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Night Nurse: Just Call Me Grace

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Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

I once destroyed a patient room in less than five minutes.

Night Nurse: Just Call Me Grace

I'm not kidding.

Now, I have been blessed with a good many talents, but the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time is not among them. My mother used to say I could trip over smoke. I'd walk over to a window to look outside and knock myself half-senseless when my forehead got there a split second before the rest of me. I once even lost my balance in an outhouse and dropped a five-cell flashlight down the hole during my one and only camping trip with friends. It's probably still down there, lit. That little trick earned me hostile glares for the rest of the weekend, as well as the nickname "Grace".

So, as the reader may well imagine, nursing presents a wide range of pitfalls for those of us who are 'fluffy' and have never quite mastered the art of proprioception.

This particular incident, for which I am still somewhat famous among my former co-workers, occurred during the Summer of 1999 on a sweltering August night. It was the kind of shift every nurse dreads: there was a full moon, and predictably, the ER was getting slammed with the customary assortment of MVAs, assault victims, and the intoxicated. Needless to say, we were running at top speed up on the floors to accommodate the flood of admissions......." running" being the operative term. And that is NEVER good news for someone like me.

About four AM, an aide and I went into room 218 to check on one of our more aggressive detox patients, who---after several generous doses of Vitamin "A"---had finally calmed down and gone to sleep. Not wanting to turn on the light and risk awakening him, I used the moonlight streaming through the window to assess his respirations and check his IV while the aide tidied up the bathroom. Unfortunately, I didn't see the full water pitcher perched on the edge of the bedside table........and when I turned around to leave, my elbow knocked it to the floor. SPLASH!

I should have known that this was only a sign of things to come. I opened a cabinet to look for some towels I could throw down to sop up some of the water while waiting for the aide to get the mop.....only to have dozens of paper drinking cups tumble out onto my head. In the process of playing 52-pickup, I bumped my head on the corner of the open door, which made me see stars and almost sent me sprawling.

Still, my patient snored on and undoubtedly would have continued to do so if I didn't have the bad luck to trip over his catheter tubing while mopping the floor, giving it a good yank---OUCH. I then delivered the coup-de-grace by backing into an enormous flower arrangement, which (naturally) sent it to the linoleum floor with a horrendous crash that woke up not only my patient but everyone on that end of the unit.

For some reason, this disaster struck me funny, and I broke up. I couldn't help myself. I laughed so hard that tears actually squirted out of my eyes. This, of course, was appreciated by no one except for my aide, who was also cackling madly as she helped me sweep up shards of glass and mop up yet another puddle. The next morning I was called into the nursing supervisor's office and sternly reprimanded for being the source of complaints about "all the noise and laughing on night shift". But even though I'm older now and have learned to control those rotten giggles a little better---especially when giving in to them would be inappropriate---I still chuckle at the memory of that night, for I know it could happen again, anytime, anywhere. After all, they don't call me "Grace" for nothing! :wink2:

I'm a Registered Nurse and writer who, in better times, has enjoyed a busy and varied career which includes stints as a Med/Surg floor nurse, a director of nursing, a nurse consultant, and an assistant administrator. And when I'm not working as a nurse, I'm writing about nursing right here at allnurses.com and putting together the chapters for a future book about---what else?---nursing.

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18 Comment(s)

Can I ask you a question? Have you ever stuck you head in the frig looking for something good to eat, then closed the frig door forgetting to first remove you head? If you have, then you have a soul mate here.

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

Yup....and I've eaten finger foods, forgetting to remove my fingers before chomping down too.:imbar

DDRN4me

Specializes in pedi, pedi psych,dd, school ,home health.

thanks for the laugh Marla!! I am certainly glad I am not the only grace-less person out there!!..have you ever got your coat pocket caught on the door handle as you try and make a graceful exit???

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

That's my sister's trick---if she can possibly get something hung up on something, she will. We call it "pulling a Marnie".:chuckle

Love it! I actually laughed out loud! :-)

Funny I can totally relate! I am one that is also not that dexterious. My latest: I washed a patient and tucked her in, met her every need. Then she asked for another blanket and as I opened it, the blanket knocked over a large pitcher of water all over her face and bed! She did not sleep the entire night despite receiving vitamin "A".

Liddle Noodnik

Specializes in Alzheimer's, Geriatrics, Chem. Dep.. Has 30 years experience.

After all, they don't call me "Grace" for nothing! :wink2:

Good story! and one that I could probably match ;) heh heh

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

Funny I can totally relate! I am one that is also not that dexterious. My latest: I washed a patient and tucked her in, met her every need. Then she asked for another blanket and as I opened it, the blanket knocked over a large pitcher of water all over her face and bed! She did not sleep the entire night despite receiving vitamin "A".

HAHAHA!!!!! That's about as bad as me dumping an entire custard right down the front of a patient's gown. Poor lady, she hadn't wanted to 'bother' me for it, but I'd told her I'd be glad to bring her some and fetched it from the fridge. What was funny about it was her response: "Well, now that's what I call bedside service!":D

nightmare, LPN

Specializes in Nursing Home ,Dementia Care,Neurology..

Being large I am not built for small spaces,turning round and side swiping a whole basin of soapy water over myself ,the resident and the carer one morning I can totally relate to this!!

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

Being large I am not built for small spaces,turning round and side swiping a whole basin of soapy water over myself ,the resident and the carer one morning I can totally relate to this!!

That's my problem too---although I must admit I was a klutz even when I weighed 120 pounds dripping wet. Being bigger than the average bear just makes things that much worse.........one time when I was about eight months pregnant with my third, I knocked a skillet full of hamburger off the stove with my stomach!!:eek:

When my mom was pregnant with me, she kept closing the refrigerator door on her stomach.

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

I also bounced off a counter at the post office about 2 weeks before I had my 10-lb-9-oz son. I was dashing in to mail a package and hit that counter so hard I literally rebounded several feet. I was more than a little embarrassed by that one:imbar

You brought happy tears to my eyes, Marla. The whole story is so visual I could almost see the stars circling your aching head--just like in the cartoons. Wile E. Coyote would be so proud of you.

Hey, with your job concerns, maybe you should see if Acme needs an occupational nurse.

What a great article!

emeraldjay

Has 6 years experience.

Thanks for the story, it reminds me of when I was a new CNA and giving one of my first AM cares on my own without my mentor. I wasn't paying much attention to where on the bedside table I put the bath bucket, sure enough as I'm finishing up dressing the lady, the bath bucket slides and lands on my back.

My other story is of the day I was giving an AM care on the toilet as is the routine. Now I'm used to there being a wall rather than a door in front of the toilet but this bathroom was designed different. Since I'm a little claustrophobic I left the door open a crack for my own sanity. I squat down to put on this lady's shoes and whoop right out the door I went, flat on my back and shoe in hand. Resident and I had a hearty laugh over that.

According to my mom, my "grace" dates back clear to the day I was born. To hear her explain it, I tried to crawl out and got myself stuck with an arm and my head outside and the rest of me stuck inside requiring the doc to use the forceps to get me righted around to come the rest of the way out.

Grace Oz

Specializes in Med/Surg/Ortho/HH/Radiology-Now Retired.

*PHEW!* For a minute there ................. I thought you were talking 'bout ME!!! LOL

GREAT descriptive writing, Marla. I really enjoyed reading your article and got a good giggle! THANKS! :)

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

Another way klutz Marla shows people she's a klutz:

Today I was in the dining room at my assisted living facility, helping serve out lunch since we were shorthanded (again). I had an entire tray of salads in my hand when I tripped over someone's walker. CRASH!! went the salad plates, right in the middle of the dining room. Suddenly you could've heard snow falling in there, it got so quiet........everyone, even the residents, were silently staring at me. Well, what else could I do but start laughing, like I always do when I'm embarrassed?

Of course, that broke the tension, and thankfully I was soon relieved of my duties by the chef, who was cracking up as he helped me pick up the shattered china.....Oh well, chalk up another one for the nurse formerly known as the Nocturnal Stumblebutt!

serjohn

Specializes in Pall, rehab.

Oh you sound sooo much like me! I can't do a patients dinner without spilling something... My NUM has since learned to NOT let me feed anyone! I cop the fun of explaining to the cranky and confused patients why they are not allowed to eat before surgery.

Sorry to hijack the thread, but just HAVE to relay this ...interesting... incident. I was looking after an ileostomy pt for a few weeks, and had developed a bit of a rapport with him. I was always very VERY careful with the bowl I emptied his bag into, given my clumsiness. There is a reason my family refers to me as "Sprawlfoot"... but on this one day, I was not paying attention. Or, more like I was paying more attention to the dirty joke I was being told. I had placed the bowl on a bluey on the table, and I was removing the other bits and pieces (kleenex etc) from the bed. Well, I dropped the bluey that was under the stoma pouch, and bent down to grab it. While I was down there I noticed some needle caps and things that had been dropped my the doctor who had been in earlier, and spun around to pick them up. My head was now under the table with the poo bowl on it. Can you see where this is headed? Yep, you guessed it! I stood up and clanged my head on the table, sending the contents of his ileostomy pouch for nearly 24 hours spilling down my back and neck. I just stood there, mouth agape, while he sat in bed absolutely cacking himself. The NUM came down to see what the ruckuss was all about, and saw me standing in the middle of the room dripping in poo! Well, a mix of horror, fascination, amusement and absolute "what-the?" crossed her face all at once, and she bellowed for a camera! That was 2 years ago, and there is still a photo of me covered in poo in the nurses station. I still blame the doctor, and my Husband refused to share a bed with me for a week!