Ass Wiping 101
When you sign the inpatient paperwork upon entering the hospital, there is a question, I believe, that must be added: "Are you prepared for the many and various indignities that are about to be done to you and for you by complete strangers?" It's important, as you are signing your Do Not Resuscitate order, that you are warned of this very real occurrence.
We all know about hospital gowns and their flappy backsides. They've been out there so that the real stuff is never discussed.
After a few weeks out of the coma, I was more and more aware of what was going on around me. Up until that point, waking moments were not very long and not really remembered (probably a good thing, given what I remember now). My Dad and I had developed a ritual where he would soak a washcloth in hot water and then drape it over my face. I looked forward to Dad placing that warm, steamy washcloth on my face, breathing in deeply, feeling the steam fill my lungs, the heavy wetness dripping down my face. Uncomplainingly he would do this again and again until I was sated. He knew, from my heavy sighs, that this was one of few pleasures for me.
One morning, my parents went to the cafeteria together and I asked for the bedpan (more on this later). As I finished and called for the nurse, instead of using toilet paper, as my Mom did - she had been doing all my potty duties - the nurse busted out a stack of WASHCLOTHS and proceeded to wipe my ass clean. I asked if this was standard for the hospital and she told me that using washcloths was more cost effective, they were washed so that all bacterias were killed (uh huh)....I already had stopped listening, thinking of all the washcloths that had touched hundreds, nay, thousands of asses prior to touching my face. I had actually kissed ass thousands of times - and breathed in their steamy stench. How many others could claim such devotion to the art? When my parents came back to the room I told them of my experience. With my voice reaching heights that only little girls under the age of five are able to achieve, I demanded that my parents bring a stack of washcloths for my face and body. Just to be safe, hand towels, too.
The bedpan. Anyone who has stayed in the hospital has some story. When I first started using the bedpan, it was an event. I was so bloated and weak, it took either 4-6 nurses and CNA's (they make them so small nowadays) or 2 big turn teams members (love those guys!) to roll me on my side and back. Usually, it was the 4-6 nurses and CNA's with the dubious pleasure of working around my many IV's, my leg, my nervous parents, and of course, me, apologizing for being so much trouble. By the time I finished doing my business under the watchful eye of at least one nurse or CNA, who then had to gather the team again (nothing like having a group of people pretending not to gag at the stench in the room) I was usually falling asleep before I was finished being rolled back over. Oh, you know your poop really stinks when the nurse "gifts" your parents with a spray bottle of room freshener from Bath and Body Works. My Dad loves Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin.
When I learned to roll from side to side, it was huge. It meant my strength was returning and my parents took over bedpan duties. My Mom, being the strong person she is, took control. She learned bedpan placement and and cleaned me. Dad was in charge of taking said bedpan and cleaning it. If the hospital staff cleaned the bedpan and Mom or Dad didn't think it was up to their standards, it was recleaned.
At this point I should mention the importance of baby powder. A bedpan is now made of plastic. If you apply the plastic directly to your butt without the baby powder, let's just say the bedpan and your ass have formed a sometimes painful alliance. Too much powder and baby, one minute you're peeing in the bedpan, the next, you're sitting in your pee with the bedpan beside you. My parents had powder application down to an art form.
Anyway, my parents had both been staying at the hospital, each of them going home at some point during the day to shower, change, do chores, pretend that life was normal, etc. When I learned to roll, we decided it was okay for one to stay the night shift, one to stay during the day. Mom stayed during the day, Dad was there for that first night. And my first poop with only me and my Dad. He confidently got out the bedpan, powdered it just so, slid it in under me with military precision and waited for me to do my business with the requisite, "peeeewwww" and gagging noises with me saying superiorly, "It doesn't stink. It smells like roses. Beauuuutiful roses." Whatever. It was our bit and we laughed. I finished and he gagged as he pulled out the bedpan. He then analyzed my poop, it was dark brown, rabbit pellets - thus beginning a long standing habit which still annoys my Mom. When he was finished checking out my poop I said, "Aren't you going to clean me up, Daddy?" He looked at me shocked and said, "No! I can't do that! Call the nurse!" I said, "Why can't you clean me, Dad? What's the big deal?" Dad looked at me very seriously and walked to the bathroom door saying, "Someone might walk in and think I'm molesting you!" I started laughing and said, "You're wiping my ass, Dad!" He kept telling me no, he wasn't going to do it and I should call the nurse. Finally, I yelled, "DAD! WIPE MY ASS NOW!" Dad said, "Fine, but I'm pulling back the curtain and opening the door a little bit." It was a small battle but I won it.
After that, Dad had no problems. Oh, we still did our gag and roses bit; if Mom was in the room she just rolled her eyes and did her "you two" speech and smiled at us while she sprayed Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin in the room.