A Shower is the Last Thing on Your Mind When You’re Dying
You have no idea how good a shower can feel, until you’re denied one for a long time. Nearly two months, to be exact. I had suffered multiple DVTs and had a giant blood clot in my lung; a shower is the last thing on your mind when you’re dying. Movement in and of itself was a torture. A gentle knock against the bed’s railing brought about searing agony, and turning to my side took 30 minutes. A shower? Don’t even think about it.
It doesn’t help that the hospital beds have sadistic designs. Your back is always sticky with sweat and you never sleep well, because they’re wrapped with plastic sheets. I couldn’t get out of bed, and developed bedsores after a while. (Yes, those sores old people get from lying in bed for too long; they’re actually quite painful.)
When I was on the mend and could finally sit in a chair, they delighted me with the question, “would you like to shower?” Not a hasty rub with disposable wet wipes that never leave you satisfied. An actual hot shower, with running water over your head.
It became my favourite ritual of the day, even though I wasn’t able to do it on my own. I had to sacrifice my dignity by having a nurse wash me. They took their turns at my body — shampooing my tangled hair, scrubbing my bare flesh, and wrapping me up in a flimsy cotton towel that left me dripping wet. After you’ve had to do your dirty business in public, it doesn’t feel embarrassing to have a stranger wash you.
I would emerge from these showers feeling light and refreshed. The heavy load of depression that weighed down on my shoulders would disappear for a while. The sheen of sweat from our humid climate was somewhere down the drain. Shower time in the hospital was a sacred event for me. It felt magical, I felt beautiful, and it made me feel like a human being once again.