The Humorous Nurse Speaks
Dealing with issues such as life, death, and other matters of consequence in our daily work lives, nurses tend to develop a rather jaded---OK, warped---sense of humor. It's almost a matter of survival; otherwise, we'd probably go off the deep end. (It's not for nothing that we happen to have the best collection of "code brown" stories on the planet.) Here's a peek at a few of the things one R.N. finds irresistibly funny.
As a lifelong student of human foibles, I often find myself marveling at the number of undignified situations we blunder into on any given day. I mean, have you ever been so excited to meet a celebrity that you had to glance down at your name tag before you could tell her who you were? (Yup...happened to me.) Or done a face-plant in the geraniums while rushing to clean up the lawn fudge just as the hunky yard man arrives?
I bet you had at least a snicker at the mental pictures, whether you're a nurse or not. Nurses, however, often encounter situations that very few people outside the profession would find humorous.....mainly because they are gross or shocking. But for many of us, they're a source of virtually endless amusement.
1) As a morbidly obese person myself, I normally don't see much humor in fat-patient tales. However, I once had a 400-lb patient whose lower dentures couldn't be found anywhere. The aide and I went in and turned her on her side to remove the bedpan and.....I'll give you three guesses to figure out what we discovered embedded in her left buttock.
2) Ever walk into the hospital room of an asthma patient and hear muffled "meows" from the closet? Ever open that closet door and see a mother cat and three kittens tumble out? Turned out the patient's hubby had snuck the animals in to "visit" her in the hospital. And no, you can't fix stupid, but it's sure good for a few laughs.
3) As mentioned above, every nurse has a treasure trove of poop stories. We can't share them with many people outside our sphere of influence, of course, because of the possibility of offending the more, ahem, 'refined' folks who DON'T spend a good portion of their day dealing with the distal end of the alimentary canal.
My personal favorite is the story of Margaret, a nursing home resident who had a habit of "going" only once a week on average, with predictably large results when she finally did produce. She also had a sharp mind and a very, very dry wit. One night after she had her milk of mag, she gave birth to an eight-pounder in the shape of an exclamation point. I couldn't help asking Margaret to tell me how she'd done that. "Big deal," she sniffed. "I was actually going for a bow, but didn't make it."
4) Stupid management tricks are a frequent cause for mirth, at least after we get done being outraged. This mostly occurs at the floor level, but even in middle management limbo, where I live, the silliness flows pretty freely........like with the most recent memo from Corporate suggesting ways to improve our workflow and staff retention rates. They want us to hold daily managers' meetings, plus meetings with both shifts in the afternoons, PLUS safety committee and dietary meetings once weekly and of course, staff meetings semi-monthly. So......tell me again how wasting an average of two hours a day in meetings is supposed to improve productivity?? I swear, if I couldn't laugh about this stuff I'd probably cry---either that, or be found in the belfry communing with the bats.
5) The layman's use (or MISuse) of medical terminology has provided me with many hours of enjoyment over the years. I remember a very young (and very naive!) female patient who actually asked me what a virgin was, then asked me how she could be one when she'd never been to Virginia. And, living in an area where there are pockets of deep poverty and shocking ignorance, I've also had to do some pretty extensive teaching with older people who were diagnosed with "vagina particles" (AKA angina pectoris) or "pew-monia". Sometimes I have to look away for a moment to collect myself, because these folks can't help it and I would never laugh in a patient's face. Doesn't stop me from having a few giggles over it later, though.
These are some of the aspects of nursing that tickle my funny bone. How about yours?