labor nurse has been reborn and shares her experiences as a new nurse-midwife, woman, and blogger

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

No Puke Zone

If there is one thing that I absolutely fear in my line of work, it's vomiting. Not vomiting while in labor, because most women in labor who puke have little in their bellies so it's not chunky, but vomiting from a virus. I absolutely dread such a thing.
When we get women in triage who need IV hydration for nausea and vomiting, I pray I do not get assigned to them. As soon as I hear that such a woman is going to be on our unit, my anxiety level shoots up ten-fold. Recently I've had a string of women at clinical who come in for this exact thing, and of course I am the one who assesses them and sits with them. I have to come in full contact with these women with the horrid viruses and I pray constantly that I do not catch what they have. I am a good hand sanitizer in general, but you can bet your last dollar that I am practically bathing in Cal-Stat and Purell before, during, and after caring for these women.
The reason for my fear and anxiety is that I am a horrible puker. I hate it more than most, I think, and even as an adult I cry. I try to bargain with the Gods and Goddesses to please just give me horrible diarrhea if I have to be sick- anything but vomiting! The mentality of just puking, getting it over with, and feeling better just doesn't jive with me. I would rather have hours of nausea and diarrhea than puke once. Frankly, I envy those who can puke like it's an aside. Like, ho-hum...I feel sick...let me puke....bluh.....ok, I'm done...what was I in the middle of saying?
This fear didn't start until I was a teenager, likely because I had had enough experience to know how much I hated it. I remember vividly one of the worst cases I had ever had: I was 22, and caught the most wretched bug that was striking people down left and right at work. It had been going through our patients (I worked with elderly at this time) and staff for a good month. I managed to stay away from just about anyone who came down with it. And then I realized that I was one of two nurses who had not become ill.
The same night I realized this, the other unaffected nurse called in sick. She was the only night shift RN, and there was no one to cover for her. So I said I would stay (oh, the days of pulling a double! I think I would die if I worked 3PM to 7AM now). Two days later, I found myself at home on New Years Eve after last minute cancellations. So I sat in front of the TV eating a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.
At 11PM, my stomach to feel queasy. I went to bed shortly after midnight, but my stomach felt even worse and I knew what was coming. By 1AM, I was hugging porcelain, and did so non-stop until 7AM. The following afternoon, when I finally started to feel a little better, my abs (I actually had some then) felt like I had put them through a Muscle Man competition.
So why do I tell you all this? Because I hate it so bad, that memories of that awful experience are so vivid, and because I had nothing else to write about. Oh, and it took me about 2 years to be able to eat Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough again.


Iris said...

I am seriously really afraid of this, too. My heart will start racing when I hear mention of it (happening nearby, at the moment). I don't let a lot of people know I have the fear of it because I feel like they would say "How are you going to be a nurse?" and I really don't need that kind of negativity in my life right now in my nursing school career.

Last year I was sick around Thanksgiving - I thought it was a regular flu at first because I felt sore and feverish one night. And then afterwards, the only symptom I had was just...nausea. I was fighting so hard not to v* because like you, I would rather just have nausea than letting it out and feeling better afterwards. I was diagnosed with gastritis and thankfully got some Promethazine for it.

I'm going to have to try to deal with it as best as I can. Like you, I think I would be more bothered with a virus. I hopefully would not be bothered by pregnant women and the usual N/V of pregnancy. I must have had some bad experience in the past or something. =/

amy said...

I hear ya! My worst was alcohol induced though, so my fault. But I still can't eat Hamburger Helper to this day.
My husband can't understand why a little bit of poop here or there during pushing doesn't bother me too much but oh do I hate the puke! I can't get him to understand that when she poops I don't ever feel an urge to follow suit!

may said...

my vomit tolerance attitude got better when i became a mom. my two boys both throw up on long road trips, that the pungent, acidic smell of vomit almost seem normal to me. for example, in a 7 hour drive to san francisco, they both vomitted a total of 7 times for the whole trip, that i almost was expecting more.

besides, the patients train me endlessly.

would you rather that they poop with that C-diff distinct smell, or vomit?

razorbackmama said...


So not cool. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

iris, I'm the exact opposite - if I'm nauseated, I'd rather just vomit and have it over with. Perhaps it because I don't vomit easily, but I did once spend 3 days not being able to keep even a teaspoon of water down.