Monday, November 20, 2006

Nurse Follies: Keeping it Real

When we admit a new patient, we ask a long series of questions designed to figure out your medical history...providing the patient is coherent enough to answer. We want to know EVERYTHING. Allergies, medications, medical history, recreational drugs, favorite foods and thoughts on the global warming threat. You can't keep secrets from nurses, so don't even try.

(And don't even think that we believe the story that you were innocently reading the bible while naked, fell, and got a potato and a jar of concord grape jelly conveniently lodged in your descending colon. We don't believe it, not even for one second.)

I received a patient, and had to ask all the pertinent questions, like, "How many licks does it take you to get to the center of a tootsie pop?" I try to streamline the experience as much as possible because at 1am, no one really wants to answer how much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood. And at 1am, I really don't want to know.

Me: Have you experienced any unexpected, unplanned weight loss recently?
Patient: No... (patting his belly) I don't diet.
Me: (observing the girth of said belly) Okay...I believe you.
Patient: Men don't diet.
Me: Okay.
Patient: I'm don't diet.
Me: Some guys do. I know a couple who are dieting right now.
Patient: Now why would a man want to diet?

You know that filter that is between your brain and your mouth? Apparently, I left mine at home that night.

Me: Because they want to look good naked for their women.

The patient looked thoughtful for a moment while his wife was dissolving into fits of laughter. With all seriousness, he looked at me and said, "That's a REALLY good answer."

Later, Paul came to the floor and announced he had been molested by a patient in isolation, rubbing her hands in his hair and Lord knows where else. He felt violated. He felt dirty. He never admitted to it, but I think he was secretly excited.

One nurse had an epiphany and thought we should wash his hair with one of those no-rinse shampoo caps. They are quite handy. You zap the cap for 30 seconds in the microwave, put it on their head and rub the cap, making sure the hair gets evenly cleaned. Minutes later, you take the cap off and towel dry. It's magical!

Paul was initially reticent, but we convinced him that walking around with pseudomonas, C-diff, VRE, and whatever else in his hair is no laughing matter. He conceded to let us experiment...I mean, help him out.

So, I nuked the hat. Paul sat in the break room while a small group of nurses gathered to watch because, to be honest, none of us had ever used a shampoo cap before. It was almost like having a product inservice. I slapped the cap on his head and poked at the cap until I was convinced the hair was clean.

Minutes later, clean flowing hair abounds, and the awe-inspired nurses vow to use the caps whenever possible because it's the best invention ever made. On a roll, we begin to offer free hair washings to other staff members: a tech, a couple residents, and a housekeeper. No one else takes us up on it.

Whatever...they just don't know what they are missing.

1 comment:

Xavier Onassis said...

"a shampoo cap"


I had no idea.

Of course, I dropped out of the "hair care product loop" many years ago.

But that sounds so Star Trek. Does it have settings? Can you set it for full or straight?

Why do I suddenly sound so gay? Not that there's anything wrong with that.