Medical Mondays - What I Do.

My first husband's current wife (my children's stepmother) likes to refer to my occupation as "ass-wiper".
Charming, isn't she?  She's also going to school to be a NURSE.  Shudder.

Anyway.  I am a Nurse Tech, or Nursing Assistant, on the Med/Surg floor of a hospital.
When my husband told his nurse friend what I do for a living, his friend immediately said "She works HARD for her money." And I certainly do.

I have so many different duties and responsibilities in my job that neither of you nor I have time for me to list them all.  And no two nights are ever the same.  But I have never made a secret of the fact that one of my job duties is to help clean incontinent patients.  (I refuse to call it "wiping ass", that is SO disrespectful to my patients.)

I also take vital signs, making me the first line of defense to detect if a patient is having any issues.  I am an important link in a chain of health care professionals.
I perform blood glucose tests.  I hook up telemetry monitors.  I connect oxygen tubing.   I attach sequential compression devices.  I do portable bladder ultrasounds.
Last week I assisted a nurse with an enema and impaction removal.  Yep - that's a NURSE JOB.

Some nights I feel like a waitress.  Some nights I feel like a therapist.
Some nights I have zero incontinent patients.
Some nights I have three.
But when I think of the comments from ignorant, disrespectful people, it makes me angry.  Not for myself - certainly I couldn't care less what someone like that thinks of me.

But I picture my incontinent patients.  Usually frail, elderly people.  They are helpless and unable to clean themselves.  They are embarrassed and uncomfortable in every way.  They never asked to be in that position.  They deserve someone who respects them, and cares enough to clean them up immediately, quickly yet thoroughly, and in a professional manner, while allowing them to maintain their dignity.

A few weeks ago I had a sweet elderly lady as one of my patients.  She tried to make it to the bathroom to void her bladder, but she didn't make it in time.  She was so humiliated.  She said that was the first time in her life it had ever happened.  I helped her clean up, changed her sheets, all the while smiling and chatting with her.  She still kept apologizing and was so ashamed, she was literally in tears.  I finally took her by the hand and said, "Please, stop apologizing.  It happens.  If you were feeling well, you wouldn't be in the hospital.  I have cleaned up FAR worse than this.  It's part of my job.  I don't mind at all." And she said to me, "You are a wonderful person.  There is a special place in heaven for you."

And I hear that all the time.  "Thank you.  You are so sweet.  Thank you for taking such good care of me."   It makes it all worthwhile.

And anyone who refers to that as "ass-wiping" deserves NOT to have a compassionate person to take care of them when they find themselves in the unfortunate position of being helpless and incontinent.  They deserve to sit in it for a while.

Not everyone can handle my job - I get that.  But I can and I do, and I do it quite well.
Oh and one last thing - if you are a nurse and you have NEVER cleaned up an incontinent patient, PLEASE leave me a comment.  I would love to know how you managed to escape a job that every single nurse on the planet does.

Go visit Your Doctor's Wife for more Medical Monday posts.
P.S.  It's Nurse's Week!  Hug your favorite Nursing Professional!


barefootmeds said...

You ARE wonderful, and shame on anyone who refers to ass-wiping. If every nurse/nursing assistant/doctor/etc was as great as you are, hospitals would be a lot less depressing. Keep doing the good work.

Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

Well done, Mamma! May I encounter nurses like you if I ever find myself needing medical care!

From A Doctors Wife said...

Thanks for linking up today. I still can't get past the ex's comments about what you do! Thank you for all your hard work, it is important work.

Amy @ Clan Carlson said...

Wow, your ex's wife is EXTREMELY disrespectful!

I was a nursing STUDENT the first time I cleaned up an incontinent patent, AND did an impaction removal.

I only attended nursing school for 1.5 years before deciding it wasn't my calling, and went on to become an animal nurse instead (where I STILL "wipe asses".

You're awesome, you know? Your clients love you for a reason.

(and we'll see how your ex's wife succeeds as a nurse - if she makes it through school, she's not going to have much fun when she pisses off the staff that is there to assist her).


Amy said...

Your ex's new wife is a total loser with no life. She deserves everything that Karma will eventually bring her way.

Just sit back and enjoy the show. You're already getting to enjoy part of it in how the girls feelings have changed towards her. She's ruined whatever relationship they used to have.

Your Doctor's Wife said...

My mother started her medical career in NA and ended up in nursing management, reporting directly to the Director of Nursing. So you can imagine the respect and love I have for nurses... not to mention the many who have taken brilliant care of me each time I find myself a patient! :)
Thank you so much for the shout out and linking up with us for Medical Monday!

Kimberly said...

Let me tell you something and all the hookers out there who call you ass wipers...You...YOU are the glue that holds us together. I'm not shitting you and no that was not a pun.
Before I was a nurse, I was in dietary. I was treated like scum. Even in nursing school. I always remembered that. So when I graduated I treated everyone with the SAME respect. And you know what? When you give each other RESPECT, you're co-workers work as a team to be reckoned with. I think that your job is very underappreciated and that is bullshit.
I think you all work harder than us. I seriously mean that. You're the front lines.
Be oh so proud of what you do my friend.

ChiTown Girl said...

Oh, Cyndy, I heard a new phrase this weekend that immediately JUMPED into my head when I read this. (Feel free to delete this comment, as it's NOT family-friendly!)

I would love to cunt punt that bitch! (cunt punt! I love it!)

How unbelievably ignorant of her to say something like that. And, this heifer thinks she can be a nurse?! Yeah, good luck with that. Any job in the medical field requires compassion, and she obviously has NONE! But, that's ok, because you have HER share and then some! Your patients are so lucky.


Debby@Just Breathe said...

Your job is something the should be respected and I am very proud of you.
I could never do your job and I am thankful for people like you who dedicate their lives to helping others.

Amy Looze said...

Happy nurses week - I guess that applies to nurse techs too right!? ;) If only all nurses were as funny and pleasant as you :)

isandos said...

I have nothing but respect for you... I fully admit to running out of the rooms of those incontinent or vomiting patients while you run in, ready and willing to help. People like you truly are the backbone to patient care, and the hospital absolutely could not run without you. Thank you for doing what you do!

Maggie said...

What a lovely post. I have the utmost respect for nurses, nurse techs, etc. I hope to have someone like you around if/when I ever have to go to the hospital!

PS Thanks for stopping by my blog!

AnnMarie said...

I have two boys that have Cystic Fibrosis and have had a bunch of surgeries (and will both have another this summer). Having CF and being on the meds that they are, they have unpleasant and embarrassing things happen to them from time to time. I want to kiss and hug the nurses that ease their embarrassment. You work hard for money that is probably less than you deserve and nurses like you are the reason that patients can remain hopeful and positive. Your job is so important. And to the person that called you an "ass wiper", she is an ass hat!

Angie said...

This is a wonderful post. Nurses (good ones) truly are hero's. I remember when both of my grandparent's were sick and had to have help with things they normally wouldn't. It was so humiliating for them. Your so right, they don't ASK to be in that position. I recall many times my grandpa saying he'd rather be dead than helpless and he meant it. Losing his independence was the hardest thing he ever did.

Chrissie said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier! Anyone who says such crude things is delusional. The hospital would not run without the multitude of people who all contribute to a patient's care! I'm looking forward to following along with your blog! -Chrissie @ thewittylife.blogspot.com

Aleta said...

That comment makes me want to smack that woman! And I'm not a violent person. How disrespectful to you and to your patients. You DO work hard. I have the utmost respect for you.

When I was in the hospital on bed rest with pre-eclampsia, I tried to make it to the bathroom before I threw up. I didn't make it in time. I asked my husband to help me, but instead he called the nurses station. I felt so bad about them having to clean up my mess. The nurse was so sweet about it. God bless her.

And God bless you! Thank you for your compassion and the work that you do.

trishadm said...

Awesome post!
Thank you so much for everything you do.
You are very right, what you do is a million time more than "ass wiping." Without people like you, people would not have such good care. It drives me crazy when people belittle a member of the health care team. It is a TEAM for a reason. I am a resident and I love every person who does things like help clean up incontinent patients and take vital signs. Without those people, we would never be able to properly care for people and help them get well.
I have wiped a number of asses in my day as a nuc med tech, resident and will as a doctor too. It is part of being in medicine. I believe the most important thing is the patient and that the person maintains what dignity they have left.
Sometimes the little things help the most.

Amy said...

Not everyone could do your job with so much compassion- thank goodness we have people like you in the medical field!

B said...


I loooove love love many of the nursing assistants I work with! I am an occupational therapist, and sometimes part of my job is teaching other members of the team things about a patient... but in the end, it's the nursing assistants who have taught ME the most out of probably anybody! I get to do some of those "dirty jobs" on a daily basis as well, but I am constantly trying to remind myself to think about what the person I am helping is going through, and to respect their experience and independence.

Anyway- point is- I adore CNAs, especially ones as great as you :)

Heather said...

Thanks for linking up!! I seroiusly have nothing but respect for CNA's!! I could never do your job and your husbands friend was right, you work HARD for that money. I don't know what I'd do without CNA's in my life, and I'm an RT, so I can only imagine how RN's feel towards you guys! You're really such an important part of the team, never let anyone demean your position! Keep up the great attitude and the great work. That gal was right, you've got a special place in heaven waiting for you :)

Much love!

joie de vivre said...

Happy Nurse's week!! Thank you for all the hard work you put in to make everyone's life that much easier. Thanks for stopping by on my blog and thanks for the wishes!