It’s not a surprise that there are so many TV shows set at hospitals. Where else do people walk the line between life and death? Any nurse, doctor, or patient who has spent a chunk of time in a hospital will wind up having a treasure trove of ultra-dramatic stories about all the stuff they’ve witnessed—from unbelievable diagnoses to people who have had their dark secrets revealed. We may hope to never have to spend time in a hospital ourselves, but we’re more than willing to spend time reading these jaw-dropping stories shared by Redditors about their insane hospital experiences.
1. Talk To Me
I was a speech-language pathologist when I saw a person who had fallen 30 feet through a disused factory roof. They had skull fractures, multiple strokes, multiple organ trauma, multiple spinal fractures, and had a tracheotomy. I was there to assess speech and review eating and drinking. Reading their notes I imagined that there would be serious issues…to say the least.
They were able to eat and drink with only slight modifications. They could speak using a speaking valve and had no problems with understanding or finding words or unclear speech. They seemed slightly amused and bored by my assessment. They even took my notebook and pen and wrote “I can write too” in flawless handwriting.
I finished placement not long afterward, but they were expected to make a full recovery!
2. Helping out a Roommate
I worked on a ward once that had a patient who was a psychic/medium. We had a bit of a laugh with her as she was on the ward for a while because she’d had a stroke which affected her mobility, and she would do “readings” for the staff from time to time. I took it all as just a bit of fun until one chilling evening that I’ll never forget. She pressed her nurse call buzzer and told us to go check on a patient in a side room. She said he had passed.
We went to check and sure enough, found that the gentleman had passed. Later on, we asked our psychic patient how she had known, and she told us she had seen him coming out of his room obviously distressed. She realized he had passed and had to explain to him what had happened and help him to go to the light…Now, I am not a believer, but that gave me the creeps.
3. Gut Feeling
My husband is a doctor. One night, he came home with a surreal look on his face. He had been seeing a patient and noticed that although he was in his mid-20s, he didn’t seem to have gone through puberty. The patient didn’t mind his state too much but my husband believes that medicine should improve your life, not just keep it going.
So, on a shot-in-the-dark hunch, my husband sent him for an MRI. The patient had a previously benign and now malignant brain tumor suppressing the part of the brain that controls puberty. The test led to a very early brain tumor detection.
4. Thanks for Being There
I was working at night, and one of the patients passed while I was in the room. We tried everything to revive this person, but it didn’t work. So, after doing the papers and everything, I went to another place in the hospital, and I swear this patient who I saw die touched my right arm. I think that I have never cried that much in my life.
5. A Relief
I had a patient who was recently pregnant and was experiencing some minor bleeding. I did an ultrasound and saw a normal fetus but no heartbeat. I told her that it was likely due to pregnancy just being at an early stage. I checked her ovaries and told her that I could print a picture of the fetus. I moved the scan back to the fetus and there was a clear heartbeat.
During the minute or so that I was scanning the ovaries, the heart had started to beat.
6. Say Goodbye to Your Brother
My sister’s step-son was in a bad accident. We had gathered at the ICU before he passed, and I went in with my sister and her two kids. They fell apart seeing their brother in such a bad state. They had already made the decision to take him off life support. Now they were letting family in before he passed. My niece and nephew didn’t want to go to his side.
I brought them forward and told them this was the last time they would see him and the only chance to say good-bye. I was crying a little bit myself. I had to bring them up to his bedside. Later that night, after he passed, I was driving home, and as clear as if he were sitting right next to me, I heard him thank me. I told him he was welcome.
7. Right Place, Right Time
I’m a nurse, and this happened in the car park of the hospital where I work. A staff member got out of his car only for it to start rolling back. He reached in to pull the hand-brake. From where I was sitting, everything looked fine, but a few minutes later a lady walked by and starts screaming. Turns out he had been pinned half inside his car. He was unconscious and he wasn’t breathing.
A bunch of us managed to push his car back enough for people to pull him out. Luckily all this happened at a hospital so the crash team had already been called. They did CPR. He lived.
8. No More Shortcuts
I worked in a pediatric hospital and had always heard that the fourth-floor right outside our oncology unit was haunted. I never believed it—but I can’t forget that chilling night. I worked three twelve-hour shifts normally but would pick up over time and picked up a night shift. I was working in the NICU which happened to also be on the fourth floor but on the opposite side. The oncology unit had a staircase that was a short cut down to the cafeteria which was on the second floor.
At about 3 AM, I was ready to take a short break and wanted a cup of coffee from the cafeteria, so I decided to take that staircase. I walked through the automatic double doors and saw a small child skipping down the hall. Not wanting him to get in trouble, I called out to him as I was afraid a little kid had snuck out of a patient room.
As soon as I called out to him, he turned and, in the blink of an eye, totally vanished. A lot of other nurses and doctors had seen the same little kid skipping in that same hallway. Of course, I chalked it up to just exhaustion and didn’t really think about it much after that. But I for sure didn’t use that hallway at night ever again.
9. Free at Last
I have a somewhat rare condition called hemicrania continua which means I have a migraine headache on one side all the time. I have a stimulator implanted to interrupt the signals. It was an amazing thing to have it turned on after surgery and finally be headache free. I was lucky to live near the syndrome’s most respected doctor.
We walked in and he knew what was going on at once—but it still took five years to get approved for the implant.
10. Cup of Broken Water
I work in the ER. We had a very pregnant patient come in needing stitches in her nether regions. Turns out she was a realtor and didn’t want her water to break while she was showing a house, so she put a glass cup in her pants to catch the water. Instead of using a pad or an adult diaper, she went for a literal GLASS CUP.
She sat down while showing a house and sure enough, it broke and cut her up pretty bad.
11. Not Going Down That Easy
There is probably some medical explanation for this whole situation, but it’s still the weirdest thing I’ve seen as a nurse so far. We had a very robust, confused, elderly lady on our floor. Her room was in front of the nurses’ station so we could keep an eye on her and had one of our nurses’ aides as a sitter in her room too.
She was always fighting, kicking, and trying to get out of bed. The whole time she was there. She was very restless and agitated, which happens before the end just as some patients I’ve had before. One day, we were called into the room as her heart rate was going down, and she laid still with her eyes open. It was 30…20…then flatlined.
We checked for a pulse and did not find any. She was a DNR, so we did not attempt resuscitation. We closed her eyes, prepared to get the body bag, and finally, we called the family. The sitter remained in there to start getting the body ready for what would come next. Less than 10 minutes, later she calls us back in. The old lady is at it again.
She was hitting, kicking, and trying to get out of the bed again. She’d somehow came back to life! Honestly, we found the situation pretty hilarious because she had literally flatlined, and I still have never seen any patient come back like that on their own. I think she even made it out of the hospital too.
12. Nothing Like It
My mother was a GP in the middle of nowhere in southwest France. In the early 90s, she encountered her first case of HIV. With the medicine available at the time, they did not last long. Except one. He clearly had HIV but he never developed AIDS. He was one of the few, incredibly lucky people who are naturally immune.
13. Half-Diet Soda
I was working at a clinic. I was speaking with a non-controlled diabetic patient about her sugar intake and she said she drinks a 32 oz. soda every day. I ask her if it’s regular or diet, and she replies with “It’s half-regular. I let the ice melt first, so there isn’t as much sugar in it.” Sorry, but that isn’t how it works.
14. Tangled Up
During my residency, I worked in a unit that did a lot of urology. We had a series of regular patients with urethral strictures (narrowing of the urinary passage) and they used to visit from time to time to get their strictures dilated. These veterans would eventually learn how to catheterize themselves. One of the patients, a young boy of 14 whose original injury had been a pelvic fracture in a road traffic accident, came to the ER on a Saturday in considerable discomfort.
I was on call and asked him what happened. He said, “I passed this catheter in and I can’t get it out.” I quickly figured out why: he wasn’t using wasn’t really a conventional urinary catheter. He was using an infant feeding tube because the conventional catheters were too big for his narrow passage. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the catheter out either.
The catheter was fitting so snugly in the stricture that he couldn’t pass urine and his bladder had filled up like a balloon about to burst. We took him to the OR and did a suprapubic cystostomy (basically made an opening into the bladder from the abdomen). This relieved the pressure in the bladder. Next, we passed a scope down the SPC and found that the feeding tube that he had used as a catheter had gone into the bladder and got knotted around itself.
Every time we tugged on it, the knot was getting tighter. We had to cut it off below the knot to get the rest of the catheter out. It was a stressful day for everyone involved.
15. No Closed Doors
I used to work in a nursing home as both a CNA and an LPN, and while nothing too crazy happened, there were definitely things that happened out of the ordinary. I remember one time after someone had passed, I was cleaning up her body, and the door to the room swung wide open even though it had been firmly latched nobody was there. It gave me the creeps.
There were instances of furniture being moved, lights turning on and off by themselves, and toilets randomly flushing by themselves as well. I also remember I had one resident one night who asked me to make sure I closed the door to the closet that was at the end of her bed. She told me that when it was open, “that woman” kept going in and out of it all night, and it kept her awake.
16. Smuckers Jelly
Had a young woman with recurring urinary tract infections that began after a recent partner. She had no STDs and we went through the standard questions trying to figure out what could be causing them. We eventually found out that she had been lubricating with jelly. Not KY jelly. Like, Smucker’s. The mix-up had literally been a joke on the TV show House.
It took me some effort to keep a straight face, but we eventually resolved the problem and she stopped getting UTIs.
I saw a patient whose triglycerides were so high that they gave him pancreatitis. That’s already rare, but the really crazy thing was that when we drew blood, it actually separated. You could see a layer of fat in the vial.
18. It Isn’t Over
I did a rotation in a burn unit. A man lit a woman on fire, and she immediately bear-hugged him, causing them to both suffer pretty severe injuries. Unfortunately, hers included an inhalation burn. They both were being treated in the same ICU but on opposite ends. Weeks later, she ends up coding and passes away, and after about 30 minutes, as things start to quiet down, the guy starts screaming from his room, “Get her out! Get her out of my room!”
19. Let It Go
A lady comes screaming into the ER. Now, she’s all dressed up, and so are her two grown daughters. All of them screaming that their mother is going to die. I go by them and nearly get tackled by the husband of one of the daughters. “Save her, she’s having an embolism.” Shaken, I examine the lady, asked her where she was coming from—a wedding, that explained the dress.
She apparently ate a bit too much of the potatoes that were served at the wedding. A shot of pantoprazole later, her embolism is gone. She just had a bad case of gas.
20. Knuckle Cracking
At 3 AM on a Saturday, I was working in the emergency room of a trauma center. We heard that we were getting three people from a shoot-out—but nothing could prepare us for the carnage. The first person wheeled in…just didn’t seem to have a head. There was this bloody mass at the top of his neck but it didn’t look human.
I remember being so confused that we were using one of the bays for this person/body, who just could not still be alive. I was looking him over and I noticed his left thumb was calmly and repeatedly cracking the knuckles on his left hand. It would squeeze one finger and rhythmically work down the other four and start over.
He didn’t have any anatomy left that we could easily intubate and yet he was cracking his knuckles. I still can’t make sense of it. He didn’t stay alive much longer, maybe a couple of hours, but that knuckle cracking seemed like such a human thing to do for someone that had no reason to still be alive.
21. Following the Footsteps
My mom worked at a hospital in our town that shut down around 15 years ago. They were having a sort of farewell party with all the staff. She, my sister, and I took a walk around at the end to take a last look. We went to the fourth floor and were the only people up there, which was easy to tell since it was such a small hospital.
As we’re walking down the hallway, we heard footsteps that sounded like men’s dress shoes walking next to us, and it was louder and different than all our sneakers. When we stopped, the footsteps kept going down the hall. Once they got down the hall, the emergency light and alarm over the room started sounding. My mom went over and couldn’t turn it off because the system was disconnected/turned off.
I think she tried really hard to keep it together for us because all she said was, “Hmm that’s weird. This whole system is already off,” but I do remember us noping to the elevator right after that. When we got in the elevator, the button for the ground floor was pushed already, which is easy to explain away as some other kid pushing all the buttons, but still weird given the circumstances.
22. Bacon Wrap
We had a diabetic foot patient a couple of weeks ago who thought that wrapping his foot in raw bacon would help get rid of bacteria. He’d apparently been doing it a while, ‘cause it cost him four toes.
23. Taking Up Space
When I was an intern in the Emergency Room, a 30-something-year-old guy came in with simple URTI symptoms, essentially coughs and flulike stuff. However, the paramedics at triage found that the oxygen concentration in his blood was low and that there were some crepitations in his left lung. Pretty standard, early-stage pneumonia.
I didn’t like the sound of his crepitations, however. It was way too loud, but the patient was very comfortable so we sent him off to get some x-rays. I got my answer and the shock of my life when he came back. His left chest cavity was filled with bowels. The crepitations that I heard were bowel sounds.
The guy had no left lung, and his intestines had moved into the empty area. Judging from his comfort level and his own shock, we suspected it was congenital. We diagnosed him with a simple throat infection and sent him home after routine observation.
24. See You Soon
Back when I was a paramedic in Oakland, I was taking care of an elderly gentleman in the back of my ambulance. He looked up into the upper corner of the ambulance and said “It’s okay Lulu, I’ll be with you soon.” His daughter was with him and told me that Lulu was his wife who passed 20 years earlier. A few minutes later, he went into cardiac arrest and passed on.
25. Radical Cure
I had a pregnant woman whose ultrasound showed the baby had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. It means the baby has half a heart, and it’s 100% fatal without surgery. She stopped seeing her obstetrician so she could have the baby in the forest and bathe it in breast milk to cure him.
26. Baby Powerball
A co-worker’s son was born with hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy. Basically, the valve controlling blood flow to and from his mother while in utero failed, and he was born with 30% of the blood volume you’re supposed to have. The EEG came back showing massive anomalies—little dude wasn’t quite at the threshold of braindeath, but my co-worker and his wife were told in no uncertain terms that he would never live off a ventilator, and it was pretty unlikely he’d ever open his eyes.
The hospital persisted with treatment, though, and brought in a trauma team who worked on him for nearly a week, before three more weeks in the NICU trying to control the seizures and prop up his organ function. Fast forward to yesterday, when the little dude made an appearance at a house party we threw. He’s almost two and is neuro-typical.
He walked up our treacherous back staircase by himself and was talking up a storm in a language no one knows. He was a big fan of our cat. His entire trauma team came to his first birthday party, because none of them would believe it without seeing it. His entire brain basically regenerated and rewired itself after he was on the verge of living as a vegetable.
It’s the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever seen. Guy basically won the Powerball a couple of times in the first two weeks of his life.
27. The Silence
I’m a psychiatric nurse, and early in my career, I worked at a residential mental health facility. There was a resident I’ll call Marion Duchene. He was an elective mute, which simply means that he didn’t/wouldn’t/couldn’t talk, but there were no pathological findings as to why. He had actually spoken earlier in his life.
In fact, he seemed quite normal back then with the notable exception of being close to 7 feet tall. He’d been raised in the Deep South and went to boot camp when he was 19. He was stationed somewhere in the south. One night, he just vanished. It was declared an AWOL for years, and finally, he was declared missing and likely passed on.
10 years later, a 7-foot-tall man walked into a VA Hospital emergency room in my part of the Midwest. He said to the receptionist, “My name is Marion Duchene, and I’ve been dead for ten years.” Those were the last words he ever spoke. He was covered with dust and was wearing the same clothes he’d been reported to be wearing the night he vanished.
He was well-fed and in good health except for his refusal to speak. His social security number had not been used, and he had no identification on his person. They finally identified him, through fingerprints, I guess. When they finally tracked the family down, they notified them about his sudden reappearance.
The family wanted nothing to do with him and said they had already grieved their lost man and that whoever was claiming to be him simply could not be. They said he was a “haint” and a stand-in for their relative. They demanded not to be contacted again. So, Marion was left alone and sent to live where I would eventually work.
Marion paced all day every day, not frantically, but he’d just lumber up and down the halls and outside. He smiled all the time and would be moving his mouth in a way that indicated talking or muttering, but he was silent. He had an unnerving habit of throwing his head back with his mouth wide open as if he were laughing heartily.
The unnerving part was that not even a breath could be heard. If told to go to the dining room for a meal, he’d go and eat. But if nobody told him, he just kept pacing never indicating hunger. If offered, he’d smoke in an oddly formal way, almost delicately, if that makes sense. But he never seemed to crave doing it. The man wanted nothing. It was so unsettling, I still think about it.
There was nothing to do for this man. Many times, various medications were tried with him, but they did not affect him either positively or negatively. Occupational therapy did nothing because Marion would just grin, and unless he was told to stay put, he’d get up and start silently pacing the facility again.
When I talked to him, he appeared to listen, periodically throwing his head back in that laughter-mimicking way of his. On my last day at that job on my way to something better, the last thing I saw was Marion, pacing in the parking lot, throwing his head back to “laugh.” Later, I wondered if all along I’d been dealing with a ghost. All these years later, I still don’t know.
28. Home Sweet Home
My favorite ever story from a colleague: a patient comes in with abdominal pain. As part of the work up, he gets an abdominal X-ray, which shows the problem as clear as day. The colleague has then proceeded to remove, from the patient’s rectum, an 8-inch replica of Nelson’s Column, the statue in the center of Trafalgar Square in London. On showing it to the patient, his response was: “Oh that’s Nelson, he lives up there.” Like, what?
29. Ups and Downs
In the ER, we give an antibiotic called Rocephin to patients with UTIs. The only complication I’ve ever seen from it is vomiting if it’s pushed too fast. I had a patient transferred from our urgent care side who had walked in fairly healthy, but was complaining of UTI symptoms. They had tested his urine, diagnosed him with a UTI, given him Rocephin, and were planning on discharging him with oral antibiotics.
We still don’t know completely what happened, but this is our best guess. We think he had a gram-negative infection that reacted to the Rocephin by “lysing.” The bacteria essentially exploded and raced through his body, putting him into almost instant septic shock. He had to be intubated and put on blood pressure medications to keep his BP high enough to perfuse his organs.
His temperature skyrocketed A central line was placed because we kept running out of IVs to give medications. He was transferred to an ICU. I have never before visited a patient of mine in the ICU but because of his drastic decline, I had to see him and know how he was doing. I cleared it with the ICU charge and visited him two days later.
He was extubated and walking almost on his own. One of the fastest declines and recoveries I’ve ever seen.
30. Not a Stitch Left
One day, a patient had to go to the X-ray room, to which he would be taken in a wheelchair. About five minutes later, the notification from the patient’s room went off, my favorite work buddy and I went to the room. As we stepped in, we saw that the room was empty and the windows were closed. Empty. There was absolutely nothing and no one left.
The bed in which the patient lay was missing along with the patient himself who apparently did not go to the X-ray. We both told a fully examined nurse, and even she had no idea where the bed went. At the end, we had to fill the room with another bed. I’m still a nursing student, but this was the most paranormal thing I witnessed so far.
31. Shove It Up Your Nose
A mother of a toddler came into emergency. The kid had cruddy stuff coming out of his left nostril, and a lot of redness and swelling of only the left side of his nose and the adjacent cheek. Mom was sure he caught a sinus infection and just wanted some antibiotics. Now, I know some kids like shoving whatever will fit into their bodily orifices, and that this was more than likely given the one-sided nature of his condition. But Mom was insistent that he NEVER puts things in his nose.
It took some convincing, but I finally got her to let me take a look. Gave a squirt of midazolam in the good nostril to settle him, then dug with some tweezers through the crud until I pulled out a big ole button battery—like the kind they use in watches. It would’ve been burning his nose for a couple of days. Hopefully, he healed up well.
32. Missing Tooth
As a dentist, I’m used to seeing unerupted teeth still stuck in the bone, especially the third molars and canines. (We confirm tell which are unerupted by looking at x-rays). I was seeing this radiograph of a colleague’s patient who had a missing canine. We were expecting to find it stuck in the bone but… we couldn’t.
We thought maybe it was missing until we realized that it was impacted in a very strange place. It was just below the patient’s eye, lying horizontally.
33. Rock-a-Bye, Bye Baby
I’m a nurse in the labor and delivery/nursery wing. Mostly the spooky things are just call lights alarming from rooms that are completely empty. Sometimes it would coincide with the approximate time of the loss from another unit or be the anniversary of a fetal demise. However, my creepiest experience was with a button that’s pushed after a delivery and plays a lullaby over the PA system to announce a birth through the hospital.
One night, no one was even in the same room as the button, and the lullaby started playing. It did that twice, and then we unplugged the entire thing. It still went off once more that night and again a few days later despite being entirely disconnected. That was a few years ago, and no one ever heard it do that before or since.
34. Bad Diet
I had a patient who had a hard time getting pregnant. She finally conceived but miscarried. She has a procedure to clear the uterine lining so that she can try again, this time with medical help. We monitor her blood to ensure the pregnancy hormone is gone before beginning the new treatment. But she keeps coming back with high levels of hormone.
Docs are worried because she might have some retained placenta or pituitary disorder and this could be super bad for future fertility. We call her in for a conversation about the hormone levels not clearing up. After talking together about what might be wrong, they are going to go home and think about further tests. She says “I need to go. I have an appointment at the weight-loss center for an HCG shot.”
Turns out that she is on the HCG diet. HCG IS the pregnancy hormone. And this was after an hour of the docs saying “We don’t know why you have these constant high levels of HCG in your blood and we are worried.”
35. Fixing a Broken Heart
I saw a teenager have a heart attack. This jacked, athletic kid with eight-pack abs fell on the ground and started clutching his chest during basketball practice. Everyone in the pediatric ER thought it was a panic attack except for the adult ER resident who said: “I’ve seen hundreds of heart attacks. He’s having a heart attack. Don’t ask me why, but that’s what this looks like.” And that’s what it was.
He had an inborn anomaly where one of the coronary arteries coursed between the pulmonary artery and the aorta. During exercise, the aorta and pulmonary artery expand with the increased cardiac output and for whatever reason, that was the day that they squeezed a right coronary artery and caused a massive myocardial infarction.
It was bad news bears. The damage was so bad, the kid needed a heart transplant. He was transferred to a pediatric heart center. A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) was implanted because his heart function was so poor. A donor heart was found and as he was being prepared for surgery, his own heart decided to suddenly start working again. It turns out that hearts can heal after a massive heart attack (especially teenage hearts in athletic kids).
This was only discovered after the advent of the LVAD because prior to that, nobody would live long enough to recover. At the time, I think this kid was like one of the first ten pediatric patients to get an LVAD at that hospital. So the kid had to get his coronary artery re-implanted so that it wasn’t going to get squeezed like that again, but he got to keep his heart. I hear he recovered and returned to playing basketball.
36. Father-Son Disconnection
I’m an ICU nurse. A patient’s son rang the hospital at 11 PM on a Saturday night saying he was sure his dad was dying. His dad had had a severe stroke and was doing okay. Recovery would be difficult, but he wasn’t expected to die and was pretty stable at the time. I was looking after him, and he was a lot of work because of the stroke.
The son really wanted to come in even though it’s way past visiting hours, but y’know, I’ll bend the rules for a good cause. I figured, what the heck, it’s his Saturday night, come on in and sit with your dad. The patient passed about two minutes before the son walked in the door. It was like a switch was turned off.
He just passed. The last thing he said to me was, “Am I bothering anyone?” I told him of course not even though he had some very frustrating behavior because he would try to get up but couldn’t walk, so he’d fallen a lot. The son just started crying and screaming, “I knew it!” We were all a bit freaked out wondering how he knew.
37. Bigger Isn’t Always Better
An ER physician told me this one: a 16-year-old boy presented to the ER with extremely swollen and discolored genitals. Apparently, he has been using his mom’s insulin needles to draw blood out of his arm and inject it into his own genitals. He thought that adding blood would help increase his size. His penis had a terrible infection and he was hospitalized for a week or so.
38. Testing, Testing
When I was a patient care technician in the emergency department, I often worked closely with a specific doctor. She had a habit of thinking that there was always more to symptoms than there were, so no one ever took her seriously. She paid especially close attention to young patients and always ordered way more tests than the other physicians.
There was a 12-year-old boy whose parents brought him because he kept talking about how he hated himself, wanted to die, hated his parents and siblings and often thought of hurting them. Before this, he had no history of being mentally ill, but everything he described was typical for a depressed pre-teen. However, when the doctor spoke to him, he mentioned having frequent headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
The doc thought something more might be going on, so she got a CT on his brain. It turns out, the kid actually had an atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor (ATRT), which is INCREDIBLY rare, like less than 1% of childhood brain tumors kind of rare. It’s honestly amazing that the child lived long enough for the tumor to spread so far.
I will never forget that a doctor always looked further into things than people thought “necessary.” If it weren’t for that specific doctor being on, he’d be toast right now. Eventually, he will live a normal and long, healthy life.
39. Speaking of the Paranormal
We were on a night shift standing and sitting around the nurses’ station and talking about “weird” things that had happened. We talked about when one of the HCAs was in a ride room doing last offices and then the lights flicked on and off twice. We talked about the call bells that would start ringing by themselves.
Then some of us mentioned hearing a cough when there was no one there, and other creepy things like that, etc., etc. As we were talking, there was a pause in the conversation, and very clearly, we heard typing from the keyboard at the doctor’s desk, which was just around the corner from us. We all knew no one else was around.
Usually, the doctors would check in with us before sitting down just to say hello and to see if there were any jobs to do. I stepped and looked around the corner after hearing the keys being tapped only to see no one there! It was very freaky, and we had to change the conversations as we all felt too uncomfortable after that!
40. Annoying Family
An 80-year-old patient was declining with multiple diagnoses and three bedsores. The daughter was adamant that her father was kept on his strict “paleo” diet because that would “supercharge” his healing. She had a stack of diet books. He simply wasn’t getting enough nutrition to heal the ulcers. He didn’t like the diet at all. At some point, you kind of have to stop being polite, and just tell patients/ family members bluntly that you don’t have time for this and what you recommend, and they can do what they want and just document everything.
41. One in Seven Billion
I was born with a large tumor in my right thigh that caused my right femur to gradually die. My case wasn’t one in a million but one in 7 billion. Why? Being born with a tumor is very rare, about 0.3 in a million, plus it was vascular. It was very large and contained more than half my blood volume. Despite its size, it was not visible. There were no bulges or discoloration.
Eventually, after I saw literally more than a hundred doctors, one figured it out. So they set up a surgery to remove the tumor, but when I wake up, it turns out that before they got anywhere close to the tumor, I started hemorrhaging and lost more than half my blood volume instantaneously. I went into shock and I almost passed, at the age of 21.
It turns out that I have an extremely rare blood disorder where I can’t form clots of platelets—basically, my blood just gushes out uncontrollably. Surgery started to look like an impossibility. Less than two weeks after my 22nd birthday, I was told that had one year to live. I had two options: accept my lot in life and enjoy my year or risk everything to get a surgery with a 90% mortality rate.
I got the surgery, which was the first of its kind. Now I have a huge dent in my right thigh and permanent nerve damage, but still, it’s a miracle that I’m alive.
42. Who Called?
When I was a nursing student up on an ICU floor, I was hanging antibiotics in my patient’s room when I heard an audible “Hey.” I turn around, and there is no one else in the room. Mind you, my patient was intubated and sedated, so there’s no possible way it was them. It was a woman’s voice as well, so I thought it was my preceptor. I go back out to the nurses’ station, and I asked my preceptor if it was her in the room trying to catch my attention. She told me no. I’ve never seen someone’s eyes get so big.
Apparently, the room I was in has had the most paranormal sightings and activity out of all the rooms on the unit. Sightings like shadows sitting in the corner of the room, voices being heard, and curtains being flung violently across the railings. No one ever told me about this room prior to my preceptorship, so it just added to everyone’s beliefs it was really haunted.
43. We Didn’t Start the Fire
Not my story, rather, my colleague’s. A patient was admitted for anemia and a localized cancer was found. She was referred to surgery so that the cancerous cells could be removed. She started telling everyone that it was the doctors who had caused the cancer and that she was doing just fine before coming to the hospital. She lectured the surgeon and my colleague, who pleaded with her to get surgery, so that the cancer doesn’t advance, and yet she refused, saying she knew better and probably didn’t even have cancer…
44. Medical Mystery
My father is an anesthetist. I remember his one in a million (way more rare actually) thing happened when I was 13. During pre-op, the patient’s consultation showed no flags for anything major but then she had this horrible reaction to the medication. Her own skin started to split and peel away from her body in large chunks. Her own body was rejecting her skin.
The woman spent quite some time recovering. There was an investigation into the whole thing, but everything was done by the book and there was no reason for this to happen. The drug company was contacted and they had never heard or seen about this happening with any of the drugs. Turns out it was an allergic reaction but it was so rare that no one had seen it even the drug had been used for decades all over the world.
My father ended up writing a paper on it.
45. Nope, Not the Time
I am a nurse in a hospital, and my patient was a well-known card reader in town, which is not too unheard of in Louisiana. I had actually gone to her about 10 years prior, and she was eerily accurate. While caring for her for a few days, I walk into her room, and she is unresponsive. She had been very lethargic all day, but now she was out. Her daughter is at the bedside and is trying to wake her up.
I sternal rub her and inflict pain with no response and a very weak pulse. I call a rapid response. This woman then wakes up randomly and was full of energy within a 30-second span. She told me she had been. onthe other side and was watching me in the room the whole time. She knew exactly what happened. She said God told her it wasn’t her time and sent her back. She went home a couple days later, and she is still doing card readings. She’s in her late 80s.
46. Times’ A-Wastin’
I didn’t treat this patient, but I was on shift when this guy came in with chest pain. His EKG showed tombstone shapes, meaning he was in the middle of a cardiac episode. He told the emergency doctor, “I want a second opinion before going to the cath lab.” This EKG is unmistakable. The interventionalist had to come down to the emergency department to tell him he was having a heart attack.
47. A Curse
As a nurse, I worked with a patient with CCHS, also known as Ondine’s Curse. You know how you can generally breathe without even thinking about it? Well people with CCHS can’t do that. The most interesting part to me is the lore. According to French and German mythology, the nymph Ondine/Undine discovered that her husband had committed adultery. Because he had promised his every waking breath to her, she cursed him: so long as he was awake, he could breathe, but if he ever fell asleep he would stop breathing and die.
48. Going Through the Baby Blues
I’m a night shift nurse on a labor and delivery/postpartum unit. Everyone who works there has stories of it being haunted and whatnot, and some of it, I believe, comes from being all alone on a quiet unit. I was down there by myself taking care of 1 mom with her baby. The patient knew that it was just me and her down there.
Well probably around 2 AM, she put on her light, and when I walked in there, she asked, “did another mom come in and have a baby?” I said, “No? Why do you ask?” She looked really confused and said that she had woken up because she heard some loud banging, a baby crying, and mom crying coming from the next room. I told her that no one had come in tonight and we were still both the only ones there. Both of us were a little uneasy after that.
49. Bad Plans
ER nurse here, not a physician, but you may find this interesting. A young adult male presents with multiple abscesses on various parts of his body. He states he injected his boyfriend’s semen into himself, trying to get pregnant. He tells one of the APCs he should have gone with his original plan and tried on his dog first. Somehow, psych clears him.
He’s admitted to the floor and gets IV antibiotics. What.
50. Just Breathe
I was working as an EMT when we had to take a patient back home and set him up in an at-home hospital bed. Right as we get in the door, we hear the answering machine: “This is Dr. (whatever his last name is), I just looked at his stat CT and it shows he has a collapsed lung on his left side and a partially collapsed lung on his right. He needs to return to the hospital as soon as possible!”
I pick up the phone because his wife still hadn’t made a move towards the phone and I answer introducing myself as “Hi this is the EMT with EMS. We just dropped him off from his appointment, and we were about to leave until I heard this message.” I tell my partner to get us to the hospital in a speedy manor, but don’t hit the lights and sirens UNLESS I tell him otherwise.
What people don’t realize is when we hit those sirens, the patients in the back start to get more anxious, they breathe faster and in his case it may have exacerbated the problem. In the end, we got him there and he was treated. He’s doing well and is stable, but man, I had never experienced anything quite like that night.
51. Baby Talk
We had a little boy come by ambulance. His parents had put him to bed, and he was with a cold. It was nothing serious but tragically developed into more. He started fading in and out of consciousness. We had to do a rapid intubation, but it wasn’t enough. Unfortunately, he ended up passing away a few days later.
Before Mom and Dad made it to the hospital, he kept talking about his baby sister, Hannah. Not long after that, we had to perform life-saving measures. After losing him, I was distraught because I had a son similar in age and a daughter named Hannah. I thought that was the end of it, but I was so, so wrong.
Two years later, the same family comes in with a different sick infant and they re-introduce themselves to me. Their daughter’s name was Hanna. It startled me, and I recalled with clarity the boy speaking of his sister, who I assumed was alive and at home. Nope, she hadn’t even been conceived yet. Baby, thankfully, went home with her parents and is doing well, but I’ll never forget that—a little boy and his baby sister.
52. Teaching Moment
I had a patient who was a young child. She came in with an extremely high blood glucose level. Once she was stable we did some teaching and kept her for a few days for observation. For some reason, every time I checked her, her levels would be extremely high, although we were appropriately treating her. Turns out her family would bring her fast food for every meal and hide it in the side table.
53. Proof of Miracles
My brother suffered a traumatic brain injury while in a terrible car accident. His entire face was crushed and crumbled beneath his skin. His skull fractured in many places and he bled profusely. After he was stabilized enough for emergency surgery, which was already a miracle in itself, he had his entire face reconstructed, as well as metal plates placed throughout his skull. He registered the worst possible score on a scale that measures brain functionality after a traumatic brain injury.
At first, he couldn’t speak, and, after many weeks, he finally began speaking in word salad. Nonsense like, “triangle water.” He couldn’t identify the names of his family or his girlfriend. We almost lost him a few times. It was a rollercoaster. I would hold his hand and sing Beach Boys songs from our childhood while he was in an induced coma, and I could physically see the effect it would have on stabilizing him. That was like a miracle to me.
Flash forward a few years, he recovered to the point that he graduated with his master’s degree in IO Psychology. He can walk, talk, laugh, read, study and has recovered so much that most people will never know about the TBI he had a decade ago. When new doctors see his chart for the first time, they all say the same thing: that they have never, in their many years of experience, seen a patient with such grave injuries make such a significant recovery.
54. Warm Caretaker
My mom used to work as a night nurse in the burn unit at a hospital in Dallas. She told me that people would always talk about the burn unit and how it was apparently haunted. She wasn’t really sure whether or not to believe this until a little girl came into the unit with horrific burns. The little girl did not always have her parents stay the night with her, so my mom would try to check up on her pretty often when she worked.
One night, my mom asked the girl if she ever got scared at night. The little girl responded, “No. I don’t get scared because an old woman comes to read to me every single night and sits beside my bed while I fall asleep.” This shocked my mom because there were no older women working in the burn unit at night, and she would usually be the only person on duty during those times. It isn’t that scary, but she always recalls it being one of the craziest things that has ever happened as a healthcare worker.
55. Who’s the Idiot?
Picture a middle-aged man, but his index finger is five times the size of the rest of his fingers. It smells, it’s leaking pus, there’s necrotic tissue. Basically, one huge cancerous finger. He was a firm believer in not taking any sort of medication; including antibiotics or chemo. He passed a few weeks later, but he did manage to tell us we were all idiots before he passed on.
56. Rare Survivor
A friend was living in South America 15 years ago. He had a cut on his leg and went swimming in some relatively clean water that had been sitting for a few weeks (it was a small tiled pool filled with drinking water). Enter flesh-eating bacteria on his scrotum. He was the second known case and the doctors had no idea how to treat him.
They ended up cutting his scrotum open and scraping the bad cells off, leaving the wound open. Multiple times a day, nurses would clean the wound and pour sugar on it. Not too sure why, but it worked. He ended up living, and pictures of his bits are now floating around in medical journals as he was at the time the only survivor of this rare bacteria.
57. Don’t Let It Get Me
There was an old lady who insisted on being strapped down at night in her bed. She told my aunt who was her nurse that there was a dark figure that was trying to grab her and take her out of the room where she would die. My aunt and other nurses oblige, and for the next few nights, she would check on her, and it would look as though someone was trying to pull her from the bed randomly while she slept.
My aunt is then off, and whoever is this lady’s nurse does not strap her down at night. Nurses find the old lady passed on, laying on the floor by the door with her hand stretched out past the door and into the hallway.
58. Stinky Attitude
Not a doctor but a gastro nurse. We had a recurring patient who was just a really very strange lady. She had a stoma (an artificial opening into an organ needed for certain medical problems) that absolutely stunk to high heavens because, for the last 20 years, she had not been cleaning it properly. Every single day her stoma would come off, because she was twisting the drain tube and wouldn’t allow us to change it.
So this lady was really rude and would shout at us too, and one night shift I couldn’t take it anymore and I snapped at her. I didn’t yell, but I was overly stern about the fact that if she did not let me clean and treat her stoma then the MRSA bacterial infection that she wasn’t able to get rid of would eat her alive. In hindsight, I didn’t handle that very well, but she let me change the stoma.
Throughout this entire ordeal, she’s yelling at me that her stoma bags are not cut to fit her stoma, that they are too small because her stoma is “50cm by 50cm,” to which I corrected her, saying that’s impossible. She was adamant that’s how big her stoma was. When I was cleaning the stoma, she yelled at me because it was hurting, so she wanted to just pop the new one on.
I explained it was hurting because of infection, as she never cleans it. She proceeds to tell me that she knows better because she has had the stoma for nearly as long as I’ve been alive. I eventually ended up telling her to shut up and let me do my job, which seemed to work, and the stoma did not come off again that shift. When she was eventually discharged—she refused every placement in any nearby care facilities to the point where we almost considered a court order to evict her—one of our staff nearly cried with relief.
59. All Cleared Up
I’m an ultrasound tech and I did a third-trimester growth scan on a pregnant patient. The scan wasn’t needed, but she’d had a previous IUFD (baby passed in the womb—happens later than a regular miscarriage and is thankfully much rarer) and the doctors wanted to give her peace of mind that everything was ok. What I found was a baby with a belly full of fluid (hydrops).
That’s very, very bad. The fluid was surrounding all the abdominal organs and the heart. Our doctors sent the mother to a specialist and they gave the same diagnosis. Tragically, the baby was not expected to survive. The mother came back about two weeks later for a follow-up scan. My jaw dropped. The fluid around the baby was GONE. Totally normal scan. Normal looking baby.
If the office had not happened to schedule this woman’s ultrasound for that day, we would never have known it had been there in the first place. None of the doctors at my clinic have ever seen a case spontaneously resolve like that.
60. Meeting the New Patient
I worked in geriatrics for years, so most of our patients passed within a few years of being with us. I had a new patient move into one of the rooms in my hall that my previous patient had just passed in. My new patient kept calling at night saying that there was this woman who kept coming into her room and trying to talk to her.
At first, I just passed it off as her being in her 90s and struggling with dementia, so I assured her that I would lock her door at night to make sure no one could come in. After about a week of this continuing to happen, I sat down with her and was asking what this woman looked like thinking she may just be hallucinating her daughter or sister or something.
She proceeded to tell me that this women had a pink robe on with blue fuzzy slippers and her hair up in curlers, and the women would come in sit at the foot of her bed, pat the new patient’s feet and try to talk to her, but she couldn’t understand what she was saying. I almost peed myself. The patient that I had had in that room prior to my new one went to bed, EVERY NIGHT, in her pink house robe, blue slippers, and her hair in curlers. It stopped after about two weeks.
61. Who Needs That Money?
I was doing an examination on this guy who frequently (about once a month) gets admitted in the general ward with complaints of breathlessness. He’s had COPD for a couple of years. Quite bad. And he tells me that he isn’t going to quit smoking because God told him not to. When asked why, he tells me that the people who are relying on him for their daily livelihood won’t survive if he stopped. I went on to ask him if he meant the people at the toabacco companies or the health industry. He didn’t get the sarcasm though.
62. Miracle Mistake
It all started with a sudden severe pain in my abdomen. I had to crawl to my front door to yell for help. A neighbor rushed to take me to the hospital. I was given x-rays because the doctor suspected a burst appendix but instead, they found an ovarian cyst the size of a softball. The doctor wanted to consult the gynecologist but she was 30 minutes away, so they emailed her the x-rays.
She told the doctor that everything looked okay, but there was a picture missing. The technician had forgotten to take a picture of the ovary’s blood flow. The new x-ray showed an unknown fluid which the gynecologist thought was the leaking cyst. When she came to the hospital, she said my body would absorb the fluid, and I’d be fine.
I asked about the worst-case scenario. She said, “if the fluid isn’t cyst fluid, you might be hemorrhaging. If you go home and don’t come back in time, you will die. But that’s only the case if you feel shaky, weak, and nauseous.” I told her that I’d felt that way in the waiting room. Her eyes got wide and she said, “We’re going to do a laparoscopy.”
When I woke up I was in intensive care. Apparently, the moment the camera entered my abdomen, the cyst burst—except it wasn’t just the cyst. It was the whole ovary. I had been hemorrhaging all along. The next morning the gynecologist came into my room and the first thing she said to me was, if I hadn’t been on the operating table when the ovary burst, I would certainly have passed.
63. Student Shadowing
Student nurse here, I once had a patient say, “Do you ever feel the chill whenever you’re on the computer? Don’t worry. It’s just a nurse who worked here a long, long time ago. She doesn’t understand your technology, so she’s trying to learn.” I always felt like someone was looking over my shoulder when I used the computer, so this freaked me out.
64. Alternative Doesn’t Mean Better
The patient comes to the surgery clinic with complaints of a mass in his rectum. I wasn’t there the first time he came. The surgeon wanted to do a couple of investigations and advised him to get admitted. The guy decided he doesn’t want to. A couple of months later, he comes back to the clinic. Apparently, he went to one of these alternative medicine places or whatever, and they had tied this metal wire—not exactly sure why—around the mass. By then, this mass had eroded through it, was bleeding, and had gotten much bigger. It turned out to be a cancerous growth.
65. Plug the Hole
I was an intern on the trauma service. A young lady had been in a horrible car accident. She was crashing and a last-ditch thoracotomy was performed. It turns out the accident was violent enough to rip a hole in her heart. The fourth-year resident recognized this immediate and stuck his finger in, literally plugging the hole.
He straddles her with his finger still in her heart and she’s taken immediately to surgery. He is literally prepped in with her until someone else can get scrubbed to plug the hole. He then scrubbed in and fixed it. She walked out of the hospital on her own less than a week later. It is the single most tough thing I’ve ever witnessed.
66. Scanning the Scene
I was working transport in the hospital, and I got a call to take a patient to the sonogram wing. Keep in mind, it’s 2 AM, and the patient I’m taking has pretty advanced dementia, so I couldn’t really make any conversation. Plus, the sonogram wing is down this long hallway away from the main part of the hospital. So, while this patient is getting her ultrasound it’s just me, the patient, and the sonogram technician.
The sonogram technician and I are making conversation about how creepy hospitals are at night, and I’m telling her about weird noises I hear that I assume are just the tube system. And I ask her about her end of the hospital since it’s so secluded. And she says, “Yeah, sometimes people can hear a young girl laughing or a dog barking. But otherwise, nothing major.”
About 15-20 minutes go by with nothing, the patient is sleeping, and then I hear it. The dog barking. And I look at the sonogram tech, and she hears it too. Then the patient’s eyes shoot wide open, and she starts to sit up, and she goes, “You have to let her out.” Keep in mind, this woman has not formed a coherent sentence since I’ve seen her.
Of course, I did the obvious thing and said, “What?” And she goes, “That little girl in the corner. Is that your daughter?” And then she starts mumbling and goes back to sleep. The sonogram technician cleaned up her stuff and noped out as did I, and we never spoke of it again. Nothing else has happened since, but I still wonder about that patient and how she’s doing these days.
67. Let the Doctor See You Now
I was a unit secretary and nurse aide on a radiation oncology unit in the early 2000s. We had a patient show up through the ER who was admitted for emergency radiation treatment. She had a fungating mass in her mouth that had consumed half her head. When the doctor tried to examine her and open her mouth, her remaining teeth fell out into his hand.
It had eaten through the bones of her face, invaded her eye socket, everything. Doc said it was the worst case of mouth cancer he’d seen. According to her husband, she had a small lesion on her hard palate (the top of her mouth). Upon receiving the diagnosis of an early stage squamous cell carcinoma, she decided to treat with essential oils and things like frankincense, because chemo was poison. Her husband said he had tried to reason with her, but she was adamant about the “natural” treatment. She passed in agony shortly after.
68. Drinking Hurts
When my grandpa went camping, his stomach started to hurt. (Being him, he only really cared when it hurt so bad that he couldn’t drink beer.) My grandma drove him to the hospital where they discovered that he had severe colon cancer and a burst appendix. The weirdest part: the cancer growth had essentially held his burst appendix “shut” up until that point.
He had been tested for colon cancer multiple times and it had all came back negative, and without his appendix bursting it would have likely gone unnoticed until it was terminal. He survived the surgery and beat the colon cancer within the next two years.
69. That’s Really Not My Preference
I had a six-year-old patient who fell from a tree and had a significant head injury. She didn’t respond to voice commands or painful stimuli, but she was having a conversation with someone. The only part that I could clearly hear was when she said, “Well I know, but I don’t WANT to be gone.” She then went unresponsive.
Fortunately, the neurosurgeon was there. He hurriedly told us that we’d have to get her in the OR in time and take care of her epidural bleed as soon as possible. She survived with mild deficits and came to see us after being discharged. She didn’t remember having the “conversation” or any conversation at all.
70. Positively Priceless
Not a doctor but am a medical technologist. There are plenty of dumb patient moments but this one was recent. I did a fingerstick blood test for a patient, ensured the little cut stopped bleeding, and then put a Band-Aid on it. Told her to collect a urine sample for testing. Test came back strongly positive (4+ reading) for blood.
She complained to the doctor that there is NO WAY she has blood in her urine, and that the blood from her fingerstick must have entered the urine, throwing off her reading. She said it was my fault that I did her blood test before her urine test, and I obviously made a mistake. She repeated the test later in the afternoon, still at 4+. Came back a week later, still at 4+. The look on her face when I told her “sorry, ma’am, your result is still positive” was priceless.
71. Two of Hearts
Heart Transplant RN here. We had THE only patient in the world that this has happened to. Back in the 90s, I did a particular kind of heart transplant where you implant a donor heart NEXT to the native heart instead of replacing it. Later on, this man came back because the extra heart was failing. He’s a young guy with kids so we did all we could but we didn’t really have an end game strategy because most of these patients don’t make it this far anyway.
The surgeons then brainstorm and decide to implant a total artificial heart. So they implant the TAH, and sew shut the donor heart from the 90s (which has to stay in his chest as it’s scarred on to his lung). He recovers from that surgery, and then finally gets a second heart transplant (with a kidney). So, this man now has two donor hearts in his chest (one not working).
He’s recovered and gone home.
72. All Things Terrible
I was working as an RN and there was a long-term elderly patient who was extremely difficult, and none of the staff’s efforts were good enough. According to those who knew her, that was just how she was. Her daughter was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and became a patient on the same floor as her mother.
I had worked with people at end of their lives dozens of times and was well versed in providing comfort care. No matter what medication we gave, how much emotional support we provided, or any and every holistic intervention we came up with, she was persistently agitated. I finally decided to ask her what was wrong—her response sent a chill down my spine.
She said, “…I know where I’m going. I’ve been a horrible person to everyone. I’m definitely not going to heaven.” The look of fear on her face was like nothing I’ve seen before. We were able to manage her physical pain, but I don’t know that we were ever able to manage her emotional distress. It was heartbreaking.
73. Nasal Problems
A 70-year-old female tripped and fell two days ago. She came in with hip pain but reported after the fall her nose was bleeding—she had landed on her nose. About a year prior her dentist had messed up an infraorbital nerve block and caused some swelling in that region, but that all was resolved. This old lady became convinced the nosebleed she got after falling on her face was related to an “infection” from the dental issue a year ago. After multiple back-and-forths on the source of the nosebleed, she became the first patient I raised my voice and put down an authoritative “No, you are wrong, just stop it.”
74. Painful Reaction
It started with a standard allergic reaction to an antibiotic: hives, swelling of tongue and throat, difficulty breathing. I panicked and went to the hospital. When I got there, they gave me a shot. Now, I handle pain and take shots quite well but hear me when I say, “it hurt.” I started cussing a blue streak. I thought the nurse broke the needle off in my butt (where the shot was administered), it hurt so badly.
Then it felt like someone was turning up the volume on the pain. The intensity went up and up and, every time I thought I had a handle on it, it just got worse. I jumped off the table and even started hopping from one foot to the other in some sort of comical “make the pain stop” dance. The terrified nurse went to get a doctor who told me I was having a rare reaction to the shot.
So rare, in fact, they had only read about it and most doctors never see it. The pain lasted for two weeks at varying levels. I will still get that shot if I ever need it but that pain makes passing look tempting.
75. And I Mean It!
I used to work in an old nursing home. There was a patient I had who was just a mean guy. He was actively dying when I went in to give him some comfort medication. He was non-responsive at this time and had be for a while. All of a sudden, he sat straight up and pointed behind me and said, “Tell him I am not going with him. I am not going with him!” Then he laid back down and went to sleep. Found out later, he passed two days later while it was my weekend off. When I think about, it still gives me chills.
76. Clean Living
I’m a nurse who worked in the operating room at a trauma center. I was there for a surgery on a 19-year-old who had tested positive for illegal substances. He was grilling the anesthesiologist about every medication we were going to use in surgery because “he doesn’t like putting chemicals in his body.” Gotta stick with that organic, fair trade, Non-GMO white powder.
77. Never Before Seen
ER nurse here. One of my veteran docs, who is a former Army doc, and I were caring for a patient found face down in, and I’m quoting the paramedics, “thick, nasty goop” outside his home. Medics intubated on scene and when he arrived we found he was having signs and symptoms of increased intracranial pressure (ICP from here out).
Neurosurgery came down and walked with us to CT scan, looked at the images, and had me run back to prep a crash room for an emergent ventriculostomy. The procedure went textbook but we still couldn’t get his ICP under control. As we’re getting ready to get him into the ICU I attempted to clean him up and get some of his airway cleared of the aforementioned goop.
My suction device suddenly stopped working. When I examined it, I made a chilling discovery. I saw a pair of maggots. I yelled for the ER doc. Later on, he told me, “I’ve seen horrible stuff. I’ve seen war injuries. I tell you that to give you context for my next statement. The tunnel wound in our maggot-in-the-mouth patient was full of flies and maggots. The tunnel went all the way to his brain through one of his sinuses. I’ve never, ever, seen stuff like that.”
78. Life’s Final Stages
I knew the story of the man in the tall black hat. I’d just never seen him personally. I was reporting to a nurse about my recommendation for a diet and swallowing precautions I wanted for a patient who was nearing their end of their life. We were discussing how the patient wouldn’t likely make it more than a few days and had already been chattering to me about “the small kids at the end of the bed” and the “tall man.”
I was facing the nurse with my back to the hallway I had just come from, and she was looking over my shoulder. I felt a tap on my shoulder and saw a glimpse of darkness out of the corner of my eye. The nurse just grinned at me as I whipped around where I saw only an empty hallway. She said, “You just saw him too, didn’t you?” The patient passed 12 hours later.
I have to be honest. It’s not the tall man with the hat that freaks me out. It’s not the kids. It’s not the fact that the 100-year-old patients tend to congregate around the room of the next upcoming one to pass. Those are all informative and help me know when to call family in. The thing that freaks me out so much is the fact that they all see the same thing.
Regardless of their health, reason of passing, whatever, if their march toward the end of life is slow enough to see it in stages, they all talk about the same things that they see. Family members long passed calling out to them, the small kids standing unobtrusive at the edge of the room, in broad daylight mind you, and the tall man with the hat. It’s so consistent you can almost set a clock by it. Ask any nurse. They are made of steel and iron, but they all know the signs the other patients give off when someone is about to pass.
79. Probably Never Heard of it
I was a fourth-year med student seeing patients on clinical rotations. The patient comes in with a laundry list of chronic conditions he suffers from—fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc. Guy is wearing over-the-counter braces on all of his fingers and both thumbs, as well as both wrists, forearms, knees, and shins, because of a rare bone disorder he has.
When I say I’ve never heard of it, he says, “Well that doesn’t surprise me, doctors go to med school to learn how to prescribe drugs and make money, not heal people.” Alright. He tells me that he suffers from a rare condition that I’ve probably never even heard of called myalgic encephalomyelitis. True, I’ve never heard of it. Again: “that’s because doctors don’t care about educating themselves about sickness and healing, they just care about giving patients drugs and getting money from big pharma.” Ok.
I don’t have a vested interest in this patient thinking I’m smart, so it doesn’t really get to me. He continues “educating” me throughout the appointment, and I just make conversation with him, the third time he tells me about how all doctors just go to med school so they can put all their patients on drugs I just say, “Well, lucky for you, pharmacology was my weakest subject!”
That actually gets a laugh out of him, and I listen to his explanations of all of his rare conditions and disorders. The appointment ends, and he leaves. I look up myalgic encephalomyelitis. It’s the British term for chronic fatigue syndrome, which the patient also had. He has a weekly standing appointment with my teacher, which is the only thing that keeps him from visiting the local ER every day, sometimes multiple times a day.
His diagnosis is something like hypochondira, although he would tell you it’s 800 other things you’ve obviously never heard of. He swears that my teacher is the only honest doctor in the country, because he basically just has him come in once a week and talk about all of his various sicknesses for 20 minutes, after which the patent returns home feeling validated.
The ER docs love my teacher for sparing them. The patient is mentally ill, so I’m not insulted by him or anything, but you’d be surprised how many people come to the doctor to be treated for something, all the while telling the doctor how horrible they are and why all doctors are evil puppets of big pharma. It’s like when I worked fast food and people would say “Every time I come here you guys screw up,” and I’d just think, then why do you keep coming here?!
80. Luck of the Draw
Just over four years ago my dad was driving to work in peak hour traffic when he had a heart attack. He sideswiped a few cars, ran a red light, and hit the traffic lights. One of the cars he sideswiped was a paramedic on her way to work. She pulled him out of the car and found him unresponsive. She couldn’t find a pulse, so she started CPR.
People were all over the place trying to help and divert traffic and out of nowhere comes a fire and rescue department car with two trainer firefighters who were on their way to some training event. They had a freaking defib in their car! It took another 10 minutes or so for the paramedics to arrive. My dad was in a coma for almost two weeks before they could bring him out.
He had heart surgery a couple of times, and the sucker still lives on even though he should be toast.
81. Didn’t Have to Point That Out
I was a CNA working an overnight shift at an assisted living facility. It was a pretty relaxing gig, just help people with the toilet, pass medication, and had stuff to do every hour. My co-worker radioed me about a noise complaint. I look at the clock. It’s the witching hour. Someone is probably sundowning. I’ll get them to bed.
I get in the elevator and head to the fourth floor. As I approach the second floor, I hear it. The banging and screeching. Fourth floor, door opens up. A 70-pound, 100-year-old woman is just making the most ear-piercing banshee wailing sounds and thrashing her walker around. I very gently start guiding and re-directing her back to her apartment. The entire time she is just flailing and howling.
Halfway down the hallway, she suddenly goes quiet. She turns around and lifts a shaking bony finger at me. “There is a man behind you.” Then I mess my pants and essentially carry her back to her room as she resumes her flailing and screeching. I take her to the bathroom. Clean her up. Get her to bed. All as fast as I can.
82. What Do Nurses Know?
Not an MD, I’m an RN that works with oncology (cancer) patients, some of which are on clinical trials. I got a patient and, before starting his chemotherapy, reviewed some of his lab work with him. I told him his glucose level was 73. Normal range is usually between 70-100. He got really upset at this point, so I asked him, “What’s wrong? Your labs are within range!”
And he said, “I need it to be zero.” I said, “what? Why would you want your glucose to be zero?” He said he’s trying to meet requirements for a new clinical trial that requires his glucose to be zero. I told him, “I don’t know what clinical trial you’re trying to get into, but if your blood glucose was zero, you’d be in a coma.” He was not convinced because I’m “just a nurse,” so I sent a message to his doctor asking them to educate their patients better.
83. One Heck of a DIY
About 20 years ago, a boy hit his head skateboarding. He was initially okay, but then lost consciousness. The ER doctor realized he had a brain bleed, and the pressure had to be released, or the kid would die. Problem was, this all happened in a small country hospital. The ER doctor was not a neurosurgeon, had never done brain surgery, and the kid had to have the surgery RIGHT NOW or he would die.
The hospital was also not equipped for such surgery. The doctor rang a neurosurgeon in Melbourne, put him on the loudspeaker, and knew he had to drill into the skull to relieve the pressure. But there was no equipment…So he got the drill from the maintenance closet. Like, a hardware drill from Bunnings.
Sterilized it, and with the verbal instructions from the neurosurgeon, drilled a hole in the kid’s skull to relieve the pressure. He had to do it in exactly the correct spot, and if he went too far, the kid would’ve passed anyway. He succeeded. The kid was taken by helicopter to Melbourne once he was stable enough. I don’t know what happened after that, but as far as I know, he survived with no long term complications.
84. Delivering a Message
My aunt used to work as a labor and delivery nurse, and once, she was working a shift where the woman she was assisting in childbirth had lost her grandmother not long before her labor. However, they were not close as they had never met. But then something happened in the middle of the frantic moaning and crying during delivery.
The woman suddenly looked to a corner of the room breathing heavily and sweating. The only thing there was an empty chair. Nobody was there. She started talking to the corner seeming to respond to questions and generally just having a full-blown conversation with whom seemed, to my aunt and the other nurses, was just herself.
My aunt and the other nurses thought she was just delirious and tried to just soothe her through and ignore her. The woman’s husband and her mother would try and calm her down and say, “there’s no one there,” but she would continue talking to the corner. When she was out of labor and they gave her the baby to hold, her mother and boyfriend were there.
She turned to her mom and smiled and asked, “Did you hear her earlier? Is your new life everything you imagined it would be? An adventure?” The mother was shocked. Apparently when the mother immigrated from China, she left her family behind. Her mother passed soon after, but her last words exact same words her daughter just said.
85. Toxic Food Poisoning
When I was a neurology med student at UCLA, we had a patient brought in from LAX airport, who’d collapsed on a transpacific flight from Japan. He essentially stopped breathing and wasn’t moving his arms and legs. We did a massive work up with MRI and CAT scans of the brain and spine, blood work, spinal taps, etc etc. Nothing looked wrong, but he remained unable to move, breathe, or do anything.
Finally, after a week in the hospital, we found the cause: he’d brought a bento box on the flight of sashimi made from fugu, aka blowfish. The chef that had prepped it obviously had done a bad job, and the fish’s poison, a potent paralytic, had tainted the sashimi and slowly paralyzed the patient after he ate it on the flight.
He luckily hadn’t suffocated before the flight touched down and the waiting paramedics could intubate him and bring him to the hospital.
86. Dumb Doctor
I’m a physical therapist and vestibular (inner ear/balance) specialist here, with a dumb physician story. I had a patient come in with unmistakable signs of BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), a condition where the salt crystals that fall on hair cells in your ears to tell you which way is down and which direction(s) you are accelerating in get stuck.
When this happens, your ears and eyes disagree about your current position and acceleration and you get really dizzy. She went to an urgent care where the doctor told her that she had BPPV. For treatment, he told her to go home, lay with her head hanging off the bed, and just let her husband (a retired accountant) shake her head around for five minutes.
Imagine being on the most intense rollercoaster you’ve ever been on, feeling like you’re going to throw up, and then having someone who has no medical training shake your head around for five minutes. She spent the next two days throwing up before she could get in to see me. For reference, there is a very specific set of motions, pre-care, and post-care that must be given in order to appropriately treat BPPV, and sometimes when you do it right your patient will still need to throw up once after you’re done.
87. Before His Time
I am an occupational therapist working with babies and toddlers. I had a very, very premature child as a patient, like 24 weeks old at birth. Somehow he made it without residual deficits. No tone abnormalities, no torticollis, no CP, no visual deficits, no swallowing troubles. His head is perfectly round. He just started walking last week. His social interactions are wonderful.
This is beyond belief.
88. Playing Broken Telephone
I used to work at an old hospital. The unit this happened in was in the oldest part of the hospital. It was getting dark, and there weren’t that many people on the unit that day. I was sitting at the nurses’ station charting, but I could see my block of rooms from where I was sitting. I saw the call light turn on above the corner room, which was one of the “haunted” rooms. My aide was by the call light phone, so he answered it, and the patient said they needed the nurse.
We both went to the room. I was able to see the room the whole time, but no one was in there, and it was totally dark. We were standing outside of the room talking about it because the aide swore someone answered and said they needed the nurses when the patient came walking up the hallway from the common room. I asked her if she had called for me and she, said she had over an hour ago but decided to go for a walk. I went back into the room to check the call bell, but it was broken.
89. Great Odds
My mother was a nurse in Los Angeles during the craziness of the 90s. Apparently, it was not uncommon for a victim to be brought in with the guy who shot him, only there to threaten to shoot up the ER if they saved him. They essentially had to keep operating while the law enforcement and hospital security tried to stop a shooting from happening IN the emergency room. Fun times.
This one time, a guy came in from a construction site. He had fallen like 40 feet and landed on exposed concrete rebar. He was impaled by FOUR bars, each of which went clean through his back, through his chest, and out the front of him. He was brought in, in shock, still on the piece of concrete (they cut the wall and brought the entire thing with the dude and all into the ER).
She thought he was a goner for sure. Turns out, ALL FOUR BARS went through his chest, and NONE of them hit a major artery or organ. They removed the bars, stitched him up (internally and externally) and kept him pumped full of antibiotics for a week or so while everything healed. She says to this day, that was the most unexplainable thing she ever saw.
90. Can’t Control Everything
I had a patient with a Hemoglobin A1C (a blood test for diabetes) result of 13, which is high. This guy believed that he could control his liver’s production of glucose with his mind. He believed himself to be very fit and active and felt that with his mental control he was a better athlete than most other people, because he could ramp up his glucose production when he needed to. He was in the hospital for a diabetic foot ulcer that required part of his foot to be removed.
91. Point Blank
My dad works in an emergency room. He once had someone come in who was shot point-blank in the head. They gave him a ton of antibiotics, and the surgeons were able to remove the bullet and skull fragments from his brain. He walked out later that week.
92. Cold, Burning Presence
I’m a hospital doctor in Colorado, and when I was working overnights, I got a page that an old lady with dementia was flipping out. The lady said someone was in her room watching her around 2 AM. I got this page 3 or 4 times, and we decided to move her to a new room for other staffing issues. We moved over an elderly man to the room.
1 hour later, boom, it was the same thing. He didn’t have any cognitive impairments, but he said someone was in the room watching him and the room was cold. I called bull and went to check it out. I walked in, got this eerie feeling someone was watching me, and it was so cold that I could see my breath. I got out, moved the patient, and left the room empty.
At the same hospital, there was a big burn unit. People within a 5-state radius would be flown to the hospital. There was a Native American man that had a room for several months. Around 75% body surface area was burned. Keep in mind, every single day they are washing these burns out and going to surgery every few days to debride.
This guy eventually passes after months of this. Shortly after, weird electrical things started happening in there of which I personally witnessed. The lights would turn on and off, the TV would suddenly be on at full volume and won’t turn off, the phone would ring and then it would be static on the other end.
The RNs would literally walk in the room, say his name, and then, “cut it out” or “stop,” and I kid you not, whatever was happening would stop. Every single patient in that room for months after talked about seeing a Native American man. It got so bad that the hospital administrators legit called in a Native American shaman from his tribe to “cleanse” the room. There was a ceremony and everything. After that, it never happened again.
93. He’s Back!
Guy came in about 10 minutes away from passing on. He had been run over by a car. By the time we prepped him, he had passed. But per the doctor’s moral code, we tried to save him anyway. After hours of constant work, we gave up. We declared him the time and were packing up when he woke up. Like some horror movie type stuff. He just sat up straight and inhaled loudly.
It still gives me goosebumps.
94. DIY Plastic Surgery
A male patient injected kitchen oil into his own cheeks because he saw a plastic surgery TV show where a surgeon injected something similar to a model. He was amazed that the bumps of the oil didn’t go away, and were turning red and painful.
95. Breathing Problems
I work at a trauma center, so I see a lot of crazy stuff. People surviving stabbings, gunshot wounds to the head, a freeway collapsing on someone during construction. But one case will forever stick in my mind. I got called down to the ER to help a woman who had a splintered piece of wood in her airway. Apparently, the little old lady lost control of her car and ran off the road into the side of a house.
She ran into a wooden porch that was positioned almost exactly at the level of her nose. So I approach the lady to see what we’re working with for an airway and she legit has a chunk of wood that has smashed her nose and is sitting right between her eyes. Thing must have been three inches wide, god knows how long, and about 1 inch from top to bottom. About four inches of board is sticking out of her face.
My immediate instinct is to say “holy smoke.” Fortunately, I didn’t because it turned out the woman was conscious at that moment. I intubated her, she went off to the scanner, and then to the OR. Last I heard, after a series of reconstructive surgeries she was doing pretty well. I occasionally think back to that moment and just wonder how the heck that woman was alive.
96. Guy Got Lucky
Guy falls drunk down a flight of stairs and wakes the next morning and goes to the ER. Considering the circumstances, everything seems fine—but then he starts having trouble breathing. At this point, we find air in his abdomen and take him to surgery. While in surgery, we get the x-rays back and it turns out he has a broken neck.
What? But we still have to find out where that air in his belly came from. Turns out, when he had been intubated, they had accidentally intubated his esophagus, pushing air into his stomach instead of his lungs. Even worse, they’d been so vigorous that they’d punctured his throat with tons of little holes. They were too small to stitch so all we could do was feed him directly into his stomach and let the neurosurgeons fix his neck as best they could.
When they opened up his neck, they found the real reason for his difficult breathing: a ton of blood in front of his broken neck was compressing his airway. With the plates in place, all we could do was hope that he wasn’t paralyzed and that the perforations in his throat hadn’t afflicted his vital organs. He wakes up, not paralyzed. He went on to totally recover.
97. Accidents Happen
One night, I was at my job (I’m an EMT) when we got called to a traffic accident. When we got there, there was a guy hanging naked from a branch nine feet in the air with a pool of blood below him. Apparently, he lost control of his car, it started spinning and eventually hit a barrier before coming to a sudden stop. Due to the centrifugal motion of the car and the fact that he wasn’t wearing a seat belt, he came flying out of the back window, landed on top of the tree, and kept falling downwards losing clothes on his way out.
So we get him down, put him on a stretcher and sent him to a hospital. At the time, there were no vital signs so we didn’t have high hopes but somehow he survived. He comes and visits us at the station every now and then.
98. Oh, Worm?
I inserted a urinary catheter to a female patient. She complains of pain in her bladder. Turns out it was distended and there was no drainage in the catheter. When we pulled the catheter out, we found out why: a worm had gotten stuck inside the tube. HOW THE HECK DID THE WORM ENTER THE BLADDER?
I work as an ER nurse and had a patient with a little dizziness, a little nausea, and a swollen abdomen. She was fairly bright, able to talk, and nothing seemed too horrific. But she was turning a grim gray color and breathing quickly. Our average wait time today was two hours. I could have put her back in the queue and moved on.
But I had a little dark feeling that there was something sinister happening here. So I called our most senior doctor out of a consultation and asked him to see her. Right now. Ever heard of your abdominal aorta? Enormous blood vessel that can pouch out, suddenly rupture, and cause you to pass within minutes?
It’s called a burst AAA (abdominal aortic aneurysm). You’ve heard of it now. That’s what she had. I’ve never seen one before. But now I have. Within five minutes, she was barely responding. Within ten, her blood pressure had dropped to a barely sustainable level. Within twenty minutes, I was pouring blood into her and eight people were around the bed.
Within an hour, she was on an operating table clinging to life. But because I raised the alarm, and because my team worked their butts off, that woman is still, somehow, alive. Feels good, man.
100. Not Too Sick to Not Have Feelings
I work at a hospital, so does my mother. We had a forty-three-year-old woman who had a very rare form of cancer that spread incredibly fast to just about everywhere in her body. From diagnosis to passing was about twelve weeks. The medications and therapies and the general lack of mobility caused her to become swollen and obese.
She was a terribly sweet lady. They took her down to Radiology for a scan and the technician made a bunch of really mean comments about her weight because she was too large for our machines. They had to arrange for a transfer to another hospital for her scans and then have her transferred back. The technician thought that because Miss Jeannie was dying and sick that she was deaf or didn’t understand English any longer, and so while they were alone, she made so many mean comments.
Miss Jeannie waited until she was back in her room waiting for her transfer before, she started crying. I’ll never understand people who feel the need to make others feel less than or badly.
101. That’s No Scratch
I’m a nurse, but I was working in the ER when a guy came in for a scratch on his neck and “feeling drowsy.” We start the usual workups and this dude’s blood pressure TANKED. We scrambled, but he was gone within ten minutes of walking through the door. Turns out the “scratch” was an exit wound of a .22 caliber rifle round. The guy didn’t even know he’d been shot.
When the coroner’s report came back, we found that he’d been shot in the leg and the bullet tracked through his torso shredding everything in between. There was really nothing we could’ve done, but that was a serious “what the heck just happened” moment.
102. 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 the breasts. He says he’s trying to drain the milk for me.” I had to explain to her that breastfeeding her husband will lead to continued Lactation.
103. Junk in a Box
I had a guy present to the ER requesting an ice chest (a cooler full of ice). After a lengthy discussion, this is the narrative that we managed to sort out, as the story was erratic. This guy went to a party. Guy met gal. They had fun dancing. She asked him to her place. She asked for some sexy, sexy time. She asked to kick things up a notch. He said, “Why not?”
She pulled out a syringe and injected a drug into his genitals to make sexy time last longer. They proceed to have lots of fun sexy time. A few days later, things are sore. Somethings not quite right in his genitals. Some red spot starts getting redder, larger, and darker across time. Things start turning black, and smelling bad. He decides it’s a good time to take some initiative, so he pulls out a knife and starts sawing at his genitals to carve out the affected skin.
Then, he hits a nerve. At this point, he changed his mind to see if he can fix the issue, and covered it in olive oil, then wrapped it in Saran wrap. You know, to fix it. Some more time passes, and he goes to the bathroom in a restaurant. He pulls down his pants, and his junk slides off of his urethra like a corn dog off of a stick, and lands on the floor next to him.
He picks up his junk, goes and gets a cup from the vending machine, fills it with ice, and puts his genitals in it—to help keep it fresh, of course. He wanders around for a few more days, then decides that his cup is getting too smelly, So…he goes to an ER and asks for an ice chest full of ice. He gets taken to the ER. The ER docs consult Urology, and it turns out that when he goes pee it just flings around everywhere like an unbridled firehose on full blast.
The hospital won’t let him keep it, as it is a bio-hazardous tissue at this point, but he won’t let the hospital take it…until they decide to give him a receipt. Then the junk is taken to wherever they incinerate penis, and the dude wound up admitted with a surgical/ urology consult. Moral of the story: Don’t inject stuff in your junk. Even if it is from random strangers for sexy, sexy time.
104. Not Fazed by Basal Cell Carcinoma
This lady came in and literally half of her face had been basically eaten up by basal cell carcinoma. One of her eyes was completely missing. According to her, it had been this way for years. And here’s the kicker, that’s not even the problem she came into the hospital for! She had come in for an umbilical hernia as big as a basketball that had been there for months, and she’d started vomiting over the past week so she finally went to the emergency department.
105. 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 a heart condition, 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.
106. Donut Mess With Me
The nurse-in charge at our emergency department has been working there for 20 years. Our hospital is in a rough area, so she’s seen it all. She has single-handedly tackled violent patients with superhuman strength. But one day, she outdid herself. This day, a disheveled guy came in to be treated for assault, to be detained after his discharge.
He was giving everyone heck all night, and he almost made his nurse cry. The nurse-in-charge called from the nurse’s station to cut that out. He called her a “miserable, old, fat witch.” The nurse-in-charge picked up a chocolate donut from the nurse’s station and without breaking eye contact, started slowly chewing it in front of him. Then she called the officers to pick him up.
107. 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 in his rectum. 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 what the heck 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 by the rectum, causing the insane levels. What.