Experienced nurses, please help!

  1. I am in desparate need for some help! I am having serious trouble controlling my gag reflex when faced with very strong odors, ie. cleaning c-diff patients, obtaining stool samples, etc. My clinincal instructor has given me an ultimatum-handle it or else- so please help with any suggestions!

    Thanks!
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  2. 30 Comments

  3. by   LoraLou
    if you know going into the situation that its going to be a bad one sometimes you can put a really strong smelling lotion under your nose? I used to do that during disection in school.
  4. by   pod184
    I was in New Orleans last year to help with some hurricane cleanup. We were clearing out a school; with all the mold and stagnant water, we used surgical-type masks. Those with queasy stomaches used Vicks Vaporub inside the mask. You obviously can't use a surgical mask all the time, but you might be able to use the Vicks under your nose/around nostrils. Good luck!
  5. by   NurseCard
    Quote from lhenson
    I am in desparate need for some help! I am having serious trouble controlling my gag reflex when faced with very strong odors, ie. cleaning c-diff patients, obtaining stool samples, etc. My clinincal instructor has given me an ultimatum-handle it or else- so please help with any suggestions!

    Thanks!
    Hmmmmm... interesting problem! :uhoh21: But not an uncommon one I'm sure. What to do, what to do....

    It might require a psychiatric approach. I would actually recommend trying something like this: gather up as many nasty, unpleasant smells as you can. Let some food mold/rot in the fridge, or better yet on the counter for a couple of days. Buy some bad smelling cheese from a deli. Scoop up some dog/cat poop. Anything else you can think of that smells bad. Arrange it all on the floor of your kitchen. Have a seat, and sniff away!! Have a garbage can handy, of course, and a empty stomach would I'm sure help too. You might either, ideally, end up desensitizing yourself to the bad smells, or you may actually in the process, devise your own strategy for dealing with them.

    I can't tell you really how I deal with it, because most smells really don't bother me THAT bad. I mean, they are unpleasant sure, but I can control the gagging and such. When something smells EXTREMELY bad, I have found myself kinda holding my breath for as long as I can. =) Not always the best idea. The above suggestion might sound pretty ridiculous, but it's the best thing I can think of at the moment.
  6. by   steelerfannurse
    You may try putting your favorite perfume under your nose. Also you may try keeping a peppermint lifesaver in your mouth. Peppermint oil under your nose works too. I unfortunately have the same problem. Good luck! These things work for me.
  7. by   BSNtobe2009
    OH gosh, I am so glad you posted that. Changing tons of diapers have got me used to poop, but it's the vomit that I am most scared of. Every time I see someone else gag, I feel an uncontrollable urge to throw up, and I have a very, very strong stomach.

    Has anyone ever watched an episode of Shock TV? I won't describe what they showed on there...but one episode actually made me throw up it was that bad.

    What is odd, is I have observed an autopsy before, and I didn't even flinch.
  8. by   biker nurse
    how about telling your instructor you may have a cold and wear a mask.
    you can also try some lip balm that smells like mint
    after a while you do get used to the smell. Are'nt you glad we can wear gloves???


    good Luck
  9. by   BSNtobe2009
    Biker that is a great idea...wonder if you carried a small tube of Vics in your pocket and put that under your nose right before you do the procedures. Wonder if that would work?
  10. by   scrmblr
    vicks really does help. I carry some in my pocket and just rub a little under my nose for those lovely situations.
  11. by   mamason
    The "vicks vapor rub" is what helped me. It also comes in a stick form that you can inhale. The vapor smell is so.....strong, it would be hard to smell anything else. Also comes in a cherry flavor for kids.:wink2:
  12. by   TazziRN
    Some kind of mentholatum ointment is a mainstay for ER nurses, to deal with the smelly bodies we take care of. Use a cotton swab and dab a little inside each nostril right before you go in the room. Perfume or perfumed lotions are not a good idea because those smelly bodies are occupied by sick people, and sick people often cannot tolerate perfumed scents.
  13. by   rn/writer
    EMTs and paramedics use Vicks under the nose when they have to go into a house where a corpse has been lying for several days. Also, breathe through your mouth when you can. That lessens your ability to smell things.

    Good luck!
  14. by   RunnerRN
    If you're cleaning up a cdiff pt, or someone with otherwise "super stinky" excrement, you should be wearing a mask just due to the flying object risk. Chew gum, suck on a mint, use vicks (in a pinch, you can put a drop of mastisol or benzoin on the mask). When you can't use a mask, everyone has given some really good ideas, but you should be able to use a mask in many situations without looking insensitive.

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