Okay — show of hands. How many of you have been in the hospital? No, not to visit, I mean, actually … oh, that many! Wow. So you already know about the not sleeping part and all that. Every two hours someone is there to give you medication or take your vitals. But …
Here’s an adventure you might not have had … taking a shower. And in case, you’ve never done such a thing, (you peasant), they give you instructions. You don’t believe me? I took a picture … and in case you can’t read it all, let me help. But first this all came about because on the fourth day of my stay the CNA (nurse assistant) came in with a stack of towels, a bottle of liquid soap and a clean hospital gown just in case I would like to take a shower. Would I?? After four days, ya think?
So I got unhooked from all the monitors and the nurse covered the IV line securely with a heavy plastic bag and I was set! So now, on to the instructions.
Oh, but wait — this is no ordinary shower you’ll be taking. The hospital supplies you with a special, germicidal soap. Much more effective than than ordinary crap you use at home. The thought of having some kind of germicide covering my body wasn’t particularly appealing, but after four days I figured the germs were either deserting on their own or else had dug in for the long haul. And besides, I had not brought my own lavender-scented soap, so this would have to do. I squinted in the semi-dark (the light was out in the shower) and saw it was CGH or GHC or perhaps even STP. Whatever.
So, onward with the instructions. Step one: stand under the stream of water (or in this case, wield the hand-held shower head) until you are wet all over. (Sorta the point of a shower, doncha think?). Next, wash your hair because this is not just soap — NO — it is also shampoo! Once your hair is thoroughly covered in germ-killing bubbles, you pour the gunk over the sponge — I was stuck with an ordinary washcloth — and proceed to wash your face (being careful not to get it in your eyes. We have to tell you this because you look like you have no common sense whatsoever, and besides, our lawyers tell us to) and then proceed downward, going from your head to your feet — cleanest to dirtiest.
Oh, wait, I forgot — (see, isn’t it a good thing that they wrote this out for me?) I need to have turned off the water so that the germicide can infuse my skin for a full two minutes (dang — those little critters must really be entrenched!) before I rinse off. But before rinsing there is a list of all the areas you need to wash that, you — a mere peasant — would never think of: behind your ears, back of your neck, armpits and downward to your, uh, yeah… well, you figure it out. And don’t forget between your toes. How many of you remember to wash between your toes? See, so see is why we have to tell you these things. So now, having waited two minutes for the stuff to work its magic, you rinse off. Starting with your head and working down to your feet like we already told you. (Weren’t you paying attention the first time?)
Unfortunately, I did not read all this through before I finished and had proceeded to the drying off portion (“using a clean towel”) and feeling pretty darn smug and germ-proof when a horrifying thought struck me — My ears! I didn’t wash inside my ears!! My scalp suddenly starts to tingle — it’s a stampede! A germ Stampede! I can hear it now: “To the ears! Quick, get inside the ears …” All those little germs dashing and diving into the only safe place left on my body, setting up a germ encampment. Quick! I grab the washcloth and twist it into a narrow a wedge and ram it into my ears. Done. Safe. Whew! A narrow escape.
So now, clean and germ-free I am ready to collapse. Hey, I been sick, ya know? I pick up the hospital gown and realize that it has only one sleeve. The rest is a length of yardage that would cover almost anybody (when the tag says “one size fits all,” I didn’t think they meant all at the same time). Now here’s something that really needs to come with instructions. I look at it for several minutes and am intrigued by the cute little decorations along one edge that … hey, look, are these actually snaps?
By the time I figure it out and get it snapped, wrapped and tied, I really am ready to lie down and sleep. At which point the nurse comes in to hook up the IV and I see the breathing tech lingering in the doorway ready with another treatment. Gee, people, I need to get home so I can rest and get well. And I promise to wash between my toes.