Being helpless triggers a shifting array of emotions. I’m so grateful for assistance and so touched by kindness. When my husband is careless for a moment, I want to kill him. I tell him that I’m going to read for a while, and he leaves the room, aware that I have no books or magazines within reach. I’m testing him, to savor my anger.
He’s better than a nurse, though. At least he’s not actually trying to hurt me. If he needed to stick a catheter tube up my bladder, he’d fucking well do it.
When I couldn’t pee and it went on for days, the nurse on duty couldn’t find my bladder. She went to get another nurse to help. The two of them stuck tubes up me, peering between my legs as though they were explorers on the Amazon River. “Where is it? It should be right THERE!”
They couldn’t find it. I started to worry that my bladder was now somewhere else. When they changed shifts, a new nurse, named Sol, rolled her eyes and promised “I find it.” She was a young Filipina with beautiful white teeth, and she knew how to find a bladder.
The temperature in my bedroom at home is around 100 degrees. I’m always sweaty. All my visitors complain about the heat but it doesn’t make any difference to me. I’m only concerned with degrees of pain. I experiment with leg placement, trying to relieve the pressure on my tail-bone. I smell awful but no one offers to wash me. My sister suggests Female Wipes. She also eyes my Oxycodone.
When I left the hospital in an ambulance, I had just started shitting after 5 days of laxatives. Morphine is constipating, as it turns out. My stomach was churning in agony but the ambulance had been ordered for 4 o’clock.
The nurse put me in an adult diaper, big enough for a 500 pound man. She put my friend’s cotton dress over my head and didn’t bother to zip it up. The two young ambulance guys lifted me onto a gurney, showing great respect for my pain. One of them flirted with me a little, unaware of my shit-filled diaper.
Finally home on a hospital bed, I couldn’t stop shitting. Eventually, I lifted my body to the bedside commode with excruciating effort. I cried while ten thousand tons of Morphine marinaded shit flooded through my bowels with a sickening force.
The next morning I was still shitting. I chewed tablets that promised to stop the tide but nothing worked. By nighttime, my stomach was finally peaceful and most of the shit was cleaned up. Now I could return to worrying about constipation.
My husband bought bright red sheets for my home hospital bed. Friends are reminded of Frida Kahlo when they see me. I feel a new affinity with Frida. I am Frida without the paint.