Everyone hates hospitals, and rightfully so. They can be downright scary places with a lot going on. Sometimes, a hospital stay goes smoothly, but other times, it can turn out to be a complete nightmare that leaves you scarred for life. Here are some of the most unnerving encounters people have had while at the hospital.
1. Incompetent Intern
I was in a multi-vehicle accident on my way to work and got what I thought was whiplash. I have a high pain threshold, so the interning doctor in the ER said that if I wasn’t screaming, I wasn’t hurt. When I told him I was really in pain, he started doing the “Can you feel this” prick test. When I couldn’t feel anything, his expression changed. After about five minutes, my ex walked in and screamed that I was bleeding.
I had a white shirt on, so it may have stood out, but this intern was so convinced I could feel something, he jabbed me repeatedly with a syringe needle until I looked like I was in a slasher movie. A nurse dragged him out and later when my attorney reviewed the medical notes, it said that I had a violent nosebleed. I had damaged my C5, C6, C7 vertebrae, and had a bulge on my spinal nerve. I had serious damage and the guy thought I was faking.
2. Who Am I?
I woke up from a coma and while I was in the ICU recovering, I had some really weird situations occur. One, in particular, stands out. I was having a lot of trouble sleeping, so I was watching a lot of television. One night, I put on Jamie Oliver’s 30-Minute Meals. I fell asleep, woke up, and for some unknown reason, I had the strangest thought: “I am one of Jamie Oliver’s sous chefs, and I am currently working on his next cookbook.”
I have NO idea why I thought this. I got out of bed, walked to the nurse’s station where my ICU nurse was folding blankets, and her back was towards me. It was around 3 am and the ICU was pretty dark. She wasn’t expecting me to be standing in the middle of the hallway. When she turned around, she nearly jumped out of her skin—I was just standing there like a zombie.
I told her about Jamie Oliver and the cookbook. After about 10-15 minutes, I woke up or snapped out of it, and I was SO embarrassed. She ushered me back to bed and had a good laugh. She told me it was pretty normal for people in comas and the ICU with head injuries to have very vivid dreams and hallucinations while totally awake.
3. Total Blank
I woke up in the hospital buckled to the bed, and I didn’t know why I was there. This happened more than once because I was there for a brain injury. I couldn’t remember why I was in the hospital, so I kept trying to escape. They ended up writing on a whiteboard at the end of my bed that I was supposed to be there and why (to avoid future freakouts).
4. Teenage Dream
When I was about 13, I had intestinal surgery. I had to stay there and recover for about seven days to be sure that all the plumbing was working properly. On about the fifth day, I woke up to a fairly large wet spot covering my crotch and gown. It turned out I had a wet dream but was still unable to move easily to clean myself up, so I had to inform the nurse. For a 13-year-old, it was a nightmare!
5. Fourth Of July Fright
My wife worked as a psych nurse at a hospital. She was working on the floor on the 4th of July when I got a call from one of her co-workers telling me she had been harmed by a patient. She took a pretty good sucker punch and was down in the ER to get checked out. I headed over to the hospital to see how she was doing.
I was sitting with her as she was laying in one of the beds when I heard this awful wailing. I turned around and my jaw dropped—there was a kid in his mid-teens with blood on his arm running down, staining his clothes and the gurney. He had blown his hand to shreds playing with fireworks. The screaming was extremely unnerving. My wife was okay, but that poor kid was not.
6. My Blood Loss Scared The Doc!
I was going in to have surgery. I was supposed to be a five-hour outpatient; however, they hit an artery during the procedure and didn’t know it. I was in recovery bleeding internally, and no one knew until they tried to sit me up. All the alarm bells started going off, and the nurse started screaming at me to keep my eyes open.
The scariest thing for me happened later. I was in an overflow room because the hospital was full. The resident came over to check on me because I was in pain and pushing the call button. I knew at this point that the artery finally sealed itself but they had estimated that I had lost three-quarters of my blood supply.
I was in horrific pain and could barely move. Someone had to turn me, in order to help me become comfortable. So the resident read my chart and was looking down at me, and I will never forget the look on his face. He was terrified looking at me. I’m sure to this day he thought I was not going to make it.
7. The Patient Next Door
I was about 12 years old when I got bitten by a poisonous spider. I had to go to the emergency room for treatment. The guy behind the next curtain had been shot and impaled, and the knife was still in him. When the nurses opened the curtain, they didn’t realize that my dad and I were in the next area over…So I saw the guy scream, holding a knife in his gut.
8. The Girl And The Machine
As a child, I was hospitalized a lot due to heart issues. One day, I was out in the halls, waiting for the playroom to open up. I was about eight at the time. There was a girl on my floor who walked with a huge machine that pumped her heart for her. She was also walking around with what looked like her mom or older sister.
Suddenly, the scariest thing happened—her machine started beeping, and the nurses rushed in. They were speaking German since this was at a hospital in Berlin, however, I didn’t speak German; only Russian. The look on her face before she collapsed was absolutely horrific. Her eyes went almost blank and her lips started to go blue. It still haunts me.
9. Not A Sight For Anyone’s Eyes
My father had terminal cancer. Towards the end of his life, we had to take him to the emergency room. We got him checked in and as we were waiting for him to be seen, we heard several ambulances. When we found out what happened, our blood ran cold. Three teenage kids had all blasted each other during some argument.
There was so much blood. I had never seen anything like that in such close proximity. All I kept thinking was that these boys had mothers, fathers, and siblings. They were rushing all three in for surgery. It was a disturbing sight.
10. Up And Awake
I had surgery planned for 1 pm. It was a four- to six-hour surgery, with a recovery time of about another two to four hours before I would be discharged. I was a teenager at the time, so my parents took me in. They wanted me in at 9 am. I wasn’t able to eat anything from 8 pm the night before, and my surgery got pushed back to 4 pm, so I had gone about 20 hours with no food or drink.
I was in shape, but I was feeling rough. The surgery went well, but my body was exhausted from the lack of nutrients, as well as from the operation. It was late, and my mom and dad had gone downstairs to get some food now that I was okay and in recovery. The nurses had told them that I would be out cold for at least another hour.
But there were a couple of things that my parents didn’t know. Apparently, I had woken up during surgery and made contact with the anesthesiologist. I tried to say, “Is it over? Why am I awake?” But it was muffled from the breathing tube. The anaesthesiologist freaked out and said, “Uh, he’s awake. Like really awake.” I began moving, not by choice, which caused the surgeon to nick an artery.
They had to hold me down to keep me still. They got me back under. I woke up a few minutes after they left. It was dark and silent, and I was alone. I got up and there weren’t any monitors attached to me. I was hurting, but I began looking for a nurse. The hallway was dark, and I couldn’t find anyone. I was getting spooked and started feebly asking, “Is anyone there?” Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, a nurse yelled, “Oh my goodness, baby, what are you doing out of your bed!” Luckily, all ended up fine.
11. Tonsillectomy Terror
I had strep every month for weeks at a time as a toddler, so when I was four, I had to have my tonsils removed. I remember being separated from my mom for what felt like FOREVER when I was being prepped before surgery. I was just SCREAMING the entire time. I had never seen an operating room before, or doctors and nurses with the entire PPE getup.
I thought I was being abducted by aliens. I woke up alone and was terrified at the realization that I couldn’t speak. I just cried and whimpered in my little crib-like hospital bed until a nurse wheeled me to see my mom in the recovery room. I was so relieved to see her that I threw up as soon as I laid eyes on her.
12. Contemplating The Possibilities
After going out to drink one night, I blacked out. I didn’t have much to drink, so I was either given something or had a bad reaction to hops. I’m still not sure. The next day, I threw up nonstop for about 14 hours. But it got even worse than that—when every muscle in my body was cramping bad enough that I could barely move and my heart started acting real funny, I called an ambulance and went to the ER.
My parents had to come, and the three of us were sitting in the room. At that point, I was fine. The doctor walked in and said, “We got some tests back. Your white blood cell count is a little high. It could be leukemia,” and then walked out without another word. That moment, when we were sitting there contemplating the fact I may have leukemia, was terrifying.
Luckily, it turned out that I don’t have it.
13. The Scent Of Searing Flesh
I had developed a blood clot behind my knee after surgery a few years ago. I was at the hospital when they found it, so they wanted me to stay until a specialist could check me out. I was laying in a bed for hours and heard a lot of talking and preparation going on, but there was no one checking on me, and was wondering what was going on.
Then I overheard some of the peripheral conversations between the staff, EMTs, and officers about a patient that had just arrived. Their discussion was chilling. A young woman with a history of psychiatric issues stood in a kiddy pool in front of her house. She doused herself with tiki torch oil, then lit herself on fire. The hospital I was in was definitely not equipped to handle burn victims, so they had the entire staff ready to help care for her until they could find an appropriate hospital to take her.
From three or four beds away, I could smell the seared flesh. I could hear them pump her as full of painkillers as they dared, mostly through her feet, and the whole time she was screaming bloody murder, as I don’t think the meds helped much. I can’t imagine what the burn unit she was transferred to looked, smelled, and sounded like.
14. A Mother’s Cries
I was in a car accident with my mom. A large van ran the red light at a four-way intersection and T-boned us. The accident was so bad they took us all by ambulance to the emergency room. The people who hit my mom and me were in the room next to us. The woman was heavily pregnant. She explained to the doctors that something felt off for many weeks before the accident, but that her doctor said the baby was fine.
When the ER doctors did an ultrasound, they were shocked—apparently, her baby was no longer alive, and it wasn’t due to the accident. They figured that the baby had been dead for WEEKS. I’ll never forget that woman’s screams. It was heartbreaking. She kept screaming, “Get it out of me, get it out of me.” I’ll never forget that moment.
15. A Surreal Experience
I had to go to the ER for seizure-like symptoms. However, I had been in medical lockdown during the pandemic because my asthma was out of control. Over the summer, my doctor had said, “You can’t get sick, do you understand? Your lung functioning can’t drop any further. You have no wiggle room left.” However, seizures are an emergency, so I reluctantly went to the ER and sat in the waiting room.
Ten minutes later, my worst nightmare walked in—it was a COVID patient. She announced to the front desk that she had been diagnosed and was having trouble breathing. She was instructed to take a seat and wait. Now, with all the social distancing, there were limited seats available. The only one left was exactly six feet away from me. There was no place left for me to go.
I listened to her cough, wheeze, and struggle to breathe for about half an hour, absolutely terrified that I was going to get sick. I was called back for some tests and was given a bed in the non-Covid area, but it was in the hall. The hospital was so full that all of us non-Covid patients were crammed together in one ward.
I was right by the doors that led into the COVID area and watched doctors in full hazmat suits walk around. I kept thinking it looked like a movie in there. Then, a trauma patient was brought in and wheeled into an observation room. The curtains were pulled, but it was a glass-walled room, so you could still see inside. The sight was absolutely horrific.
There were a lot of nurses and doctors running in and out. There was so much blood, it was pooling on the floor. The patient was yelling. Not screaming, but making deep, loud, animal-like groans that said they don’t have the air or energy for a full scream. All of us who were stacked up in beds along the wall, tried not to look because it felt like we were witnessing something private.
However, the groans carried across the entire ward. It was terrifying. I could see some of the other patients trying not to cry. I got out a couple of hours later, but I don’t have the words to describe the entire experience. It was surreal and I had never been so afraid in my life. Afraid for myself, afraid for the patients, afraid for the doctors, just afraid for everyone going through it.
16. Am I Going To Look Like HIM?
When I was three or four years old, I had to have emergency abdominal surgery for a blockage. The scariest thing was seeing my parents as they were stopped at the double doors while I was rushed into the surgical area. My mom was crying on my dad’s shoulder, and my dad looked very concerned. To top it off, there was a guy wheeled next to me being prepped for surgery. There weren’t any curtains between patients, at least not at this hospital.
But what really traumatized me was what came next. The guy next to me was an elderly man, unconscious with tape all over his face. I had no idea what the tape was for—probably just to hold an intubation tube or something—but in my mind, it looked like they carved his face up and used tape to put it back together. It scared the daylights out of me! I didn’t know what they were going to do to me. I thought I would end up looking like that guy.
17. Incoherent Thoughts
I had hepatic encephalopathy, which meant I had an altered level of consciousness due to ammonia buildup in my brain. I couldn’t make coherent sentences. I didn’t know who I was, or who my wife was. Surprisingly, that’s not the worst part. The most terrifying part happened as I started to get some of my memory back. I kept thinking I was saying I had five kids, which was true, but my mouth was saying I had six kids.
My wife kept responding, “No you have five kids.” However, my brain kept hearing, “No you have four kids.” So for about an hour, I was panicking because I thought one of my kids didn’t exist or had ceased to exist, or something. I wasn’t exactly rational. It was terrifying. As I continued to get better, I would make sure we had the right number of kids, would repeat their names, and their birthdays.
18. The Look In Her Eyes
My mother was in the hospital. She had been intubated. The scariest thing was hearing the doctor say, “There is nothing we can do to save her,” and then, looking over and seeing tears coming out of my mom’s eyes. I knew that she could hear everything but she couldn’t respond to us. It was terrifying and is something I still struggle with.
19. I Was Left Drained
I had to have my gallbladder removed. After the surgery, I had to have a drain put in. The next day, the nurse came in to take it out. That thing was in there about six or seven inches deep, right up into my stomach. She just slowly pulled it out. It was the most awful thing I have ever felt. I still shudder thinking about it.
20. A Full House
I had to go into the hospital because I had injured my hand and thought it was broken. The hospital was completely packed; so much so that I couldn’t even get a room. I was treated in the hallway, and as I was waiting, I saw some of the local EMTs hanging out. I got to chatting with some of them and I found out they were stuck there too, so I asked why.
What they revealed to me was startling. They told me that because the hospital was so full, they ran out of beds and needed their gurneys. The paramedics couldn’t leave until they got one back. I asked them what would happen if there was an emergency and they needed to transport a patient? They hung their heads and just replied, “Let’s not hope it comes to that,” because they had no gurney for them.
If worse came to worse, they would have to call another city to see if they had some, which would increase their wait time for pickup. The horror of seeing what budget cuts could do, and the overcrowding situation in the hospital was sad and frightening. I was glad, for my own sake, that I was able to get out relatively quickly and didn’t have to stay there overnight or be transported elsewhere.
21. Out of Control
I spent some time in a psych ward as a kid. It was a bad place and the people were pretty abusive. One of the staff members broke another kid’s arm and I remember hearing the boy screaming as it happened. It was scary, especially because we had no agency to act as a go-between, so the staff had total control.
22. Slowly Slipping Away
I was in the ER and was given an IV push for pain. They left me alone in a treatment room, but I had a bad reaction to the medication. I was having hallucinations while bleeding heavily, and whatever they gave me seriously slowed my heart rate. My blood pressure started to tank as well. I’m not sure what was more terrifying: being fully conscious and aware in a body that was slowly shutting down, or being convinced there was a 7-foot tall shadow demon standing at the foot of my bed to take me.
23. Ignorance Was Not Bliss
When I was four, my mom took me to the ER. The doctors said there was nothing wrong and that I probably had food poisoning. My mom told them to do a scan and they finally agreed. The scan was terrifying. I was so scared and wouldn’t stop moving, so I had to be strapped down which, of course, made it worse. By the time it was done, my grandparents and brother had arrived and were in the waiting room.
They then put me on a bed and rushed me to the operating room. We passed my family on the way and I could see my grandfather crying, which I had never seen before, and haven’t since. I didn’t understand all of what was happening at the time, but I knew it was bad…and it was. It turned out, I had appendicitis and my appendix was about an hour away from bursting.
My mom was able to follow me to the door of the operating room. For about ten seconds after she let go of my hand I was reaching out to her screaming for help and we were both crying. Then one of the doctors put their hand on my shoulder and gently laid me down and I fell asleep. I don’t remember anything after that, but it’s still one of my worst memories to date.
24. A Friend’s Anguish
When I was about 12, I was in the ER for a little ingrown nail removal or something, and we were waiting for the doctor for a really long time. While we were waiting, anguished screams were coming from some other part of the building. They lasted a long time, and I remember my mom suggesting it might’ve been someone hallucinating.
I had my procedure done and we were walking down the hallway to be released when I saw the mom and brother of one of my good friends. They seemed upset, so we walked up and asked if they were okay. Their revelation was shocking—It turned out the anguished screams we had been hearing were from my friend. He had accidentally fallen into a campfire while chasing his younger sister around. He lived but he had to have skin grafts over a huge portion of his body. It was awful.
25. Sleepless Nights
I was in the hospital. The guy in the bed next to me was there because of a urinary infection. The infection had gotten so bad that they had to operate and remove part of his scrotum. The nurse had to go in and clean the area two times a week; once while under general anesthesia, and the other time with local anesthesia. I couldn’t see what was happening, but it sounded like they were rubbing sandpaper on a piece of wood. The screams were so bad, they made me lose sleep.
28. Out Of Body Experience
I was seven months pregnant at the time the swine flu hit. Early one morning, I woke up so violently sick and struggling to breathe. I was usually very fit and healthy. I passed out on the bathroom floor and came round to paramedics moving me. I felt okay when I came around and was chatting away in the back of the ambulance.
I insisted it was just a funny turn, but my husband was panicked. I was terribly pale even though my obstetrics seemed fine. They insisted on taking me to get checked over. We got to the hospital, and I was put on a bed in a side room; everything again seemed fine. I was impatient to get home, but they still wanted to observe me longer.
I felt a little bit light-headed, so I laid down. That’s when things got scary—I started shivering, but any sort of movement to call the nurse felt like I was going to be sick everywhere. I began having these weird visions, like the hospital bed being on top of a snowy mountain, climbing it, then crashing through the roof back onto the bed. All the while, I could hear the heart rhythm on the machine.
I looked at the machine, but it was as if I had gone too cold to move. It felt like I was watching it go slower and slower. It was weirdly peaceful like I was letting myself go. As my eyes started shutting, I was being shaken and shouted at. It was as if I was crashing back down to the bed in a jolt. I felt as if I was trying to keep up and everything would go black.
My name was being called and I would find myself back on the bed looking up at a nurse then would fall off the bed out of my body. Every time my name was being called, someone was picking me up from a big height and throwing me back down onto the bed. Then I woke up in intensive care, after being in the resuscitation ward for 10 hours.
I didn’t know where the time went at all. All of that seemed to be happening in the blink of an eye. It wasn’t the swine flu. They couldn’t say what caused it, but I was put on complete bed rest and fitted with a catheter for a few weeks to prevent whatever was causing it. I certainly wouldn’t be here now if I hadn’t been in hospital at that very time, and my baby was absolutely fine.
29. Medication Mixup
The scariest thing that ever happened to me in a hospital was when a nurse brought me my medication in a cup and plunked it down, demanding I take it. She told me the name of the medication, to which I responded, “I don’t take that.” She became instantly annoyed and told me that if my doctor had ordered it, he wanted me to take it.
I asked her what condition it was prescribed for. She insisted I had to take it RIGHT NOW. I told her I wasn’t taking it without knowing the reason it was prescribed, and that I would be happy to wait until she was able to look that up for me in my chart. She made a huge show of being furious having to do this. She looked up my record on the computer in my room, said not a single word, and snatched it back off my tray table before stomping out in a huff.
30. His Screams Echoed In The Silence
I was in the ER for mental health stuff. At about 2 am, an older man was brought in with officers in tow. His situation was utterly disturbing—he had just escaped being taken advantage of for TWELVE HOURS by his supposed close friend. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop on this very sensitive conversation, but he was (understandably) wailing loudly. He was in the bed directly across from me and was bellowing in pain and emotional anguish in an otherwise pretty quiet hospital.
From what I heard, the accused and a couple of other people just kicked down his door while he was chilling at home. I didn’t get many other details, nor did I want to, but I always wonder about the motive a “friend” could have to do such a thing. It crossed my mind that it was a hate crime. It was probably the most depressing thing I have ever witnessed personally.
31. Trapped With Nowhere To Go
My mom was in the ICU after surgery to remove a glioblastoma brain tumor. My dad, aunt, uncle, and I were all gathered around her bed when suddenly a nurse came running down the hallway outside. Nurses never run in hospitals unless something is wrong. We all looked at each other in fear. I looked back at the doorway just as an elderly man in a hospital bed was wheeled by.
I locked eyes with him for two seconds that felt way longer. I can still remember his face and eyes. When they put him in the room next to my mom’s, all chaos broke loose. Alarms were going off, nurses and doctors were appearing out of thin air, and the whole hallway was full of people and machines on carts. His family was in the hallway screaming.
They worked on him for a long, long time and finally called it. We were literally trapped and had to listen to the whole thing because we didn’t want to push our way through the hall to leave. I know nurses deal with this every day, but that was the first and only time I have seen someone about to pass away and it had a big impact on me.
32. Anesthetic Adversity
I was five at the time and had to have my tonsils removed. Due to a genetic condition, painkillers or anything type of anesthetic doesn’t affect me. So, when I woke up from the anesthesia, I was in a huge amount of pain. I was surrounded by strangers and couldn’t talk. I saw the bandage on my arm from the IV and started crying. Being alone, in pain, and unable to voice it was the scariest thing for me.
33. A Mother’s Intuition
It was during the birth of my second child. I’m a Type 1 diabetic and I had this sense at about 34 weeks that my baby would need to be born at 35 weeks. My OB/GYN told me he thought I could make it to 36. I had preeclampsia with both pregnancies, but there was a feeling I had, and I knew it was time. I spent the first three days in the ICU having steroids to speed up the baby’s lung development.
Having diabetes and steroids don’t mix, so I was on an insulin infusion to stabilize my condition. I was feeling okay, and I got a C-section operation time scheduled for 1:30 pm on a Friday. Initially, I pushed back. Even though it was a planned C-section, I was still classed as nil by mouth in the event I needed to go under, so I couldn’t eat anything. That was not ideal, as insulin requires food intake.
I was told that, unfortunately, there was no other time slot available. The morning of the surgery, I was to be given insulin and I mentioned my hesitance given that I was nil by mouth and was concerned I might crash and drop into a coma. By 11 am, my worst fears were realized—my blood sugar dropped dramatically and the nurses rushed around to get a dextrose infusion into my poor, tiny little vein on the back of my hand.
The dextrose glucose is so thick, my vein collapsed. It was excruciating. My body went into shock and it felt like someone was infusing napalm under my hand. It ballooned up into this massive lump and eventually, I was screaming so bad they relocated the IV into the crook of my arm. I was shaking all over, but as the pain started to subside I calmed down.
An hour or two passed and my husband and mother arrived. I was feeling good and ready to go into surgery to meet my daughter, despite the morning’s drama. My friend who was studying to be a midwife was with me. She was the only person allowed to attend as I got prepared for the spinal block. My husband was waiting outside and would be let in once it was in effect.
The only trouble was that because I had so much fluid from the preeclampsia, they had trouble getting it into the spinal column. I had the blood pressure cuff on the left arm, which hurt every time it inflated thanks to the collapsed vein, and pain from the dextrose infusion. I started shaking from the pain, and simultaneously, they would be trying to insert a giant needle into my spinal cord.
The pain of that needle was something I only hope I never experience again. It felt like someone had live wired my body with electricity. Every time it hit the wrong spot, it would shoot through my body like lightning, all the way down through my pelvis and into my legs. The anesthetist kept demanding I stay still when I was not moving willingly! And it only got worse from there.
After an hour, my OB/GYN came over and said I couldn’t take much more, and suggested I go under. By that point, I was so broken and in agony, I cried and agreed. My daughter was born while I was asleep, with the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around her neck three times. She had to be manually resuscitated for five minutes before she was able to breathe on her own.
If I had waited even one more day, she may have suffocated in the womb. She spent a solid week in the NICU but is now healthy. I came to while in recovery and was pretty out of it for days. I had fluid in my lungs and was mostly in and out of consciousness for the first 24 hours. I’ll never forget that whole situation but I am so glad I listened to my gut.
34. Toothache Troubles
When I was younger, I had to go to the hospital to get a bad tooth removed. I don’t remember anything from my stay except for one situation where I was in a room with a few nurses. They were talking about something completely unrelated and ignoring me in the process, as they held my arm down on the table and rammed a needle in my hand. My mom was holding me from behind in a supporting manner while I was screaming and crying in her arms. I’ve avoided needles ever since.
35. Constant Miss
I was scheduled for surgery on my hand. When the nurse came to put in my IV to knock me out, she missed my vein several times. She called someone else over to try and the second person also missed my vein several times. With every missed jab, I was getting more and more frantic. My dad was holding my hand and he said I was squeezing hard enough to break it.
But the final straw was when my face started changing colors. I was crying nonstop, flailing around, and my heart rate was through the roof. My dad angrily yelled at the nurse to get someone competent to put the IV in. I think it was the anesthesiologist that came over and thankfully he got it on his first try. I was knocked out and wheeled into surgery a few minutes later.
36. Narrowly Avoiding Disaster
As an EMT, I have seen a lot of stuff in the ER that people shouldn’t have to see, but my scariest encounter was when I was the patient. The lady in the room next to me coded. My ER nurse jumped on her and began giving her CPR. Her heart started back up pretty quickly, just as he hit the code blue button. Several of the nurses and a doctor rushed to her room, but the one with the crash cart showed up in my room.
She looked around confused, wondering where everybody was. I pointed to my right towards the room with the code and she quickly left. She coded a couple of more times that night and they moved her up to ICU to watch more closely. I’m glad I wasn’t asleep at the time of laying there with my eyes closed. Who knows what she would have done to me.
37. I Was Left In Stitches
When I was about six or seven years old, my mom took me over to her friend’s house. Her friend had a daughter who was the same age as me. The daughter loved to chase me. They had this metal screen door with a long broken handle—I remember it was very jagged and sharp. The girl was chasing me in the backyard and I decided to run inside as fast as my little legs could carry me to escape.
I barely opened the metal door and slipped inside like the little ninja I was. The next thing I knew, everything became dark. I woke up to a massive puddle of blood and then proceeded to pass out again. The broken handle had caught me behind my left ear and almost completely removed it. It was barely attached by a single thread of skin from what my mom told me.
My mom lost her mind and rushed me to the hospital. I bled everywhere and destroyed the inside of the car. I was still knocked out when we got to the hospital and I was rushed into surgery to reattach my ear. As they put the first stitch in, I woke up as soon as the needle went through my skin. Three doctors proceeded to HOLD me down fully awake and sew my ear back on.
I remember every stitch to this day. Every last one. I remember the doctor holding my legs down telling me to, “Calm down little buddy we are almost done,” as I screamed. Apparently, they waited too long after administering the anesthesia. I have no clue why they didn’t put me back under. I will never forget the pain and that stupid doctor.
38. A Mother’s Haunting Screams
I spent a good portion of my life in the hospital, but the one moment I’ll never forget is when I was in the emergency room getting an IV and a mother came in, running and screaming with her small child in her arms. All the doctors and nurses immediately ran to help her and attend to the child. The mother was screaming for help in such agony that I felt even more nauseous than I already was.
I don’t think I can ever forget her screams and seeing this tiny little child wrapped in a towel looking blue. I think the baby made it because the mother had stopped screaming and calmed down and went to the waiting room. I can’t even begin to imagine the horror of holding your breathless baby.
39. A Dystopian Encounter
I had gone to visit a relative. When coming to a crossroads in the hallway, there came a moving box about the size of a mini-fridge—a hospital robot. There was nobody around it. It was beeping and playing a recording. It wasn’t moving fast, but I realized it was headed straight for me. I backed around the corner to find a different way out, then quickly picked up my pace when it rounded the same corner and followed me. It creeped me out.
40. The Pain Just Wouldn’t Stop
I grew up a completely healthy kid but I was oblivious to my family’s health history. Out of nowhere, I began having stomach pain that was diagnosed as ulcers. After two days of being on medication, I began having attacks that would begin with pain at the bottom of my ribs, followed by shortness of breath and this horrific pain in my upper abdomen.
These occurrences would happen randomly and last about 30 minutes to an hour. I couldn’t do anything for the pain. No medication helped, no position, eating didn’t help, nothing. After 30 minutes to an hour, the pain would just disappear and I would be fine. I went to the hospital when the first one happened. When they did an ultrasound, the doctors gasped—they discovered numerous gallstones…an overwhelming amount.
I was a 19-year-old female in good shape, so they were very confused as to why I had so many. My gallbladder wasn’t inflamed and they didn’t see anything blocking any ducts, so they said that they wanted to treat the ulcer to see if that was what was causing the pain. Ulcer pain and gallbladder pain are incredibly different, so this was frustrating initially.
For me, the ulcer felt more like a gnawing, constantly hungry pain. The other pain I was having was the worst pain I had ever felt in my life. For a week after, I had these attacks on and off, but then they seemed to stop. I was hopeful and thought that if I could make it to the end of the medication cycle, then I would be fine. At the two-week mark, I had another attack.
From there, they only seemed to get worse. I called my hospital’s nurse line, and they told me that to get evaluated I needed to be in pain for longer than two to three hours. The day I had a doctor’s appointment, I woke up at around 3:45 am in severe pain. Things got progressively worse until I was laying on my bathroom floor, throwing up nothing but bile, unable to move or barely breathe.
I had never felt complete fear until then, and that was the only time in my life that I have ever had to call for emergency services. I was taken by ambulance to the same hospital I had been going to. I was given meds and the pain subsided somewhat. Once in the hospital though, the true test of my faith began. The surgeons came and talked to me and made it clear that surgery was the best option.
My gallbladder had to come out. Then more doctors kept coming in, and courses of action kept changing, and it felt like they were just trying to get me out of there. On top of that, the pain continued to come back. One doctor came in and said that he didn’t think my gallbladder was the problem. When I asked him what else it could be, he replied with, “Oh you know, GERD, acid reflux, heartburn.”
I was terrified that I was going to be sent home to continue dealing with this pain that was hovering over me every day because this man didn’t believe me. He said that he wanted to try a GI cocktail and a PPI inhibitor (to see if the issue lay with my esophagus or stomach) and wait to see if that helped the pain. So I took it, and when it didn’t help, he finally agreed that surgery was the best option.
They scheduled me to have a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, after being in the hospital for eleven hours in disgusting amounts of pain. I don’t remember too much after that, as I was taking more and more medication, but I remember them taking me up to pre-op and the pain getting worse again. Finally, I was put under. The second most terrifying thing was waking up alone after surgery.
I can still remember the pain I was in, even after the nurse gave me another round of meds, and how I could barely get any food down. After the painful walk to the bathroom and changing, I had to stop because I was going to throw up. For this, the nurse went and got a dose of anti-nausea through my IV and handed me some smelling salts.
I did not feel well enough to go home, but it felt as if they wanted me gone, and my days after surgery were miserable. As I read through my paperwork afterward, I found that my gallbladder had been nicked during surgery. They also listed in their notes that “pain was managed well, was able to keep food down, and wished to go home,” none of which was true. My recovery was painful and troubling. The experience scarred me enough to not want to get any medical treatment.
42. An Unsettling Recovery
When I went to the hospital a few years back to have surgery, I was placed in one of the recovery wards for three days. Five other children were sharing the ward with me and we had curtains to separate us. There was a girl my age across from me who I could see when the bed was tilted up. She had survived a car crash and she was recovering from a spinal injury, so she couldn’t move. Her eyes locked with mine. We stared at each other for nearly two days. Something about the pain and sadness in her eyes was unsettling.
43. Is This The End?
While I was giving birth, I lost a lot of blood. I was lying in bed and feeling very weak and cold when someone from the staff came to check on me. I asked them if this was what it feels like to stop living. She didn’t seem to take it seriously until she had checked some stuff on me, at which point she got others there. The last thing I remembered was them putting some mask on me, thinking I was going to pass away.
44. An Unexpected Diagnosis
I had been vomiting uncontrollably, so I went to the ER. There was an ice storm about to hit and I didn’t want to wait in case the dehydration forced me to go in. I wasn’t really worried because this had happened to me before, so I figured it would be business as usual—I assumed they would run some tests and give me medication, and I would be on my way.
A doctor or nurse, I don’t remember which, came in shortly after my blood test, and told me that my white blood cell count was extremely high—like three times what was normal. They said they needed to take blood cultures and that they were admitting me to the hospital. No one explicitly told me what was wrong; just that I had an infection in my blood. I had no frame of reference for what that meant.
I asked every single day for three days when I could go home. Meanwhile, I was being pumped full of antibiotics. On my third day there, I was chilling in my hospital bed when I took a deep breath. That’s when I made a startling realization—I hadn’t been breathing well before. Still, I thought that it was from puffing, and since I wasn’t doing that in the hospital, my lungs had cleared up.
Then, the doctors told me I would be having a PICC line put in and would be set up with a home nurse to do IV antibiotics at home for two weeks. When I was finally discharged, I was reading through my discharge papers. I read that my official diagnosis was bacterial septicemia, also known as sepsis. I knew what THAT meant and that it was very, very, bad.
I realized that the breathing issues I was having were because my organs were all slowly shutting down. They also weren’t sure how I ended up with the bacteria that caused the infection. I insisted it was probably from a nasty case of food poisoning I had about two months prior but they weren’t sure. I got set up with an infectious disease specialist.
He checked me from head to toe for any wounds that may have gotten infected, but I had none, so he agreed I was probably right. But here’s the wild part—I didn’t feel that bad leading up to the ER visit that saved my life. As I said, I puffed and it was winter, so I assumed that I was getting winded from that and feeling rundown because of seasonal depression on top of regular depression. But I survived. A little traumatized, but I’m still kickin’.
45. Double Lung Disaster
When I was staying in the hospital for my double lung transplant, I got pretty sick. I got lung failure in my sleep, which led to heart failure. It also made my arms and legs retain a lot of water; so much so that I was barely able to lift my arms and I was unable to walk. I had to get ECMO and be intubated with a trachea, some chest tubes, IVs, and other lines.
They had to be careful that I didn’t aspirate things so I couldn’t eat (I had a feeding tube for years) and I hadn’t gotten the piece that let me talk. Every morning, a nurse would clean me and change my dressings, but she apparently didn’t know that I had had a feeding tube for years prior, so she kept trying to dress it.
I kept panicking because they change the dressings every 24 hours and I didn’t want my feeding tube to be covered up for that long because if it is not turned every once in a while, I was told it could make me pretty sick. When I tried to explain this to her on my whiteboard she kept denying that it was true and continued to try and dress it.
I told her to wake up my dad who was in the room, sleeping. She looked at him, seemed anxious, and said no. I was 17 at the time, and she probably just wrote me off as being scared. I was making any frantic noise I could at my dad to wake him up since the nurse was ignoring me. Finally, my dad woke up and I wrote down what I’d been trying to tell her. She finally accepted it and didn’t dress it. I told everyone there to never let me get that nurse again.
46. Study Abroad Surgery Nightmare
My first invasive, major surgery happened while I was on a study abroad trip in Ukraine. Ukraine has always had a bad reputation but I didn’t find that to be true until I had to go to the hospital. There were private hospitals that came at a premium for tourists and oligarchs, and then there are the state hospitals. As an American student, I was labeled a premium patient, but the luxury private hospital that I was sent to didn’t have the proper facilities for major surgery.
Hence, I was shuttled off to the state hospital. My student group was situated in Kiev, which is as modern as any other European city. Within ten miles, there was nothing but forests. When we finally arrived at the hospital, it was a 20-story concrete block with windows punched out in the middle of this forest. I couldn’t see a single building or business nearby.
But the scariest part? There was no one else in sight. There were no nurses running around outside, or even ambulances going in and out. There also wasn’t a ramp leading to the hospital entrance for the gurney, so the EMTs had to lift me and carry me. I was lying straight on my back, face-up, on the gurney for around ten stairs. They had to stop and take a break, and then proceed to wheel me to the entrance.
Even inside the hospital, there was no one around. There were rooms lit up but I could only see the shadows of doctors, nurses, and patients behind the curtains. As we passed by further in the hallway, I saw some busted, fluorescent lights, dangling from the ceiling. Again, I still didn’t see any doctors or nurses rushing over; just the EMTs wheeling me around.
We headed towards the elevator, and there was a caution tape fluttering over the open elevator shaft. The EMTs were like, “Oh, well,” as if this wasn’t the first time, and headed up another flight of stairs to get to an elevator that was working on the opposite side of the hospital. At that point, I prepared myself to accept a horrible but absolutely possible reality—that this was an organ harvesting black market hospital. I just wanted to get the anesthesia to end it.
They carted me over to the pre-op room, which looked like a room in a typical hostel. After 10 or 15 minutes, my American guide, who was in charge of the study abroad program, finally arrived. I was relieved and he told me that I was going straight to the operating room. I woke up eight hours later with tubes coming out of my nose and stomach cavity.
There were doctors, along with my American guide, at the foot of my bed, and the one surgeon, who could speak English, said, “It was bad. Very bad.” I just looked down at my stomach, and my face went white. There was a running trail, from my belly button to the top of my abdominal cavity, of thick black stitches. It turned out what the doctors thought was appendicitis, was a ruptured ulcer.
My stomach acid was leaking into my abdominal cavity, essentially burning the outside layer of my major organs, which explained the unimaginable pain I had. When they went in for the appendix, and just saw pus, and they realized it was a lot more severe. This explained the need for all the post-op tubes—they had to drain the remaining pus out of my stomach cavity.
The first few nights were unsettling. I was in my own room with a single partition that was half wall and glass. I could see into the other room next to me, but couldn’t lift myself to see above the wall. I was just flat on my bed. Every night the man in the next room just groaned all night. The sounds he made were that of a large wounded animal or someone who just fell down a flight of stairs.
I kept asking the nurses if the man was okay since he groaned all night. They just always said, “He’s fine. Just bad dreams.” One day, I woke up and saw the nurses cleaning up the room, laying out and flattening out the sheets on the bed. I was absolutely shaken to my core. I asked them, “Did he pass?” They just responded, “He left.” I could see that he was gone, but I was wondering if he had passed away while I was sleeping.
The nurses laughed it off, and kept saying, in Ukrainian, “He’s gone.” I can’t believe I was in the next room to a dying man and sleeping through his final throes. I had to stay in the hospital for a month and a half. Aside from the isolation, the nurses were nice, yet professional. There was no small talk, except from one nurse who had a brother in the United States and was sincerely curious about American pop culture. In the end, I was able to leave, with a 7-inch scar running down my stomach, and was able to finish studying abroad.
47. He Was Itching For Some Help
I was in the hospital following a motorcycle accident. My hospital roommate, who was beside me, had been in an 18-wheeler accident. He was complaining that his back itched and someone finally came in and rolled him on his side. When they turned him over, their faces dropped—his back had pieces of glass stuck all over it. I still don’t know how that was overlooked.
48. The Endless Wait
I came in with a kidney stone stuck and causing me horrible pain. I was left screaming and vomiting, writhing in pain in the waiting room for six hours before I finally got taken back to a room and given ibuprofen. Then they ordered a CT scan, found out about the kidney stone and the sepsis, then finally gave me heavy pain meds.
I sat in that ER room with no update for 26 hours while they were trying to get me a room. I begged the nurses to get the doctor to come to see me and give me an update on what they were going to do to treat my condition since they had done nothing at all. After six hours of waiting for a doctor, a nurse came in to say she was going to give me a bag of fluid. That, to me, was a red flag.
I refused it knowing the doctor would come in because I was being non-compliant. He was in the room within 10 minutes. They couldn’t give me an actual description of my treatment plan, they just kept saying, “We’ll see what happens.” After two more days on another floor with nothing but fluids—no meds, no extra testing, no anything, I finally was discharged with Flomax and that was it.
49. Shaken Up
As a young adult, I was hospitalized due to sepsis. I was in the hospital for a few months. The first day I was transferred to a new hospital, I heard this loud, terrifying noise outside my door. It was late at night and the ground started to rumble. I was in Florida, so an earthquake was practically impossible, but I had no idea what else it could be.
I sat there, paralyzed in my bed. I was too scared to move. I didn’t know what was happening, and my heart was pounding out of my chest. When I finally worked up the courage to press the call button, I just shut my eyes and braced for the worst. The nurse came…and you can imagine the chuckle she had when she told me that it was just the floors being cleaned. I had been truly panicked!
I was staying in a low-security mental ward. I had let my insomnia get the better of my life and mental health. I was admitted in order to get my medication and sleep schedule back to a productive place. While I was there, I became friends with a guy who was a little bit younger than me. I didn’t think anything of it—but that was a big mistake.
This guy started to become a little obsessive and began to only focus on me. It got to the point where he was waiting for me outside my room all the time, eating what I was eating, stuff like that. It turned out he had paranoid schizophrenia, and he thought I could cure him. It came to a head one day where I was trapped in the rec room with him until our doctor could come.
The last time I saw him, he was being escorted to the high-security ward, mumbling my name over and over again. He wouldn’t break eye contact, had a cold, unnerving stare, and held an outstretched hand towards me as the double security doors closed. I think about that stare when I don’t prioritize my mental health and get the shivers every single time.