The Extent That You Will Go for Your Patient

I was standing next to his bed, telling him a joke and he got majorly, majorly tickled and started laughing really, really hard...and blew a hacker (coughed up a huge phlegm wad) right on my bangs! Nurses Announcements Archive Article

The Extent That You Will Go for Your Patient

Ok, so picture this. Brand new nurse, in the 1970's, in her little white uniform with her long hair severely pulled back into a bun in order to bobby pin her white cap with one black stripe in place. And of course, there is a caduceus stick pin at the tip of each side of the cap to hold that stripe in place. She feels confident.

After all, she made Nationals on her boards (an obsolete term now!) and proven everyone wrong that you could score an 8% or a 36% on your NLNs and still highly succeed!

She walks into the room of her very first patient, leaving behind a little hick town in Pennsylvania and venturing to the dazzling hospital lights of Duke University Hospital in North Carolina. "Hi, my name is Shelley and I'll be your nurrrr...." as my very first patient decides at that very moment to have a carotid blowout.

Blood is spurting from his fresh trach tube but all I can see is the fear in his eyes. Thank the good Lord for adrenaline and a big mouth. My hands flew, first to the right side of his neck to apply pressure and the other to that big, fat, red emergency call bell as I calmly told my patient that he was going to be fine and then screaming for HELP.

All in all, it was a good experience. The floor was known for these emergencies and was there for my patient and me in a heartbeat. It gave me confidence in the place I had chosen to start my career and it also gave me a close friend for the next 9 months of my life. My first patient, 'Jack' (not his real name).

Jack had multiple, multiple cancers and had actually donated his 40-year-old body to science for experimentation prior to dying of one of these cancers. His contribution to the world. He was willing to undergo surgeries as well as chemo clinical trials in order to hopefully help just one person in the future.

When I worked, I always had Jack. He knew lots about me and I knew lots about him. He loved the taste of coffee more than anything and couldn't wait for his upcoming surgery to hopefully reconstruct his cancerous esophagus. (It had been 6 months since he had had anything to eat or drink at all.)

He hated the non-fitted bottom hospital sheet. I loved my mom's lasagna and hated phlegm, which of course was a hoot to him because as previously mentioned he had a trach. I lost little time in switching on the instruction mode and taught him and his wife the correct suctioning technique. The thing we had in common was a great sense of humor.

The long awaited day arrived. Jack was recovering nicely from his esophageal reconstruction and today he was going to have his first cup of coffee! We were both joking around as we were passing the time for his wife to bring in a thermos of her coffee.

Oh, please, hospital coffee on such an auspicious occasion? I think not!

And then it happened...

I was standing next to his bed, telling him a joke and he got majorly, majorly tickled and started laughing really, really hard...and blew a hacker (coughed up a huge phlegm wad) right on my bangs!

He was laughing hilariously and I was freaking out with just as much emotion. And of course, we all know what happened then...

Grand Rounds shows up!

The whole group thinks Jack is having a seizure and the whole group also thinks I am an incompetent nurse not knowing what to do. They all started ordering Valium for each of us, assistance for Jack, a paper bag for me to deep breathe into. But rather quickly I resumed control of the room and explained we were both enjoying a well-deserved laugh and actually received a hearty "Ha-ha" from the Chief of General Surgery.

A little later Jack savored each sip of his fresh brewed coffee with his wife by his side and me staying a decent distance away, just in case.

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Specializes in ER.

That is SO GROSS!


I would have thrown up on him- THINK THAT'S FUNNY, HUH??? (BWaaaarghhhh!!)

Ok, now I can see that it's funny- but it's still gross too. Ugh.

God bless you for being in nursing almost 40 years and still remembering a favorite patient. I'm sure you were a huge part of his (and many other patient's) recovery.

Sounds like you went through a lot of uniforms though!

Great, great, story.... thanks for sharing.

Wonderful story, thanks for sharing.

Truley a funny story:yeah:

Specializes in Nephrology, Medicine, Geriatrics.

A great story! Had lots of laugh after reading...lolz! =)

Specializes in Neuroscience ICU.

Love it, been there and done that!!!

Keep us the good work!!!

Specializes in Med/Surg/Geriatrics/Oncology/Tele etc...

That is an awesome story. Kudos to you for being able to gain control of yourself. I know many friends that have the same problem with suctioning etc..:yeah:

Wow, thanks for that awesome nursing story!


what a wonderful experience to share. I really enjoyed that. thanks. I've been so discouraged lately. I have a couple of cancerous tumors growing near my spine. I'm not doing too much. I guess I'm experiencing a "depression" and I've started loosing faith in humanity all together.

Your story was very inspiring and helpful to me. Thanks again. I needed that.

It is gross. Once on a med surg unit, I was standing next to my patient. He quickly out of the blue grabbed my hand and threw up in it...yes that is what he did. I was SO grossed out I twirled around to the sink and threw up myself. I was a nurses aid at the time. Another time as a nurses aid I was standing at the foot of the bed of a patient injured in a motorcycle accident. He had a trach and you guessed it...He coughed and out came a HUGE wad and it went right into my eye. I ran into the bathroom washing out my eye. OMG...I hate nursing..hahaha....I am now in psychiatric nursing OUT of the hospital setting. Thank God I survived.