View Full Version : Shower Question

12-06-2004, 02:56 PM
So sorry for all of the questions, but I'm 6 weeks out from surgery and starting to read up and think of all sorts of things right now!

One of my concerns, naturally, is not showering after surgery. I know that it will be impossible to shower at the hospital and that I will not be able to get the incision areas wet for a couple of weeks. Also, I am slated to have thorascopy and two on the back, so I'm guessing that I will not be able to use my right arm for a while.

My questions are:

1) How did all of you cope with not being able to shower? I'm guessing that sponge baths were the way to go. Someone once mentioned a waterless shampoo too.

2) For those of you who had thorascopy, did you need help?

3) How did you freshen up in the hospital?

I've never spent any time in a hospital, so this is all very, very new to me.

Thanks again!!!!

12-06-2004, 03:09 PM
Don't worry about "freshening up" at the hospital. The nursing staff will take care of you for the first few days. They will show you what you need to know. Do bring with you
sturdy, easy to get into (no bending over) slippers
Nice to haves: nail file/waterless shampoo/loose fitting clothes to wear home/breath mints

12-06-2004, 03:20 PM
I second the above poster. You will get sponge baths in the hospital (I got one every morning); that aside, you won't be worrying about personal cleanliness (or anything else for that matter): if your experience is anything like mine, you will be on heavy pain killers and will be in and out of it much of the time, and therefore not concerned about much. I do agree that you should bring a toothbrush/paste, a brush/comb (although mine was not put to use until I was discharged from ICU) and deoderant. I was able to shower a couple of days after being discharged from the hospital, but was instructed not to soak the incision site (so I faced to stream of water).

Karen Ocker
12-06-2004, 04:36 PM
While in the rehab hosp(I had a major revision) I used large wash & drys that were specifically for sponge bathing. They were very refreshing and did the job. I do not remember the brand name. At home I was allowed to shower. I put a plastic picnic chair under the shower head and just sat there;it was heaven.

12-06-2004, 04:43 PM
heidi...i spent a week in icu, where the staff kept me clean and comfortable with sponge baths, although i don't think i would have noticed if they didn't! i do not recommend any of those waterless shampoos...they made my hair feel like crisco had been rubbed into it! when i was discharged to rehab i was able to shower. the rehab nursing staff preferred to put everyone on a 3 showers/week schedule, which was not acceptable to me. i asked the dr. in charge of the unit to write orders that i was to shower everyday and that worked. i used the grooming basics everyone else has mentioned. i wore my nightgown under my brace and i had a largish robe to wear over everything for when i wanted to walk the halls at night. before surgery i bought a couple pairs of pants and shirts that i thought would be big enough to wear over my brace; i was wrong. i had absolutely no street clothes that were big enough; the hospital gave me a pair of scrubs in size "huge", finally, and that was the best idea of all. it's hard to let go of your normal grooming routine, but just remember that it is soooooo temporary and you will look beautiful to your family no matter what!

12-07-2004, 12:42 PM
If your experience is anything like mine, for the first 5 days a shower, or any personal hygiene, is going to be the absolute LAST things on your mind.

and this is a bit graphic, but I had a drain in my side for all the fluids that smelled worse than I ever could. It goes into a closed container, but still...

once out of the hospital I did take them every couple of days, but anything that involved getting out of bed was pretty unattractive. All I cared about was my Percocet (sp)

I will second the last poster which is something I forgot about in my experience.. You are going to look incredible to your family. The first time I stood up and my mom saw me, she cried from joy. My shoulders were straight, and I was back closer to the height I was supposed to be.

No one cared if I smelled a little.

I'm new to the forums, so please let me know if I am breaking any ettiquite.


12-07-2004, 12:48 PM
I was in the hospital for 12 days, and got to take a shower on the last day. It was the best thing that ever happened to me! I usually shower and wash my hair at least once a day, so it was very difficult to go so long. When I returned home, I typically took showers a few times a day because the hot water felt so good on my stiff muscles.


P.S. If you haven't seen it, I have a page on my website to help prepare for surgery:


12-07-2004, 01:58 PM
I did not get a shower or bath while in the hospital.
But was allowed to as soon as I felt up to it...
Of course, I had to have my mom help with showers for the first while (embarassing) as the only stand up shower in the house was down in the basement and I was forbidden to climb stairs until 2 weeks post op.... So I had to bathe in the tub on the main floor... Sat a stool in the tub so I wouldn't have to get up and down...

Once I could get downstairs to the real shower, you couldn't keep me outta it... It felt just heavenly.....

12-08-2004, 11:11 AM
Thanks so much everyone for all of your input! Having never been in a hospital before, everything about this is going to be so new to me and I'm so glad I can turn to you all for support and answers to my questions...no matter how weird they may seem!

I find it interesting that some of you were bathed (somewhat) each day or every few days during your hospital stay while others weren't bathed at all. Guess that's a good question to ask my doctor at my next appt!

Thanks again to everyone for answering this awkward question...I'm sure there will be a few more as the next 6 weeks goes by.....

12-08-2004, 12:02 PM
Hi Heidi...

I think everyone probably got a daily sponge bath. I didn't mention it only because you specifically asked about showers. Sorry for the confusion.


12-09-2004, 04:33 AM
Hello Heidi, I live in australia and I have noticed there are a few things that happen differently over here. I was in ICU for 5 nights then back on the ward and the nurses gave me a sponge bath every day. I think it was day eight before they got me up sitting on a kommode chair in the shower - HEAVEN!!! I was also worried about my dirty hair - but everyone is so right - that is the last thing on your mind!!!!! I had a thoracoplasty as well and I managed to get the nurses to wash my long hair for me and my family to come in a dry it for me ( could,'t lift my hands up to my head for a few weeks). I remeber one lovely nurse when she was sponge bathing me.. she got the towels, soaked them in soapy water then heated them up and put them completly over my whole body - OH MY GOD - IT WAS SENSATIONAL!!!!!
I am now 7 weeks post op and I standing up in the shower washing my own hair but still need help holding the hair dryer.

Hope it helps