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5 things worse than germs to take home with you

Shutterstock | Subbotina Anna
Shutterstock | Subbotina Anna

Nurses, we know you’re exposed to all kinds of things at work—and you try your best to leave it all behind at the end of the day. But we’re not just talking about bacteria here. Here are five things that are quite possibly worse than germs to take home with you.

1. Knowledge

No, we’re not talking about the good kind, like learning a language or knowing where to find a small country on a map. We’re talking about the kind of knowledge you really don’t want—the kind you can’t un-know simply because it makes you very, very uncomfortable.

Usually, these things crop up when somebody you don’t expect to see—who also doesn’t expect to see you—enters the hospital with an injury they definitely didn’t expect. Like your happily married neighbor, Dan, who sustained some serious wounds after an incident at a local strip club. Or the sweet older woman in 3B who has now tested positive for every STD imaginable.

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That’s the kind of knowledge you can do without, and therefore we suggest that if you spot a familiar face while on the job, you run. Your father’s golf partner? Run. Your high school professor? Run. Your mother-in-law? Run like you’ve taken something from Liam Neeson.

2. Anything with fur

Every nurse has had a patient who lives alone with a pet they’ve had for 35 years now. They enter the hospital confused and in pain, but somehow, some way, their thoughts keep wandering back to Whiskers, their cat, who’s been home alone for several hours now and gets grumpy if not fed at regular intervals.

So you think to yourself, “You know—Whiskers isn’t exactly on my way home, and I’ve been working for 12 hours, but I guess I can manage a slight detour to toss a Luna bar his way.” That’s all well and good, but we urge you to proceed with extreme caution, exercise discretion and establish your boundaries. Otherwise, instead of coming home to a glass of wine and the latest episode of Game of Thrones, you’re going to be coming home to this:

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Whiskers GALORE.

3. Questionable finds from the break room

Look—we get it. At the end of a long day, knowing darn well that the only thing you have in your fridge at home is a bottle of mustard and a single piece of bread, it can be tempting to take a peek at whatever nourishment, however processed, the break room has to offer.

But the break room is an extraordinary, slightly unnatural place where food expiration seems to hang in limbo. Like a McDonald’s cheeseburger or Jennifer Lopez—there’s little to no sign of aging where there should be.

So, take that disappointing mustard sandwich like a champ if you have to—but for your own safety, let the hospital leftovers be.

4. Unopened gifts

Look, we’re not saying all patients are off their rocker, but there are enough who have roamed the hospital halls to elicit caution when accepting gifts that fail to scream “This is what I am!” without having to shed some layers first.

Of course, if the psych ward is your bread and butter, we probably didn’t have to tell  you this. You’ve heard enough horror stories in which your colleagues receive accessories made from toenails or a single sack of onions to make a similar mistake.

5. More energy than you arrived with

We know the drill—four hours of sleep followed by a 12-hour shift. Then, five hours of sleep followed by yet another eight-hour shift. Oh, and you won’t be seeing daylight for roughly 98 percent of this process.

So, we get it. You do what you need to do to remain alert (or, at the very least, functional). But if you’re exiting the hospital with more pep in your step than when you entered (see below), your caffeine intake has most likely pushed the limits of human capacity, and you’re hovering dangerously close to detonating.

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Rule of thumb? If your body starts vibrating, it’s time to cease and desist.

At the risk of sounding pessimistic, we’re sure we’ve only scratched the surface of things you’d prefer not to carry out of the hospital in a proverbial “to-go” container at the end of your day. Help us fill in the blanks in the comments section below!

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