July 16, 2008
Hazards of Nursing
When you decide to become a nurse, you know that you are probably going to have to deal with bodily fluids. Vomit, feces, urine, saliva, snot, blood, amniotic fluid, breast milk, etc. None of them are very pleasant but you learn to deal with it as part of the job. Now I do well with bodily fluids. I've been doused with amniotic fluid. I've been peed on while a mom was pushing. One night, I massaged a fundus on this woman who was bleeding a bit more than she should after delivery and several large clots came out with a quiet "plop plop plop". After they were out, her bleeding stopped but I had blood in my hair. I hit the shower that night. When I worked critical care, I had to dig out an impaction in this guys rectum, which once it was dislodged, the brown flood gates opened everywhere, if you know what I mean. He said he was eternally grateful. I also had a guy getting go-litely for a procedure the next day. He was pooping so much, he just sat on the commode, because towards the end of it, its just liquid. Well, he had gone so much, the commode bucket fell to the floor, spilling hours worth of poop on the floor. While working as a CNA in a nursing home, a nice lady with Alzheimer's was found in her room, with her poop smeared all over her and the room. Sad as it was, she was happy as a clam and we got her and her room clean after about an hour. All of those were so very nasty, but I dealt with it. Respiratory secretions get me, though. When I had to empty out emesis basins full of COPDers sputum, it would seriously make me gag. If I would have ever gotten any on me, I really think I would have vomited. Deep suctioning and trachs grossed me out way too much. That was a hint I didn't belong in the ICU. Vomit usually does people in, but I do pretty well. I've seen plenty of vomit, between work and my kids. That is as long as it doesn't get on me. Work was busy so I agreed when they called and asked if I would work. No problem, I'll work for 4 hours. One of the patients called out and asked for her nurse. I didn't see her nurse, so I went in to see what I could do for her. Teamwork. I walk in her room, she's sitting up, with no sign of what is about to come up. I get to her bedside, she says "I feel a bit naus - BLLEECCHH". All. Over. Me. I'm not talking a small amount of vomit. I mean a stomach-full worth of chunky, smelly nastiness. It got in my pockets, into my shoes, my socks, down the front of my scrubs and on my bra. She showed no sign, NO SIGN, that she was going to puke all over me. We have strategically placed pans close to the bed for this reason. Labor can make you vomit. I just didn't have any warning and no time. It wasn't her fault and she felt horrible. But I almost vomited myself. As I'm standing there in shock at the amount of vomit on me, her nurse walks in, sees me turning paler by the second and the patient apologizing all over. And she starts laughing. Because she knew it could have been her. I did manage to get wiped up enough I could go to our lounge without leaving a trail, change and clean up and shower quickly before putting on clean scrubs. Ah, The hazards of working as a nurse!