Dealing with faeces?

  1. Hello everyone!
    This is a question that has probably been asked before, but i still really need an answer (and reassurance.) Yesterday during my clinical, i had the "honour" of participating in my first so called "stool party." which is term we use here for cleaning the patient. I volunteered because during my 4 years of training i have never done one before. The patient had sever diarrhoea and it was EVERYWHERE. it took such a long time to clean because I was gagging so much, even though i was wearing double gloves and a facemask, i nearly threw up four times. I can deal with other bodily fluids no problem, blood, urine, sputum, you name it (except vomit) but i honestly could not stomach the stench and look of that "stool party" It was such a bad experience that I honestly truly thought about giving up on nursing after 4 years of studying. so can anyone give me any tips on how to deal with that? the nurses working there told me that you never get used to it so im kind of scared. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   Extra Pickles
    Poop Happens :-)

    No reason to get worried and think about ditching nursing because of this. NO ONE loves stool, and most have had the Gag Face at one point or another. Some people swear by a dab of menthol ointment under their nares but I find that just makes the poop smell in my nose stick around longer. Popping a mint or gum before putting on a mask helps me. In time, you get used to most of it, but I honestly wouldn't let it make you think about leaving nursing! I hate suctioning. Oral, nasal, trach. HATE it. But it's not like it happens every day every week every month. It just happens sometimes and when it does we go with it!
  4. by   MotoMonkey
    I would say that in some ways you do get used to it. After doing that enough times it just becomes routine and you don't really think about it anymore. Sometimes the smell will still hit you and you may gag, however, you get good at hiding it.
  5. by   Esme12
    It is clear that you are not in the US by your spelling of certain words...LOL Please don't give up on nursing. There are things you can do...you can wear a mack and drip peppermint oil on the inside of the mask. I have used Vicks Vaporub (a product here in the US you might be able to order online) that has eucalyptus in it and apply to the inside of your nose and wear a mask. I have used a spray that is pocket sized called Ozium (another product you might be able to order online) that is helpful. You do develop somewhat of a tolerance to it...but it never really goes away you just have to develop a means to tolerate it better. I also used to spray perfume on my shoulder and turn and bury my nose in my shoulder to help....good Luck!
  6. by   TinyNurse2be
    You'll get used to code browns. Just keep exposing yourself to it, like you chose to and you'll be fine! I believe in you.

    Personally, I'd take a code brown over suctioning a trach to be honest. XD
  7. by   WinterLilac
    15 years in health care and I STILL hate faeces! I agree with other posters about getting used to it. Not so much getting used to the smell and general disgustingness (word?) but being able to suppress the urge to gag and vomit and think of things like a field of daisies, rainbow unicorns or fairies dancing; anything to distract slightly!
    I put a small dab of tea-tree oil onto my mask which helped A LOT! Also, as I'm sure you already do, keep focussed that the person you are helping clean up is most probably mortified and so embarrassed so their dignity comes before everything else. If you are making loud gagging noises or can't control your expression, leave the room for a moment.
  8. by   KindaBack
    You'll get over it.

    Prior to entering nursing school in my 40's, I was about as squeamish as they come. I've gagged while simply trying to scoop up dog poop and a nearly barfed the first couple of times that I changed my baby's diaper.

    Seven years in, though, and it doesn't even phase me. Of course I don't like it but just as I can tolerate other noxious stimuli so I can now tolerate this one. I don't use a mask or things to obscure the odor, I just ignore it.
  9. by   oldpsychnurse
    First you have to learn to spell it. It's "poop" "ca-ca" "code brown" or "oh God." lol You'll get used to it. Believe me. I can't believe you went 4 years before you ran into it. You're going to real used to it, real fast.
  10. by   Horseshoe
    Everyone has their thing that they just cannot tolerate without having the urge to gag. I'm not a fan of poop, but what really used to get my gag reflex going was phlegm. Stringy, slimy phlegm, solid smelly stuff from vented patients (aka "lung butter"), whatever form it takes, it will make me have the urge to hurl.

    One time I was struggling with my new trach patient, trying to get him to cover his trach when he coughed instead of his mouth. I was at the end of the bed when he coughed strongly, covered his mouth, and a huge ball of phlegm flew across the bed and landed right on the corner of my mouth.

    It took a long time to get over that one.

    You've gotten some good suggestions, but you might never conquer this one; at best you just learn how to deal with it without puking.
  11. by   cocoa_puff
    Quote from Horseshoe
    One time I was struggling with my new trach patient, trying to get him to cover his trach when he coughed instead of his mouth. I was at the end of the bed when he coughed strongly, covered his mouth, and a huge ball of phlegm flew across the bed and landed right on the corner of my mouth.
    Ahhhh....I almost gagged!!! Phlegm, especially from trachs, is my weakness....I can handle just about every other body fluid but that!!! ((shudder))

  12. by   NotYourMamasRN
    I think everyone has something that gags them to death. Eventually you will be better able to tolerate it. I threw up in a facemask when I went into a c-diff room once.
  13. by   jtboy29
    I can't think of any one person whether it be a nurse or a nursing student that likes the smell of feces. It doesn't happen often so you're fine. Don't give up nursing because the smell of feces is far beyond your concern. I remember back to my first clinical rotation at a SNF my clinical instructor volunteered me to clean up this patient that had "pooped" and it smelled so bad that I gagged and got all sweaty and even when my classmates wanted to help me out my instructor told them "No, let him do it". The next day, I told my clinical instructor thanks for not letting anyone do it for me because it's a fear that I had to stomach as a nurse. I had two other incidents with feces however; I didn't breathe through my nose or look directly at it. I think if I look at it directly I'll be thinking of it and then it will cause a gag reflex. Point is, you might never get used to it and that's fine because "poop" doesn't happen every single day. It's not like every single patient will come in with severe diarrhea so you're fine. Don't sweat it.
  14. by   Horseshoe
    Quote from jtboy29
    I can't think of any one person whether it be a nurse or a nursing student that likes the smell of feces. It doesn't happen often so you're fine.
    It happens a lot if you work in ICU. People think critical care is exciting and glamorous. Not so much...

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