Thursday, December 13, 2007


I believe everything negative that God allows us to experience can be used to help others. So, with that in mind, I'd like to offer some advice you may want to file away for future use. Hopefully you'll never have to use it, but if I can help just one person, then my pain and suffering will be worth it. Today's lesson will be on showering in icy cold water. Incidentally, I came out of an icy cold shower only a few short moments ago, so this advice is up-to-date and personally tested. Also, my fingers are quite frozen and slightly shaky, so if there are typos in this post, you'll understand and cut me a break, right? Future topics will include: "How NOT to sob when trying to convince your child 'everything is going to be fine, Sweetheart, just fine.'" AND "How to eat yet another PBJ without triggering your gag reflex."


Preparation is the key to success...
1. Make sure someone in the house knows you're going in to take a shower. That way if you don't come out, someone will know to come looking for you and be ready to call 911 if your shower should take a turn for the worst. Speaking of which, I cannot be held responsible for any showering tragedies that may occur after following my advice. Shower at your own risk. Really, the best thing to do is have someone sitting outside the shower waiting to help you when you get out. You may want to agree in advance upon a safety word you will holler out if you feel you're losing consciousness, or otherwise need medical assistance. Important tip: Make sure your safety word is NOT a curse word. That way, when the urge to shriek curse words hits during your shower, which it will, you will be able to do so without causing an unnecessary emergency assistance call.

2. Call your pastor or a prayer partner from your church before getting in. You WILL NEED prayer support while you're showering. If you are an atheist, I would suggest skipping the shower and spraying your armpits and nether regions with Febreeze instead.

3. Gather your supplies: In addition to shampoo, soap, and a towel, also grab a thick robe, a stocking cap, insulated socks, a few warm blankets, Kleenex, decongestants, and one of those emergency paddles-on-your-chest thingies, like they use on "ER," to keep within quick and easy reach. Lay these items right outside the shower.

4. After you are naked and standing in the shower, turn on the water. DO NOT wait to see if the water may warm up a little more. I cannot stress this point enough. This is a rookie mistake that will cost you. The water will only get colder as it runs. TRUST ME IN THIS. The water that comes out first is as good as it's going to get, and should be used to wash your hair. Turn it on and IMMEDIATELY get started. Quickly wet a wash cloth, put some soap or body wash on it, then set it aside for later. **I like to use "Baby Magic" because it doesn't irritate the skin too badly if it's not all rinsed off, and it smells nice enough to make you believe you accomplished something close to cleanliness, even if you really didn't.

Washing your hair FIRST...
5. This is important. Stand in an extreme version of the "Paris Hilton Pose" (see photo) with your back arched like you are about to do a back bend (you do not have to keep your hand on your hip like she does... unless you just want to), and your head bent waaaay back. If you are over 40, as I am, and haven't done a back bend since the Carter Administration, just do your best. Nobody's grading you on this. What we're going for, here, is to make the water run off your head without running down your back, buying you a few more precious seconds before the hypothermia sets in, which it will- I'm not gonna lie to ya.

6. As quickly as possible after turning on the water, wet your hair. Resist the urge to scream, because your family members will mistakenly believe they've just heard your safety word and think you need medical assistance. You don't want the EMTs to burst in and see that Paris Hilton Pose, do ya? It's quite embarrassing. Don't ask me how I know. I just know. Now, TURN THE WATER OFF. Lather your hair, remembering to scrub really, really well the first time. We're in crisis mode, man; this is not a time for Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

7. This is where the process starts to become physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually difficult. You are about to test and challenge yourself in ways you never have before. You will not want to stand under that water again, but you must. The shampoo must be rinsed out, or it will begin to irritate your scalp later on. Again, please trust me in this. I really do know what of I speak. Remembering your Paris Hilton Pose, turn the water back on, suck it up, and begin to rinse the shampoo out of your hair. Do not use your hands until you absolutely have to. After a few moments, your scalp will begin to sting quite badly, as if the water has suddenly turned sharp and is now stabbing you. You will feel as if the skin of your scalp is actually shrinking. You will be tempted to stop at this point, but DON'T. This pain and discomfort occurs only momentarily, and right before the numbness sets in. Numb is good. You will like numb, just don't overdo it, as it is a sure sign that hypothermia is just around the corner. It's OK if you cry, but resist the urge to squat down and rock yourself. If you feel faint, use your safety word now and do it quickly. You must keep going. You can do it. It will be hard to know exactly when all the shampoo is out, because your head and fingers will have lost all sense of feeling by now. Make your best guess and then TURN THE WATER OFF.

8. At this point, I like to take a little break. You may want to do this, too. You've earned it. Wrap a towel around your head to restore some much-needed body heat. Take a moment to consider all you've accomplished, but then move on. **Some people will just want to stop here and call it done. That's understandable. This is commonly referred to as a "Skank Shower" and is actually an acceptable method, especially if you're a beginner. If you can't go on, don't beat yourself up. Maybe next time. Skip to step #11 and congratulate yourself on a brave first attempt!

Washing the rest...
9. Leave the towel on your head, if possible. You may notice that your thoughts are becoming delusional and attempts at speech may be slurred. If so, no time to lose. Work as fast as you can. Grab the wet, soapy wash cloth you set aside earlier (in step #4). Use it to wash your armpits and naughty bits ONLY. We're not going for a complete, total scrubbing here. Nastiest parts ONLY. Face, feet, legs- Skip 'em. Who cares? And DO NOT WASH YOUR BACK. Dear Jimminy, what are you thinking? Do not shave ANYTHING. Save it for another day. You may be only seconds away from passing out now, do you understand that? Make every second count.

10. DO NOT turn the shower back on if you don't have to. If you have a tub spout, use that instead to splash water onto your soapy parts. If you must stand under the shower spray (God help you), do it quickly, hit only the soapiest parts, and TURN THE WATER OFF.

Getting out and getting warm...
11. I feel I must warn you, here. If you have a mirror located where you will catch a glimpse of yourself when you exit the shower, you need to be prepared for what you are about see. It won't be pretty. Your fingers, feet, lips, and dangly parts will all be blue. Your hair will most likely look and feel crunchy. It is frozen, after all. Work quickly to get warm. You will feel listless, weak, shaky, and woozy at this point so you must dry off as fast as you can. This is where having a waiting family member is most helpful, especially if you collapse and cannot go on. After drying yourself, put on the stocking cap, robe, and insulated socks. Wrap up in the blankets. Have the family member hold the Kleenex while you blow your nose, or just hold you while you quietly sob. Take a couple of the decongestants. You will need them here in a minute, even if you don't realize it yet. You will not be able to pat your own back right now, so ask your family member to do it for you. You deserve it!

You did it! And hopefully, you were able to do it without a pesky hospitalization. You may find in the near future that a little counseling, for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, will prove to be both helpful to you and appreciated by your family. I'm proud of you. You have inner strength and courage that you never knew existed. Now, you know what you're really made of. Reward yourself by taking the rest of the day off. You've done enough.


Miles' Mama said...

I was cold just reading that! Brrr! I am praying for freakishly warm weather (and water) to come your way. Hang in there!!!

Rebecca said...

Okay--the tears were rolling more today! I LOVE how you can stay so funny in such a bad place!!! God bless you (and I am praying that he sends you hot water soon!!!).