Monday, October 5, 2015

Ouch! That Really Smarts

Here are some mishaps that old school nurses faced causing  them to scream OUCH! We were never permitted to swear or raise our voices so a meek little ouch was about the only outburst allowed when being pinched, stabbed, or burned.

Pages  that went into the chart were imprinted by a handy little device known as an Addressograph machine. Each patient had a small plastic card with raised letters and ID numbers. The patient's card was positioned in the machine and the plate with the card pivoted into a rubber roller transferring the information to the paper. This was actually kind of neat. The machine made a reassuring click and whirring noise as it operated which I found rather relaxing. The OUCH resulted when someone, usually in a hurry, bent over close to the machine while it was operating and got a clump of hair twisted around the roller. The Addressograph machine would rip out a patch of hair faster than Moe of the Three Stooges. This was another reasons for nurses to wear caps - to keep hair form being ripped out by that nasty machine. It really did smart and all that giggling from your co-workers did little to soothe the pain.

"Portable" EKG machines used be the size of a grocery cart and when utilized to record the events at a code, required frequent replacement of the rolled paper. The tracing was made on heat sensitive paper with a very hot stylus. Is this technology still in use or has someone figured out how to do this without the burning hot stylus? Anyhow, when rushing to replace the roll of recording paper it was common to get your index finger and/or thumb roasted by contacting the blistering hot stylus. OUCH!

Metal chart holders were spring loaded to keep the pages pinched in place. This worked out great until Miss Butterfingers ( I am speaking from personal experience) neglected to move their finger out of the clamp zone when positioning a report in the chart and closed the spring loaded chart on a finger. OUCH. Now you know how a mouse feels when that trap snaps shuts.

This one really does hurt and can cause injury so don't try to replicate it. Those weighted speculums can get really slippery and have been known to slide right out of your hand in the OR. Just make sure it does not land on your foot. That really smarts and can cause serious damage. I have been thinking of inventing a non-slip version of this instrument, but lack the incentive. I made my fortune from being a scrub nurse, so maybe a nurse entrepreneur somewhere could cash in on this idea.

I hate needle electrodes with a passion. I really think they are inhumane and inflict unnecessary trauma on patients who are already compromised. Once when inserting an electrode, Miss Bruiser, my favorite instructor kept telling me to "slide the needle in more." They were inserted very shallow and almost parallel to the skin. When I inserted the needle as instructed it went straight through the patient's skin into my thumb. I tried to pretend all was well, but Miss Bruiser saw it all and really chewed me out with adjectives like "clumsy, awkward, and inept." I was in pain and totally humiliated. OUCH and OOPS.

Old time traction beds were an OUCH waiting to happen. There were a number of painful scenarios.The trapeze was typically at the same level as the nurse's head when she was providing care. Patients would be pulling at the trapeze while attempting to position themselves then suddenly release the bar causing it to bonk the nurse squarely in the head. If the nurse suddenly raised her head, it was easy to crash into one of the horizontal cross members above. Traction weights could be dropped on a nurse's toes.

Old school nurses never could get used to those new-fangled IV holders that hung from ceiling mounts. Give me a good old pole any day. We were constantly banging our skulls on these overhead hazards. I even witnessed an event that I affectionately call the "skyhook decapitation."  Unbeknownst to her, a nurse got her cap tangled up in the curley- Q hook of the overhead  IV rack and suddenly walked away. Her cap secured by multiple bobby pins was forcibly ripped from her head with a considerable amount of hair. Combine one of these overhead IV  poles with an Adressograph  and you have a formidable hair pulling machine. My scalp hurts just thinking about it.

I really know little about computers. All I know is that I type this and nice people down in that little box read it. Recently, I discovered that many people actually read my foolishness in the middle of the night or bright and early in the morning. I really do not feel worthy of your readership, especially at this hour ( the only writing experience I have is writing operative reports or nursing notes that were not read)  Thanks for giving an old fool something to do and I hope you have an uneventful night! I learned long ago never to wish night nurses a "quiet night."  All hell usually breaks loose after even thinking about that "Q" word.  Wishing for an uneventful night usually does work. At least it doesn't jinx you like that nasty "Q" word.


  1. I really truly enjoy your blog posts! They make me laugh and smile! Thanks for sharing your stories! :)

  2. I really truly enjoy your blog posts! They make me laugh and smile! Thanks for sharing your stories! :)

  3. Heat sensitive paper is everywhere now. All your receipts from the grocery store are on it. I know that they have been using it for over 20 years in various things so I would assume that they have a new method instead of the hot stylus.

  4. Thanks moontoad for the interesting info. We had to use the hot stylus method on old EKG machines because the stylus doing the recording moved faster than ink could flow. I was curious if someone figured out how to use ink under pressure to record with high movement speed on modern machines. Thanks so much for your comment.