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Hands off (02/05/2012)
By Frances Edstrom


You hang around in hospitals long enough, and you find it’s a different world. Take the bathrooms, for instance. Who ever thought that a bathroom could be a “hands off” kind of place? But it is.

You walk in the door, and your hand automatically goes out to reach for the light switch. Take back your hand! The light turns on by itself! You do your “business,” (And here is about the only place you need to use your hands. They haven’t figured out how to wipe your butt for you) and practically before you can get up, the toilet flushes by itself.

So now you go to wash your hands. The water turns on by itself, using just the right amount of hot water, and you wet your hands, put them under the soap dispenser, and without touching a thing, it automatically dispenses just the right amount of soap.

Now, you rinse your hands under the automatically activated water, and proceed to dry your hands. The paper towels come out all by themselves and here the magic ends. You actually have to dry your hands by yourself and throw away the towel. Then you leave the bathroom, and I imagine the light automatically turns off after you vacate the room. I couldn’t prove that last bit, because I couldn’t see into the bathroom from the outside.

But the “hands off” bathroom does mess with your head. When you go home and walk into a dark bathroom, if you want light you have to turn it on all by yourself. You have to flush the toilet by yourself, pick up the soap, turn on the water, pick up a towel, and put it back. I actually found myself waiting for things to happen to me. But no luck!

Actually, bathrooming is such a labor intensive thing that I’m surprised there hasn’t been an effort to eliminate (no pun intended) it from the human experience altogether. I’m not sure if I want to live that long or not! Actually, I think I’d rather live long enough to see the need for vacuum cleaners eliminated, although I pretty much accomplished that right after I graduated from college, at least until company was expected.

I am writing this from the hospital in Rochester, waiting for John to come back from X-ray. The surgery didn’t go exactly as planned. In fact, this last month has been like a pilgrimage to experience the world’s scariest roller coasters, up, down, whirling around.

This time, they started the surgery, and encountered some stray cells where they didn’t expect them from the scans they did. Rather than complete surgery, and delay any chemotherapy for 5 or 6 weeks, they stopped surgery (again!) and will start John on chemo immediately this Monday. So what happens after that? Doctors are too tricky to let out all their plans at once, so we wait until Monday to find out. Will keep you posted. In the meantime, I’m going to pay one last visit to the magic bathroom, just to be pampered and waited on by magic machines before we go home to our decidedly “hands on” house in Winona. 


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