This Happened To Me in August 2018

by Mr. Schnell

I had two patients and one was on MRSA isolation with a lumbar drain, bedridden on bedrest orders, and requiring close hourly observation of spinal fluid output from his drain. My other patient was a failure to thrive open heart patient 10 days post op, going in and out of atrial fib. Confused. Magnesium IV boluses were ordered and given, temporarily controlling the arrthymia.

I was busy jumping between the two rooms, constantly gloving and gowning in the isolation room or rushing to the other room to keep the confused atrial fibber in bed. He was unsteady on his feet. He’d already fallen a few times on other shifts when he got out of bed unassisted. The unit was full and everyone was busy. The charge nurse had two patients but managed to get one transferred out four hours into the shift.

I worked a 12 hour shift. Five hours into the shift my lumbar drain had projectile vomiting. I tried to set up suctioning the previous shift didn’t do. Normally I would have seen that and set it up but my other confused patient kept me busy and I forgot to even see if the lumbar drain guy had a working set up. He didn’t. He blew chunks across the room. I turned and dodged a full facial but he hit the only part of my plastic protection gown open in the back. I later found he also got my hair, beard, glasses and pants.

I cleaned up the patient and the room. No one was available to help, they were all busy. I could feel the hot vomit turn cold on my back by time I finished the cleanup.

I called the night shift supervisor who refused to help and told me to call housekeeping for clean scrubs. I paged three times. No answer. I spent 5-6 hours in dirty scrubs, needed a shower and clean clothes but could get no one to relieve me so I could clean up. I eventually snuck into the clean linen closet and procured a pair of patient pajamas. I was as careful as possible not to contaminate other areas but that is pretty much only wishful thinking.

I got through the shift. There was a lot of laughing at my expense especially with me wearing ill fitting patient pajamas.

My charge nurse gave report to the day shift and must have given a humorous rendition of my night. Her and my manager emerged from report and looked over at me laughing as they walked down the hall. The day nurse assuming care of my patient told me I don’t need to tell him anything.

Laughing he stated, “I heard all about it!”

I got home and finally got my shower. That is when I found residue in my hair, beard, and on my glasses. I soaked my scrubs separately in a bucket with bleach for a day. Washed them twice, then did a meticulous cleansing of the wash machine. This was MRSA after all.

I did a thorough cleaning of my truck too!

I was not scheduled for work for two days and returned on a Saturday night. It was my turn to float so I was assigned to the medical floor. As I was walking out of the ICU break room, not inches from the door to exit, one of my coworkers decided to add insult to injury.

“Don’t get vomit on yah!”

Now I am a slow burn and I had almost three days to “simmer” about my MRSA shower, getting laughed at, the clean up, no assistance. I thought I came to closure, that this is health care and “shit happens.”

I thought I had personally, internally resolved this issue.

I DIDN’T!!!

When I heard those five words; “Don’t get vomit on ya!” … it took me back to picking undigested food chunks out of my beard and moustache.

The simmer turned to rage! I erupted.

“FUCK YOU MOTHERFUCKERS! I HOPE THIS HAPPENS TO YOU. TELL ME THEN HOW FUNNY YOU MOTHERFUCKERS THINK IT IS!”

I left the room fuming and immediately regretted my loss of composure and self control. There would be consequences.

I had an uneventful shift on the other floor. We helped each other out. It was nice and a wonderful reprieve from the ICU and it’s ever present dysfunction.

I returned to work Sunday night in the ICU where the hospital police were waiting for me and read me my Miranda rights. Apparently some of my nursing male colleagues were so fearful of my outburst they filed a complaint.

I made no statement. Informed the supervisor I was read my rights and wished to leave and contact my attorney. I did.

The “misunderstanding” was resolved. Apologies issued all around and later I was informed I was welcome back with open arms. All forgiven all forgotten.

I went straight to human resources and filed for retirement and retired. I never returned to the ICU but my friends kept me informed of the rumors. The two male coworkers, buddies until my outburst , went into overdrive character assassination.

I left dysfunction central forever and went camping, hiking, and get to sleep at night (something I have missed for 38 years).

I recently saw this article requesting retired healthcare workers consider returning to the microbial soup kitchen:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/25/retired-health-workers-return-us-coronavirus

As an ICU nurse I have dealt with TB exposure, hepatitis risks, needle sticks, HIV from Aids patients in the mid and late 1980s, a potential ebola outbreak back during the Obama administration (he successfully protected America from an ebola hell-on-earth scenario) and now we have this corona virus which the willfully ignorant have willfully ignored but can’t anymore. The problem we face today is leadership under a moron who will get untold thousands killed.

I am retired and have followed this pandemic through Chris Martenson’s Youtube video updates since early January. When late night comedians made jokes about China’s crisis (as if we were immune) I didn’t find it the least entertaining or funny. My MRSA experience is still fresh in mind. I didn’t think it funny then and I don’t find it humorous now. With corona virus now in the mix contamination has deadly consequences for older nurses. Not a place to be with a schadenfreude crew.

If my former coworkers still remember me, they may now possibly appreciate my outburst in a different light as they face this crisis head on. I regret my meltdown but it gave me the push to retire and the opportunity to have 14 months before this pandemic nightmare hit. For that I am thankful.

As for returning to health care… explore my blog site. Tell me what you would do.

Trump would have to resign, a real leader take charge, and an effective corona virus battle plan implemented. We have lost precious time.

Until then

Stay Safe

ISOLATE.

Mr. Schnell Out

PS

I heard rumors of healthcare workers experiencing a black lash. Nurses going to grocery stores are being assaulted by other shoppers fearful the nurses are carrying the virus from work. I hope this isn’t true but it sure wouldn’t surprise me. I have been spit on , punched, and cussed at work by people and their families I was helping. Nope. Stories like this are no surprise to me anymore …not since trump took office.

Published by starvingcartoonist

StarvingCartoonist is a former ICU nurse that has worked at numerous civilian, military, and veteran Intensive Care Units across the country for better than three decades but has been sketching, drawing, and cartooning since he first picked up a crayon in kindergarten. Dabbled with political cartooning, writing, and general illustrations but the bread and butter came from health care. Recently left professional nursing to concentrate on camping, hiking, nature, the outdoors, trees, trails, and peace of mind. Love a campfire; rather watch it than TV. Avoid bureaucracy, career ladders, ladder climbers, and hero worship at all cost. Evenings spent with a good book, reading until the book smacks my nose when I doze off. Generally up at sun rise, listen to the mourning doves, put the coffee on, and play it by ear the rest of the day.

4 thoughts on “This Happened To Me in August 2018

  1. That story’s both grim and impressive. A bad day at work hardly begins to describe it and the response of your colleagues was apalling. I think you deserve your camping and your hiking and a well earned retirement. I saw that Guardian story – our NHS is so badly run down now it’s pared to the bone. As for equipment, we have nurses fashioning their own PPE from repurposed bin-liners.

    Love your blog. I’m squeamish as hell but I find your stories grimly fascinating. As for your contempt for the orange one, I feel your anger.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am a regular person and took pride in taking care of regular people that appreciate and don’t take advantage or act entitled. The rich have forever selfishly taken care of themselves even to go so far as to steal from the taxpayer or poor and then the rich say they worked hard for their advantages….oh don’t get me started. my biggest frustration will be when I see this 2 trillion dollar package of tax payer money go to rich prick bailout and to celebrate they rent a penthouse suite in vegas and party till they get cocaine nose bleeds like they did in 2008. I hope that doesn’t happen. I would love to see this virus actually bring the world together and share resources so we can all have decent lives from Bangledesh to the Amazon, to Singapore, New Zealand Europe and Africa and all points in between. That said I am off to listen to John Lennons “Imagine”. Take care Michael. Good chatting with you…

      Liked by 2 people

    1. So much more to the story and what happened to other coworkers a year later…that is another blog if I get the urge to revisit…so far I don’t. Glad to be done with that chapter…now I need a cup of coffee. Where did I put it?

      Liked by 1 person

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