September 25, 2006, 5:22 am

Oh Please, Not Now…I’m Sicker Than Thou

9666grey specter.jpg

Ummmm…maybe because it can kill you?

Is this creepy or what?

A wee bit dramatic, perhaps?

All I know is I don’t even want to think about what I come into contact with on a daily basis.

Pretty scary.

Unfortunately, ignorance is not bliss in this case.

Can you say “wash your hands”, boys and girls?


I think I tend to be a pretty empathetic person.

Even after all these years in nursing practice I tend to give patients the benefit of the doubt, almost to the point of a naivete that I should have lost two decades ago.

But when I’m sick, all that goes out the window.

For you see, when I’m sick, like most nurses, I go to work.

And if you just happen to present with what I am sick with, well I might just think you are a wimp.

It’s not your fault.

My brain can’t help it.


I had a headache.  A bad headache.  Maybe it was even a migraine.  I don’t know.  Never been officially diagnosed.

The headache began during Notre Dame’s loss to Michigan.

Eight days ago.

And it lasted until today.


I went to work that Sunday. 

I went to work with a left frontal pounding headache, a boring-pain behind my left eye and radiation to the entire left side of my face.  I was mildly nauseated.  I was photosensitive and the sound of the cardiac monitors exacerbated the piercing pain in my temporal lobe.

Tylenol and Advil did not even touch it.

And three, count ’em three, patients decided to present to the ER with those exact symptoms.


And then, to make matters worse, one of the headache patients began to complain about a tiny blister on his foot.

Say WHAT?  I was working with an open, weeping two-inch horizontal ruptured blister on my right heel.  The pain was so bad, I took off my shoe and covered my sock with a shoe cover.

He was a double wimp.


Of course I was feeling sorry for myself.

While they laid back and took their Dilaudid, I held my head up high.

I was working through my pain.


While they hugged their emesis basins with a passion I’ve only seen in soap operas, I was working through my nausea!


And when I put the tiny circular band-aid on the barely existant blister, I told my self with pride: I’m walking with my blister!



And after twelve hours of hard-running, life-saving activity during which I suffered beyond anything a human being should have to endure, I drove home.

And when I got there I took: Two Vicodin, ibuprofen 800 mg, and Sudafed 60 mg.

It made my tummy hurt.

So I called my husband and whined about my shift until I became comatose from the Vicodin and I slept the sleep of the narcotized.

But before I lost that final vestige of consciousness, I experienced an epiphany.

When it all boiled down to the basics, I was the biggest wimp of all.




  • bamanurse

    September 25, 2006 at 6:57 am

    Great post!

    Feel better.

  • kt

    September 25, 2006 at 7:47 am

    that was great! i know those feelings and wanting to say “shake it off”, i feel like crap too!! you deserve the rest of the narcotized…i’m craving a benadryl now.

  • Sean

    September 25, 2006 at 9:01 am

    I loved this post!

  • AmandaM

    September 25, 2006 at 10:30 am

    Umm…Kim?? Why were you working if you felt that bad? My understanding of pain management is not to let it spiral upwards…but to catch it early…I was told that toughing it out isn’t always the best policy, right?

    Hope that the headaches go away!! Excederin (sp?) migraine is always in my purse these days….it works wonders. 🙂

  • ltaylor

    September 25, 2006 at 1:06 pm

    I think too many people go to work when they are sick, not just nurses. That is why everyone else get’s sick. Nothing pisses me off more than some *ss that I work with showing up with the coughing, sneezing, runny nose, fever, tummy or the disease of the week because they think they are tough or have something to prove. Then one by one the rest of us get sick. I do everything I possibly can to avoid it (wash hands, avoid them, disinfect EVERYTHING) but sometimes you are one of the fallen.

    As far as migraines go…I have had to work through the pain too many times to count and it really sucks!! I used to clean “my special stall” in the ladies room because if it was dirty it would only make me sicker. I never should have been at work and worse yet I never should have been driving. Talk about dangerous!! On these occasions vicoden does not even touch my pain so of course I land in the ER and thankfully have not run into “Nurse I.M. Tougherthanu” because I would have just thought that she wasn’t really as sick as she thought she was…You are no wimp, just honest. I really hope you are still feeling better and that it is not something you will have to deal with frequently. However, you might need to see a doctor (THE HORROR!!) just to make sure everything is ok and to rule out any more serious issues. Peace, L

  • jen

    September 25, 2006 at 9:06 pm

    I’ve often wondered the same thing while working through sinus infections and the like………
    I had to call off a few weeks ago, after getting IV vanc in my own ER. Afterall, I was talking to people that weren’t even there. yikes.

  • purchase

    January 27, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Excellent Web Site! Very professional and full of great information. I am greatly enjoying it. Your enthusiasm is wonderful!!!

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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