How do you get through the "gross" stuff?

  1. I'm staring a BSN program this January.. I currently work at a hospital, and job shadowed with Respiratory a few months ago. Anyway, I watched two surgeons perform a tracheotomy on a 16 yo who was involved in a MVA.
    I have NEVER seen any major medical procedure performed, nor was I exactly sure what I would be observing.

    I was ok for about the first 30 minutes of the procedure, then I started to get hot, and my field of vision got really narrow! It was time to get out of the room. I excused myself from the procedure, and came back in about 10 minutes and was fine.

    Is it normal to feel like this as you are seeing these types of things that are new to you? Also, how long did it take you until you were more comfortable with invasive type procedures, injuries, "gross things", etc?

    Any advice/feedback would be great! I'm a little concerned about starting clinicals next semester...:uhoh21:

    Thanks!
    Diane
    •  
  2. 20 Comments

  3. by   tlhubbard
    I know my limits. When in the OR (let's say) its easy to "lose" that personal connection when the patient is all draped and all you see is a small work area. I know that personally I can't do anything invasive with eyes (yuck). so when I started at an ambulatory surgery area, they wanted me to orient with the cataracts. In pre-op that is fine, except they injected in pre-op. I was honest with my supervisor, she said you don't have to look- just assist the doc with any needed supplies. NO PROBLEM!! However, the patient started to seize after the anesthesia was put in the IV. I looked to the patient to help and the doc says "Let's block them while we can" with that needle just by the skin under the eye. OOOOOO did the room go to about 400 degrees and I felt sick. I had to excuse myself (another nurse I was orienting with was still there). No one asked to me to assist that eye doc anymore. We all have our weaknesses. You will have a little exposure to everything. Nothing long term that you can't find a way to make it through. Then when it's time to get a job, steer clear of the things you've found you can't take. You'll make it. You will also find that you will learn to keep a professional distance. That "rewiring" of your thinking helps.
    Good luck!!!
  4. by   Soon-to-be-NurseJess
    I was the same way with my first OR clinical. I had seen plenty of stuff and I work LTC as a CNA and I thought I had a stomach of steel...NOOOOOOO!!!!

    I saw two hernia repairs, a laproscopic cholecystectomy(gallbladder removal) which aren't the bloodiest messiest procedures, but the doctor with me was one of those gung-ho "come here and look at this...watch this...ewww did you see that" kind of doctors. The blood didn't bother me, the cutting didn't bother me...but while they were cauterizing blood vessels after pulling out the gallbladder I became aware of a certain unpleasant odor...and being a student I didn't ask, I just wondered...and it all of a sudden became clear to me that it was the smell of burning flesh. Just the thought of the burning flesh made me hot, kind of dizzyish, a little nauseated. I just sat down for about 2 minutes on a stool in the back (they brought one in before the surgery stating 'we know how you students get during these things') and then I felt fine. The smell itself was not sickening...just the realization of what it was...

    As a nursing student or a nurse you will find that there are certain things that just get to you. My biggest issue is watching someone spit phlegm out of their mouth when it just hangs to their tongue cause its so thick. I can get phlegm off the floor, the sink, the sheets just fine but if I see the person actually hacking it up..it just makes me gag. Puke on me, poop on me, pee on me, bite me, spit at me, whatever (I told you I worked LTC) just don't spit up the phlegm while I'm standing there...ick

    so in response...yes it is normal to feel that way. I'm sure you will get accumstomed to most of the things that got to you the first couple of times, but there is usually that one little something thats gonna get you every time

    Good luck in your classes
  5. by   SteveNNP
    Ugh......I've been working in hospitals for 3 years now, 7 mos as a RN, and I still get grossed out by ostomies.......I now work in the neonatal ICU, where the poop and spit don't bother me. I guess you become disconnected after a while. The first time I was in the OR, and the surgeon began cauterizing, with plumes of human smoke floating upwards around him, I got kind of woozy. I just leaned against the wall and refocused. Don't worry, it'll get better with time! You start to worry about the patient rather than the gross stuff.
  6. by   deanaRN
    In clinicals I spent one day at an OBGYN clinic in a very poor area of Mississippi. I was observation only. The doc was foreign (sorry, can't remember country of origin) and was very demeaning to every pt we saw. I have no idea why he chose to be an OBGYN. We had a young girl, maybe 14? all alone and no family support with a foul smelling STD plus he was snipping off samples of what he told her was likely cancer. This child was TERRIFIED and crying. He was yelling at her to "stop blubbering, you got yourself into this" and "I am not hurting you it is your imagination" - it was awful. I was trying to comfort her and he chewed me up one side and down the other. Between the central heating, the smells, her crying, and my stress level I started to black out. My knees got weak and I just had to get out of there. I stepped into the hall for about a minute where it was cooler then was fine and went back in. He told me I had no buisness going to nursing school among other things including "stupid women" when I went back in. It was the only time I have felt sick.
  7. by   sharlynn
    [QUOTE=deanaRN] The doc was very demeaning to every pt we saw. We had a young girl, maybe 14? all alone and no family support with a foul smelling STD plus he was snipping off samples of what he told her was likely cancer. This child was TERRIFIED and crying. He was yelling at her to "stop blubbering, you got yourself into this" and "I am not hurting you it is your imagination" . I was trying to comfort her and he chewed me up one side and down the other. He told me I had no buisness going to nursing school among other things including "stupid women".[/QUOTE

    Sounds to me like he was the one in the wrong profession!
  8. by   HappyJaxRN
    I 2nd that....I know my limits. I can handle most anything, but some things...I draw the line. I don't stick around very long if possible to get away from the very thing that's going to make me sick...I know one thing works for me...sounds crazy, but I chew gum if I know it's going to be nasty. Call it weird....but it works.
  9. by   Nurse_Diane
    Quote from HappyJaxRN
    II know one thing works for me...sounds crazy, but I chew gum if I know it's going to be nasty. Call it weird....but it works.
    That's great advice, thank you!
    I will chew bubble gum if I am feeling nauseaus, and it ususally works.
    I'll make sure and have some for clinicals.:chuckle

    Thanks for the reply!
  10. by   pinefarmgirl
    Good topic- before I started nursing school I was worried that some things might make me sick...
    being a CNA did help get past the poop, pee, and vomit part. Being in the OR to me was like watching a mechanic work on a car, very task focused and impersonal. The patients face is covered by draping and they don't really seem like people there. The cauterizing smell is nasty, but that didn't make me nauseous- just lucky I guess. The eyeball thing does get me though. I had a day in clinicals where I had to observe an entire day of eye surgeries, and I thought I would never make it. It turned out to not be so bad, and during the parts I couldn't stand I just looked away while listening so I would know what was going on.
    Ostomys gross me out- the smell is much worse than poop, and I don't know why, but I can't stand them.
    The worst thing ever for me though, which is just wierd I know, is feeding geriatric patients. to me, nothing is grosser. The food goes in, half dribbles back out, it's everywhere- I really don't know why, but I'll take the blood and guts and smell of surgery anyday over that! Everyone has some part of nursing that gets to them; Sometimes it's the emotional side that nurses run away from. Can't take all those yucky feelings! You cannot expect that nothing will bother you- the ones who say they are that way in my opinion are not being truthful.
  11. by   mitchsmom
    [QUOTE=pinefarmgirl]
    The worst thing ever for me though, which is just wierd I know, is feeding geriatric patients. to me, nothing is grosser. [QUOTE]

    Me too!! I just don't like feeding people of any age. Feeding a baby a bottle is fine but I don't even really like to feed baby food. When I was in my LTC rotation one lady took out her denture and was sucking it like a juicy BBQ rib ... I don't know if it was funnier or grosser.

    And I could never be a respiratory therapist... it's not so much the secretions as the distress of someone who can't breathe. I don't think I'd ever pass out over it but I just wouldn't like to do breathing stuff all day long.

    Surgery and all the rest really don't faze me. It's funny how everyone has their "thing".

    I've seen it advised to use Vick's Vapor Rub if the smells bother you.
  12. by   SFCardiacRN
    You do it the same way you get into an extremely hot jacuzzi. A little at a time until you get used to it.
  13. by   Nurse_Diane
    Great advice, everyone!

    Thanks for responding. Your information is very helpful, it makes me feel much better
  14. by   mandana
    Quote from tlhubbard
    I know that personally I can't do anything invasive with eyes (yuck).
    This is mine too - in fact, I've got a test Monday on eyes/ears and I'm putting off studying for it because just READING about the various eye disorders makes mine start to itch and run. My classmates all think its the funniest thing in the world. Just typing it is making it happen now.

    I will never be able to work for an ophthamologist!

    Amanda

close