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'I can't stand the sight of blood, but it won't stop me becoming a nurse'

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Do certain sights and smells make you retch? Her fear of blood put Nikki off nursing for years but she’s gradually realised that this isn’t enough to stop her pursuing the career she loves

I wouldn’t say it’s a crippling fear but, seriously, I have always struggled to tolerate the sight of blood and endure certain smells.

How on earth am I going to cope as a nurse? 

For years my mum tried to coax me into doing my nurse training, my reply? “Mum, I just can’t stand blood!” She laughed and told me that everybody has it and that I would get used to it, but I just didn’t want to think about the dark, thick liquid that was vital for human life.

Since having my children, I see much more blood nowadays. The odd nosebleed, grazed knee or small weeping wound keeps my unlikable relationship with blood going.

“I started nursing to make a difference, to help people and to lavish them with my caring abilities and nursing knowledge”

I started nursing to make a difference, to help people and to lavish them with my caring abilities and nursing knowledge; the mopping of blood and other bodily fluids is wayyyy down on my list of my priorities and need-to-do’s!

I have been on placement for six weeks now and can honestly say that I still haven’t seen a lot of the red stuff. Some people tell me to get a grip, some empathise (were good at that!) and the majority tell me I’m going to see a lot worse.

My sense of smell is finely tuned too.

In my house I can sniff out a dirty nappy seconds after it’s been laid, I’ll turn the other way if my kids start to vomit, and my other half, well…he never gets away with a silent bottom burp, I have to loudly identify it whilst retching!

“I can sniff out a dirty nappy seconds after it’s been laid”

So how on earth will I get through the smells of nursing?

I stare in disgust when nurses relive moments from their career, moments when they have dealt with bodily functions and samples of this and that, my face is a picture. The closest I have been so far to ‘a smell’ is within an inch of an infected leg wound, I was sweating and smiling at the same time.

My adventure into nursing is going to throw all sorts of liquids at me but I love being a student nurse so much that unfortunately this will be part and parcel of my job.   

A piece of advice a certain nurse gave to me was to breathe through my mouth, get those windows open and just think about how that patient feels lying in a pool of whatever substance it may be.

She’s right, good old ventilation and changing my breathing technique does help, people can be very sensitive about how they smell and I guess we don’t appreciate the power of a bad smell as much as skunks appreciate theirs.

Nikki Tarney is in her second year studying adult nursing at Salford University

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