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Does Anyone Else Suddenly Have Sweaty Palms?

, , , , , | Healthy | January 17, 2022


I’ve had a chronic illness since I was a baby, which has caused me to experience a lot of medical tests and treatments. When I was thirteen, I had a medical event and started breathing abnormally. My mom had to call 911, and I was taken to a children’s hospital. I was immediately admitted and put in a private room. I had a few tests, was put on oxygen, and was hooked up to a bunch of monitors. Then, a new nurse came in.

Nurse: *Visibly nervous* “Hi. I’m going to take some blood today.”

Me: “Okay, it’s no problem. I’m used to bloodwork and stuff.”

The nurse continued to look uncomfortable and started shuffling around the room, getting out supplies. I noticed that the needle he pulled out was really unusual, as it was extremely large and wasn’t an IV needle, which is what is usually used for blood work when someone is admitted to a hospital.

He sat down, and I could see that his hands were shaking violently. He put a large white towel under my arm and cleaned my entire arm with orange antiseptic, the kind used for surgical sites.

Me: “Why are you using that? Why not just use the regular alcohol wipes?”

He didn’t answer but started putting a tourniquet on my arm and handed me a stress ball.

Nurse: “Squeeze that as hard as you can.”

The nurse unwrapped the needle and I could fully see the size of it. It was enormous, and my heart started pounding. I’d never seen a needle like it, despite having constant IVs and blood draws throughout my life.

The nurse was now trembling like a leaf in the wind.

Nurse: “This is going to hurt… a lot. Stay still; that’s really important. Don’t move at all, even if it hurts.”

Me: “Okay…”

I was terrified. I had no idea what was going on or why a simple blood draw would hurt so badly.

Nurse: “Breathe in… and out…”

As I let my breath out, the nurse (still with shaking hands) held my wrist down and plunged the needle into my forearm. It was put in at a strange angle, pretty much at a full ninety degrees, and was stuck in very deep and forcefully. I was immediately overwhelmed with pain, my vision started tunneling, and it took every molecule of effort I had not to move or scream. It seemed like it took forever, but eventually, the tubes filled with blood and he pulled the needle out. Then, he just bandaged my arm and left, without acknowledging anything that had just happened.

I was fully weirded out by the entire experience. I was certain, at the time, that the nurse was incompetent or something, especially since he seemed so nervous.

It wasn’t until a full eight years later that I found out what even happened! I recently requested a copy of my records from that hospital and saw the write-up from that visit. I was floored to see that the test they were actually performing was an arterial blood gas (ABS)! In the test, a large needle is put straight into an artery, and it is considered to be extremely painful — so painful that it is unethical to perform it on anyone without giving them local anesthetic first. Not only was I not given local anesthetic (AS A CHILD AT A CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL), but nobody bothered to even explain what was going to happen, what test they were performing, or that it was any different than a regular blood draw or IV.

It truly was one of the most memorable (and horrible) things I’ve ever experienced in a medical setting, and I never went back to that hospital.

Why Nurses Should Rule The World, Part 15

, , , , , , | Healthy | January 14, 2022

I’ve had a severe chronic illness since I was a baby. Due to this, growing up, I spent a lot of time in different hospitals and medical offices and have had a wide variety of treatments and tests.

When I was around ten years old, I was due to have an MRI of my brain. I was pretty nervous about it, especially since I needed IV contrast and wasn’t sure how I’d handle the whole “laying super still in a confined space for several hours” thing. There was also a layer of extra anxiety for me, since they were looking for brain cancer.

I was also told before the appointment that I could bring a few DVD movies which could be played for me to watch during the scan to keep me calm and distracted.

Nurse: “Hello! So, you’re here for an MRI, right?”

Me: “Yes.”

Nurse: “Okay, go ahead into the changing room to put on your gown, and make sure to leave all your belongings in there, too. When you’re ready, go through the door on the other side, and that’ll lead you right into the MRI room. Oh, also, did you bring any movies to play during the scan?”

Me: “Yes, they’re here.”

I handed them to her and then went into the changing room. After I put on my gown, I pushed my way through the door to the MRI room and was immediately rendered speechless. The walls of the room seemed to be made of wall-to-ceiling digital screens, and playing on the screens was a scene of the ocean with fish darting around and whales floating by. On top of that, the MRI machine had been turned a blue color to match the scenery.

I was totally surprised and just went to pieces, smiling and crying, and I could feel my anxiety and nerves melting away. One of the nurses was sort of hovering nearby and watching my reaction.

Me: “How…?”

Nurse: “Since this is a children’s hospital, the screens were put in to help children feel better about getting scans done, and to reduce the number of kids that need to be sedated.”

Me: “Wow, but… how did you know that I love the ocean?”

Nurse: “Well, we noticed that all three of the movies you gave us were about the ocean, so we assumed that you like the water and that seeing the fish might help you feel calmer.”

Me: “Gosh, thank you so much! I hadn’t even noticed that all of my movies were about the ocean!”

The scenery did make me feel better, and I wasn’t nervous at all after seeing it. I managed to last the entire MRI without freaking out or moving and was able to see the scenery and my movies through a small mirror inside the helmet that I had to wear during the scan.

Honestly, the kindness of those nurses left a huge impact on me, and I consider it to be one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. I still think about it now, as an adult, especially since most hospital nurses are overworked and have chaotic schedules. I know that noticing a tiny detail about me, and then intentionally going out of their way to help me feel better was immeasurably kind. I’ve had many MRIs after this, none of them with the special screens and effects, but I’ve never felt nervous about them, and I think it’s because my first MRI wasn’t nearly as traumatizing as it could have been.

Why Nurses Should Rule The World, Part 14
Why Nurses Should Rule The World, Part 13
Why Nurses Should Rule The World, Part 12
Why Nurses Should Rule The World, Part 11
Why Nurses Should Rule The World, Part 10

Remember to Look Both Ways

, , , , | Right | October 8, 2021

Customers regularly drive into areas they are not supposed to be and have to ask how to exit the lot. This time, however, the customer has just pulled out of their space.

Customer: *Annoyed tone* “How do you get to the exit?”

I begin to answer and turn my head about fifteen degrees toward the exit. There are five large signs with arrows that say, “Exit This Way,” in my immediate sightline.

Me: “Uh…”

I recovered and explained how to get out, but the disconnect of realizing that they would have seen the signs if they had turned their heads slightly caused my brain to shut down for a moment.

Check Bouncers Take (Musical) Note

, , , , , , , | Working | May 25, 2021

Many years ago, I was shopping in a music store. I found two albums I liked and went to the counter to pay. He gave me my total and I finished writing my check. He took it and put it in the cash register.

Me: “Do you need to see my driver’s license?”

Cashier: “No, people who buy classical music don’t bounce checks.”

What Do You Know? I’m Not, Either!

, , , , , , | Working | April 26, 2021

I have an item to return to a large, nationwide chain store. Every store in this chain shares an identical floor plan and in every location that I’ve been in over the years, the register closest to the door has been the only register open.

Today I walk in, store bag visibly in hand, and although the first register is “active,” there’s no cashier. I reach the next register which is, unsurprisingly, closed. I stop walking as I can’t see the status of the rest of the registers, but I can see that the entire counter is unattended. However, a woman — not wearing the store uniform or a badge — has spotted me from where she’s standing in a nearby aisle and, though she doesn’t verbally acknowledge me, she starts walking toward the registers in a manner that I “read” as a store employee recognizing that a customer needs assistance.

I turn back toward the first, open register, but the woman fails to appear as I reach it. Assuming I misread the body language of someone who is actually another customer, I glance around for an employee. I see the same woman waiting wordlessly behind the farthest register. Oh! Ooookay, then.

I head over, take the item and receipt out of the bag, and place them on the counter. I’m two-and-a-half words into “Hi, there’s nothing wrong with this; it’s just too big,” when the silent woman suddenly interrupts me.

Woman:*Sharply* “So, I take it this is a return?” 

Having spent time in retail, my “maintain a smiling attitude” automatically kicks in and I force a light chuckle.

Me: “Sorry, yes.”

Woman: “I’m not a mind reader.”