International ME/CFS and FM Awareness Day Is On May 12, 2018
Thomas Hennessy, Jr., selected May 12th to be our international awareness day back in 1992. He knew that May 12th had also been the birthday of Florence Nightingale. She was the English army nurse who helped to found the Red Cross as well as the first school of nursing in the world.
Discuss the article on the Forums.

Baths and Showers

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by Ronan, Jan 31, 2010.

  1. Robin

    Robin Guest

    Same here. Pretty much any person with ME/CFS has this problem -- it's almost diagnostic like PEM.

    At my best, I was a 5 and even then could only shower every other day. Now I'm a 2, and I've had 3 showers in six months. I have one unit of energy every other day to carry out one smalll task: I can do one load of laundry, or sit at my desk for 20 minutes and pay bills, or spend 10 minutes standing up in the kitchen making a quick chili, or spend 10 minutes running a stick vac (the regular vacuum is too heavy) etc. A shower is just not worth it -- it would be all I do! I'd rather have a quick sink bath and occasional sink shampoo, and get other stuff done.

    Oh, and I sit on the toilet seat and dry my hair with my head tipped foward, much easier on the arms!
  2. MEKoan

    MEKoan Senior Member

    Hey Orla and all

    I don't even own a blow dryer any longer and haven't for years.

    I don't have a shower seat but I have an upturned plastic basin I sit on. it's not ideal but it works well enough.

    I am always struck by how consistent our experience is. The arms over the head causing increased symptoms in particular seems really significant for me. This has been a feature of my illness since day one. In times of remission it may almost resolve but it is always an issue when unwell.

    ETA I can't afford professional haircuts so cut it myself with kitchen scissors. I have wavy hair which is relatively forgiving of mistakes. It can take 2 weeks to "finish" a haircut as I do them in 5 min. stints.
  3. julius

    julius Watchoo lookin' at?

    I have a milder CFS than you guys I think. I'm probably about 30-40% of normal. But I have the opposite reaction to bathing. Often if I'm feeling really sick I take a hot bath and my symptoms seem to improve a lot. In fact it's one of the only reliable ways to get releif for me. But it only lasts a couple hours.
  4. OverTheHills


    New Zealand
    Thanks to All who Suggested Sneezy Reasons

    Especially thanks to Machair - I thought I didn't have any OI symptoms, now I am thinking my desperate attempts to get warm in a hot shower have been triggering my pre-ME Chlorine sensitivity.

    The weirdest symptoms can be explained here on the forums !
  5. Orla

    Orla Senior Member

  6. FernRhizome

    FernRhizome Senior Member

    The reason hot baths and hot showers are hard with CFIDS (at least in most cases) is because most of us have dysautonomia (autonomic dysfunction/orthostatic intolerance/POTS) with low blood volume and circulation issues. Heat causes blood vessels to dilate and this causes blood to pool in the legs so there isn't enough blood for the brain and organs and heart. I take a shower every other day and know I have to lie down right afterwards for an hour. And that's at about a 40% functioning, during bedridden years it was impossible, it had to be a bath and not too hot, or I'd put a chair in the bathtub and cover it with a giant plastic bag so I could sit.

    One of the well known CFIDS doctors uses this question as one of his diagnostic questions: what happens when you take a hot bath or shower? When I replied that I always turned the heat in the house way down before I took a hot bath he laughed! He loved the way I had "solved" one of the problems (unwittingly) of getting out of a hot bath into a hot house and feeling even worse. By turning the heat down first it meant when I got out of the tub (or shower) that my body would cool more quickly and my blood vessels would contract faster so I wouldn't get as sick.

    Given the problem with blood vessels dilating when hot, you can then see why it's even worse if your arms go up above your head to wash your hair, because then the blood in your arms is also draining down into your legs as well. And it's much harder on your heart. Your heart is already trying to keep your blood circulating while the hot water is making that more difficult so to then have to pump blood up above your head is nearly impossible for it. Plus it takes more effort at a point when you are getting weaker.

    So the tips are to not let your bath/shower water get too hot, to cool down the water that's hitting you before you get out, and to get out into a cooler house environment and to lie down right away. And to use a chair in the shower. Hope this explanation helps! ~FernRhizome
  7. Robin

    Robin Guest

    Thanks, Orla!

    I tend to move around when I'm cooking and I would end up sitting down and getting up a lot! Plus my ktichen is the size of a postage stamp so it would block my way. But, it's good to know about! Thanks.
  8. Mithriel

    Mithriel Senior Member

    I couldn't get on with a perching stool - they are too bulky for my kitchen and I had to keep lifting it to be in the right position.

    I have a rollator which I use occasionally to go to a shop my wheelchair won't fit. It has four wheels and a basket under the seat. I kept it in the kitchen before I got round ot folding it and putting it away.

    It has turned out to be really useful. It is better than a perching stool or chair because the wheels make it like a desk chair, you know I can wheel along to another but of board.

    It is also comfortable so I use it when I sit at the table to have a meal.

    I love things that have lots of uses :Retro smile:

  9. Sing

    Sing Senior Member

    New England
    Great description and explanation--thank you! I felt weak and woozy just reading your post. I think you have nailed it.

  10. gracenote

    gracenote All shall be well . . .

    Santa Rosa, CA
    As I was just standing in the shower washing my hair, I realized another reason why showers are so difficult for me: I have to stand still. I never just stand in one place, even when brushing my teeth. I use an electric toothbrush (which I think has been enormously helpful for my gums and teeth), and for the two minutes it's buzzing I wander around my house and do whatever I can with my one free arm. Standing in one place is a problem.
  11. caledonia


    Cincinnati, OH, USA
    You can get water filters for the shower head to filter out chlorine. From which is a great catalogue for those with MCS.

    I never could do a bath - takes too much energy to get back out of the tub. My showers were limited to about 3 minutes for a long time. I could feel the energy draining out, then I'd have to lay down for an hour.

    Now as I've improved, I can shower for as long as I want (usually about 10 minutes, I never was one to linger), then usually I still have to lay down for an hour. I would say I'm about 30% on a good day. I do two showers a week, including washing hair.

    If I make the water hot for too long, it can start to bother me, so I have to get out. I do hair drying later on separately after I've rested. I cut my own hair, but have to wait for a good day to do so.
  12. Lily

    Lily *Believe*

    Like many of you, I use a shower bench. I find I can use it in many different ways. One thing that you can do when you're standing is simply stand witn one foot up on the shower bench. Foot has to be flat on the bench, which will bring the knee up pretty high. This helps greatly with OI and I'm sure you don't need an explanation as to why. I can stand longer this way and sometimes also lean the opposite shoulder on the wall at the same time. Some days I do almost all the washing sitting on the bench and when holding my arms up to wash my hair is too much I can lean over with my elbows on my knees and wash my hair that way with the bench positioned so shower flows onto my head. I think the bench is much more versatile than the chair. Of course having the bars are very helpful and added safety as well.

    It's amazing how long I have to think about it before I can actually get up and get in. Of course many days I know it is just out of the question. A real treat would be to have a shower and clean sheets on the same day, but that's quite an impossibility
  13. bee33


    I find it exhausting to take showers, and baths are out of the question. I only shower maybe once a week, or less (since I don't have a job to go to I don't have to be perfectly pristine...). About 10 years ago I had to cut my long hair because it was too much effort to wash. Since 1 1/2 years ago I have dreadlocks, which look the same clean or dirty so I don't have to worry about going out with my hair looking greasy (but it does take more effort to wash them thoroughly when I do shower). The strange solutions we come up with! :)

See more popular forum discussions.

Share This Page