Nervous about doing "dirty" work - page 2

I"m not in nursing school yet (taking prereqs) but I am very nervous about doing some of the dirtier jobs that nursing requires. Things like cleaning people's privates, puke, poo, etc. I'm not sure... Read More

  1. by   Daytonite
    Puke and poop is ambrosia compared to sputum being hockered out of a trach or ET tube or green, nasty smelling draining coming out of a wound. I saw a patient once who clamped down so hard on his lower lip that his canine teeth bit 1/2 inch slices into his lower lip--it was nasty and got infected. Nothing can match the odor of puke coming from people who have had a bowel obstruction untreated for awhile. It smells like BM. Yuck!
  2. by   Race Mom
    The 1st bed bath I had to give was on a woman in her late 60's. She was slightly overweight but was semi-pleasant. In our group of 3 doing the bath, I was the one who virtually volunteered to do the peri care. I had compassion for this patient (since she was my 1st ever!). She had C-def (C-dif ?) Cant remeber how to spell it, but will never forget the smell! Whoa! It stayed with me all night at my job. She was so raw in her private area and luckily for me, I've had kids. Diaper rash. Instead of just "washing" it, I would squeeze the water from the cloth so that it was "showering" her. It was almost as though I could feel the pain. I was actually pretty sad to know that she was in this condition. I kept reassuring her that I was almost done. I never even noticed it was a vagina. To me, it was just another area that needed to be cleaned, and cleaned right. 3 times she lost her bowels and I never commented or flinched. I just asked one of the other students for a new depends and cleaned her again. After the 3rd, came a 4th. My instructor had just walked in and sadly said "We dont have time for this. Call a CNA in here to clean her up!" Did she not realize that this patient was still alive and did not have a diagnosis of "emotion loss"? I felt bad for her for the way my prof talked. We went back to her room about a half hour later (mind you were talking 30 minutes in a soiled diarrhia depends) and the CNA's were flopping her around like a rag doll and gave her one quick swipe and away they went. Suprised to know that she had a UTI??? All I know is that I did what came naturally to me. I cared for her whole person. It wasnt a vagina or a breast, it was her. She later went to the hospital via ambulance due to the meds that were prescribed that interacted with each other. Just so happens that one of the girls in my group had called the instructor the evening before the event, to let her know of the possible problems with the meds she was being given. Next day we went in, we found out she coded 3 times on the way to the hospital.

    Nursing students can make a difference. You will see. It isnt all about the poop and puke.
    We all poop and occasionally puke. I don't get grossed out when I do it. Thank goodness!!!
  3. by   Mandarella
    Just think of the person as a family member. How would you want them to be treated. Your whole outlook on doing care for the patient changes.

    It's not pleasant but you do it because they are sick and need help. It isn't pleasant for the patient either, I had a woman who was so uncomfortable this weekend with being "cleaned" but she was so weak and sick, I just reassured her that it would go quickly and she would feel a little rejuvinated after we changed her and cleaned her up.

    After all, being 91, incontinant and not being able to care for yourself is a stressful situation. She had cared for people her whole life and now it was her turn, she wasn't used to that.

    Am I over the "dirty" work, not entirely. But I just say if this was my_______, what would I do for them? And then it sends me into care mode.

    Try to get some experience. CNA is good, it will give you a little insight to what is involved. Good luck to you!
  4. by   DhornRN
    Ask yourself if what drives you to be a nurse is bigger than the nasty drawbacks. In time, or so has been my experience, you get used to the dirty work. It's gross, but if you're determined you CAN tolerate the not-so-pleasant aspects of being a nurse.
  5. by   TrickieTam
    I was nervous also when I first started CNA training in high school through the HOSA program. I was at the tender age of 16 going on 17 when I began my clinical rotation at the local hospital. My first patient was to receive a full bed bath while my instructor stood guard. I was so ******* nervous you could see my hand trembling. But my patient was cool, he was an elderly man and the entire time I cleaned his privates he was reading the newspaper as if he was getting a pedicure or something. I eased up after that, I just saw it as bathing myself. But I still have a problem with vomit, can't stand the smell. Been a CNA for nearly 10 years now and still can't stand the smell for the life of me.
  6. by   sunnysideup09
    I have to agree that adult stuff was not what I wanted to do either. I was hired into NICU as a new grad and after 5 years so far, I have accomplished a lot. I do plead with you to make sure you are emotionally ready. We have had alot of new grads that were not emotionally ready to deal with the heartache of seeing an infant die. Also look into your value system and find out how would you deal with ethical issues into the NICU. It's a wonderful area to work and I wouldn't leave it.

    Christine, RNC, BSN
  7. by   leslieanne
    I can handle sputum from a trach, just remember to stay out of firing range when cleaning the cannula. Vomit, urine, personal hygiejne, halitosis can get to me a bit.

    What I really dreaded were MANUAL DISIMPACTIONS !!!!! yuck! I avoided them for the longest time.... but finally the day arrived when I couldn't wiggle out of it. So here is this old lady, straining away on a potty chair, feces hard as clay. She tried for a good while and I'm in the next room listening to her moaning. Finally I couldn't take listening to her in pain like that so I went in and talked to her. And yes, I did end up assissting her. The funny thing, was that I was so concerned about her being in pain that performing the task didn't really bother me.
    So, what did I learn? There are many things in nursing that are unpleasant, but when a person is in pain, it really doesn't matter.
  8. by   Califlower
    There are people who are just cut out to be nurses. And they have this thing inside their hearts, a desire to care and help.

    Think about the worst situation -- cleaning up the poop that's smashed against an old man's wrinkly bottom? Changing a urine-soaked bed sheet? Then think about whose feelings are more at stake here -- you may be disgusted and ready to throw up, but the patient is awfully embarrassed about what just happened, and they are extremely ashamed, and they are grieving over their loss (be it temporary or permanent) of independence and ability to care for their own self.

    I'm not saying I'm the super nurse who isn't turned green by the smell of GI bleed, but when I find myself cringing at the smell or the unpleasant visuals, I think about how embarrassed/uncomfortable/vulnerable this patient is. I also think about them as though they are my mom and grandmother and so on... if my loved one is in the hospital sick, and cannot care for their basic needs, would I really want a nurse who hurls at the sight of their foley bag? And I also think of myself as a patient someday -- let's face it, one of these days, we just might get to that point when we are totally dependent on someone else for our basic needs.
  9. by   Hoosiernurse
    Quote from thrashej
    I think having kids puts you at a huge advantage as far as the "grossies" go. I don't have any so the curve is huge for me. I did my CNA rotations though and it wasn't as bad as I thought. Well, my reaction wasn't as bad, but I have yet to experience what I hear are the grossest of things. That is in about a month!!:chuckle

    I bet it does help. I have three daughters, and one time one of them threw up so much in the hallway that it looked like something out of a horror movie! It was dripping down the walls, and all over the floor, and then about the time I rounded the corner to see all this, she fell down in it. It was at that point I decided that if I could clean up after a 7 year old who was actually covered in puke, I could probably be a nurse.

    But I still think I'll gag at stuff sucked out of lungs..oh, well.

  10. by   elizabells
    I promise promise promise it's not that bad. I was DREADING all of my clinicals involving adults (I'm in the NICU track in my program) precisely because of the "yuck factor". But you it. It's not fun, and I wouldn't say that I have a conscious "this could be my relative" moment where it becomes ok, but it's just not as horrible as it seems like it will be. There will be things that ick you out more than others - some people can't do sputum, or eye related stuff, or puke. None of that stuff makes me bat an eyelash, but make me do mouth care on a trached pt whose mouth has not been cleaned in god only knows how long and I might have to excuse myself, breathe, and come back and finish. But you just do it.

    Bear in mind I haven't encountered C-diff yet. I might be less macho after that :chuckle
  11. by   VivaLasViejas
    It gets easier the more you deal with the 'yuckies'.

    And yes, being a parent does help, because you've already changed diapers and cleaned up after kids who suddenly forget where the toilet is when they start feeling queasy. Although I'd rather change a hundred of my grandson's diapers than a single Attends full of runny, incontinent, Golytely-influenced stool, I deal with both with as much grace and good humor as has to be done, anyway, and isn't that part of what we're paid for?

    As another poster said, each of us does have one or more little 'quirks' that make some things harder to handle than others........mine are dentures and eyes. Give me a GI bleed (well, not really), give me a Stage IV draining ulcer, give me a nasty trach full of Staph any day, but DON'T make me clean food-encrusted false teeth or, Heaven forbid, take out someone's glass eyeball.......EEEEEEEEWWWWWWWW........
  12. by   PeepnBiscuitsRN
    Yup Yup...I work at a day care center and without batting an eye can clean up a little one who had diarrhea. I can stand in front of a mirror and pop a huge green zit and call it "satisfying" but when even my CAT starts retching I turn away and plug my ears...ok I used to, I am getting used to it. But any time a kid would say "my tummy feels icky" I'd get really giddy and nervous, heck...I've only gotten to where I can watch myself vomit! (Not that I do it often). I want to work in a clinic when I am done with LPN school, and I wanna work in Peeds: there WILL be vomit.

    I think back to the last time I had Strep before I got my tonsils out. I was about 11 or so and had been nauseous all day; got to the clinic where this very young woman of a doctor (I think she was still a resident or something) looked me over. It was obvoius I had strep, I had the smell, and the yellow patches, and a fever of 104. So she's giving me a throat culture and- OOPS! That was all it took, and I started retching and she got this deer caught in headlights look on her face and grabbed a little emisis basin, literally THREW IT AT ME and ran out of the room! My dad was really Teed off. So I kinda think of it like that; would I want an MD or Nurse throwing a plastic thing at my kid and running away? HECK NO. How did I feel that day? Embarassed and mad at myself for not controling myself. So yeah, puke makes me squeamish but we gotta grin and bear it. Put yourself in their shoes...of course this is me who has yet to get over it.
  13. by   Roy Fokker
    First time I did it, I could smell the whiff of poop for a week :chuckle

    Now I just call it "the smell of home. Oh Med-Surg, here I come!" :roll