I began my morning rounds with a patient admitted for a dehisced chest incision a few weeks after his bypass. His potentially fatal mistake? Lifting a friend’s wheelchair. While completely healthy individuals stood around. Dude. They cut through your chest. Can we let it heal? Please?
The dressing is soaked, so I gather some supplies to make a quick change. I peeled back the layers of gauze and then proceed to have a quick heart attack.
Internal monologue: Holy fuck. Fuck. How the fuck…
External dialogue: “Ok….I’m just going to put some new gauze here….”
I’ve seen dehisced chest incisions, but these have been small with a little wire poking out here and there. This man managed to split his chest wide open. Room enough for me to stick my hand in. Flat.* Open enough for the man to ask me, “What is that sound?” He means the squick, squick, squick every time he takes a breath.
A sound that made me feel sick. **
I am so not a trauma nurse.
* I have large hands for a chick. Not to be confused with man hands.
** My list of nursey things that make me feel sick now has two items:
1. Oral care – I always retch a little on the inside when doing mouth care on someone who has a lot of junk. Please don’t forget your oral care, fellow nurses. I can’t stand the build-up and occasionally have to step away a moment to save myself and the patient any additional misery.
2. Squick, squick, squick