Monday, December 31, 2007

poop de loop iii

This post is accompanied by a health warning: if you are not a nurse or do not appreciate toilet humour please stop reading now.

No, seriously, it will gross you out. I was totally grossed. And I'm used to this stuff.


When I first started nursing I thought it was kind of tough not to wear gloves when dealing with human excrement of the liquid variety. It was only urine after all, and only wimps couldn't cope with a bit of wee on their hands. I mean, when I was in high school, I opted to dissect the rat without gloves! I could deal with this kind of stuff.

Over time the Occupational Health and Safety messages penetrated my brain and I realised the folly of my ways. I donned gloves at the slightest provocation. And to be honest, repeated exposure to urine and faeces wears a bit thin. I know nursing is more than excrement, but sometimes a shift can be reduced to little more than wee and poo.

As nurses (and doctors, though they seem happy to wade bare handed into situations I would not approach without gloves, apron or mask) we are all encouraged to evaluate the risk of a situation. If there is the slightest chance of exposure to any form of bodily fluid from another person the appropriate personal protective equipment must be donned. No questions asked. No exceptions. Wear gloves if you think you are going to encounter blood, urine, saliva, faeces or any other variety of human muck.

Of course, it isn't always easy to predict the exposure risk. Excrement can hide. A word for the wise... wear gloves anyway. You can assess a situation as perfectly safe and discover surprises you would never have thought would be there.

Like I did at 4am this morning. (Yes, I'm back on night shift again. For New Year... the joys of nursing. And on the poo front, it seems everyone wanted to start the new year with clear bowels. What a night)

He kept asking for a drink. For reasons too lengthy to explain here, I couldn't give him one. Then he said he needed to pee. I told him he had a catheter so he could let it go and it would just drain away. Being a professional I also checked the catheter to make sure it was draining OK. It was, but the strap that should have attached the catheter to his leg to prevent injury was flapping in the breeze. I figured he might be more comfortable if I secured it more firmly so I reached down between his legs to locate the loose end and...

... oh crap... crap, crap, crap....

Two fingers and a thumb covered in the most revolting, sticky, smelly, brown slime you've ever seen. (OK, I've seen worse but I've only ever approached it with gloves on)

Even after washing my hand for several minutes it still smelled. Only when I reached home did I decide the smell had finally gone.

What was that word for the wise again? Oh yes, that's right. Excrement can hide. Wear gloves anyway!

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At 6:58 am, January 01, 2008, Blogger Robyn said...

Ah nursing......only approach with protective equipment in hand! :)

At 10:26 am, January 02, 2008, Blogger Sandy's Notes said...

Yuk, yuk, yuk, I probably would have vomited all over the guy, then there would really be a problem. You are a couragous, couragous woman Cecily, I bow to your power!

At 7:43 am, January 06, 2008, Blogger Cherie said...

Sandy's right, you are courageous, Cecily. It's one thing when it's your own, or a beloved child, but a stranger - eww.

Being the mother of four and with all the diapers that required, well, the thing that always amazed me, and you touched on it here (no pun intended) is how the stuff still stinks even after repeated washings - scrubbings! Even the tiniest little plop.

I use lemon juice now, in my scrubbing.

Such a thing, poo.


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