A Daily Shower

The simple things in life are so immensely enjoyable if we take the time to notice and appreciate them. Unfortunate accidents happen, we can get mad or we can take them in stride and laugh, it is our choice.

As I went through the worst of treatment, one of my goals everyday was to take a shower. I loved the feeling of being clean, having on clean and warm clothes. Now that may sound like a modest goal, but anyone who has ever been seriously ill, gone through chemo or had a stem cell transplant knows the energy required to take a shower can be monumental.

During the time I had my central line (the medication delivery tube that was “installed” in a large vein in my chest, I referred to it as my “extension cord”) showering required fashioning a piece of plastic to fit over the line. It was extremely important to keep the line dry and free of infection risk. When I was in the hospital a nurse or a patient care technician would help with sealing up the central line. When I left the hospital and got home and I was responsible for this task. I would cut up a plastic bag and then carefully tape the bag to my chest. There would be the initial row of tape that would secure the bag to my chest and then there was the secondary and sometimes tertiary rows of tape that would serve to reassure me that my central line would stay dry. It literally took longer to seal off the central line than it took to take the shower. After the shower there was the added pleasure of pulling all that carefully placed tape off the skin on my chest. Gosh that was fun. As I got further out from the transplant and more and more hair grew back on my chest – the fun intensified!

After I left the hospital and before and after the central line was finally removed, taking a shower became my workout. Our bedroom is on the second floor of the house. The supplies for sealing off the central line were on the first floor and “my” shower is in the basement. I could have showered upstairs, but I am a creature of habit. The basement shower has been “mine” since we moved into this house. When the kids were small I could shower, listen to the radio and get ready for work without bothering anyone. Over the years it just became “my” space, with my stuff. So I would get up, go downstairs, seal up the central line, invariably forget something upstairs, go get it and then go to the basement, take my shower and then trudge back upstairs.

After the shower very often I would be exhausted! It was almost funny since eight months before the transplant I had done a half-ironman triathlon. It is strange to think back on that now. I had lost so much weight my clothes were loose, soft and comfortable. I could sit on the couch, lay on a bed and just feel content. I was so grateful for that feeling and truly enjoyed the simple pleasure that came from a warm shower and comfortable clothes.

When I was still in the hospital after the transplant I remember one occasion where I had taken a shower and got dressed. I felt so happy, I was fully dressed felt really good, warm and clean. I laid down on the bed and fell asleep. When I woke up I was lying face down on my bed, my door was open, and I had gone to the bathroom (number 2) my pants! Oh my gosh! How many people had walked past and seen THAT? What did I do? I laughed out loud. I laughed because it was funny and I could, I laughed because it must have been quiet a site for those walking past and I laughed because I would need another shower. I guess I could have been mad, upset, embarrassed or had a host of other negative feelings. But I did not have any negative feelings. I still felt happy.