Nursing is perhaps one of the most rewarding professions, but it’s easy to overlook the more confronting aspects of the job.
Nurses see things those of us who don’t work in healthcare or emergency services can’t even imagine. People suffering, people in pain, and people in their most vulnerable state.
So we asked the nurses we know to share the most confronting experiences they’ve had at work. Here’s what they said:
There’s the devastating…
“The death of a lady who had previously treated her breast cancer with naturopathic treatments. She had visible, bleeding and weeping cancerous growths all over her breasts.”
“The attempted hanging of a 16-year-old girl because she got cyber bullied.”
Meshel Laurie talks to a palliative care nurse about death. Post continues after audio.
“My saddest story has to be of two ladies, one who found her tumour just after her first child was born. It was already malignant and she had no signs or symptoms and was only 32. Then I had another very similar case but she found hers when she was pregnant. She was able to deliver the baby early by caesarean but her prognosis is very bad. Had a brain tumour.”
“The man who got sexually aroused whilst a Dr was pushing on his stomach in an attempt to remove the dildo he had stuck up his butt.”
“Looking after a person who has burns because their meth lab exploded.”
“Patients inappropriately touching themselves.”
“Watching a 14-year-old boy in the psych room experiencing a drug induced psychosis.”
“An Indigenous homeless man, with a case of head lice that was so bad his entire scalp was a weeping wound and required a surgical washout.”
“An ear infection of a young child that was so filthy he had a family of maggots in his ear. He was thought to be developmentally delayed, but it was probably just because he couldn’t hear.”
"I work in intensive care and the most distressing thing for me at the moment is families pushing for full care for their very elderly parents. It is usually very painful and invasive. So basically the lack of end of life wishes. We help people pass away with dignity and it's an honour really to able to ease suffering or be there at a life's end."
"One patient of mine had Alzheimer's, and started to complain that a man was coming into her room at night. I always tried to calm her and tell her no one was there. Until one time, she looked me straight in the eye and said, 'he's standing in the doorway.' I was absolutely terrified."
"Call bells going off when no one is in the bed. Always scares me."