Sunday, November 04, 2007

Face Up, Flat On My Back

We all have them. Embarrassing moments, that is. I try to remind myself of that every time I think of the following story. I try to tell myself that I am not the only nurse who has made a complete and total ass of herself in front of a patient. There are others.................right? Please tell me I"m right.

Mrs. Fever For 5 Days came into the ER on a Sunday night. She told me during triage that she had been feeling poorly for the last week - fever, cough, rash, body aches, etc. I escorted her back to the Gyne Room as it was the only room free, and laid her on the stretcher
(for those of you that don't know, some stretchers have pegs on the end of them that you hook stirrups to so you can do a pelvic exam). Mistake number one.

Her husband came in with her and took a seat in the chair against the back wall of the exam room. I remember he was wearing a gray Tshirt with a black zip up jacket that had a deer embroidered on the front. Now every time I look at a Cabela's catalog I think of this damn story. I wonder if I could claim PTSD?

I turned and grabbed a clipboard off of the counter and walked over to the foot of the stretcher. While obtaining her medical history, I raised my foot and rested it on the end of the stretcher using my thigh as a table for the clipboard. Mistake number two. On this particular day I had chosen to wear a new set of scrubs. A set that was a wee bit big for me. Mistake number three.

Can I just say that when you get a new set of scrubs, hem them up before you wear them to work? Not a week later. Not a day later. BEFORE.

Can you picture what's coming yet? Uh-huh.

After getting all the information from her, I started to turn back towards the counter and take my foot off the stretcher. Remember those pegs on the end of the stretchers that I told you about earlier? Uh....yeah. As I turned, my foot went over the peg, but my scrub pants didn't. The hem was about 2 inches too long and hooked onto the edge of the peg. I felt it catch and hopped back around to face it on one leg, which in turn twisted the fabric around that little sucker. I started to lose my balance - and I was gonna go over hard.

I dropped the clipboard and started waving my arms around frantically, trying to catch my balance. "Oh, oh, oh , oh, oh,.....ahhhh," I said (or screamed - who knows). I did a little improvised samba with my ass trying to stay upright. I could see the patient trying to sit up on the stretcher and reach out to help me.

I finally lost the fight. I toppled like a tower and landed face up, flat on my back with my leg still up in the air - scrubs tangled on that damn peg on the stretcher. My head smacked the floor and I swear to all that is holy that I saw stars and chickens dancing above me. I groaned a little and mentally calculated my potential injuries.

The patient's husband came flying out of the chair as the patient finally got upright on the stretcher. "OH MY GOD! DO YOU NEED A NURSE?" she shouted.

Then I started to giggle.

And snort.

And laugh so damn hard that I almost peed my pants. Only then did they join in too.

Trying to untangled yourself from a stretcher while you are laughing so hard you are crying is no easy task. Your body is shaking so much that you can't get your fingers to work right. Then you just start tugging. Tugging as hard as you can, laughing, snorting, crying. It was not a pretty sight, let me tell you.

I tugged on my pants so hard that I ripped them up the leg's inner seam. They came off that damn peg, but the cooling breeze I was receiving up to my inner thigh was not nearly as refreshing as I thought it would be. This just made me laugh more.

Lucy came in to see what all the commotion was about, took one look at me, and spit the water she had been drinking across the floor. Oh yes, it was a shining moment in my nursing career.

My patient did thank me with a card a week later.

Dear Nurse Julie,

Thank you so much for making a miserable experience so much more enjoyable. I don't think I've ever laughed that hard when I was felt like dying. You truly made a crappy experience tolerable.

Mrs. Fever For 5 Days


The T-Dude said...

You know, my 6 year-old daughter was roller blading and fell backwards and landed hard. As I skated up to her I heard her giggle and say...I think I broke my butt. You have to laugh when stuff like that happens.

NocturnalRN said...

Oh I am laughing out loud! Thanks for the chuckle. And NO you aren't the only one who embarrases themselves.

Anonymous said...

I am a ER nurse as well, and one day I had a patient who was finally conscious after a couple hours of interventions to get his BP up. Anyway, he is complementing me on being a competent nurse and saying he feels competent in my care, etc, etc. I mumble some kind of thanks and turn to walk out of the room. I missed the door and WALKED SMACK INTO THE WALL!! I turned and said to the patient "some competent nurse". The patient and his wife were rolling with laughter.