Embarassing question to all experienced nurses.

  1. Ok.......don't laugh but I do have a question. I am starting nursing school in April. This has been a life long dream of mine. My question is how do you deal with patients when they have accidents. ( ya know bowel movements). I know.....Geeeez. I am thinking to myself how am I going to deal with this. I can handle blood and pretty much everything but this I am not sure....Did anybody else feel this way. Just thinking of it....makes me.....well you know....
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    About micknmel

    Joined: Feb '01; Posts: 10


  3. by   Lynn Casey RN
    Hi Micknmel!Congrats on acting on your lifelong dream!You will definitely be an assett to our profession because you want to be there!Anyways,some encouragement here...the day I started nursing school I couldn't change a baby!The day before I started I had to call my mother crying to come change the baby I was watching.I tried the cartoon clothespin on the nose...that's very painful don't do it!LOL!Anyways,my first bedpan in clinical near killed me!I wretched but my fear of humiliation won out and I maintained control!You gain a tolerance.Remember gloves can work miracles as far as denial is concerned!LOL!I was off of work years later R/T a car accident.The first thing I noticed when I returned was my tolerance was gone and I had to build up from scratch!As you learn to deal with sick people your empathy and concern for their integrity takes over and you forget your intolerance as you struggle to make the patient comfortable.Now my mother chuckles about that fateful day vs my conversations about body fluids over dinner.I made a patient laugh hysterically once when they had an accident...I said"hey consider it a deposit on my visa!That's what I am here for!"LOL!(This was a patient I had a great rapport with for a long time)Anyways,don't worry it comes with time!Good Luck!
  4. by   fergus51
    This is binging me back to my student days! You will get over it, everyone does and when you are an RN there are many areas where you won't have to clean up BMs often if it really bothers you. I think every one gets over it because they saturate us with it in first year. My student friends gave me the nickname of "BMQUEEN" because I cleaned it up every day in clinical in first year.

    What helped me was remembering that though I may be struggling it is much worse for the person who has soiled themselves and I should be as matter of fact as possible for their sake. Put yourself in their position and you may stop thinking about the "gross out factor". Oh... and chew strong mints, it gets rid of the smell.
  5. by   hollykate
    That is a good question. When I first started as a CNA on a floor where pts were concious, I worried about that. Then when it happened- and it will (again and again...) the patients were sooo mortified and embarassed (most of them) That I found I concentrated on relieving that embarassment- and didn't worry as much about the smell, etc- Of course, there are those moments- and I still have them... now it helps that my patients aren't usually concious...
  6. by   2ndCareerRN
    Congratulations on following your dream.

    Now as to the subject at hand, after more years than I care to admit in the field I still occasionalyy have to do a three can dressing change. One can for removed dressings and debridement/cleansing materials, one can for "clean trash", and one can for personal use. Thankfully these types of wounds are far and few between, and the patient is normally sedated with diprivan so my uneasiness is not noticed by the patient. The point is, there will be some things that you may have trouble getting through, but as time goes on you will become more able to deal with them.


    We live in an age that if you order a pizza delivered to your house and call 911 at the same time to report a life or death situation....my money is on the pizza arriving first! Learn to protect yourself, become a wolf among the sheep!
  7. by   Stargazer
    There is an old and really disgusting joke (don't say you weren't warned!!)that a respiratory therapy friend told me that applies to this very subject. Ready? There was once a group of college students who couldn't decide whether they wanted to be respiratory therapists or nurses. So they were placed waist-deep in poo and then had sputum hurled at them. The future RN's were the ones who ducked. [*prepares to be flamed*]

    The point is, everyone is sensitive to different things. I knew a nurse once who reflexively threw up in a patient's trashcan immediately after suctioning his trach. (The patient was so embarassed that she lied and told him she was pregnant and it was just morning sickness!)I, personally, would rather deal with almost anything besides emesis. Learn to breathe through your mouth and time your meal breaks carefully. I find that wearing a mask with a little stick deoderant smeared on the outside helps quite a bit. You DO get somewhat desensitized after a while. Good luck!

    Edited because "norning" isn't a word.

    [This message has been edited by Stargazer (edited March 12, 2001).]
  8. by   RachelUK
    Take a deep breath...don those gloves...and just clean it up baby!!! I must admit there are nicer things that you could be doing, but your friends and family will soon give up asking..."so what did you do at work today dear?" And anyway.. if it makes you feel any better about it, just wait until you have to clean up sputum or clean those false teeth,mmmm!
  9. by   toronto rn
    Haven't we all had great experiences with code brown's. When I was a nursing student living with 2 other nurses, there was rarely a meal that didn't involve discussions pertaining to bodily functions. We always tried to outgross each other with our experiences, as a result we built up a tolerance for the distaste of the situation and eventually were able to deal with any incontinent patient with compassion.
    l still have times when especially messy or smelly accidents overwhelm me, in which case I advise to share the wealth. Have a co-worker assist you, The clean up will go much quicker and the smell will then dissipate faster.

  10. by   Mijourney
    Hi micknmel. Uh, you may want to bring your antiemetics to school as back up if they don't make you drowsy. You can consider bringing a can of lysol, but you have to be tactful about when and where you use it.

    You can handle blood?! Heck, you sound like a good candidate for surgery, ER, or a specialty ICU.

    Welcome to nursing. Oh, and do be careful about the projectile accidents. Make sure that when you aim, you're out of the line of fire. Best wishes.
  11. by   micknmel
    LMAO! You guys crack me up...Thanks for all the replies...I really enjoyed them.. Can't wait to tell you guys about my experiences in clinical...Are do you really want to know? Again, thanks.
  12. by   adellisrn
    You are not the only one who has this problem... some of my freinds would keep a baggy of drier sheets in thier bags, and in the Am before doing morning care, would put a sheeet on her shoulder (under her bra strap) and when teh smell was over whelming she would just turn her head to the side and smell the sweet smell of bounce or downey

    Hope that helps
    PS my thing was teeth..I COULD not remove, replace or brush ANYONES teeth..
  13. by   Jenny P
    After so many years of working, I still can't handle it when a patient vomits! I warn them to give me enough warning if they are nauseated so I can medicate them before they upchuck; because once they puke, so will I! LOL!!
    As for the code browns, the worst shift in my life was when a GI bleed was having projectile eruptions from both ends; and I got hit (this was back in the days of white uniforms and starched caps-- the whole uniform was done for); then while getting my other patient up in a chair, he had a huge formed stool-- right on the toe of my co-workers' brand new shoes! What else can you do but laugh; because otherwise you cry!
    Neither patient wanted to have these things happen, and although you may be totally grossed out, the patient feels worse if they are the least bit lucid. Humor and laughter can relieve the tension as long as you are not laughing at the patient and the patient knows it. Sometimes the situation needs some properly directed humor in order for everyone to survive it.
  14. by   Jay-Jay
    Hey, it's part of nursing! Luckily, I don't have a hard time with poop or pee, I've cleaned up after too many pets. Vomit is another story, however, though the closest I've come to losing my lunch has been with really grossly infected wounds.

    A story from my student days...One afternoon, I heard my preceptor called for help over on the other side of the ward. I ran over, to find everyone staring at this patient who was crawling down the hall on hands and knees. He had a bad intestinal bug, and had been in isolation, in restraints (posey). Somehow, he had wiggled out of the restraints AND his gown, torn out his I.V., and crawled out into the hallway. Not only was he stark naked, he was completely COVERED in excrement! My preceptor yelled for me to grab a gown. I did so, and tossed it over the patient, who immediately ripped it off, and continued on down the hall.

    My preceptor hollered again at me, "No, not the patient, silly, get ME a gown, to cover my uniform, and get one for yourself!!

    We both covered our uniforms, and we tried to get the patient back into the room. He did not want to go, and kept breaking away from us. Worst of all, we got the giggles, and couldn't stop laughing!! If this had happened on the night shift it would have been okay, but it was daytime, and there were visitors watching, one of whom reported us for being insensitive. Heck, the patient didn't mind! He was so confused, he hadn't a clue what was going on. As a matter of fact, I remember him grinning as he was crawling down the hall. It was only when we tried to spoil his escape that he got annoyed with us.

    Eventually, with four nurses helping, we got him back into the room and shoved him into the shower. I got the job of showering him, and again, he was not co-operative, and kept trying to leave the shower before the job was done. By the time he was cleaned up and back in bed, my uniform was a write-off. I had to go to Emerge and borrow a scrub dress to wear for the rest of my shift.

    I had one student in my clinical in first year who began to gag the first time we had to change and adult diaper with a code brown in it. She got used to it eventually, and did really well in the course. So, don't despair, it's something we all have to deal with!

    Best of luck to you!