Wish I Had Said It

There’s nothing like a holiday weekend to bring out the drinkers, especially the young ‘uns — the ones we call sarcastically call “amateurs”. We had an 18 year-old male the other night, who chose to celebrate the Contribution of Labour to The Common Good by ingesting macaroni and tomato sauce chased with a case of beer, gallons of which, it seemed, ended up on the Resus Room floor. (Why, O why is it always macaroni and beer? You might as well ask why sun shines and rain falls: it’s an immutable rule of the universe.) Anyway, we got him cleaned up, gave him some intravenous fluids, put him in a recovery position to protect his airway, and stuck him in the hallway in front of the Charge Nurse Desk, so I could watch him sleep it off.

Towards morning it got a little busy, a couple of CHFers and a Chest Painer and what not, and also, the girlfriend of He Who Drank Too Much showed up. She proceeded to make a fuss.

“Why can’t he go home,” she cried. “The needle in his hand is hurting him.”

And so forth. Doreen, an ancient colleague who apparently trained with Florence in Crimea, was clearly annoyed. She spoke to the girlfriend harshly, as only one (with sore, swollen feet) who had been in the vomitus blowback could speak.

“You need to stop talking,” Doreen said. “Now. He’ll go home when it’s appropriate. We’re keeping your boyfriend from choking on his own puke and dying.”

Girlfriend meekly shut up.

Time was, as a new graduate, I would have been shocked and appalled at Doreen’s attitude. Aren’t nurses supposed to treat everyone with empathy and respect? Nurses are supposed to be nice.

Or maybe not. We’re also human. Empathy, it seems to me, sometimes keeps office hours, and at 0600, niceness is nowhere to be found, having gone to bed hours ago. We’re tired and cranky. Like anyone else. As charge nurse, I kept a poker face, as required. Inwardly I was howling with laughter.


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  1. #1 by James on Sunday 05 September 2010 - 1553

    Gotta love the late shift crew, they tell it like it is. ICU is no different, except that about 2/3 of the patients are unconscious. I have heard nurses yell at a patient “you WANT to die or wake up on a Vent? Keep taking that oxygen off, I can take care of you either way”. My eyes got big as saucers..LOL. I have seen a few get dangerously close to “overboard” in what they have said to patients though, I think frustration is the problem. Many of those, had to do with patients who were intoxicated on Alcohol or other drugs. That “they brought it on themselves” attitude magnified to the nth power.

  2. #2 by Jenn Jilks on Sunday 05 September 2010 - 1633

    Poker face, I can see a video forming in someone’s mind somewhere. :-)

    She is educating the girl friend, understanding that you are professionals and know what you are doing!
    I bet you were not silent, but snorted! I would have.

  3. #3 by nurseXY on Sunday 05 September 2010 - 2027


  4. #4 by Sean on Tuesday 07 September 2010 - 0959

    This is one of those infamous House’isms that I love. (yes, from the show ‘House’). One of those many things you would love to say to the patients, but know you shouldn’t.
    *high five* to the nurse who said it
    *high five* to you for maintaining your composure.

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