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What is your weakness?

stay-awayWe all have our nursing weakness. That one thing that we as a nurse have to ‘gear-up’ for just to make it through the experience.

We have to ‘stomach’ some pretty disgusting things throughout our day, and for the most part we don’t think twice about it.

BUT there is always one thing that every nurse has a tough time with.

Me?

Decubitus Ulcers.

I mean the really bad ones. Like a stage IV that is necrotic, tunneling and oozing the most mal-odorous funk-da-fied drainage known to man. :(

Yeah… ya know what I’m talking about. That ischial or sacral ulcer that is tunneling so bad that you can fit your fist as far up as your elbow in there.

I blame my weakness on nursing school. LOL

There was a particular patient that every student had the pleasure of taking care of. We all had our rotation of taking care of this certain patient, since the patient was almost a permanent fixture in the facility.

The patient had two very large stage IVs on their backside that were exactly as I described above. And due to the lack of help and staffing, we all teamed up on a daily basis to change the dressings. I’ve lost count on how many times I saw those two horrifying sites. They are forever burned into my brain, as well as the foggy aroma that emanated from them!

I’m told an aversion to sputum (mucous) is quite a popular weakness these days. Luckily sputum and I have no differences of opinion. This is especially good news since we have quite the intimate relationship, with me working in Critical Care.

Intubated patients. Need I say more?

So what was, or what is your weakness? We all have one.

What Is Your Vice?” originally posted on My Strong Medicine.

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Sean Dent

Sean Dent is a second-degree nurse who has worked in telemetry, orthopedics, surgical services, oncology and at times as a travel nurse. He is a CCRN certified critical care nurse where he's worked in cardiac, surgical as well as trauma intensive care nursing. After five years practicing as an RN, Sean pursued and attained his Masters of Science in Nursing. Sean currently practices as a Board Certified Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-BC) in a Shock Trauma urban teaching hospital. He has been in healthcare for almost 20 years. He originally received a bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sport Science where he worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC).
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53 Responses to What is your weakness?

  1. frogeyes10

    Mine is the “P” word…no, not poop but phlegm! I will take a wound anyday over mucus!!!!! LOL…

    • janet

      I have to agree phlegm is the only thing that gets yo me.

    • pinkbungadoo

      Mine is phlegm too! And I chose to work with ventilated patients…..what was I thinking?

  2. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ frogeyes10 We’ll trade.

  3. Charlene

    I have to say vomit. I will take poop, decub ulcers any day, but I cannot do vomit!

  4. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Charlene I think as long as a prepare for the smell.. I’m ok with vomit. LOL

  5. Sonya

    emesis and phlegm anything else I can handle.

  6. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Sonya That would be difficult to avoid!

  7. Mala

    I have to agree: vomit. It never bothered me in my younger years, but as I get older, I am getting closer and closer to being right there with them.

  8. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Mala – yes vomit is a toughy.

  9. Vicki

    mine is gooey eyes and/or ears. Blood, guts and gore do not phase me but show me a bad case of pink eye and I’m puking. That and I once had a patient admitted for an ear infection. Pus was pouring out this ladies ear onto the bed… UGH!

    • carolslee1949

      I agree with the ear drainage. My grandson had both eardrums ruptured due to ear infections and had nasty green drainage. I didn’t notice an odor, but even as an RN, I felt queasy looking at it. I felt bad for my little guy also, he was so sick. The other thing that makes me queasy is doing oral hygiene on someone who isn’t able to brush their own teeth or dentures. My pet peeve working night shift was finding the remnants of dinner in someone’s mouth!

  10. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Vicki – That’s a new one for me! Wow. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Little D

    Vomit…it comes from being trapped in a moving ambulance as an EMT with projectile vomiters….THERE IS NO ESCAPE!!!

    Pretty much anything else I can cope…except maybe the smell of a lower GI bleed…and even then, there’s Vicks Vapo-Rub

  12. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Little D Now that would be quite the situation!

  13. Sonie Williams

    Sputum! Suctioning it, coughing it up what ever way it comes. I can handle pretty much anything else but If I never have to suction a trach again I’ll die a happy RN!

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      That seems to be a popular one, for obvious reasons.

      • chrismeadrn

        The doctor needs a sample of your sputum. So give me a big cough, spit it into this cup…and,oh, can you put the cup in this brown paper bag before you give it back to me. Thanks.

  14. jeannevacca Caption Contest

    Clostridium difficile diarrhea.Just the smell of it gives me such a horrible headache.That’s how I know it’s time for the MD to start the Flagyl: the smell and the headache.Also, the vomiting of patients still sometimes gets to me.Not the vomit itself,but the vomiting manuever beforehand.Iusually get into it right along with them.

  15. 1MaryAlice RN

    Mine are nasty, gnarly, funky toenails.

  16. weyam

    for me diabetic septic foot and stool .

  17. blythekd32 LPN

    vomit,and lung matter

    • RNsomewhere RN

      I work in an Emergency Department, so I’ve gotten over my aversion to puke…except charcoal puke. When it gets chunky, I’m outta there!

  18. dukefnord

    Menstruation. I was tasked with cleaning up a develop mentally disabled Pt. who had started her period. Just before lunch. I haven’t been able to stomach tomato soup for lunch since. Does it matter that I’m male?

  19. newnurse11 RN

    Vomit and sputum.. I can handle any wound or anything that comes out of the bottom end, but not so much the top end!

  20. gdbuckland

    If there are any O.R. nurses reading you will understand, my weakness are dermoid cyst.

  21. gerdoroy RN

    give me all the liquid that comes out of a body no problems, yet say bone broken bones, miss shapen arms legs etc….I am so out there.

  22. spectrabrite

    My weakness is teeth, broken teeth, teeth falling out, the sound of grinding teeth omg I have to prepare re myself so much when I have to deal with a patient in those situations. I can handle poop, vomit, phlegm, mucous pee, purulent drainage you name it.

  23. IcelaVN LVN

    I work at a SubAcute facility so sputum and I get along fabulously, I just hate the smell of code browns LOL. I can handle pretty much everything else but for some reason I can’t get used to the smell of code browns. I always have to hold my breath while assisting the CNA’s in changing the patients.

  24. Deidra47 RN

    I’m like Janet….I can’t handle sputum esp from a trach.

  25. AudraHallLPN LPN

    Can handle anything except vomit.

  26. yooper22405

    Oh Lordy! Puke. I hate puke. I hate the sound of retching. I hate the odor even more. I was working L & D when I was pregnant with my 2nd dtr. At times that was just real special…

  27. karen17 LVN

    Blood, guts, missing body parts don’t bother me. Poop, vomit, pus don’t bother me. BUT it takes all I have to deal with SNOT!

  28. shan2832 RN

    without a doubt…enemas. I had a horrible code brown experience when i was a CNA and its carried on now that I’m a RN. Gimme any ulcer, wound, or ostomy just don’t ask me to do an enema without trying to rig something that can let me do it from outside the room

  29. Karenf54 RN

    My biggest enemy is being in a place where I can hear someone puking. The puke itself doesn’t bother me, just the sound. When I hear that sound, I feel the urge to join in!
    As far as sputum is concerned, I have no problem with that since I care for a child with a trach who requires very frequent suctioning. In my younger days it bothered me but now, no problem.

  30. Kim Pisarski Hansen

    My weakness is funky, stinky, dry, flaky, toe-jam filled feet with thick, fungus filled toenails covered by a pair of compression stockings that have not been removed in over a week!

  31. CaduceusRN

    Ostomies are just foul. Also, working in critical care when your patient finally poops after DAYS of not going & it’s a river & gets everywhere! But, when your patient is brain dead from a massive head injury & we’re keeping them alive to harvest organs & brain matter starts to ooze out of the ear canals, now that grossed me out the most. It was like white jello/cottage cheese texture. Ugh

  32. breehat

    Oh for the life of a nurse, I cannot just take enema, decubitus ulcer, and dermoid cyst….

  33. eustrha

    All of my nursing friends give me crap about this, but mine is eyeballs!! It started in nursing school when i almost passed out watching a nerve block for cataract surgery. Then i went to work for the VA and prayed daily i got NO patients with prosthetic eyeballs! Just the thought… aaaaargh!

  34. Pompilot Caption Contest

    I work in the veterinary field, and so far, the one thing that makes me ‘gear up’ to face relates to wounds … maggots.

  35. runningnurse

    Maggots. Had a guy with skin Ca that had never sought treatment. Totally grossed me out, there were DOZENS, in the linens, on the floor, in the wound……I still shudder thinking about it.

  36. Pamela

    I hate sputum, but I don’t mind trachs… bit of a dichotomy…. I don’t mind oozing infections, sometimes bowel movements get to me too…. but I work Pediatrics, so the smells and sights aren’t as “grown up” a working in aduts!

  37. Tammy Berry

    Bugs of ANY kind! Pinworms, lice, ICK!

    • bcgunn

      I don’t mind patients missing body parts, I hate the body part missing the patient. But worst for me: cold, moist umbilical cord stumps touching me. Gross gross gross

  38. Gracesta

    Mines would have to be tonsil stones. Yuck stink and pungent! A patient coughed one up and chewed on it and the smell from his breath filled the whole room. It was revolting!

  39. Loveandletlove

    I can’t deal with stomach contents when measured from j-tube. I don’t mind vomit but putting something about seeing it in a measuring cup all warm… Ewe! And ostomy contents. Don’t mind a code brown but omg!

  40. PICURN

    Long unkempt nails. I know it’s silly, but that grosses me out. When I worked adult icu, it really got to me, and not being allowed to trim nails….. gag. I can deal with mucus, poop, vomit, but keep those dirty claws away from me!

  41. Laserrell

    I can handle phlegm, vomit and decubs…. But, please I will trade any of these with you if you take a lower GI bleed off my hands. OMG! The smell makes me hurl big time!!!!lol

  42. mbcaseyrn

    Too much compassion.
    I find that I really have the expectations that I am treating my patients the way I want my parents to be treated by their nurses 750 miles away.
    It’s not the case. My parents have had fair care at best. It doesn’t stop me from providing the best care I can give in hopes that they will have better care by a nurse more like me.
    I realize we are all stressed far beyond our capacity, but I still take my time with my patients. I follow the 6 rights of medication passing. I document not only to protect the patient, but to protect myself. And I most definitely call the physician if something is not right and defend my call if needed.
    Compassion cannot be taught…give me Poop, phlegm, vomit, gagging, gunshot wounds to the head, dislocated anythings, oozing stage IV to the bone decubitus ulcer, those aren’t weaknesses, those are dislikes.

  43. carolslee1949

    Years ago, I worked the newborn nursery as a nurse aide, during the summer before entering nursing school. Only 2 things really bothered me. When we’d unwrap the babies after feedings, only to find meconium from the neck down. That stuff was like tar! One nurse I worked with simply put the baby under the faucet and scrubbed away. The other thing was the phlegm many babies had, since this was during the days when laboring moms were given gas to deliver. I eventually got over both of these, but the phlegm really made me gag!

  44. mapickle

    I was voted “most likely to throw up on the sterile field” when I was in nursing school. In fact, I was so terrified that I would faint or throw up when I had to spend a day in the OR that my fellow students gave me flowers for making it through the day.

    Took me a long time to get used to yucky wounds and I still have trouble watching someone who is vomiting.

    Was assigned a patient once who had lost her nose due to cancer, that was it. I couldn’t take it. Burns do me in as well.

  45. Kris Mathews

    My weakness is mucous. I just cant do snot, boogers, phlem, eh…just nope. I have no problems with wound care, vomit, BM or any of the other common nasty weaknesses.