Every bedside nurse was a master when it came to the quick shave. A wash cloth heated in the blanket warmer served to mollify the most robust beard. A few deft strokes with a prep razor produced a dapper looking patient despite the paroxysms of sustained DTs of an alcoholic in the process of sobering up.
Shaving had one well known complication. Intubated patients always had that pesky pilot balloon dangling in the razor's path and slicing into that tiny little bubble resulted in lots of excitement. A massive leak around the deflated cuff of the endotracheal called for a STAT reintubation, but, at least, the patient looked nice if you could overlook the terrified expression elicited by a crash intubation..
Another trick in the looking good procedure manual was fooling around with the lighting. Jaundiced patients always looked much worse under incandescent illumination, so open the drapes and turn off the overheads in the room. Avoiding yellow bedspreads helps too. Patients with an elevated bilirubin of 4 mg/dl never looked so good.
Out of sight, out of mind was the philosophy of wound management and the bigger the surgery, the bigger the dressing. Abdominal surgeries incorporated another layer of obfuscation, the scultetus binder. A patient might feel as though their belly lost a battle with a chain saw, but hey, they can't see a thing until that dreaded dressing change.
The importance of accessory items such as eyeglasses and wrist watches in the looking good gambit is illustrated by the sad tale of a 47 year old man suffering from terminal heart disease. Haskell Karp of Skokie Illinois was the first recipient of an artificial heart. Famed Texas heart surgeon, Dr. Denton Cooley made quick work of the situation and in a 47 minute surgery the artificial heart was in place. The device functioned for 3 days when a transplant became available, but death came 2 days later from operative complications.
It was especially important that a patient
Haskell Karp Circa 1969
Fernando Lamas once said, "It's better to look good than to feel good." Billy Crystal added, in character, "You look mahvelous!"ReplyDelete
Leave it to nurses how to bring the nearly dead back to life.
At least Mr. Karp wasn't intubated!! Thanks for my first big laugh of the day ~ReplyDelete
Jono, sometimes when I feel in a judgmental mood about whippersnapperns and their self-promotion, I realize some of the tricks we pulled were in the same boat. Old nurses were not media influencers, but we liked to buff our image and having an attractive looking patient was part of the story.ReplyDelete
Bobbie, My first thought was how could they wean Mr. Karp off a ventilator so quickly. Maybe they extubated him for a room air challenge and decided to snap a quick photo before reintubating.
Those lovely Emerson respirators ruled the roost in the 1960s and I still miss their no nonsense chugging sound as they cycled. MA-1s sound like a transistor radio compared to the symphonic old Emersons.
That giant oxygen cylinder in the background grabbed my attention. An advanced ground breaking procedure, but no piped in gasses?ReplyDelete