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Sunday, February 19, 2012

How Not to Clean a Bedpan

I can already hear the collective cringe, an e-gads! of sorts buzzing through the Internet, because there Diane goes again, blogging about bowel movements.... I swear, I cannot help it, as it seems sometimes that my entire life revolves around waste management issues. So, as we used to say when we were kids, here goes nothing.

The other day, Bob had just finished doing his leg exercises when he indicated he had to pee. As he reached for the urinal, I left the room to snatch a few moments to straighten up the kitchen, or clean off my desk, or do some other menial chore crying out from neglect, when I heard him already calling to me: "hey! hey! hey!"

So I returned to his bedside to find him, pants to his knees, urinal in place but looking quite agitated. I asked him what was wrong and he said, "Bottle."

"Bottle?" I had no clue what he meant as he sometimes calls the urinal a "bottle" but the urinal was there in place.

"Bottle!" he said again, his voice growing more panicked.

"What do you mean?" I asked, but he kept saying that word, "bottle", which of course made no sense, so I said, "Show me."

Bad idea. Because he did.

He reached underneath himself and when he pulled out his hand, it was oh shit! And once again, I mean this quite literally as that was what his hand was covered with.

Oh crap, because Bob, as I said, had his pants down and his bare bottom right there on the bed with nothing to protect it but the bed pad which I noticed had gotten kind of skewed during our exercises. So I dash into the breakfast nook and grab the bedpan.

Now I have never used a bedpan before and you may ask why I even have a bedpan that I have never used and I will tell you the honest truth. I filched it, yes, I pilfered it from the hospital before Bob was discharged. I'm not so proud.

Back in the hospital, the therapists had tried to "teach" Bob to use this bedpan without luck. Two problems at the time were that Bob could not lift his tush high enough off the bed and then there was the fact that he seemed to have no warning when a bowel movement might strike until the thing was on top of him, so to speak. They also tried to teach him to use a urinal, which proved to be another unsuccessful endeavor.

Shortly before Bob was to be discharged, I noticed the pink plastic bedpan in the bathroom of his room and figured that the hospital, being a usual and wasteful hospital, would most likely discard it--so I purloined it. Along with the urinal. Stuffing both into my tote bag and discreetly, well as discreetly as a woman with a bulging tote bag, smuggled them down the back stairs to the parking lot and shoved them both in my trunk.

I figured these would come in handy at home. I also figured I would have better luck getting Bob to use them. Which I did, with the urinal, though the bedpan has proved problematic for the same two reasons I mentioned above. 

Though recently Bob has been able to lift his tush and even more recently seems to be getting a bit of a forewarning, I still have chosen not to use this device. The main reason being that with the Depends one can actually manage the mess quickly, with eyes averted (that's important) by slicing down the sides of the diaper with a scissors and hence sort of quickly rolling the whole mess into a tight ball to deposit in the garbage. With a bedpan one would be forced to look the thing straight in the eye, so to speak. Not a pleasant idea. And then there's clean-up to do. So the bedpan has remained enshrined in the breakfast nook as a sort of paean to my brief life of thievery.

But I have digressed, so back to the present day when I was dashing to the breakfast nook to retrieve the purloined bedpan as it was, unfortunately, too late for a pair of Depends.

I managed to thrust the thing up under Bob quickly and he managed, thank goodness, to hold the bulk of it off until I arrived. But then, there was the aftermath.

I am no bedpan expert, in fact, I am novice at this. As I pulled the putrid device out from under him, my first reaction was to begin gagging. Not good. Then what to do with it? My inclination was to take it to the bathroom, dump it in the toilet, but this seemed disgusting and it also seemed quite stuck to the bottom and how would I pry that off? Then there's the matter of splashing. I know there is such a thing as a bedpan liner, but I did not have one of those. What was apparent was that I must get rid of the thing and quickly before I lost my cookies. 

So I got a plastic grocery bag and shoved the whole mess inside and then, like a woman whose house is afire, I dashed through the house and flew out the back door down the wheelchair ramp into the yard where I flung the horrid thing on the ground near the garden hose and then began kicking the bedpan still in the bag, in an effort to kick the shit out of the bedpan. And of course I mean that quite literally.

I imagine I was quite the spectacle, as we are The Pink House on the Corner and so our side yard is on the street and anyone walking by would have seen me, wearing latex gloves, dancing around a plastic bag grocery, kicking it. But it worked.

Next I extracted the bedpan from the bag and tossed it aside as it was a mess and I tied up the plastic bag. My plan was to then spray off the bedpan with the garden hose but when I reached for the hose I found the nozzle was gone. Gone! Someone had filched my hose nozzle! So I grabbed the bedpan and holding it at arm's length dashed to the garden hose at the front of the house only to find that one hooked up to a sprinkler. So I dropped the thing again, unscrewed the sprinkler, found my old hose nozzle which doesn't work well, in fact leaks and squirts in all the wrong directions, but put it on the hose then turned the water on and blasted the hell out of the bedpan with a burst of water which unfortunately ricocheted back at me and now I am drenched with water and poop splatters.

To add insult to injury, it begins to rain.

When I return to the house, mission accomplished, Bob takes one look at me and begins to laugh.

And I laugh too.

I guess I learned how not to clean a bedpan. Next time, I'll stand back farther with that hose. And I think I'll look into those bedpan liners.


Nikki said...

Haha, that's a good one! Glad Uncle Bob found some humor in it!

Anonymous said...

D. If anyone can make cleaning a bedpan(yuk)funny it's YOU! I could read your funny blogs all day. Thanks for the good laugh. Glad even Bob found a laugh in there too. Luv ya, Patricia

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you can write about your discomfort even though it makes us, the readers laugh. I hope you don't have to deal with that problem again for a long time to come. Keep up with that good sense of humor. Hugs, Dan

oc1dean said...

And you can get some humor from a fecal transplant.

Robin Smallen said...

Go buy a bedpan called a fracture pan. Tush lifting is minimal but the reality is that rolling is much easier. See it on you tube...

As for's a spray hose at the toilet in the hospital and a soak in disinfectant.

Diane said...

Robin, thanks for the info. The purloined bedpan is a fracture pan, still he had problems with it. And I do wish I had a spray hose on my toilet!! ha! The garden hose is the best I can do! Guess we're looking at depending on Depends, bedpan for emergencies, but with a liner, next time!! Thanks again, take care.

Jenn said...

Oh my God woman!!!! You're insanely hilarious.
I'm sorry, this is too funny.
Glad you're finding the funny in this bizzare journey. =-O

Barb Polan said...

Too too funny Diane. I refused to use a bedpan in the hospital even to urinate because the pee ran all over my tush and then I would have to wait until my bath the following morning to clean it off, although a nurse sometimes changed my bedding when she realized what had happened. I held it as long as I possibly could until I was allowed to transfer from my bed to the wheelchair and to the toilet. Now I go every hour or so.

Showers were few - whenever I asked to take one, it was clear that the nurse WANTED to refuse, but did only about half the time. Now I'm at 1 or 2 showers a week because it's such an enormous hassle.

Anonymous said...

God love you. That was great! You have a great sense of humor...
Hope you don't have to go down that road for a while...

Cheri said...

maybe you could line the bed pan with a plastic grocery bag.