On Bathrooms

Spoiler Alert: Today I mention catheters and contents and stuff like that.  You have been warned.


I’ve been cleaning bathrooms today.  So.  Much.  Fun.

But seriously I have a whole new appreciation for bathrooms.  After the HospitalStay, and not having bathrooms always readily available…..yes ma’am, I love my bathrooms.

First I should confess I’m not really a public bathroom kind of girl.  I cannot stand them, to be quite honest.  As they are a necessary evil, I have figured out which ones I prefer over others.  And I have my ways to make the bad ones a little more tolerable.  So when I headed to the hospital to stay with Mama, I knew what I was dealing with.  We did this back last August for 9 days.  Hospital bathrooms–hey! I got this.

I was doing okay when I met Mama at the hospital in Warner Robins.  I knew these rooms pretty well, considering our prior stay.  Then we got word we were being moved to the Medical Center in Macon.  Okay.  Shouldn’t be that much different.  They transported us (finally) late that Friday afternoon.  We got settled in a room by a little after 6 p.m.  I seem to remember texting my sister, saying I don’t think there’s a bathroom in here.  (And pretty sure I needed one too–we had been waiting a long time for medical transport.)  But surely there must be? Not all of their patients have a catheter.  Finally, I realized that there was a bathroom behind the always opened door.  Ah.  However, they moved Mama to the Cardiovascular ICU before I could–ahem–make use of the facilities.  This also changed our plans a bit.  I was prepared to stay with Mama in her room.  Now that she was being moved to ICU that changed my sleeping arrangements.  I told her I’d be around, and the nurses promised to call me in when she was settled.  So I headed to the CVICU waiting area.  The night in that room is a story all unto itself.

There was a bathroom in the hall.  Hmmmm.  Small.  On a scale of the Queen of England’s bathroom to the one on an airplane, think 747.  And most of the time, the trashcan overfloweth with paper towels.  When they called me back to Mama’s room around 12:30 a.m., I have to say I didn’t check out the bathroom right away, but when I did, I giggled.

It was a nice toilet in the corner.  Open.  With a lovely curtain that could be pulled for “privacy.”  Ha.  Privacy.  (Folks could still see your feet for goodness’ sake!) Well, so be it.  I didn’t have to use it until the following night.  I had been with Mama  for the afternoon, and it was about 8:15 p.m.  I was heading home when visiting was over at 9.  I saw a rush of folks at the nurses’ station, and I realized they were headed our way.  Thiswasit.  Mama needed emergency surgery.  Within the hour.  This is when I diagnosed myself with NBS.  Nervous Bladder Syndrome.  Nerves immediately kicked in, and well, I really had to go.  Now.  Fortunately they all stepped out to gather paperwork and call the surgeon.  I apologized to Mama, but I had to go and the only other option was to leave the whole unit and go back out to the 747 bathroom.  I closed the curtain and had my PRIVACY. 

This being first time I used the facilities in Mama’s room, I couldn’t find the handle to flush.  I thought, well isn’t this the height of embarrassment?  I mean, the nurses used said toilet to empty the catheter contents.  And THEY WERE COMING BACK IN PRETTY QUICK LIKE.  It wasn’t like I could close the lid and just not worry about it.  Just as extreme panic was about to set in, I FINALLY figured out where it was.  The little black circle on the cabinet next to it.  Ah.  Press it and open the curtain.  Whoo.  They were all headed back, but they hadn’t quite made it to the room. 

Fast forward to the following day when Sandy and I were sitting there with Mama, who was still sedated and on pain meds following her surgery.  Sandy, just a baby, not quite 40, but it’s coming for her.  THE discussion finally came.  She had to go to the bathroom.  I pointed to the curtain.  She shook her head firmly and adamantly NO.  Something was said with regards to performance anxiety or something like that, and she headed out to the 747 to take care of things.  This was no quick trip.  You had to go down the hall, around a corner, down another hall, exit the unit through the security door, and then choose which of the two available you would prefer.  Let’s be honest, they were both bad. 

The day came when Sandy left (during non-visiting hours) to go to the 747.  The nurses in the CVICU were awesome, and they let us stay because well, because we asked and they had hearts.  Usually, we just hit the speaker button at the security door and asked to come back.  However, the guard of the door was having a bad moment or something and did not let her come back.  I was given the message that my sister would be waiting on me out in the waiting area.  Hmmmm.  Okay?

After that, it became a matter of timing our bathroom visits with going down for meals or leaving altogether.  Until the day…..she really had to go.  And I am proud to say, Sandy finally used her workdesk (see picture below) for what its original intent was.  Necessity is the mother of many things, but so is the dire need of a bathroom.  Yes, my sister grew up a lot that day.  I was so proud.  And proceeded to tease her unmercifully. 

This is Sandy, using the toilet.  Well, as a workstation.  This was quite creative and very kind, since there was only one other chair in the room.  We shared.  She eventually found the strength to use it for its original intent as well.  Go girl!
This is Sandy, using the toilet. Well, as a workstation. This was quite creative and very kind, since there was only one other chair in the room. We shared. She eventually found the strength to use it for its original intent as well. Go girl!

Unfortunately she adapted to her surroundings just in time for them to move Mama to the Surgical Trauma ICU (STICU, or STINKU as we politely called it).  There was a bathroom with a door in this room.  But this room itself made the 747 bathroom look like a luxury suite.  When we finally saw a nurse, we asked about the bathroom.  Which had a dirty linen cart filling up the only available space left.  Oh no, no one uses that.  It’s used for disposing of “things.”  Er-kay.  A bathroom but don’t use it.  Gotcha.  Cause that makes sense. 

This time around our visiting hours were so limited it was rare that we needed a bathroom during the two hours we were allowed to be with Mama.  Problem solved?

After a rough week in the STINKU, we requested a move for Mama.  And they approved it.  We were told she was being moved to the MSICU.  We had been told by someone in an elevator that it was the hotel suite unit of the hospital.  Well, ALL RIGHT then.  Sure enough, a big room for Mama with an area off to the side for family to sit on a couch…..or a chair…..or sleep on the fold-out.  Wow–we were being allowed to stay–around the clock.  It even had a bathroom.  It was built like a little room, only instead of a door, it had a curtain.  No problem.  We knew that since we’d be staying overnight, we would need a bathroom.  Yes!  No!  We asked.  No, it’s used for disposal only.  But there’s a bathroom back in the hall…..sigh.

So yes, cleaning bathrooms is not a real fun pastime.  However, I appreciate the end result so much more now.  And having one that is MINE readily available whenever…..that there’s a gift not to be taken for granted. 

And the other thing. 

I believe that when you turn 30, folks start taking you a little more seriously.  But glorious 40–I believe that’s when you start taking yourself a little less seriously.  Like it’s nothing, having to use a bathroom behind a curtain.  It’s just never that serious.  And even though she won’t be 40 for a couple more months, that girl’s got it together like she’s already hit that landmark.  That’s the thing I learned from my sister.  Sometimes you have to grow up and do what you gotta do.  To take care of business.  Even if it’s something you said you’d never ever do…..right up to five minutes before you step up and do it.  That right there.  It’s pretty huge.  I’m proud of her. 

2 thoughts on “On Bathrooms”

  1. Thanks tara for sharing….we do what is needed. Do we not? Seeing the humor in it all and becoming grateful -even after the fact keeps us going!!!

    1. Thanks for reading it Judy. And yes, we come from a long line of strong women who just kept on doing no matter the circumstances. And if we can laugh together, what a blessing!

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