Next Time, Try The Hospital First
“I’m not a doctor yet, but this is a story from one of my professors.
This was in rural Alabama. This middle aged married couple presented to the ER after they had been drinking at their trailer for almost the entirety of the evening and got into an argument. Things got heated and the woman eventually fell off the porch and into the shrubs a few feet below.
The husband suddenly dropped the argument and came to his wife’s aid. She didn’t suffer anything too serious but a couple of scratches here and there, except for what the man said looked like ‘a piece of glass or pipe or something’ that became lodged in the woman’s arm when she hit the ground.
He decided to not come to the hospital because he could remove this object himself. He got his largest pair of pliers and gripped onto this ‘glass/pipe looking thing’ lodged in his helpless wife’s arm. He clamped down and pulled and pulled. He cranked and cranked, trying to remove this object, but it wouldn’t budge.
With his masculinity defeated and the inebriation wearing off on both of them, they decided it was sensible to finally come to the ER.
Upon arriving to the ER, the doctor immediately realized this poor woman had a compound fracture of her humerus, and this ‘pipe or piece of glass thing’ was her bone sticking through her skin that her husband was trying to pry out with a pair of pliers.
A Child Came In For A Fever, But What The Doctor Found Shocked Him
“I was working as a scribe when a doctor and I went to see an 8-year-old girl who had a fever.
There was nothing too remarkable about the visit until we started the physical exam.
We examined her head – normal. We examined her upper extremities – normal. Then we pulled up the blanket to examine her lower extremities.
Her feet were the size of an infant’s.
I could not describe the look on the doctor’s face as he tried to figure out how the girl’s feet got so small. The mother looked up at the doctor, saw the look of confusion on his face, and said, ‘Those aren’t her feet.’
She pulled the blanket up a little further, revealing a pair of perfectly healthy feet, nestled next to the feet of a doll that the girl had put under the blanket. We saw the doll’s feet and thought they were the girl’s.”
Hobo Feet Are Even Worse Than You Would Imagine
“I am a fourth-year medical student. I had to take off a shoe from a hobo with diabetes. The shoe emitted the most terrible smell you could imagine.
I searched for the foot after I pulled the shoe off. I found the tip of the foot in the shoe on the ground.
I blacked out.”
A Particularly Easy Diagnosis
“This was in med school, dermatology rotation. I got to see my own patient. I asked the man what the problem was. He told me he thought warts in his private areas were back, I asked why. He didn’t say a word but, instead, turned around, dropped his pants, spread his butt cheeks, and showed me a cluster of warts around the center of his rear end at least 10 cm in diameter each. Even when he stood up straight, the warts were just sticking out.
I put up my most professional voice to say, ‘Hmmhmm. Yes. I think you’re right.’
The man thought this was hilarious!
I’m not sure if I have not seen more surprising things after this, or if I have just gotten used to them.”
First (And Last) Baby Delivery
“I was in the OB/GYN rotations of medical school when I was delivering my first baby. The mother was an older lady from the rural side of town.
When I asked her to push as the baby had fully crowned, a wad of worms exited her rear end. I’m talking at least 60 live worms.
I gagged so hard, but managed to keep a straight face throughout and deliver the baby. I realized then and there that OB/GYN was not for me.”
Everything I Learned About Being A Doctor I Learned From My Parents
“I am a medical student. I’ve seen some pretty nasty stuff, but the best stories come courtesy of my parents, who are both doctors.
Early in my mother’s training, an old man presented to the emergency department. Upon examination, his feet were incredibly gangrenous [or decayed]. My mom set out to manage his various issues and decided that soaking the man’s rotten feet before dressing them would be the best course of action.
She got a basin of warm water and left them to soak while she went about her other work as a junior doctor. She returned half an hour later to find 10 little piggies floating around in the basin.
My father’s story occurred while we were living in Scotland in the early 90’s. It was a particularly sunny day, by Scottish standards, and one of the rare days one might be able to get a tan. The Scots are not known for their ability to tan and the typical Celtic Scots less so (wiry red hair and pale white skin).
However, one such Celt was rather overzealous and decided he would really go for it on this day in question. He cracked out several sheets of tin foil and basted himself in cooking oil. Needless to say, he pitched up to the emergency department a few hours later with third-degree burns all over his body.”
Saving The Rest For Later
“My dad is a nurse. I have asked him about his craziest stories before, but there is one story which he has told me which really stands out.
When my dad was in his mid 20’s, he worked in the emergency department of a hospital. One day, this morbidly obese lady came in complaining of abdominal pain. They started to look her over. Everything was going fine until they decided to look under the folds of her gigantic stomach, when they smelled this horrible smell.
They found a decomposed chicken wing covered in maggots which had started eating at part of her skin. Yum.
My dad says that she said, ‘Oh, I lost that.’ Then she took it and ate it, but I always thought that part was a joke.”
This Patient Was A Little Too Comfortable In Her Own Skin
“I just recently caught up with an old friend who is now an operating room nurse and she told me this gem:
She was preparing a morbidly obese woman for surgery, scrubbing her down and cleaning the areas up underneath rolls of fat that hadn’t seen the light of day in God knows how many years. When she picked up one particularly hefty roll around the side of this lady, near the lower back, she stopped suddenly.
Is that… a bone? she asked herself.
She mustered up the courage to continue to investigate. A moment later, she uncovered the skeleton of a small kitten. The bones were fused with the still-rotting flesh of the sad little creature. Holding back tears and vomit, she walked around to face the large woman.
‘Ma’am,’ she said, ‘I don’t want to alarm you, but I’ve just found the remains of a small cat in one of your fat rolls.’
The lady’s response, seemingly unfazed: ‘Oh! I’ve been looking for him!’
Apparently, people of this size develop rather thick callouses in their fat rolls from all the friction. This cat could have been clawing for life in there and she may not have felt a thing. The poor little guy died trying to claw his way out of a living nightmare.”
Never Try The “Ruby Shower”
“There used to be a well known patient who would present to the emergency department with frequent urinary tract infections. Urinary tract infections are much less common in men than in women and don’t occur sporadically very often.
This gentleman was a male dancer. His party trick was something called a ‘Ruby Shower.’ In essence, he would empty his bladder, and replace its contents, via a catheter, with the kind of red beverage that came from the vine. He would then empty his bladder during his performances. I think the idea was that he would surprise his guests with the beverage contained within. I don’t see the appeal, personally.
Unfortunately, fate caught up with him. One infection became too severe and he did not survive.”
Pop ‘N’ Lock
“I am a paramedic. While working in the ER one night, we had a guy come in complaining of groin pain. We brought him to the room and it turned out that he had a lock (the kind with the spinning dial that you use to secure your locker at school) locked around his member.
Essentially, blood could flow in but could not flow back out so this thing was hugely swollen. He had panicked after he realized he could not remember the code (we were dealing with a real genius here) and he took a screwdriver to the dial and snapped it off.
We consulted with the urologist. He wanted to take him to surgery, cut his ween lengthwise, slide the top out, remove the lock, and then suture the dismembered portion back on. Needless to say, the patient wasn’t thrilled with Option A.
Option B was for this nurse we’ll call ‘Tom’ to go in with bolt cutters and cut off the lock.
Option B was selected. The curtain closed. Tom counted out, ‘One. Two. Three.’ At ‘Three,’ a loud scream was heard from the patient, and then, a pop noise. Tom exited the room with a broken lock and the man was sent to the floor to recover. That’s just one of the very many stories I have, but I always tell that one.”
This Will Surely Make Your Skin Crawl
“My mother is a nurse and has seen some pretty messed up things. The one story that sticks in my mind involved an elderly man who came into the hospital three times a week to have a growth on his face washed and redressed.
The growth had slowly taken over the left-hand side of his face, so-much-so that his left eye – his only working eye – had closed over. He was effectively blind. This meant that his wife, whom he had been looking after for years due to her frailty, was now tasked with looking after him instead. Furthermore, this man was old enough that the hospital didn’t want to operate on him.
The hospital visits stopped. He could no longer get there himself. Instead, a nurse would visit him three times a week. This growth was unsightly, wept constantly, and smelled bad. Really bad. The man’s whole house stank of it. The nurses said it smelt like death and they thought he was going to die any day.
During one of these visits by my mother, she was cleaning his face over the sink and noticed a flap of loose skin. She went to clean it with the sponge and –
The growth fell off into the sink, and it was CRAWLING with maggots. The sink was now filled with dead flesh and maggots. And the smell. Oh goodness, the smell.
It turns out that a fly had laid some eggs on the growth at some point, and they hatched and started eating all the dead flesh in the growth until it fell off.
As for the man, he was fine. There was new, pink skin where the growth had been and he could see out of his left eye again. It gave him a new lease on life.
Heart-warming story? Yes. Most disgusting story my mom has ever told me? HECK yes.”
Well, That Really Stinks
“I am a surgical registrar. I was working at a small hospital in a rural, Australian town.
The other surgeons and I were asked by the medical team to see a patient that had been admitted under their care by the emergency department overnight, which happened quite often in that hospital, with a CT scan revealing a very distended (or swollen) bladder.
They apparently had been having trouble inserting a catheter, so they called me to have a look. With much hesitation, I went up to see her on the ward. I managed to put the catheter in with A LOT of trouble – this lady was incontinent. A little bit of urine drained out and I just kept thinking, Something is not right.
I went back to take another look at the CT scan and the catheter looked like it was appropriately positioned. Behind it was one big uterus, absolutely full of what appeared to be a fluid density.
The radiologist’s report read, along these lines (and I kid you not), as follows: ‘Conclusion – there is a very distended bladder. The catheter balloon is situated in the PROSTATIC URETHRA. Moderate to severe hydronephrosis is noted.’
I spoke to the consultant. We moved the patient to the operating theater. With great difficulty, we managed to dissect our way around her uterus and we called the OB/GYN guys to come and help get it out.
Unfortunately, during this process, the uterus burst and there was a boatload of pus that began to just stream out. It smelled SO horrible. There were people around us gagging at this yellow-green, sulfuric-smelling goo. The scrub nurse could no longer take it and vomited into her mask. The consultant gave me a look like, THANK YOU FOR BRINGING THIS TO THE THEATER.
We finished the case and I was SO glad. But when I got home, I kept thinking, I can still smell this awful thing. I had an hour long shower. All night, I could still smell this thing. When morning came, I couldn’t have breakfast because I could still smell it.
When I got to the hospital, EVERYONE was wearing masks. Apparently, the smell was so horrible, and the extraction in our theater was so outdated, that it had somehow pumped the smell into the vents around the hospital. All night, small amounts were leaking out into the atmosphere causing this horrendous smell.
Silver lining: the lady lived for another three years.”
The Elephant Sack
“I recently spent some time working in the operating department of a hospital and one day we had a patient with a ‘giant groin hernia.’ At this point of my experience, I thought nothing could surprise me.
Dear Lord, was I wrong.
We got the patient on the table, knocked him out with anesthetics, and pulled off his gown to take a look.
Basically, the guy’s abdominal wall broke and allowed his intestines to slowly fill up his BALL SACK, causing it to grow to an extremely large size. This had been going on for years before he got it checked.
We performed an open surgery through his abdomen and spent hours pulling his INTESTINES out of his BALL SACK.”
After A Car Wreck, This Nurse Made A Haunting Discovery
“I am an ER nurse. We had a lady who was a passenger in a really bad car accident brought in. Her husband was driving the car and had died at the scene. Once we got the woman stable, the operating room staff came to take her to surgery.
I gathered up the clothes we had cut off of her and grabbed her purse, which the EMTs had removed from the car. There was a lot of blood on the purse, so I thought I should just grab her wallet instead. I reached in and grabbed what I thought was her wallet and pulled it out.
It had hair.
It was a chunk of her husband’s scalp.”
Nurse Unintentionally Becomes A ‘Double Dare’ Contestant
“I am not a doctor, but I am a nurse and I have a story!
I was working in the emergency department one afternoon and we had an elderly lady with dementia just calling out, ‘Help me, help me!’ repeatedly all afternoon. It isn’t uncommon for dementia patients to repeatedly call out like that for no reason at all, except that they are confused about where they are. She was brought in by her nursing home for ‘agitation’ which is normally code for ‘they can’t handle them anymore.’
The patient was placed with a care assistant to try and calm her down and make sure she didn’t wander around the ward. The assistant was helping to feed the patient as I walked past them when, suddenly, the lady just collapsed backward.
I, of course, instantly pushed the medical emergency button and everyone came running from all over. We assessed her airway and it was deemed clear, but not self-supporting. No food was in there, which was strange. She wasn’t breathing and no heartbeat was present. One of the male nurses started compressing on her chest, while another nurse tried to insert an airway.
As he compressed on her chest, a literal fountain of murky green goo spurted from her mouth, all over the walls, ceiling, medical staff, literally everywhere. Of course, we were all thinking, WHAT IS THAT?! The poor male nurse had to keep compressing the chest while the other nurse kept trying to suction the patient’s airway to clear it out enough to insert an airway.
After five or six minutes, the nurse finally got the airway in after suctioning over six liters of this goo. After some defibrillation, the doctor declared the patient dead. The bay was just drenched in this slimy, murky, brown-green mess. It was absolutely, breathtakingly disgusting. Eventually, we found out the poor old lady had a massive bowel obstruction and had a cardiac arrest while eating. The goo was days and days of liquid fecal matter. Safe to say, I scrubbed myself raw in the shower that night.”
Now That’s What I Call A Stomachache
“My father-in-law, Dr. J, was an ER doctor for 20 years. We’ll call him ‘Dr. J.’
This first time he was really surprised was when a patient came holding his stomach, with the front of his jacket bloody. He looked very out of it and it was obvious that he was under the influence of something. Dr. J asked him what the problem was and the guy calmly said, ‘My stomach hurts.’
Dr. J replied, ‘Well, let’s have a look.’ As he pulled the guy’s coat away –
His intestines spilled onto the floor!
It turns out that he and a friend were under the influence when one of them pulled out a loaded 12-gauge and accidentally shot the other guy in the stomach.
Dr. J patched him up enough to get him into emergency surgery. He fully survived.”
This Man Was A Real Head Case
“I was working at a free clinic and the residents of a halfway house came as a group to get checked out. I picked up a file, found my patient, and we went back to our little curtained-off area.
The patient, who was wearing a hat, seemed a little off, but so did many of our patients (high rates of substance abuse, mental illness, etc. can do that), so that didn’t really throw me.
I asked him what we could do for him today and he said, ‘I want you to look at my head.’ I ask him what was wrong with his head, and he just said that it hurt and I needed to look at it. I asked him to take his hat off.
He said, ‘I think you should have gloves first.’ That should have been my first warning.
I assured him that it would be fine. He slowly took off his hat. Underneath was a do-rag, so I still could not see anything, but that was when the smell started. It was a smell you can’t really describe unless you’ve smelled it. It was foul and putrefying, like flesh was rotting. I can’t even find the words. I asked him to take off the do-rag. He started to PEEL it off.
As I got hit, full force, with a wall of the worst smell I’ve ever experienced, I saw that his head was entirely covered with abscesses – big ones, inches in diameter, all coalescing together to completely cover his scalp. Many were bursting open, with pus oozing out. His head was a minefield of pus.
I decided that then might be a good time to grab some gloves.
It turns out that he also had similar abscesses in his armpits (which I looked at and confirmed) and in his groin (which I did not). Everything was oozing pus and smelling so incredibly bad. By that point, the smell was permeating throughout the rest of clinic. As close as I was to the source, I don’t know how I didn’t throw up.
Although he was in pain, he didn’t seem to understand how serious it was. That level of infection anywhere is bad, but in the head, it has the risk of finding its way into the skull and, therefore, the brain. It took a lot of persuading to convince him he needed to go to the emergency department for a higher-level treatment than we could do.
This was near the beginning of my training, and I’ve seen a lot more gross things since then, but that’s the moment that I always remember.”
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