There's not a lot that goes to plan in a doctor's office, or an emergency room, or on an operating table. Still, these medical surprises take the cake. Get ready for anything but a routine examination.
I was in a coma for two and a half months in 2015 when I was 27, following a serious car accident. When I woke up, I still had a tracheotomy and couldn’t speak. I don’t remember a darn thing from the time I was in a coma, but what blew my mind is when I woke up, my new boyfriend at the time was standing there with my parents.
They were chatting to each other like they knew each other. I am a super private and had made every effort for them to not even know of him, so I found this disturbing. I also had no recollection of the accident for months and for a week or two after waking up I had to be retold where I was and what had happened every time I dozed off and woke up.
I had no idea where I was and I thought I was 23, not 27, over a period of months. I also had a really hard time recognizing faces. Like I would see people I knew that I knew but I couldn’t remember why or their names or anything, they would just look familiar. One time, about a month after I had woken up, my parents took me in my hospital bed for a walk in the courtyard of the hospital.
We passed a large mirror in the lobby and I freaked out. I saw my reflection and I knew it was me because I recognized my parents pushing the bed, but I didn’t recognize my own face. There were no injuries to my face or anything, I just didn’t recognize myself. It also blew my mind that I had gone into the coma in late winter, and there was quite a bit of snow on the ground.
When I woke up it was spring, and there was no snow (I had a large window in my hospital room). The news that shocked me the most was the fact that my parents had gone in and packed up my entire apartment. Like I mentioned, I was super private and the idea that they went in there and boxed up all my stuff and gave up my lease was hard to grasp. Obviously, it made sense, but I was troubled by it all.
I worked in the internal medicine ward outside of NYC. We had a 55-year-old lady who was mute come into the emergency department. She was severely constipated, had severe abdominal pain, and was in really bad shape. So, she reluctantly got admitted to surgery. The next morning on rounds, she was talking a mile a minute—in full detail—about her diet, symptoms, family, etc.
In the afternoon, she went back to being mute and back to having abdominal pain and constipation. Two days later, the same pattern continued. The medical team was stumped. She was astonished that we couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her, and we felt the same way.
The labs, imaging, and consulting teams were all coming up empty. When the bizarre truth came out, I could barely believe it. There were strict ins and outs and strict dietary restrictions, and we were doing everything we could think of. The janitor came in by chance and was mad that he had to change the paper towels so many times in this one room.
It seemed like the whole floor was taking them from this one patient. Sure enough, this patient had been consuming about 2,500 paper towels in 24 hours. The psych team came in for the obligatory consult, and, of course, she was mute. We finally got her to talk (and get a psych evaluation) one paper towel at a time.
When my daughter was three months old, she suddenly transformed from a perfect baby with no health issues to a baby who would frequently full-on projectile vomit. She also became lethargic and would sometimes act all weird and zoned out.
Every time I called her pediatrician, he suggested something different: reflux meds, allergies, etc. Finally, I exploded and demanded that he test her for everything. He said he did.
He also said he noticed that her head was swollen, but dismissed it after saying that the ultrasound “found nothing” and sent us home with another reflux medicine instead. Well, two weeks after that, my worst nightmare came true. My daughter had a seizure.
I rushed her to the hospital where they gave her a CT scan, which showed swelling in her brain. The ultrasound tech had missed the hemorrhaging by one-and-a-half inches. Then came the kicker. I later found out that my doctor had started altering my daughter’s documents after the fact to make it look like he had known what the issue was from the start.
I'm a nurse. I was working in the ER when I had a “What just happened" moment. A guy came in for a scratch on his neck and said he was "feeling drowsy". We started the usual workups. Then something completely unexpected happened. This dude's blood pressure just tanked. We scrambled to do everything we could but he was gone within ten minutes of walking through the door.
Turns out, the "scratch" he had been complaining about was actually the exit wound of a .22-caliber round. The guy didn't even know what had happened to him. When the coroner's report came back, we found that that the bullet had entered his leg and ricocheted through his torso, shredding everything in between. There was really nothing we could've done.
In 1983, I was a medical resident in New England. We had a patient admitted for better control of end-stage renal disease related to diabetes. The patient had already undergone above-the-knee amputation of a leg six months prior at another hospital due to vascular disease.
The patient was married, and they had a 19-year-old child. This is when the truly shocking truth came out. The patient's wife related that one month prior, it had been discovered that her husband, who had been a construction worker and truck driver, was actually a woman, masquerading as a man for decades. I participated in the interview of the wife by a psychiatrist, and she swore she had no idea that her husband was actually a woman.
She was already pregnant when they met, and when asked about intercourse, she said, "I don't know, but he managed". The patient had undergone an ABOVE-the-knee amputation, for which they had to prep and disinfect their skin. I don’t know how nobody noticed that something was missing from this "man".
I was the patient in this moment. My crazy surgeon would never tell the story himself, so I’ll tell it for him. When I was 18, I had to get my impacted wisdom tooth removed. I went to a surgeon who informed me that the tooth in question was pretty much fully formed. For the surgery, he would have to put me under a general anesthetic so he could break up the tooth to remove it. It sounded pretty routine.
On the day of surgery, I went in thinking it would all be great. I arranged for my mother to pick me up after a couple of hours because I couldn’t drive home by myself with anesthesia in my system. She arrived and the staff informed her that I was still in surgery. After nearly another two hours of waiting, she felt like something wasn't right and immediately called my father.
My father came in and the staff told him the same thing; I was still in surgery. At some point, my parents finally said they wanted to see me and threatened to call the authorities. That's when the staff revealed what really happened. The surgeon had inadvertently broken my jaw. Apparently, instead of breaking up my wisdom teeth, the surgeon had tried to take them out in one piece.
On the very first tooth, he snapped my mandible. It popped up into the muscles in the back part of my cheek, coming up against two nerves. In a total panic, this failure of a surgeon wired my jaw shut. He hadn’t asked my next of kin what they wanted him to do, nor did he take an X-ray. As it turns out, the reason you take an X-ray is that you need to make sure the bone is set. My bone was not set.
Over the course of the next two weeks, the bone didn't heal because it wasn't set correctly. It slowly sawed through my trigeminal nerve, destroying sensation in the lower right half of my face. I looked like a stroke victim because I had very little control over it. It's since gotten better and moves more or less with the rest of my face, but I don't have as much control there as I should.
This was probably the most pain I'd ever experienced in my entire life. I took liquid Vicodin (remember, the idiot surgeon had wired my jaw shut) every two hours. I could barely sleep and needed help with tasks like walking upstairs and going to the bathroom because of the pain and the medication. It was insufferable.
We eventually found a doctor to fix my jaw. He had to re-set the bone. This was about a six-hour surgery and it required a two-night hospital stay. The bone was so badly out of whack that it needed a plate and seven screws installed just to stabilize it. This new doctor had to keep my jaw wired shut for another ten weeks while it healed, but that's not even the worst part—later on, I was told the nerve damage was permanent.
The original doctor who broke my jaw refused to admit responsibility or pay any of the damages. Presumably, his counsel advised him never to admit to making a mistake. So, I sued for that. In the deposition, he said he broke up the tooth, which of course he hadn't. I had the tooth to prove he was lying, after which we settled for the amount of damage.
About 75% of the settlement ended up going to things like lawyers’ fees so I still came out behind on all that. But I have a wicked scar on my neck from the surgery and my other three wisdom teeth, so I have that going for me.
When I did a rotation in pediatric radiology, we had this father who came in with his kid. The kid, who was about five, wouldn’t eat properly and would throw up a lot. Understandably, he was very slim. I read his file and it stated that he had been in and out of the hospital a lot for the same issue over the last half year or so, but no cause was ever found.
The file also stated that the father suspected his kid might have ingested something, but since the symptoms were so unspecific, this lead was never followed. By the time they saw me, they must have decided to revisit this suspicion since they were coming to me for a functional fluoroscopy. The first picture I took blew my mind…There was a button battery stuck in the kid’s esophagus.
His father was so relieved that the cause of his son’s issues had finally been found, that his eyes started to tear up. I later read up on the file and found out that the battery was removed endoscopically the same day and that there was significant inflammation of the esophagus due to leaking battery acid.
It is so crazy to think that this kid’s dad suspected something along these lines right from the beginning but it took half a year before it was properly looked into. This instance taught me so much about how easy it is to misjudge people. I am constantly reminding myself to treat all of my patients equally, even in my thoughts.
I was doing a C-section for this poor mom who’d been in labor for hours. The baby wouldn’t come out of the hole we’d made, so we applied more pressure—and suddenly whoooooosh, baby zooms out like a torpedo, covered in lubricant. She zips over the surgical sheeting, which has the texture of a Slip n’ Slide, and almost rockets straight off the table.
The nurse caught the baby’s foot and whipped her up in the air upside down like in old cartoons, but almost dropped her again. Thankfully, the midwife was ready with the towel and caught the baby to wrap her up. Mom and dad seemed to think this was normal practice and didn’t notice, but me and my colleague just stared at each other with a look of absolute horror.
It still makes me shudder to think how close the baby was to hitting the floor headfirst. Never happened before or since.
For two days, my sister endured excruciating abdominal pain. She had a super swollen belly and pain so intense that it made her puke. She was unable to walk, so her husband had to drag her across the apartment on a blanket so that she could use the restroom.
We live in Switzerland and her insurance requires a phone call to determine if a doctor is needed. On the phone, they dismissed it as some kind of stomach flu. When she stated that she had extreme pain, the operator asked if she felt she was going to perish my sister answered, “No”.
I should note that we had a tough upbringing, which gave us a pretty intense pain tolerance. The next day, she refused to call in again and instead went directly went to her doctor. After an ultrasound, they immediately flew her to a hospital by helicopter because she lives in a remote place in the mountains.
At the hospital, she had emergency surgery and blood transfusions. It turns out she had lost more than a liter (33 ounces) of blood due to a ruptured tube from an ectopic pregnancy. If they had waited any longer, she would not have survived the day.
On my anesthesia rotation, we had a spine surgery case who needed all of his anesthesia through an IV because the gas messes with neurological monitoring. This patient was a difficult needle stick but we finally got one in. The anesthesia was given by IV and the patient was given paralytics as usual.
Unfortunately, it all went so wrong, so fast. When we flipped the patient to the prone position, his IV came out. The rapid-acting anesthetics were wearing off while he was still paralyzed. We had five people desperately trying to get an IV on him while, at the same time, his heart rate and respiratory rate started spiking, which indicates insufficient anesthesia.
I ended up turning on some anesthetic gas for a few minutes which delayed the surgery by a bit but was definitely necessary. All we could hope for was that the medicine that caused temporary amnesia was still working. When the patient awoke after the surgery, the anesthesiologist hovered over the bed and nervously said, “Hey buddyyyyy. So, how was the surgery”?
Thank goodness, the patient remembered nothing. Anesthesiologists can tell when a patient is in pain and give meds accordingly. Having someone wake up during surgery is the absolute worst-case scenario. This is not only because of lawsuits but also because of the psychological harm it causes.
I was a patient on the operating table when this happened. A couple of years ago, I was in labor for 28 hours, pushing for six, when my child started showing signs of distress. The baby had a slightly elevated heart rate. My midwife at the hospital told me the doctor was coming in to check to see if a vacuum assist could help.
She checks me. Then I see a horrifying sight. She immediately stands up with blood on her hand and says “We're going to the operating room NOW”. At that time, I started feeling that zoomed-out tunnel vision I know is shock. I had anxiety, but I figured she knew what was best. She did. We got in the OR eight minutes later, and when they opened me up, I heard the surgeon say, "Oh God. Look at this".
They saw blood in my catheter bag, and upon fully opening me up found my son was actually trying to come through my uterus. He had ruptured it. They got my son out. Those moments where he was stunned and not crying were an eternity. Then he cried and he was born a completely healthy baby. After I woke up and was back in my room, the doctor came in and told me what happened. I knew a ruptured uterus sounded bad, but oh darn I googled and started having a massive anxiety attack.
A ruptured uterus is extremely rare and often fatal. I read from the time it happens, you have about 15 minutes before you bleed out and the baby is gone. When I went back for my follow-up, my midwife let me know she had never once encountered that, and it was such a big deal for them that a few days after my birth, they all got together to discuss my case.
I was so incredibly fortunate I chose to labor in a hospital, and that the doctor just knew from my vitals and baby's that something was off. They just didn't know exactly what until they got me open. I can't even tell you how grateful I am for Dr. S. You saved my life and my son's life and our family will forever be grateful.
When I was about ten, I lived in the backwoods of Louisiana. It wasn't uncommon for kids to do heavy chores. My neighbor, who was about the same age as me, was chopping wood with a double-bladed axe. Suddenly, the axe head came off during a mid-upward swing and lodged right between his eyes, smack in the forehead.
He turned around and looked at me, all puzzled. I immediately started screaming. Neither of our parents were around, but there was a fire station about two blocks away. I walked him there and we just sort of waltzed in, me holding this boy's hand while he stared around with a confused look and an axe head sticking out of his forehead.
The firefighters just about lost it and ran him to the ER in a firetruck. Since our parents weren't there, I got to ride with him and hung out in the ER with a fireman until both of our parents arrived. It turned out the axe wedged right between the two lobes of his brain, and he was a hair away from brain damage. Thank God he was OK.
Psychiatrist here. This happened during my residency years when I was at the brief internment unit, which was mostly for acute psychotic cases. There was this woman who had been there for some time because she had paranoid delusions that the Russian mob was trying to get her, complete with hallucinations and everything.
Her family confirmed that nobody was actually following her and that these scenarios were all made up in her head. She had been getting medication for some time and her symptoms had improved a lot.
She no longer believed that she was in danger or being hunted, and everything seemed to be going well—or so we thought. Following protocol, the staff contacted her family so that she could start going out for the weekends with them before being fully discharged. The first weekend away from the hospital, she was actually kidnapped by the Russian mob.
This was to repay a huge debt that nobody in her family had known about. There was a happy ending, though. She was found and brought to safety quite quickly because we had already spoken to law enforcement about her “delusions” just in case, and they were quick to act when she disappeared. And, yes, people were locked up and, thankfully, quite a few other women were saved. It was, all in all, a satisfying ending.
My mom had to have a kidney removed due to her waiting for almost two years to go to the doctor about her pain in her back. The doctors found out it was a large kidney stone and that her kidney was infected and had lots of gross discharge shutting it down. After draining the fluids through tubes, she was finally ready for surgery.
Cue last Wednesday, the day of the surgery, and she was ready to finally be done with it. They removed the stent and put in the tubes no problem, next was the kidney. Here comes the “Oh God” moment. As they get ready to remove the kidney, they realized the kidney’s infection had spread to a portion of her lung and a major artery, making them fragile as toilet paper.
As the surgeon removed the kidney, he tore a hole in the lung, and even worse, he severed the artery. At that point, it was a race to save her life and stabilize her. I don’t remember much about how they fixed her up there, but they had to fly her to a different hospital and have a heart surgeon fix the severed artery in a more permanent fashion.
Anyway, the heart doctor saw the grave situation and said she’s got a 1% chance to make it. But he did such an excellent job that my mom is still alive and getting stronger each day. The moral of this story is: If you have insurance and are experiencing pain, go to a doctor as soon as you realize it. You may save your life, and also save some doctors from an “Oh God” moment like this.
When I was working as a medical technician in the ER, we had a male patient about 75 years old come in with extraordinarily low blood pressure and a ton of facial and upper body bruising. He was brought in via EMS after the nurses at his nursing home found him on the floor in his room, where there was some blood on the wall. The guy wouldn't talk to us about why he was there but was very talkative about pretty much anything else—sports, the news, etc.
We couldn't for the life of us figure out what happened since we couldn't find any bleeding internally, his fluid levels were fine, and he had not left the nursing home, so there was nothing available for a high mechanism of injury. When he revealed what he'd done, I couldn't believe it. After four hours, we eventually got him talking, and he confessed that he had wanted to take his life and had taken the remaining amount of his prescribed nitroglycerin that was used for chest pain and lowers blood pressure rather quickly.
Now, nitro is also the active ingredient in TNT. However, the amount in the pills is minuscule compared to what's in dynamite. The man had tried to make himself explode by running into the wall repeatedly. He was a really nice guy that sent a card to us after everything; he was just extremely lonely.
I admitted a guy for pneumonia, which was odd because he was young and strapping and had no other medical issues. I could quickly tell something was...off about him. The X-ray didn't look quite right. The pieces just didn't add up, so I started questioning him more closely. I asked him if he used any dope, to which the patient replied, “That's disgusting. I'm no druggie! I've never touched [it] in my life”.
I moved on to other questions when, suddenly, the patient said, "Look, doc, I just want you to know I may have used some hard stuff once or twice years and years ago. That wouldn't cause this, right”? I asked, “How long ago”? The patient replied, “Like ten years, maybe longer”. I told him, “It shouldn't be affecting you after this long”.
Then, the patient said, “More like five”. I inquired, “Years”? The patient said, “Uh, like five months ago”. This exchange went on forever until he admitted that he had just got off a massive bender the day before, where he had spent the past three days in a hotel with some "loose women". He finished with, "But I don't want you to think I'm one of those”.
I didn’t think he was "one of those". I thought he was an idiot who lied and was getting treated for pneumonia instead of getting the proper treatment for crack lung, which is what he had. I genuinely didn’t care. I wasn’t his mother, spouse, or priest. I just didn’t want him to waste my time and endanger his health by spewing lies. Whatever horrible twisted thing you think is too shameful to talk about, I promise you, I've seen worse.
About 14 to 16 weeks into my pregnancy I started to feel very full. It felt like there was a basketball in my stomach. I started to have difficulty breathing and eventually was not able to walk a block without squatting to rest because I felt so heavy with this “basketball” feeling.
I even had to sleep sitting upright on the couch because I couldn’t breathe lying down. Around that time, some other weird things started happening that just didn’t feel right. I brought all these concerns to my doctor—three times—and she would wave them off every time.
Even when I would ask her “if she was sure”. That should have been my first red flag: If I didn’t feel confident with my doctor I should have left right then and sought care elsewhere. At 23 weeks I started leaking fluid and was sent to the hospital.
The doctors were stunned to realize that my doctor had overlooked a serious issue: twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. They put me on a helicopter to go to another hospital to have the surgery, but by then it was too late. The twins were born alive but we lost them about an hour later.
I then had to go have surgery again and was put into the ICU cause I wasn’t doing so great. But yeah, my doctor totally messed up.
I was a medic in the army. I worked for a while at a clinic that only saw trainees. There was a spectrum that all trainees who came to our clinic fell on—malingerers and "I'm fine, but they forced me to come". We saw much more of the former, but I'll never forget this one patient who was part of the latter group. He was forced to come in after an injury.
He didn't want to miss any training, but as we were listening to him tell us about his ankle pain, the PA I was working with interrupted him. They asked him if his throat hurt because he sounded like his throat was obstructed. He admitted it did but was adamant he didn't want to miss training for a sore throat. We realized after looking at his throat he had an abscessed tonsil.
I had an issue where printed words were wavy if I looked at them with my right eye. It was almost like a funhouse mirror effect. I also would occasionally lose some vision in the corner of that eye, but if I blinked, it would come back.
My father had a spontaneous retinal tear in his late 20s. I’m in my mid-30s. So, I’m pretty sure I know what’s going on. I went to the eye doctor. I told the doc that I suspected it was a retinal tear. She did all the tests. Then she asked if I was stressed. I said, “Yeah, work’s been really bad lately”.
She told me that my optic nerve was inflamed, but she didn’t see any issues with the retina. She told me it might be stress-related and prescribed me some steroid eye drops. The eye drops did nothing. Shocker. After about two weeks, I called her back and told her that the same symptoms were still happening.
She said that she doesn’t refer patients to specialists, but I could come back in for another exam. I’m like, “Wait. Should I be going to a specialist”? She got really quiet and then tried to get me to schedule another appointment. I don’t.
I ended up finding a local retina specialist on my own and begged the front desk to give me an appointment without a referral. By this point, I’ve lost about 30 percent of my vision in the upper left quadrant of my eye: retinal detachment. The doctor there doesn’t understand why I waited so long to come in.
He also didn’t understand how the regular eye doctor didn’t see it. I was sent to emergency surgery. Over the next year, I have three more operations on that eye (including cataract surgery), and I still only have 20/200 vision in that eye along with a large blind spot in my central vision caused by optic nerve damage.
I’m not technically blind in that eye but I functionally am. At least my new eye doctor is much more competent.
I was doing a corneal transplant when I had the "oh no" moment. During surgery, I cut off the patient's own cornea and replaced it with a new donor cornea. During that moment when the host cornea was off but before I could get the new one on, there's literally nothing on the front of the eye except a tear film. Anyway, the patient takes that moment to start vomiting.
The reason we tell everyone to skip food and drink is so they don't aspirate in case they throw up. This patient lied about eating breakfast and started throwing up everything. The eye is still "open sky" at this time. Everything inside of the eye can now become outside of the eye. And she's shaking and vomiting. It’s awful. I had to grab the new cornea and start stitching as fast as I could on a patient actively throwing up. Don't lie about eating breakfast before surgery, folks.
I work in behavioral health and our emergency department provider put in a psychiatric evaluation after a woman came in, initially for a medical issue, but then stated that her gynecologist was madly in love with her and was stalking her.
Our emergency department provider said that that was highly unlikely as he knew this gynecologist personally. This caused us to highly doubt that this woman was telling the truth. After the evaluation was done, however, the patient showed us her phone. When looked at the screen, my blood chilled. There were indeed a ton of texts and pictures that proved her right.
There was a patient who was supposed to have their poop checked. The patient claimed not to be able to poop for a week. The patient was under observation and was given things to help them poop, but still, there was nothing. The healthcare aide came in to check on the room. In the process of making sure everything was in order, he noticed that the room smelled a little more like poop than normal.
He checked the bedpan, but there was nothing. He asked the patient, "Did you have a poop"? The patient replied, "No, I can't poop". The health aide was confused but continued to take care of the room—until he found the source of the smell. Opening one of the cabinets, he discovered a few days’ worth of poo. The patient was going into her hand and hiding it in the cabinet. For...reasons?
At 13, I went to the dentist to get my wisdom teeth removed and the surgeon was a man I had never met. He told me that I fit the age category for one dose of anesthesia but the size and weight category for a much larger dose.
He decided to go with the smaller dose despite me telling him that he should definitely use the bigger dose since I weighed 90 kg (200 lb) at the time. Halfway through the operation, I woke up at the exact moment he was pulling out the first tooth.
All I felt was a bit of pressure, but once it was out I remember asking if he was done yet. He and my regular dentist nearly jumped out of their skins. The surgeon scrambled for more anesthesia while shouting, “Nope! Go back to sleep!"
When I woke up after it was finished, my first words to him were, “I told you I needed a double dose!" I guess I was coherent enough to boast about my own impeccable judgment. According to my mom, I didn’t start getting loopy until we got in the car and headed home.
I was a paramedic. We had a woman who had been shot. We arrived on the scene, and she had a single slug wound in her right thigh, with minimal bleeding. She was standing up and limping while talking to the authorities. She was very polite and nice and thanked us for coming to help her. She said that she was walking in the parking lot of a restaurant when she saw a blue car drive by.
Then, someone leaned out and started firing, then she felt something hit her leg. We helped her to the truck and I bandaged her wound. I gave her some pain medicine and away to the hospital we went. She joked about she was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was having an unlucky day. She answered our questions with, “Yes sir/no sir”, even though I told her she didn’t have to.
We arrived at the ER and I was giving my report to the trauma team when an officer on the scene quietly came into the room. I was telling the patient’s story to the doctors when the officer got this huge grin on his face, then nodded at me to come outside. The twist came soon after. He told me that a blue car pulled up just when we left the scene and told them to go check the restaurant cameras.
The officers checked the camera to find my patient inside the restaurant suddenly starting to yell at the other person who was the driver of the blue car. The other person left the restaurant trying to get away, and my patient was chasing her. The video from the parking lot then showed my patient going to her vehicle and getting a pistol out. She then started to run after the other person. There was a flash on the camera and the patient started limping. She blasted herself in her leg.
I had a massive abdominal infection that was arguably caused by the hospital. It was a particularly nasty version of E coli, so they gave me Invanz. I was a poor college student without insurance. Invanz is expensive, so they told me I was done with treatments after four weeks.
I was really glad because the Invanz made me feel exhausted. But there was just one thing. I knew there was still something wrong with me, but the infectious disease doctor brushed off my concerns. Plus, I was afraid to go back there and get an even bigger hospital bill. However, I realized that I might have a problem when I couldn’t even fit into my “fat jeans”.
I was extremely bloated because my abdomen was so full of infection. I went back and told them to look harder. They opened me up, cleaned out FOUR abscesses instead of just one, and completely destroyed my fertility in the process. That wasn't the end of it. To make matters worse (if that’s even possible), they wanted me to pay $320,000 for a mistake THEY made.
I should’ve sued them but was too disturbed by the whole ordeal to do anything about it. Moral of the story? Don’t prioritize fear of medical bills over your own life, and don’t believe them when they say nothing is wrong even though your body is telling you otherwise.
My dad had triple bypass surgery in 2011, and right when they were about to close him up, the vent fell out of the freaking ceiling, contaminating EVERYTHING. My dad looked like a Smurf when he finally came out of surgery because they had disinfected him so much. The surgeon was an ex-army surgeon and he came out SEETHING.
He basically told us that if my dad suffered any sort of post-op infection, we would own the hospital. Luckily, my dad was just fine and is still with us, healthier than he has been in a while. From what we have heard, the maintenance crew was epically chewed out, and the story is still told at the hospital.
I’m a paramedic and I was responding to a call about a 16-year-old female who had just stopped responding while watching a movie on the couch with her boyfriend. She was just staring straight ahead. It was a “lights on but no one’s home” sort of deal. There were lots of weird vibes in the room, too. Her boyfriend kept looking at her strangely and her mom and aunt were praying for her. All her vitals were fine.
I had this unshakable feeling that she was doing this for attention because most of the calls like this are just dramatic attention-seeking behavior. On the way to the hospital, I tried a new trick. I told her, “I think you’re faking. I need you to stop and talk to me honestly so we can figure out how to help you”. Her heart rate rose and her blood pressure cycled higher. I thought, “Ah-ha, I got her”.
I was open with her mom about my thought process and although she was skeptical, she understood my angle. I can't believe how wrong I was. Her mom called a week later to say they found a brain tumor. It was a very humbling experience. Never let your personal bias influence your overall clinical decision-making.
A patient came in with chest pain and said they had fallen and hit their chest on a table. An X-ray was performed to evaluate for a rib fracture or a collapsed lung. Instead, the X-ray showed a long metallic foreign body in the left chest, within the heart. When questioned further, the patient admitted to lying and said that they had actually blasted themselves in the chest with a nail-gun. The wound was not bleeding or really noticeable. They were taken to the operating room and did quite well after open heart surgery.
When I was five, I had MASSIVE migraines daily for almost a year and a half. I went through so many scans and had three spinal taps done in the span of a month, which, from my understanding, is extremely dangerous.
Finally, after a frustrating year of doctors not knowing what was wrong and probably assuming I was faking, we figured it out in a surprising way…We were at an eye doctor appointment for my brother and my silly five-year-old self insisted that the eye doctor do an exam on me too because I wanted to be like my big brother.
The doctor looked into my eye and could see that I had a massive buildup of fluids in my brain. Less than two weeks later, I had a shunt placed into my head. I was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, which occurs when a little flap in your neck doesn’t open to release fluids. The only cause we could think of was a baseball that had struck the back of my neck earlier in the year.
I’m sure the doctor isn’t alive anymore, but that man probably saved my quality of life if not my life in general.
There was a woman who presented with blood in her urine, which can be a sign of cancer in the bladder. Scans are not very accurate so you put a camera through the urethra to look into the bladder. I was just a junior doctor and learning how to do the procedure, so I was supervised.
I got the camera in and couldn’t figure out what I was seeing at first. When I realized what I was seeing, I nearly screamed. Her bladder was full of citrus pits. There were easily 50, likely more in there. So, I said to her, “Why are you putting fruit pits in your bladder? That’s a bad idea, we will need to take them out”.
She replied, “I haven’t done that. I wouldn’t....but I do eat a lot of fruit, that must be where they have come from”. That's impossible, by the way. My boss stepped in at that point and got increasingly angry because she would not own up to inserting them. She stuck with her story that they came from her diet.
This happened when my daughter was a baby and we were getting her first set of vaccines. While we were waiting for the doctor, I read the little pamphlet that they gave me. It listed each of the vaccines that children get and at what ages they should get them. Eventually, the doctor came in with a vial and set it on the counter.
As he was prepping the needle, I looked at the vial and my stomach turned. It didn’t match the pamphlet. I told him that he had the wrong vial, but he brushed me off. Maybe he thought I was some sort of anti-vaxxer or just a dumb mother, I’m not sure.
It got to the point where I actually had to physically stop him from injecting my baby with the wrong thing. I thrust the pamphlet at him and showed him. He seemed super annoyed at me. However, it turned out that he was wrong and, for some reason, he had the wrong date of birth for my daughter.
He then gave her the correct vaccine, but we decided it would be best if we switched doctors after that.
I was in medical school doing my radiology rotation with an interventional group. They did some super cool stuff. One day we were doing a procedure that involved sedation, so the patient had to wait to recover for a bit. Things went smoothly. I went back to the reading room with the doctor to get caught up on some films.
We sat down at the box. This was back when everything was on film, so we had a big auto rotator that would spin the next film at you. At the end of the procedure, they took a film of the whole abdomen to make sure nothing really bad had happened. Right then, the specials tech, who did the case with us, came back. The whole belly film showed up, and we all cocked our heads to the side, completely confused.
There were three bright white objects down in the pelvis, one shaped like a circle, one more of an oval, and one T-shaped object. They were all the same size and close together. The tech said, "What are those"? The radiologist was befuddled. Being new to medicine and having the mind of a child, I said, “I think those are push pins”.
We went round and round at first, thinking, “no way, can't be”, then arguing about where in the office do we even have push pins to have them fall on this guy’s back before we gowned him. Then, finally, I said, “They could be inside him”. We didn't have a lateral wide image, unfortunately, so there was no way to know for sure. The radiologist then tried to figure out why anyone would be stupid enough to swallow push pins and wondered how long they had been in there.
After a couple of minutes of this with the tech, I finally came to a messed-up conclusion. "You know, there's a much shorter distance to get to where they are at". As in, he was pushing them up himself. There was a quiet pause. "You know, someone is going to have to tell him what we see. He can't leave until we figure out what that is". The radiologist and I looked at each other, then at the tech. He sighed and defeatedly walked out to the recovery room.
A couple of minutes later, he came back as white as a ghost. I asked, "What did he say"? He replied, "Well, I told him the procedure went well, no complications, stents in place, etc. Then, I mentioned we took the last picture to make sure we weren't missing anything, and when we went to look at it in the room, we noticed some metallic-like objects that seemed to be in the pelvis.
“They aren't anything we typically use in the procedure, and we aren't sure if they were on top of or inside your pelvis. They looked like push pins, but we just wanted to see if you knew why—", and the patient cut him off and said, "Yes, I know about those. Please don't tell my wife". The tech didn't say another word. We were too afraid to ask anything further.
The radiologist dictated as best he could. I never heard anything more about it, but that film is burned into my memory. I can still draw it to this day.
When I was a fourth-year medical student doing a rotation at the Veteran’s Administration hospital, a patient came to the emergency room complaining of stomach pain. We did an X-ray, which showed two toothbrushes in his stomach. He explained to us that he had the sensation that there was something on the back of his throat, used his toothbrush to try to get rid of it, and accidentally swallowed the toothbrush.
The same thing happened with the second one. We consulted gastroenterology, and the toothbrushes were removed via endoscopy. He was admitted to the hospital for observation overnight. The next morning, he complained of stomach pain again. This is when we realized something else was definitely wrong. A follow-up X-ray revealed that he had swallowed his entire convenience kit from the hospital.
He ingested a small toothbrush, a small tube of toothpaste, and even his plastic razor. Needless to say, we called psychiatry for consultation. It turned out this was not the first episode for this guy; he just liked to swallow things.
A patient was brought into our ER for the sixth time in six months with the same complaint: fits and progressive neurological symptoms. Four months earlier, she had had an MRI scan done and it was normal.
We gave her a referral to a “functional neurologist” to help her deal with symptoms we thought were more mental than physical. We came to this diagnosis because the patient had had her first neurological event while she was on the phone, getting some bad news. In addition to that, her MRI was normal four months ago, and she had seen a neurologist who couldn’t find anything wrong with her.
On this particular visit, though, the patient rolled up in a wheelchair because she was unable to stand. This caused one of the senior ER doctors to order her another scan. Cue me, walking in to see the patient's scans. Until my last day on earth, I will never forget my horror when I saw her repeat MRI scan on my computer screen. It was just before I went into the room to talk to her, and it showed that the patient had a golf ball-sized tumor at the very back of her brain.
Her rapidly progressing neurological signs meant she was in huge, huge trouble. I felt so terrible for both the patient and her family. The first thing I did was to tell them that we were very wrong and that there was something physically wrong with her. I apologized for the 10 or so times this woman had been sent home from ER and told that she had been making up the symptoms and signs.
The family was just so grateful that they now knew what was going on. The patient passed a month or so later. I tell this story to all of my junior colleagues because I am now extremely wary when people are labeled as having a fictitious illness.
A patient’s relatives came into my office to ask me if I could see this old guy because he had accidentally cut himself and wanted some stitches. I told them I couldn't do any stitching because there was a lack of sterile equipment, but I would be glad to apply some steri-strips if the wound allowed it, as long as they brought the man into the office.
My request was denied, and they kept insisting I see the man at home. So, I loaded up my bag to go check on the old fellow. I found him in his bed, conscious but refusing to talk, with various superficial cut wounds on his stomach and a gigantic hematoma in the process of swelling up on his forehead.
I lost my marbles and finally got the relatives to talk. My mouth gaped as they revealed everything. They said the man had fought with his sister and decided to harm himself by repeatedly slamming a hammer onto his forehead and then trying to disembowel himself with a kitchen knife. They didn't call an ambulance because they "were ashamed" and didn't want to deal with assisting the man in a hospital that was far away.
I gave them 15 minutes to get their priorities together and either call an ambulance or get the man to the hospital themselves.
I was a neurologist in Spain. We had a patient who had an acute stroke in the morning. When we asked him about how it happened, he said he had gone out for an early morning jog when he fell down and was unable to move the left part of his body. An hour later, a nurse asked him the same question, and he gave another different fake answer.
It turned out he had woken up early, left his house, and he was getting busy with a working girl when he suffered the stroke. It was this woman who called the ambulance. The tough part was meeting his family.
This happened when I worked as a developer for a medical alarm company. Think: “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!" I had a woman call my extension by accident complaining that somebody was contacting her through her pendant device and threatening her.
I checked the notes on her account and they said that she was schizophrenic and had this issue multiple times. She told me that she knows she hears voices sometimes, but it would put her mind at ease if I could find out what was happening.
So, I pulled up the cellular usage logs for her device and I couldn’t believe it. There were hundreds of calls and text messages about gruesome and unlawful activity. Luckily, the pendant device had no way of showing any of the images.
It turns out that the number for her device was targeted by some bad people. She was part of what’s known as a cartel scheme where people target seniors and pretend they are members of a cartel and will do terrible things to you if you don’t pay them. They even send awful images to intimidate their targets.
I got this woman a new phone number and had a word with the people who kept dismissing her.
I had my nose straightened and my septum shaved after I broke it. I woke up after the anesthesia feeling like “the man”. After about a minute of being awake, I tore out my IV, stood up, and started walking out of my room, because I was going to walk home—about three miles—and finish my one mission in Heroes of Might And Magic 3.
I walked past a nurse, and she said, "You're bleeding"! I laughed and told her, "No, I feel amazing". I kept walking until I got to the elevator and saw my reflection in the metal. I took one look, and my stomach dropped. My face was bandaged up with blue/black bruising leaking out from under the white fabric, my eyes were bloodshot, and I generally looked terrible.
I woke up later, back in my bed with the IV inserted in my other arm, and I was strapped to the bed. It turned out I was on a morphine drip; that's why I felt like Superman. My parents started yelling, and I had no idea what they were talking about. Apparently, I had given myself a concussion when I collapsed while waiting for the elevator.
My best friend’s aunt had a terrible headache that was unlike anything she’d ever felt before. Her doctor told her it was probably a migraine and prescribed her some serious pain meds. The next day the aunt was feeling even worse, so they took her to the ER.
The doctors sent her away with the same message even though she insisted this wasn’t like anything she had felt before. The aunt tried to emphasize that this was way too intense to be a migraine and she ended up in a small scuffle in the ER. Security was even called to remove them!
That night, the aunt woke up and was BLIND. They rushed her to the ER where she was put into a coma. It turned out that she had meningitis, but it was too late to do anything about it. She passed three days later, leaving behind two small kids.
To make matters worse, her ex-husband didn’t want to take the kids because he had a new family and not enough space in his three-bedroom house. He is such a jerk. Now my best friend is bringing up her aunt's two kids plus two of her own—as a single mom.
I was 12 years old and had an infection in my, er, "sack" if you get my meaning. I tried to hide it, hoping it would just go away. I regret that decision to this day. I started walking funny, and it eventually turned purple. My parents got very worried and spoke to me about why I was walking funny. Finally, I had to show my mom my crazy swollen purple sack, and we went to the doctor the next day.
While there, I explained the situation. They needed to do tests, so I was given morphine so they could ultrasound my nads. There was a super attractive nurse doing the ultrasound. I was so weirded out by the whole situation—I can't imagine how she felt. I was also ticklish. Every couple of seconds, I would giggle and smile, but then a quarter second later, it would hurt and be painful.
It was a rollercoaster, especially for being so young. It went on like that for at least five minutes. I had a bacterial infection, but it cleared up, and I was fine. The only lasting effect from that was that women with short hair are still very attractive to me.
I was working as a clinical pharmacist in the emergency room when a patient calmly approached me and told me that he has an ice pick stuck in his back from an incident with his inebriated neighbor. I said, “If you got jabbed with an ice pick, you should be DOA”. Just then the patient decided to remove his shirt and lo and behold…
You guessed it. He had a frigging ice pick sticking out of his back. Of course, he needed emergency surgery. During the operation, one of the nurses who had overheard me talking to him came close to me and whispered, “You messed up. Big time”.
While in the ER, a guy walked to the back with a couple of towels on his shoulder, with what looked like blood starting to seep through. The nurse asked him what had happened and started to take the towel off. When she looked, her face turned from a smile to a terrified scowl. She called over the doctor and others. The guy said, “I was cutting some branches overhead with a chainsaw. It got caught on one of the branches and came back on my shoulder”.
By then, there was a crowd around the man, and they were getting ready to take him back for surgery. He had basically cut into his chest with a chainsaw. It was not life-threateningly bad at that point since he walked in, but I was in awe. I always wondered how he shut that thing off before almost destroying himself.
I was working in obstetrics during a heatwave. This is important, as maternity wards are kept quite warm since newborn babies aren't good at regulating their temperatures. Mid-emergency cesarean, the scrub nurse assisting the operation starts feeling faint. This is unusual, as this scrub nurse worked in these theaters full-time, so this was her bread and butter.
I can only conclude it was the heat that did it. Anyway, she has to step out and someone far more junior had to take her place, it was the nurse’s first section ever. They were trying to assist with the instruments in the uterus when they fainted. I had to jump in and grab the back of their gown to stop them face-planting the open uterus, and then sort of gently tug backward to let them fall into me while someone else took over. Thank God the baby was already out.
One night, two people came into the accident and emergency department. One had cuts around their lower back, upper thighs, and in and around their rear. The other had cuts and a shard of glass in their face. Upon admission, they didn't say what the cause of their wounds was. It wasn't until they found traces of fecal matter in the second patient’s wounds that they said what happened.
As it turned out, the first patient had been sitting on a glass table taking a poop while the other sat directly beneath to watch them doing so. The glass table gave way and broke during their adventure.
We had a lady come in with severe stomach pain, diarrhea, and a fever for the last couple of days. So, I was asking her all the routine questions, like, “Where about was the pain located? Are you on any regular meds? Any other symptoms”? I asked the usual question, “When was your last solid bowel motion”? She thought about it for a while. Her reply stunned me. She came back with, "I think about a month".
I asked if this was usual for her, and she said, "No. I usually poop once every two months". She was saying this like it was a normal cycle. The doctor ordered an X-ray, and her bowel was packed with poop. I'd never seen anything like it. After kindly giving the lady an education about normal pooping cycles, I had the lovely job of inserting three enemas and regularly checking on her until the lava of great Mount Fuji erupted from her backside.
My mom did intake in an ER. A man came in with bloody, open wounds on his hand. He said he burned his hand on a radiator. After being stitched up, the dude disappeared. But that wasn't the last she heard of him. It turned out he found the staff cafeteria and took my mom's car keys out of her coat pocket. He then took my mom's car, went back to a house, and filled the car with a bunch of swiped goods.
He had taken out an old lady during a home invasion earlier that night. He cut his hand while jabbing her. The dude was caught that night, and my mom's car was impounded. When my mom picked up her car, the officers told her to keep the stuff in the trunk for her troubles. They told her to claim the goods on the official report as being already in the car.
She declined, but the authorities left one of those old-school sleds—the wood and metal ones— in the trunk anyway. She never took it out of the trunk. It was there until the day the car was no more. I remember going grocery shopping and always filling the trunk with stuff on top of the sled.
When my mom was a resident, she was prepping a lady for weight loss surgery. She took all of her vitals, did all of the necessary pre-op questionings, and then started to hook up her monitor with a bunch of sticky pads on the chest. This lady had a massive chest that was physically in the way of where my mom needed to stick everything. The patient was actively trying to prevent my mom from accessing those places around her chest.
Finally, my mom just said, “Look. This has to happen or no surgery”. My mom lifted the lady's bosom up and out of the way. Then she made a discovery that ruined everything. She found a whole pack of soggy Oreos, with a couple already missing. They had to postpone the weight-loss surgery because she had recently eaten them and no longer had the required empty stomach before the procedure. This lady had a cache of junk food stored under her chest.
I went to the ER because I had a moth in my ear, and, yes, it was as horrifying as it sounds. To make matters worse, they were pretty dismissive and just thought that I was an addict. The best part about the ordeal, if that’s possible, was the reaction from the ER nurse when she stuck the scope in my ear...
“EeeerrrrgghhhAhhhh!!! He DOES have a bug in there and it’s alive!"
When I was 10, my mother started seeking medical help for me because I was having severe night terrors, migraines, sore muscles, and rapid weight changes. She took me to various clinics and emergency rooms but no one could figure it out.
To make matters worse, more than once I was accused of faking it to miss school or of having an addiction problem—at 10 years old! Eventually, I moved in with my first boyfriend at the age of 19. He started coming to my doctor appointments because he swore that I was expiring in my sleep.
Tests were run, but they were all normal. Finally, my boyfriend decided to call the ambulance every time I was fading. At 24, I finally found out the truth. I was diagnosed with nocturnal epilepsy. I had been having generalized grand mal seizures in my sleep for my entire life.
A patient came into the ED with severe pain in her buttocks on both sides, as well as fevers and some other indications of infection. After further evaluation, she was diagnosed with a nasty deep-tissue infection that required inpatient hospitalization and IV antibiotics. However, the question still remained as to where the infection was coming from. As it turned out, she had read online that rubbing fish oil on your rear can make it more voluptuous.
She figured if it worked on the surface, it might work even better on the inside. So, she took her insulin syringes and withdrew the fish oil from an oral capsule, and injected herself with fish oil daily for two weeks until she inevitably became infected. Her rear was not more voluptuous; it was red, swollen, hard, and severely tender, and she was unable to lay on her back or sit down for weeks.
A few years ago, I had really terrible abdominal pain. I was shaking, had chills, and was running a 100-degree fever. So I went to my mother, a former pediatrician who had retrained and was now practicing allergy and immunology. She was obviously very concerned, so she did something called an obturator test to see if I had appendicitis. Sure enough, I writhed in pain, so she rushed me to the hospital.
Before they opened me up, they wanted to make sure that it was indeed appendicitis. So, they took me in and put colored dye in my blood, and gave me a scan. It was somehow even worse than we thought. It turned out I was just massively constipated. In the words of the attending, "I've never seen so much fecal matter in someone in my life". I was absolutely mortified.
They had me medicated to help with the pain, so I was even more constipated after that. I spent a few painful days on the porcelain throne and pooped myself for a week straight.
One night we had an inebriated patient come into the emergency department with an eyebrow laceration. She told the doctor that her boyfriend had fired a revolver at her, but we all thought that she was just being dramatic.
She basically looked like she had just taken a good slug to the face and so we stitched her up and thought that was it. Then we performed an X-ray to check for any fractures and that’s when we all got a big dose of humility. Right there on the X-ray was an actual 22. It had hit her orbital bone and kind of bounced off to the point that it stayed outside her skull but under the skin. Once you knew it was there, you could actually feel it above her ear.
I had a 57-year-old woman with a small 5mm nodule on her lower eyelid come in. It was most probably basal cell carcinoma, which is harmless and needs to be removed in a short office procedure that takes 15 minutes under local anesthesia. The woman refused but, strangely enough, came in every three months to re-refuse the operation.
The thing slowly grew. I saw her for five years. For the final three years, she hid the blossoming tumor with a folded-up sheet of Kleenex behind her glasses. In the end, she agreed to an operation. At that stage, it took seven hours, and her eye, muscles, and bones were removed. By then, it was too late; it had spread.
I had a patient in his mid-30s who had come to see me because he had “difficulty reading”. He was very shy and actually came in with his mother, which I thought was strange. He said he worked at a library and the words would get “jumbled up” while he was reading. That was his only complaint.
I did a very thorough neurological exam and found zero problems. I asked him to read a magazine out loud at different speeds and he did it perfectly. I said everything looked fine and wanted to order some labs. I honestly felt he was just a strange character. He agreed to labs but his mom was very pushy to do head imaging.
I said we could and ordered a CT scan. The lab results came back before the scan. The labs revealed that he was extremely low on vitamin D, so I suggested that we should deal with that and hold off on the CT scan. Not only did his mom not want the scan canceled, but she also wanted an MRI and she wanted it STAT.
I basically got tired of trying to be reassuring and just ordered what she wanted. I couldn’t believe it when the results came in…Her son had the biggest glioblastoma (aggressive brain cancer) that I have ever seen. Go, mom.
My sister was a nurse. She was working in the ER when this lady came in with a nasty rash on her legs. She was being cagey about what had happened, and the department was particularly busy that evening. So, my sister told the woman to tell her what was going on, or she would have to go help someone else. Apparently, the patient had been sleeping when she awoke and felt a strange bumping sensation on her leg.
She looked down and saw her pet chinchilla humping her. As the patient described it, this continued without interruption for a short while before the chinchilla "went". "Went?" my sister asked. The patient then made a splooshing motion with her hands and said, "You know, it...went". My sister nodded her head and said she'd go get the doctor.
She barely made it to the hallway and shut the door before breaking down laughing. Eventually, the doctor came by to see what was up. My sister filled him in, and they had a good laugh. But that wasn't the best part. The doctor then pointed out that in order for the patient to have an allergic reaction, this had to be at least the second time this had happened.
I ruptured my ACL while doing Jiu-Jitsu. I heard it pop when it happened and the pain was unbearable. I went to a walk-in clinic over the weekend to get a referral for an MRI to confirm the damage. I would have gone to my regular GP but they weren’t open on the weekend, it would have taken longer to get in, and it would have cost more.
All I needed to hear was, “Yep, sounds good. Here’s the referral”. The random GP at the walk-in tried to convince me that it was a soft-tissue injury and that I should just stay off it for a while. I told her that I very much hoped it was a soft tissue injury, but I still wanted an MRI to confirm it.
She even tried talking me out of it by saying, “It’s very expensive”. I finally had to say, “Doc, I’ve got plenty of money. I’m not worried about the cost. I just want the peace of mind”. She eventually gave me the referral for the MRI.
When I went back to her a week later for the results the news was bad but it was just what I wanted to hear. Lo and behold! I did indeed have a ruptured ACL. Thanks for trying to get me to walk that one off, Doc.
When I was in pharmacy school, I was doing my internal medicine rotation in my final year. My supervisor and I were doing med reviews in the ICU when one of the doctors said "Hey, you wanna see something cool?" They were trying to extract a foreign object from a guy's lung in one of the rooms. So we go in and watch for a bit.
There were about six people in the room. A tube was down the guy's throat. Little grippers at the end. Two doctors are watching a monitor and trying to control the grabbers and get it like a claw game. I watched for a bit, then after a while, I lost interest and went back out to what I was doing. A few minutes later I hear: "Got it!" *Cheers from the room* "Oh it's a tooth!"
The dude aspirated his own molar. The doctor walks out with his trophy in a jar, and it's a completely intact tooth, root and all.
I’m a paramedic...so many to tell, but this one will stick with me forever. Rainy afternoon in the spring. The call was for a tipsy person randomly pounding on house doors. Normally, it would be an officer response, but they were swamped. We pull up to the house, no lights, no siren. Heck, I'm so burnt out at the time, I don't even get out of the passenger seat.
I just power the window down. "Hey!" I snap at the older gentleman on the porch, "What are you doing?" He turns from pounding at the stranger’s door and begins shuffling down the walkway toward our ambulance. I can see the elderly woman close the curtains, her nuisance addressed. "Man, I just got to lay down!" The guy says to me.
I look at my partner, and she at I. Henry Ford Hospital is six blocks away. Surely we can take the guy there? "Get in the back!" I snap at him. "And if you puke in my bus, I'll mop it up with your clothes". "But I got chest pains,” He says, holding his hand closed against the pelting rain. I roll my eyes, "Man, I do too. So let's go to Ford and both get checked".
The guy begins fiddling with his buttons, and I reach over from my seat to dial up the heater. When I look back, he's got his trench coat open, to show me exactly where it hurts. What I saw still haunts me to this day. Right in the middle of his sternum, vividly defined against his white sweatshirt, is a star-shaped POWDER BURN.
A big one. Point-blank-to-the-chest, hole-punched GSW. Oh my God. The next four or so minutes were a blur. Rushing out the door to grab the man as he was about to fall. My partner yanking the stretcher out, loading the patient, and loading him in the back. Scissors cutting clothes, oxygen mask going on. Yelling, "Go, go, go!!!" to my partner as she raced the six blocks to the hospital.
I really only managed to get one IV started during the three minute ride. He was gone 25 minutes later. When we rolled him in the trauma room, you could see an exit wound the size of a fist. The doctors assured us that the only thing that could have helped this man was if he fell into the OR after being shot. But that didn't bring me any peace.
We probably spent 10 minutes talking to the man as he stood in the rain. For me, that was my out cue. I took a week off work, and resigned two weeks later.
When I told the anesthesiologist that the general anesthetic was absurdly painful, he treated me like I was being a big baby and subsequently paralyzed my lungs. His IV missed my vein, which meant that I didn’t get any general anesthetic. During the surgery, I was fully awake and suffocating while flopping around like a fish.
The last thing I remember before I passed out from the pain was the surgeon telling the anesthesiologist that I "wouldn’t remember anything anyway”. Wrong.
I had a girl pretend to be unconscious so that we wouldn't discharge her after a short outpatient surgery. It was weird because it's really hard not to react to things like sternal rubs, so we knew she was awake and with it. She just wouldn't talk, open her eyes, move, etc. Eventually, we did enough painful things that she opened her eyes and moved but then went back to sleep.
We kept her in the hospital overnight, and in the morning, she went back to acting normal like nothing ever happened and went home. She was a weird girl, and rumor had it that she was a medical student as well.
I was a family practitioner. I had a new patient come into the office and asked her about her past medical history. She denied any long-term health problems. We finally got to the medications list. The first thing on there was insulin. When questioned, she stated that that was for her high blood sugar, but she didn’t remember ever being told that she had diabetes.
A friend of mine was a surgeon who worked in proctology in a hospital in Switzerland. They had a patient who was a very athletic guy in his late 30s, solar-bench tanned, very well groomed and looked very anxious. He complained about an intense itching sensation in his backside area, and his GP couldn't find the cause. My friend first had a conversation with him, asking about any recent unusual activity in that area.
He denied any and said 20 times that he wasn’t gay. My friend insisted, saying that he was not there to judge and that it had nothing to do with being gay. The patient confirmed his first answer. After a deep check-up with the appropriate tools, my friend found very intense abnormal irritation, which could only have been caused by an external product. At that stage, he couldn't guess which product and needed to find out ASAP to be able to cure it.
So, he asked again, and the patient denied everything again, saying, "I told you already, I'm not gay"!!! My friend tried to scare him and said, "Sir, considering that you're 100% sure that no kind of substance, product, or object has recently been inserted in there, what I found there is really not normal at all and looks like a severe mutation of some kind".
He paused. "We might need to cut it off to stop the progression". That finally got him to reveal the truth. He said, "OK. I'll tell you, but you have to promise me that you'll never mention my name when you'll laugh about my story with your colleagues". My friend reassured him and said, "Sir, I'm not here to judge or laugh. I'm here to cure". The guy said, "OK, I'm very not gay, you know, but…you know, sometimes, when the excitement arises…things can happen".
He was having a foursome in his garden with his wife and another couple. They swapped wives. It was fun and all and then, "when the excitement arose", the women went together, and the men ended up together as well. So that guy was in the passive position and his partner of the moment was missing lubricant. They were in the garden and saw that there were a few slugs in the flowerbeds.
They were very excited and decided, “why not”? and tried using the slugs as a lubricant, which obviously didn't work out at all, but it was already too late. So, the slugs were stuck in there for a bit too long and began emitting an irritating substance as a self-defense mechanism. Of course, the guy was so embarrassed that he didn’t go to his doctor immediately.
After several years of odd symptoms and being brushed off by multiple doctors, I became convinced that whatever I had was serious. At different points over about three years, I experienced hearing loss, balance issues, vertigo, tinnitus, pain, and just a general feeling that something was “off”.
During this period, I was diagnosed with sinus issues and inner ear infections. At my last ineffectual appointment, I flat-out told the ear, nose, and throat specialist that I had done some research and I thought I had a brain tumor. I didn’t ask...I TOLD her.
I could see her stifled eye roll before she told me that it was very unlikely and that the type of brain tumor that causes these symptoms is extremely rare. I’m sure she was thinking, “Here’s Dr. Google at it again” but she did order an MRI—mostly to pacify me, I’m sure.
Guess what my diagnosis turned out to be? When the doctor called me with the results, she sounded SHOOK. I had a golf ball-sized brain tumor. It was benign but large enough that it was pushing my brain stem out of the way.
I once saw a med student suck up a skin graft with a suction device. The skin graft is a very thin piece of tissue that was being carefully laid onto the wound where it was then to be sewed on, carefully, like a patch. The med student was using the suction to clean up the wound and accidentally sucked up the carefully-prepared graft entirely. Gone instantaneously.
A patient we had tried to play off a rampant staph infection as "just some leg swelling". It turned out what he meant by that was that he had a horrible infection in and around his junk, something known as "Fournier's gangrene". He later told us that he had to pee with a five-gallon bucket held up to his crotch because he no longer had any idea where the pee was going.
He went into emergency surgery within hours. The only way to get rid of an infection like that is debridement in the operating room, plus a ton of antibiotics. Somehow this guy had no systemic signs of infection, such as fever, low blood pressure, etc. His life was definitely in danger had he waited any longer.
When I interned in the OB/GYN department, we had a lady sent to the ER due to bleeding "down there". When she was examined, the doctor couldn't believe her eyes. She had a massive tumor, the size of a football, growing between her legs. Her husband was with her, and both said that it had just appeared and they had never noticed it before. There was absolutely no doubt that thing had been growing for months. Sometimes when in shock, people can be in denial of the most absurd things.
I had a tumor on my foot that my primary care physician basically dismissed by saying it was a fatty deposit that kept getting bigger because I was gaining weight. After struggling to put on shoes and then suffering from intense pain from the pressure on this “deposit”, I realized that I would need to be more forceful.
The doctor still didn’t want to send me for testing because he thought I was just being vain. However, he finally sent me to a surgeon after my ultrasound results stated that it looked abnormal. The surgeon poked it a few times and told me that it was a fatty deposit and the pain was in my head.
She refused to biopsy it so that she could “save me money”. BIG MISTAKE. Instead, she removed it and then sent it out for testing. It ended up being cancer. I had two additional surgeries and was on bed rest for three months with a frigging hole in my foot because the initial surgery destroyed the integrity of the skin.
I now have two giant scars on my foot and inner thigh, so I guess it’s a good thing I wasn’t actually just being vain.
One of my dad's colleagues was doing a hip replacement way back in the day. Hip replacements aren't fun: They have to pretty much butterfly you like a boneless roast to get the top of the thigh bone clear of the ball-and-socket joint of the hip. They then saw off the ball end and attach the new stainless steel one, which is on a long stem they insert down the middle of the bone to keep it in place.
So the doctor has got to that stage, tapping the stem down the femur, when it jams halfway. Won't go down any further. Won't come out again. Can't saw it off, because bone saws won't touch hardened steel. Can't close up the patient and come back to it, because there's a foot-long spear stuck out the top end of his leg. Meanwhile, the anesthetist is saying they can't keep him under much longer. It was not a “successful” surgery.
A 60-year-old female came in after "falling asleep and rolling on a pin cushion". The X-ray showed that she had three two-inch-long needles lodged in her left shoulder. We later found out that she had been trying to perform acupuncture on herself.
I used to be the overnight answering service for a large doctor group, covering various specialists. We were not allowed to give medical advice; we could only contact the doctor on call. A woman called one night at around 2 AM, and she was talking very quietly. I asked her to speak up as I was having trouble hearing her.
She started her story over again, stating that she was in the garage because she didn’t want her family to worry. She went on to tell me that her intestines were hanging out of her behind and asked if she should go to the ER. Against my training, I advised her she should definitely go to the ER and that I would contact her doctor ASAP. I was baffled that someone would call for advice on whether intestines that are no longer inside of the body was an emergency.
I was the patient, and I'm pretty sure it was an "Oh God” moment for my doctor. I was at the end of my labor and my daughter was stuck. I’d had two epidurals, both of which wore off. My doctor used forceps to try to get her out. I don't think she knew my epidural was as ineffective as it was, otherwise I don't think she would have shoved the forceps in like she did.
I obviously felt the forceps and started thrashing in pain. The doctor got scared and tried to take them out…but they got stuck. She had to wait for the next contraction to push them out. Then blood went everywhere. Most unsettling of all, she was on the phone with her lawyer while wheeling me in for my emergency C-section.
When I was an intern, I was doing my ER rotation, and a woman in her late 30s or so came in complaining of nausea and lower abdominal discomfort for the last few days. I did the diligent history-taking and, of course, asked her about the possibility of her being pregnant. She lost her mind and went off on me. She said she was a lesbian and had not been with a man for 10-plus years.
She yelled at me to get my boss and let an "adult" treat her. I reported back to my attending and delineated the tests I wanted to be done. He said, "I didn't hear a plan for a pregnancy test". I told him, "I don't think that's needed. She's a lesbian and hasn't been with a man in 10 years". My attending smiled and said, "Humor me". The patient was very pregnant. When I went back to her room, two dudes were mean-mugging one another, about to rumble.
My friend is a nurse and she told me about a woman in her early 30s who kept coming to the ER insisting she was really sick. She was basically sick for about a year and a half—solid.
For whatever reason, probably because she was so young, the healthcare team assumed that she was a medication seeker and just wrote her off. Well, eventually they did find something. Something horrible. They gave her a biopsy and it turns out the woman had Stage IV cancer. Stage IV!
Her whole ordeal could have been entirely prevented if only they’d taken her seriously from the beginning. Age discrimination is no joke.
During my father’s residency, a gentleman came in with an infection he developed after having his gum scraped during a dental cleaning. The infection had gotten into his sinus cavity, and my father told his attending that the gentleman was going to die. They had a specialist from Harvard at the hospital at that time, and he called my father an idiot.
The attending corrected the guy from Harvard saying that no, my father was right and the guy was likely going to pass. He had seen 10 such infections previously, and each time the person didn’t make it. Apparently, there's a part of your face some physicians call the "Triangle of Death". The gums of your top teeth form the base, with the sinus cavities forming the arms.
Over the next two days, the infection spread to the guy’s left eye. Mr. Harvard said that they should take the eye, and hopefully, that would be enough to save him. My father said it's not going to make much of a difference and the guy should start working out his final affairs. Obviously not wanting to give up, the gentleman consented to have his eye removed.
It didn't make a difference, and within three days of having his eye removed, the gentleman was gone. The infection went from the sinus and ocular cavities and through the blood-brain barrier.
I once saw a high school-aged kid come in with a dinner candle stuck in his rear. He reportedly was using it to reach an itch. Apparently, the itch was in his spleen because that thing was deep. His mom told me the story and how she had previously asked him not to scratch himself with other things of hers. I didn't ask for any more details. I honestly think she believed that he was just really itchy.
I am an elder care nurse and I had one patient that I had looked after for years. She had advanced dementia and would often go into a very sleepy and unresponsive state for a day or two. During one of her unresponsive periods, a doctor had come in to do rounds and general reviews.
Because my patient wasn’t eating or responding, this doctor insisted that she was palliative. But then he went even further. I was dumbfounded when he told me he wanted to use a syringe driver (which delivers end-of-life medications via an automated syringe) on her. My team and I had to work hard to convince this doctor that she was in fact just having a “sleepy” period.
Thankfully, the patient did go back to normal and even went on to live for another year and a half after that incident.
I was in sixth grade, and my family was living in an upstairs/downstairs duplex. The family above us had two small boys, first grade and preschool if memory serves. Their dad was at work and their mom had to run some errands, so she asked if I could watch them while she was away for a while. It was a nice summer day, so we were outside running around in the yard, generally acting like kids.
A game of tag or something soon developed, with the two boys chasing me. At some point, I ended up running right along the side of the house and losing my footing. Down I went. Instead of my knees or my palms, I hit the side of my head. It HURT. I got to my knees and put my hand to the side of my head, only to feel warm liquid. Lots of it.
I looked at my hand, and it was like it had been used as a prop from the movie Carrie. Blood EVERYWHERE. I looked up to see a nice little trail of blood on the wall of the house, leading up to the head of a nail that was sticking out about an inch. My dad grew Hollyhocks and would tie them up with twine so they wouldn't fall over, and I just happened to catch one right over my eyebrow.
So, I went inside and informed my mother in very precise terms that I was probably in need of medical attention. My history with the emergency room was pretty robust, so my mom is quite used to the sight of me coming into the kitchen bleeding and/or broken. She made very little fuss, other than a frantic towel-grabbing mission before packing me and those two now-very-scared little boys into the car and heading to the local ER. This is where the "Oh God" moment happens.
Remember, this is a weekday during the summer in a suburban neighborhood. The ER was completely empty, except for the receptionist typing away at something. Mom lets me out to start admission while she parks the car. Apparently, my arrival went unnoticed, because the receptionist didn't look up until I was just a few steps away.
I smiled weakly and said something to the effect of, "I think this needs to get looked at" while pulling away the now very blood-soaked towel. At that moment, everything unraveled. A small arteriole decided it had had enough and proceeded to burst forth, each heartbeat pumping a nice little jet of blood out, which I could just discern out of the corner of my eye.
Needless to say, I was making a right mess of the place. The receptionist calmly responded by fainting. I have no idea how one becomes a receptionist at an ER while having issues with blood, but somehow this poor woman did. So now I was standing there in that antiseptic-white reception room, bleeding quietly to myself, with an unconscious receptionist behind the counter and my mom out in the parking lot still dealing with two panicky little kids.
I had a major "Oh God" right then and there. Fortunately, at that point, someone else of better intestinal fortitude came out and saw what was going on, and got me rushed back into an exam room. I got 32 stitches and now the scar is barely visible as a minor line right above my eyebrow.
I used to work in psych, and we had this regular patient who we all knew quite well. They had schizophrenia—the paranoid type. He was always complaining about spider eggs in his brains. One time, upon admission, he complained that his butt was hurting because he had sent a rat up there to retrieve a message. Of course, no one believed him, but we had to check anyway.
Sure enough, it was there. The patient's biggest concern was that he got the important message from the rat.
I’m a retired nurse, but in this story, I was the patient. Out of the blue, I had an acute onset of hallucinations, delusions, and erratic behavior. I was dragged to a crisis center in my area, involuntarily committed, and placed on some serious psych meds, which made it much worse. This happened not once, but three separate times!
Each time I begged for a CT scan of my head. Each time they refused. I then went to emergency at a much smaller hospital. Success! The head CT revealed that a bone in my skull was infected and was pressing on my brain and causing the pseudo-psych behaviors. A round of high-dose antibiotics cured my “crazy”. Go figure.
A man came into the emergency department clutching his abdomen and complaining of severe abdominal pain. He was acting suspiciously and kept changing his story, symptoms, site of the pain, etc. My sister’s friend and a few other nurses suspected something wasn't right, and after maybe an hour or so, he confessed the true cause of his pain.
He had inserted a deflated full-size basketball into his rear and pumped it up. Amazingly, he somehow managed to pump the ball up to the point where it popped inside him. The popping is what had caused his pain, but the kicker was that he hadn't come to the ED to treat the pain. The basketball was still inside his body, and after the pop, a combination of pain, presumably swelling, and it still being semi-inflated, had meant he was unable to retrieve it himself.
As a child, I suffered from chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs). When I was in sixth grade, I woke up on Thanksgiving Day with intense abdominal pain. I assumed that I was hungry but I couldn’t eat—it made my stomach churn.
I hardly touched my Thanksgiving dinner and ended up throwing up while everyone else finished eating. My mom took me to the ER, but they refused to do an ultrasound as she requested. They just passed my symptoms off as another UTI and told me to rest and drink lots of water and cranberry juice.
My mom took me back at midnight that night, insisting that this was not normal. I suffered UTIs often enough for her to know these were NOT the symptoms. After being sent home and coming back AGAIN that night, they finally did an ultrasound.
My right ovary had flipped and swollen to the size of a softball. One emergency surgery later and I was fine for about three months—then the other ovary flipped. This time they diagnosed it quickly and were able to save it. They also took out my appendix while they were at it because with my luck that would have been the next thing to go.
Back in college, I started having these really weird chest pains when I inhaled. The pain continued for a couple of days, so I decided to visit the school clinic to see if they could find out what was wrong. The RN said that my lungs sounded clear and that my pains were probably caused by anxiety due to midterms. I insisted that this wasn’t the case.
The RN was pretty dismissive about it, but she gave me an Advil and ordered blood work “just in case but I doubt we need it”. Two days later I got a frantic call. They were telling me to go to the ER, and I found out I had blood clots in my lung. The real cherry on top was when an ER doctor told me that if I had delayed getting there any longer, I could’ve been a goner.
My kid was just shy of his first birthday when he banged his head pretty badly at daycare. The emergency room doctor ordered a CT scan to take a look just in case. My son had no suspicious symptoms or history of medical issues. The doctor was just being extra careful.
We were expecting the scan to be 100% normal. The results made all our jaws drop. The scan revealed a lesion on the opposite side of my son’s brain. The follow-up MRIs showed it to be a slow-growing tumor in his frontal lobe. Since he was so young for surgery, we had to endure about nine months of “watch and wait". During this, he still didn’t have any symptoms that would have otherwise alerted us to the tumor’s presence.
Eventually, the doctors were able to achieve a near-total resection/removal and my son has been stable ever since. It has been 15 years now with no progression of the little bit that was left. The post-op pathology confirmed it was a grade II astrocytoma. I’m so grateful that we ended up discovering it out of pure chance.
I was a nurse and had a family member of a patient ask me for some advice. She had a son about 12–13 years old, and she asked if it was normal for boys to squirt milk out of their chest. I said something like, "Huh"? She proceeded to relate the story of how her son and two of his friends had been "milking" themselves, and now they were actually producing something. She wanted to know if it was "normal".
My sister had an awful skin rash for several months. She went to various doctors and dermatologists who told her it was an allergy, it was stress-related, etc. and each gave her a new cream to help settle it. Unfortunately, nothing worked. I visited home one day, Googled her symptoms, and thought that I might have a diagnosis. Don’t laugh.
It turns out she had microscopic mites laying eggs and living in her skin (aka scabies). We figured it couldn’t hurt to get an over-the-counter cream for it and see if it worked—and it sure did! One of the drawbacks of the treatment was that the itching and pain temporarily get worse as the mites start to perish.
I stayed up with the poor girl eating Maltesers and watching America's Next Top Model all night to try and distract her from the itch. I felt so sorry that she had to go through the embarrassment of having scabies for months on end as a teenager.
For the amount of time she had it and the number of doctors she saw, I couldn’t believe it was so easy to figure out what it was.
I’m a nurse and whenever I’m teaching, I make sure to tell this story to my students. I had a very difficult long-term dementia patient. Some idiot higher-up decided it would be appropriate to put her in a four-patient ward on an acute care floor, which included people recovering from surgery etc.
This patient would routinely scream and throw herself out of bed all night long. We finally ordered a sleeping pill and gave it to her three nights in a row as she wouldn’t stop screaming about the rats climbing all over her, which would disrupt the entire ward, including the neonatal intensive care unit on the other side of the wall.
On the fourth night, I went in when she started screaming, sleeping pill ready…and then I did a double-take. There was an actual mouse on the windowsill next to her. I felt like such a jerk. Now when a co-worker tells me about anything off the wall that a delirious, dementia, or anesthetized patient says, I always say, “Did you really check though? Are you sure there aren’t actually [whatever crazy things they are seeing]”?
My mother, who was the medical professional in our family, had a 13-year-old girl who was nine months pregnant, in the midst of labor, dilated to 10cm, and crowning in the emergency triage, swearing until she was black and blue that she was a virgin and that nobody knew what they were talking about. Her mother stood on the sidelines, causing a commotion and demanding that a real doctor make an appearance. It was pure chaos.
Let's just say when the twins made their arrival ten minutes later, they were all singing a different tune.
A three-year-old kid with gastro issues came in. His mother said he is floppy and weak, but during the examination, he was climbing furniture and doing normal kid stuff. All seemed objectively normal as far as it is possible to do a neurological exam on an uncooperative three-year-old.
I advised her to encourage fluids and small frequent meals. I also prescribed the kid something to prevent nausea and then moved on because it was a busy emergency department and ambulances were lining up by the minute. After 24 hours he was back. The change was terrifying. This time he was completely flaccid. They intubated him and flew him to a tertiary center.
It turns out there is a super rare autoimmune reaction to certain pathogens, and I frigging missed it.
There was a man who had come into the ER complaining of severe abdominal pain. He was admitted, and while he was chatting with the doc, the man was visibly uncomfortable. So, the doc ordered an X-ray to be done. Once the results were out, the doctor was standing at the X-ray machine, just staring at it, until my friend, who was a nurse, walked by.
The doctor beckoned her forward and said, "Come here". My friend was confused but complied with his request. However, once she saw the X-ray, she understood completely. The doctor asked her, "Doesn't that look like an apple to you"? My friend nodded while holding back her laughter and said, "Yup, certainly does". The doctor asked the man if he had anything to tell him.
The man stuttered, and it took a while to drag the info out of him. In the end, the man had to get surgery to remove the apple from his rear. However, when a person has an object removed from their body, a complete breakdown of the item has to be done. So, my friend got to look at this ridiculously long report of what the apple was made out of. At the end, it said, "looks like a golden delicious".
I had a miscarriage a few years back and needed to have a D&C procedure to remove tissue from my uterus. Afterward, everything seemed to be fine, but I was in constant pain. If I missed my next pill by anything longer than 10 minutes, the pain would become debilitating.
I called the doctor’s office, and they told me that I just needed to toughen up. I went back for my two-week post-op checkup and upon examination, the doctor discovered that my body had been trying to remove some leftover tissue. I’d basically been in mini-labor for two weeks.
No apology was given. No acknowledgment beyond “whoops”. Needless to say, I found a different doctor for my next pregnancy.
I have a lump on my face that is about the size of an acorn. It has been there for years, but in the last two to three years it has been growing rather quickly. I have been to multiple doctors about it, trying to get a proper diagnosis.
Most of them told me it was a subcutaneous cyst and there is nothing they can do. Some even told me that I should just try to wash my face better.
Fast-forward to July of this year…I visited a new doctor who actually decided to see if he could “release some pressure” from the apparent cyst on my face. After 15 minutes of prodding, he couldn’t get any more than a few drops of semi-clear fluid out of it.
Thanks to him, I now know that I actually have a benign tumor on my face. It makes me so mad that nobody bothered to look any deeper than the surface level to find this out.
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 them. 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.
One night while I was working in the Emergency room, a patient arrived with complaints of spotting in her underwear. She told us she had been bleeding for two days and had a little pain. She thought it had started after her female partner had been “a little rough” during their last intimate experience. Her examination revealed something else entirely.
There was a complete tear through her stuff "down there". I nearly gasped, because these injuries weren't consistent with intimacy...there were from a difficult childbirth. The story wasn’t adding up given the amount of trauma, so I ordered more tests, including a urine pregnancy test. The pregnancy test came back positive, which opened a huge can of worms, given her relationship status.
Turns out, she had secretly delivered a baby two days ago but didn’t tell anyone. She had been hiding the baby from her family and girlfriend. Everyone from child protective services to pediatrics got involved in the case. They found the baby in her apartment under some towels and it was a doozy of a night for paperwork. Her parents adopted the infant and as far as I know, they are still the child’s guardians.
I’m a dermatologist. I was reading a patient’s notes and found out he had been diagnosed with deadly skin cancer and was booked in to have his whole upper lip removed. Obviously, this would leave the patient quite disfigured. On a whim, he’d booked in to see a dermatologist at our hospital…who advised it was just a cold sore. He prescribed some medication and the problem was resolved.
One day at the hospital, I very nearly injected a premature baby who had Down Syndrome with ten times the amount of Lasix I was supposed to give him: I had put the decimal in the wrong place when I did the math on the dose. That baby would almost certainly have perished if I'd given it to him. I had the liquid drawn up in the syringe and had the syringe actually in the port ready to push through before I looked inside the chamber and realised how uncharacteristically full it seemed.
Paediatric IV doses of anything are simply tiny. I was supposed to give him 0.1 mls, and nearly gave him 1.0mls. I needed a very large cup of tea after that.
One of my most gut-wrenching situations of all time was when I was called into an ER as an interpreter, only to find out that the person I was going to be helping was someone I actually knew from outside of work. Normally, we would have to find a replacement who didn’t know the client in a situation like that, but because of the emergency circumstances, I had no choice but to do the job. Can’t say I didn’t spend every second wishing it was over though!
My friend had a horrible moment when he was going under the knife. Two minutes into surgery, the doctors noticed his pupils dilating or something. He said it was horrible, he could feel the scalpel cutting into his flesh, the agonizing pain, and the oxygen thing only gave him air every few minutes. They noticed he wasn't under and fixed it. But then the dark truth came out.
Turns out, the anesthesiologist who put him under was his ex-girlfriend, though no one knew about it, and she likely did it on purpose. The surgery went well, the recovery was a bit longer than expected, but he's all good now.
I’m a biomedical scientist, and my officemate was a medical doctor working on his PhD. He once did an appendectomy and cut into this person’s abdomen—only to find no appendix. He started freaking out. The support nurses in the room, however, started chuckling at him because they knew right away what the problem really was.
Occasionally, they see someone with a rare genetic disorder where all their left-right asymmetries are reversed. This patient’s appendix was on the other side.
Sometimes, surgeons are the ones in for an unpleasant surprise. My father is a physician and, although he's not a surgeon, he did some surgery while in medical school. He told me a story about a patient he had once who had necrotizing fasciitis—a.k.a. a really nasty flesh-eating disease. I almost wish that he hadn’t told me this story. It’s like something out of The Walking Dead.
The patient had gotten a cut while gardening and never cleaned the wound properly. My dad told us that he had to peel back layers just to get at it. First, he peeled off the bandages that the patient had self-applied. Then there was a layer of holy book pages that he also had to peel off. Layer upon layer, bandage upon bandage.
Finally, beneath all that, was the wound itself. No amount of med school training could have prepared my father for what he saw. The wound was covered in maggots. Apparently, they were eating the necrotic tissue generated by the disease. He said that once they removed the maggots, they were able to begin the surgery to remove the infected areas.
Oddly enough, this patient had the maggots to thank for keeping his appendages intact. Because the maggots had eaten away the necrotic and infected flesh, my dad and his team didn't have to amputate the patient’s limb. After this operation, though, my dad decided to not pursue surgery and focus on becoming a specialist.
I saw this one patient with a really odd condition. While she was asking me why she gets rib pain so often, she literally reached under her own rib and jiggled it with her fingers. Turns out, there were a lot of other things she could do that she shouldn’t ever be able to. I attributed it to a variant of Ehlers Danlos syndrome, which causes connective tissue abnormalities.
I was so distracted by the popping in and out of her rib that initially, I didn’t even notice how horrifying it was that she could get her hand under there.
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
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