Thursday, 2 April 2020

Fight Club

Our worlds get smaller and things that never became important before become important now.
I was desperate to get back to work last night.
Desperate to have something of purpose to do
People to talk to
Characters to bounce off.

Social isolating cannot happen when patients need turning and made comfortable
The physical contact of colleagues are ties that bind.

Nurse humour cannot be beaten for sheer, undiluted gall
On one of her last hospital admissions my mother witnessed a brief meeting at the nurses station when an over tired support worked hissed at two very harassed staff nurses
" I've just found another one Dead!" 
Whereafter all three burst into brief and somewhat hysterical laughter

In my mind tiredness, night nurse hysteria and overwork is often the reciepie for a good laugh.

I once had to take charge at the resuscitation of a man with severely contracted legs.
He had effectively sat in a wheelchair for months before his admission without benefit of lying down supine on a bed , and so when placed on his back his legs sprang upwards as if he was glued to a chair.
We tried our best to bring the chap back to the land of the living and the defibrillator and arrest team were all called but eventually after a heroic try the team agreed that we had been unsuccessful
Dejected and defeated the team looked mutely on until a support worked popped her head around the curtains and commented that the patient was in no way going to fit in one of the porters' body boxes .
Cue prolonged and by no means irreverent laughter .

A valve release to a very human situation.
And I would always prefer to laugh than to cry.

It's not the drama, or the blood , or the sheer mental anguish of some nursing shifts that binds nurses together.
Sure all these things play a part in team work and the shared experience thing
But it's humour that gets us through and gives us the chutzpah to skip through the shit.

Any good manager understands this
I think the public now knows it too.

I remember one time when I was a junior staff nurse when a patient everyone disliked intensely choked on half an apricot during a mealtime on a neighbouring ward . He arrested at the dinner table after a prolonged bitching session at staff and we could see that the nurses had everything in hand so waited to be called if we were needed
After a half hour or so one of the support workers walked into our ward looking deflated and dejected

" How is he ?" I asked
The support worker signed
" He's fucking alive !" She shrugged theatrically
Cue ribald laughter .

I have a hundred such stories . And all are not disrespectful is any way.
Watch M*A*S*H  The original movie ....if you don't get it
Then you unbeliever, you may understand where I am coming from

Nurses humour, like the Film Fight  Club has its own rules

And What goes on it fight club....stays in Fight Club 







54 comments:

  1. Black humour is often a life and sanity saver, particularly for those in front-line positions.

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  2. "Professionalism and discretion" is my wife's motto and she has been a nurse for 44 years.

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  3. Coping mechanism. Makes good stories in nursing but used in all professions and privately at home, together or alone.

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  4. I laughed at this John and understand that sense of finding an outlet for our emotions.I cannot look at my cousins at a family funeral,even it's an aunt that I was close to- we will all be trying our best not to laugh out loud in the Church.One lovely aunt was very poorly in hospital and for days we were visiting,she was in a side room and drifting away and 6 of us in our 50s and 60s decided to sing"onward christian soldiers"-don't know why but one cousin had started first.One cousin and myself stood up and began stomping on the floor as if marching.We looked at each other and realised we were a bit odd.During our visit one day a nurse popped her head in and said "you sound like you're having and good time smiling.Our aunt was a young at heart,fun last who made us all laugh over the years and it she could hear us whilst lying there would be joining in x

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  5. ....unless you have a blog! hahahaha. Brilliant stories and I totally get it. I love MASH the series better than the film. I've watched it right through several times. xx

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  6. Totally understand John.

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  7. That old saying... laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone is so true... never more so than now.

    LX

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  8. I love a bit of hysterical giggling !

    A member of staff in the village grocery shop has started wearing a biker's buff across her mouth with the image of a skeletal mouth and jaw printed on it. She is not adverse to telling shoppers from outside the village loading up huge baskets of groceries to F**k off and don't F**ing come back !

    Now she knows that I am partial to using the F word myself after one particular rant we have reached an amusing common ground.

    An older staff member was most surprised at our interaction having known me for years as that nice polite customer. I pointed to my smiling face and said, " Don't let this face fool you ! ". We all had a good giggle.

    I said to my daughter who was waiting outside laughing as she could hear us all, "she's scary enough without that mask ! "

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  9. Black (or in your case, often brown) humour is essential!

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  10. My daughter does stand up comedy she credits me with her slant on life. She sent me a lovely message on mother's day thanking me for enabling her to deal with a shit ton of crap by laughing.

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  11. Black humour got me through many a hospice shift.

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  12. Agree John. Our humour developed during our years working in hospitals has persisted throughout our lives. Our families have not always understood it. But it has helped through so many traumas. People often say ,how do you cope, you never seem to get upset.Its our hospital humour now passed on to our sons.
    Stay strong and keep laughing, John.
    Kathy xxx

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  13. A theatre technician once told me that after carrying out an amputation someone once walked along the corridor singing "I'm Jake the peg, with my extra leg."

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    Replies
    1. Personally speaking that sounds slightly more like bad taste than black humour, or perhaps more like a story from within the hospital four walls that should not have been shared in the first place Tasker.

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    2. Anonymous3:54 pm

      Definitely bad taste.

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    3. Barbara Anne4:11 pm

      In my surgical (theatre) experience, neither the patient (sedated) nor anyone within earshot would have been offended. That's just medical humor.

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    4. Yes exactly why I said I think it was probably the sort of story that should have remained within the four walls of the hospital. I am sure nobody would have been offended but that was not my point. Sometimes black humour should remain where it was intended, at its source and with its participants who needed the outlet at the time.

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    5. You completely missed my point B A.

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  14. You can't beat a bit of Jo Brand for a belly laugh, when she talks about her time as a psychiatric nurse.

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  15. If you didn't laugh you'd have to spend a lot more time crying.

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  16. That wasn't that funny to me but I get the humor you shared somehow. The meme was hilarious, though. I giggled. Poor thing! xD

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  17. Even we non-nurses have had some huge and seemingly inappropriate laughs around deathbeds. As Joni Mitchell said, "Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release."

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  18. Your colleagues are your strength, your sanity and your mates. When my mother had her terminal stroke my brother and I were hysterically funny and I can remember apologising to the ambulance crew (who were marvellous) and they weren’t fazed at all. Laugh away x

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  19. One of my colleagues emailed yesterday asking if she could call me, I figured she needed to talk about an article I had emailed to her for editing, she just needed someone to talk with. Find the irony and humor around you, it is there.

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  20. I get exactly where you are coming from, in our family we cope with a lot of things with black/bad taste humour, we shock a lot of folk that are eavesdropping at nearby tables ... well we did when we used to go out in 'the good old days' !!

    I can't get the image of that poor man's body 'sat' in his bed. I have to get this smirk off my face, how will I describe it to Alan ... haha ;-)

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  21. When my mum died, she was on an air bed. We sat with her for a long time but the noise of the pump was annoying my brother so he switched it off. We then watched my mother disappear slowly and gently into the folds of the mattress as it deflated. A nurse came in to 'rescue' her and I bet it gave them all a good laugh. It certainly helped us to laugh at such a sad time and I know my mum would have laughed too. Laugh as much as you can John. Sheila

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  22. Many years ago I had a patient die right at the start of my shift. She wasn't a code, she just slipped away. However, the head of the bed and the knee gatch were both up. By the time I got around to dealing with her, rigor mortis had set in and we couldn't get her to lay flat. Lesson learned, as soon as someone dies, put the bed flat.

    Nurses have a dark sense of humor, it's what keeps us going. Sending hugs.

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    1. My grandfather died at home in his bed. It was an old-fashioned funeral. While the family bought a casket, his daughter and daughters-in-law prepared his body for burial. I was not quite 5 and was running around the house, getting under everybody's feet. I remember my Aunt, who was a nurse, picking me up, putting me on my grandfather's bed, then putting me down again. I wondered for years what that was about. One family reunion we were reminiscing and I mentioned this. An older cousin told me "You were a hefty little kid, and Poppy died with his knees up."

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  23. As a retired nurse I absolutely get the humour so here's a little story involving nurse humour to give you a little chuckle..

    I worked in a combined ITU/CCU and it was christmas eve and I had drawn the short straw to work nights over christmas. Fortunately it was a good team and we knew that the shifts would go past with lots of humour. On arrival myself and one of my colleagues were tasked with the laying out of a just deceased CCU patient. We had finished all the necessary work with absolutely appropriate consideration and care and were wrapping the patient in a sheet and adding the label with details on attaching it with sellotape when my colleague, totally straight faced, said "Well that's the last of the christmas presents wrapped". As you can imagine, we both dissolved into hysteria!

    Black humour is what can get you through those difficult times.

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  24. I don't see anything wrong with it. Humor is a stress reliever and we all need that right now.

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  25. Gallows humour is a very important coping skill.

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  26. Oh John, yes, the black humor gets us through what would otherwise crush us! My sister and I had many of those laughs, while caring for our Mom and Dad, especially while in the hospital. We would twitter and carry on,snort-laughing at times, with tears running down our faces. The nurses and CNA's were our co-conspirators, and let us know were weren't being monsters! God LOVE all of you, who do this work!

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  27. Nurses wouldn't last a shift without a deep, dark sense of humor. That's all there is to it.

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  28. I have often thought, hospitals are a hard place to work in at times. So if it wasn't for black humor there would be non.
    Reminding me of the time I found a collapsed patient in the toilet. Having climbed over the door to get at him and put out a call. Night coordinator arrives and said 'Why are you in here'. I answered 'I fancied a change from on a bed'

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  29. I can't imagine how anyone working in the Health Sector could posaibly get through the day at present withour humour.

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  30. Laugh away - whatever helps. Frontline workers such as the police and armed services have always used humour to cope - to outsiders it may sound disrespectful but its a way of bonding and getting through such difficult times and those of us who are lucky enough not to have to do these jobs should be more understanding of this concept. Stay well.

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  31. No.. i don't 'get' the humor but whatever works for you and helps you get thru things.

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  32. Oh, the stories I could tell about Friday happy hour in the ICU. It was in the mid-seventies, so I'm not sure if the statute of limitations works.

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  33. Barbara Anne4:06 pm

    Amen, John! I've got stories, too, after more than 40 years as a registered nurse. Sometimes you've just got to laugh and, you're right, it's not disrespectful in the least.

    Loved your stories and the cartoon.

    Hugs!

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  34. Anonymous5:45 pm

    A sense of humor and an ability to laugh are coping skills, those having them are fortunate. I'm ever so pleased that you have them, on and off the job. Carry on, head held high, dear man, you're doing a wonderful job helping yourself, animals, patients, readers, thanks for all of that,- Mary

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  35. Retired nurse with over 45 years in nursing. I know just what you are saying! Keep your chin up.

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  36. THANK YOU JOHN GRAY!!!xxx and your colleagues for all the Nursing and caring work you do and to All NHS staff and not forgetting our Vets.What would we do without you all ?! xxxxxxx

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  37. Soon after my mother got home after receiving her "death sentence," as she put it, she had a cold call asking her to sell raffle tickets for a charity. She explained very politely that she was just out of hospital and not well enough to do anything. "You've got until December," said the bright cold-caller. "Unfortunately, I may not have until December," she answered, to the discomfiture of CC. She put the phone down and we all, my ma, my sister and I, fell about laughing. The phone went again and my mother answered. It was the same CC who'd redialled in her embarrassment. We actually landed on the floor, helpless.

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  38. Sometimes this black humor helps get people through difficult times.

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  39. Let a smile be your umbrella as the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine anytime.

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  40. A friend of mine was a counsellor at The Priory before she retired. She said it was the shared gallows humour behind the scenes that got her and the team through. Arilx

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  41. In one of her songs, Joni Mitchell sings, "Laughin' and cryin', you know it's the same release." I often think of that quotation in these types of situations.

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  42. years ago, I was working as a Bank admin in a hospital ICU. I had to run from one side of the hospital down shit loads of stair to the other and back up. I gave myself a stitch and could hardly run back with the patient notes. I dived into a staff only lift as the porter frantically pressed the button. The doors slide closed and I realised we were going down and that the key was in the wall below the floor buttons. I turned to see the porters both glare at me and then one started laughing "Just like you dad, always running about". (Both my parents worked there as well). And just as I went to reply, there was a large sigh and I noticed that there was someone on their way to the morgue and they were sat in a wheel chair. They promptly slipped out of the chair on to the floor and the back of the legs on the porter who was trying to shield me from seeing the person. One looked at the other, "Well he wont sit in there now will he". I never used a lift again.

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  43. My daughter is a nurse. When she met my nephew's new girlfriend and learned she was a nurse, they were in a corner trading stories and laughing uproariously. If anyone looked over, they would say "It's nurse talk. Don't worry."

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  44. Clearly, you are one fantastic nurse!

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  45. I hear you. My darling cousin who is like an older sister to me, is a nurse, has been over 50 years. On Christmas Day she and her friend Maureen opened up and told us some stories of how they'd been treated that just made me sad, but also she has the BEST sense of humour and is absolutely the best person to confide in because she just doesn't put up with any pity parties. I know that's the nurse in her!

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