The One Thing Even ER Nurses Fear Is ...
Hospitals should be so sterile that you could theoretically eat lasagna out of someone's chest cavity without consequences ... to the patient. The lasagna would surely suffer. In an environment like that, nature is your worst enemy:
"Blood, poop, and gore is no trouble at all," Ben said, "but I have to steel myself very carefully before I can do anything bug-related. The chance of getting bedbugs or scabies at work causes me a lot more anxiety than the chance of blood-borne infections. HIV might be a life-changing incurable infection, but scabies are invisible mites that burrow into you and live inside your skin. They're like a horror movie come to life. We had one confused and aggressive patient brought in by police. Once we started looking for injuries, we saw he was absolutely infested with lice, bedbugs, and scabies. I mean, you could see hundreds of little critters crawling for cover as soon as the light hit them."
Picture that, but on your junk.
When that happens, the entire ER enacts protocols straight out The Thing. "With two other nurses, I had to gown up in isolation gear, give the patient a sedative, strip him completely, shave off some of his matted body hair, perform a full bed bath from scalp to toes, and cover absolutely every centimeter of his skin in medicated cream."
The exam room then had to be quarantined and decontaminated, as did two police officers and squad cars.
"Everybody in the department was involuntarily scratching all night, even though none of us contracted an infestation. Even remembering it now, long after the fact, gives me the phantom itches."
And now you have them too. You're welcome.
Ben is a registered nurse at one of the largest trauma centers in the US. You can meet him by getting shot, falling off a high place, or by saying "Hey, hold my beer and watch this." Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter.
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