Healthcare workers deal with a lot of shit…literally. You might think “Oh they do it so much they’re probably used to it” False. Every nurse has a weakness that is sure to induce nausea every time. They vary from nurse to nurse, but whether it’s dealing with sputum from a tracheostomy, Urosepsis, or pus from a freshly drained abscess, we’ve all got them. However, there are 3 smells that every healthcare worker knows will ruin their day and make them think “I don’t get paid enough for this shit.” I’ve taken the time to list the top 3 worst smells in healthcare.
For those that don’t know, C-diff is short for clostridium difficile. It’s a bug that grows in your colon after you’ve spent your life abusing antibiotics. News flash: That Z-pack ain’t gonna do shit for your cold. It will however aid in the destruction of the flora in your lower GI tract allowing this special friend to grow nicely. My favorite symptom of C-diff is the diarrhea. Not just any diarrhea. Diarrhea that smells like a dead animal crawled in your nose, puked, shat, then cut open its stomach spewing out all of its guts as it bled to death. This particular diarrhea is quite excessive, and it’s a nice mix of green, yellow, and brown. One good thing about C-diff is that it’s an unmistakable smell that can be diagnosed from down the hall so there’s not a whole lot of tests that need to be run. One of the few times a nurse or CNA will contemplate suicide is when walking toward the C-diff room because your patient needs a change. You want to hear a lethal combination? C-diff, obesity, and Alzheimer’s. This fat fucker was so out of his mind that he would shit to bed, clean himself with his hand, then smear it on his bedside table. Meeting him in my first year of nursing almost made me change careers. Lucky for you guys I stuck with it, and now you get to read about how miserable I am.
Black poop means you’re bleeding from somewhere in or near your stomach. Red poop means the bleeding is closer to your rectum. Either way it smells like you slit a cows throat, let the blood mix in with a pile of T-Rex shit, stirred it up using a rod forged from the remains of a thousand vulture carcasses, then left the mixture in an oil drum for 3 years to ferment. When EMS calls ahead with an incoming GI Bleed, we put all of our years of education together to think of a possible way to divert EMS. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll still take care of you, and treat you with dignity and respect. Just don’t be surprised if we meet you wearing hazmat suits and masks that most people use to protect themselves from biological warfare. GI Bleeds are yet another unmistakable smell that needs no test to diagnose. EMS once told me they had a GI Bleed coming in, but when the guy arrived I said, “Do you smell that?” The paramedic replied “No?” I said, “Exactly. This ain’t no GI Bleed.” Turned out the guy sliced his wagon wheel when he tried to shove a butter knife or two up there. Apparently he had run out of vegetables, and the next logical step was cutlery. Fun fact: just because it’s dull, doesn’t mean it won’t slice at high speeds
Ladies…I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping your axe wound clean. Doesn’t matter if your 80 lbs or 600 lbs, you’ve got to wash out your meat wallet regularly. I once had a patient who forgot she had a “period plug” up her finger warmer for 20 days. 20 fucking days! If I went 20 days without touching my genitals, my balls would be the color of blueberries and the size of limes. This woman developed Toxic Shock Syndrome. I remember this particular patient because this was the only time I’ve seen an ER doctor vomit in front of a patient. He went in for the pelvic exam, and came out 90 seconds later after puking in the trash can. Nothing is worse than pulling apart those beef curtains to put in a catheter, and having that green ghost hit you in the face. People relate the smell to fish. False. It’s more like a pile of dead fish that has been left in the sun for weeks. Then you take that pile, put it in a giant vat and pour a few hundred gallons of spoiled milk in it. Then you add in a thousand pounds if Munster cheese. Then you get all the homeless people in New York City to shit in it. Then just for fun you sprinkle in some AIDS. It’s actually shocking to imagine that something that was once beautiful can create such a wretched smell.
Well there you have it folks. The top 3 worst smells in healthcare. You have little control on the cause of two of those three smells. However, the worst of the worst is easily preventable with a little soap and water. Remember people…Front to back.