Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day 37 - Bowers

I've been told that I can shower -- but not to soak the drains if possible. How is that possible? They're tubes attached to my body, under my arms ... well, just my right arm now ... but still -- a part of me that will get wet if I take a shower. Since surgery, I haven't showered. I'm scared I'm going to get the drains too wet -- and there are just too many holes in me that I'm scared of infection. I don't want to sanitize my shower every morning because a) I don't have that kind of energy and b) well -- it's just silly. And, all those chemicals that I would use to sanitize the shower would most likely harm those open wounds anyhow. It's lose-lose.

But don't get me wrong - I'm staying clean ... that whole infection thing. My mom left yesterday, but while she was here, she washed my hair for me ... once in the kitchen sink, like when I was a baby, and once in the master bath. In addition to that there have been sponge baths and now, I've resulted to "bowers" ... bath-showers. The first time, Mike filled the tub for me only half way so the drains would stay dry. I sat as far back in the tub as possible and set the drains on either side of me, on the edge of tub. What a sight - no bandages over my chest - deflated balloons - the chemo port - drains hanging out of the tub. But it felt nice to be in the bath - relaxing, calming. I asked Mike if I could do it alone though. It was the first time I was fully unclothed since the surgery -- the first time I'd see my "new" body in full length -- all in one view. I hadn't seen myself like that yet, so I wanted to see first -- before I let Mike see me. I think I surprised him -- I mean, since all this has happened he has seen (and helped) me pee after all for the first time in our 5 year relationship, as well as seen my bottom hanging out the back of a hospital gown -- but he respected my request and didn't come in until I was finished and at least half way covered. I did still have the drains to worry about so I could only wrap the bottom half of me. But that didn't matter -- he's seen the top half already, bare or bandaged.

Today I had another bower. But this time, instead of sponge bathing the top half of me and submerging the bottom half - I tested out what it would feel like to have the water running over my incisions. Being that everything is still numb, I'm not sure what I was expecting - but I was still scared it would hurt. I kept the water temperature lukewarm ... easy for my skin to handle just in case. I used a pitcher and only took water directly from the faucet. I didn't want to pour water that was in the tub over my incisions -- that whole infection thing -- so I only poured "new" water. I set a mirror up in front of me, outside the tub - so I can monitor the whole process -- make sure I wouldn't hurt anything. I lifted the pitcher and positioned it so it would run down from my collar bone. I felt nothing. I mean -- I didn't feel pain where I thought I would ... I saw the water go over my incisions ... but I didn't feel anything. Good. Whew. What a relief. I kept going. It felt really good. I started gently pouring new water over all the incisions -- on the left side first - the drain hole ... literally a "hole" ... over the tiny hole that was left from where the painbuster tube was, back over my chest and the incision. I moved on to the right side - over my chest, over the incision at the base of my armpit where they took out the sentinel lymph nodes ... Crap. I got carried away. That soaked the drain gauze around the tube that was still attached. Well -- too late now.

I kept going with my bower - mindful of the already wet gauze, but not so apprehensive to get it wet, but not soaking it repeatedly - draining the tub when the water lever was too high, filling it back up again as I methodically washed one side with soap and then repeated on the other. It took forever, but it was worth it. There's something independent about being able to shower (bower) yourself ... take care of yourself after such a serious surgery. Tending to your own wounds. Cleaning them, caring for them ... healing from them. Animals can lick their own wounds. It's their natural, self-preserving reaction to keep them clean and care for them to ensure they heal. I guess that's kind of what today was ... the first time I could lick my own wounds.

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