Friday, June 16, 2006

How To Get The Smell of Urine Off One’s Hands

“Who would have thought we would be in this situation!” Bea exclaims as I slip on a pair of latex gloves to wipe away a BM. She makes the statement in a voice that verges on enthusiasm, without a clue that I may sometimes resent this job. “That part of having children is expensive,” Bea adds, chatty today. She is referring to diapers. The reversal of roles appears to be a given now. She is the child. I, the parent.

Changing diapers is no fun. Parents change babies willingly but if you surveyed them on what they like least about parenthood, I bet that chore would be right up there, close to the top.

Lucky for me (and Bea!), I lost my sense of smell when I overdosed on decongestant during pregnancy. I’m not crazy about confronting someone else’s bowel movement, but I do recognize that it is a necessary part of elderly care.

Now urine is something else. Old urine has a rancid smell. When you change the brief on a bedridden person, this smell gets on the fingers, even fingers protected by a thin layer of latex. Sometimes, late at night, I will forget to wash my hands after changing Bea. I will have tucked myself into bed and suddenly the stench rises up around me. Urine! Ugh!

For some reason, washing hands is not enough. I have discovered the smell to be persistent. So, I find myself at the sink in a decidedly Lady-Macbeth moment: “Out, out, damned urine!”

My solution is pungent hand cream. I wash, then intoxicate myself with Trillium Organics lavender and geranium Shea Butter.

While rubbing my hands together, it occurs to me that were Bea in a nursing home, impoverished immigrants would probably be changing her. Elderly care must be one of these jobs Bush claims Americans will not do …

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