I had my staples removed 11 days after the cranioplasty. If you think that it must be an unpleasant experience to have staples ripped out of your barely healed scalp, I can confirm that it is. The first time this happened was prior to my transfer to rehab back in January. I had almost passed out with the pain and I did my best to talk myself through it. The last thing they needed on the floor was to have the girl with half a skull losing consciousness on them. This time around I knew what was coming. I took pain medicine in preparation. My whole family wanted to come for the show. It went much smoother than the first time around, with the exception of a few staples behind my ear and the stitches where my drain had been refusing to vacate the premises. They were promptly served an eviction notice by the nurse practitioner in the office. The incision was infection free, and I was told that I could shower the next day, but to hold off on using soap or shampoo for another few days on my head.
The day after the staple removal, I sat alone in my apartment. Matt was at work, and I was trying to find things to keep me busy. But the first item on the to do list was a shower. My last true shower had been in 2018. Once I woke up in the hospital sans skull, I had to eliminate anything that would put pressure on my exposed brain. Even the light pressure of a shower head was forbidden. I had bed baths until I was strong enough in rehab to use a shower chair and a detachable shower head to rinse my body. I had to wear my helmet in the shower at all times for safety. I needed to have a chaperone available in case I fell and injured myself. Washing my scalp and the fast growing hair became an issue. I had to gently apply baby shampoo and lightly trickle water over my head in an attempt to wash the soap out. I had to sit in a shower chair securely before taking my helmet off to wash my head. For months on end this process repeated. Now the day had finally come where I could remove all those rules from my daily routine.
Before turning on the water, I stared at the shower chair that sat in the middle of the tub. I was technically allowed to stand in the shower now, but I decided to keep the chair in there just in case. I had learned over the past few months that my body had weakened and my stamina had to be built up again. I wasn't totally confident that I could stand in a hot shower for a period of time without getting fatigued. But I decided to give it a try. I stood under the hot water for a few minutes letting my muscles relax and adjust to the heat. So far so good, no sudden dizziness and my legs were steady. Once I was sure I wouldn't be keeling over any time soon, I decided it was finally time to stick my head into the water. I felt the spray bounce off my scalp and water moved down, through every hair both long and short. I felt every water droplet that came from that shower head. It's a feeling I have trouble putting into words, but I imagine it is as close to a religious experience as I will get. I could almost feel each drop of water as it passed over each skin cell. My nerves were exploding from a sensation that had been absent for 3 months. I must have stood in that shower for an hour, just taking in the moment. Here I was, standing in a shower by myself, without a helmet, and perfectly fine. After I finished showering, my first line of business was to get rid of that shower chair. It was unnecessary now.
4/13/19, the date of my first real shower of 2019. Most people don't remember their first shower of the new year. But this was a memorable one. And a great lesson in not taking for granted the small things in life. Next time you shower, take a few seconds to focus on the feeling of the water on your body. Appreciate it, because it can be gone in an instant.
It's true what they say. April showers bring May flowers.