The Humerus NP
Practical Advice from an outspoken Nurse Practitioner
Over the past 16 years working in the medical field, I have cared for thousands of patients in a variety of roles and settings. I can never remember a face or name, but I often can remember a unique illness or quirky personality. I frequently get asked by my kids, “Did you see anything cool today?” Occasionally, I may have a funny or gory story to tell, but most of the time I tell them “No, just a whole bunch of coughs and colds.” But today, I was thinking, maybe I should write some of these funny stories down. So, here are a few of my most memorable….
Guy comes in to urgent care with complaints of cough and cold symptoms for the past couple days. He’s a business guy, dressed to the nines, has no time to be sick. Tells me he wants to “nip it in the bud.” So, I explain to him that colds are caused by a virus and that in a few days his immune system will do its job and kick it out of his body and he will be good as new. He demands a Zpack. I explain to him how antibiotics treat bacterial illnesses and not viral illnesses. (This is a very common conversation in the urgent care setting.) He is obviously not pleased because I am not accommodating his demand for the magic pills, so he stands up and says, “I’M NOT HERE FOR MY HEALTH!” A long pause ensues, I look at him, and he turns and walks out.
Don’t put that there (warning: gross)
Young women comes in with complaints of vaginal discharge. She states she is a bartender and borrowed her coworkers leotard. She thinks she may have contracted an infection from wearing the borrowed leotard without panties (insert eye roll). People, we’ve heard it all, just come clean with the true story. Anyway, I decided that she needed a pelvic exam and STI testing. While I was examining her I saw something brown in her vagina. I thought to myself, “That looks like feces… Oh no, I hope she doesn’t have a fistula.” Then it dawns on me, maybe its a retained tampon (not uncommon for women to forget to remove a tampon). So, I ask her, “Ma’am, did you leave a tampon in?” She gasps and says, “It’s a makeup sponge!”
I was able to remove it with forceps and it looked and smelled like a dead mouse. Apparently, her friend recommended she use it because a sponge is more absorbent than a tampon. Her period had been over for 2 weeks. I do not get paid enough for that.
Early on in my nursing career I worked part time in a psychiatric facility. One day I was working in the stabilization unit, where the actively psychotic patients are admitted to the hospital. I had dozens of patients, and they were able to move freely about. A middle aged female patient comes to the nursing station and asks for a sanitary napkin. I agree and hand her a couple. She asks, “Where did you hide the bomb?” I recognized that she was paranoid, and would benefit from choosing her own pads. I hold the box out to her and she picks a few that look trustworthy. Several hours later, she asks for more pads and I oblige and let her pick from the box. Around 2 am, the fire alarm goes off. I look around and see my patient low crawling under invisible smoke from a fire. Now, if there is any way to make a stabilization unit more chaotic, try waking a dozen psychotic patients from a deep sleep at 2 am with a blaring fire alarm. Then lock all the doors so they think that they’re trapped and destined to burn alive. It was a nightmare! I contact the administrator who has the key to turn off the alarm and then go searching for my patient. I find her in the shower... with sanitary napkins stuck all over her body.
I’ll try to think of some more, but in the meantime, tell me your most memorable funny patient encounter.
Until next time,
The Humerus NP
Melissa is a military spouse, mom, and professional boo boo fixer. She practices as a Nurse Practitioner in Northern Virginia and is passionate about teaching the public how to effectively respond in emergency situations. She founded Rapid Response CPR, LLC in 2017. She blogs to share her medical knowledge in a fun, yet practical way.
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