“Um … am I cut out for this nursing thing?”

So for the sake of trying to apply some HIPAA action here, I’m going to be extremely nondescript about a visit I made to see an alumnus nurse who showed me a patient wound that really made my stomach twist and turn.

Without getting into details, the nurse invited me to help her with a wound dressing. I jumped at the offer enthusiastically.  Standard routine procedure, whoopee: Intro to patient, assessing, etc. I initially looked at the wound and felt nothing. But let’s just say that that wound was … Wow. Before I knew it, nausea overwhelmed me, my stomach turned queasy, and I felt lightheaded, with objects in my vision becoming hazy. I asked to sit down, and from my chair I passed the nurse wound dressings. I wanted desperately to make the sick feeling go away, but it just escalated. After some more time passed, I excused myself to go to the toilet.

I’m surprised I made it. Thank God it was a single person bathroom. I wanted desperately to lay on the floor, but instead I crotched down on my knees, bending forward, clutching my stomach, trying to maintain composure.

I was hot and couldn’t stop breaking out in a cold sweat. I felt the urge to blast from the frontside as well as the backside. It was awful, to say the least. Someone turned the bathroom knob (locked), so I managed to hoist myself up and feebly open it, shuffle to the staff lounge, and collapse into a chair, where the nurse found me and got me some water.

Turns out I couldn’t take it. I hastily returned to the private staff toilets and quickly sat down. Cramping, liquid stool out the back end. And a queasy stomach, remember? Lunch coming out the front end (yes, those were the red peppers in my salad that I had for lunch). You may wonder where this projectile landed, dear reader. All I can say is Thank God there’s a space between your legs when you are sitting on the pot.

Then to make matters worse, I felt as if something were stabbing me in the uterus, the pain was excruciating.

I don’t know how, but I managed to make it back to the nurse’s office. Vomiting helped a ton with the nausea. Thorough embarrassment on my part, thank you very much. The nurse was sympathetic and kind and offered to reschedule our meeting. I was given ibuprofen to help with the sharp uteral pain that was preventing me from being fully mobile.

So now in hindsight, I ask myself, dear reader, What … the … hell. Should I be rethinking this nursing thing? If I can’t even handle the sight of (huge) wounds that look like raw ground meat (uh-hem, yes–raw ground meat), what hope is there for me?? Does this mean I am delegated to being a psych nurse who takes care of rich teenage girls with eating disorders who cry when asked to eat a carrot stick?

I have a good chuckle at myself now. Ah, the innocence of us first-year nursing students taking vital signs on simulation mannequins that look like frozen cadavers with heartbeats that sound like ticking clocks. What about those urethras with 2 cm diameters? Yeah! That’s called true to life! No, seriously: Professors of Johns Hopkins School of Nursing–throw us in the firing pit, please! Give us the real deal!

This is grist for the mill, people. This is reality. 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 rotting flesh and weeping wounds will no longer move my GI tract to send forth liquid stool! That I no longer need to deal with projectile emesis (coming from yours truly)!

Do I stay on board? Do I jump ship? There is a lesson to be learned here.

*sigh* Okay, so cool it now. I know I’m not the first and I’m not the last in this industry to be “moved” by such sights. As I stated, reality check. This will be a good giggle to read after some time has passed.

So yeah, I knew that this was something I might have to deal with. I go forth with a clearer understanding of my current limitations and know that it doesn’t have to be this way forever.

(But remember to check back with me next semester during adult health clinicals)

Mannequin resplendent with triple stoma – Not the real deal, folks