One of my funniest memories as a nurse is of a middle-aged gentleman who was admitted to our Med-Surg unit for stomach ulcers. This was many years ago, before most hospitals went to all-private rooms, so "Bill" had a roommate. And he was driving Bill nuts.

His roommate was a college-age kid who was quite the chatterbox. He had broken his leg in a motorcycle accident and was confined to his hospital bed with his leg in a cast. He would stay up until the wee hours of the morning, watching television and talking on the phone to his friends and family. Bill would start to drift off to sleep when his roommate’s raucous laughter jolted him awake. This went on for several days.

Sleep-deprived and snarky, Bill was at his wit’s end. Halfway through his hospital stay, I was assigned a freshman nursing student to shadow me for part of my shift. It was her first day in a clinical setting. When I asked her to obtain a set of vital signs from Bill’s roommate, she took his temperature and pulse but hesitated with the blood pressure cuff.

“I’m sorry,” she said sheepishly. “I don’t know how to take a blood pressure yet.”

I started to demonstrate how to do so when Bill piped up from behind the privacy curtain: “Just wrap it around his neck and pump up that little black bulb until he turns blue!”


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