Nurses Share Their "I Can't Believe I Have To Explain This" Stories
How many times do we have to do this?!
Nurses are heroes! They are never appreciated enough and underpaid. And just because they don't get enough respect from the higher-ups, or all the knowledge they have to be sure of but mostly because they have to deal with the front lines and the worst and sometimes stupidest of humanity. Granted we're all scared as patients and have questions but Lord... get it together people!
Redditor u/Caged_Tiger wanted the nurses out there to express themselves by asking.... Nurses of Reddit. What is your most "I can't believe I have to explain this" moment?
40. Neck it out!
Was giving a grown patient IV Benadryl for a rash and itching on the upper body. The IV was in the right arm so I started to give the medication into the right arm.
The patient panicked when I said I was done. "What do you mean you're done? You only put it in my right arm my left is itching too!"
39. I love bread!
Spent WAY too long having to explain to a celiac patient that white bread was still made out of wheat and that's why she was still sick. Nutritionist had already been over it several times and then called me in to try to convince her. Teammaj
38. Please stop Breeding!
She says she always pees after sex, she doesn't want to get pregnant! Had to give her a brief rundown on sex ed and her own body (Her parents made her get bc shots). zorasrequiem
Had to explain to a patient, and his family, multiple times that although he does have a defibrillator now he still needs to take his heart medicine.... a real headache of a conversation. attractiveepidermis
Just shock me alive boys. Bobblefighterman
36. Just NOOO!!!Giphy
Got a phone call in the ER from a diabetic who said her sugar was reading "high" (that typically means over 400 or 500) and I told her she should come to the ER asap, and she asked "Should I drink some sweet tea until then?" Um... NO!!
That sounds like a reasonable solution to low blood sugar, does she actually not know the difference? Pulsar_the_Spacenerd
Got a call from a discharged patient.
"So I'm wearing these depends..."
"Do I need to change them everyday?"
"Uhh yeah... or when they're soiled."
"Okay and should I clean myself up after that?"
"Yes. Yes, please."
34. Alfredo or Marinara?
Did you then have to explain that, ideally, his wife would have to chew the spaghetti first anyway? Skin_Bank
After my c-section, the nurse handed me one and said "Don't forget to take the foil off." I looked at her and went "... nooooooooo! Somebody did that?" She gave me this really tired look and nodded. Ouch.
32. Where was your mom?
I, a male nurse, had to explain to a 25 year old female what her period was. She came to the ED and was concerned she had cramping and vaginal bleeding monthly.
Thought for sure I was being pranked by co-workers. Nope. HerpieMcDerpie
31. Men are Useless....Giphy
Did labor and delivery for awhile. We typically inserted catheters after the epidural.
30. Can I get an "A?!"Giphy
Not a nurse, but have kind of a funny related story. It was one of those "you know what you call someone who gets all C's in nursing school? A nurse." moments.
Was in the ER with a family member who was basically dying of old age. They had to put a catheter in and asked us to step out.
It took for damn ever. Like way longer than I know it takes usually. When we came back in they had forgotten to close the web browser on the computer. It was opened to a google search of "female urethra."
29. It's just Chicken!
Having to explain to a patient family that they should NOT be bringing fried chicken and French fries to a patient only a day out from a stroke definitely ranks up there. Archturus
28. Not just for Employees...
It ia weird to me to explain women (I work in gynecology) that I escort to toilet, that they have to wash their hands after they pee. You would not believe how many of them does not wash. bojslo
27. No sex please!
Paramedic here. Got a couple great ones.
Her response to this was... I kid you not... to alternate soaking her feet in boiling water then in rubbing alcohol because it, "made the skin feel tighter." As you can probably imagine the skin had basically rotted off of her feet.
This guy called because of a hard painful lump on his rectum. I take a look. Sure enough it's just a hemorrhoid. Start giving him some basic advice, get some cream, don't strain when you poop, take a stool softener, etc.
As an afterthought I throw in and no intercourse in the rear. And he goes, "what? Really?" Well yes. Putting anything up there will aggravate it.
26. Not always a happy ending!
I had a DNR/AND patient who was clearly going into the second phase of septic shock. Despite explaining that the man is actively dying the wife, who is a nursing instructor herself, made me call the doctor.
The doctor proceeds to order 2 Liter bolus of normal saline and blood cultures. We essentially drowned his veins with fluids and his blood pressure didn't come back up, not to mention causing him unnecessary pain pricking him with needles.
The patient died before the culture results came back. NottheArkhamKnight
25. Wrong End....Giphy
A patient came into a&e and said that the tablets given to him where giving him a lot of stomach pain and not helping him. He was prescribed suppositories. The patient was swallowing them... bobyd
24. Take the Shot!
I'm not a nurse, but I worked at the front desk of a family practice clinic for two years. I received a call on day from a patient swearing up and down that he need a Syphilis shot.
That is an STI and I told him that he needed to speak with his Doc before we could do any kind of shot, but he insisted. I went to to Immunizations Tech to confirm our protocol, and he said the same thing.
I picked up the phone again and repeated the protocol, but they refused to listen. I went to Immunizations Tech and asked if he would be willing to speak to the patient as he wasn't listening to me (some patients like to think that you're just a dumb front desk clerk), and he said he would.
After speaking with the patient for about then minute the Immunizations Tech came to the front desk and explained that the patient actually needed the Japanese Encephalitis shot. I couldn't stop laughing. Deadamisa911
23. Once More with Feeling....
Used to work in an ER in Chicago. We treated a kid with the flu that had a fever. Gave him some Tylenol, fever came down, sent him home.
Three hours later the family returned complaining that the fever came back. His nurse had to go explain that you had to give the tylenol AGAIN, and one dose doesn't just magically fix the flu. Organtrafficjam31
22. Not the Poop!
My wife is a Medical Assistant at a pediatrics office.
She had a parent of a boy who was probably 6 or 7 say, in the most calm and nonchalant tone, "My son really likes to eat his own poop. Is this normal? Is this healthy?"
My wife's jaw dropped and had to tell this mom just how unhealthy it is and how abnormal eating YOUR OWN POOP is. crawlnstall
21. Who doesn't know wine?!Giphy
The student went on to pass nursing school even though we lost almost half of the students we started with. sllaBwithhairontheB
20. Obviously, right?
I had to explain TO a nurse while tattooing her that sticking her finger IN her fresh, bloody tattoo was cross contamination...
19. You ARE the mother.
Not a nurse but I was the idiot. After having my daughter via c section I was out of it completely and then very disoriented.
Nurse comes over to check on us and I asked if I was allowed to pick my baby up. I have never seen a look of alarm like it! She just said "well... Yes...she's YOUR baby."
This isn't a stupid question. I know you haven't given us all the context but there are plenty of reasonable reasons to want to check with someone first.
I've had to educate patients not to use their stoma (a piece of intestine) to have sex.
17. Potassium overdose?
Literally last week we had a guy come into the ICU with a K of 8.8.
Apparently he had had low K when he went to his PCP the week before so they gave him a supplement and he started popping them like candy.
16. Really though...
Fun story: My Doctor once had to explain the word 'fat' to me.
I'm a Brit, she was from NZ and I thought she was saying 'fet' and didn't know what that was.
I imagine your doctor saying "you know..." puffing up her cheeks and pantomiming a large belly.
I love it when this happens. I'm from NZ, and I mentioned to my friends in the US that I had been working outside on my deck.
15. No fun allowed.
Mental health nurse- Having to explain to a patient why he can't have his adult toys while on the ward. Also super fun time searching his property when he arrived on the ward.
This is what happens if you keep prescribing CBT.
I got mercilessly teased when I was doing a belongings search and found ben-wa balls. I was like 22 and had no clue what they were.
I was christened "Perl Wa" and even had a sign on my locker with my new name. Mental health staff are nothing if not fun!
14. Good fat bad fat.
So I have a real issue with sticking with a career so am both a nurse and was formerly a private chef. I'm well rounded I guess.
At a family gathering an aunt asked me about healthy diet options. I touted avocados as an excellent source of healthy fat.
Cue shrill, mocking laughter from my now estranged SIL. Sil had maxed out at the high school diploma but told everyone she had gone to culinary school because she took a few elective cooking classes.
"Healthy fat? There is no such thing as healthy fats. Fat is fat. God, you're funny." Total mocking condescension.
I stared at her blankly and said "I'm surprised they didn't touch on diet at all in CULINARY SCHOOL." And then resumed my other conversation.
"Yeah and AS A NURSE I'd think you'd know about diet."
I stared blankly again. "Yes, I do. Google it"Pure_Pace
13. Help, but from afar.
My best were all from tele-nursing, covering for an OB office.
I had to explain to a grandmother....that it was NOT normal for the cord to be hanging out of her very pregnant granddaughter.
I had to explain to a girl that her unborn child doesn't "eat when she eats" and that it's ok if she missed a meal.
For me I hated trying to explain that it's dangerous to reuse your insulin needles. However I use to feel for the low income patients and try to remind them if they just come in we could put some together for them. Broke my heart.
One of my clients was being treated for a pretty serious abscess on her foot. He doctor wrote nursing orders for wound care, which is pretty standard.
The RN shows up on the first day and the client was utterly confused. The client thought the safest way to treat a wound was to bandage it and to leave the bandages in place until the wound completely healed.
10. Oh boy.
That there are people of various ethnicity that would be taking care of them and that "that Muslim doctor" would in fact be just as good as "a white doctor." Patient was not particularly old or even confused.
9. Oof, really?
I had a labor patient that had just received her epidural. When I went to place a urinary catheter to keep her bladder drained, her husband said "If you put that in, how's the baby going to come out?"
8. To think, these people are out there.
Worked at a veterinary ER practice in college.. had a couple bring in their sick puppy.
As we were gathering info about what happened, the wife started giving "raspberries" (blowing with her mouth on the dogs tummy)... but on his "bellybutton." Spoiler alert: it wasn't.
Urine is not stored in your scrotum and I would be very concerned if it was.
I mean...they're called "peanuts" because pee is stored in the nuts. That's just science.
My wife had a patient that said she was having problems with her 'pink lady.'
My wife didn't know what she was talking about, so she asked a fellow nurse, who replied 'she's talking about her snatch, Angie!"
Wife asks other nurse, "what's a snatch?"She was 35 at the time.
Why can't people just say vagina? I mean, come on.
5. So. Many. Questions.
I'm a pharmacist. I had to explain to a woman how to wipe herself after using the bathroom.
4. Wait for it...
A woman that came in with a broken tib/fib on the orthopedic surgery ward who was on strict non-weight bearing orders to her broken limb was hell bent on getting herself downstairs so she could have a cigarette.
It took two of us nurses to kindly explain to her that she would permanently f*** up her leg if she did so.
Another favorite is the patients who answer "no" when you ask them on admission if they have high blood pressure. Their pre-admission medication list shows they are on Norvasc, Cozaar, etc.
"What are you on this medication for?" "Oh, that's my blood pressure pill. My blood pressure used to be high but not anymore."
Edit: Just remembered a patient with an infected leg ulcer that we found a raw chickpea inside. The family said it was "holistic medicine." I'm all for people using alternative approaches if they believe it helps unless it is causing actual harm.
3. Stupid is as stupid does.
My girlfriend works in healthcare - though not a nurse- and the number of people that simply refuse to hear an unwelcome message is unreal.
Example she told me: person has lung cancer. Is told this is most probably from smoking. "Most probably?" Asks the patient.
I then explained that of course there is hardly ever a single thing that can be pinpointed to the development of cancer, but that 86% (might have the incorrect number) of the lung cancers is attributed to smoking and that it is rare to see lung cancer in someone who has never smoked.
Super late but my aunt was giving a malnourished 1-month-old an infusion (idk what for) the child was mostly healthy but the mom had HIV. The father asked if the infusion is going to "help him speak" because he "didn't speak yet".
1. Sensing a theme here.
I work in burns, and any burn/trauma nurse can tell you a good portion of their patients are just admitted because of poor life decisions. Here are some conversations I've had.
Don't put accelerants on a campfire/bonfire. (Gas/kerosine/diesel).
Don't go back into a burning house/vehicle/airplane.
Don't put accelerants on bonfires. This includes aerosol cans of stuff. Those blow up.
Don't make meth unless you have an advanced degree in the field.
Don't put accelerants on bonfires. Even if it "Just won't light."
Don't let your pot handles hang over the edge of the stove where your kid can reach.
Don't put accelerants on bonfires, even if you've "been doing it for years."
Don't pick up containers of flaming grease and oil.
Don't put accelerants on bonfires. Diesel is an accelerant.
Don't keep electric cigarettes in your pocket.
If you wear oxygen, don't smoke with it on/in your lap.
Don't burn trash. You don't know what the fuck's in there. Probably accelerants.
Don't dispose of excess gunpowder by lighting it on fire.
DON'T. PUT. ACCELERANTS. ON. YOUR. GADDAM. FIRE. 🔥🔥🔥🔥DeLaNope
Minimum wage is often paid by some of the most physically and emotionally intensive work—service industry jobs. Having to work in a hot kitchen all day or deal with irate customers while being paid less than you need to survive is not exactly the best situation to be in.