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What Was I Thinking?!

by Michelle LawrenceSurvivor, Chronic T-Cell Lymphocytic LeukemiaApril 9, 2024View more posts from Michelle Lawrence

It had been a long, hot day, and my best friend offered to make me a bath. This was a simple yes or no question, but not for me. I paused for a few minutes to ponder her offer. I have factors to consider; I have chronic T-cell large lymphocyte leukemia. This past year, I have also taken on a mystery disease for fun, which has all the symptoms of chronic heart failure, but my heart is healthy. So, getting back to the story. My mobility was limited, my tub was small, I was not small, and I was riddled with pain. I would say about a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst. I had recently been battling a bout of depression as well. My best friend was trying to lift my spirits by making me a bath before she left for the day. I had thought it would take the edge off the pain, so I said yes before thinking the logistics through. Mistake number one…

I approach the bathroom, and the smell of lavender washes over me. I thought this was going to work out. The lights were dim, and some excellent soft music was playing. In the tub was one of those lovely mats with a pillow. There were bubbles galore and a rubber ducky, too. I stepped over the edge into the tub, and the water felt amazing. Ahhh…then I looked down and panicked, mistake number two.

Beautiful bubbles were everywhere, but how would I get my ass down there without falling in? I looked around; I didn’t want to step out of the tub and say I changed my mind. So, I lowered my ass like a drunken crane truck driver and finally gave up and plopped in. Mistake number three. Yup, at 45, I plopped into the tub because I couldn’t lower myself all the way. I said to myself, “Shit, how the hell am I going to get out? This is embarrassing.” Finally, I said. “What the hell?” and started to enjoy the bath, figuring we would get to the ‘get out of the tub part’ later. This was a moment. Then I began to panic, mistake number four.

Glistening in my glory, I lay there with my eyes closed, tears slowly dripping down my face. I was mourning my abilities that I had just a year ago. Getting in and out of the tub used to be so easy. Depression raged in, and I continued to silently cry; it decided to question me. What could possibly come next, in and out of the tub? Was I equipped to handle it? I took some deep breaths and just laid still. I was determined to enjoy the moment. I decided to stop counting my mistakes.

The water started to cool, which quickly snapped me out of dreamland. I have to get out of this tub. I have to get out by MYself. Quickly, I looked around; there must be a way. I am smart. I added hot water using my toes to turn the faucet and continued to sit and think. There was a shower chair outside the tub. I could use that to pull myself out! I scooted back and tried to reach the chair. I couldn’t angle myself the proper way to grab it. Shit.

Tick. Tock. Tick Tock. The water was cooling off again, and the lavender scent quickly faded. I told Alexa to stop playing the music. I needed total concentration. I decided to go for it. The MOVE. Flip from a sitting position to being on all fours. PLOP-water everywhere. “FUCK!” I couldn’t get up on all fours. “Oh, great!” I thought, “This is special.” Any benefit of that bath has long since gone out the window. I tried again, falling back into the tub. Water splashing. All I could think of was ‘Free Willy.’ Alright. We couldn’t call 911 and look like this. FIGURE. IT. OUT. I craned my neck to look around. I could grab the tub’s edge and give myself some leverage to pull myself up. I dived for the edge of the tub, and then I hung on like a lifeline. Panting, out of breath, in pain, and silently crying, I stayed that way for a few seconds, which felt like an eternity.

Now glistening in sweat in panic, and after catching my breath, I could pull myself up. BOOM! I was sitting on the tub’s edge with my feet still inside the tub. GREAT! Right?! WRONG. It was too slippery to gain footing so I could stand up. I couldn’t spin around because there was no room outside the tub; the shower chair was in the way. Did I mention my bathroom is tiny? I didn’t want to call anyone and ask for help. I felt like I had such little dignity left.

It had been over 15 minutes, and I was freezing. I decided to butt-scooch over to the shower chair outside the tub. That landed me half in the tub and half out. I dropped my upper body off the shower chair down onto a tiny spot on the bathroom floor. I pulled my legs out of the tub, did some scrambling that wasn’t pretty on the floor, and then pulled myself back up using the sink. Water was everywhere. The bathroom no longer looked peaceful and serene; it looked like a crime scene. I gasped in horror when I saw what was behind me, but I had to let it go. I grabbed my towel, water dripping, tears falling, and bruises formed as I left the bathroom. My damaged ego and I had to move on. I went straight to bed and didn’t say a word to anyone. I quickly fell asleep, exhausted and grateful that it was over.

The next day, I cleaned up the crime scene slowly because I was sore from my peaceful bath (heavy sarcasm). I was lucky because clean-up was pretty easy since most of the water had dried overnight. After everything was in its place, I went to grab some coffee. I started thinking of the potential 911 calls and police reports that could have been generated and laughed. “911, what is your emergency?” I am saving up for a walk-in tub.

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