Tag Archives: enemas

The Messy Side of Medicine

3 Apr

A familiar scene in my family’s life: my husband, daughter and I are out at a restaurant with my father and stepmother. The bill arrives and my husband and I attempt to brandish some cash or a credit card.  My father, without making eye contact, grips the billfold and draws it to his chest slowly. 

“Thank you,” we say.

My father grins, almost slyly, and never volleys a “you’re welcome” but an ominous, “Your time will come.” 

He knows what he’s talking about.   His parents certainly gave him and his siblings a run for their money. I remember the account of my grandfather taking a whiz on a group of lunch trays at the nursing home and wince.  It could happen to the best of us, so we might as well grow a sense of humor about it now. 

Being a caregiver is one of the hardest jobs in the world and most of us will brandish this title, whether it’s for our children, our parents or both.  Bodily functions, and malfunctions, are just par for the course.  No one understands this as well as medical personnel. 

During my uncle’s ER rotation in medical school, he asked an older gentleman for a ‘specimen,’ assuming the man would understand, given the dimensions of the beaker he was handed, that my uncle could only mean urine.  The poor gentleman, determined not to disappoint, proceeded to take a dump into the beaker intended to collect just a few milliliters of pee.  The mechanics of exactly how the poor schmuck managed it are still a mystery to my uncle, but the thumb prints in the top layer of poop left some clues. 

One of my best friends is a radiology technician.  I could write an entirely separate blog entry about the people she has x-rayed who claimed they had no idea how various items became lodged in their rectums.  Her contribution to tales of bodily malfunctions, however, is her experience with administering barium enemas. (And I thought not being able to hold my liquor was a problem.) Apparently both patients and medical personnel equally dread hearing the phrase “Uh-oh.”  For my trooper of a friend, “uh-oh,” on many occasions, has ushered in a literal whirlwind of shit that decorated the walls, ceiling and floor like Jackson Pollack on an acid binge.  

Enemas are rare in labor and delivery units these days, but one veteran nurse was happy to recount the hilarity of a recent exception to the rule.  A teenager came to the hospital at 28 weeks complaining of severe abdominal pains, but the OB couldn’t gain access. The entrance was blocked by impacted poo that ballooned against the vaginal wall, effectively sealing it shut.  The delivery from the backdoor had to precede any future deliveries from any other entrances or exits.

After the veteran nurse gave her an enema, the poor girl excused herself to the delivery room’s bathroom where she gave birth to a six-pound block of shit.  After moving the girl to another room to avoid further humiliation, the nurses gathered around the toilet to marvel at the massive hunk of crap.  Flushing was futile, so they entertained themselves by playing a prank on a freshman janitor.  Shortly thereafter, they were reprimanded for their supposed immaturity by the supervising nurse.  The nurses struggled to suppress their laughter as their superior wrestled the shit into a biohazard bag.  (For the entire story please visit http://www.pregnancy.org/bulletinboards/showthread.php?p=8214947.  Trust me.  It is worth it.)

At another hospital, a nurse working the nightshift tried to help a disoriented patient with diarrhea make it to the toilet on time at 1:30 in the morning.  The patient insisted on privacy, which the nurse granted begrudgingly, leaving the door open a crack while standing sentinel. Upon hearing the woman utter the dreaded “Uh-oh” distress signal, the nurse opened the door and was greeted by the most difficult test of her gag reflex in her career.  The patient had neglected to drop her drawers and was filling them past maximum capacity while simultaneously attempting to shimmy them off her already soiled behind.  Before completing a request for the patient to stop her efforts, the poor nurse was greeted by a loaded pair of panties just recently freed from the patient’s heel that hurdled towards her face like an obscene asteroid.  She was covered in liquid turd paint.  (To read the whole story, or to purchase the hilarious book from which it is excerpted, visit http://www.webook.com/project/Toxic-Poop-Stories-from-the-Other-Side-of-the-Bedpan)

God bless the laymen, doctors, nurses and nurse’s aids who take the pitfalls of care-giving in stride.  And God bless them for sharing their stories so we can all enjoy the best of all medicine: laughter.

For additional hilarious stories from nurses who’ve seen it all check out http://allnurses.com/nursing-humor-share

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