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As big as my fist, I kid you not.

March 10, 2007

So I had my last day of clinical experience at the Long Term Care facility (seriously, make yourself familiar with Dr. Kevorkian….or retire a multi millionare cause most all of those places SUCK) and I got to spend my last day with Helen. She is a lovely little thing, 93 years old but suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease and is quite demented from it. Between bouts of “Where is she, where is she, I need it , I need it, I need it, I need it, OH my brother, OH my brother, praypraypraypraypraypraypraypray….” you ask her the occasional question or make a comment and she looks right at you giving you a correct response. It caught me off guard each time she seemed lucid and that is funny and sad to me. While I was trying to get some more vital signs from her she became very agitated and cried over and over again, “I want my mother, I want my mother, I want my mother, I want my mother…”. I knew just what she meant and I said softly to her, “I want my mom too.” and placed my hand on the side of her face cupping her cheek as I do my own little ones and she closed her eyes, pressed her hand against mind and nestled in against me relaxing and sighing with relief. I cried a bit and feel like such a pussy. Maybe I am too mushy to be a nurse. I am not that hardened. It worries me all morning. I feel torn between feeling such empathetic pain for her and shame for feeling so low and sad for a person I don’t’ know, can’t change anything for or do much about.

Later, after we both mutually miss our moms and she has had some breakfast it is off to the shower for the two of us. She smells of pee and might have another UTI. I have been concerned because it appears she has not had a bowel movement in more than 9 days and straining could actually cause her to die like Elvis did so that would suck. We head off to the shower and my instructor (Bless her, and I don’t even believe in god) came along to help me as she tends to be agitated and might leap out of the shower chair and break her 93 year old bones. While washing her hair I smell some poop. I comment on it and ask for an extra pair of gloves to pick it up off the floor. I look down and it is just hanging there out of her butt. It is as big as my fist and I kid you not. I pull it off her and see there is a ton of poop impacted in her rectum and her poor rectum is so distended it might be about 3-4 inches around. I confer with my instructor who looks at me dubiously and says, “Well, we may have to dis-impact her.” I ask if we should get her nurse. She says yes. The nurse is too busy. We do it. She brings me some lubricant and more gloves and asks me if I am okay and ready? I say, Heck yea, I am gonna be a nurse. I am totally cool and fine. Surprisingly I am. I just feel terrible for her that her body is so neglected by her caregivers and so old it does not work well on its own and that it has come down to this- In a communal shower in an old age home this stranger, me, a student must help this woman out of her misery. It goes pretty quick and I am glad I have not hurt her. She seems fine and is just cold and wet and I want to dry her off and get her dressed. We take her back, finish cleaning and dressing her and wheel her into the day room for some sunshine and some company.

All my friends and fellow students hear about my exciting day and come to ask some questions. It is not bad. Not too gross really and I really just feel sorry for her. I drive back over to campus to do some lab stuff and realize I am hungry. I eat some pizza and realize that I can totally be a nurse if I can dis-impact an old ladies ass of 9 days worth of poop and still feel hungry for pizza an hour later. So what if I cry a little, I guess that part is really okay.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2007 12:34 am

    “dis-impact an old ladies ass of 9 days worth of poop and still feel hungry for pizza an hour later.”
    may be the best line in a post I’ve ever read.

  2. gina permalink
    March 11, 2007 1:42 am

    the crying and the empathy–that is what will MAKE you a great nurse. your patients will be fortunate to have you there to take care of them.

  3. david bamford permalink
    March 12, 2007 7:25 pm

    I fely quite upset when i read this. Im useless I couldnt do this. Im glad someone can.

  4. March 12, 2007 10:05 pm

    Well, I’d have to say that I hope someone like you is taking care of my father-in-law. 15 years diagnosed- only been in the home for a bit over a year and sometimes he doesn’t look so hot…

  5. byzanicon permalink
    March 14, 2007 7:00 am

    Oh my god! You are so meant to be a nurse! I love how you told this story!

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