NurseTales, or, How To Ruin A Perfectly Good Dinner Table Conversation

No matter where we work, every nurse has a treasure trove of "war stories" involving the grislier details of surgeries, NG tube insertions, bowel preps and the like. We also tend to lack the filter that holds 'normal' people back from discussing the more gruesome realities of life at inappropriate times. Here are a few ways to ruin a good meal for just about everyone. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

I have a friend who once made her teenage daughter throw up at the dinner table by telling a story about an accidental shooting.

It was quite a night to remember. My family and I were having supper at her house, and over the lasagna she began to tell me about the man who'd been brought into her ER that morning after looking down the barrel of his nail gun to try to find out why it had jammed. You can guess the rest......suffice it to say that he'd had two eyes when he began his day.

It was during the telling of this gruesome but highly entertaining tale that her daughter started looking a little green around the gills, but as the offspring of a nurse, she was undoubtedly used to hearing these things, so we went on with our conversation like nobody else was in the room. Finally, Gwen could take it no more, and with as much politeness as a sixteen-year-old can manage, she said: "Oh, Mother, really.....YUUUURK!!"

I'm just as forgetful about audience-appropriate topics, however, and I gave my own kids plenty of reason to experience the rare and wonderful world of nausea over the years they lived at home. In fact, I could out-gross them any day of the week, and they knew it. How could a story about a kid at school who wiped his nasal effluent on his desk match those I brought home from my job at the hospital, like the one about the confused elderly patient who 'fingerpainted' while sitting up in a geri-chair for lunch?

It got to the point where I actually took pride in grossing out my family. My sister, who lives with us, is a lightweight---she can't even handle broken bones, let alone bodily fluids, as a topic of conversation. My husband, on the other hand, is almost as tough as I am......but even the mere mention of anything related to mucus sends him around the bend.

Then there's my youngest son, who's never gotten used to poop in the four years he's worked as a CNA. Whenever he has to deal with it, he makes this odd, retching noise that can perhaps only be described as what a seal with a hairball would sound like. He doesn't actually vomit, but he comes awfully close sometimes.......and needless to say, this has provided many hours of entertainment for those of us with stronger stomachs.

One night awhile back when we worked on the LTC unit of a mid-sized nursing facility, the resident he was wheeling down to the shower room happened to drop a rather large offering to the poop gods, right smack in the middle of the carpeted hallway. Ben didn't have the foggiest idea of what to do; he couldn't leave the mess in the hall, but he also had a resident in a bath sheet perched on an uncomfortable shower chair who was known to be impulsive, and fell on a regular basis. I told him I'd stay with her while he cleaned up, knowing his vulnerability but wanting to harden him up a little bit so he'd get used to dealing with unpleasant sights and smells.

To his credit, he agreed, and manfully attempted to pick up the soft BM with gloved hands and a biohazard bag nearby. The second he touched it, however, that strange barking, gagging sound began to issue from his mouth: "YAWK! YAWK! YAAAAWK!"

At this point, the other CNAs and I were laughing so hard we could barely stand up; my son continued to try to scrape the offending mess off the carpet, retching; and the resident forgot all about her shower and sat there, clueless as to what was so amusing, but grinning at everyone and yelling "Whatsamatter, boy?!" at my crimson-faced son, over and over again. Finally, I stopped laughing long enough to catch my breath, and told Ben to go take her to the shower and I'd finish "the job"; after all, I'd wiped up plenty of the stuff in my time. (I was tempted to remind him that that included his, but thought better of it. He was already embarrassed enough!)

So when we told this story at dinnertime the following night, we both got a kick out of the expressions of disgust on the faces of our other family members, whose appetites were suddenly diminished. Which meant there was more chicken pesto for US......and thus is the method to our madness. ;)

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

ThatGuy, your story reminds me of my own college years, when we nursing students more or less took over the small downstairs cafeteria. We'd go get burgers and talk about things we'd seen and done in clinicals that week.....often to the dismay of other diners, who soon learned to have lunch elsewhere.

One day when I'd just launched into a discussion about my patient with necrotizing fasciitis---the only case of it I've ever seen---a woman at a nearby table cleared her throat to get our attention. "Excuse me....I'm eating here, you know."

I held up my burger gleefully and said "Well, whaddaya know, so am I!" and went right on with my story, to the delight of my fellow students. Now, many years later and having grown up just a bit more since then, I realize how rude that was; still, the mischievous part of me can't help terrorizing innocent, non-medical family members now and again with tales from the dark side.;)

Specializes in Pediatrics and Med Surf Float.

basically the only place to study in our school was the cafeteria unless you found a spot in the computer lab/library. after the first 3 days of class we got used to it and discussed anything and everything while eating. we would eat during class too with all the gory pictures our prof's had in the PPs

BUT, there are 2 foods I cannot eat anymore thanks so a prof. one is chocolate milkshakes and the other mashed potatoes. any guesses what he was describing? I've gotten over the prof who described hematuria ranging from light pink to fruit punch to cola (billi) but she only mentioned it 1 or 2x. he mentioned it every time he could during that lecture

but eating during war stories? no problem, the gorier the better

Specializes in Neuro ICU and Med Surg.

I have grossed my husband out a few times, with the reminder that "I am eating here."

One night my friends (not nurses) were out to eat and I had enough of them discussing poop (I wanted to finally have a conversation not discussing it) and I told my friends that we would talk later about their poop problems and that people around us were eating.

Specializes in ICU, telemetry, LTAC.

I've managed to gross myself out once over breakfast. A patient died the night before, multisystem organ failure from liver failure, and well... while she was dying her eyeballs bugged out and she had yellow stuff oozing out of them. After work my hubby took me to breakfast, and I ordered eggs in a basket over easy. There I am telling this story and dunking my toast in egg yolk. Not for long, however. I looked down, turned a little green and quit eating, and probably made the other diners happy by stopping the story as well.

Also there was that episode of family guy where the dog ate his own clone that fell apart. I don't remember what I was eating, but it very nearly came up.

Specializes in Cardio-Pulmonary; Med-Surg; Private Duty.

My son is very definitely his mother's child... we can sit and watch those real-life ER shows together while sucking on red popsicles, eating spaghetti, just about anything. That's my boy! :D