Friday, July 22, 2011

The Fountain

People often ask me at work why I want to go into medicine instead of nursing. I often say in partial jest that I don't like poop. The other, non-jesting half raised it's head last night.

An elderly patient was admitted with a broken hip from a local nursing home yesterday morning. Throughout the day, XRAYs were taken, EKGs performed and Ike* was medically and cardiology cleared for surgery on Monday. It was an arduous exhausting day for the poor, confused man.

As the evening progressed, Ike began to become more confused. Sundowners syndrome is a common phenomenon with some disoriented elderly people. In Ike's case, he became spatially disoriented and lost control of his bowels.

His nurse, Tina and I noticed his incontinence and gathered the supplies needed to clean him up; washcloths and towels, bedclothes, a new gown and Proshield, a skin protectant. We rolled him to his unfractured side and I began the cleaning process.

Afraid that he was going to fall, Ike began howling and let his bowels loose. It was Old Faithful. For several long moments the stool shot up into the air, splattering the sheets, the bed rail and my shoes. I quickly grabbed the clean towel and, in a futile attempt to dike the flow, placed it against his backside.

After the fountain tapered off, I gingerly took the towel away and resumed my wiping. Whoosh, the geyser erupted again spraying the front of my shirt. I snatched the bedpad and all the washcloths and again tried to dampen the flying stool.

This cycled continued for at least 20 minutes, all the while Ike was howling, Tina was trying to reassure him and I was trying to trench the lake of poop. It was awful. Tina was rubbing his back, whispering to him and avoiding my eyes. She snickered a couple of times but for the most part, stalwartly restrained her laughter. I'm sure that I was a sight; covered from shoulder to toes in poop and frantically using anything handy to stop the pool from cascading to the floor.

Later, as I wiped the streak on my cheek away in the staff room shower, I couldn't think of any of my more noble reasons for preferring medicine to nursing.

*all names and details have been changed to protect the identities of anyone who may be totally embarrassed by the occurrences that I described.

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