The Scent of Lillies


Mother Hen Diaries asked “How do you cope with the smells?”

Odors happen. Stale urine. Vomit. Poo. Purulent drainage from infected wounds. Body odor. Flatus. In medicine, it is inescapable. 

The absolute worst thing I have ever smelled (because I know you are dying to ask) was a surgical sponge (in reality they are not like sponges, more like a cloth baby diaper or burp rag or dish towel) that had been left in a woman’s vagina for six weeks. That stench lingered for days.

The things is, we will all be responsible for an offensive odor or two during our lifetime. People are not their odors. They are vulnerable human beings who are embarassed by their smells, so we try not to make a big deal out of it.

There are several things you should know:

First, you can get used to anything if you have to, and when I say anything, I mean anything. Unless you are pregnant.

Second, Bath and Body Works hand sanitizer dabbed under the nose works in a jiffy. That brand in particular has a pretty dense scent. Not just any hand sanitizer will do. 

Last, do not breathe through your nose. If are doing that but feel like you can taste it, you need better ventilation. You smell and taste when particles land in your nostrils or tongue. Hopefully, I have grossed you out with that….

This is day #3 of the Five Day Black and White photo challenge. The lillies are from my back yard. Aaaand I think I will nominate Mother Hen Diaries for the challenge of posting a black and white photo with your own nominee for five days (don’t feel like you have to accept it, though…). If there is anyone who is dying to get nominated for this speak up and I will be happy to oblige! 


108 thoughts on “The Scent of Lillies

  1. Smells. Hmmmm … Oh yes this one I know. When working as an SICU RN the “fad” we nurses had was perfume. Some of us wore it so heavily that the smell of that was a bit much. The smells in that unit got so intense at times, our poor secretary could be seen with Kleenex in her nose. Bellies were the worst.

    I had a beautiful experience today. I went with my husband to our GP today, and the way we both were treated brought Hope to my Heart. There are some really good doctors in this world, who are really trying to make a difference, and I am one very fortunate woman to have access to that office. I wanted to tell you my “faith” in medicine has begun to be renewed. …. For the first time in years … I am a “feeler of energy” and today’s visit “told” me that this office in particular is committing to high standards of care. I have tears in my eyes as I write this. I have been exposed to some really horrible experiences within the medical system.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I must say that the only time an odor really did me in was after my daughter’s basement apartment flooded, and we went in several days later to clear out her belongings. I got the job of dealing with the kitchen, in which the garbage can had fallen over and in which there was still about a foot of water. I’m sure you can imagine the smell of several-day-old rotting food mixed with sewer water. I managed not to vomit, but just barely.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. For me it was during my surgery rotation. A resident was draining a 4″ diameter abscess. It hit me like a flying brick as soon as I went in the OR. Totally unexpected and can still remember the visuals and the smell of course.

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  4. YUCK and double YUCK with that cloth left in a woman’s vagina for weeks! I hate the smell of an ulcerated wound.. It really hits when the dressing is taken down and almost knocks you out. What with the rotting flesh and the putrid smell, it is almost enough to make me want to keel over, let alone smile and keep talking whilst trying not to breathe!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We once leased a home with only a quick inspection. The power had been turned off a month or so. The previous tenants left fish in the refrigerator. Your smells always must come with a purpose..maybe that makes them more bearable ? Love your lily photo. Van

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Working in the veterinary field, you smell things, bad things, all the time. The only time I ever almost threw up was when I was pregnant and cleaning out a horrible pseudomonas infected ear… That was dreamy! The smell! The slime! My poor coworker was double traumatized, not only from the smell of the ear, but from me dry heaving into his lap… whoops! Darn pregnancy changes!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Worst for me was while doing in-hospital massage. There was an AIDS patient and the only place thing really available for massage was his feet, which is a pretty great massage. I don’t know what secondary thing he had going on but when I took off his socks I nearly died and puked simultaneously. It took everything I had not to do both. I was NOT going to deprive this person of probably the only kind touch he’d receive in days (the rest of the touching was relegated to poking, prodding and sticking by hospital staff). I don’t know how I muddled through, but…there was no puking. It was a training session so after it was over I was able to discuss the problem with the instructor. “Lavender Oil” is the key. Under the nose (as you were describing) and the breathing (you described). Thankfully that was the last session of the day because those scrubs smelled like “that” for days. Luckily I had an extra set. (I was several hundred miles from home.) I don’t think I have come across any smell as bad as that one, any where yet. I would not like to compare it with that surgical sponge though. Gah. (And yes, the massage was given while gloved.)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Just reading this makes me gag. Yuck! in trucking there are a few intolerable jobs smellwise -e.g. hauling meat renderings from packing plants and grease from large restaurants. I hauled mostly food products so it wasn’t too bad. The worst I hauled for smell was uncured cow hides. They still had some flesh and blood attached to the hides and in the summer the stench was terrible.These hides were used by fish draggers to cover the lower net cables where they dragged along the ocean floor while fishing with nets. The hides prolonged the life of the cables many fold. We hauled them from tanners in New York (where the hides were rejects from the leather making process) to the fish plants in Newfoundland. The only sane way to haul them was to use temp controlled trailers and set the temperature as low as it would go.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think this post is something everyone can relate to in some way, and the sense of smell is linked to memory, I believe, so good and bad smells trigger memories. Hopefully though, you won’t smell those truly awful ones again!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Holy roiling stomach Batman. I’m reading this on the bus and if I throw up I’ll be very unpopular. Again, you are not paid enough! Also, I’ve heard Vic’s under the nose helps but I don’t know if that’s true.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. this post reminds me of the delirium i experienced as an intern working a busy ER shift and snapped out of it the moment i found my nose 1/2 inch away from my patient’s vagina before proceeding to insert the speculum lol

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hahaha. This post, I can totally relate. For me, one of the smells I detest is gangrene. I smelled it a lot in the hospital, and sometimes when I take public transportation I can smell it on people nearby.

    In the hospital, us nurses like to use coffee grounds and have them sit in coffee filters next to the window and at the bedside. Usually if I walk into a room and I instantly smell coffee, I know that it’s masking something else that’s pretty powerful :-). also I like to use a bath and body works hand lotion, coconut lime verbena, it’s tropical smelling so instantly helps whisk me away mentally (but I don’t know if they make that scent anymore.)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Your posts always remind me of my residency days and earlier.
    In ony OBG posting we were required to ask a recently delivered patient about lochia, much to the discomfort of her husband standing by. When one of my colleagues asked if the discharge had any bad odors, the husband finally lost it, picked up a recently discarded pad and asked us to smell it if we were so bloody curious. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I apologize if this has already by answered (I did skim through the comments and didn’t see it) and I’m almost afraid to ask, but how did that surgical sponge end up staying in that woman’s vagina for six weeks? Is that another post?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Top tips for any one entering the healthcare profession, I advise any new starter at ‘The Workplace’ to become a ‘mouth breather’ that way you save your nasal sensory a lot of heart ache LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Just wanted to say how I respect you and your occupation… You’re great.
    I could be a doctor… but (at the last moment) I tucked my tail and changed my course… though, my current occupation isn’t less stinky πŸ˜›

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Reminds me of Monty Python, in particular the film “Quest for the Holy Grail.” I will spare you the Mr Creosote snippet from “The Meaning of Life.”

    “Must be a king”
    “He hasn’t got shit all over him.”

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: My Article Read (4-8-2015) | My Daily Musing

  19. Childbirth has a certain odor which can be very strong. It smells musky. Like blood and sex and poo all combined. Ha!

    BTW, I LOVE lilies. This post had me running over to the Easter Lilies in my kitchen so that I could smell something pleasant.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. lol i have a bath and body works vanilla cupcake hand sanitizer that immediately refreshes the whole pharmacy to the point every single person wants to use it or sniff the bottle πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  21. There was once an attorney I worked with who has such bad breath, I swear every time he came into my office, I could actually taste HIS breath! Ewwww! Now as for your gross smell, was that sponge left there by accident? Why didn’t she remove it? Did it cause her an infection?

    Liked by 1 person

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