Doctors Share Their Most Memorable Stories of Patients Tripping on Magic Mushrooms
Magic mushrooms are perfect fodder for wild and spontaneous stories, as we learned when Redditor heftjohnson asked: "In honor of Denver's decriminalization of magic mushrooms, doctors of reddit what, if any, is your best story of patients on hallucinogenics?"
"Was working night shift..."
Was working night shift on inpatient service.
ED called to admit someone.
"We've got a 17 year old down here with altered mental status. We think he needs to be admitted for eval/monitoring. VSS, chem fine, [etc. etc.]"
Now. I'm not a pediatrician. I don't do kids. I don't understand why the ED is calling me. But - I'm an intern and it's 2 in the morning so arguing about it is stupid. I headed to the ED.
I get there to see a young dude sitting there with his parents. I'll mention that his dad was a full bird colonel and very much fit the archetype, and his mom seemed to fit that type of personality, too.
The kid is literally rolling around in his bed, alternating between crying, asking if he was going to die, rubbing his dad's hand, and telling him how much he loved him.
I had to sit there, and take a history with a straight face from a 17 year old who kept being distracted by just how much he loved his dad. I think my first question was "did you take anything, tonight?" and he was straight up and said "Oh, yeah, like a shit ton of acid. Want any?"
I 100% laughed at this statement. His dad was not amused. The patient was discharged the next morning.
"I had a guy..."
I had a guy who was freaking out thinking he was going to die because he thought he had eaten too many hallucinogenic mushrooms. He went online and saw that sometimes patients are given activated charcoal to soak up the mushrooms in the stomach (not entirely true btw). So he goes outside and starts chowing down on charcoal briquettes that he has in his garage for grilling!
After about a dozen he realizes "Holy s*it I'm eating charcoal briquettes". Now he is really freaking out so he grabs his dog (as the thinks he is never coming back to his house) and drives himself to the ED. He parks out front, walks into triage with the pup (black charcoal all over his face and hands) and says "I need a doctor and someone to watch my dog when I die"!
"I'm a paramedic..."
I'm a paramedic but this story is from back when I was an EMT (hand-holder, oxygen-giver, bandage distributor). Got called at night for a teenage male who had "ingested mushrooms." On the way to the call, my paramedic partner was unusually silent. After a while she pipes up, "I don't get it. He ate mushrooms... Like, what...portabellas??"
She grew up very sheltered in the country. So that's how this was gonna go.
We get there and the cops walk out a skinny kid wearing only boxers. Took some shrooms, first time ever, freaked out and told his parents who called 911. My partner is spinning in circles and asking whether she should call poison control.
I help the kid into the ambulance and onto the stretcher, turn the lights down low and tell my partner just to drive to the hospital. The kid is calming down a bit but he's tripping pretty hard. Asking if his parents are Jesus and stuff like that.
This was before smart phones when iPods were the s!it. I had one of those radio transmitters you could plug into the iPod and then play music through the vehicle speakers. It had a remote that I carried on my belt along with the clicker for the ambulance.
We were going to the hospital, lights down low, just being chill when I remembered what my partner and I had been listening to a couple hours before when we checked our equipment. Thievery Corporation. So I reached down and hit the remote without him noticing. A few seconds go by and he turns to me with the widest eyes I've ever seen. "Whoa. What... Is... This... Music?" He was in true bliss. He kept asking me about the music for the rest of the ride.
We dropped him off and I wrote "Listen to Thievery Corporation" on a sheet of paper and tucked it into the waistband of his boxers. I like to think there's some dude out there from upstate New York who fell in love with Thievery in high school but doesn't really know why.
Nurse here. Used to work the night shift in a very small, rural ED in North Carolina. We had a couple in their 20s get picked up the local police. They were found in their car stopped on the train tracks looking very lost and confused. They had somehow made it from Raleigh and were attempting to get to the beach.
So they're brought in to the ED for an eval before they're let go. This being rural NC, no one had a clue about how to handle this type of situation. We basically gave them IV fluids, put them on cardiac monitors, and tried not to stimulate them too much. They were extremely polite, and since I was the closest in age to them and had some experience with recreational drugs, I did my best to engage them. As I was starting an IV on the male partner, I asked how he was feeling. "Very safe," he replied. His pupils were as wide as saucers. I miss that job sometimes.
"I had a patient..."
He would not stop yelling and screaming about "THAT DAMN CAT POKING ITS HEAD OUT OF THE CEILING TILES" every single time I left the room. He also had short bursts of thinking he was covered in bugs and I would find him stripped naked and yelling into the wall.
"I am a medic."
I am a medic. Was working a concert in Chicago at Northerly Island a few years back for Phish Fest. Get a call for a male with his face in the ground. Find a shirtless 20 something-year-old with his pant undone and digging his face into the sand. I get next to the guy and tap his shoulder, say "sir, do you know what's going on? Are you ok?" To which he responds in the most classic stoner voice ".....do youuuuu know what's going on, mannnnn....???" and digs is face back in the sand with the stoniest of smiles you can imagine.
We coax him out of the sand pit and he tells us he took 10. Just 10. Couldn't remember what of, just 10.... and honestly 10 is bad number of anything... lol. 10 tabs of acid, 10 grams of weed, 10 grams of mushrooms, 10 shots, 10 heroins please.... So we let him sit in the drunk tank with the rest of the tripped our goons. Gawd bless their trippy little hearts.
"His only regret..."
I was a doctor that was on rotation in the emergency department. 33 year old male who was brought in naked by the police, under the influence of suspected mushroom ingestion. He had a bit of trouble understanding 'why' he'd been arrested, despite being very aware of the fact that he'd been caught galavanting around naked in the rain in a children's playground.
The initial police response had been with two officers, and he told me with glee that they weren't able to grab him because he was 'slippery like an oiled pig' in the rain, and the nakedness didn't help with no clothing for them to grab. Due to being unable to catch him, they called for dog-squad backup. He recounted with a sh!t-eating grin how he'd hidden inside a giant puddle 'like Rambo' and had thrown sticks and rocks to confuse the police dog. Following an hour or so, they gave up and reverted to using a search line of ~12 police slowly advancing to find him. Eventually one stumbled into this goblin's little swamp puddle, and then they took another 15 minutes trying to catch him as he bolted naked around the children's playground...again.
His only regret, despite his wife refusing to come and pick him up from the hospital, was that he hadn't eaten more shrooms.
"In a busy..."
In a busy urban ED, one unkempt looking man with altered mental status sits calmly and tiredly in a bed along the wall in the hallway. As I walk by, he grabs me, with a worried look on his face, and says in the most classic stoner voice: "Hey, man! Why does the time on that clock keep changing??"
Me: that's what it's supposed to do. Patient: ..... oooooohhh yeah!!! [laughs]
Still one of my most memorable encounters.
ER physician here...
I see complications of drug abuse daily. That said, ER visits from hallucinogens are VERY rare. Not counting some bad reactions to PCP and ketamine, which are more dissociative agents than hallucinogens, I have probably only seen a handful of cases in my entire career. I wish I could say the same for alcohol, which contributes to multiple injuries every shift I work.
Most of the time it is pretty boring. Usually the patient was either naive to the drug or took a bit too much and has some anxiety. A few cases of teenagers being caught tripping by their parents and dragged to the hospital, which seems like a terrible experience.
Now, what I am seeing is an increase in senior citizens having bad reactions to marijuana edibles. Basically someone in their retirement community gets a medical marijuana card, and they all decide to try edibles for the first time, only to find out this isn't the weed they were smoking in the 60s.
Not really a hallucinogen, but one time I was using propofol to sedate a patient for a procedure. He thought he was Lionel from Thindercats, and was doing the "Thunder... Thunder... Thundercats... Ho!" thing the whole time. It was hysterical.
Outside of work, one of my friends ate a bag of shrooms at a party, and got stuck in a loop talking about the camel from the cigarette brand. He was convinced the camel was coming to the party.
Another friend tried to go surfing one night while on shrooms. Issue was he forgot to put clothes on. Yep, guy was walking down the road at 2am, butt naked, with nothing but a surfboard.
So while I cannot give my endorsement for drugs... Hallucinogens (assuming untainted product, in reasonable doses, in a safe setting) tend to be fairly safe compared to other drugs of abuse that I see regularly. Now I am sure people have done dumb/dangerous shit while on them, but it seems low compared to other substances some of which are legal.
"I was actually interviewing..."
I was actually interviewing/shadowing for a job in a Trauma Dept. A patient came in after having a gigantic log roll over him (he was a lumberjack? Trucker?). Either way he had an open ankle fracture which means the bone is sticking out. He was obviously in a lot of pain.
In order to set the ankle, he was given some Fentanyl (I don't remember the dose). He went from literally screaming in pain to literally singing about having a pizza party.
I'll never forget "we're gonna to have a PIZZA party. PIZZA for every-BODY!"
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It's hard working in customer service, especially with irate customers. You need to be able to empathize and understand where your customers are coming from, show sympathy, and be willing to help them with their problem. However, if they come at you ranting and raving about an issue which clearly has nothing to do with you, well, then you're free to rant about them on the internet.