20 Secrets Only Nurses Know

Answer by Tasha Cooper Poslaniec, OB Nurse, on Quora.

Here are some things I’ve learned as a nurse:

Wearing a wedding/engagement ring and having a patient squeeze your hand while in pain is something you will do exactly once.
You can make a damn good ice pack from cutting open a diaper, filling it with ice, then rolling it closed and sealing it with the tape side.
People in pain are nothing like their normal selves. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was actually written about a woman giving birth. Kidding.
Washing your hands hundreds of times a day over many years will rub off your fingerprints permanently. (Which is why so many retired nurses become criminals. Kidding)
Breaking open an ampule of ammonia and putting it in a “hat” (which really is used in a toilet to catch urine) can stimulate a lazy bladder. Very handy when you’re recovering a same day surgery patient or a woman who just had a baby. (Obviously care must be taken to prevent any contact with skin and is a no-no with children)
You can make a decent hair tie by cutting off the rolled edge of a glove.
There is an art to placing a damp washcloth on a fevered brow.
The most common tell for a lie is a hesitation followed by “Uh..”
Always double the amount a person admits to doing for drugs, drinking and smoking.
Benadryl is a very bad allergy.
People don’t come with labels on their foreheads. It can actually be quite surprising to learn that someone is stark raving mad. Or isn’t.
Life is so not fair.
Mouth breathing is an absolutely essential skill.
Asking a nurse “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen” is actually a rude question. We don’t (for many reasons) dish about our patients. My answer will always be, “Well, let’s finish with you first.”
Purchase a block of cream cheese, a jar of pepper jelly and several boxes of water crackers. Put the opened cream cheese on a plate and pour the jelly over it. Voila! I’ve just given you the recipe for your next potluck. Can also be done with salsa and tortilla chips. Now get some extra sleep instead of cooking.
The slower you push an IV narcotic, the less likely your patient will vomit or get dizzy.
NO ONE knows everything. Asking questions is a sign of intelligence. NOT asking questions is a big, fat red flag to other nurses.
A nurse’s job is 50% hands on and 50% documenting. Most people don’t realize that we are simultaneously making a record of everything that happens to you while you’re our guest. Most of us despise that half, but we know how incredibly important it is for your care.
Many of us carry psychic wounds from the horrible things we’ve seen. It’s called “Trauma Stewardship”.
Cake is always the solution.