Sunday, 8 January 2012


This is going to be long - but stick with me, it'll be worth it - if somewhat gruesome at the end. Some years ago we went to visit a friend of my mother's who had had a stroke which left her pretty well imobile. We were invited in and we sat down on what looked like a sofa but had the most amazingly fluid structure. Upon enquiry, we were told it was a memory foam mattress which had been purchased for the stroke victim. Her daughter, being so impressed with the qualities of the mattress promptly ordered one for herself and her husband, who suffered with back problems.

As we were returning home we began to discuss our bed, the sticking-out springs and the fact that we met far too frequently in the centre. Time for a new mattress. The total memory foam mattresses are terribly expensive so we decided upon one which was high density foam with a memory foam topper layer.

The new mattress was duly delivered; I wasn't at home at the time so hubby officiated. That night we experienced the joy of a flat bed; no springs in evidence and a soft feeling instead. It was slightly harder than I'd envisaged but definitely a great improvement on the previous bed. We slept very well on the new mattress.

It had a lovely foam-backed fabric cover with a zip all round. One Saturday morning - about three months later - as I was changing the bedclothes I decide to take a peek at what was inside the zip. To my surprise I could see clearly that the memory foam was on the bottom, not the top. Silly us, we'd been sleeping on the wrong side. The mattress was duly righted; the label which said clearly it was not reversible, was now on top.

Hubby says he can't tell the difference, but I certainly can. The memory foam is much softer but it is incredibly warm. Even on the coldest nights you don't need a hotwater bottle. As soon as you hit those sheets your body warmth is reflected back to you. It's so warm in fact that in summer it's too much. So when we arrived at the first really hot summer's night of the season after the right-way-up saga, I decided to turn the mattress again. In summer we sleep on the high-density foam side, in the winter on the memory foam.

Those of you who have been reading this blog since my chemo may remember the problems I had with smell. During treatment I developed what I assume must be a sense of smell akin to a dog. Everything smelly seemed amplified; flowers were too strong sometimes and the worst bit was the horrendous smell when we got out of bed in the morning. (I warned you this was going to be - as the youngsters say - gross!) At first I thought it was down to me excreting the poisons I'd been filled with. It was only about four months down the line that I realised it was my enhanced sense of smell which was the problem.

I've always been a bed airer - in fact I leave beds open for the day until it's time to go to bed again. I use a mattress cover and I wash it frequently because all that sweat needs to evaporate somewhere. Yesterday when I stripped our bed I decided to change the top mattress cover and upon closer inspection I decided it was time to unzip that zip and battle with the enormous cover underneath as it had a slight, but unmistakable, chemo-time odour. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be washed but off it came and into the bath with detergent. Dark grey water ensued and there was even residue in the bottom of the bath when the water drained out. Ugggh! It was difficult to handle especially when wet because it was so terribly heavy. I keep one of those large plastic trugs for such operations but I ended up soaking wet after battling with it getting it into the garden to drip. It was several hours before I could bring it back inside.

Your think that's gross? Just wait. We next took the Dyson upstairs and started to vacuum the mattress. I've vacuumed it before, often, but never inside the zipped cover which I'd presumed - incorrectly - was not penetrable by dust. I even removed the stockinette cover inside that and we did both sides thoroughly. The thing about a Dyson is that you can see what you're sucking up. In this case a very fine grey/white dust began to accumulate. There was so much of it - I couldn't quite believe how much. Horrendous! It can only have been our skin. OMG!

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