It may seem like we’re intentionally trying out simply the grossest, most horrifying jobs in the world for these articles, but we give you my assurances we’re not doing it on purpose. It’s simply that lots of jobs are route more disgusting than they’re depicted on Tv( since there are certain things people don’t want to watch while eating) and, in our minds, that constructs the ones who do them all the more heroic.
Which brings us to the two nurses we’re speaking to today — Samantha and Ben, one in the U.K ., one in the U.S. We wanted to learn more about what it’s like to care for the hideously sick among us, including those whose flesh is literally rotting off of their bones, and here’s what we found out …
# 5. Deadly Diseases Can Put You On Lockdown
Between when we first contacted her and when we wrote such articles, we lost touch with Samantha for a while. It turned out her whole hospital( located in the U.K .) went on emergency lockdown because the lab spotted anthrax in a patient’s blood and tissue. This wasn’t weaponized anthrax, which is much more dangerous, but it was still a rare and scary enough situation that it was time to put up barriers and break away the respirators. And, a little bit later, depending on how things ran, it would be DEFCON 0, which means mass vaccinations and decontamination procedures.
The full reaction would be intense but necessary .
Then it turned out the patient didn’t have anthrax. She simply had … flesh-eating bacteria. Phew!
The patient was an intravenous drug user, and there really may have been tracings of anthrax in some of the stuff she’d taken ( “That’s becoming more common with IV narcotics, ” tells Samantha ), but the disease chewing away at her was necrotizing fasciitis. We’ve told you before about this particular brute. “It’s a really nasty infection to have, as it’s a flesh-eater. The best route to get rid of it is to cut it out. And if you miss any, it will come back just as aggressive as before.” Just talking to the patient, the nurses had to shield themselves like they were performing surgery, with floor-length aprons, gloves, masks, the works. “The last thing anyone wants is a needle stick from a patient like that, ” tells Samantha — accidental needle sticks are otherwise reasonably common for nurses.
We recommend wearing a suit of armor at all times .
Ben says that hospitals like his across America have protocols for every kind of exotic cancer, but the real dangerous outbreak is the humble influenza. Each year’s flu vaccine simply predicts which strain will be prevalent, and last year, the experts got it wrong. Flu swept through the wards, and people succumbed. And as for personal dreads, the last weapon to tear through Ben’s skin wasn’t a needle but a set of teeth. Family members came to visit a patient, and one teenage girl get overwhelmed and sought consolation by chewing on Ben’s fleshy arm.
“The risk for exposure is very, very low, ” he tells of the wound, which required antibiotics, “but I still have that impression in the pit of my stomach that it could get really bad. The worst portion about being a nurse in the ER is that you find people at their worst. You see infections that go on for route too long before trying therapy. All the oozing, inflamed, stinking, swollen wounds that people allow to fester to the point of nearly being beyond therapy. And that’s all I can think about.”
Fun fact: Hospital food is actually delicious, but no one has an appetite .
And while we’re on the subject …
# 4. You Deal With Lots Of Zombified Flesh
“I was admitting an older man who had been forgetting himself at home and had become unwell, ” recollects Samantha. This instance, as far as the hospital knew, had as much to do with social issues as any kind of medical care they were prepared to provide. But they had to get to the bottom of it, and Samantha was tasked with starting the guy off by getting him undressed and into the shower. “I pulled off the sock on his left foot and virtually fell over. All the route up his foot and to simply above his ankle the tissue had at some point succumbed and had been left for so long that it had the appearance of a mummified limb connected to a healthy leg.”
They burned the sock. For hygiene, and to break the curse .
Yeah, it turns out rotted flesh always frightens you, even long after you’re used to working around blood, shit, and puking on a daily basis. Ulcers get seriously bad, and sometimes they burrow their route through the muscle and uncover the bone. With these ulcers, which can begin just as a bed sore, you can actually see the bare leg bone rotate in the hip joint. We’re not talking about during surgery — it’s simply exposed, always.
Ben, too, tells the grossest thing he’s ever seen was a leg ulcer. The patient was a Vietnam vet. “From the knee down: cry, sloughing gangrene. No pulse , no decent blood render … his leg was literally rotting. When he would stand up, fluid would just start oozing to the floor, and it was one of the most disgusting smellings I’ve experienced.”
Holes in the floor still smoke today .
Both the vet and Samantha’s patient wound up with their legs chopped off. That’s how you stop the undead. Speaking of which …
# 3. Sometimes, The Work Sounds Like Witchcraft
When the hospital’s usual arsenal of body science produces nothing, they turn themselves next toward the weird stuff. Now, the weird stuff isn’t total nonsense. Ben including with regard to resents the phrase “alternative treatments”: “When I hear the word, my gut reaction is ‘treatment that doesn’t work, but it hasn’t been researched, so we can say it might.’ When things work and we have the studies to prove it, we just call it ‘treatment.'” But these methods often sound like they’re stolen from tribal shamans who live in another century and maybe on another planet.
An old lady with poor circulation once knocked her leg and got a sore the width of a fist and a couple inches deep. When Samantha’s team couldn’t treat the trauma with normal methods, they dropped a piling of maggots on her. “It’s much more precise than surgical intervention to remove necrotic tissue and can induce healing, ” tells Samantha. It also involves worms eating you, which reportedly hurts. But at least the maggots are specially bred in a hospital laboratory, so no one has to be scared of dumping new worm germs into the leg hole.
The maggots didn’t finish the job. So next it was time to make like cannibals and lather the woman with honey. Authorities are officially skeptical about “Medihoney” as a therapy — the ancient Egyptians use it, but most people stopped when they discovered antibiotics. But practitioners still say it’s an awesome route to keep bacteria from growing. “You see it quite a bit in the nursing home and occasionally in the hospital, ” tells Ben. And, sure enough , no deadly infection took the woman over, but that wasn’t enough. To heal, she needed more.
Samantha’s team next applied dress containing pure, shiny silver. Silver kills all kinds of bacteria, nurses say. Staff talk about how, back in the ‘4 0s and ‘5 0s , no one get infections from IV drips like they do now. Today, tells Ben, IVs use catheters with plastic sheaths. “Back then, they just left a needle in your limb. What was the IV needle made of? Silver.” So, you might gues experiments would corroborate silver’s mending powers. Well, not so much, but that doesn’t keep the U.K. from spending 25 million pounds annually on silver to dress wounds.
If merely there were another source lying around handy …
So, Samantha treated this woman like a corpse, then a ham, then a werewolf. And in the end? The leg mended. Samantha convinced the patient to install a couple handrails at home for future protection, but the woman was principally happy that she was strong enough to get back to bowling.
Meanwhile, if you show up at many hospitals in the U.S ., tells Ben, the nurses might whip out something that will surprise you even more. In the emergency department, they carry cocaine. Small amounts, but it’s there. It’s not leftover from the Christmas party — it’s a last resort for extreme nosebleeds. “You find, ” he tells, “topical be applied in cocaine is a powerful vasoconstrictor; it essentially shrivel your capillaries in your nose and effectively stops the bleed. Pretty cool stuff.”
The procedure was pioneered by a Dr. K. Richards of England .
And that brings us to …
# 2. Caring For Victims Of Crime Is Tricky
When Ben first considered the emergency contraceptive drug Plan B in the medicine room, he giggled. “Who the fuck supposes scheme B is an emergency? ” he tells. “Then it made me. ‘Oh. Oooooooooh. Awwwwww noooooooo.'” Once he learned a little more, he thought of going to get forensic nurse and becoming a sexual assault nurse examiner, collecting rape evidence for trials and guiding victims through the process. Then, once he learned more still, he realise a 200 -pound, 5-foot-11, tattooed guy like him wouldn’t be the best person to handle anyone — female or male — who detects themselves in that situation.
But all nurses eventually end up treating victims of some kind. Kid looks like her father is beating her? It’s time to call the social worker( not the policemen ), and the nurse never hears what happens next because privacy statutes prohibit following up. Senior citizen looks like his kid is beating him ? Then it’s time to call an bureau devoted to elder abuse. Ben recollects one old man who came in dehydrated and malnourished, his whole lower body contained within sores from lying in his own mushy feces. This guy, Ben was allowed to follow up on, and he wound up healthy enough and happy a couple months later in a well-run state nursing home.
“Government nursing home: Now with feces-free beds! ”
The social workers may or may not call the police — but that’s their department. The hospital will never call the police for anything short of a gunshot wound. “Unless they tell us that they want to call the police, ” tells Samantha, “we can’t breaking confidentiality. Even with domestic violence cases or rape.” Ben routinely get calls from police. He cooperates just fine when they need a report about a traffic accident or something similar, but other periods, they ask him for health records, to corroborate suspects’ whereabouts, or to hold patients in custody. He simply replies that he has no obligation to assist them.
They’re also discreet about injuries that are embarrassing but legal .
Meanwhile, if you’re in the hospital when worse comes to worst …
# 1. Resuscitation Doesn’t Look Like It Does On TV
As we’ve referred to above , the first crucial difference between CPR as done on a Tv hospital drama versus real life is that the latter is far more violent . If done right, you’re going to break ribs — you’re trying to compress the heart through a enclosure made of bone. In a movie or Tv depict they’re doing gentle compressions as not to abuse the actor or stunt person; that’s why they’re able to do things like dedicate chest compressions to a patient on a stretcher. That doesn’t happen in real life. Stretchers are too flimsy — you’d simply be bending the stretcher and watching it bounce back while the patient remains unchanged and softly dies.
If you’re doing it in an ambulance, your goal is to have it banging like a low-rider .
The force involved is also tremendously tiring on the nurse, which constructs it impossible to keep up for an extended duration of period. “You “ve tried to” compress the chest about an inch and a half in, ” tells Ben. “After compressing person for two minutes, you are drained. Do that for five more rounds, and your back and limbs are practically useless.” In the hospital, they don’t even do compressions by hand the majority of members of the time. They start off by hand, but then they pass the job off to the chest-squeezing robot. And if that seems too impersonal for your sexy nurse fiction, here’s more bad news: Nurses don’t do mouth-to-mouth. That’s pointless compared to chest stuff, and the chance of you throwing up into their mouth is too high.
But, genuinely, getting felt up by a murderer robot is the ultimate fiction .
When patients flatline, nurses don’t reach for those working shock pads. The defibrillator resets an irregular pulse; it can’t restart a stopped one. But “theyre trying” plenty of other procedures — they don’t give up in 30 seconds like on television and start sobbing about how “it never get easier! ” They’ll put in an IV. They’ll drill a hole into the bone for more meds. They won’t call a demise before at least 15 minutes pass without a heartbeat.
And, surprisingly, nurses want family members in the room during this whole process, in spite of all the infection and interference you’d think they’d bring. “Families that are watching stay the hell out of your route, ” Ben explains. “They don’t want to be a distraction; they want you at the peak of your game just as much as you do. They are not at all critical. Yes, they are weeping and emotional about the situation, but when they can actually see you go for 30 minutes trying to resurrect their loved one, they are have respect for you.”
For more insider views, check out 5 Terrifying Things I Learned As A Drug-Addicted Nurse and We Can Let Babies Die: 6 Realities Of Neonatal Nursing .
Read more: www.cracked.com