Saturday, November 18, 2006

quiet things

Late at night is when we begin the baths. I don't know why it became a tradition to bath the patients at night but it is now "the only way".
I love bath time. There is something very soothing about bathing another human being. I loved bathing my baby.
Make no mistake there is a forced intimacy to this. Most of my patients can't say no to the bath. They are ventilated and sedated. This means it is my complete responsibility to care for them. They cannot do anything for themselves. I brush teeth, wash hair and sometimes I take a razor and get rid of those stray chin hairs that would horrify these well kept, manicured and pedicured women. I do it because I want someone to do it for me if I was laying there immobile and exposed.
There is a rhythm to bathing. It soothes your brain. You start at the top and work your way to the bottom methodically.
You assess everything as you go. I have always considered the bath the most accurate health assessment tool there is. I can see how you deal with turning..Does your breathing get laboured? Your heart begin to race? It reveals your weakness so I can create a plan to make you stronger.
There is a happy feeling of completion when you are done. Your patient always looks more comfortable, more settled. They reflect your good work back to you.
If you can give a good bath you can watch your patient relax. They can sense even in coma that you mean them no harm, that you only want to make them feel better, more like themselves.
When you take such liberties with another human being you must give them something back that has real value.


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