body fluids, vomit, feces, smells, etc.

  1. how long did it take before you got used to it to the point where it didn't bother you any more?

    some people tell me they were always ok with such things. (actually, that's the only response i've heard so far. but then again i haven't asked more than a handful of people).

    this is definitely not the case with me. makes me wonder if its something that you're either ok with it or youre not; and if youre not, things probably won't get much better.

    i just want to be realistic about working with such things for a living. of course, if i could choose to not be bothered by such things, i wouldn't.
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  2. 32 Comments

  3. by   kittagirl
    I don't think it's a case of getting used to it, you just learn to tolerate it (except sputum even after 16+ years it still makes me gag)

    Most of the time I'm too involved in what I'm doing for the patient to be really aware of the smells, and at the end of the day it's usually more embarrassing for them, talk to you're patients as you're giving the care it distracts them and you and if it gets really bad SMILE, it helps to repress the gag reflex.
  4. by   Schatzi RN CEN
    I agree, there are some smells you learn to tolerate, with others you just learn to gag behind your hand/mask. Vicks inside a mask works really well for some of the really bad smells. And for some smells you just have to know when to run for the toilet
  5. by   Cattitude
    Quote from schatzi rn cen
    i agree, there are some smells you learn to tolerate, with others you just learn to gag behind your hand/mask. vicks inside a mask works really well for some of the really bad smells. and for some smells you just have to know when to run for the toilet

    yeppers. same here. i tolerate mostly everything to a certain degree. sputum can set me off though. and there's nothing like a good old episode of gi bleed diarrhea to get me gagging. but for the most part it does kind of get "routine" after a bit. most nurses i know all have one or two things that bother them more than others.
    just part of the job, and the poor pt. gets more of my sympathy than myself!
  6. by   vamedic4
    Usually I can handle just about anything...except vomit...ugh. So if I'm cleaning up after a patient or caring for someone actively vomiting I don the mask AFTER applying some kind of lotion to my chin and right under my nose so I can't smell anything else...a trick I learned long ago to avoid the inevitable nausea and possible vomiting that WILL happen if I don't. I hate vomit.:spin:

    vamedic4
    Sliding on the ice
  7. by   TazziRN
    Vomit makes me cringe. The smell of unwashed (long unwashed, not a day or two) bodies can make me hold my breath. Thank God for mentholatum!
  8. by   Epona
    What is mentholatum?? And I am to start clincials TOMORROW! I have thought about buying a few little masks at the local drug store to protect myself from really sick folks AND to keep the smellys out until I get used to them. Will I look stupid with a mask hanging around my neck?? I am not going to wear it unless I need it... such silly questions from a new nursing student I know!!! :icon_roll Help! I start tomorrow! I am anxious and excited!!!!
  9. by   all4schwa
    Quote from chijon512
    some people tell me they were always ok with such things. (actually, that's the only response i've heard so far. but then again i haven't asked more than a handful of people).
    they are lying. that's like people (unrelated) that tell you tattoos don't hurt. yes they do.

    bad smells always make me want to wretch. with time it doesn't get that much better, you just realize how often you are going to be encountering bad smells (very often, so get over it now), and learn to control your reaction. That is, if you dont let yourself get worked up, and try to ignore it....

    mints or cough drops in your mouth helps. also, smiling inhibits the gag reflex, so the next time you feel like it's all gonna come up, just plaster a big grin on your face!!
  10. by   MountainMan
    My wife has extreme difficulty with the smells and sounds of normal and sickly body functions. She has a keen sense of smell and and taste (and is a fantastic cook). So when she tried to change our baby's diapers I would here her dry heaving from the other room all the time cleaning the little boy up. I on the other hand have always been able to tolerate vomitting and the smell of feces...on most occasions. So I changed most of the poopy diapers. I am not excactly looking forward to these aspects of patient care, but...
  11. by   TrickieTam
    I have yet to get over the smells. Just about anything makes me gag. But vomit and feces will send me to the porcelain or gag. I had a patient that was vomiting the other day and I was the only person in his room to clean it up. In between him vomiting, he kept asking me if I was oka when it should have been the other way around
  12. by   marilynmom
    I agree with the others. You don't even get used to it, but you do learn to tolerate the smells or learn the tricks of the trade to get through it. For me, things like gum, coughdrops, Vicks, etc helps.
  13. by   Ms.RN
    i'm glad someone brought up this topic, because i was going to post a thread about this topic. i work with one nurse who cannot tolerate an oral secretion. so whenever she have to suction a patient, she ask nurses from another unit to suction her patient for her. don't you think this is something she needs to get over it and do it by herself?
  14. by   pepsihla
    Unfortunately I have a sense of smell like a hound. The smell I have trouble tolerating is gangrenous tissue.

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