The Pains of Showering with PsA
You know you are struggling with chronic illness when even the most mundane activities seem to always become a significant undertaking.
In my case, psoriatic arthritis has made basic tasks difficult to accomplish-- from simple chores like washing dishes, chopping vegetables, and sweeping the floor. To my surprise, even self-care has been an almost impossible task too, especially when I struggle with a horrible flare.
Gone are the days before psoriatic arthritis when showering was refreshing, relaxing, and one of the best parts of my day. Why? Because I get to think, conceptualize, and even sing and dance to my favorite songs as if I am in a concert.
But now, it has become one of the tasks that I would always feel dreadful to do.
Exertion of energy
Taking a shower requires too much energy. Before I could take a bath, I'd spend an awful time in bed gathering up the courage to convince myself to just do it. My fatigue and exhaustion would make it difficult to get up in bed. My achy and wobbly knees from psoriatic arthritis make standing in the shower a great obstacle, too.
I get in and the hot water from the shower would feel like tiny needles pricking my sensitive skin. I make movements with so much caution, paying extra attention to my surroundings, being extra careful to avoid losing balance and falling. My joint pains and muscle stiffness make it hard to stretch out my hands, wash my hair, and scrub my body. Then, I rinse the shampoo and the soap off of my hair and my body. I do this without rushing. I make small movements, close my eyes, and take my time.
After showering, I would reach over to get my towel and wrap myself up with it. I collapse in bed, endlessly gathering up the courage to start putting my clothes on.
But just when I thought I was finished with this gruesome task, I'd remember that I have to put on lotion and do my skincare routine next, which requires a lot of energy as well. Some days, I would be able to do everything: use my toner, massage oils and serums in my face, and put on creams in my flakes and patches. Most days, I'd just decide to skip it because I have run out of spoons already.
It's OK to struggle to shower with PsA
Healthy and able-bodied people may interpret this difficulty as an exaggeration. But for those who suffer from chronic illness, sometimes, personal hygiene can be likened to running a marathon. Not only because it is physically exhausting, but because we have to mentally prepare ourselves too before finally doing it.
If you suffer from psoriatic arthritis and taking a bath or going in the shower is the most productive activity that you did today, then that is okay. If it is the biggest mountain that you were able to hurdle this week, then I am proud of you.
Don’t forget to give yourself enough credit and save your spoons.
Do you have a sleep disorder (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your PsA?