Monday, April 13, 2009

Milk and Molasses

I was a "baby nurse", not even out of school 8 months when I was assigned to a VERY difficult patient. Now if you are a nurse or in the medical field, you know where I am about to go with this. It is not that she was medically difficult, it was that behaviorally she was difficult. She was your basic med/surg patient. I can't exactly remember what her diagnosis was. What I do remember is that she was on her call light every 30 minutes for trivial things. She would want more water, then in 30 minutes she would want to go to the bathroom, then in 30 minutes she would want a snack. I would come back with a snack and she would say, "Oh, I'm sorry, could I get something more to drink too?". I had no problem giving her what she asked for but if I was already going to the kitchen to get a snack and had asked her if she needed something to drink, and she said no, then changed her mind when I got back to the room, I felt like I was just running the halls. Not to mention I had other patients that were much worse off and needed more attention.

Besides running me crazy, I also remember this particular patient was scheduled to be moved from my floor to a regular med/surg floor. She was placed with us as an overflow patient. However, they didn't want her to go until she had a BM and she hadn't had one in about 4 days. The doctor told me to give her an enema and once it worked we could move her. When I looked at the order, after the doctor left, he had written for a "milk and molasses enema". WHAT??? Was he serious? I had never heard of such a thing. I asked the more seasoned nurses working with me if this was a joke. They assured me it was for real and explained to me how it works and to get in touch with dietary to bring me the molasses.

I had all my supplies ready in the kitchen. Evidentally, I was supposed to mix this myself. I was instructed to mix half milk and half molasses, warm it in the microwave, then put it in the bucket and wahla! Ready to go.

I did exactly as I was told as far as mixing. I had given enemas before but they had always been in a bag, not a bucket. I was so afraid I was going to make a mess, so I opened the plastic around the bucket and just pulled it down, but didn't take the bucket out of the plastic. I kept ALL the supplies in the plastic to save on room when I had to carry it back to the patients room. I have the milk/molasses mixture all ready and warm and start pooring it into the bucket. They told me to make 800mls of it. All of the sudden the bag is filling up. There is a HOLE in my bucket!!! I immediately stop pouring and put my finger over the hole while I try to figure out what went wrong. I took the bucket out of the bag, only to find the tubing is NOT already attached to the bucket. They didn't tell me that! By now there is milk/molasses mixture running out of the bag onto the counter. I still have a finger over the hole, but I had to figure out how to get the tubing attached. With my free hand I grab the tubing and quickly attach it to the bucket. Now there was milk/molasses running down the front of the cabinet onto the floor. HURRY. . . clamp the tubing! Just when I think all is well, there is yet another fountain of milk/molasses coming from the tubing. WHAT? I looked at it, just to find, I put it on backwards. There is an extra hole in the tubing so all the liquid is coming out that hole. That is the part of the tubing that is supposed to be inserted for the enema. This is where it gets really bad. I put my finger over the hole, and try to figure out how I am going to get the tubing turned around without losing all my mixture to the floor. I don't know how I did it, but I did. And I did it without adding too much to my already large mess.

Now for the clean up. I set the bucket aside, grab all the wet papertowels I can and start cleaning up the countertop and cabinets. Did you know that molasses is REALLY sticky? Then I wiped up what I could off the floor. I peeked out the kitchen door looking for a housekeeping so I could get a mop, just as my boss was walking by. "Do you need something?", she asked. "Oh no, just looking for a housekeeper. I will find her." was my reply. "Here, let me help you", she said as she walked in to see what needed cleaning. She asked me what happened and I reluctanly told her. Then she left. Next thing I know, I have a mop and help from ALL my co-workers, as they are laughing to see what in the world I had done.

Let me tell you, while all of this was going on I felt like I was in the middle of an I Love Lucy show and I was Lucy Ricardo. All anyone could do was laugh. It was embarassing, but even more than that it was so funny.

I bet you think that is it right? Well. . . hang on cause it does get worse.

I was instructed on how to give this enema, and it was very detailed instructions. The patient was to lay on her left side, I was to let a little of the mixture go in, then she was to hold it in, turn on her right, let a little more go in, then she was to get on all fours and let the rest go in. Yep you hear right, all 200 pounds of her on all fours in her bed, while I am letting this mixture go in. As much as she could hold. That was terrible. I had this horrible feeling the mixture was going to go straight across the room to the wall. Fortunately it didn't.

She held it for as long as she could then needed help getting to the bedside commode. Once there, she let go! And I do mean, LET GO!!! The pan on the bedside commode ended up on the floor, and yet again, milk and molasses was all over the floor! I called for the mop again, hung my head as I headed to the nurses station and asked someone to please hurry and get the bed assignment for her room move.

Poor lady, never had good results, but she did have some great entertainment from this nurse. AND she got to move within the hour.

I have never given another milk and molasses enema, however people I don't even know that work in the hospital where I work have heard the story. Some of them don't know it was me, but I have heard them telling other "baby nurses" the story of the milk and molasses enema. I guess I have created quiet a reputation.