Home Coping & Grief Let Me Feel the Water

Let Me Feel the Water


10 weeks to the day after I injured my spinal cord—on my 29th birthday—I left rehab. And what did I want more than anything? A bath. A bubble bath with a book or Netflix was my happy place—my self-care. It was where I retreated to almost every evening in the fall and winter after my husband was home from work and I was no longer solely responsible for the three little people in our home. It gave me space to take a breath, recharge and feel like a person beyond “Mommy”. 

We stayed in a hotel that first night out of rehab. I know I know, hotel bathtubs are not the greatest place to indulge, but I had bigger problems happening in my life. However, while I knew it may not be the cleanest, what I didn’t consider was that they are also not the deepest of bathtubs.

All the poking and prodding of the weeks before—attempts to comprehend the vast lack of sensation—had nothing on submerging all of my paralyzed pieces into a warm bathtub that felt like nothing. In an instant, I understood the reality of having absolutely no feeling below my bellybutton. And it was heartbreaking.

My eyes filled with tears. To try and remedy the situation, Ian took a drinking glass off of the counter and poured warm water over my neck, shoulders, arms and back. But sitting there, submerged in water I couldn’t feel, I started sobbing. I told Ian to leave. His presence was a comfort and, in that moment, I didn’t want comforted—I wanted to feel the fucking bath water.

Every ounce of me wanted to erase the accident—the injury—and go back to the able-bodied life I understood so much better than this paralyzed one. I spent several minutes drowning in that raw, unfiltered grief until I began to shiver—whether the water had actually turned cold I couldn’t tell you. Unable to get myself out of the bathtub, Ian came back. The tears dried and the shivering stopped. That particular wave of grief moved on and we went back to celebrating my birthday.

What did I learn? Grief and happiness can exist within the same minute, same hour or same day. And… always use a deep enough bathtub. 

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michaelbharry September 25, 2019 - 5:40 am

And I bet, as the Dr Hook song title goes, After All These Years you can now get out of the bath on your lonesome!!!

Codi Darnell September 25, 2019 - 6:15 am

I would love to say yes haha! But it depends on the bath. My short little arms only get me so far

Lisa September 25, 2019 - 12:33 pm

Hi Cody – Well, your short little arms are pretty darn strong from the pictures you post! Way more than mine! But, bathtubs are way down there! You might know of them, but I found a wheelchair height full (deep) tub that I love. Got it from Canada (I live in TX and they said it was the first one they sold in the US back then). You just slide in, close the door, fill it up and enjoy a soak! It fits in the same space a regular tub would fit in. Just in case that interests you!
I agree with hotel bathtubs (ugh) and don’t even get me started on the height of beds there!!!
Anyway, thank you for your very thoughtful posts. I always appreciate reading what you write. Our disabilities are different, but there are a lot of similarities in our lives. I’ve learned a lot from your posts! Keep on writing!


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