One of the scary side effects of chemotherapy (for me at least) is that it suppresses your immune system. I try to be very careful because I like my immune system and miss it. Early on I purchased the large size Purell hand sanitizers and decided to wash my hands after using the bathroom. The doctors insisted that I have any needed dental work before this treatment protocol started (I did and will post about that fiasco!) and I cannot have the needed tube put in my eardrum (seriously) until the chemo is done and out of my system.
I try not to be too paranoid, and I actually am not. I do wash or sanitize my hands more and I am aware of my surroundings. I don’t stay away from people per se but I don’t insert myself into crowds or interact with groups of children much (I stopped by a four-year-old’s party yesterday, my porn buddy‘s youngest) but kept my personal space.
Hospitals can be boring places, punctuated by moments of complete terror (or despair). I often go alone (my choice) and that leaves time to just think, which can be a dangerous thing. So, thanks to my good friend Steve Jobs, I bring a tablet, as many do. While waiting for blood results in a chemo chair, hanging out while Truebeam is being fixed or recharged, or whenever, I can browse the news, watch a movie, read a book, etc. When given the choice of thinking about rectal cancer or a rogue president, well, ok, those are pretty equal, but you get the idea.
A common side effect of my treatment is diarrhea which I pretty much have under control (glad you asked?) but I do need to use the bathroom more often than typical (for me). Additionally I need a full bladder during radiation and that often necessitates an immediate trip to a bathroom when I get off the table.
Putting this together, I am often in the hospital with a tablet and needing to (insert your favorite expression for using the bathroom, I like …) point Percy at the porcelain.
As explained in my post about the enema (the nightmares and flashbacks are receding) the bathrooms in the hospital are sparse. Most consist of a rather large room with a toilet, sink, a roll of rather thin toilet paper, and a wall pack of toilet seat covers (which this article says are fairly useless anyway). That is all that there is. So I ask you, what is missing? Or, to word that another way, what is the proof that there is no empathy in this big-city hospital?
So now I ask you, where do I put my tablet? I does not fit in the basket with the latex gloves (why the heck are they there anyway?), it does not balance on anything in the room, there is not even a toilet tank! I considered turning over the waste basket and using it as a small table but then I remembered that night in the motel room in Daytona Beach after the Grateful Dead concert and the trashing of the room, the cops and … but I digress. Alas, there is no appropriate place for my tablet, or man-purse, or anything I am holding, other than Percy.
So I put the tablet on the floor.
When I was done with my mission, I washed my hands (and yes I sung the Happy Birthday song twice), and picked up my tablet only to find it was a bit wet on the back. I wiped that off and needed to wash my hands again, so I put down the tablet (guess where) and washed my hands again …
How much is a fucking shelf? A small basket? Has no one in this big-city hospital ever given a moment’s thought to how someone who actually cares that they are immunosuppressed uses the bathroom? Is this a money making thing (the longer I am sick, the more they make)?
(Warning: this post is about to get deadly serious)
Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs)–infections patients can get while receiving medical treatment in a healthcare facility–are a major, yet often preventable, threat to patient safety. Together with health care and public health partners, CDC is working to bring increased attention to HAIs and prevention. ~CDC (follow this link for info and statistics)
Here are actual statistics from
my the hospital providing my care:
So you see, I am not very happy with having to use the bathroom floor as much as this hospital seems to continually want me to.
This past Friday, radiation day 24, I got off the Truebeam’s table, grabbed my tablet and was determined not to use the bathroom. I figured I could make it to my car and use a coffee cup or something … or better yet, make it home to my bathroom, WHICH HAS A PLACE FOR MY SHIT, so to speak.
I made it to the lobby of the hospital and I knew my plan was doomed to failure. I spied a bathroom and went in.
To my utter delight, this bathroom had a small vending machine! And the machine had a flat top! THERE IS A GOD! Now, the god just might be Baal (who was mocked by Elijah saying that Baal was in the bathroom) AND that god is potentially empathetic … but again I digress.
A vending machine!
For 50 cents I can get a sanitary pad, open it up, lie it on the floor and put my tablet on it! OR, I can put my tablet on top of the machine, and voila, a shelf! A shelf that charges a dollar for a tampon. Really?
So there you have it, some bathrooms have a multipurpose shelf. If it also sold condoms we would have a trifecta …
I have learned to ask “Where can I buy a tampon?” so as to find a bathroom that won’t make me interact with the floor. And maybe, just maybe, protect my fragile immune system just a bit.