A Day in the Life of a Nurse

The following covers the events of that short but sweet slice of my life from 2300 hours of June 12, 2014 to 0700 hours of June 13, 2014.

When I was getting ready to work that evening, I didn’t expect that I would have one of those shifts that I will remember and tell over and over, until I get so old that all I do all day is to remember and tell the same stories over and over while being   by a young, cute, female nurse fresh out of nursing school with a slim waist and a bust size that will make Viagra file for bankruptcy.

I was assessing a patient when suddenly, I was wearing the remnants of her dinner from last night. Yes, the oh so lovely vomitus disgustus , the bane of every nurse’s existence.

Every fiber of my being was trembling as I focused all my concentration on finishing up the assessment and making sure the patient is safe before leaving her. I survived nursing school and the slave labour, ahem, rotations, that accompanied it proudly rubbing it in my classmate’s faces that I can stand blood, urine, feces, and any other kind of bodily secretion. It took me only a day in the field, working as a professional for the first time to realize that I am not as strong as I thought I was. I have my own vulnerable spot too: and that is, vomit, spit, and earwax. And with the aging population in North America, even the acute care settings are filled with dementia ridden, senior citizen patients. And guess what kind of bodily fluid you deal mostly with dementia ridden, senior citizen patients? Yes, you guessed right dear reader: vomit, spit, and earwax. Not to mention a healthy, regular helping of urine and feces. Screw you, Nurse Jackie. Screw you, Grey’s Anatomy. Screw you, House M.D. Screw you E.R.

I ran to the nearest washroom, took off my scrub top speckled with a goop of masticated, seared breast of chicken on a bed of vegetable greens. Yes, I was curious, so I looked at the menu before going home. I soaked the shirt in water while I rummaged in my bag for that extra set of scrub tops. I always bring a backpack stuffed with a spare set of clothes for cases like these.

I moved on to another patient which needed my attention and it was my jeans this time. The offending suspect? Urine. I wouldn’t have made such a big fuss about it, duh, it’s only pee right? But wait, there’s more. Did you know that if you are going through a UTI – Urinary Tract Infection, that your pee smells like you’ve gone through 12 rounds with a urophilic mountain lion? Urophilia, is the weird, sexual fetish of being urinated on. Stick with me, dear reader, and you will learn a lot of useless, nightmarish, potentially disturbing medical trivia. (cue the crazy scientist background music). Having used up my remaining stock of clean underwear, socks, jeans, and scrub tops, I decided to don my full spacesuit gear, normally reserved for Norwalk outbreaks, when I’m within 6 feet of a patient. This gear consists of a clear, plastic disposable face shield, an N90 facial mask underneath it. A contact precaution gown, yellow in colour, made up of this thin, meshlike material that’s supposed to act as a barrier against droplets coming into contact with your bare skin/uniform but still remain breathable. Heh, breathable my ass, believe me, it will make you sweat like a prostitute just discovering Jesus for the first time. On top of that, I also put on a full length plastic butcher’s apron just for shits and giggles.

I now have three separate bathrooms occupied by my clothes soaking in the bathroom sinks. As my shift was coming to an end, I was stuck with another dilemma. How, in the name of Ray J, am I gonna be able to get all my stuff home? I was pretty sure that soaking it with the right amount of bleach, soap, and holy water will be able to clean it sufficiently. I went to the utility room , and grabbed a box of unused garbage bags, wrung out my clothes, stuck them in a garbage bag, then double bagged it, triple bagged it, quadruple bagged it, I am not sure how many times I rebagged the bastard, but when i was done, the clear plastic bags ain’t clear nomo.

As soon as my shift ended, I stripped off my spacesuit gear to the amusement of my co workers. (Pardon my English, but does the word “amusement” accurately cover “laughing like fucking hyenas”?) I stuffed that unholy package of defiled clothing into my backpack and went home right away. I only live 4 blocks away from my workplace, but picture a man soaked with stale sweat, wearing a grubby backpack bulging with clothes still bearing the stench of a living person’s ripened bodily fluids, and has this thousand yard stare in his eyes, wouldn’t you feel safer risking being run over a car while jaywalking to get across the street rather than pass by him in the sidewalk? Most of the people in my neighborhood seems to think so. The ones who didn’t do so looked like me and asked if I can give them a cigarette, loose change, and one even asked if I sell marijuana.

That 4 block walk was the longest walk of my life and all I wanted upon getting home was to strip naked in the hallway, run to the washroom, and take a shower while dredging the words to the Holy Rosary back from my Catholic high school past. (And the answer is no, I was NOT molested.)

I will realize upon coming home that my day is not over yet, and it’s about to get even crazier.

How about you? I would love to hear where you work and what you do. Do you have any crazy work stories that will make you swear off the human race? Please let me know in the comments below!

PS

I would like to give credit where credit belongs. I was browsing through Ms. Aussa Lorens’ site and I got this idea of leaving my readers something to think about at the end of my story from reading her posts.