Outrageous and Traumatic Medical Stories as Told By the People Who Lived Them

Outrageous and Traumatic Medical Stories as Told By the People Who Lived Them


Going to the hospital can be a memorable moment for anyone, but it's rare that a doctor has a patient that they'll never forget. These medical tales from the emergency room, doctor's office and surgeon's table are enough to make anyone try their best to never end up in the hospital as long as they can help it.

Whether a doctor overstepped their bounds or a patient didn't follow their caretaker's instructions, these medical stories were often caused by someone's incompetence or unwillingness to follow simple instructions. But many medical stories have another common beginning: sheer dumb luck.

He Refused Help


I reported to a car accident on the highway when I was working as a medic. The guy involved in it was fairly messed up. He adamantly refused treatment and transport.

Instead, he signed himself off and started walking down the slight decline off the road where his car had come to rest after the accident. Yeah, bad idea. He made it about 10 feet from the back of the ambulance until he lost consciousness and tumbled the rest of his way down the decline.

What started off as a smack on his head and a few cuts turned into a broken left arm, serious concussion, and a nasty gash on his head.


Do You Have an Appointment?


I was seeing a urologist in a hospital once. During my visit, there were a couple of power cuts. The lights dipped out but the generators kicked in, thankfully. As the urologist was finishing the examination, mid-sentence, the lights went out again.

This time, however, the generator did not kick in right away. The urologist got up and walked out to check on things. 15 minutes later, the lights came back on. I was still sitting on the bed with my old chap out and pants around my ankles.

A nurse walked past the open door and does one of those comedy double-takes. “Do…do you have an appointment?” she asked. Turns out, the urologist had actually finished the examination and returned to the ward a while ago.

To the nurse, I was just some guy who had walked in and pulled his pants down and left the door open. Awkward.


Not Allowed to Eat

resizeGarlic_knots.jpg.optimal.jpgFlickr / Wayne Truong / CC 2.0

I had a patient who was NPO (not allowed to eat) because he had a bowel obstruction. He didn’t like that we weren’t feeding him, so, unbeknownst to the nurses, he called up Papa John’s and ordered some garlic knots.

He ate the entire box, then his ignorance came to punish him—he vomited them up, aspirated his vomit, went into respiratory arrest, and coded. We did CPR and got him back. He had some underlying lung issues so we never could get him weaned off the ventilator.

He spent a month in the ICU and was eventually discharged to a long-term care facility with a tracheotomy on the vent.


An Awkward Moment


I had an ingrown hair on my chin that I tried to squeeze out. In the process of doing so, the pus around the hair must have backfired and erupted. Over the course of the next few hours, my chin began to swell as if I had an abundant amount of gum or a jawbreaker stuck in my lower lip.

Seeing as something was wrong, I went to the doctor the next day. It was my first time with that particular doctor mind you which made the whole thing even more awkward. I told her the story of how my chin came to be with the added blurb of, “But at least I got that sucker out!”

After examining my chin, she called in what I assumed to be a resident to see the golf ball lump that had formed on my chin. I reacted by exclaiming, “Gee, this doesn’t make me feel showcased or awkward by any means.”

Apologies and laughter ensued. The doctor prescribed me some pills and my lump infection was gone within two days.



What Are You in For?


My dad is an interventional and cardiovascular radiologist. Years ago, he was doing an operation on a prison inmate. The guards had the inmate handcuffed to the table and remained in the room during the operation.

The inmate, in an effort to scare my father, told him that he was behind bars for manslaughter. Well, my dad doesn’t scare easy. Without missing a beat, my dad replied to this inmate with, “The last guy I did this operation on didn’t make it either.”

The security guard chuckled and the inmate didn’t say another word for the rest of the procedure.


An Unexpected Surprise


A couple came into the hospital one day. The woman, who was very obese, was complaining about severe stomach pains. It didn’t seem like she was in any kind of immediate danger so the doctor just took her in for a routine examination. What he found floored him. 

The doctor found out that she was pregnant and that she was experiencing contractions. She was about to deliver. The woman was in total disbelief. She said, “I take the pills every day.”


She Chose to Go Blind


Eye doctor here. I had a patient who came in and during her evaluation, I determined that her diabetes was out of control by the look of her retinas, which required immediate intervention. I sent her straight to the retina specialist who then scheduled her for an OR.

She decided that day not to go in because she had work and couldn’t afford to take off any days. She was cleaning houses and the sprays made her sneeze, causing massive hemorrhaging in her eyes due to their weakened vascular state from diabetes.

The consequence of this was absolutely shocking—she went immediately blind and got into emergency surgery that day. It took months of recovery and injections to reverse some damage and she now (years later) has functional vision again.

Her kidneys were also failing her and she had no idea. This kicked off a massive lifestyle change and a chain of doctors’ appointments that saved her life. All starting from an eye exam.

Of course, I understand the economic reasons to have no-showed for her surgery—it was an awful situation, but the reality is that she had to choose: go blind, or go to work.

The specialist was even willing to curb the cost of her emergency surgery due to her extenuating circumstances. She chose to go blind. Modern medicine thankfully saved her, but the decision she made was objectively the wrong one.

You can’t make much money blind either. Hindsight, however, is 20/20, and she was taking a gamble.


He Was Nearly a Goner


I’m not a medical professional, but my dad had a really serious cough and I told him he had to get it checked out. He ignored me for weeks and just kept coughing away. At some point, he started coughing up blood and I essentially forced him to go to the doctor.

He was diagnosed with tuberculosis which was scary enough, but then the doctor revealed an unsettling truth— if he had left it any longer, he would have been a goner. Most of the time he had the cough, he was overseas—he gets paid to work in places like India, China, Korea.

We FaceTime regularly, so luckily, I wasn’t around him very much for most of the duration of his cough (or presumably when he first caught it). It was maybe a day after he came home after being abroad that he coughed up blood.

I later found out that I guess I’m really lucky I wasn’t around him a lot, because I probably would have caught it otherwise.




I’m not a doctor but an ophthalmic assistant. Part of my job is poking people in the eye with a tiny ultrasound “pen” (tonometer) to test eye pressures. It’s not too uncommon for people to faint during this test, because they hold their breath or just get freaked out from sitting still having their eyes poked.

It’s a common phobia. I was administering this test to a young man, around 18 years old, while his father was in the room. His dad was going to pay for laser eye surgery and was there for support. Well, despite playing brave, the kid fainted. He fainted right into my chest.

My chest was huge at the time because I was three months pregnant, so he got a soft landing. I would normally catch a patient and assist accordingly, but this kid just fell forward before I could catch him. I dropped my pen and put my hands on his shoulders to push him back into the chair.

Then he moaned, then kind of rolled his head side to side, with his face disappearing into my lab coat. All the while his dad was in the room, staring, stunned, and wide-eyed.

After the kid recovered (his dad finally stood up and helped me get his head between his knees) he was a little disoriented and glazed. He looked at his dad, who said “Attaboy.” I nearly fainted from embarrassment.


He Was as White as a Ghost


I worked in ER admissions throughout college. A teenager and his parents came in one day because he went over the handlebars on his bike.

The staff wanted to keep him in observation overnight, but his parents refused even after they offered to put him in a recovery room that was near the ER (and normally only used during the day for outpatient surgeries).

They came back the next day and how he looked shook us to our cores. He was white as a ghost. It turned out he had punctured some part of his digestive system in the fall and, I think, had some internal bleeding.

It’s the only true emergency surgery I saw in the four years I worked there when the staff actually ran to the OR with a patient. He was lucky to survive.



Extremely Ticklish


I had one really embarrassing moment during a normal checkup. The doctor was doing the back tapping routine for any soreness because of a history of kidney stones. He was progressing towards my sides and entered the tickle zone.

Now, I’m insanely ticklish but I didn’t want to break out in a giggle fight right in front of my doctor. I managed to resist the urge to laugh, choking back my laughter. But it was a futile effort. After a while, I broke and let out the most hideous screech of laughter, unlike any sound I had ever made before.

The doctor didn’t acknowledge it. The rest of the examination passed very quietly. And awkwardly.


No One Told My Nurse What Was Going On


After my heart operation where they went in through my femoral artery, they forgot to tell anyone outside the theatre that they had given me anticoagulants. Long story short, when I got back to the ward, my mom and dad came to visit and see how I was doing—only to walk into the room from hell. 

I had two doctors and two nurses around me, caked in blood with the back wall of the room dripping with it. I should have been in this tourniquet thing for like 12 hours minimum after surgery, but they removed it and asked me to get up and move around after four hours.

Suffice to say, it wasn’t pretty and the first nurse (the one who removed it) went absolutely white. No one answered the emergency buzzer for about 10-15 minutes to help her, either.

She just kept panicking and saying, “You are bleeding out!” to me. Oddly, I was completely calm and kept offering her advice. I think it was the shock, since I tend to get very analytical instead of scared.

I should also mention that the advice I gave was rubbish: “Would you like me to hold that while you go and get some help?” She met this with, “You’ll be dead before I get back.” “Oh ok, best for you to hold it then.”


I Asked Out the Receptionist


I created a pretty awkward situation for my surgeon once. When I was 21, I broke my back in a car accident. I had pretty gnarly back surgery (fused vertebrae, rods, and pins inserted in my spine, etc.). Part of my recovery involved regular check-ups with my surgeon.

I didn’t mind that because the receptionist at his office was way cute. Every time I went in for my check-up, I got the vibe that this receptionist was into me. I was too chicken to ask her out so I did some research first. I asked the doctor during one of my visits if he knew if she had a boyfriend.

He pretty much told me he didn’t really get into her personal life. I could respect that. It was their workplace. Fast forward a few weeks. I saw her at a bar and started chatting with her. We sort of hit it off and exchanged numbers before going our separate ways.

We set up a date about a week later to go to the beach. It went well, and she invited me over to her dad’s place. She said that he would be grilling some steaks and had plenty to go around.

Well, when I got to her house, I wanted to be the one on that grill. The door opened, and I nearly fainted. Who answered it? My bloody surgeon, AKA her father. I think it was as awkward for him as it was for me.


It Was the Hospital's Fault


When I was in school, I had an instructor who took a job as Vice President of patient care at a big American hospital. She said there was a patient who had been on the unit for a year and the hospital was footing the bill. When they told her why, it was just about the worst thing I’ve heard. 

He was in for a brain surgery and they had removed a large section of his skull to access the brain. Then they dropped it on the floor.

They tried to clean it up and they apparently gave him lots of post-operative antibiotics, but he inevitably developed encephalitis or meningitis or well, probably an infection of the whole head.


Making a House Call


I am the son of a surgeon. I went with my dad to see an elderly patient who needed to have a cast removed. I was about nine and we were going to an assisted living facility to take of this lady’s cast off.

She couldn’t make it to the hospital herself on account of her being so old so he was kind of making a house call. He had a little saw to remove the cast. It was actually pretty loud and intimidating. But he touched it while it was on to show this little old lady that it wasn’t going to cut her.

Apparently, that little demonstration hadn’t been enough. Upon him touching the saw to her cast, she started screaming like a banshee and freaking out. She was yelling, “He’s cutting my arm off!” The poor thing was so scared.

I was also pretty scared because my dad just kept going. When we got in the car to go home, he burst out laughing saying it was just hilarious. I wasn’t as amused. I’m sure that old lady nearly had a heart attack.


The Happiest Delirious Patient


I’m a nurse. I had a very polite and lovely patient try to remove all of his chest tubes and IVs after his motorcycle accident. He was obviously delirious from the pain medications and the head injury, but he was still a nice guy.

I left him in the care of my co-worker for my lunch, and 10 minutes into my lunch break, I saw him stagger past the breakroom door. He was trailing blood everywhere, but that wasn’t even the worst part—a couple of seconds later, he collapsed.

He said he needed the bathroom! I don’t know how the heck he pulled his own chest tubes out. Removing them always makes me cringe, but he did it himself! He was put back to bed, this time in the ICU, and he got some more sedation.

Even though ripping it all out set him back a couple of weeks, he was still eventually discharged. He later came to say hi and thanks on the way out. The happiest delirious patient I ever had. What a bloody trooper.



I Got a Good Laugh Out of It


I was so embarrassed for this doctor. Many years ago, I had a suction lipectomy done on my neck to remove excess fat. When I went back for a post-surgical follow-up, the doctor asked me to remove my blouse and bra.

Never having been shy or modest around medical professionals, I figured he must have needed to see my neck in relation to the rest of my chest. So, I happily disrobed and was standing there with my “stuff” hanging out when he realized that he had the wrong patient.

He had confused me with someone else who had gotten an…implant surgery. He calmly asked me to put my clothes back on, and apologized for mistaking me for the other patient. I got a good chuckle out of it. But the doctor was blushing like crazy.


Cleanliness is Close to Godliness


I’m not a medical professional, but my aunt is and I’d like to share her horrifying story. She once had a patient, a young guy in his early 20s, who had very poor hygiene. He didn’t shower regularly, didn’t brush his teeth, wore the same clothes for days on end, etc.

One day, he came in with a nasty rash on his lower abdomen that was starting to show signs of infection. My aunt provided antibiotics and extensively stressed to him to improve his hygiene, otherwise, it would just keep coming back.

Well, as the story goes, he didn’t pick up the prescription and apparently choose to just keep putting A&D Gold ointment on the area. He would live to regret this so, so much. She later found out he ended up in the ER after going into shock at work.

Turns out, he ended up getting gangrene in the area and it had spread to his scrotum, which had to be removed.


He Didn't Even Try to Lie


I’m not a doctor. This story comes from a good friend of mine who is a doctor though. Generally, the main question that hospital staff face when talking about work is, “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve found in someone during an X-ray?”

Well, this one old fella came into the ward via an ambulance and clearly didn’t need an X-ray. The guy’s problem was obvious from the minute he set foot in the hospital. He had a giant broomstick handle stuck in his bum.

Usually, when questioned about these kinds of awkward situations, people come up with loads of excuses. But when hospital staff asked this old what happened he did not even try to come up with a tall tale.

“Well,” he started, “I was riding the heck out of this broomstick, holding onto the washing machine for support. But when I finished, my knee gave out. I slipped and it went right up in me.

I tried to pull it out but couldn’t reach around to grab it with both hands so thought it best to come to you guys seeing as you’ve got to sort my knee out anyway.”


Her Allergy is Real


I had a repeat patient as a medic who would always call for a severe allergic reaction to shellfish every other month or so. She always had an allergy and I knew her reactions were getting worse.

After a year of this silliness, my crew and I stayed in the hospital ER with her and talked at length about the situation. Beforehand, she’d always stay mum about how it kept happening.

But she finally told me the truth and what she told me made my jaw drop. She told us that she comes from a patriarchal culture and her father always made this amazing seafood soup.

If she didn’t eat it and “force her body not to reject his gift to the family,” she would lose her car, phone, or whatever punishment her father deemed necessary. We pleaded with her to do whatever it took to show him it was deadly and to also carry her Epi-Pens with her.

Fast forward a few years later when I  went into nursing and joined that ER. There she was, back at the hospital with a bloated face. Turns out, she had gone off to college in another state and hadn’t been home for a while, so she visited her folks for a holiday.

Of course, she had the soup…Despite hitting herself with the Epi-Pen when her throat started tightening, the reaction continued. Her mom, who I had never seen before, told me she tried to eat it fast and rushed to the bathroom, where she was found on the floor.

The medics couldn’t tube her in the field, so they tried medical management until they could drive her to our ER. The doctor performed a tracheotomy at the bedside and she went to the ICU.

It took a week for her to recover and I was told by the ICU nurses that her father “finally got it” that her allergy was a real medical condition.


School is His Top Priority


We had a college student come into the ER with a wonderful case of appendicitis. He needed to get surgery ASAP, as surgery is way easier and safer if done before the appendix ruptures. He called his parents to let them know, and their response chilled me to the bone. 

They told him to refuse because he had a test later in the week and they didn’t want him to miss it. He left the ER “Against Medical Advice” despite all of us telling him that if his appendicitis got worse and ruptured, it could definitely be fatal.

The kid luckily came back about 10 hours later after it ruptured. He got the emergency surgery and the amount of time he got to spend in the hospital probably doubled, so I’m sure he missed his test anyway.


"I Guess I Did Have to Go"


I was once checking stitches on a patient’s leg. For whatever reason, she was wearing a skirt but had decided to go commando. I’m a professional so that didn’t bother me—it just seemed unsanitary. Then, she sneezed and, well, yeah, it was definitely unsanitary.

The force of the sneeze contracted her bladder and squeezed out a little urine…directly onto me. I stood up and, in an effort to alleviate the tension, she gave an awkward grin and said softly, “I guess I did have to go.” I was like, yeah, looks like you did but didn’t say anything to her.

I left without a word and cleaned myself up before telling her doctor she was ready.



He Refused Surgery


I had a throat cancer patient. We offered him surgery to remove the tumor and it was actually a fairly conservative procedure. He left because he didn’t want a “mutilating” surgery. Instead, his daughter-in-law had been studying magnet therapy and she was “quite good with it” (his words).

He came back a year later, it was all too late—he was out of reach from any treatment. His cancer was so advanced that there was nothing we could do for him.


This Has Only Happened in Theory


This happened to me with an optician. I went for my annual eye test and to get a prescription for the next year’s supply of contact lenses. I usually get the same optician every year and that visit was no different. He gave me a warm welcome to the big machine that tests your eyes. 

He started the test and was utterly shocked to read the results. In great excitement, he came up to me and said, “Ma’am, we have only come across this in theory and I never knew this is really possible. Your eyesight has corrected completely! You don’t need contact lenses or glasses anymore!”

I actually believed him for a moment before I sheepishly replied, “Are you sure you negated the effect of the contact lenses I am wearing?” Turns out I was supposed to take them off at least 30 minutes before testing my eyes. Oops. The man was at a loss for words.

Not sure if he was more embarrassed or I was.


I Knew Something Was Wrong


I was the patient in this story. When I was between 7 and 9, I had my first port put in, which is an IV catheter attached to the main vessels in my heart. When I woke up, I knew something was wrong. My lungs were horrible already, but this was way worse. I couldn’t breathe and I was in so much pain.

The doctor, however, thought I was just being a kid and not handling the pain very well. My nurse knew me pretty well, though, and after me crying and struggling to breathe for a few hours, she convinced the doctor I didn’t normally act like that and that something was really wrong.

He ordered an X-ray and we found out that the surgeon had accidentally sliced my lung when he was putting the port in, and my lung had collapsed.


She Refused to Let Me Treat the Wound


I was working on a general surgery unit as a new nurse. An elderly diabetic patient ran over her second toe with the bedside table and her nail was ripped off. She was incredibly mean and didn’t want anyone touching her.

I tried to explain the severity of her injury, especially because she was an uncontrolled diabetic and already had compromised circulation to her feet. She still refused to let me treat the wound. She also refused care from the physician.

There was really nothing we could do other than a gentle cleansing with antibiotic ointment and sterile dressings, which she eventually relented to. She was refusing everything else despite not being demented or disoriented. We just had to respect her wishes.

She had overall poor hygiene and still refused more than just the bare minimum care days later. All of her objections would eventually lead to the worst-case scenario. When she came back to the hospital, she needed to have her leg amputated.

That toe was now gangrenous and everything below the knee had to go. The doctor told her she likely would have been fine if she didn’t refuse treatment.

Except, after her amputation, she again tried to refuse care. We did what we had to do and eventually she was discharged back to the nursing home where she came from. Reportedly, she still sabotaged her own healing several times by introducing new infections to her wounds via neglect and carelessness.

I saw her obituary in the newspaper a few weeks later.


An Unforgettable Patient


I remember this one patient I had. She was in labor and I had to check her cervical dilation. Now, the way that’s done is by doing a digital vaginal exam and estimating the gap with the index and middle fingers in a “V” shape.

Most of the time this is pretty routine and, to be honest, the patient is usually too distressed by the contractions to care. This one patient, however, seemed to respond to my examination in a totally unexpected way.

She went from, “Argh! Ouch!” to “Ooh. Mm,” very quickly. Needless to say, it took me all I had to keep a straight face.


He Didn't Want to Pay For Parking


When I was in medical school, I had a gentleman in his late 60s come in for chest pain. We found he had suffered a large heart attack, but he refused surgical treatment because he wanted to bring his car home and planned on taking an ambulance back to the hospital.

Apparently, he was in the parking ramp and it cost $20 a day to park, so he didn’t want to pay. He came back by ambulance and my worst fears happened—he went into full cardiac arrest with no pulse and quickly passed. The doctor had to call his son and explain what happened.

The son was like, “Yeah that sounds like dad, he’s always been cheap.”


Aren't You Forgetting Something?


When I was a kid, I often had surgeries to treat my genetic condition called osteochondromatosis. My surgeon came highly recommended, and although he didn’t have the best bedside manner, he was very good at his job.

I went in once to get some plates put in both knees to correct the bowing growth and also to have a bone spur removed from my left foot. Surgery went well, I’m put in recovery, and my parents come see me. My mom, however, notices something strange. “Weren’t you supposed to do both knees?”

She asked my surgeon. I don’t know what his response was, as I was in dreamland, but I gather he was horrified. He’d done my right knee and my left foot…but had literally forgotten to do my left knee, which lead to me having to undergo two more surgeries than I would have.

He overall was a good surgeon. Still kind of upset about how he sort of misled us on the possibility of me developing cancer, though, but that’s another story.


Open Wide


I work at a dentist’s office. A patient came in for an exam, concerned that a part of her tooth was chipped off. On examination, it was not a chip, but rather a piece of calculus, which is the build-up of hard tartar that covers your teeth over time when you don’t brush them.

It can be small deposits, or in this case, an entire “bridge” covering her actual teeth.

She thought the calculus was tooth material and was quite shocked to learn we were actually unable to see her real teeth. We gave her an extensive cleaning to remove it all.


The Surgeon Caused the Problem


Recently, my eight-year-old grandson went for his surgery to have a cyst removed from his thyroid gland. It’s supposed to be a simple surgery—you go in the morning, and come home in the afternoon. An hour later, my son (the dad) calls me. Something went horribly wrong. 

My grandson is being rushed by ambulance to the local hospital with a children’s wing. Apparently, the damage was so severe that the surgeons at the new hospital didn’t even know what to do. The original surgeon had cut my grandson’s vocal cords, and he cut a hole in his larynx.

They then called to talk to experts at Seattle Children’s Hospital. My grandson has been sedated and ventilated this entire time. The following day, the doctors recommend my grandson be flown to Seattle Children’s Hospital. The mom gets to fly with my grandson, my son drives over by himself.

They arrive Friday morning, and the new surgeon does the six-hour repair surgery from 5-11 pm on Friday night. My grandson spent the next week under sedation and on the ventilator.

After that, the new surgeon opened my grandson up again to take a look and told my son and daughter-in-law that everything looked better than he had even hoped for. The surgeon had three goals. First, that my grandson would be able to breathe on his own and not need a tracheotomy.

Second, that he would be able to eat and swallow on his own. And third, that he would still have his voice. Yes, that’s how bad this was. But after two weeks in Seattle, they came home and my grandson is doing fantastic!

He does have to go to Seattle to see his wonderful surgeon every few months to have scar tissue scraped from his vocal cords. Still, he is doing awesome, and that surgeon succeeded in meeting every one of his goals.

Two other items: My grandson has wanted to be a voice actor since he was four years old. And then finally, the worst thing. The original surgeon that messed up called my son and told him that once he opened my grandson up, he saw that it was not a cyst on his thyroid gland, but a lymph node.

Yet he continued to perform the surgery! My son and daughter-in-law have a malpractice suit against this doctor.


More Bitterness Than Brains


This patient came in with an abdominal bleed. The doctor was in the middle of surgery and the current patient’s vitals were good, so we monitored her until the doctor is finished with his surgery. Two hours later, the OR sent for the patient, but she refused. Her reason made me shake my head. 

She said that if the doctor could make her wait for surgery, then he could wait for her…as if it was a game of petty revenge. Nothing worked to change her mind. After several rounds of doctors and nurses educating her and begging her, the surgeon came down to see what was going on.

After speaking with her for a while, he came out of the room and said, “Keep monitoring her and don’t feed her—she’ll come one way or another.” Several hours later, I was taking a set of vitals and talking with the patient when she just flatlined in the middle of a sentence.

Luckily, she came back right away. It’s safe to say the incident shook her to her core. After she felt a little better, the patient apologized profusely and signed consent for her surgery. We rushed her to the OR. It just boggled my mind that she almost did herself in.

Some people have more bitterness than brains, apparently.


An A-Ha Moment


When I was in medical school, one of my professors used to tell this story all of the time. He was giving a routine exam to an 18-year-old girl who was about to go off to college. Before the exam began, he noted that she had a very athletic build, healthy complexion, and was very good-looking.

After viewing her medical charts, he noticed that she was not on birth control. Since she was rather pretty and about to go off to college, he asked her about it.

Apparently, this 18-year-old girl had never actually had a period. When growing up and going through puberty she visited other doctors who told her to keep waiting because her body fat percentage was too low to have periods. My professor had one of those “A-ha” moments.

So, he asked her if she would like to have a pelvic exam and she agreed. Halfway through the exam, he discovered a “nub.” That’s when it hit him. It all made sense; “she” was actually a “he.” This beautiful 18-year-old girl was actually born a boy with high amounts of estrogen and had inverted genitalia.

It was quite the discovery. Instead of breaking the news himself, my professor referred her to another, more sensitive, female doctor. I don’t know how that conversation went.

“Hey, you’re actually not a girl. You’ve been a guy your whole life and you need to have your inverted genitalia surgically removed because they could turn into cancer. Oh, and you probably shouldn’t go to college right now.”


We Found Zero Evidence of Cancer


I work in the pathology lab where the hospital sends all the specimens. One day, a surgeon did a double mastectomy based off a different hospital’s pathology report. The report said the woman had the kind of breast cancer where both breasts need to be removed.

But when we examined her specimens, we made an utterly disturbing discovery. We found zero cancer in either breast. Obviously, the surgeon was beside himself and made us look through both breasts IN THEIR ENTIRETY…It’s unheard of to submit all the tissue like this, but he needed to find cancer.

I’ve never seen a surgeon stand there and watch the pathologist like this guy did. We all felt so bad for him and of course the patient. He was so upset, cussing up a storm the whole time and screaming about “this is why I never take outside pathology reports!”

Turns out, the other lab had mis-labeled her tissue, so some other lady got the all clear who had cancer, while she lost both her breasts when she didn’t need to. All around a horrible situation, and the surgeon was sick over it all.


My Favorite Client


I’m not a doctor. I’m a dental hygienist. Back when I first started, I had a client who came in to get her teeth cleaned. She was the sweetest little old lady with tons of energy and was full of life.

I got her comfortably seated in the chair, leaned her back, and started scaling away, which is the dental term for removing plaque/tartar or “bringing the pain”. Halfway through the appointment, I got a terrible feeling. My stomach started to grumble. She poked fun at me for it and we both had a laugh.

Minutes later, the grumbles in my stomach made their way down…like way down. It took everything I had not to pass gas with this sweet lady’s head between my legs. Despite my best efforts, I had to let it out.

I figured that if it’s going to force its way out, I might as well make it a silent one. I straightened up my posture and leaned ever so slightly towards my tray of instruments to “swap for a new one.”

I must have miscalculated or something because what was supposed to be silent gas, turned out to be one of those toots that sounds like an earthquake. That nice old lady looked at me with a look that was one part bewilderment and another part amusement.

All she said was, “There you go, dear! Now I don’t feel so bad for letting a few go myself out in the waiting room!” Needless to say, she has been my favorite client to this day.


Always Wash Your Bananas


I work as an OB-GYN. An attractive blonde international flight attendant—a regular patient of mine—called for an emergency appointment. She sheepishly told me that she was beginning to get very concerned that she kept finding Costa Rican postage stamps inside her.

Now, I had been in my job for 24 years and never heard of anything like that before. After a full examination, she was relieved to learn they were just the stickers from the bananas.


Most People Don't Realize That


I’m an eye doctor, and many people don’t realize that diabetics need to have their eyes checked regularly. After all, a diabetic complication can result in blindness.

I had a patient 15 years ago that was experiencing severe diabetic vascular changes against the retina and required laser intervention. On the day of her surgery, she chooses to go to work instead.

She worked in the cleaning industry, and on that day she inhaled some of her cleaner fumes. They caused her to sneeze, which spiked her blood pressure, and she blew the fragile blood vessels in both of her eyes wide open.

Immediately, she’s blinded in both eyes in a matter of seconds.


They Amputated the Wrong Leg


My grandfather’s friend needed to have his leg amputated. Somewhere between him leaving the hospital bed to go into surgery and coming back out, someone had mislabelled the leg and they amputated the wrong leg.

He went back into surgery three days later—he’s very old and they were worried about him going under once let alone twice—and they removed the other (correct) leg.

This is one of those stories that I couldn’t believe until I actually met the guy and realized he really does have both legs amputated, for no good reason other than negligence.


Never Touch a Surgeon's Table


I’m a surgical tech, and we were doing a skin graft on a burn patient. In those types of surgeries, you have two different operative sites if you’re taking the skin graft from the patient and not using cadaver skin.

This means I have two different surgical teams going and only one me bouncing back and forth and assisting both the teams. This was also at a university hospital, meaning I have attending surgeons, residents, and medical students all working alongside.

If you work in surgery, you know that unless you’re the tech, YOU DO NOT TOUCH THEIR TABLE OR ANYTHING ON IT. As we’re doing the skin harvest, you have to keep the skin moist until it’s ready to be transplanted on the site.

I wrap mine in damp sponges and keep it on my table. I bet you can see where this is going. I turn back to my table and the sponge WITH THE SKIN IN IT is gone. I look everywhere and finally stop everyone from working to ask who has the damp sponge that was on my table.

A resident told me my table was “too cluttered” and he threw the sponge in the trash. I saw red. I’ve never had to scold a doctor so bad in my life. Not only did he touch my table, he threw away an item that needs to be accounted for after surgery, and it had specimen in it.

Since the skin was no longer sterile, we had to use cadaver skin, and you know who pays for that? The PATIENT. So, a note to all the baby docs, please don’t touch your scrub’s table unless we okay it.


I Could Hear Everything


I’m not a surgeon, but I had a screw put in to hold together a fracture in my wrist. At the last moment before surgery, the anesthetist told me I could have the surgery with a local rather than general anesthetic as planned. So I let her make the call for me to be awake. 

That’s how I heard everything the doctor didn’t want me to hear. See, he didn’t realize I wasn’t under, and it was one eye-opening experience. During the drilling, my surgeon started complaining at length about why he hates the drill he’s using and how it’s inferior to the other type of brand.

It was apparently the only one he could find at the time and he didn’t want to reschedule. So not great so far. Once the screw is in, the surgeon says to close up.

Someone asked if the screw should protrude as much as it was, to which he responded, “No, but we can get away with it, and you never want to take a screw out and put another in, because it will wear out the bone.”

Then silence for about 10 seconds while I feel them shifting my wrist around, followed by, “Actually we better put a smaller screw in.” When I was in recovery, the surgeon was surprised how quickly I woke up and had a slight look of surprise when I told him I was only under local.

Next thing he said was, “Surgery went well…”


A Bad Way to Find Out You Have a High Tolerance to Pain


When I was 14 years old, I started getting an upset stomach one night and it wasn’t just another bellyache. Maybe a little bit more intense, but I slept through it pretty well.

The next morning, my parents got me an appointment with the doctor to see if I was okay. We got through it all, but we had to wait at one point, and it was taking quite a long time.

I told my mom, “We should just go home, it’s probably nothing…” and then the next thing I knew, I needed surgery. When I was talking to the doctor before the surgery, he explained that my appendix had burst, and he said I just had a very high tolerance to pain.

In fact, he was surprised I was able to sleep through it.

He also explained that if I didn’t have surgery when I did, I wouldn’t have made it. I can see now why a lot of people think that having a high tolerance to pain isn’t necessarily a good thing.


I Don't Know What the Big Deal Was


I’ve always had headaches, almost daily. About 10 years ago, I started seeing weird auras that would take up my whole vision, and then I’d get a terrible headache that would make me want to end it all. Maybe once a year that would happen.

About three years ago, we got really good insurance. Then, I got several auras in a row, and I started to worry that it was a detached retina or something.

So I went to an ophthalmologist, who dilated my eyes and looked around. He suggested I see a neurologist, and maybe they’d do an MRI. Meanwhile, I had a stomach ache that lasted for a few days—very odd for me, since I don’t really get them.

But it woke me up in the middle of the night, and I had another aura visual—but no headache.

I saw the neurologist a week later and boy did he like talking about how fat I was. I had three kids in three years, so naturally, I became squishy—not morbidly obese, but I did have some mobility issues. Deal with it. They were able to get me in for the MRI that day, and despite being claustrophobic, it wasn’t terrible.

I walked out to the parking lot, and they called me back in. When I got in, she told me I’d had a stroke, and they needed to admit me to the ER. The office was at the hospital already, so she literally just walked me through like two doors, and I didn’t even have to wait in the lobby.

I spent three days being poked and prodded. I never really saw the big deal, it was just a stomach ache and dancing lights. I’m doing a lot better now.


Something Felt Off


When I was a fourth-year resident, my first rotation in the hospital was in radiology. I was waiting with a patient after an ultrasound and they told me they were thirsty.

They take a sip of water but then start mumbling. It was incoherent to us but his daughter said he had spoken like that before. She said something felt off. She was all too right.

One second he was fine, and moments later he’s just quietly staring off into space and I start to wonder what’s going on. We check him and one of my seniors calls our resident and immediately starts CPR.

He was wheeled down to the ER but we lost him later that day. Since then I’ve had many patients but this memory still makes me feel weird.


Have You Put On a Few?


I went to the doctor to get a note for a day off work because I didn’t feel so great. The doctor poked me in the stomach and said, “That’s not normal,” then sent me off to have a scan…which took me two months to get around to.

Two weeks later, I got a letter from the doctor asking me to come in. When I got there, the doctor went off at me for not coming in sooner…

He told me to go home, pack a bag, and make my way to the Royal Brisbane immediately as it might be cancer. Some more scans later and it was determined not to be cancer, but a four-kilogram cyst.

My only symptom was an enlarged stomach and the “You’re getting fat” comments from my mother.


Strong and Silent Type


My father went to the hospital with chest pains, and they decided to do an angiogram. The process injects dye into his valves to look for clots.

During his procedure, the surgeon asks if he suffers from blackouts, and a few more doctors get called in to have a look. My dad is the strong silent type but admits to minimal daily pain.

They take him to another type of X-ray machine and again are looking in bemusement without explaining anything. Turns out there was a blood clot the size of a golf ball floating free in his heart.

It normally should have taken out someone quickly and the doctors were all intrigued. He had a triple bypass 30 years ago and is still the strong and silent type.


A Horrible Treasure Hunt


My sister was having stomach surgery and the surgeon mentioned that her uterus looked strange. The surgeon thought there might be an ovarian cyst and recommended getting checked.

After she recovers from the stomach surgery, she checks out the uterus, and she finds out she has uterine leiomyosarcoma. In other words, her entire uterus was just one big tumor.

The tumor also impacted her ovaries and her fallopian tubes. She had another surgery where they got it all out and then she went through chemo for five months.

After six months of clean scans, she goes to get a mammogram and finds breast cancer. She chose to have a mastectomy last week and she starts radiation soon. It’s the worst treasure hunt ever.


The Case Still Bothers Me


A patient mystery I never understood was a healthy 23-year-old male. He came into the ER with chest pain that started after eating something spicy.

We check his vitals, do an X-ray, and are about to discharge him when he collapses lifeless. We start CPR and get a pulse. He was stable for a CT scan but doesn’t survive the procedure.

The team was baffled. During the autopsy, it was revealed his major blood vessels basically just imploded. This sometimes, though rarely, happens to men in their 70s with a long smoking history and high blood pressure, but this patient had zero risk factors and was a non-smoker.

This was a few years ago but the case still bothers me.


Domino Effect


Our elderly patient went into cardiac arrest but was revived. We did all the possible tests but couldn’t find the reason. Just as she was getting better, her heart attack came back for a sequel.

We did CPR and were able to get her pulse back, and closely monitored her that night. Things were not looking good so we called her husband.

We asked him to come in as we were worried she would not survive the day. Her husband told us he would be there within the hour. Well, three hours passed and he didn’t show up.

We tried calling and couldn’t reach him. Eventually, a nurse found out that he was downstairs in our ER! Apparently, when he left his house in a hurry, he fell and broke his hip.


She Only Has a Small Scar


When I was a medical student on my surgery rotation, I was working a shift with the trauma team. I’m observing a simple repair surgery when my trauma pager goes off.

I run into the trauma bay and a young gentleman is brought in on a stretcher with the lower half of his body covered in blood, but he’s awake and coherent.

He’s screaming and had been shot 15 times, all below the belt, and one shot had gone straight through his scrotum. We’re doing an evaluation when a code is called in the next pod over.

Turns out it’s the patient who was brought in with our current patient. Several of us run from patient one and into the next pod to see a woman lying on a stretcher receiving CPR.

We roll the patient on her side to get her clothes off and notice she’s bleeding out of her back. There is a tiny exit wound and we piece together it’s a ricochet from our previous patient.

We take her to the trauma bay to perform the primary surgery. She’s not breathing and has no pulse. We intubate and find the entry point in the center of her chest.

Ultrasound confirms a hemothorax and we get a chest tube in place. Instantly there are two liters of blood gushing onto the floor. The resident I’m with immediately takes a scalpel and makes an incision, then they clip the sternum in half.

This woman’s chest is now completely open and we can see the heart, and the clean entry and exit wound. All of the blood and fluids we were pushing was just draining right out of her heart and into her chest.

We’re running her to an OR, when I notice she’s bleeding from every single opening in her body. Her body had used all its clotting agents. The blood still flows but she can’t go for surgery under this duress. We transfer her to intensive care and monitor her for three weeks.

She can’t talk or move, and the family is having conversations about life support. I find out she was discharged as a quadriplegic and the future is bleak. The real twist happens six months later. I was working a shift in intensive care and bring up this patient to my attending.

They remember the night and working on the body and proceed to tell me that a month ago at a follow-up visit, this patient walked in. After the traumatic experience, all she has is a scar from her thoracotomy.


Food Poisoning Lead to Something Much Worse


One time, I got food poisoning. I’d never had serious food poisoning before, but my boss who I was at a conference with had. After clearing myself completely in a very short period of time, I told her I would probably miss the next day.

She asked if I needed anything and I said, “No-no… I’m just trying to drink water but I can’t keep it down…I’ve put all my pillows on the bathroom floor so I can stay close to the toilet.”

She brought me ginger tea and asked if they could take me to the hospital. I declined and tried the tea which also came back up.

After a while, I was still heaving and I could hardly get up, so I finally let her and a co-worker drive me to the hospital. But I felt so stupid—who goes to the ER for food poisoning? They stabilized me in the ER after a few hours and ran some tests.

They told me then I could go home if I wanted, or stay the night in the hospital if I preferred. I’m really not the type to worry about my health and I always assume things will be fine, but some instinct told me to stay. I felt terrible when they wheeled me over to the hospital and I told them that.

The next thing I knew, I was on a hospital bed surrounded by med staff. I had a life-threatening seizure.


He Thought I Was Just Being Difficult


I was the patient. I had a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass in April of 2017. After I went home from the surgery, the expectation was that I would be on a liquid diet for a week, and then slowly start reintroducing soft foods, etc.

I even used a check-in app that reviewed how I was feeling, just to monitor if something was wrong.

Two weeks in and I still couldn’t keep down an ounce of protein shake. My husband at the time was getting frustrated with me because he thought I was being deliberately difficult. While he was gone to a city three hours away by plane, I woke up in the middle of the night heaving and dry vomiting.

My mother drove me to the hospital in the middle of the night where I spent the next 12 hours having every test imaginable run on me. That’s when doctors made a gruesome discovery.

It turns out, within 24 hours after my surgery, my intestine that was reconnected at the “Y” junction had actually come apart (it was leaking anastomosis, if you want to look it up).

Everything I’d tried to eat had just been draining into my abdominal cavity. I was septic and had four large abscesses. After emergency surgery, I spent 10 days in the ICU recovering before I went home.

The surgeon told my mother that if I’d been even 24 hours late getting to the hospital, I wouldn’t have made it. Side note: less than two months later, my husband left me.


She Couldn't Have Waited Any Longer


My pregnancy was really painful. I was the only woman in my family besides my mother who went through this, and even she didn’t get sick at all while pregnant.

I thought it was normal that I couldn’t stand straight or go farther than ten feet from the bathroom, or that I spent days on the bathroom floor unable to keep anything down to the point where I would lose track of days.

My fiancé begged and begged for me to go to the ER because of all the pain I had. It turns out, I had an acute UTI that was ready to spread to my kidneys.

They told me if I waited any longer, I would have miscarried. The thought definitely makes me hold my baby tighter.


Tanning Made it Worse


When I was about 16, I started having these little red irritated spots show up on my arm. My mom was immediately like, “You have psoriasis, just go tanning.”

So I tanned for about a week and they just got worse. Now I had them all over my body. I even had spots on my eyelids. I went to the doctor finally, and he made a gruesome discovery.

It turned out I had ringworm. Even worse? By tanning, I was basically rubbing them all over with the lotions and incubating them while I tanned.


He Went from the Hospital Directly to Jail


I had a husband and wife brought in at the same time, both with major flame burns. He was about half his body surface area, and she was 75% or more.

The woman was intubated at the original emergency room they went to. She was waking up a bit when she got to our unit and kept trying to mouth something around her breathing tube.

In hindsight, I’m pretty sure it was “my baby,” as she miscarried about 36 hours after she was admitted. She developed an arrhythmia while we were starting a new IV and we couldn’t control it. 

Then we found out what really happened. We found out the husband lit her on fire when he discovered he wasn’t the baby’s father. He survived and after medical treatment moved to a penitentiary.


All Because of Eye Drops


The year I was a medical intern I had a 34-year-old woman for a patient. She was manning a grill for two days during a weekend festival for her church. During the festival, her eyes got irritated from the smoke off the grill so she asked a friend for eye drops.

After using them for two days, she developed a rash. The rash rapidly progressed to cover her whole body.

It then developed into Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis Syndrome, which essentially means the most superficial layer of the skin separates from the deeper layers. This leaves a wound that is similar to the raw spot underneath a big blister.

In her case, it involved three-quarters of her body. Her body was also fighting off infection in her mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines.

We had silver-impregnated dressings that we had to wrap her in like a mummy and change every day.

Despite everything we could do at the main burn unit in a huge metro hospital, her body couldn’t continue to fight. Her friend was racked with guilt. All over some eye drops.


She Went on Vacation Instead of to the Pharmacy


My patient came in with a badly infected foot abscess. Like, the entire foot was showing signs of cellulitis and we had to put her on antibiotics for a few days of inpatient care.

She was paying out of pocket and kept trying to leave, but we insisted she finish the treatment. When the infection was mostly cleared she was discharged.

She had strict instructions to change the bandages, monitor the wound, keep it clean, and also had a list of prescriptions. We also scheduled appointments at a wound clinic to monitor the abscess.

She did none of those things. She never even picked up the antibiotics from the pharmacy. She skipped her wound clinic appointments and was unreachable.

We later found out this was because she went on vacation. Several days after getting home, she decided to go on a two-week-long camping and river rafting trip with some friends.

Her camping trip was cut short after the first week because she developed septicemia and her friends drove her to a local hospital to get airlifted back to our hospital.


He Thought it Was Hilarious


One night I had a young guy; a walk-in who thought it was hilarious he had a stab wound. He arrived at 3:00 am and had been waiting hours before deciding to get help.

He also brought in his family and friends who also didn’t think it was a serious injury. During his evaluation, it registered as a level one and his blood pressure was low.

His heart rate was soaring as his body tried to compensate for the loss of blood. As soon as we brought him into a room, he coded and never woke up.

We tried to revive him with a manual cardiac massage, which meant cracking his chest and manually pumping the heart. The knife had nicked his abdominal aorta, which ruptured. But that wasn’t the most chilling part.

When we went back to the waiting room, his friends and family were having a pizza party, not recognizing the fatal status of their loved one.


I Had All the Symptoms


I had all the symptoms of a GI bleed, including vomiting blood that looked like coffee grounds. I went to the ER, had an NG tube put in, and spent the night in the ICU.

They scoped me the next day and determined I had three minor erosions, then they released me with a script for antacids. I thought I would be okay from there, but I felt awful for the next two weeks.

I was tired, weak, and dizzy, but I dismissed it all because it was “just three minor erosions.” Two weeks later, my doctor sent me in to have my blood drawn.

My hemoglobin was at 4.6 and my hematocrit was 15.1, which is critically low…like “How are you still standing” low. Long story short, I was rescoped at this new hospital and they found a two-inch tumor in my stomach.

It was a very rare tumor that usually doesn’t happen to people under 40, and I’m 33. I had a total of five tumors and half of my stomach removed a few days later.

Where my GI found the “erosions” was basically right where my two-inch tumor was. I don’t get how he missed it, but he found what he was looking for, and that was that I guess.

All I know is I’m not paying the $7,200 bucks that the hospital wants from me. How they missed a two-inch mass baffles my mind. I’m still waiting on the bill for the week-long stay and the surgery in the second hospital.


My Psychiatrist Noticed What Other Doctors Didn't


My psychiatrist saved my life! I have always had heavy and irregular periods, so when I had bleeding that didn’t go away for a month, I pretty much just kept on keeping on.

Eventually, a doctor referred me to the emergency department because of the constant blood loss, and all I was told was “You’ve got endometriosis.” So for five months, I had a heavy period, with doctors just dismissing it.

Eventually, my roommate called an ambulance when I passed out in the shower. The doctors did a blood test and I was admitted overnight for a blood transfusion.

Fun fact—blood transfusions make some people nauseous, which is not a fun way to find out you’re allergic to an antiemetic! A few weeks later, at about the six-month mark, I drove for an hour for my regular appointment with my psychiatrist.

He took one look at me and freaked out. He told me to proceed directly to the ER. So I did and was promptly admitted to the ICU with a bilateral pulmonary embolism.

I was hours away from suffocating to my end. Turns out, all the birth control that the original doctors had been giving me to shut me up and get rid of me had caused massive clots.

The doctor that looked after me and ultimately saved my life wrote a paper on why it’s stupid to ignore a nulligravida (never pregnant) woman in her mid-20s with severe dysfunctional uterine bleeding.


She Thought She Was Pregnant


Nurse here. We had a 67-year-old woman who thought she was pregnant. I’ve got to say, she did look pregnant since her abdomen was full; similar to those pregnant women who look like they’re carrying a basketball when they are at the end.

But she was 67. Turned out, it was a 37-pound ovarian cyst, and it was the largest one I had ever seen in my career. I asked if I could watch the surgery. That thing came out all in one piece, and I’ll never forget the sound it made.

This was at a community hospital many years ago, before HIPAA, so naturally, the lab announced that anyone who wanted could come down to the lab and view this incredible thing before it was dissected by pathology.

The line at lunchtime was so long you’d think they were giving away free concert tickets.


She Heard Voices


Psychiatrist here. One of my first patients was a female college student who couldn’t sleep because of the voices that constantly talked to her. Apparently, she felt forced to answer them at all times.

From what she was saying, I gathered that depending on the particular voice, she was either being cautioned about people or situations or outright pushed towards violent acts.

The voices started appearing when she was 16 if I remember correctly, and we met when she was 20. For four years of her life she believed that it was normal to have such voices in one’s head, because, as she explained, many people talk to themselves.

To some extent, she was right; but I had to explain to her that most people really talk with themselves and there are no other identities in them.

There’s just an internal dialogue to clarify or resolve issues that bother them in their own privacy, so to speak. She was later diagnosed with schizophrenia.


Always Wear a Helmet


As an EMT trainee, in my first ride-along we responded to a call where a guy fell at a skate park. When we got there he was conscious, walking, and talking coherently.

He hadn’t been wearing a helmet when he fell and a bruise was forming above his eye. With no scrapes and his pupils dilating, we assumed it was a concussion and black eye.

We talked him into coming with us to the ER just to double-check. We get him in the ambulance, lay him down, and his blood pressure had gone down significantly since our first check. 

Then it took a very dark turn. It escalated quickly to him getting drowsy and throwing up blood. We turned on the sirens and started fluids, but his blood pressure kept dropping.

He was unconscious by the time we got to the ER. Skipping the bruise meant we hadn’t felt the soft skin filling with blood and the crushed bone around his eye and cheek.

He ended up having emergency brain surgery. Coincidentally, they also found and removed a tumor while operating. He recovered to skate another day, and hopefully will remember his helmet.


It Was Worse Than Expected


We had a patient call our clinic and say they cut their hand. They wanted to know if we were busy or had time for a couple of stitches.

They failed to mention that they were working with a table saw, and had nearly cut off three fingers. Their tendons were exposed and severed, and I sent him immediately to the hospital.

He received a hand specialist and kept his digits.


He Never Expected to Become a Teacher


My brother is a paramedic, and he said every time, practically without fail, dispatch would downplay the calls. So one call he had was for a girl “with minor bleeding.”

He arrived and found her 14-year-old brother frantic. His 12-year-old sister was bleeding everywhere and wouldn’t stop. My brother braced for a major cut and expected a blood bath.

Instead, the girl was terrified she was a goner….because of all this blood coming from between her legs. So yeah, that became quite clear quite quickly.

She was in the bathtub and he calmed her down and asked them both where their mother was. They called the mom at work and she got on the phone to explain to her daughter what was happening.

When she was passed back to my brother, she asked if ambulances had sanitary pads, but they don’t carry them. He did however use gauze to make a temporary pad and explained to the girl what to do.

The mom ran into the house 20 minutes later, thanked my brother profusely, and hugged her daughter for a long time. He never expected to teach someone about the menstrual cycle.


At Least She Wasn't in Pain


I’m a nurse with twenty years of experience and a master’s degree. This lady had a non-healing, large wound on her left chest area for six months and painful axillary nodules that she had for six years prior to the wound.

Any non-healing wound is immediately assumed as cancer until proven otherwise. Well, this lady had stage four, untreatable cancer—all for a heartbreaking reason.

She just wasn’t taught that cancer was treatable. The patient told us, “I wish they could do something for breast cancer, and cancer in general.”

Clearly, she was not informed about how most women with painful nodules should come in ASAP as the cancer is most treatable when detected early. She passed on three weeks after her diagnosis.

She was sedated for about two weeks and five days after diagnosis because that’s how she wanted to go. At least she wasn’t in pain, and was pretty much asleep for all of it.


He Should Have Been in Pain


My 13-year-old son complained to me that he was unbearably itchy down there. I figured probably sweat, so I told him to wash the area thoroughly and make sure to dry well.

A couple of days later, he said it was still itchy and getting bigger. Bigger? He said there was no pain or anything, but it was still itchy and swollen. I still didn’t think it was anything more than a sweat rash that maybe needed some ointment.

But when we went to the doctor, we were sent off for an ultrasound. The scan showed zero blood flow to the area, so he was immediately transferred to the emergency room.

He went in for emergency surgery where the urologist removes one necrotic mass. It had become randomly twisted and passed at least a week prior. The swelling was a major infection setting in, which also caused the itchiness and swelling.

He had no pain whatsoever and the doctor said that was amazing. For most boys, torsion feels like being kicked in the nuts continuously, and by the infected stage he was in, he should have been screaming and crying from the pain. If we had waited any longer, he could have developed sepsis.

He had a follow-up surgery a month later to insert a replacement part and to stitch his remaining one in place so it doesn’t happen again.


He Waited Too Long


We learned of a medical case involving a man who had a rash on his foot. He googled it and decided it was eczema or some similar inflammatory disease, so ordered and applied a steroid cream.

For those who don’t know, those kinds of steroids act by dampening the immune system—the overactivity of which is the cause of diseases like eczema and psoriasis.

However, he, in fact, had a fungal infection and was just reducing his body’s ability to fight it off. If I remember correctly, by the time he got to the doctor’s, he needed it amputated.


Everyone Goes Through This


As a teenager, I was listening to my best friend complain about her bad periods. She snapped at me and asked why I didn’t care that she was in so much pain. I basically told her that we all go through it every month: “Everyone bleeds through tampons every hour or so.

Everyone hurts all the time. Everyone gets the few moments where it’s so painful you can barely stand. Everyone does this for eight days.”

She looked at me like I was crazy and said no, that’s not normal. I argued and said it’s exactly how it is for me…it sucks but what can we do?

She gently assured me that what I had just told her was not normal and that I should probably see a doctor.


They Thought I Only Wanted More Medication


I have Crohn’s disease and spent the majority of 2012-2015 going in and out of hospitals due to malnutrition, anemia due to blood loss, an inflamed colon, infections, etc.

No medications helped calm my disease down. As a bonus, I got something called Pyoderma Gangrenosum two months after I was diagnosed with Crohn’s.

Pyoderma Gangrenosum gave me several open wounds on my legs that were painful and required wound cleaning twice a week with high doses of pain medication.

Due to building a resistance, I went from 5mg to 20mg over the course of a year and a half. My daily prescription was valium 5mg and morphine 10mg five times daily to manage the pain.

Under one of my many hospitalizations, I was sent to a bigger hospital than my local one, since they had better resources, equipment, and a special ward for people with gestational issues like mine. 

A couple of weeks into my stay, I got into big trouble. My stomach was hurting a lot more than usual. I also stopped making bowel movements, which was a big red flag.

I was still going to the bathroom like 50 times a day to pass blood and minuscule amounts of waste, but then stopped overnight. I informed the nurses and spoke to the doctors when they had visitation, but I was getting brushed off by everyone.

I asked to be checked out, showing my stomach, which by now looked like a six-month pregnancy. Regardless, doctors did nothing more than feel my tender stomach daily. I started crying a lot, could hardly sleep, and stopped eating the first or second day because of the pain.

Eventually, I was vomiting and overall deteriorating. After six days, I had enough, and finally, someone wheeled in an ultrasound machine to my room.

After a quick look in my stomach, I got a meek, “Oh, your intestines are twisted around on themselves, you need surgery.” The next morning I was on the operating table and ended up having my whole large intestine removed because of the extent of damage from the twisting and inflammation.

I now have a permanent stoma to function. The reason they did nothing for a week despite my daily complaints was the doctors thought I was addicted to my pain relief medications.

They thought I was complaining for more medication…even though I never asked. The doctor responsible had never interacted with me face-to-face and made the decision based on my medical history alone.


There's No Way I Got it All Out


This one was actually from back when I was a medical student, but it’s still the weirdest thing I’ve seen. It was my last rotation in medical school before graduating and starting residency.

I had completed all my requirements and just wanted to take a few interesting electives of things I hadn’t seen yet. This was a dermatology rotation at the VA.

The rotation had been interesting and chill, and I was seeing my third-to-last patient as a medical student. The guy came in and the resident asked him why he was there.

He said, “I have hair coming out of my hand.” I figured he meant a weird mole with some hair coming out, but this guy (who was probably in his late thirties or early forties) said, “No, the hair is coming out from under the skin.”

The resident asked him what he did for a living and he said he was a barber. Apparently, it’s not too uncommon for hair to poke through the skin, especially for barbers who cut men’s hair.

It’s short, thin, and can be kinda pokey after all. It was sort of like getting a sliver, but with hair. But the guy said, “No, it’s a lot of hair, look!”

He held up his hand, making a fist, and there were several hairs poking out from between the knuckles of his pointer and middle finger.

I stared in confusion, and the resident grabbed some tweezers to pull out maybe a half dozen short black hairs. The guy said, “Yeah, I already pulled out like 50.” That’s when the resident’s face dropped.

We numbed up the backside of his hand between the first and second knuckle and made a little incision. We were shocked at the mass of hair that we uncovered.

We started pulling out GOBS of short black hair. A chunk of 20, a chunk of 30, etc. At some point, she got the magnifying glasses out with an attached light and said, “Oh my gosh, there are still more in there! Sir, do you know how all this hair got into your hand?” His answer was so disturbing, it’s unforgettable.

The guy said, “Oh it probably came in through there!” He flipped his hand over to reveal a HOLE in the palmar aspect of his hand’s skin.

It turns out, the dude had cut himself like TWO YEARS before this, and it had never healed properly (he was diabetic), so he just kept cutting hair with this open wound on his hand. Probably every day, a few hairs got stuck in his hand. For two years.

Now those hairs had tunneled through the webbing between his first and second fingers from the front of his hand and out the backside. We spent like 30 minutes MILKING his hand and fingers while more and more hair came out.

She said, “There’s no way I got it all out, so you have to come back every two weeks for a few months for us to keep removing more hair from your hand.”


I Wasn't Prepared For That


Our patient had a pilonidal cyst that bothered them for years. This is the type of cyst that can be very large at the cleft of your backside, and is caused by hairs that burrow deep under the skin.

It flared up while the patient was sitting for long periods, and became inflamed and infected. Normally we would recommend a surgeon for this procedure.

When we examined the cyst, we could see it had opened on its own and was beginning to drain. When I took a closer look, I could see the nest of hair in this opening and my curiosity and an absolute need to remove it took hold. But I had made a fatal error. 

I didn’t predict the nest acting like a plug, and the removal released the most foul-smelling pus. Thankfully due to protocol, I was wearing a face shield but it did land on the bridge of my nose and eyebrow.

I will never forget the sheer force, trajectory, or smell, but would do it all again if I had the chance. Chalk up my fascination to too many episodes of Dr. Pimple Popper.

Even so, I still wasn’t prepared for the results.


I'll Never Forget the Experience


I was a resident in the ICU and we had a patient recovering from Steven-Johnson Syndrome, which is a rare drug reaction where skin blisters uncontrollably.

At the same time, he had a clotted femoral pseudo-aneurysm that was at risk of bursting and bleeding. Between the afternoon and evening rounds, this patient’s nurse asked me to assess his leg swelling.

His whole body was swollen because of all the blisters and he had fluids he’d been getting for his blood pressure. When I checked his right leg, it did look more swollen than a few hours ago and the skin was worse.

However, the aneurysm was stable on the ultrasound earlier in the day so it didn’t seem like there was much to do other than keep it well dressed and monitored.

A couple of hours later, my co-resident and I are doing our evening rounds as the general surgery team is assessing a few doors down. The leg looks even worse than earlier and is another few centimeters swollen.

Even with the swelling, his vitals are stable and he’s receiving the right treatment. We were scratching our heads when his leg burst. Where the swelling had occurred has now split open and is gushing.

The nurse and my co-resident throw on gloves and apply pressure while I grab a surgical kit and try to find the source. Our team is running down the hall to grab the surgeons who are still evaluating patients. Within two minutes, there’s a small team searching through this man’s leg, looking for the cause.

Another minute or two later and they’ve found they found the ruptured vein. They stopped the bleeding as best they can. I think on the repeat blood work that evening he’d lost maybe 10-20% of his blood in five minutes.

Now we had to treat the infection. This patient was pretty frail and had already had a near-fatal reaction to one class of antibiotics.

I wish I could say it was a happy ending, but his wound became purulent and he developed bacteria in his blood. It was a bad day that got worse with all the other medical problems he was having.

It was just too much and we transferred to palliative. I’ll never forget the experience and know my team kept him as comfortable as possible.


I Hope He Was Lying


When I was a medical student, a patient and his brother came in together. The patient was just there for a post-op visit after a hernia repair. Turns out, after inspection, he actually had another baseball-sized hernia. 

Somehow, that’s not the craziest part. His brother, on the other hand, LITERALLY had a football-sized hernia visibly coming out of the left leg of his shorts.

It looked like an inguinal hernia, and he was able to use it as an armrest. I asked him if that bothered him at all, and he just straight up said: “My brother’s hernias were painful but this isn’t, so I thought it was just a quirky defect.”

I hope he was lying to save face, but we recommended he get it taken care of.


Thanks For Saving My Life


One time, we had a woman come in through the ER with excessive bleeding three weeks after childbirth. That’s fairly unusual timing and I took her to surgery for a dilation and curettage, or D&C.

I expected to find a little retained placenta and that the bleeding would improve as soon as I got it out. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

As soon as she was on the table, it only got worse. We eventually performed a uterine tamponade balloon. This is a big balloon you fill with saline inside the uterus to apply constant pressure.

With medication, we finally got the bleeding stopped and she did ok after a blood transfusion. In total, she lost 1,000cc in the ER plus another 2,000cc in surgery.

Her lab results never showed any retained placenta, meaning her uterus just tried to murder her that night. It’s incredibly rare and I’ve never seen this since. She took the time to send me a thank you card a few weeks later with a handwritten note in it:

“Thanks for saving my life, I guess.” I kept it in my locker for a while and wish her a happy uterus future!


There's No Known Cause


I got a new OB-GYN and went for a check-up. I braced myself for the horrible pain, and she immediately stopped.

As it turns out, extreme pain down there ISN’T normal, but I’d just had three other OB-GYNs who apparently didn’t care that I cried in pain every time I was checked. She called it vulvar vestibulitis, but the most commonly used term now is vulvodynia.

Apparently, there’s no known cause, but some doctors think it may be due to having too many nerve endings in the area. I am doing somewhat better now thanks to some physical therapies and a lidocaine ointment that I can apply beforehand.


Mom and Baby Were OK


When I was an anesthesia resident, a pregnant woman came into our medium-sized community hospital in the night with some abdominal pain and nausea.

Her doctor determined she was not in labor so we just treated her with medication and kept her overnight. In the morning, a new obstetrician started daily rounds. When he saw her, he immediately raised the alarm.

The new obstetrician noted that the patient’s blood pressure had dropped. They felt the patient’s uterus and it was exquisitely tender. At this point, our patient is feeling very faint.

Now the diagnosis is likely a uterine rupture, which is when a small hole has burst in the womb. In these cases, the solution is an emergency C section, and my team was called in to perform this delivery.

A uterine rupture is bad enough, but when we removed the tiny preterm baby, we discovered a horrific truth. It wasn’t a rupture but a placenta percreta.

That’s when the placenta grows through the wall of the uterus and into the surrounding organs, in our patient’s case her bladder. The surgery became more complicated and we had to call for help.

In the OR we now had a urologist, and two other anesthesiologists and started a blood transfusion as she had lost a lot of blood. This condition is usually detected on a prenatal ultrasound, but the patient had skipped hers.

If she hadn’t missed it, this surgery would have been performed in a big city due to its risky and delicate nature. Thankfully, mom and baby were OK.


It Never Slowed Him Down


My oldest son was 11 years old and he needed a physical for youth tackle football. He had complained that his ankle hurt during the middle of baseball season so she asked if he could take off his shoe.

When he did, she immediately pointed to the side of his foot where there was a strange bump and informed us he had a broken foot.

I didn’t believe her because he had the same thing on his other foot as well. So she took a look at the other foot and said, “Oh…he has TWO broken feet.” She then sent us over to get X-rays from the hospital.

I was laughing in my head, thinking it was so crazy that my son, who not only finished playing in a baseball tournament but had also been running and jumping at the swimming pool literally an hour before, had two broken feet.

After the X-rays were completed, my smile quickly faded as the doctor was right. That’s when we learned about how completely flat feet can be damaged with stress fractures that go undetected.

He was put into a cast for eight weeks and was made to wear special shoes and insoles for the rest of his life. His feet are still deformed, but it has never slowed him down.


The Worst Thing I've Ever Seen


My patient was a teenage girl who was taking a nap at home. As she slept, a reckless driver crashed into her house, causing an electrical fire, igniting a ruptured gas line, and setting the entire house ablaze.

Originally she got out with her sister, but went back in to try and rescue her dad and dogs. When firefighters pulled her out, her body was 95% burns.

When she arrived in ICU we registered smoke inhalation, lung damage, carbon monoxide, and cyanide poisoning plus toxic inhalation.

She survives the initial presentation to the trauma unit and now she’s in our burn unit, and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. The only intact skin on her body was a small area around her inner thigh.

Her hair, face, eyelids, and lips are gone. We do what we can with moist sterile dressings and debridement plus broad-spectrum antibiotics.

At the end of the day, she looked like a mummy fully wrapped by the end. There is no chance of her having a normal life ever again. The chances of her surviving are in the single digits. After a few days, the infection begins to set in.

All that damaged tissue was a breeding ground and the first thing we noticed was the smell. The only thing you can really do to encourage healing at that point is IV/Topical antibiotics and debridement.

Basically, large wounds heal better when they are scraped or shaved to expose the wound bed. This removes dead cells which hamper growth and encourages new skin formation.

It takes weeks of treatments, and we had to do this all over her body. This was scheduled multiple times per week. One day, I said out loud in the OR, “This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Several years in medicine later that statement remains true. She survived the next few days, and we started with the skin grafts. Trying to re-build her face, and cover her body.

Her average surgery time was about 10 hours per procedure. We have to keep the room at 98 degrees because burn patients go hypothermic quickly.

This meant 10 hours in full scrub gear at nearly 100-degree heat.


The Worst Part Was Telling Him


This patient had a history of kidney cancer but was in remission. On his latest scan, there was surprising news. There’s a focal mass on one kidney.

Still, if it’s actually just a focal lesion we can chop off the tip of his kidney and cure him while retaining most of his kidney function. The lead surgeon requests better imaging, so we send him to radiology.

When radiology calls us back with the results and it was the worst possible outcome. The cancer is back and has spread into the renal veins. This takes our patient out of remission and into stage three.

The radiologist also mentions he sees shadows in the liver and brain. After the dust settles, everyone agrees that this patient is more advanced and surgery is no longer an option.

The worst part was telling him. Remember, this patient came in thinking he was having a short surgery and leaving completely cured.

Instead,the surgeon walks in and says, “I’m sorry, but your cancer has spread and you most likely have about six months to live.”

His son was five years younger than me and standing next to his dad at the time.


All Because of an Accidental Fall


My husband and I were messing around and he chased me through the kitchen. When I took a hard left turn, he lost his footing and fell on his side. He’s a big dude, so falling is a bit more traumatic for him. He couldn’t put pressure on his leg and he knew immediately he was hurt pretty bad.

He was able to crawl to the couch, and once he settled in, he said he wasn’t in too much pain. He decided to sleep on the couch that night so he wouldn’t have to go upstairs.

We made an appointment in the morning for the ER so we wouldn’t have to sit there all day, but they didn’t have an opening until 2 pm, so we just hung out at the house. He was in a decent amount of ambient pain, but it didn’t seem too urgent.

Once we got to the hospital, however, we found out the shocking truth. He had broken his hip, breaking off his entire ball joint from the top of his femur.

The nurses said they couldn’t believe that he was able to sit up and sleep on it, which implied that we should have come the night before—and probably by ambulance. It required surgery with some hefty bolts to put it back into place.

But the crazy part is that, apparently, a healthy 30-year-old man breaking his femur from standing is highly unusual. That’s when we found out that there was an even more terrifying cause behind it.

After several tests and an MRI, it turned out he was in the early stages of osteoporosis. Even craziest? It was due to a pituitary tumor in his brain. So we discovered a benign brain tumor all because the dude was wearing slippery socks.


Matters of the Heart


A young woman in her 20s comes in with an infected heart. Her infection and heart failure are pretty much past the point of recovery. Her only option was IV antibiotics, hope they work, and plan for hospice care.

Her IV lowered the infection but the heart and valve damage were extensive. It was so extreme that the heart was producing micro-clots.

After the micro-clots, her fingertips went purple and clots migrated to her lungs. When she arrived in my ICU ward she was struggling to breathe. At this point, she decides to fill out a DNR or Do Not Resuscitate and move into hospice care.

Unfortunately, our state has a loophole where if the patient becomes unresponsive their proxy can change the DNR. Sadly, the worst happened.

Her mom went to court and was granted healthcare proxy rights. This meant once the daughter was disoriented, her medical decisions belonged to her mother.

The first thing her mom did was cancel the DNR, and our team was forced to put her on life support. This lasted for months and her arms and legs became purple, black, green, then necrotic.

Her organs were failing and the clots had traveled to her brain. She was unresponsive and we knew it shouldn’t be prolonged. We took the case to risk management, we held ethics meetings, and we went to court against the mother to revoke her healthcare proxy to fight for the patient’s right to die with dignity.

The court refused and mom stayed in control.


All of This Could Have Been Avoided


One night, when I was 16, I had a very sharp pain in my right side. I tossed and turned for a couple of hours before getting up and knocking on my mom’s bedroom door; a forbidden action. My mother swung the door open and snapped at me.

Then, when I explained my pain, she told me it was just heartburn. She ordered me to drink some milk and go back to bed.

I drank the milk, tossed around my bed for a few more hours, and finally passed out from exhaustion. The next day and a few weeks after that, I felt fine. But then, a couple of months later, the pain was back and I woke my mother in the middle of the night again.

She gave me the same response as the first time, and I once again just passed out from exhaustion. Because it was starting to become a pattern, the next time I felt the pain, I didn’t bother going to my mother and just rode it out.

This continued until I was 18. My parents were out of town one weekend and the pain came back worse than ever before, waking me from a dead sleep. After hours and hours of utter agony, hurting to move, hurting to lay still, I broke down and called my mother.

On the voicemail I left her, I told her that I thought I was dying. I finally passed out as the sun began to rise. I was woken up by my uncle banging on the front door and he took me to the doctor, who then referred me to an ultrasound and a surgeon.

I was able to get the ultrasound done on the same day but the surgeon didn’t have availability until the end of the week. I didn’t think anything of it as, once again, the pain had disappeared by then.

My mom begrudgingly took me to the appointment with the surgeon, but I’m pretty sure she thought I was faking it since I’d been completely fine all week. I remember sitting in the office with the surgeon, just chatting while we waited for the nurse to bring him my ultrasound file.

I’ll never forget when she handed it to him. He opened the folder and the smile immediately fell from his face. Surgeon: Did they give you any pain meds when you went to the doctor? Me: No, just some antibiotics.

Why? Surgeon: Nancy, call my 2 pm and tell them we have to reschedule as I’ll be doing emergency surgery. You should have been sent to me last week. I’ll meet you in the ER. So yeah, my gallbladder had apparently been filled with stones since I was 16 and it kept making more for the next two years.

The surgeon said he’d never seen anything like it. All of this could have been avoided if my mother had just listened to me when I first complained to her.


She Was a Fighter


I once had a middle-aged female patient, with no prior medical history, who was flown in from another state for escalation of care. She was transferred for intracranial hemorrhage. 

But one thing made her case stand out. According to her family, it had happened after she tried smoking the green stuff for the first time. She had taken a big, long toke and she coughed so hard that it ruptured a vessel in her brain.

She survived her surgery, but during her post-op recovery her heart stopped and she went into cardiac arrest. I attended the code blue with the team, and with rapid sequence intubation and CPR, we were able to bring her back.

After she was stable I was outside the room reviewing my patient list when she went into cardiac arrest a second time! The same team had to sprint across the hospital again to handle it.

I’ve never seen the code blue team so out of breath. In one night she was flown in, had a ruptured aneurysm, hemorrhagic stroke, and two cardiac arrests back to back and lived.

She was a fighter but I hope her family understands no means no next time!


Is This Pain Normal?


There are so many, but perhaps one of the most stunning cases was the man who thought searing pain while urinating every once in a while was normal.

He would have tremendous back pain for a day or so, which he thought was due to advancing age and the highly physical nature of his job. Not incredibly unreasonable, but something he should have still checked out.

Usually, a few days later, he would have searing pain while urinating, then be fine again. Of course, it turned out to be chronic kidney stone formation. He said he never noticed the stones coming out because he never looked down while urinating.

Honestly, I still don’t understand. I have had kidney stones myself and it definitely feels like something solid is coming out. Baffling.


I Ignored it Until it Got Worse


I was rushed to the ER after frequent blackouts and sudden-onset fatigue. I worked a physical labor job and attended college after my shift, so I didn’t think anything about the fatigue and the blackouts. I thought it was just my brain giving me a fast forward through mind-numbing tasks.

Typically, I would have blackouts while driving because my commute to work was about 45 minutes and my school was about an hour away from my work. I can’t believe how dangerous it was.

I would get on the highway, blink, and the next thing I knew, I was in the parking lot with 45 minutes having passed in an instant. I told my girlfriend about this and she told me something was wrong; but being a dumb 19-year-old, I ignored it.

It wasn’t until I was at work stacking chairs that it really started to sink in—I had an empty cart, put a chair on it, turned around to pick up another chair, then turned back to a chilling sight. The cart was full—but I didn’t remember filling it.

When I saw the full cart, it was like someone hit me in the back of the head and I instantly felt like I hadn’t slept in days. I ended up sitting down and one of my co-workers noticed I was white as a ghost.

The guy in charge forced me to go to the hospital even though I insisted I was fine. Once I got to the hospital and got brain scans done, it turned out I was having mild seizures caused by a lack of sleep.

When I told the doctor about my commuting blackouts, he looked like he just saw a ghost. He told me he had no idea how I didn’t crash. He basically told me to find a new job and get more sleep.


I Have No Idea How He Was Still Alive


I had a patient signed out by another ER doctor at a shift change pending a chest X-ray. The X-ray showed aortic dissection, meaning this guy should’ve been gone already, and I had no idea how he was even still alive.

This being a small hospital in the middle of nowhere, we called the closest big hospital to transfer this guy. The ambulance showed up for the transfer, but we were met with the totally unexpected—the guy suddenly decided he was not going. Apparently, he had enemies in that city and they’d track him down.

After a standoff in the ER hallway involving security, officers, EMTs, multiple doctors, nurses, and a very scared scribe (a.k.a me), the guy got on board with the plan.

Later, we found out from the EMTs that he tried to jump out of the ambulance en route to the other hospital. Once he arrived, he left immediately against medical advice. No clue what happened to him after that, but darn, the dissection was INSANE.


Digging For Gold


I’m an ER doctor. I had a really outrageous experience when I was in training. I had a chart in the rack with a chief complaint of psychiatric evaluation. As soon as I picked it up, some of the older nurses in the department started giggling. I had no idea why until I opened up the curtain to the room. 

I’ll never forget the experience. In front of me was a relatively normal-looking female in her 20s. As soon as I started asking her basic questions, I knew something was off. She was providing very bizarre answers.

Then, out of nowhere, she took her hand and reached under the blanket and her gown towards her back. Her hand came up with a fistful of poop. She then proceeded to go straight to her mouth with it.

It caught me so off guard I actually started laughing and walked directly out of the room and called the on-call psychiatrist. The nurses outside had been laughing because this wasn’t the first time she had been in for similar behavior.


Turning Red


This was super awkward I guess for everyone involved. I was the patient in this case. I went to the hospital to have a cyst removed from my armpit. I suppose because the armpits are so close to the chest, they needed to give me a breast examination to make sure there was nothing bad going on there.

I didn’t make a big deal of it. So, there I was in one of those ghastly gowns. The curtain twitched aside and in came a young male doctor and a female nurse (I guess male doctors are not allowed to examine female patients without another person present).

The nurse, on one side, held my hand and made small talk in an effort to distract me from being embarrassed. It was kind of awkward anyway. It got really awkward when my nipples became really pointed. I was blushing from head to toe.

The poor doctor who probably hadn’t examined many younger women slipped up. He said, “You have lovely breasts. Uh…healthy breasts.” The nurse (she was of a certain age where she had clearly didn’t tolerate any nonsense) was still holding my hand and I felt her grip tighten.

I looked up and she was giving him this frightening glare in awkward silence. The doctor blushed as much as me. Those few seconds felt like an eternity—they were probably worse for the doctor. The nurse told me I would be transferred to another ward later and to relax.


Don't Bother to Knock


I was the assistant manager of a group home. We had a resident who had epilepsy and was also very reclusive. He would get agitated if we came into his room or even knocked on the door. However, our policy said he had to be checked on every 30 minutes because of his seizure risk.

That wasn’t being done, so I brought this up to the manager. She said she was aware but it was okay to bend the rules because he would get really upset when we checked in on him. I really wasn’t comfortable with her answer, but I was young and assumed she knew better than me.

When I was on duty, I checked on him every 30 minutes and he would yell at me, but I didn’t let it bother me. About six months later, after I had been reassigned to another group home, I was met with shocking news. He had a seizure while he was alone in his room and was found cold and lifeless a day later.

Now I’m older and a little smarter. When I find a problem like this, I stick with it and don’t let people talk me out of it. Not again. Rest in peace. You’re gone but not forgotten, and you deserved better.


Hold Your Breath


I went to the doctor to get an X-ray done on my back. I heard the woman working the machine instruct me to, “Hold your breasts,” as her hand hovered over the button. Horrified, I grabbed both my breasts in absolute panic, not understanding what the x-ray machine could possibly do to them.

Then the woman broke out laughing. “No, sweetie!” she said, “Your breath! Hold your breath!” I am so stupid.


I Didn't Want to Wait Any Longer


I’m not a medical professional, but I used to get allergy injections to build up my immune system because of the crazy amount of allergies I had.

I would get these injections every week, and I was instructed by my family doctor and the allergist to wait in the waiting room 30 minutes after the injection in case I received a reaction. Well, one day, I decided I didn’t want to wait anymore.

This was also because I had already gone a few months without a reaction, so I left immediately after my appointment. Well, that ended up being the worst decision I could have ever made. I went into anaphylactic shock not even 10 minutes later.

It was crazy because I didn’t even know what was happening at first and I also didn’t know how to use an Epi-Pen at the time.


We All Had a Good Laugh


I was in the hospital a couple of months ago for chest pains. The various specialists that I saw subjected me to many scans and tests because I have a heart condition. They even had to give me special medication to lower my heart rate for a CAT scan.

But this one specialist wasn’t helping my situation, whatever it may have been. The reason for this was mortifying. 

He was just so cute and every time he walked back into the room my heart rate would spike. Eventually, the other specialists had to kick him out. We all had a good laugh about it.


They Were a Little Too Eager


Before I got into medical school I worked as an orderly in an ER. At the time, the university hospital was getting all the “good” trauma and we got the routine stuff. Some of the younger and more enthusiastic nurses really wanted the more “challenging” cases, the kind of stuff you see in movies.

They were a little too eager for it, maybe. This one day, an old guy came into the triage office and the nurse asked him what his chief complaint was. The man answered, “I was shot—,” and before he could finish, the nurse leapt into action.

She called out a trauma code on the intercom overhead and demanded a stretcher. All of a sudden, everyone came in running and threw this old guy down on the stretcher, and began racing him to the trauma room.

Everyone was in full “TV nurse” mode. The nurse started cutting off the man’s shirt and yelled, “Sir, where were you shot?” The man, a little confused at this point, yelled back, “In Korea!” We all looked at each other and slowly came to a halt in the hallway.

Everyone turned to the nurse, who was looking quite sheepish. The old guy looked around and continued, “My knee hurts when it’s going to rain.”


A Full English Breakfast


This patient was supposed to have starved for eight hours for her morning-scheduled breast surgery.

During the procedure, we were treated to the most disgusting sight—she regurgitated what can only be described as a partially digested English breakfast, with identifiable sausages, egg, beans, and possibly black pudding, up into her unprotected airway as she attempted to inhale the lot.

We managed to prevent the majority of it from going down, but she needed care for a day or so for her lungs to recover from the stomach acid.


It's Just a Cough


One time, I went for a mini-vacation in Batam, Indonesia where our villa had a private pool. Throughout our 48-hour stay, I spent more time in the water than out. Any time I wasn’t in the water, I was in our air-conditioned villa room with just a damp T-shirt over my swimsuit.

In the daytime, it was blazing hot, and at night it was super windy because we were near the sea. I am also asthmatic. While it’s mostly under control, I usually get a tight chest feeling when I am ill. I fell sick after the trip: runny nose, cough, etc.

I am also a healthcare professional—I studied life sciences and diagnostic testing, so I am hardly bothered when I get sick and can take care of myself. Eventually, most of the symptoms went away and I was left with just a cough.

The week after the vacation, I was still having that “cough,” but I ignored it. One day, we went to play paintball and I completely overexerted myself running, ducking, crawling, what have you. After the game, we went to a friend’s place to have lunch and chill.

I fell asleep but woke up coughing with the feeling of something being stuck throat. I thought it was phlegm, so I went to the bathroom to cough it out…but nothing was happening. I lost track of time and apparently, I was in the bathroom coughing away for about 30 minutes.

My friends asked if I was alright and I just kept saying, “Yeah, it’s just a cough, I think there’s some phlegm stuck and I’m trying to get it out.” Clearly, I wasn’t really in my right mind even then.

Finally went to see a doctor the next day. Turns out, my condition was way more serious. I was having a very serious asthma attack. I just couldn’t recognize it because I hadn’t had one in many years.

The worst thing is, this was the same doctor who told me to always carry my inhaler around JUST IN CASE, but I just wasn’t diligent about it. Even now, my friends will yell, “IT’S JUST A COUGH, I’M FINE” whenever I make even the smallest cough or sneeze.


Closely Monitored


The caretakers at the facility where the patient was living made things so much worse. I used to visit the various board and lodge facilities in my area for adults with mental illnesses.

I’d meet with clients to discuss their mental health, help them get job interviews, therapy sessions, and also set up their medications for the week if they were unable to do it themselves.

Most of these facilities were places for people who had left the hospital and were deemed stable enough to have the freedom to come and go as they pleased in a shared living situation, much like a dorm.

Despite having a place to stay, they were usually pretty poorly supervised by the mental health staff workers there.

I often hated these places because, while they were ideal for some people who were truly getting back on their feet, they were way too lax for many of the sicker, more isolated patients who were not at all well and slipping under the radar.

Many times, they were not watched closely enough to take their medications as directed; which, by the way, was one of the requirements for keeping their housing. There was one man with paranoid schizophrenia who was extremely quiet and kept to himself.

I had met with him a few times and he seemed to be going downhill in his appearance. I urged the facility staff to closely monitor him and his medication intake, as I saw in his logs that he often skipped coming in to get his medication at all.

I was told that they were going to be sitting down with him to remind him of his living agreement and that he had 30 days to be med compliant or else he’d be kicked out. I was also told that his psychiatrist was aware of his situation and that they were thinking of sending him back to the hospital that week.

Apparently, this never happened. The consequences were devastating. He acquired a knife and used it to slice up his roommate in the facility while his roommate slept. He carved him from mouth to ear and pierced him in the stomach several times.

The man survived the attack, but the man who had gone off his medication claimed the roommate was poisoning him through the window AC unit.

For anyone with a violent incident like that on their medical report, it is incredibly unlikely he will ever be able to find a better rehabilitation house ever again that will accept him. The system basically screwed over two people that day, as the man who was hurt was already there for PTSD…

As you can imagine, it not only scarred him physically for life but exacerbated his problems with more trauma.


I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now


Six years ago, we had a female patient in her late 20s who wanted to have a dental implant done. We told her she needed a sinus lift for her body to really accept the implant, otherwise, we could very easily perforate her sinus with the implant.

She kept saying no to it even after we explained everything to her. We eventually draw up the consent form and said we needed her to sign. She would basically agree to let us perform the procedure against her best interests.

In addition, if any problems arose in the future, we would still be able to help her, but we would not be liable in any way, shape, or form. After a bit, she ended up signing the document and even took a picture of it. We did the surgery.

It was just one implant, so it was a 30-minute job for us to do, not a big deal. I wish I knew then what I know now. It was a successful operation and initial stability was achieved with no perforation of the sinus membrane.

A healing cap was placed on it to prevent her from playing with it, and she was required to take antibiotics for two weeks as well as maintain her dental hygiene before she returned in six months.

A month later, she called us up and said she was having a really sore throbbing pain on her cheek, which either meant a pinched nerve or a serious infection. We prescribed amoxicillin. Two months later, she called back and said that her implant fell off and she was intending to sue.

Apparently, greenish-yellow pus was oozing out of the failure site, which indicated peri-implantitis as the cause. Still, the infection should have ceased by now. At this point, we started to get suspicious, so we got the dental association involved.

Nonetheless, we offered to treat her infection for free and replace the implant for free, but she didn’t reply. Three months after her scheduled appointment, we finally heard from her again. I’d never been so horrified. 

She called back crying after she heard the news from her ophthalmologist that she was now at risk of going blind in one eye.

Another physician said she had a major infection along all the major nerves on one side of her face, a massive amount of pus in her nasal and optical sinus, pus squirting out of the corners of her eye, and possibly even an infection at the lower parts of her brain. 

That’s when she confessed everything. She admitted to us that she never bought any of the prescriptions. She regretted all of it, and couldn’t stop crying over the phone.

We wanted to help her still, but she hung up and we couldn’t call back. We don’t know what happened to her, but we hope to this day that she’s OK.


They Found a Cockroach


A doctor friend of mine told me about a patient that he had once. This patient was morbidly obese and needed surgery for something or the other. When they were cleaning the patient to prep him for surgery, they made a shocking discovery in the folds of his skin.

There was a cockroach in there. Good thing the man was out cold or he might have passed out from embarrassment. They didn’t know how long the thing had been in there but it was obviously long enough for the thing to suffocate. Apparently, they can’t survive everything.


How did I get here?


I woke up during surgery, they weren’t saving me. “Alright, let’s get this started. Incision time, 9:45,” a manly voice said loudly, waking me up. Was I paralysed, had I been in an accident? My mind was too shattered, unable to recall even the simplest information. “Prepare the device, part 108, we don’t have much time to get it in place,” another voice said. I layed there, awake, not knowing what was about to happen to me when suddenly, a familiar voice. My father said, “Do it quickly, before she wakes up.” I passed out again and woke up the next day. A nurse sitting next to me, crying, “I am so sorry, they made me do it.” and passed me a mirror. My blood froze. I had no hair on my head, they had to cut it off so they could sew me up properly due to the concussion I got in an accident two days prior. I had no recollection of what happened and luckily the doctors were there in time or I would have been gone. I wasn’t mad about the hair, I was just glad I was alive.