Last Thursday I underwent a total hip replacement, and since then any sense of modesty I might have had has disappeared. Doctors and RNs and LPNs and nurses aides and physicians assistants and personal care assistants and physical therapists and occupational therapists and … all looking at me in my most naked and vulnerable state. Poking and prodding, asking intimate questions about my bodily functions, and helping me accomplish them.
Except that the one thing I would gladly have let any of these wonderful health professionals do — injecting blood thinners into my body – was up to me. Every morning for a month, I am expected to stick a needle into myself. In the past week I have designed a nice half-moon of red-turning-purple bruises around my navel, but just today I began to wonder if I should work at transforming them into a work of art, a kind of dichromatic tattoo. A bouquet of roses, perhaps? A cascade of wisteria?
But it was yesterday’s visit by the OT that made me realize just how weak and exposed I have become. Marna was a perfectly lovely young professional who, I know, only had the best of intentions as she asked her list of questions and suggested a number of tricks and tools that would help me with such tasks as picking up stuff from the floor (did I always drop so much?) and putting on my socks.
Then she handed me a roll of shelf paper. Shelf paper? Now, I know that the purpose of occupational therapy is to help me negotiate the daily activities of life, but did she also expect me to line the kitchen shelves and drawers in my weakened condition? Was spring cleaning among the exercises for the newly cut?
No. What Marna wanted me to do was to place shelf paper on the shower chair every time I bathe — to ensure that my ample rear end doesn’t slide off the seat as might a sweating glass of lemonade on a patio table. What a practical idea, if embarrassing.
On the other hand, if I get better fast, maybe I can use the remaining paper on the roll to finish up my spring cleaning.