It’s been a long day. Thanks to a Teachers Only day, I’ve had all three kids at home with no husband on hand to help out. I’ve been cooped up inside all day and I missed the fresh air and I missed my exercise and now I feel like a big old lump. Time to freshen up. Time for a shower.
I’m standing under the hot water, my hands clasped together, my back to the shower head, my neck twisted around so my face’ll get wet. My face gets wet. Deliciously searing liquid washes away my frown. I close my eyes and I soak it all in. Physically. Mentally. I remove my face from the shower stream. I breathe. It feels so good.
My elbows are pressed in tight against my body. There’s not much room to move in here. I hate the look of the beige plasticky walls, hate the pink mould that’s grown along the bottom of the white shower curtain, even though I’ve done my best to keep it clean. I hate the shower curtain full stop. Even with the window closed it billows in on me and sticks to me and that’s why I’m standing like this. Elbows in like I’m sitting at the dinner table with my Dad. Elbows in.
I’m done. I’ve had enough. My body’s up to temperature and now the water seems too hot. It’s too much. My showers always end this way. Suddenly. Abruptly. I go from loving it to hating it. Wanting to stay in forever to wanting to jump out immediately. I want out. I want out now. I turn around and reach for the mixer and as I realise that I haven’t actually washed myself yet I remember…
The nurse decided I should get up and have a shower today, so I’m in the shower. She wheeled me in here, helped me get undressed, and then left me to it. She said she was giving me some privacy and her statement was so stupid I couldn’t even laugh. Privacy. There’s no such thing as privacy when you’ve got a freshly smashed up foot, a newly cracked up back and you’re on your fucking period. Privacy my ass.
I’m sitting in the shower on a special wheelchair with a hole in the seat. I know the hole is there so that people can go to the toilet while sitting on it, and the thought makes me sick. The thought makes me feel dirty. I’m in the shower trying to get clean and I’m feeling dirtier than I have all week. I hate the hospital. I hate this. I want to go home.
The shower is beating down on me and the water is warm but I’m cold. This shower is the size of the entire bathroom back at my flat, and even with the curtain closed it’s drafty. I can feel cold air sneaking in the sides and attacking me. The air is on my arms and on my legs and it’s fighting with the warmth of the shower and it’s awful. I can’t stand it. This is the worst shower of my life and I want to get out. I want to get out. I want to get out now. I push the little red button on the wall and I wait.
I’m still in the shower. The nurse told me that I just had to push the button and she’d come back for me, but she hasn’t. I pushed it and she didn’t come. I push it again. Push it again. Push it again. The water is like pin pricks all over my body and the shower is hot and the air is cold and I don’t know what’s going on. I’m pushing the button and I’m waiting and I want to get out. I want to get out of the fucking shower.
The shower is making me feel sick. The nurse isn’t here and I can’t move, but I can reach the taps. I put my hands out and they’re shaky and weak, but I use them to turn the taps. The water shuts off. The shower head drips. I sit in my dirty wheelchair and I wait.
I hear someone at the door and I recognise the voice and it’s Keren. It’s my sister Keren. I look up and I don’t say anything but I’m so pleased to see her.
“Anita! Oh my God!” she says, and she rushes to me and she puts a towel around me. She covers my shivering, white, bruised, naked body. She is angry. Upset. She wondered what the fuck was going on. She wants to know where the hell that stupid nurse went. She can’t believe they just left me in here like that. I say nothing. I shiver. I sit in my dirty wheelchair and I let my sister dry me and I let my sister dress me. I’m too weak to do it myself.
I have no idea how long I was sitting in there naked and wet, but it must have quite some time. Keren was furious. I was so spaced out on morphine I didn't really know what was going on.