Showering with Laurel: A Tell-All

Although I could have had a friend sleep over for the two nights Mike was away for training, I was happy to discover I could do everything by myself. After having another dagnabbit moment when I figured out how to balance on one foot long enough to pick up Ranger’s poop out back, I knew anything was possible.

This injury has made me contemplate the Wounded Warriors who compete in ultra-races, a friend who’s lived with one leg and crutches for over 20 years, and another friend who bow hunts with his teeth because he had an arm amputated after a horrible ski accident. I am humbled by these amazing people and realize I cannot utter a single complaint about my silly little 6-week recovery.

I remember deciding the first marathon I’d run would be the Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon for the same reason (read about my experience here: Surviving the Death March). I would not be able to snivel around survivors of that brutal march in the Philippines in 1942 and the Wounded Warriors who participated in the race with me in 2011.

So today I took my first shower since surgery last week. Big effing deal, I know, but it felt like a huge step in reclaiming my mobility. And my social acceptability.

I’ve taken a “hummingbird flutter” each day of course (my Mum’s expression for a sink bath), but there’s nothing quite like the deluge of steamy, soaking water from a shower head. It was calling me from the sink.

Faux duct tape. Don't use it on anything you want to stay stuck.
Faux duct tape. Don’t use it on anything you want to stay stuck.

My sister Charlene shared her experience with cast wrapping and warned against using tape that would rip my skin off, so I tossed the lawn bag and a roll of faux duct tape into my backpack and performed my expert crabwalk backwards up the stairs. The deck steps out back and the ones at the front door are wide and I have no fear of crutching up and down them, but the ones that twist to the upstairs inside our 120-year-old Victorian are another story. No amount of confidence will get me to ascend/descend those any other way than crustacean-like.

I know I’d eventually gather the courage if this were a rest-of-my-life setback, but it’s not, so I’ve allowed my tip-over fear to dictate my actions.

Faux duct tape wrap
Faux duct tape wrap

Perched on the toilet (and yes, it’s a leopard print seat…to go with all the other animals in the bathroom), I wrapped my leg and secured it with the duct tape. I knew the faux product did not adhere like the legit kind, so I figured it would last at least long enough to keep out water for a quick shower and would not be like a wax treatment on my hairy knee when I removed it.

Fortunately, our shower has a shelf to hold onto and a hand-held shower nozzle attachment (need I explain why this little item is such a gem?), so with one crutch positioned outside the curtain, I was in and out in no time. I briefly considered shaving my left leg, but it was already tiring from my extra-vigilant soapy balancing act, and hey, we live in Leadville. Even I don’t see my legs 10 months out of the year, and snow is already falling in the mountains behind our house. I’ll soon be happy for the extra insulation.

A "new woman"!
A “new woman”!

I felt like a new woman—although I don’t really know what that means—when I finally hopped out, and was happy that my tape job neither ripped my skin off nor allowed water in. The little padded stool I’d positioned by the sink was a perfect place for post-shower activities like drying off and combing out and even washing my exposed toes. I’m glad to say my progress with exercises in the book

STRETCH for those toes. And think about where you leave your crutches because their goal is to fall to the floor.
STRETCH for those toes. And think about where you leave your crutches because their goal is to fall to the floor.

“Real Men Do Yoga” is paying off. Stay flexible, America!

And vain though it may sound, I even went so far as to apply a bit of face paint. Mum always says, “Don’t leave home without putting on

Putting on my "eyebrowns"
Putting on my “eyebrowns”

your eyebrowns (sic),” so my secret is out. L’Oréal or Feria or Clairol help me deceive the world about my true hair color, and a bit of brown eye shadow helps cover up the spikey-grey-Einsteinesque eyebrows that started sprouting several years ago. I swear, I can pluck at night and wake up with twirled, inch-long hairs sticking straight out from my eyebrows in the morning.

So there you have it, some real first-world struggles and small successes of a woman with one flat tire. I am reminded of how much I take for granted every day, and I know how insignificant this setback is.

Hope you enjoyed showering with me today. Maybe you’ll join me fishing this weekend. Look along the shoreline for a crazy lady talking to the face on her foot!

hat to cover toes sticking out of cast
Meet Hattie Le’Green!

Laurel McHargue / Laurel’s email / Leadville Laurel Facebook page / Laurel’s Twitter

6 thoughts on “Showering with Laurel: A Tell-All”

  1. so happy that you are feeling like “a new woman”! Bathing with a cast has always been a problem here in Lompoc mostly for Lesley. I can’t remember the other two having casts but I could be wrong also.
    Did you know that most Pharmacies sell rubber covers for all kinds and sizes of casts? I bet you could even find one at Amazon.com in the health section.

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