Wednesday, August 5, 2009


nothing by mouth (NPO)
Etymology: L, nil per os, nothing by mouth
a patient care instruction advising that the patient is prohibited from ingesting food, beverage, or medicine. It is usually posted above the bed of a patient who is about to undergo surgery or special diagnostic procedures requiring that the digestive tract be empty or who is unable to tolerate food and fluids by mouth for some reason.
I have now reached a level of medical expertise where I can both understand and use the above abbreviation correctly in a sentence. I am very proud of this milestone! And learned it quickly after attempting to bring an NPO patient a glass of water in the EC. Most EC patients are NPO. Which is why I was surprised to walk into a room where a woman sat with a large box of fried chicken from the fast food establishment across the street from the hospital. I immediately asked if the nurse had ok'd such a feast. "Oh yes", she good naturedly assured me, "all my tests are done, and we are just waiting to go home." We had a pleasant conversation and as I left I remembered to ask what she was in for.  She told me matter of factly "Congestive heart failure."

I don't know exactly what congestive heart failure means. But I'm pretty sure if you are in the EC for it, your picnics might need to lean toward fresh vegetables and away from fried foods. I fought the urge to ask her if she wanted ice cream or a cigarette to accompany the greasy feast. A block of cheese? A dozen doughnuts? But since I am not her doctor or nutritionist, I refrained and listened to the little voice in my head whispering things like people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, and judge not lest you be judge. So nothing came out of my mouth. I just smiled goodbye.

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.. Ephesians 6:19 NIV

thank you genius editor M6.  We are a good team!


  1. brilliant! I loved reading this one. Laughed my head off at the responses you comtemplated

  2. I think asking if she wanted ice cream is very pastoral.

  3. LOL!!!! I love the evil Erin! (I can give you flow charts on CHF if you want...and yes, she should not have been eating fried chicken!)