It makes me gag...literally

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    I am wondering if anyone has any tips for how I can get over my inability to cope with mucous?? I can deal with about anything...feces doesn't phase me, blood doesn't make me bat an eye, large gaping wounds, no problem. But anything slimy shows it's face and I'm turning away, fighting a gag response.

    This week we did our first rotation in a facility for profoundly mentally handicapped individuals. Several have permanent trachs, and have very gunky airways that need frequent suctioning. Our instructor was showing us how the facility prefers it to be done, and when he removed the outer covering of the cannula, secretions flowed out freely all over her clothing protector...even he was gagging and admitted he has a problem with things like that (I felt a little better at that point because he's done this for years. He started as a CNA, moved to an LPN, and on to an RN.) I couldn't even look and I heaved several times. The second patient wasn't as bad and I was able to stand closely and watch, and not feel like herking, but still made me feel not-so-nice. My husband is an RN and he tells me I'll get used to it, but frankly I have always had a weak stomach for mucous/goobers and I am not sure I will. I'm worried and scared to death I will try to do suctioning next week and lose it. I think my instructor would understand since he was heaving too but I really want to be able to do this with no problems. Any pointers, suggestions, moral support...?
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    Eh. Everybody has something. Sadly you can't avoid the "something" when you're a student. What works for me is breathing through my mouth. Before I even go in the room, until everything is in the trash, pt clean and comfy, and me out the door with clean hands. Then I can resume normal breathing. Hopefully you won't encounter it too much? Or maybe you have another student who's interested in respiratory and they could do a greater share of the suctioning? GL, most people have this experience, don't feel bad or get down about it! Oh, and don't eat before you go until you get a workable system.
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    I can handle anything too but Trachs make me LOSE MY MIND. *gag* Just put your brave face on and mentally check out for awhile. I kind of go on autopilot. LOL!!
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    I am with you and there are nurses I know that have certain things they can't stand! LOL
    So you are normal but you still have to get through it. You can do it!
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    Thanks all!!! Usually I have the bad habit of not eating before clinical, and it's never effected me negatively. I was so glad I had an empty stomach that day because if I had anything in there I think it would have come back for a visit; now I will be *sure* not to eat before that particular clinical.

    I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one. I seriously don't know how respiratory therapists do what they do! They must have stomachs of iron.
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    Mucus is the one thing I can't stand either. If I have to suction a trach, one of the ways I do it, is to stand on my left toes with my right foot. For some reason, it keeps my gag reflex down. But, you have to do it hard to where your toes really hurt. I bet that has something to do with the Gate Theory of Pain.

    Also, I always put a mask on. If the toes just aren't cutting it, I will bite my tongue to stop from making a face and the mask hides me biting my tongue so the client won't see it.

    Hope this helps!
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    Quote from anonymousstudent
    Eh. Everybody has something. Sadly you can't avoid the "something" when you're a student. What works for me is breathing through my mouth. Before I even go in the room, until everything is in the trash, pt clean and comfy, and me out the door with clean hands. Then I can resume normal breathing. Hopefully you won't encounter it too much? Or maybe you have another student who's interested in respiratory and they could do a greater share of the suctioning? GL, most people have this experience, don't feel bad or get down about it! Oh, and don't eat before you go until you get a workable system.
    yuck, i would feel like i am tasting all the bad smells. haha
  10. 0
    Quote from CBsMommy
    Mucus is the one thing I can't stand either. If I have to suction a trach, one of the ways I do it, is to stand on my left toes with my right foot. For some reason, it keeps my gag reflex down. But, you have to do it hard to where your toes really hurt. I bet that has something to do with the Gate Theory of Pain.

    Also, I always put a mask on. If the toes just aren't cutting it, I will bite my tongue to stop from making a face and the mask hides me biting my tongue so the client won't see it.

    Hope this helps!
    Thank you so much for the ideas! I'll try the toe trick next week and let you all know how it goes.
  11. 1
    OMG join the club!
    ill
    When I first went to nursing school for my LPN I was assigned to a respiratory floor at a VA hospital. Picture many older vets with vents, trachs, smoking through their trachs, the works!

    I had to get a sputum specimen from a patient....I went in the room, explained why I was there & what we needed the specimen for. The man said no problem & began to cough up a hocker very loudly & deeply.

    Now I've always known I've had a problem with people coughing up phlegm, spitting, etc. I managed NOT to throw up or gag, watch him spit up the biggest (in my eyes 33 years ago) green loogie I had ever seen into the cup. I capped it, walked out the door, handed it to my instructor who said "good job" & vomited in the nearest garbage can!

    I've been a nurse for over 30 years now (the last 14 as an RN) and I still cringe when I have to suction someone but as I get older I just put myself in the mindset it's in the best interest of the patient. I still have problems with sputum & suctioning but I just go "to another place", do my job quickly, correctly & painlessly & get the heck outta the room!

    Good luck....hopefully you won't have to do it too often!
    Hospice Nurse LPN likes this.
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    If it's the smell, I learned when I was a paramedic to use benzoin or another strong menthol ointment either rubbed under the nose (VERY small amount) or on the inside of my mask.

    I am lucky to have a VERY strong stomach, but some smells (certain vomitus) will send me gagging.


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