My friend, Susan, and I stood outside the store staring at the artful displays of colostomy bags, walkers and hernia girdles. I didn't want to go in.
My doctors suggested I purchase a special chair and a support handle to help me get in and out of my shower. Now I had been getting in and out of it every day without any help. Not to mention getting on and off the toilet without the use of a crane.
"Susan, would you do me a big favor? Would you pretend that the shower chair is for you, not for me?
"There's nothing to be ashamed of. What's the big deal?" she said.
"I don't want these strangers looking at me as if I were sick."
"But you are sick." Susan always managed to hit the nail on the head. Apparently, she didn't find sickness as embarrassing as I did. But then she was healthy as a horse.
"Just pretend it's for you not me, okay?"
So Susan asked for the various items we needed while I stood by pretending to be a healthy shopper. The sales woman was very intent on showing Susan the latest reclining shower chair for $1,243.62. I could tell Susan, a bit of a techy, was dazzled. I gave her a discreet two-thumbs down.
In an effort to keep my eyes off of the gruesome paraphernalia (lift chairs, transport chairs, orthopedic braces, diabetic supplies, and pressure relief cushions,) I picked up one of Collins' illustrated brochures.
It was then that I learned that Collins was a "Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist."
Aging-in-Place refers to "the ability to live in one's own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level."
I suddenly had this horrible vision of me sitting in a La-Z-Boy chair for 10 to 15 years as my hair grayed and thinned, my age spots darkened, my wrinkles got groovier, and my mind waddled off to parts unknown. But then I realized this "aging-in-place" could be a good thing because I would never have to go anywhere, especially to yet another doctor's office.
Susan selected a very tasteful white shower stool for me. We also purchased The Grip. The woman cautioned that this is not to be a weight-bearing grip. "It's only to be used for balance getting in and out of the tub."
One thing she didn't explain was how all this extra paraphernalia in my very small bathtub would change my bathing habits. So the first morning I fell off the stool and lay there on my back thinking, this is definitely fulfilling Collins goal of aging in place. I just wished the designated place didn't have running water that was getting colder by the minute.
Perhaps you're wondering how I got out of this predicament. Just like any non-infirm person, I swiveled around, got on my hands and knees and slithered out of the bathtub.
I'm now using my shower chair as a table for old issues of The New Yorker. And The Grip? Well, I'm thinking of purchasing a half a dozen more and distributing them throughout my apartment. So when people say, "get a grip" I'll already have that covered.