A few months ago I cleaned a closet. It was one that had held dialysis supplies - gauze, antibiotic ointment, IV pole parts, bandages and the like. Tucked in the back I found a large container of antibacterial hand soap - the kind with a pump on top but at least three time bigger than the ones we buy in the store.
There are LOTS of odd things about being on dialysis (like collecting you dialysate 'pee' in the same 5-gallon container that everyone else uses to carry water while camping). But among them are the weird things that suddenly get covered by your insurance, like vitamins, bandages - and hand soap. Not just ANY hand soap, of course - the super-duper infection-fighting stuff.
Two years ago I was singing Christmas carols for two minutes every day (http://kidneedsakidney.blogspot.com/2011/11/spare-quiet-moments.html) with the scent of the this stuff in my face the entire time. It was, for me, the "smell of dialysis." Oh, I know, those who suffer through hemodialysis in a hospital setting have a whole different aroma in their memory banks, and that it is without a doubt less pleasant, but scents are the strongest memory triggers our brains possess. Fresh bread. Pine Sol. Cinnamon. Funeral homes. Crayons. Coffee. Home. Strong scents, subtle odors, the smell of snow - all these things take us to times and places and emotions far away from where we are standing at the moment.
Hand soap. Without really giving it any thought, I put it in the downstairs bathroom. Since that's the room that seems to go through soap the fastest, it made sense to put this huge bottle in there.
So. Every time I've washed my hands for the past few months, I've gotten a whiff of dialysis: A grim reminder of difficult days. A reminder to count the blessings of the days we are in. I've just gratefully used it for the last time and tossed it in the recycle bin. The scent will linger on my hands until I wash them again, and then, good-bye.