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 monologueHoly fuck.  Fuck.  How the fuck…

External dialogue“Ok….I’m just going to put some new gauze here….


All identifying moles, nipples, body parts, skin shades/tones, and bone fragments have been removed for all reasons HIPAA. Incredibly realistic image created via Paint by me.


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