Crying in the shower was the emotional cleanse I needed
Processing my physical and emotional pain after a recent hospitalization
“I have to shower immediately. I’ll get all of these EKG lead stickers off of me and erase the hospital.”
That was the first thought that came to my mind after a hypoxic, or low-oxygen, episode sent me to the hospital the other weekend.
Showering after a hospitalization usually frees my body from any reminders of it. The cardiac leads are scrubbed away, bandages are ripped off, and the smell of the hospital is washed down the drain. A shower usually helps me disconnect from any bodily trauma I experienced. It’s a way for me to wash away all traces of hurt and suffering.
This time, though, I didn’t dissociate. As I picked off the EKG leads and wiped away the clinical scent lingering on my skin, I allowed myself to process what had happened to me. I acknowledged my pain and discomfort, felt anger toward parts of my body that haven’t been functioning well, and let my tears fall.
As the hot water hit my back, I gave my mind the chance to catch up with my physical pain. I needed to better understand why I was hurting so badly. I recalled the tests performed, the treatments administered, and the results.
When I have a better understanding of what my body went through and why, I can begin to accept the pain. This helps me feel more in control of my symptoms.
Although I was able to reach a place of understanding, acknowledging my symptoms was distressing. They served as a brutal reminder of everything I’d endured. Although the hot water slowly released my tension and quieted areas of inflammation, it also brought back feelings of emotional and physical distress. The soothing sensation of water hitting my bruised chest wall was interrupted by the searing pain from where my sternum was still healing from being fractured.
As I wiped a towel across my bruised rib cage, I felt anger toward my lungs. I was angry that they were unable to take in enough oxygen to support my bodily needs. I was mad that I needed high-flow oxygen. I was frustrated that I couldn’t control my coughing without the care I received at the hospital. Each cough made me feel as though my ribs were cracking and begging to be let out of my body.
I scrubbed with more force as I tried to rid my body of all traces of the hospital. The irony was that, in an attempt to erase those reminders, I was actually bringing more awareness to the intensity of my emotions. The water hitting my face started to mix with my own tears. I allowed myself to feel the sadness and hurt and to cry.
Through processing my emotional and physical pain and acknowledging my hurt and anger, my tears felt just as cleansing to me as the water and soap washing away what the hospital had left behind.
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