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Nursing comebacks I wish I could say

10no

Y’know when some patient or family member says something you’ve heard at least a hundred times? Y’know when they think it’s funny? Y’know all those things you wish you could say back?

I do, and I’ve collected some of them here.

Them (as I’m preparing for something routine, like an IV start): “Have you ever done this before?”

Me (cheerfully): “Nope!”

Them (a family member or visitor): “Hey Nurse! Gimme some of that pain medication!”

Me: “Sure, honey. Just as soon as I’ve had my dose.”

Them (usually from a little old, possibly demented patient): “Isn’t Doctor So-and-So cute?”

Me: “When?”

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Them (about something not too out of the way, or even very serious): “My doctor said that this was the worst case of Whatever he’d ever seen.”

Me: “That’s terrible. You know, your doctor lost a patient last week to a mild case of Whatever.”

Them: “Mrs. Name-Drop, a prominent donor to your hospital, is a dear, dear friend of mine.”

Me (without inflection): “How nice for you.”

Them (while playing Candy Crush and eating Cheetos): “My pain is a 12 out of 10.”

Me (sympathetically): “That’s too bad. I can’t do anything for 12 out of 10 pain; my medicines only work up to 10 out of 10.”

Them: “You nurses just enjoy hurting people.”

Me: “And what makes it even better is that we get paid for it!”

Them: “You’re not doing that [simple, common procedure] right! That’s not right!”

Me (doing procedure correctly): “I had no idea you’re a nurse, too! Where did you graduate from?”

Them (a morbidly obese, multiple-amputee patient with an A1C of 12): “Whatever it is you’re doing right now is wrong and bad, and I’m going to report you to the authorities and my lawyer.”

Me (at the end of my rope): “So when, exactly, did you start to care so much about your health?”

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Agatha Lellis

Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at askauntieaggie@gmail.com.
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9 Responses to Nursing comebacks I wish I could say

  1. Deb Smith

    My favorite thing to say when someone starts whining before they even get the shot is “I’ve been taught its better to give than receive ” and while their mouth drops the shot is done

  2. Kelly Lamb

    When a demented or combative pt draws their arm back to deliver a punch, “Make it a good one, it’s my turn next!”

  3. Nerida

    This is not going to hurt me at all but it might hurt you. Whenan obviously ugly/unattractive male patient comments quite inappropriately a out you, ie in sexjal manner, reply ‘ have you seroiusly looked in the mirror today?

  4. nancynurse7

    If I knew when I started nursing school what I know now I would have gone to the airport and gone home. Yes I did have some very gratifying moments and met some patients families I would have liked to call my own. I worked in NICU so the families were patients too. The last five years were the most stressful of my life. From moms who were too emotionally and chronologically immature say “I don’t want that nurse to take care of my baby anymore” to the administration making our lives a living hell expecting more,more,more everyday. All the while decreasing benefits but wanting you to work harder. My coworkers and I would joke that we would have to take care of each other as we got older because the younger nurses were leaving to do other things. I know some idealistic people will be offended by this but it is the truth. I was a patient at another hospital affiliated with ours. The day I went for my preop my appt was for 2:00 and I did not leave until 5:30. The very last patient to leave that day. Almost every nurse I came into contact with did nothing but complain about how understaffed they were but were expected to do more. The sad thing was that what they were saying was true. I know there are other hospitals in the area that had much better working conditions. Sadly administration acted as if they didn’t have a clue even though we made our feelings known on all the surveys we had to take. I personally would like to take Press Gainey and send them all to Mars. Yes this sounds negative and bitter but the truth speaks for itself.

  5. Nurse Buckets

    Very good!

    I loved it the time I walked into an old COPDer’s room with his neb treatment, and he (helpfully?) told me where the O2 flowmeter was. I replied, “Yes, I know–I work here.” And that wasn’t nice! I should have had a little generosity of spirit, and said with a smile, “Well, thank yewww!”

  6. GuardianRN

    To an older patient, usually female, who has constantly been on her light for the past 2 hours to request extra pillows, blankets, a new toothbrush, and 3 servings of Jello in a semi-condescending tone each time: “Sweetie, this is a hospital, not the Hilton.”

  7. DeniseB

    I have worked with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients for 20 years. I hear the same thing over and over 100 times a day and answer everytime like it’s the first time they have asked it. I love my job. So many nurse’s go in it for the money it’s sad. Many patients are afraid so be more compassionate or find another job.

  8. Moonlightway

    I work in a nursing home and have some demanding and demeaning residents. I hate it when they say, “I pay your salary.” I would love to say, “I got paid my salary before you got here and will be still getting paid after you are gone.”

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