Republished article of The Nurse Path. Find more of The Nurse Path here. Or check out our other articles and guest bloggers here

One of my early stories on (no longer active) detailed my very first experience dealing with OPP (other peoples poo). Here is a quick retelling…..

It was my first placement out of ISB (introductory study block), so something like 6 weeks into being a student nurse. And I think it must have been my first or second shift in an aged care facility.

I was helping to toilet a bariatric patient who was sitting on a commode after passing what must have been a very satisfying, and was without question, an exceedingly voluminous stool.

A number 7 on the Bristol Stool scale to be specific. A super 7.

Anyways, it required two wards men to assist Mrs B to stand from the commode. Under the close supervision of the unit manager, my role was to perform the post poo ablutions.

I had prepared for this task by encapsulating my hand, and a large portion of my forearm, in a tightly wound sarcophagus of toilet paper. You must understand that back then, it was considered poor form and indeed quite humiliating to your patient to use gloves when doing this sort of work.

So with my arm looking like a giant cotton bud, I stepped forward enthusiastically to engage in my first ever encounter with actual, hands-on essential nursing care.

Now, a few things lined up like holes in Swiss cheese at this point.

First: being under the critical gaze of the manager multiplied with my as then uncorrupted student nurse enthusiasm to totally blind my situational awareness.

Second: this was the biggest bottom I had ever seen.
My introductory study block had taught me much about cellular metabolism and the anatomy and physiology of the heart, but absolutely nothing about the soft tissue dynamics of separating large buttocks cheeks with one hand.

Third: at this point in my career I had long hair. An almost-mullet. It was all infection control at the front, and post shift party at the back.

So as I leaned right in to get a better visual of the task at hand… was completely and utterly inevitable that I would stick the back of my head right into the bowl of the commode.

At first I was completely oblivious to this disaster.
Until alerted by the wards men who were suddenly laughing hysterically.
The manager had turned on her heels and walked out in acopic disgust.

As I straightened up… my poo hair brush flipped back across my virgin white, proudly ironed, brand new nurse shirt… to leave this long dripping faecal bar-code that would brand me for the entirety of my stay in aged care as “that student nurse who stuck his head in the commode full of shit”

Such is my life as a nurse.

That day I learned much about trying to impress people on a clinical placement.
Much about essential nursing care.

And much about post shift partying.