Donna is back home with me. The hospital discharged her eight days after open heart surgery; four nights in the ICU and four nights in the cardiac step down unit. The evening before they discharged her, the Physician’s Assistant told me he’d spoken with the social worker and the physical therapist and they all agreed Donna would do better at home with me than in residential rehab. Medicare is providing a visiting nurse and a visiting physical therapist. We went home with a shower chair, a commode, a walker, a drug regimen, and an exercise plan.
It caught me by surprise. The original plan was for residential rehab, and I thought I had at least two more weeks of bachelor living before Donna came home. I had some straightening up to do. Her first night back I cooked a simple dinner. We ate at our dining table, and then sat on the couch and listened to Beethoven Piano Sonatas. It was very sweet.
Donna’s nurses in the step down unit gave us a lot of information and advice for a healthy recovery. Mila explained to me how to bathe Donna in the shower. She told me to use a soft sponge and clean the wound area first, keeping the incision out of the direct line of the shower spray. And to give Donna a clean towel every time she showered.
I may be an oblivious butch, but I usually give my towel the sniff test before I use it, and keep reusing it until it is close to funky. I consider this part of my reduce, reuse, and recycle lifestyle (i.e. lazy, procrastinating, and cheap). We only own six bath towels (two for me, two for Donna, and two for house guests) plus two old towels for drying Gracie off after it rains. Loads of laundry are in my future.
I don’t worry about germs. I don’t use Purell. I eat stuff that falls on my kitchen floor. I’ve got a dog who tracks all sorts of dirt onto my couch and into my bed. I probably only wash my hands a third of the time that I should. I’m a clean freak’s nightmare, but no one has ever gotten sick after eating dinner at my house.
We own one washcloth, which is dubbed “The Bercovici washcloth” because we purchased it twenty years ago for a friend who visits us from Northampton. She thought it was odd that we didn’t use washcloths. I guess it depends on how you were raised. We only break it out for her visits. There was no “soft sponge” in our house. There is now.
A late night trip to my local fancy pharmacy revealed an astounding array of bath accessories. There were loofahs, synthetic mesh puffs, sisal body scrubbers, boar bristle brushes, and cellulose and natural sponges. I chose a natural sea sponge. I think it resembles Donna’s heart. Its got valve holes.
I set up the shower chair and figured where to place it so that the spray wouldn’t hit her incision. Then I practiced how to wash with the sponge. I sudsed the sponge up and it was so soft, and so luscious, and so very sexy. I ran it over my chest, and over my scars, and under my arms, and around my neck. Why didn’t anyone tell me to use a natural sea sponge before?
Our second vacation together was to Kalymnos, Greece. It was (still is?) a relaxed, low-key, no scene island in the Dodecanese, near Turkey. An island known for its beaches and sea sponges. There were a dozen stores in the port selling sponges, and we scoffed at them because they were tourist traps. We didn’t buy one.
If we had dropped our pretensions, and been a little more generous and indulgent, we could have have a lot of fun playing around with those sponges. It wasn’t necessary to wait for open heart surgery. A worthwhile lesson for our next trip.
Notes: Most commercially sold sponges are synthetic. Natural sponges are sea creatures, and they are predominantly hermaphrodites (they are both male and female). This page explains how they reproduce sexually by producing sperm and fertilizing other sponges, or asexually by “budding.” This video gives a little history and information on sea sponges and the sea sponge industry.