It's 11:55 and Grandmother is upstairs in the shower right now. On her own, which I am not entirely comfortable with, but it's not as if I'm going to get her to skip it. (grr. argh) I am more than a little worried, but we'll see how it goes, maybe all will be fine and dandy, all will go well, and there will be no problems (fingers crossed fingers crossed). She promised to leave the door open, and U J is staying upstairs just in case, but I am still wary. (OK, what is about three levels up from wary? Anxious? Nervous? Terrified? I'm that.)
It's not that she's not been doing well - she is doing exceptionally well. She's meeting or exceeding expectations just about across the board (there's the kindergarten teacher in me rearing her head again), but the two true deficits she's still having are in balance and strength. Those are deficits I know something about, unfortunately. Which means that while U J seems to be perfectly fine - not worried exactly, but not nonchalant either - about this whole showering situation, I'm a bit more skeptical. Because showers are my downfall, people, as you well know if you read this site. And because if you combine stubbornness and an inability to just ask for the help you need (particularly if you need that help while naked) with a loss of balance and strength control, then problems are more than likely. They might even be inevitable, in the longer run.
Hopefully not, but these are the times when I am most frustrated by my disability. The times when my illnesses are not just illness but clearly dis - abilities. Because I am physically unable to climb up those stairs to help her shower in the first place, so we can't avoid the situation in its entirety. Because I am physically unable to climb those stairs and wait around outside in case she needs my help (which she'd be more likely to ask for than U J's, since I've already seen her naked about a million times by now) with something small, thereby avoiding larger problems. Because I am physically unable to rush up the stairs if she hollers or slips or falls: If I started crawling my way up right this minute (at 12:05), it would take me at least 20 minutes to get up there, and when I got up there, I would be too wiped out to do anything else - I'd need at least an hour's worth of recuperation (by which I mean lying on the cold hard floor, being as still as possible) until my pulse slowed down enough or my blood pressure came back up enough or my muscles would cooperate enough for me to crawl my way to the bathroom floor. So, if she should need my help, it'd be a good hour before she'd get it, just physically. And yes, of course, in reality, if it were just she and I in the house and she needed help, I would not attempt to climb the stairs, I would immediately call 9-1-1, because they'd be able to get to her much faster than I could, but that really just proves my point even more: I would be one flight of stairs away from her, and the EMTs four blocks away could get to her more easily than I could.
So those are the times when my disabilities are shown as clear disabilities, and the times that they are most frustrating.
Alternatively, of course, is the notion that, if I were not sick, I would probably be employed, and if I were employed, I would definitely not have been able to be staying here this past month, so while I would, in that instance, be physically able to climb the stairs, I would (most likely) not be around to do the climbing or even know the climbing was necessary. But this post is not so much about playing "if only, if only".
I'm just trying to explain the very real frustration I'm experiencing right now: Not a "but what if I wasn't" type of thing, more of an example of "well, this is my reality." (If that makes sense)
And now it's 12:16, and the water has long since shut off, and Grandmother is coming down the stairs, cleaned and dressed and smiling. Safe and sound, happily. She says the entire operation went well, and that she remembered all the instructions the Occupational Therapist had given her (about sliding in and out on the shower chair instead of attempting to climb over the edge of the tub, or having U J set up the shower head and chair before she gets in). My worrying was thankfully unnecessary, and I'm glad I was able to distract myself by talking to all of you.