Lain's Log

How to bathe?!?

May 1/11
A day-and-a-half after breast cancer/lymph node surgery, I’ll admit, it was pretty darn daunting to figure out how the heck to take a bath, shower, sponge bath, wash my hair or ANYTHING! Despite the pain, it CAN be done, - but it’s a bit of a challenge, (to put it mildly).

(Note: Above, wearing the cute pink slipper/socks covered in peace symbols, sent to me by my friend, Joanne, in Los Angeles. I love them).

We were instructed in the teaching class to leave the bandaging/dressing on, and that we’d be given an appointment to come in to the hospital to have it all removed by experts a few days after surgery. Nope. Wrong. The surgeon later told me (just prior to surgery), to remove it MYSELF in a couple of days, sometime after 48 hours. – (Always a mishmash of mixed up info coming our way from different sources. Who to believe? Guess it’s up to you!)

When it’s time to try and bathe, all you need to do is set aside several free hours, ignore the phone and doorbell and get started. (I’m quite sure everyone will have their own method, but this was mine, - at least, while the bandaging was STILL ON).

1.) Gather together towels, role of plastic wrap, a clean, clear plastic lawn bag, scissors and strong scotch tape.
Good grief. Plastic wrap now added to my beauty routine!

(if you can see the picture of the tape – take note of it!) Titan transparent tape - BEST EVER! Really cheap. A buck at many dollar stores. Have NEVER found a better scotch tape than this red-pack clear brand.

2.) Put together the following items on the bathroom sink:
Razor, liquid pump soap, shaving gel, baby oil, facial scrub, toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush and hairspray.

3.) Rip off some plastic wrap and place it over the breast/arm bandaging, taping it to your skin with scotch tape. Then, take big clear plastic lawn bag, cut it to about a third of the size (keep closed side intact). Push your hand through the intact side, (to make a hole and fit around your shoulder), wrap the rest of bag around breast and arm and have a wonderful person, (like my son Max), cut the excess plastic off and use STRONG scotch tape to tape the remaining bag to your back. Tape the rest of the bag down yourself, (on the front), to keep this whole area waterproof.

4.) Get a hairband or something to pull your hair up off your face so you can wash. - This is just for me – as most people likely do NOT use waterproof mascara. (due to constant crying, I DO!!) Over sink, wet face, use baby oil to rub over mascara to remove it, then wash with liquid soap. Repeat and repeat. Takes me three applications of baby oil and washing to get it all off. Then, wash face with facial scrub, - EXFOLIATING!!!), rinse and then wash face again with liquid soap (to get scrub stuff off). Face is now done.

5.) Use shaving gel under the un-operated-on arm. Shave. Then, if possible, shave under any un-injured portion of operated-on arm. (might not be possible, but I was able to shave about one third of an inch. Due to total numbness, could not feel ANYTHING!!) Really weird. Wet a Kleenex, wipe off any excess gel, etc. Then dry with a dry Kleenex or by blasting with a blowdryer.

6.) Sit down on side of bathtub, legs in tub. Shave legs in tub, using shower spray. This is just me – I like to shave daily. (You, if you are like "Grandmama" of the Addams Family, may only like to shave monthly, which will make things MUCH easier!!)

Grandmama – The Addams Family

7.) Climb into tub. Put in drain. Run warm to hot water (whatever you like) and use liquid soap to wash in bath – any areas other than the part covered by plastic!

8.) When done, yank drain, rinse off with the shower spray to get soap off, get out of tub and dry off with clean towel and remove hairband from hair.

9.) Drape small clean towel over bathtub, get on your knees, grab shower spray hose, turn on, wet hair, turn off water, rub on shampoo, then shampoo your hair for all it’s worth, then, turn on spray hose, rinse shampoo off until water runs clear. Turn off hose. Then put on conditioner while head still leaned over tub. Massage in. Then turn on hose again and spray away till conditioner is rinsed out of hair. Try not to spray the rest of the bathroom, as I did.

10.) Turn off hose, get out of tub and dry off. Then wrap head in towel to hold hair up and dry it a bit. Put on eye cream and then moisturizer – preferably Oil of Olay Classic Fragrance (the best!) Most people can then comb out hair. Not me. My hair will be FILLED with tangles, no matter WHAT the conditioner, so, I have to rub a bunch of stuff called CURE into my hair. (Hard to find. I buy it at Hair Dynamix, 2090 Queen Street West, Toronto)
It costs $34 (including tax) per bottle and each bottle lasts about three months, but is worth it, since without it, my hair looks EXACTLY like Nick Nolte’s mug shot. Not pretty.

Sometimes, I can also resemble ANOTHER Addams Family member, Cousin It.

The Real Cousin It!

Me, in Cousin It-mode

11.) Comb out hair and tangles with a wide-toothed comb. Then, blowdry till almost dry. When nearly dry, style, using a round brush to turn ends under or however you like it. Then, put in velcro rollers and clips (again, just me). I need 20 of them to curl/style it properly. While it sets, go do your makeup. When done, remove velcro rollers and clips, put them away, blow dry hair to loosen up the curls and make it more “natural” - (ha ha). After that, I put in my contact lenses, then brush hair into style I like, then spray with best hairspray you have to keep it in place.

When all is done, almost three hours of your life will have passed. Still not finished though. Next - getting the bandaging off the surgery site.

Just the THOUGHT of peeling off that tape and comforting dressing made me cringe. My sister, Carrie, kept telling me to get cracking because the air has to get at it! (why does EVERYTHING make me think of CASTAWAY! – “The AIR got to it!! - Hanks says to Wilson, the volleyball).

But I did it. In front of the unforgiving light of the bathroom mirror, started to carefully peel and unveil the delightful incisions and steri-stitches underneath. Despite the gross magic marker X drawn on my skin (which I HATED), and other sickening, indelible ink marks, I got all the crap peeled off and then, stared in horror at the massive swelling and black, blue and yellow bruising. (Can I pass out now?)
So. Looks like everything is done. No problemo, right!? To accomplish the above feats, I will readily admit, you've gotta have patience, passion, ingenuity and a heck of a lotta spare time on your hands!

3 hours to look "normal"!

Good luck Jim. (Should you decide to ACCEPT this mission).

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At May 17, 2011 at 2:23 a.m. , Blogger Joanne said...

It sure dose take a lot to cover a wound. I used this cling wrap which i loved. It clinged to the skin and the cling wrap. It kept the water out really good.


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