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a woman in the shower with lots of steam

I Took a Shower Today

I took a shower today!
I took a shower today!

Taking a shower when you live with NMO is a big deal

Few people understand why taking a shower could be an activity worth reporting since it’s their daily habit, but for those with NMO, it is an achievement. Our nervous system is no longer geared to act normally when we step into streaming, heated water.

Just getting in is a feat

For those with NMO, taking a shower is a situation comparable to that in Cape Cod’s “Perfect Storm”. Not only do we submerge ourselves in heat and humidity, we exert a good amount of effort in preparation, and then need more energy afterwards. Gathering the items we need, getting into the shower (sometimes over the side of a tub), then standing while scrubbing with one hand and clinging to some solid fixture for balance with the other, is tiring.

But wait, there's more...

All of this is followed by getting out of the shower, drying, and dressing. Many times we take showers in preparation for a social event or a doctor’s appointment and we are on a time schedule (and running late due to our NMO-caused slowness) while we are also stressing ourselves out thinking about the possible outcome of the event. All this sets us up for an NMO pseudo-flareup equivalent to any perfect storm.

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How to escape the storm, or at least, lower the damage?

In my twenty years of compromising my wishes to live a normal life with NMO’s imposed challenges, I have found several things that help calm the usual symptoms that show up when I shower. First, I fit the timing of the shower and my schedule together. Second, I mentally organize the things I need to do and physically organize the things I will need. Third, I keep cool.

How often: that is the question

It all begins with setting a time to shower. I gave up on daily showers long ago when too much of my working time and all of my energy were used up before I got out of the shower. Now I choose the time as though it were an important appointment. I pick a day when there is plenty of time for a shower and its consequential slow-down and recuperations, and treat it as a relaxing experience. If I am taking the shower in preparation for an appointment, I plan the shower for the day before. I choose an easily prepared dinner menu for the evening, and give myself time to relax away as much of the after-effects of the heat and humidity as possible so I can be ready for the exertion the activity will require. At times I have rescheduled appointments and taken rain-checks to make this possible. Going out already exhausted doesn’t make for a productive or enjoyable occasion.

Organization is key

I’ve found one of the keys to living with NMO is being organized. Deciding what I will wear before I begin preparing to shower makes it possible for me to gather clothing I’ll need before heading into the bathroom. With clothes selected, I collect everything I will need for the shower: shower stool, wash cloth, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, towel, as well as the items I’ll need afterwards. I arrange them in the order I’ll need them before turning on the water.

Temperature sensitivity and showers don't mix well

Since I know the heat of the water determines how much my NMO will affect me, I keep the water temperature as cool as possible while still having it comfortable since a sudden cold flash can send my legs into jerking spasms that can cause a fall. I always check and adjust the warmth just before getting in.

Maintaining my balance

I have installed a handgrip by the edge of the shower and another one on the side. I check them each time before I shower since the suction cups can loosen between uses. I also use a shower bench to sit on.

Cooling myself down

As with everything when one has NMO, the objective is to stay cool. After I finish, I take time for sips of ice water (prepared earlier) and use a fan to clear out humidity. I towel dry my hair or use a cool setting for blow-drying.

My precautions have been rewarded. A shower doesn’t have to be a storm despite NMO. If I plan ahead, it can be a calming gift I give myself.

Do you have tips for making showering easier?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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