A little sampling of the patient's I saw today...
A guy came in for a recheck of his buttock abscess. He was upset because we asked him to come back tomorrow to check it again. "I can't keep coming in for an hour everyday!" he said angrily. "Oh," I retorted, "would that be too much of a pain in your ass?". He paused, then laughed and agreed to come back in.
A seventeen year old girl came in with her mother. Her chief complaint was "I ate a pot brownie and now I feel lethargic and hungry." After the other nurses and I had a good laugh, I brought her to an exam room. She was covered in potato chip debris and couldn't make eye contact with me. Her mom looked equally embarassed. Our advice to her? Don't take what you can't handle.
A poor, harried mom whose toddler broke her nose by bucking his head backward into her face. Anyone who has ever had a toddler in their lap knows exactly how this could happen.
A perfect example of a nurse taking care of others needs before her own: A nurse came in with a painful, swollen foot after working two 12 hour shifts. She only came in to the ER after a doctor noticed her limping. We found she had two stress fractures in her foot (caused by an injury that developed into a fracture because she kept walking on it). Proof that nurses work too hard and don't get paid enough! And guess what, this was not considered a work injury! (What???)
On a serious note;
We received a young woman flown in from Nairobi after she had been treated for a gunshot wound to her abdomen. She was on vacation with her husband and was robbed in Tanzania. During the robbery, she was shot, with the bullet exiting through her lower back. As if this wasn't devestating enough, the 16 week old fetus she was carrying was killed. Yeah, fucking heavy. She came to us with a colostomy bag (a bag used to empty fecal matter when the intestines have been severely injured) but was, eerily and disturbingly, in great spirits. Obviously in denial. Who wouldn't be? It's hard, as a caregiver, to separate yourself from such tragedies. How do you relate to someone that has gone through something like this? And how to show compassion to the patient in the next room who is upset that they ate too many pot brownies and now "feel funny"? It's a delicate balance...