He asked me if I had trouble with hygiene - I burst out crying.
I've been trying to find out whether I can get home health care services from a government program. My therapist said I should be able to, so I spent 3 hours (!!!) on the phone last week being bounced around from agency to agency until I reached a dead end that said basically "we're overstaffed, leave a message and we might call you back."
So I contacted my therapist and said, "Uhm, I can't do this. I'm too ill to even find the right person to talk with about home health care."
And she said she'd see what she could do.
Today I got the call.
For the first several questions asked, it looked like I might not qualify. There were some things, like difficulty walking and dressing that kinda sorta half qualified me, but then the question about hygiene and I was surprised to find I completely unraveled.
My dignity is important to me. Presenting myself in public clean and groomed - or at least, the illusion of such - is important to do my self-respect justice. Many women prepare for a date by spending hours on their hair, makeup, and nails, but I spend hours in a massive push to get basic hygiene completed for once.
It is terribly exciting for me when I can go somewhere in clothing that's not smelly or visibly dirty, my hair washed within the past 24 hours, my teeth brushed within the past 12 and deodorant applied. Shaving is out of the question entirely. It's a pretty low standard, and yet I only manage to make it happen perhaps once every two weeks. I'm currently leaving the house 2-3 times a week, and when I do I accomplish as much of this as I can, and try to assure myself that no one really notices anyway.
It's so embarrassing.
Sometime soon a social worker will come out to assess my living situation, and will no doubt ask me in more detail what specifically I need help with. There's going to see what a mess my place is, how dirty it is, and they're going to want to know exactly how I'm struggling with daily life activities and what sort of help I need. It is what I need, and I'm cautiously optimistic that it will make a big difference in my recovery.
There's just such a loss of dignity. I hate it already, and it's going to get worse before it gets better. But I'll get there. And it'll be okay.
Blog entry posted by Dainty, Jun 17, 2014.
About the Author
Dainty became ill as a teenager and spent 7 years mostly bedridden from ME/CFS, life-threatening MCS reactions, extreme food allergies/sensitivities, cognitive impairment, fibromyalgia, episodes of temporary paralysis and various unexplained emergencies. The past 5 years she has experienced profound improvement from various treatment approaches. With homelessness and PTSD presenting as significant obstacles, she continues to pursue healing full time and find incorrigible opportunities to enjoy life.