Lessons Learned


You know that feeling of complete helplessness you get when you see the disaster that a sequence of events is leading to, but all you can do is watch them unfold? I had the pleasure of this experience recently while dumping a bedside commode into the toilet at work. Upon opening the lid I knew it was going to be a two-flusher. There are two kinds of bedside toilet users. The first is the one that calls everytime there are two drops of urine in it to be cleaned out. Understandable, since as you might can tell from the name, its a toilet that stays beside your bed. The other type person is usually one who is grasping for independence anywhere they can. Also understandable, since if you are having to poop one step away from where you sleep, you may be feeling stripped of a little dignity. These folks do not want to ask for anything, especially for their pots to be poured out and cleaned by someone they just met. As you can imagine, after a few uses, they eventually fill up and they HAVE to call. The user of this particular commode, was of the latter persuasion. That is how I found myself bent over the toilet in a small, crowded bathroom, trying to manage 15 pounds of diarrhea soup garnished with 5 pounds of wet toilet paper.¬† I feel the need to describe a nurses pockets at this point in the story. A given set of scrubs has 4-6 pockets on them and I am not kidding when I say that if there were thirty pockets, we would still fill them up. I am usually the charge nurse so on top of my usual collection of alcohol pads, blood sugar lancets, bandaids, ink pens, gauze pads, my personal phone, stethoscope and my report sheet, I also carry the charge nurse phone (a freakin’ BlackBerry) and a ring of keys big enough to make any custodial worker envious. I can’t let the pounds of crap that constantly overflow my pockets slow down my nursely duties. I wasn’t even thinking about it as I carefully poured the contents of that pot into the toilet, careful not to let any stray clumps splash too much. I wasn’t paying a lick of attention to the folded piece of paper that I write all my patient information on, inching its way out of my top a little more with every movement I made. I didn’t notice a thing until it fell… right into the foulness in the porcelain bowl. Naturally, I was mid-pour with plenty to go, unable to stop what I was doing and do any kind of salvaging. I was then faced with a choice. Do I take the gamble? Do I flush the whole thing and pray the paper doesn’t cause an overflow? No, I can’t chance that. Not in a hospital. I’m left with one regrettable option. “Glove up, Bitch, we’re goin’ in for retrieval.” I realize that any documents with sensitive patient information should really go in the shredder box at the nurse’s station, but if I get fired for opting for the regular bathroom trash in this situation, I’d leave with no regrets.
So, there ya have it. Never fry bacon shirtless, never twirl batons in a lightning storm, and never dump poo with important things hanging out of your pocket. Lessons learned.


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