Wait For The Shake!

Fetching a rawhide with one of several reachers
Yup—sittin’ in the shower; any remaining pride down the drain

Standing up to pee (for a guy) shouldn’t necessarily be a thing. Nor, for that matter, should talking about peeing standing up. Yet it is. A thing. It’s a thing to the hundreds of thousands of male patients (apologies—unable to comment on any of this from the view of the gals)  each year who undergo one of a variety of surgical procedures sending them back to their diaper days of bodily functions. Including this latest episode I’ve had a total of five surgeries going back almost 35 years and dragging myself to the can had never before been an issue. Sit, stand, shake, squeeze, flush, repeat. All things we rarely give a thought. Not this time. Right now to my left in a storage bin is a clean (unused) portable pee-bucket I swiped from the hospital on my way out. I’m reminded of a scene from the classic Mel Brooks: History of the World .  I became a master in my hospital bed at jiggling and sliding that thing around, as well as my thing around, to hit the proverbial hole in the bucket.

Around 24 hours before release I was cleared to have someone walk (with a walker) me to my bathroom and sit on a crazy-raised toilet to do the thing. Oh boy I felt like a king, or at least some sort of royal now that I no longer needed to rely on the bed-bucket. Wait for the shake! Early evening, middle of the night, early morning—given the volume of fluids (and lack of solid foods) pumped into me it seemed I was peeing every few hours. Amazingly someone was mostly around to lend an arm. A couple of times not so much; back to the bucket. Measuring the time between bowel movements in calendar days vs. hours is rife for it’s own conversation. Suffice it to say it’s agonizing to keep counting and keep counting………then having your own little party when the gate finally opens.

Slipping on a sock with a rope-contraption assist
Seconds before the staples are removed

Ordering DMEs (durable medical equipment) is something you hear about this time of year when heading to the Grandparents (or parents for an increasing number of us) for holiday visits. Not something your awesome 40-something spouse researches for you while you’re fully medicated and about to be discharged from the hospital. Reachers, grabbers, giant shoe and sock-horns, shorts hooks, shower chairs and walkers?!?!?! All foreign. Yet now I’m the owner of and proficient with all of them.

No-one prior to discharge takes the time to talk through the emotional and mental toll on a middle-age(+) active male being forced to reach for his shorts with a long hook, pull them up with a claw/hook, grab the walker to slide to the can now outfitted with a bedside commode that’s a necessity to permit him to safely pull himself up after a tinkle

Saran-wrapped leg before jumping onto the shower chair
Another of many tools…..the multi-purpose hook to help put on my pants

Nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists are great—-within the narrow lanes drawn for them in the tightly controlled hospital environment. None of them is charged with fully explaining how all this fits together both mechanically and emotionally. Sitting home alone  repeating the process can be a real drag on a guys ego, spirit and motivation. Graduating from the walker to the crutches and from sponge baths to shower-on-a-chair become milestones in basic ADLs. Being able to lift myself out of a shower chair and put on a pair of shorts without a hook are a couple more. I still have a few more to go.

I took the pee-bucket from the hospital in case of emergencies. Or in case I became lazy or depressed and didn’t want to drag myself across the room. Or in case I couldn’t lift myself from the couch in time.  Fortunately it’s still a clean bucket as I quickly graduated to self-sufficiency in the stand-up mode thus avoiding any of the following pee-emergencies. Few like to talk about the dirty business of major surgery recovery; yet as our healthcare system keeps people alive longer and as we become more active heading into our later years more of us will be subject to all these taboo topics. It’s healthy to talk about them and share experiences; perhaps even one more person will be willing to share their experiences or feel less awkward asking about what to expect. Or perhaps even one more beginner or amateur caregiver will better understand all the emotions their patient goes through on a daily basis. Conversation is king. Consider starting one with one of the Grands (or even parents) during this holiday season.

***Of note—-most pity-parties days are long over; this is strictly reflect and review time. I remain an unbelievably fortunate guy in many aspects. Easily tossing out a little self-deprecation is one aspect.