Gonna Wash That Man Outta My Hair
My first encounter with trauma in the emergency room came early in my student nursing rotation. I was on the afternoon shift, when a middle aged, big rig truck driver was brought to the Emergency department by ambulance. He had been involved in a vehicle accident, running off the road and into a large tree.
As we examined him, I knew that he had one of his fractured femurs because of the discoloration and distortion of his thighs. He also had facial trauma with distortion of cheek and nasal bones. There was a lot of bleeding from his nose.
He was strapped on a back board and was yelling “I’M DROWNING! I’M DROWNING!” And probably he was with the blood from his nose running down his throat.
Despite our frequent attempts to suction his mouth and throat, the blood would accumulate and he would forcefully spit the blood and clots out of his mouth. They would actually hit the lights and ceiling. Sometimes when it didn’t reach the ceiling it would rain down on the nurses and doctor gathered around him.
The doctor managed to get him intubated, after light sedation and the endotracheal tube prevented the blood from entering his lungs. It also made it easier to suction him. Shortly after that, he was flown to a hospital for a higher level of care.
I had stayed over longer than the end of the “class” because they needed help. I was a step and fetch it person most of the time, but it freed the others to do the things that needed done for the man.
Even though I wasn’t huddled around the trucker’s bed giving care, I had blood over my head, my shoulders, and my uniform. I washed off what I could from my hands and arms in a sink, but still had blood and clots on my uniform and in my hair.
I asked and took a bottle of hydrogen peroxide back to the dormitory to get the blood stains from my uniform.
I grabbed soap, shampoo, and a towel as soon as I got back to the dormitory. I ran cold water in the bathroom sink and began flick off the clots and work the blood stains out of my white top. I soaked my pants as well even though they were dark blue and couldn’t see any stains on them.
While they soaked, I went into the shower to get the blood out of my hair. Large clots of blood were dried and matted in my hair. I managed to pull a few small clots loose along with some of my hair. I tried soaking and scrubbing them out with water having limited success. They just weren’t budging and I was tired and getting frustrated. I was tired and just wanted to be clean and get to bed.
A light bulb came on, a dim one for sure, now that I look back on it. The peroxide! It worked on my uniform. It should work on these clots too.”
I hopped out of the shower and snatched the peroxide bottle from the sink ledge. Hurrying back into the shower, I poured out some of the hydrogen peroxide on my hair. Then I squirted on some shampoo and scrubbed like crazy. After a few seconds, I rinsed the shampoo and peroxide out. I watched as the water became pink and some of the clots circled the drain and disappeared.
“Great! It‘s really working. The clots are coming loose.” I almost danced a jig, but I was too tired.
After repeating this about three times, my hair was clot free and clean. I collected my uniform, wrung out most of the water, and went back to my room. I hung my top and pants over the backs of chairs to dry and crawled into bed.
The next day as I walked to class, one of the student nurses said, “Boy you’re hair looks really red in the sun today.”
OOPS! It was the hydrogen peroxide. I had unintentionally lightened my hair. I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t want to look stupid, so I mumbled “It was a new shampoo.” and kept on walking.