It’s a good thing people are harder to kill than I thought in my nursing student days. In my first few weeks, I thought I’d killed several. My first great scare was in my first day on a clinical unit. I was assigned to give a bed bath to a poor old lady who’d had a leg amputation. I did NOT want to give that woman, or any patient for that matter, a bath in the bed or otherwise. Of course we’d practiced bed baths in the lab till we were sick of it. I dreaded clinical that day, knowing bed bathing would not be put off any longer. I gathered my supplies, a bed pad, two sheets, a mattress cover, four bath cloths, four towels and a blanket. In the room I introduced myself to the patient and bumbled around till I came up with gloves, a basin of warm water, soap, toothbrush, tooth paste, mouthwash, and lotion. God forbid, I was expected to do mouth care, too.
Done properly, a bed bath and bed change can be accomplished in minutes. I believe I probably tormented that poor woman the better part of two hours. I won’t bore you with the details but I slopped water all over the patient, the bed, myself, and the floor before I was finally through. I left her wet, uncovered, and freezing, I am sure. Finally I labored long enough to get her in a clean gown and do mouth care. I was so relieved to be through when she looked at me with sad eyes and said. “You put my gown on inside out.”
Sure enough, it was. Hopefully I suggested, “You don’t want me to change it, do you?”
“Yes.” she moaned.
I wanted to argue, but knew I had it to do. I worked till I got it fixed, but snatched her IV out in the process. I hadn’t gotten to the point I could start IVs, so my nursing instructor had to do it. She was not happy.
Not long after I escaped from her room, her family returned. The doctor made rounds with the head nurse. They all came came out with their heads together. I was sure they were all discussing the horrible bath I’d given. I had no idea they’d be able to tell. I was mortified. Fortunately, that was not the problem, but it was an awful day.