Archive for August, 2010
Nurse Marge might not have all the answers, but after *ahem* years as a RN in some of the nation’s toughest hospitals, she sure knows how to make up something that sounds right! We get lots of questions here at JNJ, from nurses looking for advice and guidance and Nurse Marge has graciously agreed to answer them for us.
So with that, let’s turn the floor over to Nurse Marge!
Dear Nurse Marge,
They say it happens to everyone, but it’s never happened to me. Puking at work, that is. I have to admit that I’ve gotten kind of proud of that: if you’re an ER nurse, an iron stomach is a GOOD thing!
You know that we all kind of keep track of this. (Hey ER nurses are different!) My best bud in the world lost it one time when we had a patient who could have been the Exorcist — projectile puke EVERYWHERE, and there was Irene adding her lunch to the mix. Doc G., the best attending you could ever hope for, once power puked after dealing with a nasty GI bleed. There are dozens of stories – c-diff and feeding tubes and foleys and you know that someone’s going to vomit.
Until now. It’s not like we’ve never had dirty patients before — some of our folks haven’t been bathing regular for a long time, if you get my drift. But this particular patient was filthy: skin caked black with grease and dirt. And he smelled. And he had a beautiful three-corner laceration, the skin flipped back just enough — and as soon as I saw it, it was my turn to run for the bathroom.
You can imagine how much fun my colleagues have had with this. I’m completely mortified — I was *sure* nothing would make me hurl. How can I prevent this from happening again?
Dear Suddenly Squeamish,
There’s really two different questions here. One is how do you keep from puking when something grosses you out, and the second is how you deal with having your Claim to Fame disappear in a big, retching hurry.
The first part is easy — for me at least, because all I have to say is “Heck if I know!” Every nurse has their ‘thing’ that sends them over the edge: for some, it’s maggots, others, c-diff, others, visitors who eat off the patient’s meal tray. For me, it’s JCAHO inspectors. Let me tell you what a treat that is!
Once you know what your trigger thing is, you can avoid it as much as possible — that’s been my route to JCAHO and let me tell you that’s worked out well for everyone, in the long term — or you can try to develop a tolerance for it. You can become immune to anything, given enough exposure. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing!
Now let’s address the pride goes before a fall aspect of this. She who brags about her iron stomach laughs last over a chunky bedpan, you know what I’m saying? This can teach you to be more compassionate to your fellow nurses, and extend sympathy and understanding to those student nurses who lose their lunch and what little confidence they brought with them that day.
I mean, I understand that people do do that sort of thing. I don’t, but it’s been done.
What you’ve also got here is your own “War story”. If you can’t embrace compassion, education, and empathy, you can at least be entertaining. Practice telling the tale of how you lost it and eventually, you’ll have a treasure: a tale so disgusting, so vivid, so compelling that you can clear a lunch room full of nurses simply using words.
And that, my friend, is power.
Use it wisely.
Have a question for Nurse Marge? Simply email it to her at Cindy@journalofnursingjocularity.com and our fearless editor will pass it along to her! Chances are good she’ll answer it in an upcoming column. Nurse Marge in Charge updates every Monday.
Also: Our lawyers insist that Nurse Marge’s advice and opinions are only that — advice and opinions. Use them at your own risk!
We live in a world where everyone expects things to come quickly and easily. God forbid we should have to wait a few extra minutes for a cup of coffee or have to put up with traffic. Fast-food restaurants have become a metaphor for life: Get it fast and easy!
It just may well be that as we’ve gone down this road, we’ve lost something along the way. Consider the following startling facts:
*Rates of depression have risen in recent decades, at the same time that people are enjoying time-saving conveniences such as microwave ovens, e-mail, prepared meals, and machines for washing clothes and moving lawns.
* People of earlier generations, whose lives were characterized by greater efforts just to survive, paradoxically, were mentally healthier. (Our) human ancestors also evolved in conditions where hard physical work was necessary to thrive.
* By denying our brains the rewards that come from anticipating and executing complex tasks with our hands…we undercut our mental well being. (Scientific American Mind ).
Evidently, we’d feel a deep sense of satisfaction when true physical and mental effort produces something tangible. The newer generations have tried very hard to create atmospheres and situations that are comfortable and rewarding.
Much of that mindset has produced individuals who “want what they want, when they want it”. Losing weight should be instant, therefore we want our food in boxes or cans that are so-called easy weight loss plans. Finding a mate has boiled down to five minute lunch dates. You sit with someone for a few minutes and are supposed to gauge whether they might fit your criteria. Children are supposed to be rewarded for just showing up at a sports activity, even if they haven’t any skills.
Sadly it is creating a society that will not have a lot of resiliency which comes essentially from hard work and having to put up with situations you’re not in the mood for.
Studies in longevity consistently point out that those who reach one hundred have been through hard times, and were able to adapt to those situations.
Maybe the real success in staying well mentally and physically is in discovering that the mind and body like effort. Perhaps that’s what makes us thrive and survive!
Loretta LaRoche writes the Get a Life column for the Patriot Ledger.