November 26th, 2011

crossed heart

the gross, it burns

Originally published at Cassie Alexander. You can comment here or there.

I don't usually talk about the gross here, but this was so traumatic I have to share. If you have a weak stomach scroll quickly or look away.

So last night, I was outside my patient's room (they were sedated, I was watching their numbers) and my coworkers were in the next room over. Sometimes the ambient noises at the hospital can be pretty loud, so I knew they were in there doing a dressing change, but I couldn't hear what they were saying. All I could smell was the scent of shit. So so so bad. Pungent. Waves. Like a cartoon, with stink waves coming out.

I was all, "Is that my patient?" It's not like someone who is sedated can tell you when they have to go to the bathroom. So you get to find out about once a day, and turn and clean and redo the dressings if they have them, and depending on the volume and liquidity, it can be pretty horrific. But I opened my patient's door, and no, it wasn't them....

And my coworkers next door hollered out a request for "Face shields!" and I realized the smell was coming from their room. When people inside a room that smells like that ask for face shields, you get them some goddammed face shields as fast as you can.

Turns out that a cyst had popped on their patient. OMG. OMG OMG OMG.

There is a cottage industry on youtube of people popping huge cysts -- an MD friend sent me a link to one, and I watched it, then watched a few more, and invariably in all of them, in their home surgery glory, you can hear someone in the background retching at the smell as soon as they get it open. (You all can find the links for yourselves, I won't link to any of them, for the weakwilled among you.)

I always thought, "Well, hey, that's gross and all, but really." Because my job's an intense job, I see weird shit and get to smell weird things all the effing time. But until last night I'd never smelled a popped cyst myself.

OMG. Rivers of chunky brown pus shit-smelling pus. That was the worst thing I have ever smelled. And I am saying that as someone who has seen some necrotic shit. (Not literally necrotic shit. But necrosis, yes.)

One of my coworkers wanted to gag, so she left the room, and everyone else worked on getting it clean. Everyone put tooth paste inside their masks to get through the stench. They -- not me personally thank god -- had to drain it out and then pack it. We have a floor supply of clove oil that we use to try and combat the worst of the stink. I made a little reed-diffuser wick thing on it, with gauze and long q-tips, in an effort to get as much of the oil as I could in the air.

Gah gah gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. That was the worst thing I have ever smelled by soooooo far. And the sight of a wound gushing pus was fairly disgusting too. UGH.