Doctors really have seen it all. But, there are certain things that doctors are shocked to see in a patient. It's almost hard to believe that these patients even got themselves into these types of situations in the first place.
Here are all the best Reddit stories about times even doctors were shaken by what they saw. Content has been edited for clarity.
Never A Dull Moment As An Imaging Technician
“Imaging tech here, so I basically look at black and white images of people’s innards.
I once had a guy, and it looked like his abdomen was filled with fluid, but it looked odd. Then I realized the fluid was moving. The guy had the biggest aortic aneurysm I’ve ever seen, so big I couldn’t measure it on my machine. He was sent off to the hospital, and I don’t know what happened to him.
I also had a woman with so many holes in her heart that it looked like Swiss cheese.
Another time, I was in a prison, scanning a convict. The convict had been shot and all of his abdominal muscles were removed. He wore a Velcro girdle to keep his stomach in place. I put my scanner down on his abdomen, and I had to figure out what organs he was missing because he had some removed from after being shot, but he had no clue. I think he was missing a kidney, the gallbladder, part of the liver and half of his pancreas.”
They Found What In Her Skin?
“I just caught up with an old friend who is now an OR nurse, and she told me this gem.
She was preparing a morbidly obese woman for surgery, scrubbing her down and cleaning the areas underneath her fat rolls that haven’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 mustered the courage and continued 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, 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 responded, seemingly unfazed: ‘Oh! I’ve been looking for him!’
Apparently, people this huge develop rather thick callouses in their fat rolls from all the friction. This cat could have been clawing for life in there and she might not have felt a thing. Poor little guy died trying to claw his way out of a nightmare.”
The Worst Smell Of Their Lives!
“Surgical registrar here. I was working in a small hospital in a rural town in Australia.
We were asked by the medical team to see a patient that had been admitted under their care by the emergency department overnight with a CT demonstrating a distended bladder. They apparently had trouble with a catheter, so they called me to have a look. With much hesitation, I went up to see her on the ward. So I manage to put the catheter in with A LOT of trouble. A little bit of urine drains out, and I just keep thinking something is not right.
I go back and look at the CT scan and the catheter placed in the emergency department looks like it’s appropriately positioned. Behind it, was one big uterus, absolutely full of what appeared to be a fluid density. The report read – along these lines – as follows: Conclusion – there is a distended bladder. The catheter balloon is situated in the PROSTATIC URETHRA. Moderate to severe hydronephrosis is noted.
Long story short, I speak to the consultant. We get her to the theatre. With great difficulty, we manage to dissect our way around this HUGE uterus and we call the O&G guys to come and help get it out. Unfortunately, during this process, the uterus bursts and there is a boatload of stuff that just streams out. It smells horrible. There are people gagging around us at this yellow-green, sulfuric smelling goo. The scrub nurse can no longer take it and vomits in her mask. The consultant is looking at me like I HATE YOU FOR BRINGING THIS TO THEATRE.
We finish this case and I am glad. I get home and I keep thinking, I can still smell this awful thing. I have another hour-long shower. I can smell this thing all night. Morning comes, I can’t have breakfast because I can still smell it. I get to the hospital and EVERYONE is wearing masks. Apparently, the smell was so horrible, and the extraction in our theatre 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.”
Trauma Surgeons Have Seen It All!
“My wife is a trauma surgeon and tells me all of her crazy stories.
One that sticks out is the one about a girl and her boyfriend on the motorcycle. They were taking a sort of underground turn from one highway to the next and he was going way too fast. He started to get close to the wall, so the girlfriend on the back decided to go ahead and put your foot up on the wall of the tunnel. Foot catches the wall, she flies off, leg breaks at the femur and the broken bottom half of her leg drives straight into her gooch.
She gets a middle-aged male in for stomach pains. He says he was at a party, got wasted, woke up at another party and hasn’t been able to go to the bathroom in a few days. Tox screen comes back positive for illegal substances, so a good night out. CT scan comes back with one, full-size Glade air freshener can totally up this guy’s butt, bottom first. It is so far up, the colon has collapsed around it and created a vacuum behind it. They try a number of ways to get it out with no luck. Finally, she gives him a paralytic because he keeps fighting back, and my wife is now double fisted up this guy’s butt. There is a picture of her holding the can somewhere out there. This is the second aerosol can she has removed from the butt of someone in town. First one was a full-size spray paint can. The man bought the can at Lowe’s, placed it in the bag and inserted it with the handles of the bag hanging out his butt thinking he could just use the plastic bag handles to pull it out. He broke the handles trying to pull it out. The bag still had the receipt in it.
Lots of dog attack stories. A recent one is an 8-year-old boy attacked by three pit bulls with more than 100 puncture wounds. There were seven similar attacks this week, only one provoked. They are not the most aggressive dog. They are however the dog most likely to cause injury or death during an attack by a wide margin.”
“While working in the ER one night we had a guy come in complaining of groin pain. So we bring him back and it turns out he has a master lock(the kind with the spinning dial that you use to secure your locker at school) locked around his junk. 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 (dealing with a real genius here) and he took a screwdriver to the dial and snapped it off.
So we consulted with urology and the urologist wanted to take him to surgery, cut lengthwise, slide the top out then the bottom, and then suture it back. Needless to say, the patient wasn’t thrilled with option A. So option B was for this big nurse named Tom to go in with bolt cutters and cut it off. Option B selected, the curtain closes Tom gives a 1. 2. 3. A loud scream at three a pop noise, Tom exits with a broken lock and the man was sent to the floor to recover.”
“This was in rural Alabama. This middle-aged married couple had presented to the ER after they had been drinking for almost the entirety of the evening and got into a heated argument. Things got heated and the woman eventually fell off the porch of their trailer into the shrubs a few feet below.
The husband, in his wasted state, suddenly dropped the argument and came to his wife’s aid. She didn’t suffer anything too serious just 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 on to this glass/pipe looking thing lodged in his helpless wife’s arm. He clamped down and pulled and pulled. Cranked and cranked. He was desperately trying to remove this object and it wouldn’t budge.
After his masculinity was defeated and the drinks started wearing off on both of them, they decided it sensible to finally come to the ER.
Upon arriving at 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.”
She Had To Take Multiple Showers After That
“I was working in the emergency department one afternoon and we had an elderly lady just calling out ‘help me, help me’ repeatedly all afternoon. She was brought in by her nursing home for ‘agitation’ which is normally code for they can’t handle them anymore.
So the patient was placed with an 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 and I walked past when suddenly the lady just breathed her liquid diet in and collapsed backward. I instantly pushed the med emergency button and everyone comes running from all over. We assess her airway and it’s deemed clear but not self-supporting, no food in there which was strange, she wasn’t breathing and no heartbeat was present so one of the male nurses starts compressing on her chest while another nurse tries to insert an airway.
As he compressed on her chest, a fountain of murky green goo spurted from her mouth, all over the walls, ceiling, medical staff, everywhere. And of course, we are all like WHAT IS THIS?! and 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 enough to insert an airway. After about five minutes, the nurse finally gets the airway in after suctioning over six liters of this goo, and after some deliberation, the doctor declared the patient dead. The bay and the surrounding say five or six meters of the room was drenched in this slimy murky brown-green mess. It was breathtakingly disgusting. Eventually, we found out the poor old lady had a massive bowel obstruction, had a cardiac arrest while eating and the goo was days and days of liquid fecal matter. Safe to say, I scrubbed myself raw in the shower that night.”
The Accident In Front Of The Hospital
“My father was a plastic surgeon in the emergency room of a major southern city, so he has plenty of stories, so here is one of the worst:
A family of four was driving on an urban highway that passes right by the hospital. The parents were in the front seats and their two young children were in the back seat unrestrained by child seats or seat belts. Coming from the opposite direction was a speeding and swerving woman driver in the throes of a psychotic episode.
As the two cars approached from opposite directions, she swerved into the median and hit a barrier which launched her into the air, upside down. Her car landed on the roof of the family’s car, bending the roof of the rear portion of the passenger compartment downward and backward in such a way that left the mother and father unscathed but neatly sheared off the top portions of both children’s heads at the brow.
The accident happened right in front of the hospital, so in a horrified delusional panic, the parents carried their two children into the emergency room, with inside of the craniums exposed and devoid of their contents. Obviously, nothing could be done.”
Half Of Her Body Was Done For…
“On my first weeks in trauma ER(fourth year of med school), we had an 11-year-old girl come in who was dumped out of a car in front of a hospital.
She had one side of her body mutilated, what remained her of limbs were hanging like huge chunks of meat and the rest of her body was burned all over. And there was so much blood. Maybe it’s because I panicked a little, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much blood in my life.
We later found out that someone in her family was a known criminal who had got out of jail for blowing up ATMs with homemade explosives. They claimed she found a stash they had hidden, but we believe she was helping them pack it. Either way, it was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.”
She Looked Like A Cat?
“I once made a nurse scream: ‘Oh my God.’ She was reprimanded even though I laughed and didn’t mind. I had pink eye in both eyes; it looked like I had bright red eyeballs. It was the worst I’ve ever seen.
I was in my senior year of college, in the middle of midterms, so I had to put off my doctor’s appointment for two days. During that time my one eye’s mild case of pink eye spread to the other eye and went from mild to raging infection.
My eyes are already slightly startling, my irises are yellowish green, almost like a cat. So combined with bright red eyeballs, I looked like a feline demon. I walked into the office and whipped off my sunglasses and the nurse screamed and did the sign of the Cross. My proudest moment.”
That Does Not Sound Comfortable
“Just a couple of months ago. A woman about 35 years old comes in for a Pap smear. OK, no problem. Put the speculum in and maneuver it around a little bit to find the cervix and I see something dark brown in the right lateral fornix. My first thought was: ‘Oh! Cancer.’
You see, when I was an intern, I had a patient on whom I found dark, friable tissue on the posterior wall of the lower region which eventually turned out to be rectal cancer that spread into the wall and was quite advanced. You know, one of those patients you never forget.
Anyway, I try and gently scrape at this dark brown area to get a feel for what it was when the smell hit me. I imagine if death itself died and rotted for a few weeks that is how it would smell. My medical assistant scooted away to the edge of the room; poor thing couldn’t leave the room as she was my chaperone. I stopped breathing through my nose and started to breathe only a couple of times a minute from my mouth, of course turning my head away from the source of the smell to take a breath. Anyway, maneuvering the speculum a bit more and scraping a bit at the brown area some more revealed an answer to the mystery. It was a cylindrical thick wad of something; an old tampon! The patient had no idea that it was there, and her period had ended over a week ago. So this thing had been there for over a week, and the lady was walking around living life as usual. Retrieval of the tampon was uneventful and the lady was sent home with advice on being more careful with remembering to take out tampons or perhaps consider switching to pads instead.”
Lost And Found
“My father-in-law was an ER doctor for 20 years. Twice he’s been surprised. We’ll call him Dr. J.
This first time was a patient that came holding his stomach, with the front of his jacket bloody. He looked out of it and it was obvious he was under the influence of some illegal substance. Dr. J asked him what the problem was, and the guy calmly said, ‘My stomach hurts.’ ‘Well, let’s have a look.’ Smack! As he pulls the guy’s coat away his intestines spill onto the floor! Turns out, he and a friend were doing some illegal substances. But then one of them pulled out a loaded weapon and accidentally shot the other guy in the stomach. He explained it very matter-of-fact: ‘Oh man, I need to go to the hospital.’
The story was years later. Dr. J had a male patient come in complaining of abdominal pain. He decides after an examination that they need to do a scope. So there he is, minding his own business, navigating through this guy’s bowels with a camera when suddenly a light facing the opposite way blinds the camera. It turns out the guy was giving himself the old in and out with a flashlight and lost track of it. I have no idea why it was on. Dr. J had told the man he had to consult with another physician, then left the room and collapsed from laughing so hard. He said it was like watching a cartoon where somebody runs down a tunnel and meets a train head-on.”
What Did Barbie Do To Deserve This?
“I am a surgery resident. I once helped operate on a man whose face was chewed off by a bear. I had to find little scraps of skin at the edges of the hole in the middle of his face and try to decide where they went to try and make the damage smaller.
I also saw a patient come to the Emergency Department with a Barbie in their rectum.
He apparently puts the arms up and legs down like a diving position, rubber bands the arms together, then places it in his rectum for a time. When he wants it out, he takes laxatives. Only this time, it got stuck. The kicker: when we removed it, he asked for it back.”
What Happened To His Chest?
“I had a gentleman in his late 50s come in with multiple myeloma. A short history of progressively worsening breathlessness turned out he had a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in his lungs). He was a good candidate for surgery, so he had the blood clot removed but unfortunately, the clot had caused such bad issues with his heart that he couldn’t be weaned off the bypass machine.
Instead, he went to ICU on ECMO (like a circuit for your heart and lungs outside the body to give your heart/lungs time to ‘rest’). His chest was still open but covered up with sterile stuff.
After three days, he was booked to be weaned off the ECMO or at least have the tubes put in peripherally so his chest could be closed. The morning of the procedure, while he’s waiting to be moved, somehow the tubing of the ECMO machine broke (oxygenator tube) and blood spilled all over the floor and he went into cardiac arrest. The Cardiothoracic consultant had to do internal cardiac massage until the circuit got fixed and he returned to a normal circulation. He ended up having his chest closed but he had more clots pulled out of his pulmonary arteries.
At this point, I thought this guy was over. I figured if he even lived long enough to be woken up, he’d have some degree of ischemic brain injury. After about two weeks, the guy left ICU and a week later went to rehabilitation. Speaking, walking, cognitively largely intact.
It was one of the most unbelievable things I’ve ever seen during my short career.”
Could’ve Been A Totally Different Story
“I was working as a scribe when we went to see an 8-year-old girl that had a fever. Nothing too remarkable 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 the lower extremities. Her feet were the size of an infant’s.
You should have seen the look on the doctor’s face as he was trying 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 up the blanket a little further, revealing a pair of perfectly healthy feet, nestled next to the feet of a doll that she put under the blanket. We saw the doll’s feet and thought they were the girl’s.”
You’re Bound To Hear Some Stories When Both Your Parents Are Doctors
“As a medical student, I’ve seen some nasty stuff, but the best stories come courtesy of my parents, who are both doctors.
Early in my mum’s training, an old man was brought to the ED. On examination, his feet were gangrenous. My mum set out to manage his various issues and decided that soaking the man’s rotten feet before dressing them was the best course of action. So she got a basin of warm water and left them to soak while she went to her other work. She returned half an hour later to find 10 little piggies floating around in the basin.
My dad’s story occurred while we were living in Scotland in the early ’90s. It was a sunny day by Scottish standards, and one of the rare days you might be able to get a tan. The Scots are not known for their ability to tan. However, one such Scot was rather overzealous and decided he would go for it on this day. He cracked out several sheets of tin foil and basted himself in cooking oil. Needless to say, he pitched up to the ED a few hours later. There were third-degree burns all over his body.”