Am I Cut Out for This Nursing Thing?

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by Caitanya Min, ‘13

December 2011: Raw Wounds

I recently made a visit to see an alumnus nurse who invited me to help her with a wound dressing. I initially looked at the wound and felt nothing. But let’s just say that that wound was … Wow.

Caitanya Min

Nursing student Caitanya Min is learning to cope with the “blood and guts” of her new profession. Do you have advice for her? Leave a comment on her blog at www.nursing.jhu.edu/Caitanya.

Before I knew it, nausea overwhelmed me, my stomach turned queasy, and I felt lightheaded, with objects in my vision becoming hazy. I was hot and couldn’t stop breaking out in a cold sweat. I wanted desperately to make the sick feeling go away, but it just escalated, so I excused myself to go to the toilet.

Thank God it was a single person bathroom! Suffice it to say, vomiting helped a ton with the nausea. But not without thorough embarrassment on my part, thank you very much.

I asked myself: Should I be rethinking this nursing thing? If I can’t even handle the sight of huge wounds that look like raw ground meat, what hope is there for me??

September 2012: Trach Terror

After last winter’s wound cleaning incident, I was able to laugh at myself. But today during clinicals, it wasn’t so funny anymore.

I was watching a patient get his tracheotomy tube removed. I’m not sure when or why the tides turned, but suddenly, that feeling of queasiness in the stomach, the cold/hot tingling in my body, and the sparkly objects in my vision crept up on me. My head was throbbing, and I felt like I could have thrown up again.

This time around, I admit I feel some shame over this experience, especially since I’ve been through it before.

I did some searching online and apparently plenty of nursing students—and medical students—have become faint while watching something that did not agree with them. Does this make me feel better? I guess so. However, my ego is screaming, “You wimp! It’s not like his brains were spilling out all over the place!” If only my body could listen and understand this “logic.”

A Prayer to The Nursing Gods

Please, nursing gods, deliver me stamina and a stronger will! Help me to toughen my skin so that the sight (and smell) of pendulous body parts and open and weeping wounds will no longer move my stomach to want to send forth projectile emesis! I believe I can get through this, for sure! It is doable. I’m not the first nursing student to go through this, and I won’t be the last. If you have any special tips for me, I’d welcome your comments on my blog at www.nursing.jhu.edu/Caitanya.

Thanks, and wish me luck!

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