Post-Transplant Essentials: The Humble Shower Seat

I think I'll take the time to do a few posts about items I purchased before my transplant that came in handy (more like life-saving) after I came home from the hospital. Here's my first recommendation:

The humble shower seat.

An inexpensive shower seat can be purchased at any drug store, medical supply store or discount mega store, and fancier (more costly) versions can be found at home decorating centers. I chose to buy the cheapest one I could find and purchased it at my local CVS pharmacy. Mine is a sturdy white plastic bench with aluminum legs tipped with rubber slip-free feet. It cost about $15.99, and while the aluminum is already starting to look worn (and its obviously not meant to last forever), it has served me fabulously for almost five months.

Shower seats can come in handy for a variety of reasons. First of all, standing up straight after major surgery in the abdominal region (where most transplanted kidneys are placed) can be next to impossible. Additionally, you're guaranteed to be unsteady on your feet due to a variety of reasons such as medication side-effects and general fatigue - the shower seat can prevent an unnecessary slip/fall when you suddenly feel weak while bathing. Another great reason to have a shower seat is the ability to sit in a position that protects the surgical area from the direct spray of the water - sometimes this is extra important if you've been instructed to keep the area completely dry (Tip: Bandage the area, then hold a hand-sized towel over the bandages and sit backward on the bench with your back toward the water, then use your free hand to wash - this will help keep the area dry while the rest of you gets clean!) Finally, a shower seat comes in handy when you just want to relax in the water and not worry about creating additional fatigue on your body that can be caused by the actual task of bathing.

When choosing your seat, consider first the size and shape. Make sure to measure your bathtub or shower, most importantly for width (some shower seats are too wide for a standard sized bathtub). Choose a seat that is sturdy and can be easily manipulated into and out of the tub (before and after your shower, NOT during your shower!) A seat that is lightweight is also a must as the post-transplant patient is restricted to lifting no more than 10 pounds. A seat with a back or arm-rests isn't necessary, but might be features you'd like to have.

I would also like to suggest that after each shower you (or your caretaker) mist the seat with a solution of bleach and water (3/4c bleach to 1 gallon of water). This will keep the seat fresh and mildew free.

I've continued to use and enjoy my shower seat even after almost five months post-transplant. Sometimes taking a shower while sitting down has its advantages (mainly I don't have to stand while contorting my body to shave my legs!) If you decide that a shower seat is a good idea for you, I wish you happy shower-sitting!

Today's Health Education: "Different types of surgery require different home care instructions." Surgery: What to Expect - Topic Overview