Doing battle at camp

Abby could barely mask the mixed look of disgust and horror on her face as she looked at the vomit on the floor. She covered her mouth and tried to staunch the flow of her breakfast! I quickly grabbed some paper towels and threw them over the affair. Abby turned and stepped out into the hall, taking slow and deep breaths. 

I gave Ted some cool wet paper towels to wipe off his face and his mouth. Then I had him wash his hands thoroughly as I put on gloves and wiped up the floor with Mr. Clean and double bagged his ‘protein spill’. Then I washed my hands thoroughly and I had Abby do the same while I trundled Ted off to the infirmary. I got him tucked into the lower bunk with a new garbage can situated by his head. I had offered him some anti emetics (nausea medicine) but he didn’t feel he could tolerate anything by mouth at this point. That was reasonable. I rummaged around in the cupboard and found the suppository version…but, not surprisingly, Ted was not interested in attempting to insert that…yet. I instructed him to just rest his GI tract for now and I would pop in to visit him a few times this morning to check for changes. We could maybe see if he could tolerate some water later today. I closed the door, thanked Abby just as the first of the campers came up the back stairs for his morning meds. 

“Thank you, Anne. Sorry we interrupted your breakfast.” Abby said.

“Oh, no problem. It’s not like I’m gonna starve here!” I waved Abby’s concern off. “Abby, I need you to send a message back to all the Bear hut campers. I am not sure if what Ted has is contagious so it is really, really important for the campers, especially in Ted’s hut, to wash their hands thoroughly and not to share any drinking cups or forks, or spoons, or anything. OK?” Abby nodded. “Can you imagine the nightmare of twenty Bear hut campers doing what Ted just did?” Abby covered her mouth again and shook her head as if she was trying to clear her head of that image. “Ya. My life would suck. Let’s not go there!”

“OK. I will tell them all.”

“Thanks Abby. Now, go finish your breakfast.”

“Wellll. I’m really not hungry now. Nope. Not hungry at all actually.” Abby said as she looked thoughtful. 

“Huh. Go figure!” I laughed. After having been a nurse for some years, I was pretty much immune to vomiting and diarrhea…except c. diff. Clostridium difficile was a different animal altogether. Just the aroma of c. diff was nauseating for me.

“Oh and ‘something smells’. I love it.” Abby giggled and pointed at my joke ‘o the day. I laughed too.

“You like that?” Abby nodded as she left.


In the back of my mind I was extremely worried about the Norovirus that was a small epidemic at the local hospitals. So, before exposing alllll these campers to anything that contagious I asked them to have a seat and ‘chill’ while I did a quick decontamination. I shut the health office door and practically poured Mr. Clean over all the surfaces of the health office, including the door knobs. I surveyed the area. I hadn’t missed a spot, as far as I could tell from the shiny wet surfaces. The place was gleaming and the fumes were so thick that I believed I could see the vapors rising. I opened up the window and turned the little fan on. Good. I nodded.

I pulled open the office door and the first couple of campers jumped up eagerly. When the first wave of fumes hit them in the faces their expressions changed from that of enthusiasm to disgust. Collin,waiting for his antibiotic, started to cough and waved his hands in front of his face.

“Nurse Anne!” Muddy exclaimed. “What’s going on? It smells like an industrial chemical plant exploded in there.”


“Why, Muddy, that is the smell of triumph. Many germs are breathing their last.”

“Ya, well, I might breathe my last too! That’s pretty strong stuff, Anne!”

“OK, point taken. I will bring the meds out to you guys. OK?” The campers nodded. 

I had the usual suspects and then two additional campers. One had a good sized sliver from the fishing dock and the other had jammed his index finger while playing tether-ball before breakfast. Tether-ball, grrrrrr.

The sliver was super easy to remove so that only took a minute. I sat down on the floor in the hall beside him and whipped that sucker out with my tweezers. 

The finger had good range of motion, no deformity, and was ever so slightly swollen. It didn’t look broken, but of course I had learned my lesson from the day before’s epic fail when I had thought that Zack’s arm was not fractured. So I found a tongue depressor and some kerlix and wrapped that baby up. I grabbed some ice and gave Nick the instructions for icing his finger.  When I finished Muddy gathered the troops and ushered them down the stairway.

“‘Something smells’ Nurse Anne! It’s a nose. Ha! Jokes!” Muddy said as he turned to leave. Seemed like the joke ‘o the day was a good idea. 

As I sat down to do my documentation I realized that there had been no further complaints of nausea and vomiting. I breathed a little sigh of relief and said a little prayer that I would not see any more of ‘the infected’. 


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