Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cleaning Up my Act

The thing is, I've had a lot of experience with surgery. As of Friday, I've had 20 surgeries between my two knees and two on my left foot. Divide 20 by 2 and that makes me a ten!

Over the years, I've become quite adept at the post-surgical shower routine. Even though the surgical center sent me home with this:
I know that the rubber boot / hefty bag / plastic bag routine is for amateurs. Invariably they leak, leaving the bandages a musty and damp mess. And even on those rare occasions that they do not, they are still hot to wear and my leg sweats inside. Very uncomfortable!

I've come up with a much better routine and, before you remind me that I often don't do what I've been told to do and have, on occasion, removed said bandage to take a shower, only to put it back on again afterwards and the doctor(s) were never the wiser, you should know that for the past several surgeries I've been playing by the rules. At least in regards to my personal hygene.

Preparation for this week's event actually began several weeks ago. A properly functioning handheld shower is critical to my routine and the old one that I had in my condo for the past 12 years after moving back home from the '94 Northridge Earthquake had long-since failed to fill the bill. Indeed, not only did the shower head barely dispense water, but it was not a fully functioning hand-held since the tong that you would hang it in had broken several years ago and I had used velcro straps to fasten it permanently there. Not that I didn't want to update my shower head in the ensuing years, but I never could get around to it.

Anyway, with the surgery of this week on tap, I finally made my way to Home Depot and bought almost the exact same unit that was in the shower in the first place. Except that this one worked. I installed it myself - not a terribly big deal except for the part where I connected the hose backwards and ended up soaking my clothing in the first test run - and the shower was good to go for under $50.

Of course, that was not the end of my preparation. I needed to put a new bar of soap in there because the old one would certainly run out before I was done recovering and, even if it didn't, was small enough that I would lose grip of it and have it end up on the floor. That would not be good. So I went to Trader Joes and decided to splurge on a bar of Lemon Verdona soap. Very decadant!

But there is still the issue of how I keep my leg and bandages dry. For that, I needed to pull an old hamper out of my closet that I have not used for years. Put it directly by the shower door, moving the scale - which I will not be using until I am able to stand on both feet again - closer to the bathroom door.

And I needed to be sure that I had extra towels hanging on the hooks in the bathroom.

Now comes the fun part. Actually taking the shower.

I hop into the shower on one leg, and the bandaged leg hangs out the shower door and rests on top of the hamper.

I take one of the towels

and place it on top of the bandage and about two inches up my leg to be sure that there is no splatter.

Close the shower door against the leg protruding out the shower.

And for the record, no, my shower doors are not dirty. I live in Los Angeles where we have very hard water. That is calcium which I did not have time to remove before my surgery because if you had told me a week ago that I would be posting pictures of my shower routine in my blog, I would have called you nuts!

Now I'm looking pretty stupid standing there on one leg while the other hangs out of the shower, but ready to lean WAAAAAYYYYY over and turn on the shower. But I have to be careful to turn the shower head away from my shivering body first because I do not enjoy being blasted by a jet of freezing cold water.

Once the water is adjusted, I reach backwards over my head to the window sill where my shampoo is. Scalp washed, I reach backwards again to replace the shampoo and grab the razor & shaving creme.
I am glad I lost weight so that I could bend over at the waist while standing on one leg and shave the same. Doing these manuevers in the shower is almost as good as taking a Yoga class.

It's time to do the standard soap and rinse which I do not need to elaborate on except to tell you that I stop short on the leg that is extended outside of the shower well before the towel and bandage. And the advantages of a hand held shower head where you can decide where the spray is directed are immediately obvious.

By this time, I'm getting pretty tired and my one "good" leg is tired too. I reach over and turn the water off, but the festivities are not yet done. My bandaged leg is still dry, but if I make a wrong move now, all of my efforts are for naught! I carefully slide my shower door open and use the towel on my still-extended-and-raised leg to dry that leg off. And any other body part that is within easy reach. Then I have to lean over and reach farther outside of my shower to get yet another towel and finish the job.

It's critical to get completely dry before hopping out of the shower. If I didn't, I would end up putting my bandaged foot down in a puddle, thereby making the entire previous effort for naught.

I do hop out of the shower, grab my crutches - which by the way, are metal and cold - and hobble into the bedroom to get dressed for the day.

"Is it worth it?" you ask. "All that effort when I could just wait a few days to take a shower." And I would answer you without hesitation or question.

Yes, it is worth it to be clean.


Anonymous said...

i cringed at the shower myself trying to get in and out to get cleaned up..But the big bugger for me is the toilet seat..Getting up and down without putting weight on the leg..That's a killer..

hot tamale said...

I was thinking the same thing about being glad you're able to do all what it takes to take a shower in your situation. Your arms will be getting a great work out....your arms are going to look as good as Claudia's !! You rock Laura, stinky or clean! ; )


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