February 2, 2007, 5:24 pm

Nights in White…Poly/Cotton


It seems many people suffered from simple nervous tension in the ’60s.

Must have been all the amphetamines that were being prescribed as diet pills.

Compoz was supposed to take care of that.

But did you know that Compoz would also cure allergic reactions, act as an antinausea medication, work on motion sickness and help with EPS reactions?

It should.

All it is is diphenhydramine.


Just plain ol’ Benadryl.

Who knew that if you suffered from simple nervous tension, you could take Benadryl?

I wonder if I can buy it in bulk…..


They finally arrived.

My new white scrubs with my name ever so eleganty embroidered on the left side!

They were so freakin’ white I had to wear sunglasses.

But first I had to make sure I had the appropriate accoutrements . One does not want to wear navy-blue foundation garments under white scrubs.

Flesh-colored unmentionables: check!

I placed the scrubs on my oh-so-professional self. I swear I glowed in the dark.

Consultation with husband in three different lighting conditions to make sure my underwear was not showing: check!

Hmmm….an unexpected situation: the scrubs were so vibrant in their whiteness, they made my white shoes, socks and scrub jacket look like I had dipped them in Hershey’s chocolate syrup and rolled them in the rain puddle in the front yard.

There’s white and then there is WHITE!

No matter. I, the Professional Nurse, was all in white. I nearly grabbed my cap for the occasion.

With head held high and nose somewhere in the stratosphere, I drove to work and entered the sacred healing area known as the Emergency Department.

My co-workers noticed my attire; there were a few double-takes.

No one said a word!

Ha! You are all jealous of my professional whiteness of attire, oh you of the no-cap-wearing generation!

I went in and threw my new dusty blue Littmann Cardiology II over my neck and went out to begin gettin’ down wit’ my bad self.


Approximately an hour into the shift, I looked down to find dirt on my scrubs at the level of my lower sternum.


Where in the heck did I come into contact with dirt?

There’s no dirt in nursing!

Did I walk through a dust storm?


Later, I looked down at my pearly white scrub pants and saw a stain!

This being a less than hellacious night, I had not had the pleasure of encountering any body fluids.

But there it was, on my right lateral knee area. Light yellow. Circular.


It was a darned stain from the gigantic He-Man All Meat Pizza we ordered.

I don’t dribble pizza oil.

I began to think my Uber-professional scrubs were attracting foreign material.

I couldn’t be responsible! I was a professional!


I managed to get home without further soiling.

I walked into the kitchen and grabbed a fistfull of Baked Cheetos, sat down at my computer and began to peruse my email.

About 15 minutes later, I looked down to find my entire torso covered in bright orange Cheeto powder.

Now I knew it had to be the fault of the scrubs.

I don’t dribble Cheeto powder.


Alas, I suspect my experiement with white scrubs may be short-lived. Having bought them, I intend to wear them, even if it does mean an entire bottle of Spray-and-Wash after each shift.

I’ve also decided I look just as professional in navy blue scrubs with my name elegantly embroidered in white on the left.

I suspect that in a month, the blinding white scrubs will be grey.

But it will be their fault!


  • jen

    February 2, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    I first learned that benadryl was a cure all at the first level I that I worked at. Now I do buy it in bulk. Yes, I buy the $15 bottle.

  • Andrew

    February 2, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    All you need to go with the outfit is the “Ms Dixie McCall, RN” name tag. Classic.

  • Alyson

    February 2, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    I, too, have noticed that anything white tends to attract all kinds of foreign materials. Especially when you are the mother of a toddler.

  • Carrie

    February 2, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    What if you wear navy scrub pants and the white scrub top? That would look sharp…. 😉 OR the white pants with a navy top. Isn’t mixing and matching all the rage these days??? Right now, I’m lying on my bed (where I plopped after I got home from work 3 hours ago haha) and I have on navy cargo scrub pants, a pastel pink long sleeved t-shirt and my favorite ciel blue scrub top with the Penn State logo on the pocket. I swear this scrub top will have to be thread-bare before I stop wearing it. I wear this on days when I need to have a good day because I think even if my day goes to hell in a handbasket, at least I’ll have my favorite scrubs on!! lol I did take off my socks and shoes because it’s yucky out and because my feet needed freedom!! (I prefer being barefoot and would walk around wearing flipflops everywhere if I could!) Seriously though – I don’t care how often people see me in these scrubs – I wear ’em at whatever shift I go to right after I do the huge pile of built-up wash! They’re my happy scrubs. (Is that insane? lol)

    On the subject of benadryl, I’ve probably mentioned this before, but in case i have not – I am actually allergic to benadryl! What does one do when they are allergic to the antihistamine? When I went to the ER for my allergic reaction to chlor-kon (yes, potassium…it’s the additives..possibly cotton seed oil, but we never figured it out for sure!), the ER nurses were all scrambling to make sure everybody knew I was allergic to benadryl!! I was in the ICU the first time we discovered the allergy – I think it’s one of those sensitivity things because I used to be able to have it and not have this reaction!! Tele ICU – the blood pressure cuff was going off on my left arm automatically….my IV was also in my left arm….mom was in the room and nurse was slowly pushing benadryl through IV simultaneously. She looked at me and said, “Are you alright?” I nodded and said yes….and then a look of fear came across my face. I felt like somebody stabbed a stake through my arm and somebody else squeezed my lungs and forced all the air out, but yet kept them squeezed so that no air could get back in!! I couldn’t breathe at all!! It happened in like 1 second! I was coughing and gasping for air – I couldn’t breathe. And then as fast as it happened, it stopped…but my lungs felt like crap for a few hours after that.

    So then neuro writes on the chart not to push any meds – at this point, we didn’t think it was an allergic reaction. Then I was on the cardiac step-down unit, and this pool nurse doesn’t see the note. I’m sleeping peacefully (which, let me tell you – does not happen for patients on cardiac step-down units often!), and she comes in and starts pushing the med. I sit straight up in bed, unable to talk…again gasping for air. I finally cough out the word “benadryl”? And she says yes while she is throwing O2 on me. After maybe 5 minutes or so when I could actually breathe a little better, I explained that this had happened before. She said she NEVER saw anybody have that kind of reaction to benadryl and it scared the crap outta her. Now we list it as an allergy….

    But who’s allergic to benadryl? Only a freak like me, for sure! 😉

    Carrie 🙂

  • DisappearingJohn

    February 3, 2007 at 7:13 am

    Actually, I have run into a few people who are allergic to benadryl….

    As for the white scrubs, I must admit when you first mentioned it, my first thought was “those won’t last long”… (I know how dirty I get in my navy blue scrubs… I can’t imagine wearing white anything to work in the ED)…

    I wish I could have seen you, though… Its amazing how we even walk different when we feel “more professional”


  • Mother Jones RN

    February 3, 2007 at 8:17 am

    “Virgin” white uniforms are beautiful, and then after about a week, stain by stain, they die. I bet you looked very professional in your tiddy whites:-)


  • ERnursey

    February 3, 2007 at 9:46 am

    I’m sorry but whoever thought nurses should wear white is nuts. I deal daily with every bodily emanation known to man along with people who’s last bath was a year ago, give or take a few months. If I wore white I would look like a walking petri dish by the end of the day, yuck.

  • Carrie

    February 3, 2007 at 10:15 am

    My student uniform was all white – hideous. But – after a couple of months of wearing that white crap they forced me to buy, I bought my own, more stylish white pants (cargo, drawstring…not straight pleated elastic waist), and I actually even still wear them from time to time. They go really well with this one snowman scrub top I have. I work in the NICU, so I get to wear all kinds of patterns and stuff if I want. 😉 I’ll have to dig up the pic of me in my nursing school uniform because I still have it on my computer!

    John – I didn’t know that benadryl was a common allergy! I did have a medic alert bracelet for awhile, but then it broke, and I didn’t feel like buying a new one, and I let my medic alert subscription go to the wayside. Which is really dumb. Because I have 3 major allergies and a medical history that scares most residents and some attendings… (I’m not kidding – last time I ended up in the ER, the nurse, after hearing my history said, ‘Dear God, you’re going to scare off all the interns.’ LOL) Maybe not wearing my medic alert bracelet was my way of living on the edge. Who knows. A girl can dream! (not…)

    They ended up giving me IV steroids and zantac for the reaction. I now take zantac twice a day in addition to my other reflux meds, so maybe they’d have to try another H2 blocker – not sure if you can overdose someone on zantac in an allergic reaction!

    I’m also allergic to haldol – and I didn’t find that out because I went nuts or anything… They use it for headaches in the inpatient headache world. Before I even realized what was really happening, I turned to my mom and said, “My tongue feels thick. Does my tongue look thick to you?” And at first she said no, but before long, my tongue was the size of my mouth. They used benadryl to kill those allergic reactions to haldol, which I had 3 times before they figured out what I was allergic to (well…twice before they figured out what it was, and then the last time was just a residual allergic reaction to it still being in my system…so they said). I wasn’t allergic to benadryl at that point!! That was only my 2nd hospital stay ever for headaches and well before I became a nurse – I didn’t know heads from tails when it came to medications and reactions at that point! The repeated hospitalizations plus strong drugs they use to treat all this crap have led to a lot more allergic reactions. I wonder if all people who would be sensitized to so many different meds would develop a list of allergies. And I mean TRUE allergies – not “I’m allergic to all narcotics except demerol” allergies. Anaphylactic allergies.

    But I ramble… If you’re gonna wear white, I hope you also have an excellent stain remover. It’s so funny but we take a look at how messy we get in white – does that mean the white is truly magnetic, or are our navy scrubs really hiding a lot of nasty stains? lol I know when the babies start puking, I aim them towards the floor. I’ve been puked on enough times to know when it’s coming – you can see it in their faces. Very rarely now do I not anticipate a baby who is about to spew all over me. It did happen the other day, but I was talking to another nurse and had looked up for a second, and she puked totally silently – I didn’t even realize it for like 2 minutes!

    The funny part is that I’d rather be puked on by babies than doing almost any other job. Truly demented. *grin*

    Carrie 🙂

  • enrico

    February 3, 2007 at 10:55 am

    All docs in training in Mexico wear their “whites” in clinical settings, and we abhor them. It’s good idea on paper–professional, crisp, clean–but unless you are among the rare few, hardly anybody looks good in all white. I think it’s a subversive mechanism to remember our place and give us yet another thing to worry about.


    February 3, 2007 at 11:13 am

    I remember the day that a white uniform was REQUIRED attire. I had white pantsuits, white jumpsuits, white dresses, white hose, and white shoes. THe day we were allowed to wear white Reebok tennis shoes was a banner day. The jumpsuit was a marvel. My curvy 30 year old girlish figure looked great in it but bathroom breaks were a challenge. And I really did wear those dresses in the ED but I could usually count on having to climb on or under a stretcher, being in the path of projectile body fluids or having to mix (yes I said mix) powdered activated charcoal. There’s no way you could do that without getting some on ya.

  • missb

    February 3, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    mmmmm…Benadryl! I used to loves me some Bennie! I would pop 50mg of the stuff to get to sleep when I got home from work. Then one day my med cabinet was only stocked with 25s…or so I thought…so I took two. I had also has a glass of wine with dinner. I felt sooooo weird! Turns out I took two 50s! I was pretty much drooling and falling all ove rthe place. Passed out for 10 hours. Never again!

    Pizza on the whites! Horrors!!! You know, as impractical as it may be, I don’t really mind whites (we wear blue). Underwear is always a problem, though!

  • Liana

    February 3, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    Just stay away from grape soda… (cringe)

  • Jonathan

    September 21, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Back in the day, Compoz was actualy a cocktail of scopolamine, methapyriline, prylamine and salicyamide

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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