Saturday, July 23, 2011

Smells, or "What almost kept me out of nursing"

Don't worry, I won't have you running to worship the porcelain gods after reading this post. (Unless, of course, you're in nursing, because you probably know what it's like, and... yeah.)

People ask me all the time why it took me so long to figure out that I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up. My answer? Other than the stupidity I had shown over the years, which led me to working in jobs that I hated in order to pay the bills, I really didn't know deep inside where I needed to be. I wanted to help people (isn't that the generic response?) but I was afraid.

I was afraid of the smells.

Not of the blood, or the shots, or needles, or doctors yelling at you, but of the smells. I knew that I would eventually face gangrene, or incontinence, or vomit, or helloooooooooo C. diff.

I took myself off to work at an Alzheimer's facility. I was not prepared for what I would find (or smell) there. Hundreds of diapers in the dumpster outside which were soaking up that California sunshine, our resident Picasso who would paint on the walls using his very own mix of "acrylics", and what dentures smell like when nobody realizes that they're dentures. Get the picture?

I got over the smell thing real fast.

Bring on nursing school!!! I could handle poop and urine! Yeah! Go me!

That also brought on gastric bleeds, colostomy bags, Lactulose aftereffects, birth, death, and wounds that really should have been taken care of last year. There were many days where I would go home and not eat for the next three days.

Now? Two years later? Eh. I still have my moments of "ohgodgonnahurl" but I realize that my patients can smell the same things. It's their stuff, and they realize that everyone is affected by their stuff. All you can do is smile, do the job quickly, make them comfortable, and move on. They WILL be grateful for your seeming ignorance of what is wafting around you.

I guess the main moral to the story is this: Don't let fears keep you from being where you need to be. You'll find yourself sitting around the dinner table, eating chow mein, talking about the awesome Stage IV ulcer you saw yesterday.


  1. That is awesome and encouraging Corrine. I like helping people too, but your job much more servant hearted than mine. Blessings to you. gina

  2. I think we can all give in one way or another, Gina. :) Thanks for your comment.