Tuesday, March 31, 2015

April Fools

I have been the victim of a few April Fools pranks that played out in a clinical situation. To non-nurses I am sure they seem inappropriate, but they are definitely stress relievers. Foolishness does not work well if it ascends the nursing hierarchy, you can get into a heap of trouble. To be safe the foolishness must be between a couple of staff nurses that know each other well.

I may have fired the first shot in this episode of foolishness. One of my friends, Bonnie, was doing post mortem care for a patient that died as a result of bleeding problems secondary to his long term alcohol consumption.  I helped position the patient on the shroud and left Bonnie to discontinue his lines and finish preparing the  body. Soon Bonnie cried out to me "help, I need help." I was slow to respond, asking myself;  how much trouble can you get into preparing a body for the morgue? When I approached there was a huge circular blood spot running off the shroud and Bonnie was standing there with her finger aggressively applying pressure to his antecubital fossa. She said upon removal of his central line the bleeding would not stop. I told her with a snicker "any doctor or nurse knows all bleeding eventually stops."  Then I told her she would just have to pretend that she was that little Dutch girl with her finger in the dike and we would transport the body with her plugging the flow.

Bonnie was not amused and promised payback at a later time and occasion of her choosing. I tried to mollify her by stopping this post mortem exsanguination with a trusty piece of Gelfoam and a pressure dressing. It worked like a charm and I even helped her transport the body to the morgue in hopes of limiting damages to dampen down her threats of revenge.

Things went along just fine and I had forgotten the incident. It was April Fools day and I was caring for a patient that had abused amphetamines over a long period of time and had the unfortunate experience of popping two intracranial aneurysms. I have never cared for a patient this unstable and it was a true juggling act titrating her meds to maintain some semblance of reasonable vital signs. I usually forgo lunch when I have a patient that is not stable.  Bonnie finally convinced me to at least stop and go down for a bagel which I reluctantly did.

Bonnie had stationed a lookout in the hall who notified her when my return was forthcoming.  She then put her plan into action. She gathered several cohorts around the bed and then set the monitors to calibrate function so that the EKG and arterial line tracings were a straight line. The minute I saw this scene I felt  instant terror filled panic. She then, at the peak of my meltdown, yelled "April Fools." I really should have been wearing an adult diaper to contain the damages. It was one of those occasions that can take your breath away.

When the dust settled we agreed to a truce.

I know this probably seems politically incorrect and whippersnapperns have better sense, but it did serve to dissipate some of the stress.

I hope everyone has  great April Fools day.

1 comment:

  1. I look back fondly on the 10yrs I spent at a rural small hospital. I was nominally the ICU/CCU nurse, but floated all over when the 4 bed unit was empty. By choice I worked 3-11 and everyone knew each other hospital-wide. We became a sort of family and pranks and silliness were part of our culture. Of course this was carefully woven into our innate professionalism, but it did make coming to work more enjoyable.