I was taking care of a lovely 74 year old woman who had emergency exploratory abdominal surgery. She had an incision on her belly as long as the state of California. I carefully scoured her orders making sure I didn’t miss anything. There was an order written that didn’t make any sense to me. Some of the words were “stat, NA, one time”. Did she need a “STAT” medication that I missed? NA means not applicable??? A contradiction. I called the pharmacy. They could not tell what the order meant. I did not think it wise to call the doctor while in was in the operating room with another patient. The patient was stable so I knew it could wait.
The surgeon comes out of the operating room and sits at the nurses station in front of a computer monitor. I was standing at the nurses station. In one hand I had an Asian pear slice with peanut butter on top.
“I have a question about Mrs. Lovely’s orders, but it can wait until your done with your current patient,” I say in a gracious Florence Nightingale way.
“I’m not going to be “done” until late tonight. So ask now,” he said in a clear, serious and no bullshit tone.
“Okay. I don’t understand the order. I called the pharmacy to see if they could clarify………..”
Suddenly I spotted something dropping from hand. Something went plop. Bulls eye. A perfect landing. Right on the doctor’s leg. A glob of peanut butter.
My eyes got big and then a giggle escaped. My words got all mumbled jumbled. He ignored the blob. Staring at me waiting for me to finish my question. I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth. I tried to talk, but spastic laughter kept getting out!! I could not compose myself. I couldn’t stop thinking of how this must look if viewed from above. If someone was sitting on a cloud looking down upon this scene: A seasoned nurse talking with a young surgeon who was born and breed to become a surgeon. His serious unlined face looking at me. I couldn’t take my eyes off that peanut butter splat. It struck me funnier then all get out. To me, a plop of peanut butter on your pants was something to laugh about. He obviously wasn’t old enough to have learned that yet. At this point we had an audience of other nurses also laughing. Finally I asked for SOMEONE, “Get something to wipe the peanut butter off his scrub pants.”
After a few minutes I did manage to spit out the question. The good doctor called pharmacy and chewed them out for not answering my question. He wiped the peanut butter off. All was well. I sat down next to him at another monitor. I was calm now and all was well. Then………………. I knocked over someone’s coffee………
He looked at the spilled coffee and said, “get away from me”. He was kidding. NOT!
TIDBIT Peanut butter was invented by George Washington Carver in 1880. Carver did not patent it though because he believed all food was a gift from God. In 1895 Dr John Harvey Kellogg patented a “Process of Preparing Nut Meal”.
Florence Nightingale did not have to worry about getting uncontrollable giggles over peanut butter on a surgeon’s leg. I wonder if anything would make her laugh like a loon?