Ok, I will admit… this seems like a weird topic from the title, even to me, so I understand if you are probably wondering what I am talking about right now.
There are so many times when a Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis patient is stuck in the hospital with tubes/drains, picc lines, etc. There are also a tremendous amount of inflammatory bowel disease patients who are at home, trying to avoid the hospital, and who are too weak to even leave the couch or bed for more than a few minutes.
The majority of the times that I was in the hospital, I couldn’t shower given the fact that I was usually recovering from surgery, in pain, had a central line or picc in (always for me given my lack of veins and therefore, IV access.) I did want to feel clean though. When you are just laying in the hospital bed, it begins to make you feel gross which I know has always been frustrating for me because if I was home and had the strength, I would take a shower, change the sheets and be done with it. This feeling makes you feel even more vulnerable and less like a human being. It has always made me feel even less like myself than I already did being inpatient.
Although it wasn’t pleasant at all, having my mom wash my hair in a bucket or the sink made me feel better. It was so difficult to actually sit up on the edge of the bed or bend over the sink but I knew how good I would feel once I was cleaned up a bit. Also shaving under my arms and putting some baby powder/deodorant on me made me feel more like a person. I usually didn’t have the strength but sometimes when I would even lay down my mom could use a wash cloth and clean my arms, legs (carefully since moving them usually hurt my stomach), feet, etc. The days when I had to get up so the sheets could be changed was when my mom usually used a wash cloth down my back. Sometimes the pain was too severe that I couldn’t bend down enough for her to do certain things but every little thing she did and offered helped me.
There is also dry shampoo which you can put in your hair and it makes it look less oily. I have never found one that has worked for me but the product is out there and it has great benefits so can’t help to try.
I wanted to bring this up because loss of dignity in the hospital is something that is far too common. While we can’t control most of the things that go on there, we can do little things to help remind ourselves who we are and that there is a life outside of the hospital where you actually have some control and feel good about yourself.
I also want to thank the caregivers out there who are really and truly involved in the treatment and life of their loved one. I know there are nurses and hospital staff who can do certain things but the fact that it is someone the patient knows and trusts makes a huge different. YOU are also a reminder to people suffering that they are loved and they will get through whatever they are experiencing.