Yikes! Everyone on the OC staff seems to have discovered this blog, much to my dismay. Well, after thinking about it, I am not really all that dismayed—it’s just easier to have an audience whom you don’t see every day, as opposed to the nurses, aides, and therapists who are my constant company. But after thinking about it, I decided that just because my cover is blown doesn’t mean I am going to change anything I might write and clearly the supportive reception I’ve received from my readers indicates that they are not offended or threatened by anything I’ve said so far. In fact, one administrator said, “Your blog is an opportunity for us—we so seldom get feedback from our customers (patients).” Of course there is feedback…most patients in this unit seem very positive and always have a ‘thank you’ for any form of assistance, however small. On the other hand, most of the residents aren’t going to fill out a Customer Satisfaction Survey, either…and like most service organizations, the complaints management hears are from the discontented, not the satisfied.
So OK, exposure is not so bad, even if I’ve always been a behind-the-scenes person. Here in the world of healing bodies, exposure takes on a different sort of meaning—it means ‘no physical secrets’. None. Lynn was here yesterday and quite amused when an aide came in and asked, “How many times did you go to the bathroom today?” “OK,” she said, scribbling on her clipboard. “Any bowel movements?”
Sheesh. Good thing Lynn and I are friends. I don’t have many secrets from her, but this was kind of a new level of intimacy….
There is a delicate line, I think, between the acceptance of the body in its functional aspect and a patient’s personal dignity. Here in the confines of a nursing home-physical recovery setting, there can be no false modesty: withholding information from a caregiver is not a good idea. On the other hand, the caregivers are most respectful of personal boundaries: they knock when your door is closed, cover up your exposed body parts whenever possible, and adjust your clothing to protect your modesty. Sometimes it’s even laughable: this morning I found myself lying on my bed, naked from the waist down, while the nurse clipped the last remaining staple out of my butt and carried on a discussion about online Christmas shopping. The incongruous scenario continued during my shower, when Patty dried my back and discussed the computer printer sale at Wal-Mart, and how she was going to buy one for her son for Christmas.
The point here is that one’s body is considered objectively, even scientifically, while one’s dignity is valued and respectfully maintained as much as possible, given the circumstances. The caregiver sets this tone, and it is up to both sides to maintain the balance.
It’s been a long day today, beginning with the nurse remarking that that last staple in my rear end was “officially the most difficult staple she ever had to remove”, through a fairly strenuous workout this morning, a couple of friends visiting (bring chocolates!) to these middle of the night moments, when I’ve just asked for a couple of pain pills (see ‘fairly strenuous workout this morning’) and now it’s late and quiet in the hallway and I feel sleep settling down beside me, at last.