Someone asked me what nurses think about when their patients undress. For the most part, we’re thinking, “damnit, when’s my coffee break?” We never really look for anything on your body except abnormalities, scars, bruises etc. Basically, if you look like the picture in the anatomy and physiology book, then there is nothing to see and we eagerly move along. For female nurses, dealing with naked women is a breeze, naked men proved awkward and challenging at first, but even they begin to blend with the background when you have enough experience.
Then there are the freakishly obese, absurdly skinny and deformed people. When you see these types, you are inclined to gasp (on the inside) especially if you are a new nurse, but you understand the underlying conditions that influence the shape of their bodies and you concentrate on treating the underlying causes, rather than making judgements about the person.
The patients that really work nurses up, are those that persistently do things they shouldn’t do, worsening their ailment and those that refuse to do their share but it’s their bad habits that come under fire (not the shape of their body).
I had an obese prisoner patient that would lie in bed eating all day and all night. There’d be crumbs and pieces of food all around her. She used to eat so much I was wondering how they managed to get a handcuff around her big ankles only to find that it was a special cuff designed for larger people. I am far from skinny and I know the battle of the bulge only too well, but she wasn’t even trying to improve herself even a little bit. She’d get her family to sneak in fatty snacks and litres of soda. She didn’t like bathing much and didn’t mind being seen with food hanging out her mouth or stuck to her hair. Despite this, I did not judge her for being obese. I understood that there may be underlying conditions aggravating her weight problem and it may not have been her fault totally, but those facts didn’t make it any less challenging cleaning up after her. She would crap on the bed and I felt like I needed a car jack just to lift her butt cheeks apart so that I could wipe her clean. When you’re in the moment trying to manoeuvre a supersized woman, you’re not thinking happy thoughts, you’re thinking “fuck my life” but when the painful part is over, your thoughts have shifted to the next dreadful task in line and you’re laughing and joking around with the patient again as normal. Well that’s what it felt like for me. Nursing doesn’t allow you to keep your mind on any one event for a long time. You have a million things on your mind and most of the time you’re just verbally abusing the clock, waiting for it to hit 6:45.
To answer the question simply, for me, it was never about how sexy or unsexy a person is, I just didn’t think that way. Most nurses don’t think that way. So you can feel totally comfortable being naked in front of a nurse, chances are she is not even seeing you naked. You look just as normal as a clothed person and if you are extremely obese or extremely skinny, we’re not going to linger on it for too long, if at all, except of course to educate you on how to improve your health but a body is a body is a body.
Seeing so many naked people has its side effects on nurses though. While people often say you can never see too many naked people, I have a feeling I am not the only nurse that would disagree on that sentiment. Nurses become desensitized to the sexiness of a naked body. I was walking on the beach, amused at the look of awe on my friends face as he stared at the half naked people on the beach. To me there was nothing hot about it. Basic anatomy intact – nothing special. Oh well, at least I am one of the few people who go to the beach just to be on the beach…FML…