Bathing Tips for MG

One of my biggest problems with range of motion is using my left arm due to pain from the left side of my neck, shoulder, and upper back that radiates down my arm. I also have pain while standing due to nerve damage to my spine. My issues are due in part to arthritis and in part to fatigue from myasthenia gravis (MG).

Stepping into the shower before work, an event, or just relaxing and enjoying a soak in the tub are things people often take for granted. However, many of us struggle every day with such basic tasks and activities such as bathing. It can be difficult or even dangerous for us.

How do we get things done while still having our basic needs met and getting a reprieve from pain? Here are some ideas that help me maintain independence, reduce fatigue, and even reduce some of the pain.

Shower tips

When it comes to bathing, deciding whether to shower or use the tub will depend on preference, your abilities, and stamina. Because of my limitations and lack of a walk-in tub, I prefer to shower.

I have a shower bench that fits in our tub. In the past, I’ve also had a shower chair. The chair has a back on it. You decide which one you would need or prefer. Many medical supply stores have products to assist in your home care. You may also find them online from various different sources.

Be sure to utilize them to make your life easier and safer. If your insurance covers durable medical equipment, they may help with the purchase of some items. I have used the shower chair and the stool, but I prefer the stool. The back of the chair sometimes gets in the way washing my back. Although sometimes it is really nice having it to lean against when I needed to stop and catch my breath.

If you use a tub and it’s very difficult or dangerous getting in and out of it, consider a walk-in tub. Medicare typically does not consider it durable equipment, but in certain cases they may reimburse you for it. The biggest hurdle is getting assistance with paying for part of it. I encourage you to talk more with your specific insurance provider about your coverage.

Sponge bath

If you have a bad day and can’t bathe, try a sponge bath instead. I know nothing takes the place of a bath or shower, but at least a sponge bath will work in a pinch. Medical supply sources also have a type of soap you can wash with that doesn’t require rinsing or even getting into the tub or shower.

Temperature sensitivity

If heat or cold sensitive, use a more comfortable temperature of water. I’m more sensitive to cold, so I generally use very warm water. I also use a space heater before, during, and after a shower regardless the season. Just use safely!

Other ideas

There are many other devices that can either help you with self-care or help your caregiver take care of you! Some of those aids include grab bars or rails, tub lifts, back scrubbers, hand-held shower wands, foot brush or scrubber, step stools, anti-slip mats, and much more!

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