A nurse’s subconscious mind

Hemera | Thinkstock

There are just some things non-nursing folks will never understand. It’s not a ‘knock’ against those who are not a nurse, really it’s not. What I’m talking about is how your brain gets ‘re-wired’ once you become a nurse. I don’t know if it happened overnight? Maybe it happened gradually over the past half decade? What I do know is my mind thinks and processes things SO differently than it did prior to being a nurse. I wonder… am I brainwashed??

Here’s what being a nurse can do to the mind!

  • At the restaurant, we silently hope that the person choking at the table next to us doesn’t need assistance – yet, if they do, we’ll be the first to run to their side.
  • Walking through the fog of a public ‘smokers break area,’ we all want to reach out and smack you. Do you want to die breathing through a tube?
  • While phlegm doesn’t normally bother (most) of us at work, the sight or sound of you hacking up a lung in public really does bother us. Especially when you don’t cover your mouth!!!
  • Public restrooms. Yes – there is nothing sanitary about them most of the time. What we can’t stand is witnessing someone use these facilities and then walk out without washing their hands! (How am I supposed to pull the door open and exit the bathroom without contaminating my hand??)
  • For some strange reason, we can never look at another person’s arms the same ever again. Every time we see a good vein? Yep, you guessed it. We think to ourselves, “Wow! I could start a #16 gauge needle in there!” Sorry.
  • We continue to micro-analyze anything on TV or in the theater that has a shred of health care related activities. “Oh yeah, THAT would happen,” has echoed through our minds one too many times.
  • To this very day, I think we all have been cursed with measurements. We subconsciously measure how much we’ve urinated, how many CC’s of fluid we drank and, of course, how many carbs were in our meals.
  • While on vacation – no matter the geographic location – we somehow ‘notate’ and remember where the closest emergency room and hospital are located.
  • I’m not sure if it’s just a nursing thing, I think paramedics share this curse, too. We carry a spare set of scrubs stored in our vehicles, along with old ‘not in use’ equipment like stethoscopes, pen lights and scissors.
  • We shake our heads at those wonderful ‘blood pressure screening stations’ located throughout the supermarkets and discount stores. Ahahaha! I think we are more troubled by the fact that the public believe these measurements to be accurate.
  • We still (often) forget that it’s not common practice to talk about blood, bodily functions and bodily fluids as a discussion topic during a meal. Again, sorry.
  • Yes, we find humor in the most disgusting and disturbing things sometimes (OK, all the time). I’d like to think it’s our defense mechanism for making sure we don’t drive ourselves crazy and burn out.

This just scrapes the surface of what goes on behind the doors of our minds. I continue to convince myself that I’m not brainwashed, but that I have been trained and educated to always ‘be prepared’. I have to admit though, sometimes you have to wonder…

(That was a joke folks)

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