Tag Archives: care

Disability and the City Part III

Bed pan stories

“Yet in the different voice of women lies the truth of an ethic of care, the tie between relationship and responsibility, and the origins of aggression in the failure of connection.”- Carol Gilligan.

This piece will stray away from, but not abandon, the discussion about navigating public space with reduced mobility. This time let’s take a little peek into private spaces (ok, let me admit it now:  this sounds more fun than it is!J)

After the initial shock and pain of this injury has worn off,  the first thing that hit me is how dependant I am on others for the most basic things. The excretory system takes on a whole new dimension. Mundane things like shitting and pissing become a chore.  When loved ones stick a bed pan under you and clean you up after, one is forced to break personal boundaries with those people or realize that the boundaries don’t actually exist.

While admitted at the general ward at the AIIMS Trauma Centre, the class pyramid could be seen and felt. I was at the very top. But class wasn’t the only difference between me and the other patients. With one exception, almost everybody else I could see around me were men. All of these men were being taken care of by women, presumably their mothers or wives. While in the hospital, I had four friends, (two men, two women) taking turns as my primary caregivers. Every time the curtain was pulled shut so I could pee, any one of them could have come out to empty the bed pan. The four friends told me that the fellow patients and their attendants would joke with them when they were leaving saying ‘duty over??!!’. No one could figure us out: not the hospital employees, not the patients, and definitely not the other caregivers. Not only was there the eternal mystery of what relationships exist between these people and me, but also a mild scandal when men walk out with my bed pan.

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