They're All Liars. Are They Really?

I was sitting at the nurses' station trying to avoid expending any energy when the Triage nurse came in and interrupted my reverie. “You know, I think this woman is lying to me.” She was actually shocked. I decided to lay some sooth on her. “They’re all liars.” She smiled indulgently at me, knowing I was burnout and hated all living things. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

They're All Liars. Are They Really?

Months later the shine was off her enthusiasm and she was beginning to feel the lure of the dark side. Then she came to me and said: "You know, you were right, they do all lie."

Now that she was ready I could explain. Yes, they all lie. Some lie enthusiastically and creatively and some lie for no reason known to man. They lie when they don't even need to. You reach a point as an ER nurse that you assume a lie until proven different... and you're always right.

Yet, on a very rare occasion, you will be well into some outrageous tale and start to realize this person may be telling you the truth. This story got through my BS meter. Do you think I've been had?

It was late fall in the Florida Panhandle. The nights were cold for us Floridians, the high 30s, low 40s. Daytime was a balmy mid-sixties. The aroma of campfire smoke and overripe menstrual female smacked me in the face when I went into the room for my first meeting with Campfire Girl. She was wearing shorts and a tee shirt. She was covered in dried mud, soot and blood. There was a mosaic of superficial scratches covering her arms legs, and face. Her eyes thousand yards stared at me from her smudged face. Her story would have been suitable for a campfire tale.

She suspected her son of lying to her about his evening plans. She feared that instead of going to choir practice or some such, he was really at a campfire bacchanal somewhere in the piney woods. She decided to catch him in his lie, so she set out in her jacked up pickup truck into the maze of dirt roads that wound through the woods.

Of course, she got lost. Of course, it got dark. When the time came to turn on the headlights, CG had to stop the Jacked Up Monster Truck. You see, she had to connect the wire that powered the headlights directly to the battery because the switch didn't work. Did I mention that CG was a bit on the short side? She couldn't reach the hood latch on Jacked Up Monster Truck. Did I mention that the door handle on the Jacked Up Monster Truck didn't work and you had to reach into the window to open it from the inside? Did I mention that it was getting cool and CG had the window rolled up? How could things get worse, right?

Well, there happens to be a wildly out of control wild hog population in that neck of the woods. Normally wild hogs are extremely shy but they have been known to attack and rarely even kill people. Campfire Girl, being a country girl, knew from wild hogs. And she knew what to do when you're chased by one. Climb a tree. Did I mention that these piney woods were Planted, Piney Woods...Recently Planted Piney Woods. The biggest tree in sight was not much taller than our diminutive CG so she struck out running through the night...leading a mad?.. amorous?.. rabid?.. whatever.. wild hog. I don't know how far she ran, nor does she, but she finally found a tree big enough to climb. Barely. She stayed in the tree slightly out of tusk reach for what seemed like hours with the hog circling and gnashing at the tree. When he finally left she stayed up there interminable more hours, terrified he would return.

When she couldn't hang on anymore she returned to Terra Firma and began walking back to the JUMT. You guessed it. No idea which way to go.

As I'm listening to this story I'm doing my usual prognostication. I'm expecting to hear that she found her way to the bonfire and doesn't remember what happened after that and she might need a morning-after pill. You know how we always like to predict the ulterior motive of the story. But as she continues I'm shocked to the heels. She might not be lying to me.

Now she's wandering lost at night through the RPPW in shorts and tee shivering from the cold and post adrenaline low. What could be worse, right? You guessed it, she stumbled into a mud puddle. Now here's where the truth gut-punched me, and if you doubt there is a God doubt no more. While she's sitting up to her belly button in this frigid pool she finds a mason jar. Sealed inside the jar are a small roll of toilet paper and a book of matches. She spends the remainder of the night diligently feeding her campfire.

In the morning when she finally found a road she hid fearfully in the brush while two trucks passed her by. After that night you really can't blame her for expecting the worst. Finally, she cast her fate in the hands of God and flagged down a hunter. They called 911 and that's how I met Campfire Girl.

burnbabyburn has 15 years experience and works as a ER Nurse, Baby.

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As crazy as it sounds, the exact same thing happened to me.

Oh dear, I will never complain about one of my BAD days again.

People give you as much information about themselves with their lies as they do with the's important to listen and hear what is really being said

Specializes in CAMHS, acute psych,.

I love the way you write - I could see it all happening - in colour. Thx

hahah this is actually amusing! It sucks that everyone lies bc when an honest one comes in there is no way to know. My grandmother's husband recently went to the doctor with a ruptured artery around his shin. I explained that he had bled a whole puddle in the bathtub after his shower and in a bucket after that and all over the place. I was convinced he needed a blood transfusion. Well, they decided i was a liar. ( I saw it coming. i know how pts love to lie because it makes my life so much harder when i go to the doctor) He began to get his lungs filled with water. then his stomach. Sleep apnea. hard time breathing...heart problems...and one genius doctor after I said it so many times did a test on him. He needed a blood transfusion. Now, all the problems that began after that day are gone. She admitted he must have bled a lot. SHUT UP! And still.

Specializes in Med Surge, Tele, Oncology, Wound Care.

Yes it is true, we get lied to many times. Lied to by the addict who wants his morphine, by the lady who said she only had rectal bleeding for a week who now has cancer and it is mets who then said she had been bleeding for several years, the bruised and battered woman who denies being abused....We now become Nurses who assume that patients lie.

Really we need to take the time to listen, and not prejudge. Maybe take the story and become the sleuth investigator that can get to the "bottom" of the story to get the truth for better patient care.

Patients need to trust us, trust that we will help them.

I am glad you shared this story, I am sure telling us some of your prejudgements was not easy, but it was so necessary to show us all that we need to be open and be patient advocates. We are not when we dont believe a patient. It is our right to get the most information possible and advocate for the patient, which is not hard when they lie.

I find that when asking someone for the truth, I tell them that I am there to help and I will not judge them. They seem to open up after that.

Good story :yeah:

Burnbabybaby would be a GREAT writer if he was not just 'retelling' the events that happened to his patient. It must have been a terrifying experience! :roll:

Specializes in CAMHS, acute psych,.
Burnbabybaby would be a GREAT writer if he was not just 'retelling' the events that happened to his patient. It must have been a terrifying experience! :roll:

Are you saying that only fiction writers can be great? He made this story come alive with the WAY he wrote it.

For example: he could have said: "Patients always lie except when they don't and it's hard to tell the difference when you've become cynical. This woman got lost in the woods following her teenager. It was late, it was cold. She got chased by wild hogs; she fell into a pit; she was scared and scraped and bruised. In the end she got rescued."

The way he wrote it is like poetry - you are THERE with that poor woman - and just like in real life you don't know whether to laugh or cry.

BBB - after reading it I spent some time wondering if you are a published writer. I STILL love it after reading it again. You go feller!

Specializes in ER.

I'm very flattered that anyone would think I were a published writer (I'm not). I'm actually trying to learn about blogging and communicating online through forums, FB, MS, etc. I started a blog just to practice and learn how to do it. It was originally to be a flaming heap of mistakes so I could get it right when I got serious. I just started writing down the same stories I've been telling friends and coworkers for years. It's been a hoot. Yes, I do try to write well even though I'm just relating something that really happened. Again, thanks for the feedback. I am humbled.