For those of you that don’t like gory details then you should probably stop reading right about now. For the rest of you out there that just have to hear all the disgusting aspects, please continue. ;o)
10) BLOOD : Okay, you’re probably thinking that blood is very gross, but in reality it’s not really that bad. Blood circulates inside a sterile closed system of veins and arteries, and as long as it’s not actively infected with anything contagious and the person’s immune system is working, then it’s okay. Most people can’t stand the sight of blood and often faint (I make a lot of those fainting calls) but blood doesn’t smell bad and cleans up easily. HINT: use hydrogen peroxide to get blood out of clothing/carpet/etc, just soak and resoak and rinse the foam. HP breaks down blood and tissue, which is why it’s bad to use it on injuries to excess.
9) GERIATRIC DUST: Laypersons have probably never heard of this. When someone is very old, they usually have extremely dry, poorly maintained skin, and therefore have a layer of dandruff-like powder. Doesn’t sound too bad right? Try picking this person up with a full body hug after they’ve fallen and can’t get up. You end up covered in dandruff that has a slight odor and is difficult to brush off, ick.
8) BIRTH FLUIDS: Need I say more. Babies are beautiful, the miracle of human birth is beautiful, actually participating in the spewing, bloody, amniotic fluid explosion–not so much. And yes, I have delivered babies in the field.
7) MUCUS: I’m not talking about the clear, piddling amount you blow into a tissue when you’ve got the sniffles. Or even the nasty yellow stuff you get with a cold or flu. I’m talking about that thick, yellow-greenish sludge that collects inside the lungs of people with severe lung disease. I’m talking about the malleable missile that shoots from said diseased lungs with a strong cough. This sticky mess will fly over 6+ feet, and you had better duck! I’ve had plenty of near misses.
6) URINE: Oh you know it had to be on this list! Urine is a funny thing. Doesn’t look like much, but the smell will stay for hours. Can you say pungent? Especially the dark, concentrated fluid from someone that rarely drinks water. Fortunately, urine is like blood. As long as there’s no active infection it’s mostly sterile. Just don’t get it on you if you’d rather not stink.
5) VOMIT: I’m talking chunky style–the type of vomit that retains the a bit of odor, shape, and coloration of its previous existence. Or pure Gatorade vomit with its sickly sweetness that sticks in your nose for hours! But like urine and blood it’s mostly non-contagious. Still extremely gross and usually causes sympathetic vomiting, or dry-heaving.
4) PUS: If you’ve never experienced the full range of skin infections, such as gangrene, then you’ve never really experienced the joy of rotting human flesh–zombie-style. This also includes smelling a week old corpse; especially if the body is in a warm environment. The stench will ooze out of a home all the way to the street, and you’d better not be downwind! Been there, done that, maggots and all. Too much and it’ll actually cause you to pass out–all methane and no oxygen.
3) FECES: If you think stepping in a pile of dog shit is bad, then try a human pile. Oh yes, I’ve done that. Not on purpose, tried to avoid it, but… well shit happens. Human feces is probably one of the worse smelling, longest-lasting stenches you’ll ever regret sniffing. A half a dozen scrubs to my boots later, and I could still smell it! Keep in mind that my sniffer isn’t so awesome. So this tends to hang around. A lifetime of sinus infections have severely damaged my sense of smell, but at least I can still smell baking cookies, YUM!
2) COLOSTOMY: You ever heard of a colostomy? It’s when someone has a bowel disease and must have a section of their colon removed. A temporary or permanent hole, a stoma, is incised into their abdomen and a plastic bag is secured over the stoma (outside) to collect the contents of their colon. It doesn’t exit the body from the rectum as normal. and it doesn’t complete a full circuit of the intestines. So a colostomy bag’s contents is a horrible combination of vomit and diarrhea. Its feces that hasn’t been completely formed, and it stinks like you wouldn’t believe. Occasionally, patients have accidents when changing the bag and spill the contents, and we have to help them. Wow, I’ve had to step outside for fresh air on those calls.
And the number 1 grossest thing from the human body!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
1) GI BLEED: GI stands for gastrointestinal–when someone is bleeding internally in their esophagus, stomach, and/or intestines. Blood by itself isn’t too bad (as we know) and feces is bad enough alone, but you combine the two and OMG! The blood usually sits in the GI tract for hours or days, so it decomposes, is partially digested, and irritates the internal linings. Human blood is very corrosive to the internal organs, and the body doesn’t like being exposed to blood outside of intervascularly. The end result is the most disgusting, reeking, sticky, dark black mess you’ll ever experience. Especially if the person is vomiting and crapping it simultaneously. Whatever you do, DO NOT get it on you! And yes, I’ve witnessed, treated, stepped it, and cleaned up after that fun, too.
Doesn’t this list make you glad you don’t work in the medical field?