WARNING: Not for the faint of heart…..or stomach 😉
You might think (being a nurse and all) that mine is made of cast iron and nothing gets to me—blood, guts, puke, poop et. al. And for the most part, you’d be right, because none of those things bothers me. I’ve had patients pee on my shoes, seen an elderly woman projectile-vomit blood across a hospital room, and cleaned up literal rivers of something people do a lot of when they’re preparing for a colonoscopy. I’ve even had dead toes drop off in my (gloved) hands when changing a dressing.
No, what makes me want to yak are the easy things…..like feet. Oh, dear God, how I hate feet. If you’ve ever had to pull the socks off a homeless guy who’s been wearing the same pair for six months, you’ll have an idea why. I don’t even like messing with my OWN feet, even though I have to because I’m a diabetic and we tend to have foot problems. I have consistently refused to do foot care on other diabetics throughout my nursing career, because while my feet are bad, their feet are disgusting! I have nightmares just thinking about their thick, horny toenails and flaky skin and…..well, you get the picture. Feet are ugly, feet are stinky, feet are gross. Yeccccchhh.
Mouths are nasty too, especially when you’re dealing with someone who doesn’t clean their teeth regularly. I almost quit nursing school when I had to scrub several days’ worth of crud and corruption out of an elderly woman’s dentures…..it was all I could do not to hurl in the sink. Unfortunately for me, I’ve never quite gotten used to dealing with the damned things, and equally unfortunately, Will has a habit of leaving his partials around the house. I’ve found them on the nightstand, by the coffeemaker, even on the dining-room table. `ulp`
My other Kryptonite is eyes. They’re basically jelly and goo; for a remarkable organ they are made of some fragile stuff. I was just watching an old episode of Criminal Minds in which this dude was going around killing people and taking their eyes—a process called “enucleation” when doctors harvest them for corneal transplants—and I had to watch most of the show with my own eyes shut tight.
It’s easy to figure out where that particular phobia came from. Years ago when I was working nights in a nursing home, we got this fellow in who’d had almost half of his face removed due to oral cancer. We nurses literally had to go in every 2 hours, night and day, to spray saline solution inside his skull to keep the remaining mucous membranes from drying. I mean, you could see the muscles, the cheekbone, the eye…..and the smell was unspeakable. Even the old battle-axes had to hold their breath when performing this procedure. The poor man died within a couple of weeks, and I think all of us were as relieved as he was when it happened.
Now, give me a good old-fashioned double-ender or an infected wound any day—I can take care of the problem and eat lunch while describing it in detail half an hour later. Because that is what nurses do. And I have the feeling I’m going to be one again, in one fashion or another, before too much longer. I have an interview tomorrow for a case manager position at a local home-health agency. The idea of overseeing the care isn’t too scary since I wouldn’t have to be in charge of the nurses actually providing the care, and I like the idea of working 1:1 with clients and helping them find the services they need.
We shall see, anyway. Wish me luck!