me.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Oh no!!! That’s hard. I was really lucky with the OT I had – she saw the problem immediately, thank goodness.
      It shouldn’t be this hard to do an activity that so many others take for granted! X

  4. Jonathan Gruhn says:

    Well done. I think the disabled facilities grant system is different over here in N. Ireland. My discussions with an OT left me with the feeling that any practical help I could get would require me to instal a lot of accessiblity aids. Naturally this would require a lot of money and I’m unsure as to how much of a grant I’d be entitled to?

    To be honest I couldn’t put up with the disruption that the scale of the works recommended to me would involve. A sledgehammer to crack a nut.

    My gut feeling is that in England there are modest grants available. I’m not sure as to the requirements for qualifying for them. It seems that they are more flexible than over here.

    I haven’t had a bath for about 9 years too.We installed a walk in shower back then and it is really good, it even warms up to a nice temperature before getting in!

    As for my accessibility needs for the future…..
    No crystal ball gazing here. Am I still in denial about my MS? OR JUST PLAIN STUBBORN!


    • stumbling in flats says:

      Luckily, the grant needed is quite modest, compared to other alterations I’ve heard that other people need. I’m also having a second handrail up the stairs installed, which will make life easier too. Maybe you could talk to your council again or maybe have your MS OT come out for a discussion about any smaller adaptations you might need? X

      • Jonny says:

        The 2nd handrail was installed on the stairs a good few years ago along with a grab rail at the front door….the application then was very straightforward,

        I keep telling myself I’m going to have to try and kickstart the whole process of seeing what I’m entitled to, to make things easier for me round the house and outside. I’ve had too many near misses for comforts sake!

        • stumbling in flats says:

          I really hope you get the chance to look into any further adaptations you need! Fair play, my Council has been superb! X

  5. colinjohn Murphy-Rodgers says:

    Well, the times I’ve cracked a leg or foot or fallen in the bath (while showering), are numerous and I’m not a person living with MS. I only have a bath when I’m ill with a head cold and feeling at my worst, but even then it’s a struggle. Perhaps a wet room could be the answer to your problems. I know it would be the answer to mine, but its rented property and somehow I don’t think the landlords would do it due to costs. But I do sympathise with the struggle of actually using the bath just to shower and the inevitable dangers that come with it x

    • stumbling in flats says:

      I did think about a wetroom, but worried that when Chris comes home from Uni, it would be an absolute nightmare (he loves his long showers and tracks water everywhere!!
      Decided to have a long rectangular shower tray with a single fixed screen and no door, just a gap at the end. It’s the size of the bath, so will be fairly big and easy to put a stool in when I need to. Plus cladding instead of tiles, as it will be much easier to clean! X

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