A little faint after watching surgery...

  1. I was wondering if any of the nurses on this board could give me some insight. I was wondering if anyone has ever felt nauseous or faint after seeing something particularly shocking and if you ever become desensitized.

    Two years ago I shadowed a nurse. I thought I would be following her around in the hospital taking care of patients or something more mild like that... Instead she brought me into the surgery room and I was placed at the head of the table so that I was above the patient's head looking down. It was open heart surgery.

    I was fine for the first hour or two, but then I started to feel a little faint, so the staff let me leave for a little while.

    I wasn't grossed out or anything...I don't know why I felt faint. Maybe it was the mask I had to wear (a little hard to breathe) or that instrument that stops the bleeding and causes that unpleasant odor?

    Anyways, this kinda freaked me out a little, like I wouldn't be able to handle stuff as a nurse. But it was just so shocking, I don't know what happened.

    Do most people have this reaction the first time they see something like this?

    This has been bothering me alot recently. I've asked a few nurses but they all say that this was never a problem for them. I don't know if they just didn't want to admit it, had forgotten, or were being truthfull.
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    About futurern123

    Joined: Feb '05; Posts: 69; Likes: 10


  3. by   EricJRN
    What you experienced is not rare. It sounds like you were thrown into a situation without much warning. You might try going back into a hospital setting as a volunteer for a few shifts and see what happens.
  4. by   RGN1
    I think you did a great job staying in as long as you did. I know of many a med student who passed out in their first surgery, anatomy class etc etc.

    When I was a student nurse I was really worried about my theatre rotation & when I got there I told the staff nurse that I would just stay in recovery but she was having none of that!! Anyway to cut a long story short I ended up loving it & scrubbed up for way more complicated ops than most students. So that proves you really can get over it!

    I do find that I'm way better when I have a part to play though - I'm a rubbish observer & even after 10 years in the profession I still wouldn't go to theatre just to observe.

    Oh & if I ever did have to work in ER or theatres again I would be back to square one as far as getting used to it again goes. I would end up just as faint as you if I were thrown back in with no preparation!!!

    Hope that gives you the confidence to go for it because I think you'll be fine.
  5. by   jbjints
    A doctor friend of mine recommended Vicks Vapor Rub to keep from passing out. I guess you'd smear some right below your nose hehe.
  6. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Being 'thrown' into it is neverr a good idea. Your brain doesn't get a chance to mentally prepare for what's to come.

    Other ways to avoid feeling faint:

    Do not lock your knees while standing.

    Eat a real breakfast beforehand.

    If you feel faint, ask to sit. Or step out of the room.
  7. by   cardiac.cure03
    The same thing happened to me during my first surgery I watched. It was a cesarean....ohhh buddy, when they ripped her stomach and she's moaning b/c of the pressure...that's when I had to step out.

    I'm sure it didn't help either that I hadn't eaten breakfast that morning. Next time you're in observing, make sure to eat! I think what also got to me was the smell of burnt flesh.

    But I have become somewhat de-sensitized to it... I was in for an open heart a month ago and did fine. It's not just you... I'm sure the "first surgery" gets to several people.
  8. by   EMSChild
    It may have been a mixture of everything. The second I put on a surgical mask, I feel light headed. I'm also a knee locker, so standing in one place for awhile leads to problems. Because you were fine for a awhile, it sounds like you may have locked your knees or your blood sugar may have dropped a little. Just my . Everything else should get better with time.
  9. by   Annabelle07
    Don't beat yourself up over it. I have worked in the OR for many years and it happens to the best of us; for a multitude of reasons.
  10. by   yvohow31
    Hi, I am a 2nd year general nursing student and I was asked by a consultant to assist with a lumbar puncture procedure. I was jumping up and down like a looney at the prospect of seeing something new. Having been predominately exposed to community care for 20 years it was the first time I had ever seen something like this, i hadn't even read the theory behind it to prepare myself.

    Well!! As soon as the anaesthetic went in and she began inserting that giant needle I started to feel really sweaty and then got pins and needles in my feet . At this I thought I was at risk of fainting. So I asked the charge nurse if I could be excused and she signalled to me to see if I was ok, but I just shook my head. She then just said calmly, on you go. After I left the ward I went to the nurses station and felt really bad about it. I kept saying to the staff I was a coward, doubting my ability to be a good RGN, after all it wasn't me getting it done . All the staff were really supportive with some saying things like it had happened to them too and that it helps if you know what to expect during the procedure. Part of me at the time wanted to go back and face my fear but by the time I went to the loo and got rid of my bowel contents, the procedure was over.

    I'm not giving up hope, perhaps there are just things that we really cant cope with, but I would also appreciate some quick fix suggestions from others on how to cope with it.
  11. by   CrazierThanYou
    I'm afraid of something like that happening to me. This weekend, my neighbor had a mishap with a skil saw. Yesterday, his daughter emailed me the pics. After the initial shock, I stared at them for a good long time.
  12. by   Nightingale11
    I was supposed to observe in recovery and also got thrown into the OR. The surgery was minor but the pt responded when the surgery started......oh boy. The surgery was finished and I felt "that feeling". I asked to sit down, I blacked out big time. Woke up and was outside with about 6 nurses standing around me, on a stretcher. The surgeon gave me a hard time but they told me it happens ALL the time.....and was glad that I'm little, 4'10.5 and 93 pounds. The nurse and surgeon said that they carried me out. I stole the patient's spotlight.