Thursday, January 6, 2011

When a bath is something more

(NOTE: Written Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011, in the hospital. The featured patient and I are back at her apartment as of this afternoon!)
My mother is in the hospital for what we hope will be just one more night. She has congestive heart failure and had not bounced back from a cold several weeks earlier. Turns out, her right lung was full of fluid. She is doing some better, although shortness of breath is a problem, even from just talking. After several days in bed what she really wanted today was a shower.

The doctor said okay; helpful nurses worked out the logistics; I stood by, helping with drying off, applying lotion and other essentials. The change was amazing. She is still weak, but she sat up awhile before heading back to a clean, freshly made bed. “I feel human again!” she said. Sounds more like herself, too.

The change reminded me of another healing bath. Almost 16 years ago she had quadruple bypass surgery. Even after two or three days and medication that kept her woozy, she was tight and tense with pain, although characteristically uncomplaining. A young woman came in to give Mother her first post-surgery bath. I never knew if she was a nurse, a tech or what. She set Mother on a chair then soaped, sponged, rinsed, patted dry, and applied lotion and powder. As she gently massaged her patient’s skin, I could actually see the tension releasing its hold on my mother’s face and body.

I am convinced that that young woman was a natural healer. Healing was in her hands. That may have been one of the last, if not the last, bath that she gave a patient. The next day her assignment was working with the heart monitors. The woman administering that second post-surgery bath was obviously kind, conscientious, careful and thorough. But there was a difference. What she provided was simply . . . a bath.


  1. What a story! That first woman had a real gift, too bad she had to fool with monitors at all when she really should have been working hands on with patients. I always feel so much better after a shower, and hate even missing a day. And it's even worse to go without one in the hpspital. Have they sent her home with oxygen? will she be getting any P.T.? I will keep her in my prayers for recovery.

  2. what a gift to have, i hope she continues to use it. baths make me feel just like your mother did. this is a wonderful story and so glad you shared it. we all have gifts and i have been ignoring mine. i need to Just do it... thanks for the inspiration.

  3. A gift and ministry aren't just preaching and teaching. I hope that lovely woman continues to use hers in one way or another. I need to have my gifts stirred a bit so they come to the surface again. Thanks for the encouragement.
    I hope your Mom continues to recover and feel much better.