Plop, Plop, Fizz. Fizz, Oh What a Relief It Is
It was an unusually busy three to eleven shift on our med/ surg. floor. Everyone was “flying solo.” As long as they could do a task without asking for help, they did it. Everyone was trying to get “their own work” done, without pulling someone else away another from their assignments.
The call bell rang out and one of our R. N. s, Barb was at the desk and answered the call light. It was that old man who said “I really need to go bad!”
It’s almost always a better choice to help a patient to the bathroom than to change the bed linens, although there are always exceptions.
Barb was wearing a brand new pant uniform and shoes. She almost glowed like an angel under the fluorescent lights. She was the only nurse at the station. She stopped taking off the doctors’ orders and hurried into the patient’s room.
The man was thin, with wispy white hair, and unsteady on his feet. Barb helped him to stand. She then stepped behind him to help him keep balanced. She placed a hand beneath each of his armpits, to support him as he walked to the bathroom. After a few steps, Barb found herself in a dilemma. The old man began to move his bowels. Like a cow, his feces was loose and it dropped, “PLOP! PLOP!” on the floor, splattering Barb’s new shoes and pant legs.
Barb couldn’t allow the unsteady, elderly patient to walk unaided, but she didn’t want the poop to continue splashing onto her new clothing. All she could do was to hold onto him and keep going. She kept spreading her legs wider and wider to try to avoid stepping in the feces and to keep her uniform from being splattered.
By the time she made it to the bathroom entrance, her stance was almost too wide to go through the bathroom door. She eased the man through the doorway and sat him on the commode. Leaving him with the call bell cord, she exited the bathroom, cleaned the mess on the floor, and went to the nurse’s lounge to wipe off the worst of the feces from her shoes and pants. She couldn’t remove enough of the feces from her new pants and had to wear a pairs of operating room scrub pants and soak her pants in cold water.
For most of the evening, she was upset, but after a few of us moving past her with our arms out in front of us and walking with our legs spread wide, she did see the humor of the whole incident and managed to smile before the end of her shift.