Thursday, December 29, 2005

Olfactory Omniscience

Oh my god! It's the Disembodied Head Nurse!

She can wither you with one glance.

She is the bane of every staff nurse, intern and doctor who has the audacity to cross the threshold of her ward.

Years of knowledge will flee your brain with the raise of her eyebrow.

She's what you dream about when you've worked three double shifts and lived on coffee for two days.

It seems Pontiac thought she would be an appropriate commercial mascot.

What on earth does a big nurse head have to do with cars?


There is nothing quite like the ambiance of a dirty utility room.

Small. Claustrophobic. Windowless.

And now, thanks to JACHO, the door must be closed and you need a code to get in.

Enter at your own risk.

A nauseating bouquet of a myriad of body fluids in various stages of decomposition arises from the biohazard box in the corner whose lid lay slightly off-center. Three commodes line the opposite wall; one of them emits the subtle essence of the GI bleed who was its last customer. A sharp hint of ammonia breaks through the olfactory cacaphony; urine soaked test strips are lined up on paper towels in military formation to the left of the sink. Deflated foley bags and used suction canisters rest in the garbage. The linen bag adds the contributions of various excretorily challenged patients to the odiforous symphony.

And through it all is the pungent smell of dirty instruments soaking in Cidex.

I have an irrational fear of being in the dirty utility room when the big earthquake hits and not being able to get out.

I need a Xanax just to get through the two minute wait for the urine dipstick results.


Have you ever experiencedf GIBOHS?

That's GI Bleed Olfactory Hallucination Syndrome?

You come home from a long shift. You empty your pockets and deposit your scrubs in the laundry room downstairs, along with your nursing shoes. You take the time to luxuriate in a hot bubble bath as the tension of the day lifts off your shoulders. You put on your thick, flannel pajamas, grab a hot cup of herbal tea and curl up on the couch with a good novel.

And then it hits.

The fleeting but unmistakable smell of a GI Bleed.

You haven't been near a GI bleed since you admitted your patient at 1630.

The precise mechanism for GIBOHS is unknown. Sufferers have been known to say "Blech!" out loud in the middle of the night and compulsively bleach all their scrubs until the fabric frays. They believe that GI "odor" molecules have been fused with their hairshafts at the genetic-molecular level.

Should a fellow colleague experience GIBOHS, be supportive. Tell him you believe that he believes he smells what he smells. And then get as far away as possible.

It may be contagious.


At 12/29/2005 03:11:00 AM, Blogger Rita Schwab - MSSPNexus said...

Eeewww Kim! I was browsing the blogs this morning while eating breakfast... Blech!

I'll have to remember to save your blog until after I've had my cereal...

At 12/29/2005 03:15:00 AM, Blogger Kim said...

LOLOL - my goodness, that was fast! I was trying to be...well...delicate....LOLOL

At 12/29/2005 09:34:00 AM, Blogger Jo said...

Is that anything like CDDOHS? Ya know, C.diff. Diarrhea Olfactory Hallucination Syndrome?
It caught be off guard one night at home. I stuck my head in a potporri dish until it was over.

At 12/29/2005 09:42:00 AM, Anonymous Moof said...

Oh my GOOD GRIEF you guys! *LOL* You've just made me very happy that I didn't stay in nursing!

*sniffs her computer and gives it a loving pat*

At 12/29/2005 11:35:00 AM, Anonymous Susan said...

Too funny! I have experienced this syndrome myself. I have also been a victim of the IVPBAHS (IV Pump Beeping Auditory Hallucination Syndrome). Have you?

And don't forget the OWCROHS (Obese Woman Crotch-Rot Olfactory Hallucination Syndrome). That's a doozy!

At 12/29/2005 11:50:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL...I think I've had all of the syndromes...

Also the CMRAHS (cardiac monitor beeping auditory hallucination syndrome)...and the BBOHS(Bad burn olfactory hallucination)...

Hmmm...think I need a referral...


At 12/29/2005 11:56:00 AM, Blogger kirbysnursingadventures said...

I've had the c. diff hallucination when I've gotten home as well.

At 12/29/2005 04:17:00 PM, Blogger Third Degree Nurse said...

Geez, I feel like such a newbie. But I have had the FOPOS (Fountain of Poop Olfactory Syndrome)during my first semester. After boiling my scrubs, undies, socks and shoes when I got home I had to wash my hair 3 times just to get that smell out.

At 12/29/2005 04:17:00 PM, Blogger jenny said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12/30/2005 12:10:00 PM, Blogger MichelleL. said...

Kim, I am a first time commentor...I so enjoy reading your blog. As a nusing student, ex EMT, I can relate to some of your stories. They are always an enjoyable read. I look foward to each new entry.

At 1/01/2006 09:02:00 AM, Anonymous Moof said...


At 1/01/2006 03:24:00 PM, Blogger Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Kim,

Wishing you and yours a wonderul 2006!!!


PS: The body-less head *is* scary

At 1/01/2006 08:11:00 PM, Blogger PaedsRN said...

I have a question. When you have a removed chest drain, suction tubing and drainage bottle in one hand, and a removed IDC with tubing and full urine bag in the other... HOW THE HELL ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO ENTER THE CODE TO OPEN THE SLUICE ROOM DOOR???

The time honoured nursing art of opening the door with an elbow or knee (or bum) simply won't work. I'm good, but even I can't enter a combination with either of my butt cheeks!

At 1/02/2006 12:46:00 AM, Blogger Jo said...

Just don't do it with your tongue. Not a good idea on the inf. disease unit.
(the nose works pretty good though, just use that purell stuff on it afterward)

lol, I'm just kidding

At 1/03/2006 01:31:00 AM, Blogger Julie said...

I haven't been near a GI bleed for at least 10 years and even I was experiencing it there!

Happy new year Kim, keep up the great work here - with you around I don't need to work with actual patients to still feel like a nurse!

At 1/05/2006 01:14:00 AM, Blogger ICU 101 said...

having encountered my first GI bleed during my last set of shifts, as soon as i read what you posted the dreaded GIBOHS hit me... thanks, Kim! :Þ


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