Monday, March 01, 2010

Not the fresh feeling he was hoping for...

When I was in nursing school, I had several jobs; bartender/cocktail waitress, make-up artist for Clinique, I graded term papers for an Economics teacher, Dispatcher for the hamlet I lived in and the college's Department of Public Safety and Certified Nurses Aide, or as I liked to call it "Bedpan Commando".

Being a Bedpan Commando was hard work, but it did help me out during school. Most of the nurses I worked with knew I was in nursing school and they would try and show me/teach me cool and interesting stuff when I was working. What was even cooler is that the weekend Nursing Supervisor, Joyce, was also a Nursing Instructor at PUC. She would find out what quarter you were taking and try to have you work in the area of the hospital that was pertinent to what you were studying at the time. I got to know Joyce while I was working there and she knew I wanted to be an OB nurse, so she would often place me in the family birthing center. I loved that. I got to help with deliveries, hold babies and learn about the field.

Unfortunately, Joyce wasn't always working and the birthing center didn't always need me. So, I would have to work on the Medical/Surgical floors. The place I liked the least was the Transitional Rehab Unit or "TRU". It was full of old folks who were too sick to go home, but not sick enough to be on the regular floors. A lot of the patients there were waiting for a nursing home bed to open up. Most of the patients were incontinent and could not bathe or feed themselves. It was hard work and it was a little sad, to top it off the nurses that worked on that unit were mean. I hated working there.

One day, during my last quarter of nursing school, I was sent to work on TRU. I got report and found out that a first quarter nursing student was taking care of one of my patients. I found her and told her that when she was ready to do his bed bath, she should find me and I would help her out. This particular patient was a BIG guy, 6'7" and about 280 lbs; she was going to need help. I went along and took care of the rest of my patients, getting them water, passing breakfast trays, taking their vital signs, etc.

Finally, the student said she was ready to bathe her patient and change his bed. When a person is bedridden, it is a big operation.


When we had the guy rolled to one side, I noticed that his butt was a little red. I asked the student to get some of the butt cream (like Desitin). I held out my gloved hand and she squirted some for me to put on this guy's ass. I thought it smelled minty, which was not the smell I was expecting. Before I could check and see what she gave me, I noticed our patient had TURNED BLUE! He wasn't breathing and was REALLY, REALLY BLUE. I hit the CODE BLUE button and started to get the oxygen mask off the wall. The nursing student was paralyzed with fear and I just grabbed her and pushed her out of the room so the code team could work.

The code team brought the guy back to life and he was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit.

So later on, I was walking to lunch with the nursing student and her instructor (who had been my instructor too). He asked the student what she thought happened to her patient that made him stop breathing. She gave the correct answer about the progress of the patient's disease, etc. Her instructor looked at me and asked me why I thought the patient "coded". I looked at him and smirked and replied, very seriously; "I think it was because your student gave me toothpaste to put on his butt." The student turned pale, the instructor laughed and I kept on walking to the cafeteria.

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