2/14/12 – Bathtime
My freshman year of High School, I went through a long round of surgeries to try to “fix” my left leg. You see, I was defective at the factory, and in the hopes of becoming ‘normal’ I consented to repeated attempts to get my legs the same length. Didn’t work, but god knows they tried. Over and over again. My left femur was surgically broken, for the third time in my life, and recovery took forever after a deep infection left me in the hospital on antibiotics for three weeks. I finally came home with a new contraption on my left thigh, a set of nine surgical steel pins connected by metal clamps and rods that made me look like Frankenstein’s cousin. A Hoffman apparatus, I was told it was called. I’m guessing Dr. Hoffman was closely related to the Marquis deSade.
So after coming home, normal activities like bathing became a bizarre challenge. Depending on who was home at the moment, I’d have to get two people to help me ease into a bathtub, one supporting me under my shoulders, and one lifting my errant leg for me and trying not to cause massive pain while lowering it into the water.
I distinctly recall when my slightly older brother got the latter duty. Every time he was careful not to look at me, as if he were somehow in danger of catching a birth defect. And his breathing became really weird. He would hold his breath for a long time, and exhale through his mouth, all the while studiously avoiding any sign of interaction with me. As if he were thinking “It’s okay, I’m just here to act like a crane and help move this inanimate object, so I’m going to distance myself from the situation as much as possible.”
I guess I can’t blame him though, I’d be weirded out too if I had to help a sibling with basic self care, especially at that age. But still, the memory remains.