Poem: Good Luck, Infection Control!

The Backstory

Every work site has its Brian.

The prankster. The jokester. The comedian. The disrupter.

Brian, an early-thirty-something-going-on-age-eight, loves his practical jokes. He calls the nurses’ station from a corner of the room and pretends to be a difficult family member, demanding information from the nurse, twisting her words and her thoughts until she becomes flustered and frazzled, whereupon he gives himself away with his hoots of laughter. The conversation always ends with the nurse slamming down the phone.

He squirts vials of saline across the room, the saline arcing overhead in a fluid stream to hit an unsuspecting nurse. She looks around in surprise, only to see everyone industriously charting. Including Brian. His presence makes any nurse instantly suspicious, however innocent he may appear.

He dons fake accents and pretends not to understand English. For hours.

And hours.

He is, simultaneously, raucously funny and completely exasperating.

One day he came to work with a large bandage on his arm. Turns out he’d been playing with firecrackers (didn’t I tell you, thirty-something-going-on-eight?) and it somehow got stuck up his sleeve. Don’t ask me how, it just did. When it exploded, he got a pretty bad burn. That’s Brian for you.

And he farts. We have another nurse, though, Wynne (pronounced “win,” as in win-or-lose) who beats him at his own game. She loves to sidle up next to you, pass silent-but-deadly gas, and then triumphantly announce what she’s done. She usually doesn’t have to tell you, though. You’ve figured it out by then, and are appropriately horrified. Her gas is almost as bad as C. diff (Clostridium difficile, pronounced “see-diff”), a bacterial infection of the colon which causes copious amounts of slimy green diarrhea. And the smell! Wow. Just … wow.

But Brian is also one of the most skilled and competent nurses in the entire hospital. He can do it all. He can cheerfully and effortlessly start a large-bore IV on a patient who appears to have not one viable vein in her entire body. He can drop an NG-tube (nasogastric tube, a tube inserted through a nostril into the stomach of a hapless and oftentimes gagging patient, a tricky and sometimes frustrating procedure) when all other nurses have tried and failed. He can efficiently and calmly handle multiple complex patients. He’s indispensable during an emergency, a true leader: knowledgeable, capable, sure, working quickly and expertly. No one dies on his watch. He can place impossible foley catheters, charm cranky patients, and stand on his head. All at the same time.

He’s that good.

So we were distressed to hear that he would be leaving our med-surg floor to take a job with Infection Control.

We were also morbidly fascinated: the Infection Control department is populated with quiet, decorous nurses. They speak softly and deliberately. They radiate good behavior.  They are model nurses of professionalism and tranquility. Did they have any idea who they had hired? Their lives were about to be completely upended! How in the world would that combination work out?

Well, of course they love him. Who doesn’t?

Good Luck, Infection Control!

Infection Control is a nice little place:
Nice quiet nurses work a calm steady pace.
It’s professional, orderly, has a spirit of Zen.
They have no idea what’s about to descend!
Life as they know it will cease to exist
When Brian shows up with his pranks and his tricks.
He’ll squirt them with saline, shine lights in their eyes,
Make jokes and crank calls ‘till they beg, plead and cry.
He might tuck a firecracker up someone’s sleeve,
But damn, the man’s good at starting IVs!
He has boyish good looks, but is prankish and crass.
I might as well say it. He’s a pain in the –
Neck!  🙂  Ahem, neck.

Yet he battles germs daily – it’s his passion, it shows –
“Keep your hands clean!” he yells, picking his nose.
He can sniff out bacteria, I.D. them by whiff,
Hopes to bottle his favorite as perfume – C. diff!
He rejoices in bodily sludges and goo,
He simply can’t choose – Vomit? Pus? Poo?
He’ll ferret out viruses, attack every spore,
Isolate patients! Disrupt the whole floor!

There’s just that one problem he has when he charts:
He farts when he charts. He can’t stop once he starts!
“Dutch Oven!” he says when the room becomes grim,
Though we know it ain’t nothin’ compared next to Wynne!

Brian, we love you, despite all your flaws.
We’ll miss you despite all the trouble you cause.
So with sloppy wet kisses, we bid you goodbye.
May our germs on you grow! May they spread, multiply
So we’ll always be with you. We love you that much!
You’re better than vomit. You’re better than pus!
You’re our friend and our hero. With full hearts we say
We love you. We’ll miss you. Always will. Every day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *