Thursday, February 17, 2011

week one: taking a shower


Sent to you by moya via Google Reader:


dear mia,

sometimes when i shower, i feel like an animal being hosed down in a cage. typically my attendants put on a plastic apron, spray me with water and soap me up with a washcloth. bathing is never a reflective or enjoyable time for me - it is something an attendant does as a job or my family does out of duty or obligation. wash. rinse. get out. it is no wonder we crips are so utility-minded.

yesterday after my attendant was finished washing my body, i asked her — on a whim — to turn on the showerhead positioned directly above me. she did household chores while i sat under the showerhead enjoying the water pour over me. i spent ten minutes just popping my head in and out of the showerstream, surprised every time by the way it splashed against my ear and ran down the sides of my head. it was the first time i have sat under a showerhead in years. the first time i had bathed longer than ten minutes.

i've been doing little things like this all week: cooking eggs and sausages with an attendants and friends instead of sucking down a cup of coffee, spiking my hair up even when i don't plan to leave the house, etc. it has been luxurious. growing up disabled, so much of my access has come from my family. there has been a twenty year old dialogue playing out in my head: "did i ask for too much? do i really need to style my hair when i still need to ask them to help me get dressed? do i really need to leave the house when i need them to drive me?"

there are all kinds of big conversations to be had: how formalized personal care support is a feminist issue and an an issue of racial justice, how so many disabled people do not have access/social capital to be able to tell their caregiver and/or attendant what they want, or how you and i  can build a support system as two disabled women of color.

for now, though, i am reveling in what a unique experience it is to live beyond the convenience of someone else. to take a shower.

dipping my toes in the water,


Things you can do from here:


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