Nurses grossed out by spit/mucus

  1. I'm starting this thread in hopes that I will read of some techniques to help me overcome my aversion to mucus. I can deal with foul BMs, emptying JPs and NG tube containers, draining clotty purulent foley bags, etc. but I have the darndest time keeping my cookies when it comes to snot! I was once helping a bilat AKA wipe his behind after the most awful case of smelly taffy doo-doo and had no problem until he asked me to dab at the clear snot dripping from his nose. I almost puked while doing so. What is wrong with me?

    The usual Vicks/peppermint oil/other scent under the nose won't work here, because mucus (usually!) has no odor.

    The last two semesters of clinical rotations, I have specifically asked to be assigned to a trach client just so I can force myself to have to deal with this. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) there have been no patients suitable for me at the facilities I've been at. I am approaching my last semester starting the end of August, and then hopefully I will be off to med-surg. I know at some point I am going to have to deal with this.

    Is there hope for me? Does anyone have ANY suggestions?
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  2. 86 Comments

  3. by   angel337
    i could have written your post word for word. i was the EXACT same way in school. i still hate mucus but the best way i deal with it is to just expose myself to it. i can suction people, but if someone else does it and i am present, i get grossed out by it. don't know why. i didn't take a job in the ICU because i did not want to suction all the time. now that i am a nurse, i am 70% better, because it is part of nursing care for alot of people and you have to do it at one point or another. the funny thing about all of this is that i am not squeamish toward anything else. but nothing bothers me more than snot. i don't really have any advice to give other than just give yourself time. it will pass. every nurse has something that grosses them out in one way or another. just keep in mind that you are doing everything in your power to take care of the patient effectively and safely and that should help you through it. good luck!
  4. by   pie123
    I also HATE suctioning/mucous and dry skin that flakes off!
    Last edit by pie123 on Oct 15, '04
  5. by   DG5
    Gosh its nice to know there are others in the same boat. I can't handle mucus at all. In nursing school (way WAY back!) we had spatoons at every bedside that we had to empty and clean and I still have nightmares about that. I also worked in an ENT unit and actually doing the suctioning didn't bother me either - but watching it was gross! Weird!! I've secretly thought that was just me! I don't think there is anything out there to help you deal with it. I hold the kidney dish, basin or whatever for them and pretend I am looking but I have to look up or sideways or something. The sound of it freaks me out too. I also can't swallow my own spit for a while afterwards. What to do???
  6. by   jnette
    Ick.

    The sight of mucous or "snot" doesn't bother me nearly as much as the SOUND of it. I could never work respiratory. *blech*

    Can't stand the frothy, gurgly sounds.
  7. by   Farkinott
    'snot funny at all is it?
  8. by   LouisianaNurse2006
    Yep, "spit and snot" is my "thing", also.
    yuck!
  9. by   Darlene K.
    Boogers and mucus make me want to puke too. I do have to suction trach patients, so I just make sure that I don't let that "stuff pile up". I go ahead and suction so that it doesn't get to the point that that goober is the size of a golf ball. You will quickly learn, when you hear that *noise* of the trach pt bringing up their mucus , to get the hell out of the way (RUN)! EWWWWE, I feel sick now.
  10. by   missmercy
    Quote from pie123
    I also HATE suctioning/mucous!!! I have to work really hard to make sure my facial expression does not show what I am thinking when dealing with it. I also hate the dry skin that flakes off. Once, I was helping someone change a patient who was on bedrest. I said to her, "Just please don't fan the covers because the dried flaky skin will sick me out." She agreed not to, and went on to tell me that dried flaky skin doesn't bother her, but mucous does. Well, as I was kneeling down near the bedrail, she gave the bed covers a good shake--RIGHT IN MY FACE!! I was paranoid that it was in my mouth!
    OK, so what kind of warped person were you working with? :angryfire Her actions were unexcusable! I would have felt like working up a good slobbery flegm wad and yakked it into her hair!! ( how professional is that?! ) Some people!!! EEEEEW!
  11. by   Gator,SN
    The first few weeks in the unit, I thought I'd never get through it, suctioning vent patients and all those secretions! (barf!) for me it was not looking at it that made me sick, it was the sound of it, although at times it was both. One of the RT's got a cup of water and made me use the yankaur to practice with, pretty soon it didn't bother me as much. Without this I'd still be gagging everytime. Maybe this would help you too????

    The bad news is, now I've gotten over suctioning and moved on to total nausea over cleaning food filled dentures........ :imbar :stone
  12. by   missmercy
    The bad news is, now I've gotten over suctioning and moved on to total nausea over cleaning food filled dentures........ :imbar :stone[/QUOTE]
    Gotta wonder -- does God give us things we're grossed about to keep us humble? Or what! I know what you mean -- seems like I just get myself over one hurdle -- and promptly find a new on!! Guess it just goes to show that we're human!!
  13. by   InTheBlood
    This is an interesting topic. You know I conducted a little informal poll in my unit, and I'm not sure of the reliability. It seems that females GENERALLY dislike sputum/suctioning/etc. more than males and that males GENERALLY dislike cleaning s..t more than females do. Just an interesting tidbit from within my unit. Nothing really bothers me anymore. I'm famous for saying, "I would wipe someone's *** with one hand while eating a sandwich with the other".
  14. by   nurseygrrl
    I am not a fan of mucous either. Mucous and vomit I try to avoid at all costs. If I have to deal with either, I wear a mask...it seems that helps me somehow, but I've never gotten over the 'ick' feeling when it comes to those two things.

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