I learnt a lesson last year while taking this arthritic body on holiday.

Here we were in scenic Queenstown on a coach tour when a last-minute change of hotels meant my request for a room with a walk-in shower was a ‘no go.’ All the rooms in this hotel had a shower over a bath. The tour company did offer to transfer us to a hotel with a walk-in shower but as this meant parting company with our tour-buddies, I declined and said, “I’ll be okay” (silly me).

So that was how I found myself in a bathroom with a deep bath which was fitted out with one of those overhead shower attachments. You know – the complicated ones where you have to press a knob for the water to come either:

  1. Out of the shower, or
  2. Out of a tap into the bath.

After careful thought and the embarrassing memory of slipping while trying to get into a similar set-up while holidaying in England, and a flash-back to the intimate bruising I sustained (one leg in bath, one leg not in bath), I decided against a shower and ran myself a beaut deep bath instead.

I climbed carefully in for a yummy soak.  And it was yummy; I was warmed, wet, clean, relaxed and perfectly happy.

The problem arose when I tried to get out. The sides of the bath suddenly took on the proportions of Mt Everest from the perspective of an ant, but without any foot or hand grips.

Valma: Don't throw out the lady with the bathwater

Panic: There was nothing for me to grip on with to haul myself up with.

I spent quite a time trying various body contortions in an attempt to extract myself, only to end up each time with a screaming knee and foot.  To add absolute insult to injury, during one of these ‘get out’ movements I managed to knock the ‘swap water’ button and down came a fierce cold water deluge. It literally poured cold water on my escape plans, at the same time drenching my hair.

Now cold, wet-headed and totally pissed off, I had to do something vaguely sensible. Putting dignity to one side, I felt making myself heard was the only option.

Setting aside visions of having to hire a team of weight-lifters to haul me out, I starting yelling and knocking loudly on the wall. This was in the hope that Sir Galahad (who is now quite deaf) would hear me, and not our next-door neighbours. However, the thought that my gallant rescuer may have already dropped off to sleep sent anxiety signals down my spine.

Fortunately, after a wee time, he did hear me. And yes, using a dash of Kiwi ingenuity, he did haul me out but it wasn’t easy.

This reminded me of an arthritic friend who, while holidaying in Australia in the Aussie heat, found herself staying in an apartment in Brisbane for a week, with only a shower-over-the-bath option. On checking with management, she discovered there were no apartments with walk-in showers. For seven days she dutifully flannel-washed her body each night, while muttering under her breath; she knew that if she climbed into that bath, she would never get out again. In that respect, she was considerably wiser than me.

So we live and learn. When making plans for a holiday, I know now to take into account my physical capabilities and to remember when booking accommodation to request walk-in showers, or a ground-level room when an elevator is not available.