What's grosser than gross? Ask a nurse.
April 4, 2002 1:24 PM   Subscribe

What's grosser than gross? Ask a nurse. On this nursing bulletin board, nurses who have to deal with really disgusting stuff in the course of their day-to-day work reveal what even they have difficulty handling. Sputum and stinky feet are both more popular choices than I would have guessed. If you're brave, read the whole thread, including such gems as extremely overweight folks who hide foot items in the folds of their flesh. [WARNING: not for the faint of stomach, even though it's all text, no pictures.] I won't mention details of the dog story...
posted by beth (29 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I read all three hundred-odd entries, and burst out laughing many times. Damn, these nurses are heroes for dealing with what they do.

Mmmm, time for lunch!
posted by beth at 1:26 PM on April 4, 2002

This is really really great. Thanks, beth.
posted by andnbsp at 1:43 PM on April 4, 2002

Oops, forgot to ask: what's a c-diff? As in: "One nasty thing I hate is c-diff. We have a few on our floor and it's just nasty! The smell almost made me throw up a few nights ago."

Also, what's so gross about snot?
posted by andnbsp at 1:45 PM on April 4, 2002

I haven't read them all, but I just about fell over in my chair when I read about the nurse who found chicken feathers when she went to put a catheter in some woman. Oh. My. God.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:46 PM on April 4, 2002

Heroes is right, beth. And they joke about it. My admiration for nurses, great as it already was, went up a few degrees. Pay them double what they earn and thank their lucky bonnets, I say.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:52 PM on April 4, 2002

Can someone maintain a running count of the number of times "EEEEWWWWW!!!!!!" occurs on that thread?
posted by adampsyche at 1:56 PM on April 4, 2002

is she harboring aliens, or did her intestines explode?

Priceless. Great find.
posted by adampsyche at 1:58 PM on April 4, 2002

Oops, forgot to ask: what's a c-diff?

It's colitis caused by clostridium difficile. It's one of those nice things that can result when antibiotics kill off all the normal bacteria that normal lives in our bowel. Why is it gross? Well, it produces stool that is nastier smelling and more tenacious (ie. thick and sticky) than most folks can even imagine. Interestingly, there is a support group and more info here.
posted by shagoth at 1:58 PM on April 4, 2002

Clostridium difficile, aka c-diff. Naaasty.

My mom, a 30+ year RN, thanks you for the link, beth.
posted by Skot at 1:59 PM on April 4, 2002

andnbsp - I looked up c-diff - it's an intestinal bacterial infection that comes from antibiotics killing off your good bacteria. I guess the resulting stool is pretty disgusting. Oh, and if you want to know what's so gross about snot, read this, from our very own stavrosthewonderchicken.
posted by starvingartist at 1:59 PM on April 4, 2002

Crap. (Ahem . . . ) Shagoth preview-sneaked me.
posted by Skot at 1:59 PM on April 4, 2002

From the linked thread:

Pretty much most bodily fluids gross me out.

Yeah, me, too. That's why I'm not a nurse. Computers are nice are nice and dry.

Then later:

What a refreshing change of pace...

That's refreshing? Man. Did I mention how glad I am I'm not a nurse? (My mom is a nurse, so while I've gone to great lengths to avoid following in her footsteps, I share the majority's admiration.)
posted by jennyb at 2:00 PM on April 4, 2002

gosh, we're helpful :)
posted by starvingartist at 2:00 PM on April 4, 2002

My wife is a nurse. She's my superhero.

The other day she came home from work and told me that she had to put a woman's bowel back inside of her. This wasn't during an operation or anything, but at her bed. What kind of bedside manner do you need for that sort of thing?

She really is my superhero.
posted by ashbury at 2:08 PM on April 4, 2002

I will bookmark this thread. I'm thinking of starting a diet soon, and this is the most powerful appetite suppressant I can buy without a prescription.
posted by sacre_bleu at 2:15 PM on April 4, 2002

I now know far more both about nurses' slang, and their spelling abilities, than I ever dreamed.

Took me quite a few pages before I figured out what "painting" was. To quote: EEEEWWWWWW!!!!
posted by ook at 2:38 PM on April 4, 2002

She was also Elvis's nurse, but she won't talk about it.

I'd like to hear some of those stories.
posted by jaden at 2:52 PM on April 4, 2002

This rocks. I'm going into nursing and I love the stories.
posted by ix555 at 3:22 PM on April 4, 2002

I made it through two pages until I could feel the bile rise up in my throat. It's funny, I used to kill time in high school by "hanging out" at the NYC morgue (I had planned to go to medical school, and my mother worked at NYU Medical Center, and their basement connects with the morgue building.) I can take anything dead, it doesn't bother me, and believe me there are smells and stomach contents and things that are gross, but attached to live people, it's a whole different ball game.

I've also had the pleasure of getting c-diff after my appendectomy, and they left out a couple things...like the blood. Yuck.

Excellent link, though. Thank you.
posted by ltracey at 3:37 PM on April 4, 2002

ashbury, my wife's a nurse as well, and also my hero.

the things she puts up with I couldn't imagine (she works in a pediatric ICU). One of these stories, however, reminded me of something she told me about b4 going into pediatrics. About a morbidly obese person in the hostpital whose flesh was rotting between the folds, and that she and the rest of the staff had to work on the poor woman in quickly rotating shifts to keep from being overwhelmed by the smell.
posted by emptyage at 3:57 PM on April 4, 2002

I wish I'd never read that.
I think my eyes are bleeding.
posted by tiamat at 7:01 PM on April 4, 2002

shagoth: Thanks for the C-Diff link.


"The gastroenterologist may perform a colonoscopy to asses..."

where else?
posted by glennie at 7:30 PM on April 4, 2002

According to one of the posts, someone did a gynacological exam and came out with a 'hand covered in cream cheese'?

Why would someone put cream cheese into their vagina? Isn't it nicer spread on crackers?
posted by wackybrit at 7:56 PM on April 4, 2002

I'm a R.N., and dead bowel is the nasiest smelling thing you can imagine. Allnurses.com is a great website. Haven't linked to any nurses sites because I wasn't sure how people would react. Thanks Beth!
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 8:59 PM on April 4, 2002

Cottage cheese. As in vaginal secretion cruft. Ever encounter a yeast infection, wackybrit?

I dug the three-week-old tampon story, and of course the intestinal worms.
posted by rodii at 9:02 PM on April 4, 2002

Mom's an OR nurse, Dad's a doc...and I knew VERY early in life that I didn't have the stomach to be a direct-care provider! Many of my friends are doctors, nurses, techs, and the like, but I could never, never, never do what they do. As was mentioned earlier in the thread, computers are nice & dry, and don't pee/puke/bleed on you! Hence my career as a healthcare administrator. You know, paying the bills, buying the supplies, etc. Gotta tip the hat to the direct-care people, though, and often -- how they do it, I'll never know. Excellent link, Beth...I'll be sure to pass it on to my Mom (WebTV, oh well, she's learning!) and my nurse friends.
posted by davidmsc at 9:04 PM on April 4, 2002

rodii: Hehe, I was being facetiously naive. But to answer your question.. NO, I haven't encountered a yeast infection, thank god.
posted by wackybrit at 9:05 PM on April 4, 2002

my dad was a nurse.

God rest him; my respect level for him just went up about 100,000%.
posted by bwg at 8:54 AM on April 5, 2002

I used to be an RN, and the funny thing is: things that would gross you out in your day-to-day life don't really bother you in the same way when you're in working nurse mode, so what seems to laypeople like service above and beyond the call of duty is really just you doing your chosen job (admittedly a job that involves things most laypeople don't want to know about, but still). Not that you don't encounter things that make you feel oogy (patients with gangrene, for example), but it doesn't have quite the same impact when you're working as it would if you encountered it when you weren't expecting it. What's *really* weird is when your friends figure that because you're a nurse you have a burning desire to look at or hear all the gory details about their (insert medical problem here) when you're at a party or something. Great link, beth!
posted by biscotti at 9:13 AM on April 5, 2002

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