I don’t think doctors and nurses get enough recognition for the job they have to perform on a daily basis. Aside from the lifetime of schooling, the gruelling physical and mental toll the job must take on them would probably be too much for most of us to handle.After going through some of their answers to this AskReddit question “Nurses and doctors of Reddit: what is your ‘they never taught THIS in school’ moment?”, it only drives that point home. Obviously, there are some pretty intense stories that follow, so if you’ve got a weak stomach, maybe skip this one.
“One of my buddies at another medical school, one of the tippy-top ones, says one of the instructors teaches rectal exams (on special actors who do this for a job). Apparently, the teacher said something like ‘this isn’t how we did it when I trained’, then looked down at the floor for a long time.”
“Per my GF:1) Walking into a patient’s house (home health) and almost being knocked unconscious by the smell of cat piss. The lady housed 25 feral cats but didn’t let them outside because she was afraid the coyotes would eat them.2) Walked into a trailer house connected to a camper only to see the floor start moving. Realized it was cockroaches, not the actual floor.”
“SO MANY THINGS – here’s what I can think of off the top of my head:Nursing is a profession where you have the sacred honor and ability to be there for people on the best and worst days of their life, to be able to hold a life that is merely seconds old and hold the hand of someone during their last seconds on earth. That’s not something that you can be taught in school.”
1) Sugar is used to put someone’s prolapsed rectum back in. Sprinkle it on and let it sit, drawing some of the ‘liquid’ out of the tissues of the rectum and just kind of push it back in. That was fun on the job training.
2) How to put someone into a bodybag with dignity, especially if they’re tall and/or in an awkward position.
3) Never block your own exit out of a room with an actively psychotic patient.
4) How to comfort an inconsolable baby using a combination of low “shushing” in their ear, a somewhat aggressive swaying motion and some humming.
5) How to interact with patients and their family members on (sometimes) the worst days of their life. How to hold someone’s hand when they’ve just gotten terrible news about their own or their loved one’s prognosis.
6) How to celebrate the (often few and far between) wonderful news we get to tell patients.
7) And then how to leave that room where you may have just told a family their loved one is dead, collect yourself, and go into another room with another patient and care for them like it’s just another day.
“When your patient has a shit the size and shape of a football stuck in their butt, and you have to use your finger to delicately scoop it out.”
“1) Patients having sex and/or shooting up in the bathrooms.
2) People coming in OD’d and then bouncing out the door as soon as they are conscious to come in OD’d again a day or two later – then repeating the cycle every week or two but somehow never dying.
3) Patients who fake symptoms to get admitted for attention or to get a day off work or get hopped up on goofballs or whatever thing they are after.
4) Delirious old ladies telling me to ‘get out of their living room’ or they will shoot me.
5) Patients coming in next to dead because they’ve been neglected in the prison system.”
Via Reddit/C_Dissonance “Nurse here, they never taught me to cover up someone’s butt with a bed pad as you give an enema. Shit can sometimes explode out while you hold the tube in place. The first time I ever gave one my whole arm was covered in shit by the time it was over.”
“All those things you encourage your patients to do (eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, etc) also apply to you. I know too many nurses who don’t take care of themselves mentally, physically or emotionally in a very draining environment. Self-care is incredibly important and sometimes we’ll lose sight of ourselves in trying to take care of others, but we’re of no use to anyone if we’re running ourselves ragged.Edit: First, thanks for my first gold stranger!!! I didn’t expect that at all, especially on a comment about how we’re not taking care of ourselves. And second, please please please try to take care of yourselves! I know it’s hard. I know we’ve all seen some shit and have all probably had nightmares from it so it’s probably not high on our list of priorities to make sure we’re okay. But you’re no good to yourself, your loved ones or your patients if you don’t.”
“1) Had to stick my fist up through someone’s left lung to locate the heart and to directly give them CPR. Literally pumping this dudes heart so it can keep circulating blood. Felt like I was doing a fatality move in Mortal Kombat. It was surprisingly small and very squishy.
2) Had 2 different patients come in with these big kitchen knives deeply embedded in an eye socket. They were both awake and talking.
3) Enema parties are a thing.
4) Inflatable penis implant surgery is pretty shocking but also amazing.”
“That dead people can still fart. Middle of the night, all alone with the body and you hear that. Scared the hell out of me!”
Via Wiki Commons/Natgoo “How to put a fake eye back in.A patient came in from a not-so-nice nursing home with a multitude of problems, one of which was a disgusting, draining fake eye that had to be removed for treatment. Upon discharge, we had to put it back in. Simple enough we thought. But we had no idea how and struggled to figure it out. I suppose that is why the nursing home staff never took it out to clean it. This was decades ago. Fake eye technology is probably much better today.”
“1) Women will pee and poop during labor.
2) Ribs crack during CPR, and it feels really weird
3) There is a market for Amoxicillin amongst IV drug users
4) According to my patients, it’s very common for somebody else to put cocaine in their urine and fentanyl is a sexually transmitted drug…”
“Had a 60 something-year-old female patient show up for a same day appointment to establish care from out of state. No medical records, denies any major medical history or medications. Never smoked, drank, or did drugs. Midway through the exam, she starts telling me that she is seeing ‘evil lines’ all over her house. States she is unable to cross these lines and thus unable to access parts of her house e.g. her bathroom. Hears voices coming through the walls. Feels shadows at night are demons. Thinks the neighbours are hexing her all the time. Starts talking about the occult and freemasons ruling the world. Suddenly stops mid-sentence, stares at me without blinking and wants to know if I could perform an exorcism.Err… Sorry. Missed that section in medical school.”
Via Wiki Commons/Rebecca20162393 “As a sonographer, I have to keep a poker face a lot of times when I am seeing something very alarming or sad on the screen. Luckily, most people have no idea what I am looking at so that’s a plus. I’m not allowed to give any results to patients (doctors deliver the bad news) so I have to stay neutral. It’s really hard.”
“Took care of a young man with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He had many complications. He was in the hospital for over a year. He had an ostomy bag for a while, but when they finally removed it he was so nervous because he hadn’t pooped in so long. His call light goes off and he says ‘Go look in the toilet, you’re never going to believe this!’ I go in there and there is poop in the toilet! His first solid poop I had seen in over a year! I walked out and gave him the biggest hug. He was so proud of his poop. I walked out of his room with tears in my eyes.Nursing school never prepared me for crying outside of a patient’s room because I was so happy they had pooped.”
Via Flickr/Alachua County “A patient being treated for HIV purposefully tried exposing staff members to his fluids. That was a sobering experience.”
“Nurse here. A very panicked nursing assistant came running to the desk one day saying, ‘you have to come see this! I don’t know what this is!’The NA brought me into a patient’s room where she was giving a bath and points to an area on the patient’s buttocks. ‘What is that?’ I lean in for a closer inspection, when the patient starts to turn back around and says, ‘IS THAT MY EYE?!’Sure enough, I didn’t receive in the report that my patient had a prosthetic eye which at some point came out of the socket and became suction cupped to her buttock. I left the room and had never laughed so hard in my life.”
“Student nurse here. How to hide looks of shock when something very surprising or awkward occurs. I remember one time a doctor grabbed me when I was in the hall to hold something for him while he was putting a patient’s prolapsed rectum back in. Awkward…”
“Patient in ER gets a standard urine drug screen. Positive for ethanol (alcohol.) Patient insists he does not drink alcohol. Test is repeated. Positive. Patient is very upset. He does not drink alcohol. Blood test is drawn. It’s negative. We checked everything we could think of. Did we have the right urine? The right blood? It should be impossible to test positive on urine and negative on blood.Meanwhile, I finish his regular urinalysis. High white blood cell count, and really high glucose. Elevated white cells mean you need to look at it under the microscope because they probably have an infection. It’s loaded with yeast. The man was diabetic, (obviously,) and had high glucose (sugar) in his urine, along with a yeast infection of the bladder. The yeast was fermenting the glucose to ethanol within his bladder. He was The Man Who Peed Beer.”
“Lady asked me to name her poop… she was dead serious. Nursing school definitely didn’t prepare me for that one.”
Via Flickr/James Palinsad I’d typically end one of these posts with something funny and light-hearted, but this story, as sad as it is, is beautifully written and needs to be heard. “The first time I had to tell someone their loved one didn’t make it. Though they address it, no one *really* tells you how to break bad news to someone. How shitty and impotent you’ll feel doing it. The fact that you won’t be able to answer their panicked questions. What it’s like to realize that there’s nothing you can say to family members that will truly bring comfort. How shocked or even angry you’ll be when some people don’t really care about Mom going downhill. How ashamed you might feel when you look back and realize that you’re becoming numb to it all after a while.Yeah, you probably had to click through some presentation on the 5 stages of grief at some point and maybe a generic lecture on what NOT to say, but until you’ve stumbled through it a few times, you’re winging it, and probably poorly.”
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