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Shower Safety PSA

This is the PSA (Public Safety Announcement) that I said I was going to blog about in my last post. First of all, let me say up front…I am fine. I’m not hurt, I just had a really scary moment on Thursday.

Let me start at the beginning. About three years ago, I wanted to become more independent as far as me showering by myself was concerned. To be more exact, getting in and out of the shower (tub) on my own. I used to have my husband help me in and out. It was determined that the studs in the wall outside the shower were not sturdy enough, or not in the right place…something like that…for a regular safety bar to be installed. And the walls inside the shower were made from some materiel that if water got into a drill hole (from a safety bar) there was a possibility of mildew or mold growing inside.

Anyway, since a regular safety bar was pretty much out of the question, I started looking for alternatives. I came across suction cup safety bars. I had never thought about safety bars being stuck up using suction cups. I read reviews of a few bars, and I bought my first was through Amazon.

First Bar

This particular safety bar had “safety colors”. When you stuck it on the wall, and if the color was green, you were good to go. If it was red, you had to re-attach it. I used that, but over time the safety colors started to lie, and I got uncomfortable using it. It didn’t seem reliable.

I then got a similar safety bar as the first, only it was like a double bar, one on top of the other. Same thing happened though, and I was uncomfortable using it. It kept sliding off the wall, and I re-attached it multiple times during my showers. It even fell off without touching it. So that was definitely out.

The third time I bought a bar, it was one a really liked.

008

It was a lot smaller than the other kinds, but a lot more stable. I’ve been using this particular bar for the last two and half years or so. I’ve had no problems. I’ve bought three of the same kind actually. The first one broke because I dropped it. The second one has lasted me at least 14 to 16 months. I bought the third one in January or February, because I wanted to have a backup just in case something went wrong.

Another reason I bought the third one was because I was having balance issues galore, and I was being paranoid. Anyway, about a month ago I started using the newer bar. It works fine, but it seems to make a strange noise that the other two didn’t make when I first got them. When these safety bars come loose, they make a kind of squeaky noise. I know I should probably reattach it just to be safe when I hear that noise.

Now we come to this past Tuesday. Got in the shower just like normal, did my thing. I needed to stand up while in the shower at one point, so I give a quick tug on the bar just to be safe. It squeaked and popped off the wall. Normally it just squeaks but doesn’t pop off. OK, so I reattach it and give it a light tug again. The bar sort of slides along the wall and pops off again. Wonderful, I’m going to be stuck in the shower until my husband gets back from work.
Not so fast, that’s why I have the second bar as a back up. I never thought I’d be using the older bar as a backup, but I did. I put the other bar up, and it was OK. I finish my thing, and get out. No problems.

I let my husband know what happened, and he went in to investigate. He comes back and said he did everything he could, and the bar would not pop off. I said, “show me.”. Not that I didn’t believe him, I just wanted to see so I could ease my mind. So we both go in and I watch him. He could have done pull ups with these things. He twisted, he pulled, he yanked…but they stayed in place.

Now comes Thursday. There were a lot of “I should haves” that day. I should have brought my shower shoes with me. I should have brought my phone with me. I should have slid my shower seat forward more before getting in. I didn’t do any of those things. Way back in the back of my mind I always hear a little voice asking “what if the bar pops off as I’m getting in?”. It’s not always a loud thought, but some days it’s louder than others. It was a very quiet thought that day, and I pushed it out of head. After all, I had seen how strong this bar is.

I attach the newer bar to the wall just like normal, and give it a quick tug. It was fine. I step in to the tub with my left foot first and as I’m bringing my right leg in, before I get my foot to the floor of the tub, I hear a *pop*, as the bar pops off the wall. So here I am with my left hand on the wall of the shower, my left leg in the tub, and my right foot almost down. I put my foot down, and think “did that just happen?”. Did the bar really just pop off?

At this point, my body is not situated where I want it to be in the tub. My left foot is closer to the right side of the tub, and I want to move it over. I’m leaned over to the left more than I’d like and I’m scared to move it since I have no safety bar on the wall anymore. It hasn’t really hit me yet that the bar is off the wall. I’m thinking “this can’t be happening” and then it finally hits me. I begin to panic. I start breathing fast and actually start to hyperventilate. After a little while, I get a hold of myself and tell myself to calm down. I say to my self, “Yes, this is happening. This is the real deal, Tee. Just breath.”

I take a few deep breaths and I start to assess my situation. I’m standing on both my feet, even if it is a precarious position. I look for my shower seat. It’s not close enough for me to just plop down into it (it may have been close enough, but I didn’t want to risk it). I’m still holding the safety bar in my right hand. So, I throw the safety bar on the floor. I put my right hand on the wall. I look at my left hand and think, “OK, what can I grab for that is somewhat stable. The top of the wall where it sort of juts out No, not enough to grip really. The shower head pipe where it attached to wall. That’s it. So I take a breath and slowly move my hand to the shower head pipe.

001

Once my left hand is somewhat secure, I take a look at my right hand. Where can I move my hand so it’s more secure. I don’t want to grab the shower curtain, that would only cause the curtain rod to fall, and then I’d be sure to go down. The shower wall sort of rounds out on the side and blends in with the normal wall. Good enough place as any. So I work my hand over to the curve of the wall.

005

Now for my legs and feet. Prior to my shower I had been sitting outside, so I was hot and sticky from the heat. So my legs are kind of stuck together and don’t want to pull apart. I again take a deep breath and slowly try and move my left foot over. I sort of have a “hitch” moment when my legs un-stick, and I feel like I’m going to fall, but I don’t. At that point, I know I’m going to be OK. I didn’t fall after that hitch like movement (hard to explain what that “hitch” feels like). I move my left leg over and am definitely more stable. I get into a better position, let go of the shower head pipe and wall, and sit down (why didn’t I move the seat forward more before this?).

I made it. Big huge relief, let me tell you. I haven’t been that scared in a long long time. There’s a difference between being anxious and scared, at least there is to me. I’m anxious quite a lot about a number of things. But I actually got scared when I was in that situation. I did panic when the realty of the situation hit me, but I managed to reign that panic back and deal with it. I’m not sure how long this entire scene lasted, but it felt like at least 30 minutes. It was probably only two minutes at the most.

I sat there for a while just reassuring myself that I was OK. And I never cried…not once. My legs felt like Jell-o for the rest of the day because of the adrenaline leaving my body, but I was OK. I told my husband what happened when he got back, and we’re trying to determine what I’m doing so the bar is popping off. He thinks I’m attaching to a not fully flat part of the wall. He’s probably right, but why is it happening all of a sudden? He again yanked on the bar, and it actually did pop off for him once. I think it was on part of the ridged portion of the wall though.

I’m trying not to let this incident effect other areas when I have balance issues. So far so good. My walking isn’t being effected by what happened. I had a glitch in the laundry room, but I’m chalking that up to having no shoes on. I catch myself thinking about the “what ifs” of what happened. What if the bar popped off when my right foot was higher in the air, or while my left foot was first going in? I need to stop dwelling, and move on from it. Yes, it was scary, but I got through it. It most likely will not happen again. I can’t start thinking that it will. It’s going to be hard, and I know my mind will flip out on me when it’s time for my next shower, but I’m going to be OK. From now on, I’ll make sure everything is where it should be…the shower seat in particular. I’ll have my phone with me, and I’ll be wearing the shower shoes (even if I don’t need them).

Moral of the story is, be careful when you’re in the shower. Bathrooms are dangerous places. I don’t care if you have the best balance and agility in the world…be careful. Take the precautions needed to be safe. And if you do have a disability or other problem that effects your balance, use a shower seat and make sure you have a safety bar.

I wanted to get this out, partly as a warning to everyone to be careful, but also just to get the story out of my mind so I can move on. I’ll be doing my best to not think about it from now on. Be confident in my movements and think positive about what will happen.

Pass this story on to whoever you want to. Share it with your friends and family. This really shook me up.

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  1. May 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm

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