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I have been fortunate enough to be a critical care nurse for almost 30 years. During this span of time, I have worked in many roles: staff nurse, charge nurse, nurse clinician, critical care clinical nurse specialist, nurse researcher, nurse coordinator, director of education, adjunct faculty for a school of nursing, lecturer at a local school of nursing, and now, editor.
The opportunity to grow and practice in so many areas is one of the many positive aspects about being a nurse. Many options are available to us. We can choose the hours we want to work, the specialty area, and the setting. We can teach, write, conduct research, serve as consultants, and work in a variety of areas. So during my long tenure as a critical care nurse, I have had the opportunity to see both nurses and doctors write or say some outrageous things. Healthcare is rewarding and challenging. There rewards are often difficult to see. For example, a few months ago I was having a particularly bad day. I returned home to an e-mail from a colleague (and now a friend for life), telling me I had been one of her mentors. Without knowing it, I had positively impacted her career. The e-mail made an otherwise bad day good. So take the time to thank the people, who have impacted you, both professionally and personally,
But back to the purpose of this article. We all take our careers very seriously, but I believe humor to be one of the aspects that can help us to maintain our sanity. The following situations are accumulated from my nearly 30 years in the profession; these were either seen or heard from nurses or doctors and each brought about laughter. So take a few minutes for yourself. Remember you are a role model for other nurses, whether you know it or not. Take time to laugh and remember that humor can help you to maintain perspective.
1. "Patients cannot go into asystole if they have a pacemaker." Granted, it was 2:00 am and I had to wake the physician, who obviously was not fully awake.
2. "It is impossible to go into asystole if you are in atrial fibrillation." The nurse then asked the physician if atrial fibrillation was the secret to eternal life.
3. "I cannot come to work today because my grandmother just died." This was the sixth grandmother to die within 2 months. I realize that with today's blended families, it may be possible to have six people one may consider as grandmothers. Still, it seemed a bit coincidental to me that they each died on the weekend.
4. "I do not know what to do about this patient. He is a total enigma to me."
5. A prominent nurse in the community was admitted to a telemetry unit with an exacerbation of asthma. Another patient in the unit developed chest discomfort. The telemetry nurse ordered an electrocardiogram (ECG) and then took the ECG to the patient with asthma and asked her to interpret it. The nurse did.
6. A patient was admitted to a critical care unit with status asthmaticus. One of the nurses in the unit asked the patient, "Is it really possible to die of asthma?"
7. "Drainage from the chest tube was 200 mL of urine."
8. The doctor stated to the nurse that the patient's heart sounds were normal. The nurse asked, "How do you know this since you had placed the stethoscope on the patient's chest but neglected to insert the earpieces into his ears?"
9. "Women do not have heart disease."
10. "I am too drunk to come in and see this patient." At least the physician was honest, but he was on call.
11. "I am on a boat in the middle of the river and cannot get there for several hours." Again, the physician was on call. I sent the coast guard to get him. At least he was sober.
12. "Why do we have to give change of shift reports at the patients' bedsides? Won't they hear us?"
13. "The patient spontaneously recovered from ventricular fibrillation with any intervention. It had to be a miracle."
14. "Nurses should not be allowed to perform defibrillation. When my patient codes, call me before starting cardiopulmonary resuscitation and do not do anything else until I get there, including medications and defibrillation."
15. "I withheld the digoxin because the patient's heart rate was 120."
16. "No one is allergic to aspirin."
17. "Can you believe this guy? He was very allergic to peanuts but loved them. So he would start driving to the emergency department and eat peanuts along the way. By the time he got to the ED, he was extremely short of breath." This happened four or five times a year.
18. "There were no obvious signs of bleeding but I had to change the dressing several times a day because it was saturated with blood."
19. "My patient is in VD. Bring the crash cart."
20. "Do I really have to do the assignments in this class?"
21. "The enema was administered through the nasogastric tube."
22. "Hallelujah!! The patient came back to life all by herself."
23. "The patient obviously was faking her coma. I started to polish her fingernails when she told me she did not like that color. When I became surprised at her 'awakening,' she began to fake her coma again. I later found out that she only went into a coma when she wanted to."
24. "Cigarette smoking is good for you. It does not cause any of those bad diseases."
25. "I only smoke when I am pregnant. It keeps me from gaining too much weight."
26. "Why are we giving this patient heparin? She only has a clot in her leg."
27. "The patient is in respiratory arrest but then I remembered he was on a ventilator and the tubing had only come loose from the trach tube."
We are all human. We all say or act without thinking at times during our careers, but we provide the best possible care to all our patients and their families. I hope you have enjoyed this list of examples. Doubtless you all can remember equally humorous situations. We should periodically take a few moments to laugh at ourselves. Laughter helps maintain sanity and is truly a part of good medicine.
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