The human body can endure the most horrifying injuries and illnesses—and these disturbing medical moments showcase the worst of the worst. From terrifying emergency calls to shocking diagnoses, these real-life stories are sure to send a chill down your spine. Buckle up, because these aren’t for the faint of heart.
1. Little Red Dots
When I was about 16, I started having these little red irritated spots show up on my arm. My mom was immediately like, “You have psoriasis, just go tanning”. So I tanned for about a week and they just got worse. Now I had them all over my body. I even had spots on my eyelids.
I went to the doctor finally, and he made a gruesome discovery. It turned out I had ringworm. Even worse? By tanning, I was basically rubbing them all over with the lotions and incubating them while I tanned.
2. A Hairy Situation
This one was actually from back when I was a medical student, but it’s still the weirdest thing I’ve seen.
It was my last rotation in medical school before graduating and starting residency. I had completed all my requirements and just wanted to take a few interesting electives of things I hadn’t seen yet. This was a dermatology rotation at the VA.
The rotation had been interesting and chill, and I was seeing my third-to-last patient as a medical student. The guy came in and the resident asked him why he was there. He said, “I have hair coming out of my hand”.
I figured he meant a weird mole with some hair coming out, but this guy (who was probably in his late thirties or early forties) said, “No, the hair is coming out from under the skin”. The resident asked him what he did for a living and he said he was a barber.
Apparently, it’s not too uncommon for hair to poke through the skin, especially for barbers who cut men’s hair. It’s short, thin, and can be kinda pokey after all. It was sort of like getting a sliver, but with hair. But the guy said, “No, it’s a lot of hair, look!”
He held up his hand, making a fist, and there were several hairs poking out from between the knuckles of his pointer and middle finger. I stared in confusion, and the resident grabbed some tweezers to pull out maybe a half dozen short black hairs. The guy said, “Yeah, I already pulled out like 50″. That’s when the resident’s face dropped.
We numbed up the backside of his hand between the first and second knuckle and made a little incision. We were shocked at the mass of hair that we uncovered. We started pulling out GOBS of short black hair. A chunk of 20, a chunk of 30, etc.
At some point, she got the magnifying glasses out with an attached light and said, “Oh my gosh, there are still more in there! Sir, do you know how all this hair got into your hand?” His answer was so disturbing, it’s unforgettable. The guy said, “Oh it probably came in through there!”
He flipped his hand over to reveal a HOLE in the palmar aspect of his hand’s skin. It turns out, the dude had cut himself like TWO YEARS before this, and it had never healed properly (he was diabetic), so he just kept cutting hair with this open wound on his hand. Probably every day, a few hairs got stuck in his hand. For two years.
Now those hairs had tunneled through the webbing between his first and second fingers from the front of his hand and out the backside. We spent like 30 minutes MILKING his hand and fingers while more and more hair came out. She said, “There’s no way I got it all out, so you have to come back every two weeks for a few months for us to keep removing more hair from your hand”.
3. Golf Club Conflict
I’m a surgeon. My favorite case I saw in residency was a guy who came in with a golf club through the bicep muscle belly of his left arm. How did it get there?
Well, he was playing at a friendly adult soccer match when things got a little heated. He said he felt threatened and retreated to grab a handy golf club from his car for protection. He then returned to the soccer pitch and confronted the other player who threatened him.
Things got more heated and he took a swing at the dude with the club. This only broke the head of the club off on the other guy’s body. Another dude then grabbed the club and then lunged at him with his own golf club. So he showed up to the ER with a golf club through and through his biceps.
It actually didn’t bleed that much when we took it out.
4. Don’t Go Empty-Handed
When I was a new nurse working in the ICU in a large teaching hospital, I came into work one morning to a patient who was admitted that night, sedated, intubated, and all. Long story short, by the end of the same shift his breathing tube was out and he was completely alert and oriented, so he was able to tell us what was going on.
He was an end-stage renal patient, meaning his kidneys didn’t work and he needed dialysis, and he was only in his late 30s. He said he never made urine anymore and didn’t need his catheter so he wanted it out because it was hurting.
So I went to remove the catheter as I’d done about a thousand times on other patients. It was the start of a nightmare. As soon as the catheter left, blood started pouring out of his you-know-what in a heavy stream.
Turns out, the nurse who placed it on admission hadn’t advanced it far enough, since there was no urine production to indicate correct placement. This caused a massive amount of damage. It would not stop bleeding. I had to hold this man’s nether region “shut” to put pressure on it while my co-worker paged the resident.
The doctor came in, looked at me with pity, and told me to just keep holding this 30-something-year-old man’s junk in my hands to staunch the blood flow until urology could get there to assess. It just kept gushing blood every time I eased up to check.
For over an hour total, I held it and tried to make polite conversation until the urologist arrived.
5. A Quirky Defect
When I was a medical student, a patient and his brother came in together. The patient was just there for a post-op visit after a hernia repair. Turns out, after inspection, he actually had another baseball-sized hernia. Somehow, that’s not the craziest part.
His brother, on the other hand, LITERALLY had a football-sized hernia visibly coming out of the left leg of his shorts. It looked like an inguinal hernia, and he was able to use it as an armrest.
I asked him if that bothered him at all, and he just straight up said: “My brother’s hernias were painful but this isn’t, so I thought it was just a quirky defect”. I hope he was lying to save face, but we recommended he get it taken care of.
6. A Normal Nightly Stroll
I worked nights as an ER nurse. One night, about 20 minutes into my shift, a day nurse said nonchalantly, “Hey, there’s a guy outside without clothes on, I need you to help me get him”.
I laughed it off, thinking she was joking. She wasn’t. Not too far out of the ambulance doors, there’s a guy, soaking wet, wearing absolutely nothing but a button-up shirt…which is unbuttoned. Then, it gets even weirder.
We have no idea why he’s wet but he’s staggering all over the place and talking about a plane crash. So, I run back inside to get way more help, and gloves, of course. It took six of us to get the dude into a wheelchair and into the ER.
I gave him some medicine and warmed him up, which knocked him out after about ten minutes or so. He was tall and pretty well-built. He didn’t look like our usual late-night straggler.
His head CT and tox screen were negative, but he was still admitted for observation. That’s when we finally figured out what had happened to him. It turns out he had a cold so he took some cough syrup, then had his usual nightly couple of drinks. Then he went to walk his dog and blacked out, I guess.
He fell into a canal, which explained why he was soaking wet. Still unsure why he was talking about a plane crash though…or where his dog ended up.
7. The Root Of The Problem
My husband and I were messing around and he chased me through the kitchen. When I took a hard left turn, he lost his footing and fell on his side. He’s a big dude, so falling is a bit worse for him. He couldn’t put pressure on his leg and he knew immediately he was hurt pretty bad.
He was able to crawl to the couch, and once he settled in, he said he wasn’t in too much pain. He decided to sleep on the couch that night so he wouldn’t have to go upstairs. We made an appointment in the morning for the ER so we wouldn’t have to sit there all day, but they didn’t have an opening until 2 pm, so we just hung out at the house.
He was in a decent amount of ambient pain, but it didn’t seem too urgent. Once we got to the hospital, however, we found out the shocking truth. He had broken his hip, breaking off his entire ball joint from the top of his femur.
The nurses said they couldn’t believe that he was able to sit up and sleep on it, which implied that we should have come the night before—and probably by ambulance. It required surgery with some hefty bolts to put it back into place.
But the crazy part is that, apparently, a healthy 30-year-old man breaking his femur from standing is highly unusual. That’s when we found out that there was an even more terrifying cause behind it.
After several tests and an MRI, it turned out he was in the early stages of osteoporosis. Even craziest? It was due to a pituitary tumor in his brain. So we discovered a benign brain tumor all because the dude was wearing slippery socks.
8. Stop, Look, And Listen
I’m an emergency doctor in the midwestern USA. The patient was transferred from some rural nowhere to our tertiary care facility. We’re a big hospital with every kind of specialist.
The transferring physician described a 21-year-old male who had a rapid heart rate and breathing rate, low blood pressure, low oxygen, confusion, and severe opacification on his chest X-ray on the right side. He was initially diagnosed with pneumonia.
They gave him a ton of fluids, started antibiotics, and put him on a ventilator, but he wasn’t getting better. So they wanted to send him to us. We said sure, send away.
An hour later, the gentleman arrived—he looked young, fit, and not the type to just drop from pneumonia. We rolled him onto our stretcher and our jaws dropped to the floor—we found a huge open wound in his back. The X-ray found his entire right chest full of blood.
We put a tube in it, gave him back some blood, and he had to go for surgery to fix the bleeding. Lesson: Actually look at your patient.
9. If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say
One time I was experiencing an adrenal crisis from stress. I was sweating really hard and started getting jittery. I was in pain and super irritable. When the nurse shift change happens and I go from having just a very laid back/hands-off nurse to a very sweet nurse who is the kind that dotes on people, I went into a spiral. And it was bad.
I fully screamed that she was, “VERY NICE BUT I CANNOT DEAL WITH HER CURRENTLY” and threw my shoes across the room. I only vaguely remember this. All of this happened in the ER before we knew what was going on.
After I was treated, she came back in and I apologized but she thought it was really funny that I was yelling nice things about her.
10. Dignity Discourse
A young woman in her 20s comes in with an infected heart. Her infection and heart failure are pretty much past the point of recovery. Her only option was to have IV antibiotics, hope they work, and then plan for hospice care.
Her IV lowered the infection but the heart and valve damage were extensive. It was so extreme that the heart was producing micro-clots. After the micro-clots, her fingertips went purple and clots migrated to her lungs. When she arrived in my ICU ward she was struggling to breathe.
At this point, she decides to fill out a DNR or Do Not Resuscitate and move into hospice care. Unfortunately, our state has a loophole where if the patient becomes unresponsive their proxy can change the DNR. Sadly, the worst happened.
Her mom went to court and was granted healthcare proxy rights. This meant that once the daughter was disoriented, her medical decisions belonged to her mother. The first thing her mom did was cancel the DNR, and our team was forced to put her on life support.
This lasted for months and her arms and legs became purple, black, green, then necrotic. Her organs were failing and the clots had traveled to her brain. She was unresponsive and we knew it shouldn’t be prolonged.
We took the case to risk management, we held ethics meetings, and we went to court against the mother to revoke her healthcare proxy to fight for the patient’s right to die with dignity. The court refused and mom stayed in control.
11. Bedside Manner
There was a patient complaining and scared that something was under their bed. He was older and confused so we didn’t think much of it. I checked on him, responded to multiple calls, and just tried to make him feel better. But then things got even stranger.
The next day, a new patient went into that room. It was another older person, but not confused. They too called to complain about something under their bed. We brushed it off again after checking in on him. The next night, a new patient in his 20s, and completely coherent, called crying that something kept running under his bed.
They checked and found nothing but the patient was in such distress and shaking, we moved him. It happened quite a few other times as well, but we never found anything.
12. An Awfu. Sight
My dad was a medical lab technologist and when he was an intern, the lab techs got paged to go down to the ER to draw blood from a patient. Since my dad was a young guy and fresh out of college, he raised his hand to go down, despite the more senior techs warning him not to go. He went down and they had IVs EVERYWHERE.
The patient tried to end it all with an electric blade (like the one that gets used to carve turkeys) and he tore everything in his neck. The only thing keeping his head to his body was his spine. My dad had to draw blood from this patient’s ankle since everything else has been taken up by units of blood just hanging there.
When he came back to see his co-workers in the lab, he was as white as a ghost! They warned him not to go, but him being young and eager, he went. He has more stories from when he worked in Detroit as a lab tech in the ER for a Level 1 trauma center.
He was there when Detroit was not a very nice city and he saw the decline in danger since he left earlier this year.
13. Off Like A Rocket
I was doing a C-section for this poor mom who’d been in labor for hours. The baby wouldn’t come out of the hole we’d made, so we applied more pressure—and suddenly whoooooosh, baby zooms out like a torpedo, covered in lubrication. My stomach drops.
She zips over the surgical sheeting, which has the texture of a Slip n’ Slide, and almost rockets straight off the table. The nurse caught the baby’s foot and whipped her up in the air upside down like in old cartoons, but almost dropped her again.
Thankfully, the midwife was ready with the towel and caught the baby to wrap her up. Mom and dad seemed to think this was normal practice and didn’t notice, but me and my colleague just stared at each other with a look of absolute horror.
It still makes me shudder to think how close the baby was to hitting the floor headfirst. Never happened before or since.
14. A Flesh Wound
Heard this from an emergency doctor friend of mine a while ago. A female patient comes in complaining of severe abdominal pain, so the nurses take vitals and ask questions. Eventually, my friend sees her, and, after a few questions, he has her lift her shirt.
The “severe abdominal pain” on the chart was in fact due to a gash so severe that part of her intestines were sticking out of her. No one had noticed and she hadn’t thought to mention that her organs had started leaking out. In fact, she seemed just as surprised as he was.
15. Saved His Soul And His Life
My dad got in a motorcycle accident when he was 17 and had a collapsed lung that wouldn’t heal after surgery. At one point they called in a priest because there was little hope he’d make it. My dad’s reaction was seriously disturbing.
He thought the priest was the devil and started yelling and thrashing about. He dislodged a clogged drain in his bad lung, started bleeding, and they found that he had clots in there preventing the lung from healing.
He was told about it all afterward, but all he remembers was seeing a tall, hooded figure and thinking he was going somewhere bad.
16. Hope Your Brain’s Okay
I once tore out my IV and a pic line that had been in my neck. The doctors and nurses got to me just as I was going for the drain tube coming out of my head, which had been placed there because I had just had brain surgery.
Blood was spraying around the room from the hole where the pic line was, and I was fighting them, calling them every name in the book. They ended up having to strap me to the bed for my own safety. As it turns out, I had a bad reaction to the anesthesia they used.
17. Newbie Nightmare
I was a student paramedic when we had a call broadcast over the radio. I was chilling with my mentor in a two-man ambulance. The operator who was broadcasting said something along the lines of: “Female, reportedly unconscious, law enforcement on scene, major trauma (pause)… CPR in progress, confirmed arrest by officers on scene”.
My mentor looked at me. We were off in 30 mins, but we went anyway. We were just around the corner, so we made it there in no time at all. There are officers EVERYWHERE; at least seven squad cars. I was nervous as heck, and so was my mentor.
As we approached the house, a man emerged, in handcuffs. He looked content enough and smiled at us as we walked by. That freaked me out—but I wasn’t prepared for the scene we were about to enter.
Officers shout for us to hurry, we run over with equipment to the front door, and are met with one of the worst scenes I’ve ever seen and will always be there in my mind. A woman was lying on the ground, with the left side of her head caved in, blood all over the place, and brain matter scattered around the floor too.
Officers were doing CPR, we stopped them when we saw the patient had signs of pooling and rigor mortis. I was literally sweating and on the verge of tears. Then, from behind us, we heard more officers in the house and the sounds of children. Two children were escorted out of a bedroom behind us with their eyes covered.
I’ve never been scarred by a job, but those kids being shielded from what just happened to their mother will stick with me forever.
18. Try To Find A Work/Life Balance
I’m a social worker who does psychiatric intake in an ER. Last week, I had to assess a patient with some serious issues. The remote controls to the televisions in the ER have a cord, similar to a phone, so patients don’t walk off with them. When I walked into this guy’s room, he was talking into the remote, like it was a phone.
He goes, “I got someone in here who wants to talk to me, I’m going to have to call you back”. Then he hangs it up, and says, “Sorry about that, business call”.
19. I C U Didn’t Leave
I was doing security at a hospital when one day a nurse saw a guy on the camera who was on his deathbed. The guy kept saying, “I will not die in a hospital”. Earlier that day, he had pushed his curtain aside and walked out of his room toward the elevator.
A code was called and everyone immediately posted at their designated locations. Within seconds there were people watching the elevators and stairs, and security started combing the area. As I reached the ICU floor I spoke with the head nurse, and she told me several of the nurses saw him leave.
At that moment, the monitors started going off. The guy never left. He went code blue and passed right then, yet there were three witnesses on the report who said he got up and left.
20. A Heavy Burden
I went to the doctor to get a note for a day off work because I didn’t feel so great. The doctor poked me in the stomach and said, “That’s not normal,” then sent me off to have a scan…which took me two months to get around to.
Two weeks later, I got a letter from the doctor asking me to come in. When I got there, the doctor went off at me for not coming in sooner…
He told me to go home, pack a bag, and make my way to the Royal Brisbane immediately as it might be cancer. Some more scans later and it was determined not to be cancer, but a four-kilogram cyst. My only symptom was an enlarged stomach and the “You’re getting fat” comments from my mother.
21. Little Snag, Big Mess
My wife was a social worker at a dialysis clinic. She came home frazzled early one day. Apparently, a regular patient who came in got his central catheter (PICC) line pulled out of his neck, and it happened in the weirdest way—as he was pulling off his sweater at home.
Instead of walking to the ER, which was across the street, he drove there…and he sprayed blood all over the foyer area. A couple of nurses got to him and controlled the bleeding as best they could while my wife called an ambulance. She said that the amount of blood was indescribable.
He had parked out front so they had to move his car. They couldn’t drive it because of the amount of blood in it and it had to get it towed.
22. It’s All Fun And Games
My best friend spent a week in the hospital because her water broke and was having contractions one and a half months before her due date. While she was there, her husband brought his whole computer gaming setup so he could play games while he was there with her.
I’m talking fancy keyboard, headset, and all the other bells and whistles. But that’s not the worst part. He was playing his games when the nurses or doctor would come in and ask her questions. He’d also be talking and yelling at whoever he was playing with while me and her family visited.
He’s most likely the reason she had their baby preterm, because of all of the stress he caused. He didn’t have a job and didn’t seem to care if he did or not.
To this day I cannot believe what I witnessed and don’t understand how she could still be with him. I understand that being at the hospital forever isn’t the most fun thing ever but honestly.
23. A Medical Marvel
When I was first in the hospital, it was about a year ago, I was there with critical skin damage from atopic eczema, one of the worst cases in the country. I had a severe infection all over my body, the torn skin caused me so much pain that it caused me hallucinations.
According to the doctors, it was a miracle that I survived because three out of five people in a similar case are said to go their own routes of numbing the pain or they succumb to infection.
The doctors estimated that I would need to be treated for a month, and if that wasn’t enough, I’d then go to specialty treatment under constant supervision. When I was 22 years old, after taking medication and being in bed, I recovered in six days. According to the doctors, I did something impossible.
24. Biting The Bullet
Medical specialist here. I worked at an inner-city hospital that was kind of the red-headed stepchild of hospitals in the area, but that’s another story. We were a community hospital that did primarily cardiac care but we also had a small ER.
We were in the middle of the Trauma Triangle—that is, three large Level 1 trauma centers—so we rarely saw much of anything in our ER. It was usually just glorified primary care and cardiac patients diverted from the other Level 1 trauma centers.
But one time, while working a night shift, we got a call from the fire department saying they were responding to someone with a self-inflicted bullet wound. This was an unusual patient for us to get, but they were all on divert and we were the closest facility.
Being a pretty boring ER, for the most part, all the staff there got a bit excited to finally have a real ER patient. The firemen rolled in with the patient a bit later. Apparently, the guy had called his friend from a run-down hotel, said he was going to end himself, then hung up.
The friend then called 9-1-1, and emergency workers rushed to the hotel. The patient arrived intubated with CPR in progress, but there was no visible wound anywhere. I was on the chest doing CPR and my supervisor was bagging the tube. He told the doc that something wasn’t right with the bagging, and he didn’t think the tube was in.
My supervisor pulled out the tube and the doc went to intubate the patient. While trying to insert the tube, the doc yelled loudly: “What the heck?” He then asked for the McGills, a type of forceps used occasionally for intubation procedures.
He proceeded to yank out a bullet shell from the patient’s trachea. After the code was called, we did a closer examination and noticed the guy’s two front teeth were chipped. The coroner concluded that the guy didn’t have the weapon but had the shell, and he put the shell in his mouth thinking he could set off the primer with a hard bite.
The guy bit down, chipped his teeth, winced in pain, and inhaled the shell into his trachea. The firemen didn’t notice the obstruction and put the tube in his esophagus. I’ve seen some crazy stuff in my 20 years, but this was by far the strangest.
25. Fifth Time’s A Charm
This teenage boy came in with a split philtrum all the way up to his nose. He was in a lot of pain. It turns out that he had been riding a four-wheeler without a helmet and smacked into a tree. But then we noticed something bizarre.
He had on a hospital gown from another hospital. So it turns out he was at another hospital, got mad at the wait time, then his dad drove him here. But that’s not the funniest part. On the gown were these little holes, about four or five.
We didn’t ask, but figured out it was burns. His dad told me that he had put a smoke in his mouth while they drove to our hospital, and normally you can just hold it in your mouth. But since his philtrum was split, it couldn’t support it, and it fell out. It got a good chuckle out of everyone.
26. It Was A Scene Out Of A Movie
I was an officer and had a night shift with one more patrol. An ambulance called us to assist with a self-harming heavy-set girl. We were all weightlifters and one guy was a strongman. The girl lunged at us with a glass bottle. We had problems keeping her down.
She was spitting at us, trying to scratch us, and cursing in a couple of different languages. At the hospital, they ran a drug test and she came clean. It was like The Exorcist.
27. Ready To Go
A few hours after giving birth, my husband and I were enjoying our new baby and getting ready to head home. Outside my room, we heard an argument between a patient and a nurse. The patient wanted to leave and take her baby, the nurse told her she could not take the baby so soon after birth.
The patient was insistent she was going to leave. What she said next made me freeze in my tracks. She said that if she couldn’t take her baby, she would take someone else’s. I gave my husband a steely look and told him that if she came for our baby, she be in the hospital for a completely different reason.
I was filled with maternal protectiveness and would have fought off a grizzly bear if it came in. I rolled the bassinet to the far side of my bed and sort of crouched in a protective stance between the baby and the door. I heard the door begin to open and tensed up.
That’s when the doctor walked in with a startled look on his face.
28. A Really Close Call
A teenager got in a fight with his brother, of course, both under the influence. They were fighting over a girl. The brother smashed a glass coffee pot and got the dude in the neck, and when he saw blood, he ran.
Somehow, he managed to miss all the major vasculature in the neck. This was out in the bush, so I got to take this guy to the nearest major hospital with a trauma surgeon on standby.
On the way, his mom called and told him he better not rat his brother out (since he has a record). They then proceeded to get in a shouting match and he started thrashing around. I took the phone away from him and told him to lie still unless he wanted to die, then administered more morphine.
Later, a CT scan showed that he was a centimeter away from having a carotid nicked and dying.
29. It’s Called Fashion
I had tumors when I was a kid. I was one of those children that basically lived in the hospital. When coming out of one of my many surgeries, I thought things were pink. Not everything, but random things, the sheets, the walls, everyone’s clothes, and my mum’s hair.
The first thing I said to my Mum was that I hated her hair that color. Her being used to my post-surgery ramblings just smiled and told me to have a nap and she will fix it.
30. Small But Scary
My mom broke her hip and had it replaced. I get a call from the hospital early in the morning, asking me to come down to the hospital, they are having a hard time controlling my mom. I rush down and there is my ninety-pounds-soaking-wet mom sitting in a wheelchair in the nursing station calling the nurse all sorts of terrible things.
My mom is 80 and deep down is a total nutter, but she usually hides it well; she comes across to most strangers as a sweet old granny. Apparently, she got herself out of the bed in a post-operative psychosis, on a freshly replaced hip, and started telling everyone off. They got her in a wheelchair, but she refused to get back in bed.
She saw me and told me, very loudly, that all the nurses were evil and trying to get her. She was not going back to her room. I had to get her a private room which she said she wasn’t paying for because they forced her to take it. She didn’t really come back around for about three days.
31. You Can Feel It In The Air Tonight
I was a paramedic for 15 years. Whenever I would walk into a room where someone had recently been murdered or taken their life by violent methods, there was always a feeling that was hard to describe. The air would be heavy, and thick with malice. You could feel that something was not right. It would be the only thing that made me feel out of the ordinary.
32. Up In Smoke
My patient was a teenage girl who was taking a nap at home. As she slept, a reckless driver crashed into her house, causing an electrical fire, igniting a ruptured gas line, and setting the entire house ablaze. Originally she got out with her sister, but went back in to try and rescue her dad and dogs. When firefighters pulled her out, her body was 95% burns.
When she arrived in ICU we registered smoke inhalation, lung damage, carbon monoxide, and cyanide consumption plus toxic inhalation. She survives the initial presentation to the trauma unit and now she’s in our burn unit, and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. The only intact skin on her body was a small area around her inner thigh.
Her hair, face, eyelids, and lips are gone. We do what we can with moist sterile dressings and debridement plus broad-spectrum antibiotics. At the end of the day, she looked like a mummy fully wrapped by the end. There is no chance of her having a normal life ever again. The chances of her surviving are in the single digits. After a few days, the infection begins to set in.
All that damaged tissue was a breeding ground and the first thing we noticed was the smell. The only thing you can really do to encourage healing at that point is IV/Topical antibiotics and debridement. Basically, large wounds heal better when they are scraped or shaved to expose the wound bed. This removes cells which hamper growth and encourages new skin formation.
It takes weeks of treatments, and we had to do this all over her body. This was scheduled multiple times per week. One day, I said out loud in the OR, “This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life”. Several years in medicine later that statement remains true. She survived the next few days, and we started with the skin grafts. Trying to re-build her face, and cover her body.
Her average surgery time was about 10 hours per procedure. We have to keep the room at 98 degrees because burn patients go hypothermic quickly. This meant 10 hours in full scrub gear at nearly 100-degree heat.
33. They Call It Self Care
During surgery, the anesthesiologist had a hard time putting me under for my ankle surgery, and then once I was under, I suddenly sat up and tried to get off the table. After I was wheeled into recovery, the nurse went to get some ice chips and when she came back to remove my breathing tube, I was sitting up in bed trying to remove it myself.
34. That’s Just Looney
I had a guy rush into the ER saying his brother had been “blown up”. He opted to drive him in because he foolishly assumed that would be quicker and safer than calling an ambulance. We went out and got the guy out of the car—he literally looked like one of those Looney Tunes characters that had an explosion backfire. We ended up having to put his armband on his foot because his hands were literally melting off his arms…
Surprisingly, he was relatively calm and lucid (endorphins are a heck of a thing). When we asked what happened, he said his “oil tank in the truck exploded”. I don’t like to generalize, but our demographic tends to dabble in the forbidden, so we assumed it was actually some shady operation gone wrong.
35. A Near-Fatal Mistake
I was working for this small engineering company which had very old lathes. I was only going to work there for six months to get experience for a better job, but my second to last day was a nightmare. The lathes were these big old things that did not have any of the safety guarding that more modern machines have. They were primarily used to make parts for WWII aircraft.
I was working on one and I knew how dangerous those things could be, so when I was running them, I had my wits about me. But the guys who had been working there for 30 years or more had become really complacent with them. To give you an example, whenever I measure an aircraft part, I always turn the machine off and then start it back on just to be safe, but that takes ages, so the other guys just leave it on.
One guy started measuring his part and his overall sleeve ended up getting caught on it, wrapping around the spindle. Behind the machine is a metal plate designed to stop metal cuttings from going everywhere, but the gap between it and the spindle is about three inches. The guy got wrapped around and was pushed into the 3-inch gap, then came out the bottom onto the workshop floor.
He looked like a crash test dummy being hit by a car. I definitely do not want to see a person with literally every bone in his body broken again, so now I work as a safety officer—I have every right to be a witch about safety.
36. Wrong Idea, Right Result
Recently did a shift at a facility where they had combination call buttons and TV remotes which basically means there were lots of buttons. I went to answer a pleasantly confused elderly lady’s call light, and opened the door just in time to see her holding the TV remote up to her ear, saying: “Hello, I’d like to go to the bathroom please…”
37. Choices Were Made
There was one incident where two separate patients were brought into the ER, strapped to their beds. For some reason, one of them is allowed out of his restraints, as long as security remained at their bedside (or in this case, by the nurse’s counter nearby). The patient begins getting clearly agitated and starts shouting mean things about the hospital.
The security guard tries to reassure him that he is fine, but by the time the guard finishes his sentence, the patient is already running down the hall screaming. Security chases him down the hall and tackles him, holding him pinned until more guards came to help.
38. Not Quite A Baby…
Nurse here. We had a 67-year-old woman who thought she was pregnant. I’ve got to say, she did look pregnant since her abdomen was full; similar to those pregnant women who look like they’re carrying a basketball when they are at the end. But she was 67. Turned out, it was a 37-pound ovarian cyst, and it was the largest one I had ever seen in my career.
I asked if I could watch the surgery. That thing came out all in one piece, and I’ll never forget the sound it made. This was at a community hospital many years ago, before HIPAA, so naturally, the lab announced that anyone who wanted could come down to the lab and view this incredible thing before it was dissected by pathology.
The line at lunchtime was so long you’d think they were giving away free concert tickets.
39. He Could Be An Internet Celebrity
I woke up after an operation and was full of rage, but so groggy from the anesthesia that I couldn’t move. For two hours I lay in recovery, fuming. Everything made me angry. There was a little girl in the bed opposite me, crying after her surgery and I hated her. I hated her so much, I used all the energy I had to flip her the bird.
A nurse came over and sat with me for a bit, just talking and holding my hand. I couldn’t move or speak to him but he made me angry as well. After a bit, he let go of my hand and I immediately flipped him off too. He just grabbed my hand again and held it until I eventually fell asleep. When I woke up, one of the nurses told me I looked like grumpy cat.
I’d spent the whole time in recovery glaring and growling at anybody who came near me (I don’t remember the growling bit) and that I’d flipped off quite a few people (I only remember the little girl and the nurse).
40. A Life Spared
My psychiatrist saved my life! I have always had heavy and irregular periods, so when I had bleeding that didn’t go away for a month, I pretty much just kept on keeping on. Eventually, a doctor referred me to the emergency department because of the constant blood loss, and all I was told was “You’ve got endometriosis”. So for five months, I had a heavy period, with doctors just dismissing it.
Eventually, my roommate called an ambulance when I passed out in the shower. The doctors did a blood test and I was admitted overnight for a blood transfusion. Fun fact—blood transfusions make some people nauseous, which is not a fun way to find out you’re allergic to an antiemetic! A few weeks later, at about the six-month mark, I drove for an hour for my regular appointment with my psychiatrist.
He took one look at me and freaked out. He told me to proceed directly to the ER. So I did and was promptly admitted to the ICU with a bilateral pulmonary embolism. I was hours away from suffocating to my end. Turns out, all the birth control that the original doctors had been giving me to shut me up and get rid of me had caused massive clots.
The doctor that looked after me and ultimately saved my life wrote a paper on why it’s stupid to ignore a nulligravida (never pregnant) woman in her mid-20s with severe dysfunctional uterine bleeding.
41. A Wild Ride
I was getting my gallbladder removed and a hernia fixed when I woke up in the middle of surgery. It was the most surreal experience ever. I couldn’t exactly see because of the bright light, everything was like an over-exposed picture, and the people were just kind of shadows. I wound up fighting off two nurses, pulled my breathing tube completely out, and tried to get up.
That’s when I realized my legs didn’t work and panic set it. All I heard was the anesthesiologist say, “Hold on, I’ve got something that will help, count to…” The next thing I remember was being in the bathroom peeing, turned around and my wife was standing there.
42. A Dog Day Afternoon
I was brought into the ER for an atrial flutter as a child. They tried a couple of different medications to stop it but none worked so they had to use a deregulator. This was nowhere near the first time they did this to me, but because it was so late at night, there wasn’t an anesthesiologist available to give me the good stuff.
So they gave me something different than usual to put me out. While I was only out for a few minutes, I was absolutely wired the rest of the night. I was talking to my dog, playing fetch with him, petting him. We were having a blast playing in a field. Except I was still at the hospital. At night. Apparently, I was making the motions of throwing the ball and petting him and everything.
43. Parting The Rib Cage
Anesthetist here. I was once on-call and had an emergency trauma case. We usually got a few of those every day and they normally consisted of people who fell from a certain height or suffered a minor car collision. I came down to the resus department and was told it was an 18-year-old patient with stabbing to the chest and lost output.
It was my first time dealing with this type of scenario so the adrenaline got going. I called for immediate help from the consultant on call. Multiple surgical and ED personnel arrived to be on standby. I work in a district general hospital, so we don’t have facilities for cardiothoracic surgery. At the time, our only hope was to cut open his chest (thoracotomy) and hope there was something we could treat—i.e., pneumothorax, haemothorax.
The young man arrived by ambulance with CPR in progress, and there was BLOOD everywhere—his clothes were soaked, he was blue and pale, and there was vomit in his mouth. I took over the airway and intubated him while the ED doctor and surgeon started to quickly cut open his thorax in ED. Within 30 seconds of arrival, they had cut away his entire rib cage, lifting it up like a flap.
I could literally see his entire heart and lungs. Huge amounts of clotted blood fell out of his chest. His heart was palpated but he had lost enough blood that further CPR was futile. His official time of passing was three minutes after his arrival. The authorities took over for evidence, then we all washed our hands of the blood and went back to work. I could not sleep that night or for a few days after.
44. The Jumpy Ticker
The other night, one of my crewmates transported a person to the ER. The report went something like this: “Uhhh…We’re en route to your facility with a patient and…her pacemaker…Well, it fell out. Vitals are within normal limits. We’ll be there in five minutes”. The nurses were all like, “Yeah right. Dumb paramedics. How can a pacemaker fall out?”
They soon arrived with the patient… And indeed, her pacemaker had fallen out. She got it like 20 years ago and the skin just opened up…There was no blood or anything, just plop…The pacemaker popped out. You could see some adipose tissue, again no blood, and the pacemaker hanging by wires from their chest. No pain, no accident, no apparent self-injury.
45. Hospitals Are Full Of Ghosts
I had a thing for elevators as a child because I lived in the countryside so elevators were like magical boxes to me. When I was in first grade, I got sick and was sent to the hospital. I was quite small for a first grader and I was skinny and pale. I was there for about a month. When I was discharged, I didn’t want to change back into my normal clothes.
I had come to enjoy the freedom of the hospital gown. While my mom was filling out the paperwork, I went to the elevator and just stood inside and kept pressing buttons. I was just riding up and down. I’ve always wondered why no one came inside the elevator when I was riding it. I mean, whenever the door opened there were people but they didn’t come in. Later, I realized why.
I guess at that time it never occurred to me that seeing a skinny and pale child alone in a hospital elevator would be terrifying.
46. Never A Dull Moment
I was a fourth-year resident and I was on call that day. Around 5 pm, I went to do rounds and as I got to the first room, I came in to find the first-year resident on top of a patient who had very recently had neck surgery. As I came closer, my blood ran cold. The resident was kneeling next to the guy’s head with his hands and clothes completely covered in blood.
There was blood on the roof, on the sheets, on the bed, dripping onto the floor, you name it. I was instantly petrified. I knew his carotid artery was ruptured, and I’d never repaired one before. I am completely unqualified to help this guy! Someone, please HELP US! I was the senior resident, so I was the only one on call at the time.
Besides that, no one could get there in time to help this guy. He was bleeding out, so it was up to me alone to help him. So I took the guy to the OR as fast as we could and I opened him up, all of the time praying and telling myself “It’s OK, I can do this, I can do this!” I was pooping my pants while everyone was looking at me to fix him.
I open him up and I see the freaking artery loose, spraying blood all over. I clamped it, put a knot around it, and that was it. We closed him up, bandage, and transfuse the poor guy, and I went to collapse on a stool.
47. The Swamps Of Dagobah
I’m a nurse. I was on call one night and woke up at two in the morning for a “general surgery” call. Pretty vague, but at the time, I lived in a town that had large populations of young military guys and avid substance users, so late-night emergencies were common. Got to the hospital, where a few more details awaited me: “anal abscess”.
Needless to say, our entire crew was less than thrilled. I went down to the Emergency Room to transport the patient, and the only thing the ER nurse said as she handed me the chart was “Have fun with this one”. Amongst healthcare professionals, vague statements like that are a bad sign. My patient was a 314 lb. woman who barely fit on the stretcher I was transporting her on.
She was rolling frantically side-to-side and moaning in pain, pulling at her clothes and muttering Hail Marys. I could barely get her name out of her after a few minutes of questioning, so after I confirmed her identity and what we were working on, I figured it was best just to get her to the anaesthesiologist so we could knock her out and get this circus started.
She continued her theatrics the entire 10-minute ride to the O.R., nearly falling off the surgical table as we were trying to put her under. We see patients like this a lot, though, chronic users who don’t handle pain well and who have used so much that even increased levels of pain medication don’t touch simply because of high tolerance levels.
We got the lady off to sleep, put her into the stirrups, and I began washing off the rectal area. It was red and inflamed, a little bit of pus was seeping through, but it was all pretty standard. Her chart had noted that she’d been injecting IV substances through her bottom, so this was obviously an infection from dirty needles, but overall, it didn’t seem to me to warrant her repeated cries of “Oh Jesus”. I soon discovered how wrong I was.
The surgeon steps up with a scalpel, sinks just the tip in, and at the exact same moment, the patient had a muscle twitch in her diaphragm, and just like that, all heck broke loose. Unbeknownst to us, the infection had actually tunneled nearly a foot into her abdomen, creating a vast cavern full of pus, rotten tissue, and fecal matter that had seeped outside of her colon.
This godforsaken mixture came rocketing out of that little incision. We all wear waterproof gowns, face masks, gloves, hats, the works—all of which were as helpful was rain boots against a fire hose. The bed was in the middle of the room, an easy seven feet from the nearest wall, but by the time we were done, I was still finding bits of rotten flesh pasted against the back wall.
As the surgeon continued to advance his blade, the deluge just continued. The patient kept seizing against the ventilator, and with every muscle contraction, she shot more of this brackish gray-brown fluid out onto the floor until, within minutes, it was seeping into the other nurse’s shoes. I was nearly twelve feet away, jaw dropped open within my surgical mask, watching the second nurse dry-heaving and the surgeon standing on tip-toes to keep this stuff from soaking his socks any further.
The smell hit them first. “Oh god, I just threw up in my mask!” The other nurse was out, she tore off her mask and sprinted out of the room, shoulders still heaving. Then it hit me, mouth still wide open, not able to believe the volume of fluid this woman’s body contained. It was like getting a great big bite of the despair and apathy that permeated this woman’s life.
I couldn’t breathe, my lungs simply refused to pull any more of that stuff in. The anesthesiologist went down next, his six-foot-two frame shaking as he threw open the door to the OR suite in an attempt to get more air in, letting me glimpse the second nurse still throwing up in the sinks outside the door. Another geyser of pus splashed across the front of the surgeon.
The YouTube clip of “David at the dentist” keeps playing in my head—”Is this real life?” In all operating rooms, everywhere in the world, regardless of socialized or privatized, secular or religious, big or small, there is one thing the same: Somewhere, there is a bottle of peppermint concentrate. Everyone in the department knows where it is, everyone knows what it is for, and everyone prays to the gods that they never have to use it.
In times like this, we rub it on the inside of our masks to keep the outside smells at bay long enough to finish the procedure and shower off. I sprinted to our central supply, ripping open the drawer where this vial of ambrosia was kept and was greeted by—an empty box. The bottle had been emptied and not replaced.
Somewhere out there was a godless person who had used the last of the peppermint oil, and not replaced a single drop of it. To this day, if I figure out who it was, I’ll hurt them with my bare hands. I darted back into the room with the next best thing I can find, a vial of Mastisol, which is an adhesive rub we use sometimes for bandaging.
It’s not as good as peppermint, but considering that over one-third of the floor was now thoroughly coated in what could easily be mistaken for a combination of bovine after-birth and maple syrup, we were out of options. I started rubbing as much of the Mastisol as I could get on the inside of my mask, just glad to be smelling anything except whatever slimy demon spawn we’d just cut out of this woman.
The anesthesiologist grabbed the vial next, dowsing the front of his mask in it so he could stand next to his machines long enough to make sure this woman didn’t expire on the table. It wasn’t until later that we realized that Mastisol can give you a mild high from huffing it like this, but in retrospect, that’s probably what got us through.
By this time, the smell had permeated out of our OR suite, and down the 40-foot hallway to the front desk, where the other nurse still sat, eyes bloodshot and watery, clenching her stomach desperately. Our suite looked like the underground river of ooze from Ghostbusters II, except dirty. Oh so dirty. I stepped back into the OR suite, not wanting to leave the surgeon by himself in case he genuinely needed help.
It was like one of those overly-artistic representations of a zombie apocalypse you see on fan forums. Here’s this one guy, in blue surgical garb, standing nearly ankle-deep in lumps of dead tissue, fecal matter, and several liters of syrupy infection. He was performing surgery in the swamps of Dagobah, except the swamps had just come out of this woman’s behind and there was no Yoda.
He and I didn’t say a word for the next 10 minutes as he scraped the inside of the abscess until all the tissue was out, the front of his gown a gruesome mixture of brown and red, his eyes squinted against the stinging vapors originating directly in front of him. I finished my required paperwork as quickly as I could, helped him stuff the recently-vacated opening full of gauze, taped this woman’s buttocks closed to hold the dressing for as long as possible, woke her up, and immediately shipped off to the recovery ward.
Until then, I’d only heard of “alcohol showers”. Turns out 70% isopropyl is about the only thing that can even touch a scent like that once it’s soaked into your skin. It takes four or five bottles to get really clean, but it’s worth it. It’s probably the only scenario I can honestly endorse drinking a little of it, too.
As we left the locker room, the surgeon and I looked at each other, and he said the only negative sentence I heard him utter in two and a half years of working together: “That was bad”. The next morning, the entire department still smelled. The housekeepers told me later that it took them nearly an hour to suction up all of the fluid and debris left behind. The OR suite itself was closed off and quarantined for two more days just to let the smell finally clear out.
48. I Would Be Dizzy Too
After successfully and cleanly breaking my ankle in three places, I was taken to a hospital and was operated on two weeks later. The night after the operation, I was left with a pain medication drip that required a button to activate it, but it could only be activated every five minutes. When the nurses came in the morning to check on me, they could see how many times I had pressed the button (with and without it being activated).
Apparently, I had pressed it a grand total of over 300 times, and had just been pressing it all night. I only remember being in bed with a lot of pain and clicking it shortly before passing out. Either way, I was very dizzy the next morning.
49. At Least Someone Found It Funny
I was having my wisdom teeth pulled. I’ve had a few shots to numb things, the IV is started, and I’ve been given laughing gas. I’m left with the rookie nurse while they wait for everything to kick in. I notice my IV is backing up and giggle it to the nurse. She sets to work trying to fix it. I continue to giggle at her while she tries to get it reset.
She is stabbing my arm more and more frantically trying to get it restarted. I’m now laughing at the point of physically shaking, which I’m sure isn’t helping. Then, chaos breaks out. She jabs at my wrist and hits a major nerve. My arm seizes up and I start screaming at the top of my lungs. She passes out onto my legs and hits the floor.
Everyone comes rushing in while I’m still screaming. Another nurse pulls the needle out and I’m out like a light. Next thing I remember I’m loopy in the car ride home asking for some pudding and milkshakes.
50. Never Ignore The Symptoms
My pregnancy was really painful. I was the only woman in my family besides my mother who went through this, and even she didn’t get sick at all while pregnant. I thought it was normal that I couldn’t stand straight or go farther than ten feet from the bathroom, or that I spent days on the bathroom floor unable to keep anything down to the point where I would lose track of days.
My fiancé begged and begged for me to go to the ER because of all the pain I had. It turns out, I had an acute UTI that was ready to spread to my kidneys. They told me if I waited any longer, I would have miscarried. The thought definitely makes me hold my baby tighter.
51. A Downhill Spiral
I was the patient. I had a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass in April of 2017. After I went home from the surgery, the expectation was that I would be on a liquid diet for a week, and then slowly start reintroducing soft foods, etc. I even used a check-in app that reviewed how I was feeling, just to monitor if something was wrong.
Two weeks in and I still couldn’t keep down an ounce of protein shake. My husband at the time was getting frustrated with me because he thought I was being deliberately difficult. While he was gone to a city three hours away by plane, I woke up in the middle of the night heaving and dry vomiting. My mother drove me to the hospital in the middle of the night where I spent the next 12 hours having every test imaginable run on me. That’s when doctors made a gruesome discovery.
It turns out, within 24 hours after my surgery, my intestine that was reconnected at the “Y” junction had actually come apart (it was leaking anastomosis, if you want to look it up). Everything I’d tried to eat had just been draining into my abdominal cavity. I was septic and had four large abscesses. After emergency surgery, I spent 10 days in the ICU recovering before I went home.
The surgeon told my mother that if I’d been even 24 hours late getting to the hospital, I wouldn’t have made it. Side note: less than two months later, my husband left me.
52. A Weird Reaction
I was recovering after deviated septum repair and every time I got up to pee, which was often, a nurse had to be present. So here I am, peeing in front of this nurse (who I’m sure did not care) then because moving made me nauseated, I would also vomit immediately following. I was just out there peeing and vomiting in front of everyone.
53. That’s Not How This Works
We had one woman come in and her chief complaint was constipation. Going into her chart, I saw that she had been previously given some suppositories to take, and in the triage note, she said her meds weren’t working and she wanted some different ones. So the doctor is asking her questions, making sure nothing else is wrong, and they get to the part about the medication. Her reaction was unforgettable.
She says, “Well yeah, the pills I got last time were huge! I have to break them in half to swallow them!” And then we had to explain that suppositories are not meant to be eaten, and that was why her medication was not relieving her symptoms. She thought “Suppository” was the name of the medication, like Tylenol is for acetaminophen.
54. The Tell-Tale Signs
I heard an “Oh God” moment happen…when I was a patient on the operating table. A couple of years ago, I was in labor for 28 hours, pushing for six, when my child started showing signs of distress. The baby had a slightly elevated heart rate. My midwife at the hospital told me the doctor was coming in to check to see if a vacuum assist could help.
She checks me. Then I see a horrifying sight. She immediately stands up with blood on her hand and says “We’re going to the operating room NOW”. At that time, I started feeling that zoomed-out tunnel vision I know is shock. I had anxiety, but I figured she knew what was best. She did. We got in the OR eight minutes later, and when they opened me up, I heard the surgeon say, “Oh God. Look at this”.
They saw blood in my catheter bag, and upon fully opening me up found my son was actually trying to come through my uterus. He had ruptured it. They got my son out. Those moments where he was stunned and not crying were an eternity. Then he cried and he was born a completely healthy baby. After I woke up and was back in my room, the doctor came in and told me what happened. I knew a ruptured uterus sounded bad, but oh darn I googled and started having a massive anxiety attack.
A ruptured uterus is extremely rare and often fatal. I read from the time it happens, you have about 15 minutes before you bleed out and the baby is gone. When I went back for my follow-up, my midwife let me know she had never once encountered that, and it was such a big deal for them that a few days after my birth, they all got together to discuss my case.
I was so incredibly fortunate I chose to labor in a hospital, and that the doctor just knew from my vitals and baby’s that something was off. They just didn’t know exactly what until they got me open. I can’t even tell you how grateful I am for Dr. S. You saved my life and my son’s life and our family will forever be grateful.
55. Dr. Google Is Cheaper
One time, I had slept on my arm wrong and it became paralyzed. You know when you fall asleep in a weird position and when you wake up your arm is like rubber, but then in a few minutes, you get that tingly, pinprick feeling as the feeling comes back? In my case, the feeling didn’t come back. I learned from researching on my phone that this was likely “Saturday Night” syndrome.
It happens when you sleep on your arm wrong and pinch a nerve (also called radial palsy). This particular hospital wanted to check me in and run a whole lot of (completely unnecessary) expensive tests to make sure I didn’t have a stroke. I was like, duh, I didn’t have a stroke and this is unnecessary. But of course, they didn’t listen.
So I got up, gathered my things, and walked out of there while all the medical staff was yelling at me to stay put. I got a small brace for my arm from my pharmacist and a few weeks later I was fine. I’m not interested in spending tens of thousands of dollars to conclude what I already knew.
56. That’s A Good Call
One time, I got food poisoning. I’d never had serious food poisoning before, but my boss who I was at a conference with had. After clearing myself completely in a very short period of time, I told her I would probably miss the next day. She asked if I needed anything and I said, “No-no… I’m just trying to drink water but I can’t keep it down…I’ve put all my pillows on the bathroom floor so I can stay close to the toilet”.
She brought me ginger tea and asked if they could take me to the hospital. I declined and tried the tea which also came back up. After a while, I was still heaving and I could hardly get up, so I finally let her and a co-worker drive me to the hospital. But I felt so stupid—who goes to the ER for food poisoning? They stabilized me in the ER after a few hours and ran some tests.
They told me then I could go home if I wanted, or stay the night in the hospital if I preferred. I’m really not the type to worry about my health and I always assume things will be fine, but some instinct told me to stay. I felt terrible when they wheeled me over to the hospital and I told them that. The next thing I knew, I was on a hospital bed surrounded by med staff. I had a life-threatening seizure.
57. The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants
My nephew was in a medically-induced coma for over a month. When they were weaning him off the medication, he was a bit out of it. He tried to get out of bed a few times, so they put him in restraints. He escaped those so they put the escape-proof netting up. Well, his brain just decided it was going to figure out how to escape that and he managed to get out.
He ended up running around the hospital in his birthday suit for about 15 minutes until security could wrangle him back to his room. Luckily this was at about three in the morning so he wasn’t terrorizing visitors.
58. The Feral Child
I had to get stitches in my lip and nose as a kid. When we got to the hospital, they wanted to do a local anesthetic on me with a needle and I was having none of it. I started fighting the nurses and the doctor. Then I tried to bite the doctor’s face. But, since I was a small child, I was subdued quickly. They wrapped me in a blanket and held me down.
I kept shaking my head and tried to bite the doctor again, so he sprayed the anesthesia in my face. I don’t remember much after that. I just know I had trouble breathing and the nurses looked mortified. I did eventually get stitched up though.
59. It’s In Your Head
I’m not a doctor, but I’m glad my parents took me in for a second opinion when I was complaining about a bad headache. I left school one day and went to the hospital complaining about a bad headache. The doctor said it was “just a virus,” and that I should just rest and take meds. I went home, laid down, took some Advil, and just carried on with my night.
At around 1 am in the morning, I was screaming on the floor. My parents took me to a different hospital and they ran tests. Eventually, they did a spinal tap and discovered a ton of white blood cells. Turns out, I had bacterial meningitis.
60. Hidden Agenda
I’m a paramedic…so many to tell, but this one will stick with me forever. Rainy afternoon in the spring. The call was for a tipsy person randomly pounding on house doors. Normally, it would be an officer response, but they were swamped. We pull up to the house, no lights, no siren. Heck, I’m so burnt out at the time, I don’t even get out of the passenger seat.
I just power the window down. “Hey!” I snap at the older gentleman on the porch, “What are you doing?” He turns from pounding at the stranger’s door and begins shuffling down the walkway toward our ambulance. I can see the elderly woman close the curtains, her nuisance addressed. “Man, I just got to lay down!” The guy says to me.
I look at my partner, and she at I. Henry Ford Hospital is six blocks away. Surely we can take the guy there? “Get in the back!” I snap at him. “And if you puke in my bus, I’ll mop it up with your clothes”. “But I got chest pains,” He says, holding his hand closed against the pelting rain. I roll my eyes, “Man, I do too. So let’s go to Ford and both get checked”.
The guy begins fiddling with his buttons, and I reach over from my seat to dial up the heater. When I look back, he’s got his trench coat open, to show me exactly where it hurts. What I saw still haunts me to this day. Right in the middle of his sternum, vividly defined against his white sweatshirt, is a star-shaped POWDER BURN.
A big one. Point-blank-to-the-chest, hole-punched GSW. Oh my God. The next four or so minutes were a blur. Rushing out the door to grab the man as he was about to fall. My partner yanking the stretcher out, loading the patient, and loading him in the back. Scissors cutting clothes, oxygen mask going on. Yelling, “Go, go, go!!!” to my partner as she raced the six blocks to the hospital.
I really only managed to get one IV started during the three minute ride. He was gone 25 minutes later. When we rolled him in the trauma room, you could see an exit wound the size of a fist. The doctors assured us that the only thing that could have helped this man was if he fell into the OR after being shot. But that didn’t bring me any peace.
We probably spent 10 minutes talking to the man as he stood in the rain. For me, that was my out cue. I took a week off work, and resigned two weeks later.
61. Who Needs A Radio?
This one dude came in to the hospital after being hit by a car. His CT shows he has a pretty significant head bleed. He’s been drinking so this guy’s just having a great time. We get him undressed and start trying to clean up when he bursts into song. He keeps going on with the same song for half an hour. But he didn’t stop there.
It got ten times better when a female nurse came in to help and he immediately stops singing and goes, “Hang on…I forgot the second verse”. He sits for a few minutes and then goes right back at the same part he’s been singing. That’s probably the hardest I’ve tried to not laugh in my life.
62. Maybe Next Time
I sat awake through an entire operation to remove a blood clot, I was not really sure if I was supposed to be awake or not. The pain was pretty uncomfortable, but not unbearable. Lots of sharp pains that made me wince. I listened to the anesthesiologist and nurse talk about their weekend the whole time… still unsure if I was supposed to be conscious.
When it was all said and done, I asked the anesthesiologist if I could be put under for the next procedure, because that kind of sucked. She gave told me that I was definitely put under for the last one and must just be confused. I knew exactly what to say. I explained to her what she did that weekend to a look of shock. I explained my father and I always seem to have high tolerances to this sort of thing.
She apologized profusely and ensured I would be completely out next time. I guess I should have said something during the procedure.
63. Painless Yet Severe
When I was 14 years old, I started getting an upset stomach one night and it wasn’t just another bellyache. Maybe a little bit more intense, but I slept through it pretty well. The next morning, my parents got me an appointment with the doctor to see if I was okay. We got through it all, but we had to wait at one point, and it was taking quite a long time.
I told my mom, “We should just go home, it’s probably nothing…” and then the next thing I knew, I needed surgery. When I was talking to the doctor before the surgery, he explained that my appendix had burst, and he said I just had a very high tolerance to pain. In fact, he was surprised I was able to sleep through it.
He also explained that if I didn’t have surgery when I did, I wouldn’t have made it. I can see now why a lot of people think that having a high tolerance to pain isn’t necessarily a good thing.
64. It’s a Hospital, Not A Gym
At seven years old, I had developed aspiration pneumonia after playing in a ball pit and vomiting from the smell of a very stinky kid. After several doctors telling my parents it was only a cold, it took me nearly dying for one doctor to realize something was actually wrong. I then spent several weeks at childrens’ hospital lying in bed, watching movies.
I was getting antsy and ready to run around. Once my doctor gave the okay for me to get out of bed and stretch a bit, they allowed me to go to the media center they had for the children. They had it all. Board games, paints, and the almighty Super Nintendo—my little heart was in hog heaven. All these activities were definitely fun, but I wanted more, much more.
I wanted physical motion! Then I saw it, the perfect thing to jump over! The rope was just far enough off the ground and long enough, I knew I could make it. Before anyone could stop me, I ran and LEAPED, totally clearing the other side before multiple hands lunged at me. I had jumped over an IV cord connected to another child.
65. Hopefully She Got Quicker Service
In 2011, my grandmother had a double knee replacement. While in recovery, she had to use the restroom. Instead of calling for a nurse, that woman tried to get out of bed, failed, pulled her in-room phone off of the table to dial the ambulance, and told the dispatcher she was in the hospital and had fallen and couldn’t get up. It happened a few hours after I’d visited when she had been telling me about the monkeys performing in a circus on her ceiling.
66. But Did They Pass Their Test?
Four years ago I had an important school exam and I was overexerting myself with studying. My head was already hurting a lot, but then my vision went blurry and I faint. When I woke up, I was in the hospital and my father had a wound on his finger. I asked him, “How did you do that to yourself?” He looked me in the eyes and said, “I didn’t”.
Apparently, when I passed out, I fell out of the chair, and when my parents came up to see what was happening I was having an epileptic seizure (we didn’t know I was epileptic until then). My father had to put his finger in my mouth to get my tongue out of my throat because I was choking. It was pretty serious at the time but now every time he sees the scar he asks, “Remember when you bit me?”
67. At Least He Doesn’t Forget
I sustained a TBI some years ago in a car wreck and was airlifted to the hospital. I don’t remember the flight at all, but apparently, I was just punching at everyone on my way in and shouting obscene nonsense. For the next day or two, I’m told that I kept repeating the last thing I could remember being told, over and over again.
As in, someone would tell me not to get up, and I’d just tell my friends who came to see me that I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to get up. One of them told me that somebody else was coming to visit, and I apparently kept telling everyone that they were coming to visit, even after they’d visited.
68. Just Trying To Help
I was getting my wisdom teeth removed and everything before the surgery went fine. But halfway through, I woke up. The wild thing is, I specifically woke up because the nurses were discussing the new Star Wars movie at the time and were confused at where it landed in the timeline. So I tried to explain to them as I woke up.
They thought I was just awake for a second and told me to go back to sleep, but I didn’t. Instead, I soon realized all the medication had worn off and I don’t know why, but I didn’t tell them. So, I felt them pull the last two teeth they needed to pull and white-knuckled my chair to deal with the pain. It was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced.
When my parents were expecting me to act weird afterward, they were sorely disappointed when I exclaimed, “I am fully awake right now, put your camera away”.
69. A Lady And An Officer
I work in the psychiatry registrar, and a memorable night involves a 55-year-old manic patient. She was brought in with hypothermia after she jumped into the local river during winter. She claimed the CIA was after her because she was ex-Navy. During her evaluation, she would only give me her name and rank. She said she would only give further information to an “officer”.
Before I finished the assessment, she leaped out of bed and ran through the busy ER without a stitch of clothing on. Our nurses tackled her while she continued screaming her name and rank over and over. We managed to sedate her and send her to the psych ward.
70. Don’t Skip The Important Stuff
When I was an anesthesia resident, a pregnant woman came into our medium-sized community hospital in the night with some abdominal pain and nausea. Her doctor determined she was not in labor so we just treated her with medication and kept her overnight. In the morning, a new obstetrician started daily rounds. When he saw her, he immediately raised the alarm.
The new obstetrician noted that the patient’s blood pressure had dropped. They felt the patient’s uterus and it was exquisitely tender. At this point, our patient is feeling very faint. Now the diagnosis is likely a uterine rupture, which is when a small hole has burst in the womb. In these cases, the solution is an emergency C section, and my team was called in to perform this delivery.
A uterine rupture is bad enough, but when we removed the tiny preterm baby, we discovered a horrific truth. It wasn’t a rupture but a placenta percreta. That’s when the placenta grows through the wall of the uterus and into the surrounding organs, in our patient’s case her bladder. The surgery became more complicated and we had to call for help.
In the OR we now had a urologist, and two other anesthesiologists and started a blood transfusion as she had lost a lot of blood. This condition is usually detected on a prenatal ultrasound, but the patient had skipped hers. If she hadn’t missed it, this surgery would have been performed in a big city due to its risky and delicate nature. Thankfully, mom and baby were OK.
71. There Are Problems And There Are Solutions
During my last day of training, I responded to a life alert call. This could have been anything, firefighters had gotten there first but didn’t give us any updates. So we take everything from the truck just in case. We get into the apartment and there are firefighters frantically running around the kitchen that was surrounded by a baby gate.
We see the patient and she looked fine just sitting in a wheelchair, talking to the firefighters. We ask what was going on. A firefighter says to us that the patient is not allowed in the kitchen because she almost burned the house down, so that’s why there’s a baby gate to block her out. She lives with her son and he’s working today.
She wanted a piece of cake but couldn’t get to the kitchen, so she thought the most logical way of getting it was to press her life-alert button so that the firefighters could get it for her. So I’m standing there watching as the firefighters ask if she wanted ice cream with her cake and slicing it for her. I ask my field training officer what I write in the report. He says to me, “Just say we were canceled by fire”.
72. Maybe It’s Karma
This is so embarrassing, I still can’t forget it. As a teenager I had my wisdom teeth removed at an outpatient surgical facility. After being checked in, I was told to strip down and put on the hospital pants and shirt they gave me, basically a set of hospital scrubs. I don’t remember this first part, but apparently, after the surgery, as I was coming out of the anesthesia, I became combative with the nurses and doctors.
I was calling them awful names and trying to fight my way free which was totally out of character for me. So they pulled down my pants and jabbed me in the thigh with another sedative to put me back under. A while later, I came to, totally calm this time. I was in a community recovery room with about fifteen other occupied beds.
A nurse came over and had me drink some water and told me that they couldn’t release me until I peed to get some of the sedatives out of my system. She helped me out of bed and began walking me to the bathroom when my pants fell to my ankles in front of the other patients. They never re-tied the waist string after the second shot.
The other patients got a huge chuckle out of this and all began laughing. There I was, a 14-year-old kid going through puberty and my first experience being undressed in front of someone else is a roomful of people laughing at my bits and pieces being on display.
73. Sharp Objects
My boyfriend was the patient in this story. He was an eight-year-old boy with Type 1 diabetes and he’s had it since he was five years old. His blood sugar got out of whack one day and he was admitted to the hospital. The kid had been getting his fingers pricked and having insulin injected for years, so nobody thought he’d have a problem getting an IV cannula in his arm. They were WRONG.
Apparently, one nurse staggered out of his hospital room with a visible sneaker print across her face, while another nurse got knocked unconscious. It took nearly a dozen people to restrain and sedate this scrawny little kid. He still has a phobia of needles, and even then he usually needs sedatives. The only real exception is putting his insulin pump line into his stomach.
74. Human Flag
Mexico’s Independence Day is on September 16th, but aside from the parade, all the celebrations take place on the 15th. It is the busiest night of the year for paramedics as all sorts of craziness ensue, from stages that fall under the weight of tipsy people to street fights between rival hoods. And then, there is this guy. He impaled himself with a flag.
He probably climbed a fence or something and was waiving it when he fell and it went through him. But what was really shocking is that he was so tipsy that he was still waiving it while lying on the floor and half the mast was inside of him. Patriotic as heck though. We nicknamed him Pedo (slang for tipsy) Escutia (a hero of the Mexican-American conflict who threw himself with a flag off a castle to prevent it from being captured by the enemy).
75. That’s Pretty Fast
Upon waking up from general anesthesia, I apparently felt it was important to convince everyone in the recovery room that the dog went 1,000 mph. I guess at first I was saying it in a conversational tone but quickly progressed to screaming at the top of my lungs. I made a nurse’s aide cry. Eventually, they had to sedate me again.
It’s something they try to avoid at all costs in patients waking up from general anesthesia but necessary in my case to avoid me injuring myself. I woke up again 30 minutes later and did not remember any of it. Unfortunately, it all took place before everyone had a video camera in their pocket.
76. Patience Is A Virtue
I once accidentally peed on my doctor. I had an epidural while giving birth, and the doctor was being impatient and pushed aside the nurse who was getting ready to place my urinary catheter. She went to check me and asked me to push, and I did as she said. One epidural plus no catheter equals pee fountain right over her shoulder and all down her front.
I missed her face by inches. She was already not happy to be there and I think that was why she was so impatient. I kind of laughed at her because it was totally her fault since she knew I had an epidural and couldn’t manage to wait for the nurse to finish with the catheter.
77. Next-Level Insanity
I’m a psychologist who works in prisons. One guy was so imaginative with his self-harm that he’s now used as an example in officer training. There were so many things he did to harm himself that I couldn’t list them all here, but the one I’ll never forget was when he used the plastic from a packet of Tim Tams as a sharp object to create an opening in his skin. But that’s not the most disturbing part.
He patiently waited until his one-hour-per-day time in the exercise yard to grab a fly, and somehow managed to not let the officers see it even though he was handcuffed hands and feet. He then inserted the fly into the wound and eventually, his wound became a home for larvae.
78. Just A Typical Night
Here are a few to boggle your mind: A honey crisp apple up the butt. Just your average night. A lady whose throat was injured with a broken glass bottle. Many reconstructive surgeries later, I hear she is doing well. A hallucinating man who was convulsing after attending an EDM festival. He literally looked possessed. 20 security guards later (even after, we finally got him restrained. I’m seriously surprised he didn’t die as he was incredibly messed up.) But this last one was something else.
We had a guy come in stating he was involved in a carjacking and was injured. His head was bleeding, his heart rate was high, and since he claimed to be a victim, the attending doctor decided we were going to take him to the resuscitation room (which is protocol). As we are taking him there, a pregnant woman arrives via ambulance.
As soon as they saw each other, the man yelled something like, “That’s her, that’s the lady who took my car!” Like a bat out of the depths, the pregnant lady jumped off the stretcher and bolted out of the hospital. Security went after her but she was gone. I don’t know if she was found later on or not.
79. A Hospital Is Not The Place For That
While working my shift at the hospital, a man came in saying he had lodged some beads, or some sort of similar artifact inside of his body…from behind, if you catch my drift. So, routinely, they decided to get some x-rays to check on its progress the wrong way up through his digestive system. They took the patient through, got him scanned…but found nothing.
When confronted, the patient’s answer blew everyone away. He said that this had happened before and that the reason it wasn’t showing up was that it was some sort of plastic and silicone hybrid that was difficult to see on the x-ray. So, the next step was to grab some gloves and manually search for it. The patient dropped his pants and they were underway.
After a couple of minutes of not finding anything, the doctor made a disturbing realization. He looked at the patient and saw that he was sweating and smiling. There was nothing in there.
80. It Cost How Much?!
Back when I was a teenager, there was a day in which I was in extreme pain which seemed to be originating in my stomach area. My folks were starting to worry about me so they took me to the ER. They ran some tests and the whole lot. They ended up giving me some muscle relaxers since I was very tense. Then something happened that was completely out of my control.
I released a large amount of gas and afterward…I felt perfect. Everyone got a big laugh about it. My parents now refer to the incident as the $500 toot.
81. Without A Leg To Stand On
I was a resident in the ICU and we had a patient recovering from Steven-Johnson Syndrome, which is a rare drug reaction where skin blisters uncontrollably. At the same time, he had a clotted femoral pseudo-aneurysm that was at risk of bursting and bleeding. Between the afternoon and evening rounds, this patient’s nurse asked me to assess his leg swelling.
His whole body was swollen because of all the blisters and he had fluids he’d been getting for his blood pressure. When I checked his right leg, it did look more swollen than a few hours ago and the skin was worse. However, the aneurysm was stable on the ultrasound earlier in the day so it didn’t seem like there was much to do other than keep it well dressed and monitored.
A couple of hours later, my co-resident and I are doing our evening rounds as the general surgery team is assessing a few doors down. The leg looks even worse than earlier and is another few centimeters swollen. Even with the swelling, his vitals are stable and he’s receiving the right treatment. We were scratching our heads when his leg burst.
Where the swelling had occurred has now split open and is gushing. The nurse and my co-resident throw on gloves and apply pressure while I grab a surgical kit and try to find the source. Our team is running down the hall to grab the surgeons who are still evaluating patients. Within two minutes, there’s a small team searching through this man’s leg, looking for the cause.
Another minute or two later and they’ve found they found the ruptured vein. They stopped the bleeding as best they can. I think on the repeat blood work that evening he’d lost maybe 10-20% of his blood in five minutes. Now we had to treat the infection. This patient was pretty frail and had already had a near-fatal reaction to one class of antibiotics.
I wish I could say it was a happy ending, but his wound became purulent and he developed bacteria in his blood. It was a bad day that got worse with all the other medical problems he was having. It was just too much and we transferred to palliative. I’ll never forget the experience and know my team kept him as comfortable as possible.
82. I Hope This Isn’t Personal
I have Crohn’s disease and spent the majority of 2012-2015 going in and out of hospitals due to malnutrition, anemia due to blood loss, an inflamed colon, infections, etc. No medications helped calm my disease down. As a bonus, I got something called Pyoderma Gangrenosum two months after I was diagnosed with Crohn’s.
Pyoderma Gangrenosum gave me several open wounds on my legs that were painful and required wound cleaning twice a week with high doses of pain medication. Due to building a resistance, I went from 5mg to 20mg over the course of a year and a half. My daily prescription was valium 5mg and morphine 10mg five times daily to manage the pain.
Under one of my many hospitalizations, I was sent to a bigger hospital than my local one, since they had better resources, equipment, and a special ward for people with gestational issues like mine. A couple of weeks into my stay, I got into big trouble. My stomach was hurting a lot more than usual. I also stopped making bowel movements, which was a big red flag.
I was still going to the bathroom like 50 times a day to pass blood and minuscule amounts of waste, but then stopped overnight. I informed the nurses and spoke to the doctors when they had visitation, but I was getting brushed off by everyone. I asked to be checked out, showing my stomach, which by now looked like a six-month pregnancy.
Regardless, doctors did nothing more than feel my tender stomach daily. I started crying a lot, could hardly sleep, and stopped eating the first or second day because of the pain. Eventually, I was vomiting and overall deteriorating. After six days, I had enough, and finally, someone wheeled in an ultrasound machine to my room.
After a quick look in my stomach, I got a meek, “Oh, your intestines are twisted around on themselves, you need surgery”. The next morning I was on the operating table and ended up having my whole large intestine removed because of the extent of damage from the twisting and inflammation. I now have a permanent stoma to function.
The reason they did nothing for a week despite my daily complaints was the doctors thought I was addicted to my pain relief medications. They thought I was complaining for more medication…even though I never asked. The doctor responsible had never interacted with me face-to-face and made the decision based on my medical history alone.
83. Maybe They Hated The Playing
I was 14 in the hospital for streptococcal pneumonia, up on the ninth floor of our local hospital. After about two weeks, I asked my mom to bring my Casio keyboard. So one day, I open the window and sat up in the window nook to play. The window would not open wide, but I let a leg hang out to feel the sunlight and wind for the first time in a while.
I played on the keyboard for a while and I looked across and there were all these people making horizontal motions with their arms and yelling something. I stopped playing and stuck my head out to listen. At that moment, they got substantially more excited. It took a second, but then I realized they were saying, “Don’t jump!”
In an instant, a group of nurses was in my room, telling me it’s not worth it and that I was going to get better. I pulled my head and leg in from outside and told them that I did not plan on jumping. I shared that I was just up there to play music and feel the outside. They asked me to come down out of the window nook.
I complied with their request. Once out of the window, I got leather straps put on my feet and hands until my mother could get off work and get there. To this day, I think that I am the reason that the hospital windows will not open beyond a slither. Sorry folks. I just needed to feel the outside again.
84. Diverse New Friends
I was in the hospital for what I thought was a heart attack or complications from triple bypass surgery, which I had had the month before. I went to the hospital closest to me and kindly asked to be transferred back to the hospital that did my heart surgery. They obliged and I was transferred. They got me a room and I was all set up to sleep.
But then this random dude came into my room and asked me what my favorite type of music was. He was a younger guy wearing scrubs who I thought was just another nurse doing his rounds. Turns out, he and I had the same tastes in music and his favorite band was also my favorite band. He had a wrist tattoo with a symbol from the band’s 4th album that I thought was pretty cool.
We chatted for about a half-hour or so and then he said he had to be going. He made a note on the whiteboard at the end of my bed, listing my favorite band, and then said his goodbyes. On his way out he told me, “Everything looks good so far and you’ll be fine after this”. For some reason, that brought me some comfort since I hadn’t seen the doctor yet and I was having high anxiety, being less than a full month after my open-heart surgery.
They let me leave the next day. I asked my morning nurse what that guy’s name was so I could do some detective work on social media and thank him for telling me exactly what I needed to hear at the time. Her answer made my blood run cold. She told me that the only people I saw were the doctor, my night nurse, and her. No one else had been in my room. So, I asked her who wrote my favorite band’s name on the board and she had no answer for that.
My dad got his ax tangled in a hammock when we were camping and ended up with it in his leg instead of the wood (yes, he is aware that he was supposed to check his perimeter—he had initially, but the log had rolled several times and he just got frustrated and moved with it). It went right between the tibia and fibula, chipping one of them and slicing through the artery.
He ended up having to have vascular surgery to repair the artery and he spent 2.5 months in a cast. It took a very long time for him to regain feeling in the top of his foot.
86. What A Well-Mannered Fellow
I once woke up during surgery. Long story short, I am VERY tolerant to almost all anesthetics and they pumped a ton into me during the ER visit. But with all the problems I was in the emergency room for, I forgot to warn the surgery staff. I not only woke up, but I SAT up on the table and had a full-on conversation with the surgical team.
I have never seen six adults jump that high in my life. It freaked them out that I was that awake. Totally calm, I apologized for not warning them, thanked them since the pain was now gone, and asked if I could go home now. Problem was, they were not done. Luckily, they were mostly done and could finish with local anesthesia.
87. No Laughing Matter
One night I had a young guy; a walk-in who thought it was hilarious he had a stab wound. He arrived at 3:00 am and had been waiting hours before deciding to get help. He also brought in his family and friends who also didn’t think it was a serious injury. During his evaluation, it registered as a level one and his blood pressure was low.
His heart rate was soaring as his body tried to compensate for the loss of blood. As soon as we brought him into a room, he coded and never woke up. We tried to revive him with a manual cardiac massage, which meant cracking his chest and manually pumping the heart. The blade had nicked his abdominal aorta, which ruptured. But that wasn’t the most chilling part.
When we went back to the waiting room, his friends and family were having a pizza party, not recognizing the fatal status of their loved one.
As an EMT trainee, in my first ride-along we responded to a call where a guy fell at a skate park. When we got there he was conscious, walking, and talking coherently. He hadn’t been wearing a helmet when he fell and a bruise was forming above his eye. With no scrapes and his pupils dilating, we assumed it was a concussion and black eye.
We talked him into coming with us to the ER just to double-check. We get him in the ambulance, lay him down, and his blood pressure had gone down significantly since our first check. Then it took a very dark turn. It escalated quickly to him getting drowsy and throwing up blood. We turned on the sirens and started fluids, but his blood pressure kept dropping.
He was unconscious by the time we got to the ER. Skipping the bruise meant we hadn’t felt the soft skin filling with blood and the crushed bone around his eye and cheek. He ended up having emergency brain surgery. Coincidentally, they also found and removed a tumor while operating. He recovered to skate another day, and hopefully will remember his helmet.
89. Elastic Heart
A patient came into the ER presenting with very serious heart pain that caused him to pass out frequently, sometimes daily. Apparently, he just thought it was because he was overweight. We had to explain that passing out for no reason is not normal and that he should have told his doctor about it. The problem itself was sort of on and off, so initially, we didn’t know what was up because his vitals all looked good.
When none of the meds we gave to him helped, we ended up sending him to the hospital. His heart rate was dangerously high for a pretty sustained period of time (like 45 to 60 minutes), so he started passing out due to a lack of oxygen. Turns out, he had been suffering from minor heart attacks, not realizing how serious they actually were—but that’s not the worst part.
This had been happening to him since he was at least a teen, if not younger, and his parents never thought to bring him to a doctor about it.
90. A Nasty Fall
I came off my bike during lunch break at a real slow, walking pace after the wheel jammed on a gutter. I went over the bars and had a nasty landing. My right wrist swelled up almost instantly, so I isolated it, thinking it was a probable Colles’ fracture. Then, I proceeded to walk the 1.5 km back to the office in cleats; that is, carbon fiber shoes that have no flex in the soles. I had to push the bike too.
I was in a lot of pain, so I went to the hospital for scans. The triage nurse assessed me and came to the same conclusion I did. I was given an ice pack while waiting for the doctor to look at the X-rays. I was in tears the entire time the films were being done and I don’t normally cry either. The only comfort from the radiology tech was “There’s a reason why you’re crying, but I’ll leave that to the doctor”.
It turns out, I had sustained bilateral radial head fractures and a broken left wrist. The swelling in my right lower forearm was a reaction to the broken radial head. I spent eight weeks in akimbo slings plus three months of occupational therapy to teach my biceps how to bend my arms again. Nowadays, I only have 90% bone strength in those joints.
91. Baby Face
This happened to my wife and I. She was three months pregnant and did an ultrasound. All normal. The baby’s heart rate was 99 and healthy. However, for some reason, the ultrasound tech forgot to measure something and the doc ordered a second ultrasound. The second appointment was about a month later, as my wife wanted to delay. She hated having to drink so much and not pee in order for the ultrasound to come out clearer.
I couldn’t be with her for the second ultrasound; however, she called me tearfully with some gut-wrenching news—she said that the doctor told her she had to lose the baby for her own safety and health. She insisted on calling me to let me know before she did the procedure. Apparently, the baby’s heart rate hadn’t changed since the first ultrasound a month before, and this was bad enough to put mom at risk in pregnancy.
I immediately flew to the hospital. I can’t remember how I got there, but I crossed heavy traffic to the hospital in about ten minutes for what is normally a 20-minute trip. I parked on the curb, jumped out, and rushed to her room. Thankfully, nothing had happened to her yet. I just camped out there insisting on another ultrasound.
I kept telling the doctor that it was a copy-and-paste error. You see, the heart rate from the first ultrasound to the second was exactly the same. I knew…I just knew that the tech copied and pasted the first report and forgot to update the rate. I screamed bloody murder if anyone would touch my wife. Security was almost called until another doctor came in and ordered another ultrasound to decide the issue.
The second ultrasound showed that the heart rate was normal. My son is now ten years old, and I remember that fear and rage every day that I look at him.
92. Possible Possession
We drove out to the middle of nowhere for a call. It was a suspected overdose, but when we got there, it was a bunch of teenagers. They all swore there were no drugs, just drinks. We went to the patient who was a very, very large boy. He was just looking out with no emotion, no reaction to us, nothing. We checked his vitals and they were all textbook perfect.
Then, he came to, and there was a very heavy presence. The hair on my neck stood up. The boy got this weird look on his face and a scary smile but said nothing. So we got him into the ambulance. Once in the ambulance, we started a blood draw so they could do a drug screening. He went out again with no reaction to anything. Then, the night took a dark turn.
When he came back, he became violent so we restrained him. He broke the restraints so we immediately called law enforcement for backup. Then, he went back out. The whole time his vitals NEVER changed. Officers met us and we continued to the hospital. The boy was now handcuffed to the stretcher and he came to once more.
He smiled and JUMPED OUT THE BACK OF THE AMBULANCE. At this point, we contacted our medical director and dispatch and decided to transfer care to the authorities. They took him to the hospital. His blood work came back completely normal. They had to transfer him to a larger department and I have no idea what happened after that, but I definitely suspect a possession.
93. He Was Itching For Some Help
I was in the hospital following a motorcycle accident. My hospital roommate, who was beside me, had been in an 18-wheeler accident. He was complaining that his back itched and someone finally came in and rolled him on his side. When they turned him over, their faces dropped—his back had pieces of glass stuck all over it. I still don’t know how that was overlooked.
94. Well That’s Horrifying
I had a kid come in with a lesion in the back of her head. Her hair was a mess, and she had two wounds. I immediately suspected foul play. In hindsight, that was naïve of me—I should have had that diagnosis by the smell alone. That was severe neglect, which can be far more damaging. I picked up my flashlight to better observe what was a yellowish looking wound, and as soon as light touched the wound, the kid started screaming.
Weirder still: the wound started moving. If anyone had washed that kid’s head in the last six months, she would not have had myiasis in her head. FYI, the final count was around 135 larvae.
95. Knowing Better
I was sitting in a hostel with an emergency nurse and an emergency doctor who had just learned that while they worked on different continents, they did similar work. We were happily chatting along, and this older guy walked in. He overheard that they’re in the medical field and asked a question. He showed them his leg—the sight of it is still burned into my memory.
It had large black spots on it everywhere below the knee. Both the nurse and the doctor looked at it and immediately said, “You have to go see emergency services. That leg is necrotic. You’ll lose the leg if not your life”. He said, “Ha, that’s what my doctor said too. But the leg feels fine, I would know if it’s bad”.
He finished with, “You’re wrong. Besides, I’m not going to ruin my vacation by seeking medical treatment,” which left me wondering why he asked in the first place. He went to sit at the bar, and over the course of the evening, both the nurse and the doctor unsuccessfully tried to get him to understand that he may not even have ten days.
96. Daredevil Disaster
I took a call from a panicked woman advising me of a rollover crash that happened near her house. She lived near the top of a blind hill that people liked to “jump”. She told me that a girl was laying on the ground about 30 feet or so from the vehicle. When asked if the girl is alive, she says, “Oh yes, she’s wiggling around on the ground. My daughter is a nurse, she’s checking on her now”.
Awesome. We hardly ever are lucky enough to have a trained professional on the scene before a med unit can get there. She tells me her daughter is starting CPR. My caller was getting frantic again and we already had first responders on the way, so I started asking more questions about the scene.
Her daughter breaks CPR to get on the phone with me and tells me she can do compressions only. Confused, I asked why—but the answer nearly made me scream. The girl’s jaw was completely gone. A bit stunned, I told her to continue compressions. But rather than getting put back on with the original caller, I hear the scared voice of a teenage girl, the driver: “Is my friend going to be okay?”
I couldn’t find anything to say for a moment. Finally, I said, “They’re doing CPR, dear and we have help on the way. Are you and the other passenger okay?” “We’re fine. Just please tell me she’s okay”. The girl on the ground was confirmed D.O.A. She had been laying down in the back seat without her seat belt on because she had a headache. She was 15.
97. The Milk Is For The Baby
I saw a patient who was concerned because she was still lactating, despite the fact that she stopped breastfeeding her twins two years ago. She said: “Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and find my husband sucking on my chest. He says he’s trying to drain the milk for me”.
I had to explain to her that allowing her husband to suckle would lead to continued lactation.
98. Too Close For Comfort
About four years ago, my girlfriend randomly developed a sharp pain in her upper thigh one night. She was in decent shape so it came out of nowhere. Her left leg swelled up and the pain kept getting worse. Being the self-proclaimed medical expert that I am, I somehow came to the conclusion it was a pinched nerve and that she should just walk it off.
I came up with a believable explanation and that was that for about another hour. We were visiting my parents, and the pain had been getting worse. My mother insisted I take her to the emergency room just to be safe, and she even offered to pay and all. I was unsure but decided it was one of those things where I should just take the motherly advice.
We made it to the hospital emergency room, and it was like 9 pm on a Tuesday. She got helped relatively quickly and they ran an ultrasound on her thigh. What they found was utterly disturbing. Turns out, she had a giant blood clot that got stuck in a vein on the way to her brain. If it had made it there, she would have lost her life, guaranteed.
So a quick surgery was ordered, and they found out yet another pressing issue—she also has a condition called DVT, and daily, self-injected shots were prescribed. Not long after her first hospital visit, she required a second surgery to sever one of her main veins, which the doctors then stretched and reattached at its two ends.
99. A Tickle Under The Rib
I saw this one patient with a really odd condition. While she was asking me why she gets rib pain so often, she literally reached under her own rib and jiggled it with her fingers. Turns out, there were a lot of other things she could do that she shouldn’t ever be able to. I attributed it to a variant of Ehlers Danlos syndrome, which causes connective tissue abnormalities.
I was so distracted by the popping in and out of her rib that initially, I didn’t even notice how horrifying it was that she could get her hand under there.
100. The Big Heave
This happened to my brother while he was in med school. One day a guy strolled into the emergency room with the most extreme injury ever: He had the handle of a butcher blade sticking out from under one of his eyes. They did an X-ray on him and found that the whole blade was indeed in there, sticking into his skull.
Neurological tests also indicated that he was really lucky, as the blade didn’t do any serious nerve or brain damage. After some debate, they decided to pull the blade out, but it was really stuck. Eventually, they laid the guy on his back, the ER doc took off his shoe, climbed up on the gurney, put his foot on the patient’s forehead, and heaved the blade out.
They put the guy on the ward and the next morning, the authorities showed up to ask him about it. The guy just said, “Never mind, I’ll take care of it”. The next day, while no one was looking, the guy got up and walked out. For people who didn’t show up for their yearbook photo, they substituted the X-ray of the guy with the blade in his head.
101. Below The Belt
This guy in his 20s came into the hospital. He had a lot of conditions where he wouldn’t make it past 40 and he currently had some infection. We kept giving him antibiotics which helped, but not as much as we would have liked. After about a week of being in the hospital I walk in and I’m talking to him and he tells me that he got a medically necessary circumcision on his last admission to the hospital.
I ask if it’s okay if I take a look to make sure it’s healing okay. I wasn’t prepared for the horror. It was black with all kinds of infection. I’m just not sure how a married man in his 20s (or his wife) never thought to tell anyone about this for the past week.
102. Heroes Don’t Feel Pain
I intercepted a young woman who was just hit by a car. Her boyfriend was standing with her freaking out. I did a basic physical exam and got a history, and made her comfortable as we waited for the ambulance to arrive. Once the ambulance arrived they asked for the same information, and that’s when I realized what REALLY happened.
Turns out, the boyfriend was actually the one who was actually hit by the car, and was shielding his girlfriend’s body. The entire car’s windshield was cracked by the impact of his back. He was just freaking out and worried about her, and was in shock and hadn’t begun to feel any pain yet.
103. Allergic to Everything
Registered nurse here. I see some crazy stuff, but one thing that stands out was the time I was admitting a guy to the hospital. I can’t really remember what for but he was diabetic, had heart disease, and was generally unhealthy. Anyhow, I’m at the computer going over some admission questions with him and his 10 family members who are crowded in the room with him.
A few minutes in, he starts complaining that he’s thirsty. He needs something to drink right now. So I get on my phone and call the nurse assistant, and ask her to bring in some ice water. As soon as the words are out of my mouth the whole family screams: “NOOOO! NO WATER! HES ALLERGIC TO WATER!” Well, this is going to be a problem.
Turns out the guy had been drinking nothing but Sprite and sweet tea for years, because of his “water allergy”. The next question his wife had was “Where are we all supposed to sleep?” The whole family, 10 people, were planning to stay at the hospital with him. You can’t make this stuff up.
104. Like Something Out of a Movie
My aunt passed in the hospital several years ago. She was clinically gone for a few minutes.
In that time she says she floated above the operating table and saw them trying to revive her. She says she felt a pull on her and flew out through the very top of the room. She remembered very clearly floating above the light fixture on the ceiling and then there being darkness.
Suddenly she found herself floating above the ground several inches just above a field of dirt. In front of her was a very large chasm, deep, very dark, she couldn’t see the bottom of it from where she was. On the other side of the chasm was a beautiful field. Green grass, flowers, trees and sunlight. On her side of the chasm it was overcast and very little light, no vegetation, just brown dirt.
She felt the same force that pulled her out through the ceiling of the hospital start pulling her across the chasm. As she started floating over the chasm these hands reached out of the blackness and started pulling at her, almost like ripping the flesh from her legs and feet. She says it was the worst feeling of pain and cold she had ever experienced and it horrified her.
After what seemed like forever she reached the other side of the chasm and the hands went away. The feeling of pain and terror was replaced with a feeling of happiness and contentment and warmth. Several family members that had been deceased for some time were there and they seemed to be beckoning her over. She was going to the field when she heard the doctor say something. It sounded like it echoed very loudly from the other side of the chasm.
Suddenly that force pulled her across the chasm again only this time much faster than she had been pulled over the first time. Again the hands came and again the cold. The hands ripped at her and she felt the pain she had felt before. Finally she came to the dirt side of the chasm again. Then blackness. Then she was on the ceiling of her room in the hospital again and she saw her body spasm violently and her arm smacked the doctor’s arm, breaking his watch. Her spirit was pulled back into her body again and she heard him say something like “She’s back” and then blackness again.
Several hours later she woke up and she was ANGRY, at first. Then she realized she was alive and she thanked the doctor and apologized for breaking his watch. He was surprised because when she did that she was technically deceased.
I don’t know what she saw but she was very descriptive of what she thinks she saw.
This was very long ago and she’s now on the other side of that chasm due to lung cancer.
105. Don’t Open This Pickle Jar
One of my lecturers told us a story of when he worked in ED, there was a man who refused to acknowledge or tell them how a jar got stuck up his behind. They were taking him to the OR as it has created a vacuum seal and couldn’t be removed without shattering but realised his BSL (blood sugar level) was off the charts. Really, really high.
They were considering postponing the surgery to work out wtf was going on. When he ended up talking, he told them the jar was full of honey before it got lodged, and was rapidly absorbed, causing the insane levels. What.
106. What A Well-Mannered Fellow
I once woke up during surgery. Long story short, I am VERY tolerant to almost all anesthetics and they pumped a ton into me during the ER visit. But with all the problems I was in the emergency room for, I forgot to warn the surgery staff. I not only woke up, but I SAT up on the table and had a full-on conversation with the surgical team.
I have never seen six adults jump that high in my life. It freaked them out that I was that awake. Totally calm, I apologized for not warning them, thanked them since the pain was now gone, and asked if I could go home now. Problem was, they were not done. Luckily, they were mostly done and could finish with local anesthesia.
107. Always Look On The Bright Side
My four-year-old son had to stay at the hospital overnight for reasons I’ve forgotten. Somehow, it didn’t make it to his chart that he has ADHD and was taking Ritalin at the time. I leave and they don’t medicate him. He was mobile, wired, and unsupervised. When I came back, what they told me put me in an instant panic. They had LOST him.
He’d made it up several floors, flushed his pajama top down the toilet for…reasons. He then managed to find a very senile old man and climbed into bed with him. When they finally found him he was watching the guy’s TV and was eating his ice cream. They called me to come and get him early. The staff looked like they really needed a nap. My son, however, had had a glorious time.
He never did tell me why he flushed his pajamas, though.
108. And This Is Why We Wash Our Hands
Sometimes, surgeons are the ones in for an unpleasant surprise. My father is a physician and, although he’s not a surgeon, he did some surgery while in medical school. He told me a story about a patient he had once who had necrotizing fasciitis—a.k.a. a really nasty flesh-eating disease. I almost wish that he hadn’t told me this story. It’s like something out of a zombie film.
The patient had gotten a cut while gardening and never cleaned the wound properly. My dad told us that he had to peel back layers just to get at it. First, he peeled off the bandages that the patient had self-applied. Then there was a layer of holy book pages that he also had to peel off. Layer upon layer, bandage upon bandage.
Finally, beneath all that, was the wound itself. No amount of med school training could have prepared my father for what he saw. The wound was covered in maggots. Apparently, they were eating the dead tissue generated by the disease. He said that once they removed the maggots, they were able to begin the surgery to remove the infected areas.
Oddly enough, this patient had the maggots to thank for keeping his appendages intact. Because the maggots had eaten away the infected flesh, my dad and his team didn’t have to amputate the patient’s limb. After this operation, though, my dad decided to not pursue surgery and focus on becoming a specialist.
109. Got A Tell
I became a dad at 18 but broke up with my son’s mom two years later. Despite our problems, I stayed engaged in my son’s life. When he turned five, she went in for a hysterectomy. Then the day after the surgery, her mom called me asking me to go to the hospital. Apparently, she was “in a mood” and wouldn’t talk to anybody.
She thought that I could get her to talk, so I visited later that day. She just stared at me while I talked. After 20 minutes, I decided to give up and went for a hug. I noticed she was clenching her fist. At the time, I thought nothing of it and left. At home, I thought about how one-half of the brain controls speech. And that’s when I had a terrifying revelation.
I remembered her clenched fist and did some research online. I looked up strokes and quickly figured that was what was happening to her. I called the nurse at the hospital to tell her my realization and got to sleep thinking I’d done a good deed. Except in the morning, her mom called saying she was getting transferred.
Apparently, due to her history of depression, doctors assumed she was acting out. I talked to my boss and asked for a day off to go to the hospital. When I got there, everyone ignored me since I “wasn’t a family member,” so I sat with her for a little. Eventually, a doctor came to sign off on the final transport orders.
I was upset. When he asked me why I was crying, I told him that she’d obviously had a stroke, but no one could see it. He told me to leave the room, and two minutes later came out confirming that she did have a stroke.
Sources: 1, 2, 3 ,4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17,