We (ex) nurses tend to see the world in a slightly different way from Joe Public, words and phrases in common day use tend to make us smile, for example; feedback, when a tutor says to us ‘give me some feedback’ we all titter and immediately think of vomit. Another one is motion, if someone says ‘he’s just going through the motions’ then we think of someone picking their way through shit, and another common one is issues, when someone tells me they are having issues then I have an image of her standing there and all this bodily fluid issuing from her.
Nurses do tend to have ‘gallows humour’ and each discipline tends to have their own ‘in-jokes’. When I was doing my two months on the Labour ward there was an official sign on the wall saying “Remember, the first five minutes of a human being’s life are the most dangerous.” Underneath, a midwife or nurse had written: “The last five are pretty risky, too.” I loved the Labour Ward.
One of my favourite things to say to mothers in labour (and the break the ice) was ‘Hi, my name’s D*****, I’m at your cervix” to which they would generally laugh and then I’d say “I’m dilated to meet you”, saying things like that usually sets the tone of the shift but considering I was going to be staring at her jacksie for the next eight hours it only seemed appropriate.
I had one female student nurse tell me this; her patient in ICU was wired up with drips and monitors, breathing with the aid of an oxygen mask. He waves at her and asks “Are my testicles black?”
Embarrassed the young nurse replies, “I don’t know Sir, I’m new here and only here to wash your face and hands.”
He struggles again to talk through his mask and repeats, “Nurse, are my testicles black!?”
Again the nurse replies, “I can’t tell. I’m only here to wash your face and hands.”
The Head Nurse was passing and saw the man getting a little distraught so she marched over to inquire what was wrong.
“Nurse,” he mumbled, “Are my testicles black?”
Being a nurse of long-standing, the Head Nurse was undaunted. She whipped back the bedclothes, pulled down his pyjama trousers, had a real good look, pulled his pyjamas back up, replaced the bedclothes and announced, “There’s nothing wrong with your testicles!!!”
At this point, the man pulled off his mask and said very slowly, “I. SAID. ARE. MY. TEST. RESULTS. BACK. ??!!”
Think she may have made that one up 😉