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Archive for April, 2012

hot water helps

Hot water is an essential aid in my daily routine.  It helps to get me going and temporarily takes away my pain, without the more probibitive costs and potential side effects of medication.

Getting moving in the morning and overcoming the associated pain in different parts of my body is a daily toil and challenge.  Fortunately I have a stairlift which enables me to get downstairs, once I’ve managed to get up from my bed and stand on my feet.  Once I’ve reached the dining room table I am usually provided with a mug of coffee by my wonderful husband.  This is often my only coffee of the day so I relish it’s taste whilst cradling the soothingly hot stoneware mug in my stiff, swollen and sore fingers.  Thus fortified I somehow get to my feet again and manage the few step to the kitchen sink, ready for my next therapy session, washing the breakfast dishes.  I always wear rubber gloves and run the water as hot as possible.  This is not only good for cleaning purposes but also takes even more pain from my hands.  Whilst I’m leaning against the sink my legs gradually get to feel more reliable and by the time I’m done I’m in a better state to go back upstairs and face the challenge of getting dressed.

Nightime brings my other hot water therapy, a hot bath.  There was a woman contacted radio 4 recently when the programme was discussing ways of saving water.  She advocated that all new build houses should be built without baths in the bathrooms!  She rather smugly asserted that they had got rid of theirs in her house and how well everyone could manage without it.  She said that when she got older and unsteady she would use a chair in the shower, and handrails.  In her opinion everyone could manage without using water-guzzling baths.  I wanted to scream at her that I couldn’t!  My quality of life would plummet if I were not able to sit in a bath half full of water every evening.  I have problems when we go on holiday and I have to manage without.   I was fortunate enough to be able to invest in a walk-in bath severeal years ago when we had our bathroom updated and refitted.  It was horrendously expensive but I knew even then that I was going to need it.  My mother had had a similar bath installed some years earlier and this was one of the factors which enabled her to enjoy a longer and more pleasant life in her own home.

I’ve never really enjoyed taking a shower.  I use them at the swimming pool where one is obliged to but other than that I have rarely if ever taken one by choice.  Showers are always said to use less water than a bath but honestly some of the times I’ve queued at the gym or hydrotherapy pool while people are using them I doubt that this is always true.  One doesn’t need to overfill a bath to make it worthwhile and enjoy the pain relieving benefits of immersion in hot water.  Another benefit which is also not so easily achievable whilst taking a shower is that a hot bath raises a person’s core temperature.  As the body cools down gradually afterwards sleep is induced.  I use this technique every evening.  After my hot bath I am relatively pain free compared to the rest of my day.  The heat of the bath stimulates the brain so I use the hour or more after my bath to do reading and writing tasks at the computer while my core temperature gradually drops.  This is why I am writing this post now, at just after midnight :)  Then I take myself off to bed where I usually fall asleep minutes after my head touches the pillow.  The video link below discusses this phenomenon.

http://youtu.be/tmrvuwZnKKo

I think I am lucky in that I am of the post-war generation who was brought up to wash dishes by hand and take baths to keep clean.  I guess there are many younger people who have rheumatic and arthritic pain and/or find it difficult to relax and sleep at night but are perhaps totally unaware of the healing power of hot water because they are of the more recent dishwasher and shower generations.

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