Tales from the Hospital Showers

I haven’t had a chance to touch on my time in the hospital, mostly doing rehab 4 or 5 hours a day. I am losing sense of time but I guess that was six weeks ago, more or less.

My total incarceration was 6 and a half weeks. The first week I was in a semi-private room with a bunch of wild gypsies or men with bandanas or maybe they were from a motorcycle gang.

They spent most of the time (I mostly heard them because there was a curtain between us) drinking, throwing up in the sink, and figuring out ways to get more pain killers. Which as far as I was concerned they should get as much as they could since that was the only time they nodded out and I could get some sleep.

That first week I was there to get the IG infusions. I was pretty high as well from sleep deprivation so have to admit that they might have been simple gangstas in the curtained off area. I never did see anything but silhouettes. And most of what I heard was the back and forth between the nurses and whoever the guys were.

I was later to discover that enough sleep deprivation could cause hallucinations – so I add that as a caveat – tho I still believe that most of what I describe happened.

After 7 days in the hospital bed where I had to ring to get out and use the toilet, accompanied by a generic blue shirt, I was transferred to the PT OT section. At that place I had a shower every morning by a different blue coat.

How that works, in case you have ever wondered, is that you are stripped naked, usually in your room, and then helped onto a rolling commode type chair and into the shower you go.

It is a hand held shower nozzle and you do most of the actual scrubbing yourself, unless you get someone who is eager to clean you like a turkey.

I was washed by an Orthodox Jew (asking her if she was allowed to wash naked men and being told that so long as there was no sexual pleasure involved it was considered okay but she still took grief from some of the more religious women) and I told her not to worry, there was no pleasure involved other than getting cleaned up.

Then there were men blue coats, and that was embarrassing at first. Why that should be, I don’t know, but it was. Hector was about 50 years old, strong hands. He had been an electrical engineer in South America, and I had to tell him several times to take it easy on my genitals he scrubbed them like he was driving in bolts for an electrical connection.

Then he got to the opposite side, and seemed to be drilling for oil. I had to say enough already.

He had medals hanging from his blue uniform that declared him best nurse or best something of 2019. Best ass-cleaner of the year?

And then when you were finished you got wheeled, still stark naked back to your side of the curtain (often there were other families that had arrived while you were in the shower, and you were wheeled past them).

I had 30 days of this, and almost everyday was a new blue coat. If you had any sense of modesty – it was long gone by the time you left.

You’d think, that with 28 different women and 2 men, there’d be one attractive woman, but they may have selected the oldest and least attractive for the shower brigade.

One woman, I suppose she was around 300 pounds of blubber, cleaned my rectum as if she was scrubbing the remains of a casserole dish. I said, ouch several times, and she replied, I like to make it as white as possible.

I told her nobody was going to eat off it. Not that I knew of anyway. But she kept at it.

She then asked me to stand up and use the walker to get to my wheelchair. I told her that I was very tired from PT the day before, and wasn’t sure I could get that far: about 15 feet.

She said: this is rehab. We’re not here to wheel you around.

So I stood up with the walker, and I could feel my left leg trembling. That was the leg most affected by the first stroke. I was having trouble getting over the threshold between the bathroom and my room. It was dragging and I started to think collapse was close.

I told her she’d be picking me up off the floor in a second.

So she kicked my left foot with her foot so that it made it over the threshold.

And somehow I made it to the wheelchair. And what burst out was: “You don’t know what the fuck you’re doin'”

Or something along those lines.

She was flabbergasted.

You disrespect me like that, she said.

You don’t deserve any respect, I shot back. You have no idea of how I feel or what diseases I have.

But you disrespect me. I’m going to report you.

Oh please, I say. Report me. I look forward to it. Oh, and one more thing. Never come to shower me again.

Nobody ever reported me, but the word spread to treat me more gently after that, and I don’t remember having other cruel shower issues.

After 4 weeks of Intensive Pt/Ot I was given another week in bed of infusions. The motorcycle gang was still there (or another motorcycle gang had taken their place) and I lost most of whatever benefit I got from the 4 weeks of OT/PT, by getting a) bad food, b) no sleep and c) being in bed.

Published by Dave

My name is David Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City. Or I was before I had two strokes. I now write from a Nursing Home. https://dave-beckerman.pixels.com

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