Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Double Yuck!

DON'T read this if you get queasy easily. Really. You've been warned.

I've said it before, but it's worth saying again: I was never, ever going to be a nurse. It's my family profession, pretty much, and I was NOT going to do it. I used to become lightheaded from looking at hypodermic needles, once fainted at the sight of blood, and could not tolerate the least of bad smells.

Then I had pets. And kids. And every bodily fluid that could be spilled on me, eventually was. Silly me, I thought I was inured to disgusting stuff, so when I realized how much a nursing degree would benefit me, I dived right in.

I was SO wrong. During nursing school, I'd occasionally encounter something that would make me vomit (this did NOT thrill my patients) and once passed out during a surgical procedure that involved cauterization (between the sizzling sound and the smell, I just couldn't take it).

So I learned that there were certain things I couldn't look at, and certain things that I should avoid smelling if at all possible (a little Vick's VapoRub right under the nose works wonders).

This week, I encountered one of those smells, and I don't think Vick's would have helped, even if I'd had any.

I'm doing a study which requires fecal samples. Now, in general, I can send a kit home with my patient, and the patient will collect the sample and send it in. And I figured I'd never have to collect one, because really: who poops on command?

Evidently, at least one person in the world CAN and DID.

The disorder I am studying often makes for fatty, oily stools which have (to say the least) an intense stench. And this particular person was far more intense than most, so that the entire clinic seemed to choke on the fog of fumes issuing from the bathroom. With my eyes tearing from the noisome smell, gagging and retching furiously, I dashed in and collected what I needed and then flushed the rest.

Of course, EVERYONE in the clinic could hear me gag (and some of them were ALSO gagging). When I emerge, triumphant, my sample sealed in its container, the patient's family all look at me and start to laugh.

Patient's dad: "Hey, it could be worse! You should have been on the plane the year we went to Disneyland!"

Patient's mom: "Yes, the smell followed him out of the plane bathroom -- it was so thick you almost thought you could SEE it."

Patient: "Yeah, you could sure tell as soon as it got to the each row of seats! People started gagging!"

Patient's dad: "You should have seen the stewardess run back there!"

All three then laugh and high five each other...I am so glad it's a source of humor, and not a source of shame...and I'm also very glad I was NOT on that plane!

And also this week, my daughter, Alex, called with her own story of supreme yuckiness.

She's taking microbiology this semester, and for one of her labs she had to grow some bacteria at home. So she swabbed one of her dog's ears and put it in the culture medium, and it was growing quite nicely, with lumpy and smelly, yellow, black, green and red fuzzy crud covering a dinner plate.

Yesterday, one of her dogs jumped up on the table and licked the plate clean.

Not only is she avoiding dog kisses until she gets over the ick factor, but she gets to tell her instructor that "The dog ate my homework!"

1 comment:

Adin said...

Well now, that wasn't THAT bad, now was it? You have the most interesting life. I actually have a friend who gets the same way when he see one of our dogs trying to lick one of us! I can appriciate Alex's response. I am sorry you had to endure that. The worse thing like that I ever encountered was when I was stationed in Gitmo. It involved cleaning out (and in this case FAILURE to completely clean out) large conk (sp?) shells we colleced while suba diving. Not plesent! Well, stay modivated!