RheumaBlog

Same dragon, different day.

They have lovely bathtubs in Germany. They’re at least twice as deep as a standard American bathtub; the side of the one I had in my flat was as a bit higher than my knees when I stepped into it. After living there and experiencing the true, deep comfort of soaking in hot water literally up to my neck, I was spoiled. The old American bathtub, no deeper than mid-calf, just didn’t cut it.

And that’s why I had the bathtub in my main bathroom removed and replaced with a double-sized shower back in 2003. I hardly ever used that shallow, disappointing bathtub. The water always cooled off too fast (and our hot water heater only held enough water to fill the tub once), If that wasn’t bad enough, I could only submerge my entire body by laying flat on my back with knees bent because the tub was also too short. I’m only 5 feet and 4 inches tall. The submerged part of me would be nice and warm for two or three minutes, but my legs froze.

So phooey. Just get rid of the silly thing, I thought. You love a hot shower. And a nice, big shower stall with pretty ceramic tiles and a rain-shower type spray will be just fine. Add an on-demand, tankless water heater for an unlimited supply of hot water, and that shower would be perfect.

And so it was done.

It’s important at this point to note that, as of that year, I’d had almost no RA symptoms for roughly six years. I’d gotten used to living a normal life – meaning a life without chronic pain. I thought less and less often about the dreadful rheuma years, 1987 to 1997, until finally I just didn’t think about them any more at all.  See, I tucked my rheumatoid arthritis neatly into a box labeled “THE PAST,” strapped it up with duct tape and relegated it without ceremony or a backwards glance to a random, dusty attic closet in my mind.

Of course, the sneaky rheuma was still there, and it was busily chewing an escape hole in the box. But as far as I was concerned, it was “gone.” I was in “remission.” If I was lucky, I’d never have to face the disease again.

Fast forward to today.

Rheuma’s been out of the box for a couple of years now. Almost daily I remember that lovely deep bathtub in my German flat. I’d pour a couple of capfuls of Kniepp Rheumabad into the hot water, which mysteriously made the heat sink even deeper into my aching joints. There were times when getting into and out of the bath was dicey, but once in, ohhh my. It was worth it.

Now I have a shower.  It’s still spacious. I still love the earth-and-forest colored tiles. I absolutely love love love the on-demand hot water. But beyond all that, the drawbacks to a shower vs. a bath when I’m in the depths of a rheuma flare are obvious. Why didn’t I consider the return of the disease, the return of that deep, nerve jangling joint pain that a deep bathtub could sooth, if not actually relieve? I really, really wanted to believe that I’d never have to deal with it again. I was in denial.

So now I’m tentatively exploring the possibility of putting a tub back into that space. I should be able to keep my pretty tiles, I think. Any tub I get, though, can’t be one of those silly shallow American fiberglass things. It wouldn’t be worth the trouble. So I’ve been looking at those step-in tubs, the ones with doors on the sides and a built-in seat. They come with hydrotherapy jets and even thermostats to keep the water at an even temperature. And they’re deep. I could sit in water up to my neck again if I scrunched down just a wee bit.

That sounds absolutely heavenly. But the cost may be way out of my league. So even a plain old bathtub, as long as it’s deep, will do. I’m checking into both kinds. I really need a bath.

8 thoughts on “Water hot

  1. WarmSocks says:

    I’ve seen tubs with the doors. It seems nice to not have to climb over the side, but wouldn’t you have to get in and shiver until the tub fills? Then when you’re done, sit there and get cold again while the water drains away? I don’t know; just wondered.

    My bathroom has a tub with jacuzzi jets in it, and it’s much larger than a standard tub. I have plenty of space to be as submerged. It would be worth taking the time to shop around. Stores will let you sit in their dry tubs to see if you like the size/feel.

    I hope you’re able to find one that will work for you.

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  2. Cathy says:

    We have a tub with jets and heater which is nice but I have to make sure my husband is home to help me out of the tub. 😦

    Your tub does look beautiful and how nice to just slide into the shower without having to lift up your leg.

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  3. Helen says:

    Oh, that does sound heavenly. Sometimes a hot bath is the only thing that will do for that deep, bone-chilling pain.

    A tub is always on my list of no-compromise items when I am looking for an apartment. Getting in and out is a chore sometimes, but worth it in the end. I love getting into bed and curling up to sleep after a nice hot bath.

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  4. Kim H says:

    I’m not a bath person, but these days, I occasionally get the urge to soak in a tub. In fact, I find myself hearkening back to the halcyon days of my youth and foolishness, when I lived in a fourth-floor walk-up that had only a claw-foot tub. (Nope, no shower.)

    Today was a particularly bad shower day, though: Our shower is perhaps the smallest I’ve seen. (If I bend over to shave my legs, my butt bumps into the wall.) In the middle of my shower (when I was at my most sudsy), the water stopped. It just… stopped.

    It turns out that the landlord was replacing the hot water heater.

    It would have been nice to get some advanced notice.

    The chances of this happening to someone else: 1 in a billion. the chances of this happening to me: 2 in 1.

    Sigh.

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  5. Wren says:

    WarmSocks: You know, I’ve wondered about the sitting and shivering thing regarding bathtubs with doors, too. I’ll definitely ask that question when I go tub-shopping!
    Cathy: That means you can only take a bath when he’s home to help? Darn. I remember plenty of times when getting in and out was dreadfully painful; fortunately, I never actually got stuck. A tub with jets and a heater sounds wonderful!
    Helen: Funny how we’re all different in what gives us comfort. I was never much of a bath-person before I got rheuma — I liked showers more. And once in remission, I went right back to showers. RA has a huge influence in our lives, in more ways than one.
    Kim: Oh no! What a terrible thing to do to his tenants! I hope you let the landlord know the trouble he caused! And you know what? I’m one of those 2-in-1 people, too. I swear Murphy’s Law was penned with me in mind. ;o)
    Thanks to all for commenting!

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  6. drcharles says:

    The on-demand water heater sounds like a great idea. The ten minutes I spend in a hot shower are some of the best of the entire day, it is such a modern luxury we take for granted!

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  7. This was a great post, wren. I don’t have RA but appreciate your poignant perspective. It was very insightful. I know everyone’s needs must be individualized but it sounds like the warm baths play a big part…with some great mellow music, of course!

    Thanks Wren, good writing.

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