Doctors Reveal What Happened When They Told Patients 'I've Seen It Before' But Really Hadn't
Part of being a medical professional is seeing some of the worst things that can happen to a human being, and then trying to save them from it. This results in doctors and nurses having to develop top-tier poker faces, and the ability to downplay almost anything.
Sometimes they really have seen it before, and sometimes they're straight up lying to you to make you feel better.
Reddit user u/common_currency asked:
"Medical professionals of Reddit, when did you have to tell a patient 'I've seen it all before' to comfort them, but really you had never seen something so bad, or of that nature?"
Fair warning: some of these are definitely not for the faint-of-heart, or stomach.
50. The Dam BurstGiphy
Had a patient who needed a lower gi study to find/fix a bowel bleed. To get a study done you need to poop clear mucus. Three days we bowel prepped with heavy laxatives and enemas. He barely pooped anything. He puts on the call light at 6:45, 15 minutes before my shift ends. He calmly says, "I kinda want to try and poop." He said it so casually I figured he was going to toot out another gas bubble and walk back.
He stood from the bed, took one step, and the floodgates burst. It just wouldn't stop. He left a river of stool from the bed to the bathroom, coated the walls.
In my 9 years I have never seen that much come out of a person. He was not a large man.
He was so embarrassed but I just kept my face as solid as possible, grabbed half the linen closet and 3 packages of cavi wipes, and sopped it up. Told him this happens all the time.
49. The Dam Burst Again
Not the worst, but I had a patient once with a stomach bleed and a small bowel obstruction. We had to put in an NG tube (tube that goes in your nose and down to your stomach) to drain/decompress his stomach, which was pretty distended and hard. I'm inserting the tube and has soon as it hits this guy's gag reflex he projectile vomits and SPRAYS very dark, half digested blood all over himself, the bed, the wall, and the floor. It's basically a scene from the exorcist. I had to dive out of the way and somehow was unscathed. He couldn't stop for almost ten minutes as we're trying to get this thing down to where it needs to go.
Finally finish placement and it immediately suctions out ~3 liters of this black sludge that is old, digested blood. Pt was mortified and we had to play it off like "oh no no it's fine, it's really common to vomit during the procedure. We'll just go get some towels and clean you up!" My coworker and I left the room and just stared at each other in silent shock.
48. NBD, I'll Just Invite A Bunch Of Surgeons To Observe
I had to have my leg rebuilt after a car accident and was eventually sent to Duke university for my surgery. My surgeon was supposed to be like the best orthopedic surgeon in the country, I think he used to work for the Baltimore ravens. Anyway all the doctors from my hospital at home were very unsure if I would even have a functioning leg let alone walk normal again. The first appointment at Duke that dude told me it was really not a big deal and he would have me fixed almost good as new.
I honestly thought he was just trying to be nice and optimistic but he was very serious. 5 months later I was walking and learning how to run again. He said I was one of the most complicated surgeries he has had to do and a group of surgeons flew in to observe him do it.
47. Stare At It Until You Figure Out How To Respond
As a medical student doing my first placement in the emergency department, I was waiting outside the triage room to ask the nurse something. I was the lowest ranking, most clueless person in the department. I knew a lot about the Kreb cycle, not a whole lot about, you know, medicine.
A young man came up to me and said he was sorry to disturb me, he just wanted to check, it was just, well, not to queue-jump or anything, but he wanted to check, can this definitely wait for triage..?
He then unwrapped a towel from his hand and showed me his thumb, which he had dropped a loaded barbell onto. It was shattered, just flattened, with splinters of bone coming out. I stared at it. He stared at it. I stared at it.
Then I told him oh yes, no problem at all, he'd better take a seat and I'd make sure someone was with him right away.
46. He Actually Was Okay
Not my story but my SO was in training as a Nurse's Aide. On her first internship, she was assigned to the ER at a trauma center.
The first person, on her first shift, of her first internship (of 3), was an older homeless man, complaining of his foot hurting.
After the medical staff took a quick look at the foot, they didn't initially see anything wrong, so they tried to remove his pants to examine the leg. The pants didn't move. They were fused to his skin from the middle of the hip all the way down to his calf.
They had to surgically remove his jeans by basically cutting the skin around the point where it was fused, and the moment the scalpel made the first incision, she described it as "As if Slimer from Ghostbusters barfed out of his leg."
Apparently, there was enough gushing, green fluid, filled with maggots, that it covered the floor in the (small) examination room, and the nurse ran out of the room gagging.
After getting over the initial shock, they managed to peel a good amount of the skin off with the pant leg, and revealed that his lower leg had basically rotted all the way to the bone, and was full of maggots.
Apparently that's the moment when she knew she was meant for the job. Even the surgeon was having a pretty hard time keeping his composure, but she was fine. More fascinated than anything, and apparently not affected by bad smells as most people are.
They had to tell him his leg was going to be OK - he was severely mentally ill and might have freaked the hell out - despite knowing he could die from the infection.
Apparently he survived and they managed to save the leg, which is beyond incredible.
45. Killer Gas
I used to do psychiatric evaluations in an emergency room setting. One time, I'm evaluating this 60 year old woman who is lying in the hospital bed. I'm asking her questions, and she stops me and says, "Excuse me, but I need to pass some gas." I let her know that this is a medical setting and that is a completely normal body function and not to be embarrassed. People pass gas all the time.
I was not prepared for what came next. She let it rip, and out came the loudest, wettest, and longest sounding fart I have ever heard. I don't think Satan could have made a noise like that with his anus. It sounded so relieving, but then the smell hit me. It was bad enough that I started to gag and had to excuse myself from the room. When I came back I politely asked if she needed a nurse for anything in case she needed to be cleaned up after that, but she declined.
Obviously I've witnessed people farting before, but I've never heard or smelled anything like that before. That was something else.
44. That's Not Where That Goes
Nurse in corrections here. Had an inmate/patient come in with complaints about severe lower abdominal pain. He told me that he had something stuck in his "prison pocket." Before i could ask him what he stuck up his anus, he bends over and shows me a cord sticking out. I told him, "Don't trip, I'm sure the doctor can help you out with that. You'll be alright." Come to find out, the prong of the phone charger got caught up into something and it was stuck.
As i was trying to comfort him, I started to hear this vibrating sound. So i asked him if he heard it do. He said, "It's the phone inside me that stuck with the charger." It wasn't just a regular flip phone, it was one of those samsung smart phones.
43. Collect Your Thoughts
Years ago my then 11 year old shattered both femurs and her hip. At the time, her Orthopaedic specialist was so reassuring and confident that we had no doubts about her recovery.
A year later, we went back for a review and he asked me if I'd like to see her trauma x-rays. Not having any idea of the reality I said yes. What I saw looked like her leg bones had exploded.
After my freaked out reaction I commented on how cool and calm he was, and how certain that she'd be fine. He said he'd actually had to go for a short walk around the hospital to collect his thoughts since he had no idea how he would put this child back together. He also told me had used the films as a teaching aid. He's one of my heroes.
42. Humming Is A Bad Sign
Lots of stories, many already covered by others. I will share this particular story with my legs crossed.
Motorcyclist came in after some one left turned without checking. He had gone over the hood, slid and somehow somersaulted landing on his ass sitting up. He slid across intersection mostly on his ass, getting serious road rash. Luckily he was only a block from hospital and ambulance. They pack him and bring him to the ER.
We end up cutting off his chaps and jeans and begin the cleanup of gravel and sand embedded in his thighs and ass when all of a sudden, his testicles fall out of his scrotum. He had basically sandpapered a hole in his scrotum while skidding on his ass.
The attending pauses, grabs the saline, irrigates scrotum and nuts, fondles them back into place while humming. I handed him some gauze to pack the wound and smiled at the patient who was under a local.
Then I went on break, went fetal and dry heaved.
41. Do You Even Know Who She Is?
I had to drop my first nasogastric tube on a rather hysterical older teen. I was actually a very experienced nurse, but just had never had the opportunity to insert one.
I check the procedure manual, watch a YouTube video, and walk in the room. I'm not worried, this usually isn't that difficult and I'm in general a skilled nurse. Girl is sobbing, mom has to leave the room she's so upset, and angry dad tells me he's a paramedic and that "I better know my stuff."
Dad says aggressively "have you done this before?" I say "I can't even count the number of times I've done this." Girl says "Will this damage my vocal cords?" Curious question, but I laugh a little and say with a smile "not if you stay calm and follow my instructions!" Dad says "because she has studied under (name I didn't recognize) for years and has a full ride to (fancy arts school that I did recognize)."
That NG tube slid in like butter, no problem. Girl did just fine. I'm not going to lie, I was sweating just a bit.
Also one time some young 30 something sh!t out the most blood I've ever seen someone sh*t out and live. He was lying passed out on the floor of the bathroom while our rapid response team assembled, trying to figure out how to get this massive young man out of a rather small space. He came to, saw all the blood, and just calmly looked at me and said "that's a lot of blood. Am I dying?" I said "nah, I used to work labor and delivery. I know it looks like a lot of blood, but I've seen way worse. You're going to be just fine." That was a lie. I had never seen so much f*cking blood, even in L&D, and I wasn't sure he was going to make it.
40. How Would You Not Notice That?Giphy
In dental school, I had an emergency patient come in, complaining of sore gums. Upon examination, I found a massive calculus bridge (google it for pictures) behind her lower front teeth. She only had about 3 remaining lower teeth, but they were all connected with a whitish brown mineral deposit that was about the size of a golf ball. She had never had her teeth cleaned and she was probably 55 or so.
I basically performed an emergency cleaning. She could speak so much better afterwords. Of course I had to play it off like it was normal, but in my years of practice I still haven't seen a case that bad again. Get your teeth cleaned people. Even if you can't afford every 6 months, once a year, or every other year is a hell of a lot better than never.
39. It Really Wasn't The Worst
My aunt started her nursing career in a county hospital, which means you get all the homeless folks. A guy came in with the whole of the back of his leg and butt utterly and very deeply infested with maggots. He just "hadn't gotten around to" coming in earlier, he said.
The depressing thing is that while it was a first for my aunt, it was by no means the last. Apparently it's more common than you'd think.
38. Confidence Is Key
In 2011 I had a saddle pulmonary embolism two weeks before my scheduled wedding. My quite seasoned heart surgeon seemed pretty confident that I'd be okay, and he even said he'd get me to my wedding on time.
Long story short, I was in the hospital for about a month due to complications. Several weeks later, when I was visiting my heart surgeon for a follow-up, he told me he'd only ever seen two other people as sick as I was. Those two didn't survive.
37. It Most Certainly Does Grow That Big
Happened to me, not a medical professional. Friend of mine bought a house and I moved in with him to help fix it up, polish it and then maybe sell it. So we are in the backyard pulling weeds and cutting down vines and I see this 4 inch diameter vine with fuzzy roots attached to the brick, climbed all the way up the wall. I'm not a particularly country boy, more urban, but my friend had warned me of poison ivy in back of the house. I called him over and he said "oh don't worry, it doesn't grow that big".
He was wrong.
Less than a week later I'm covered, up and down both arms bad enough I look like a 3rd degree burn victim. It has gotten into my bloodstream and appeared on my legs, back, chest and even my feet (which all had been covered of course). I remember my GP looked at me with my shirt off and said in the most nonchalant voice "oh, that's not quite the WORST I've ever seen" with serious emphasis on the one word. It took me two weeks of steroids to even return to work and another two weeks to lose the last of the boils. I spent that time researching poison ivy and I have to brag, I'm an expert on how to track down and murder that plant. I hate poison ivy.
36. One Hell Of A Poker Face
I was the patient actually. I was sideswiped by a car, then ran over by the truck behind while cycling to work. I was essentially impaled by my right femur, which shattered my pelvis and shoved bone fragments into my guts.
Last thing I remember before I got knocked out for surgery, was the surgeon telling me everything was going to be fine, and it was all routine.
I didn't wake up for a month. When I did, I was missing the entire left leg, and most of the muscle tissue in the right. I was too weak to move much, couldn't talk because I had a tube through my neck, and I was very uncertain about reality due to what I went through in my coma.
Parades of doctors came to tell me how I should be dead, and it's crazy that I lived. I was told over and over that my survival was very much against all odds.
My surgeon on the other hand, never said anything like that. He always maintained that he was going to get me through. His attitude honestly helped when I had to go back to his table a few more times before I was done.
For 4 years, I kind of blew off the people who made a big deal about my survival. I adopted my orthopedic doctors attitude. Then I met a woman who's in the medical field. I fell in love, and eventually trusted her enough to let her read my medical records. I had never read them, because it's a massive pile of paperwork.
She broke down crying and couldn't read anymore. She told me that the beginning of my time in the hospital was full of the type of write-ups you find in the morgue. She told me that when they opened me up, bits of my pelvis fell out. I asked her to stop there. She won't read anymore, and I don't want to know anymore.
I now know my doctor has one hell of a pokerface.
35. Always Wash Your Hands!
Not a medical professional but my mom is an RN, and boy has she had some stories over the years. Yet, one in particular stands out. She had a male patient come in with an...ahem... extremely swollen penis. Like...the size of a Pringle can swollen. She said it was the biggest penis she every encountered in her decades as a nurse. He claimed he broke it during sex.
She had to put a catheter in. The guy was freaking out and she had to reassure him that this was a walk in the park for her, but she was seriously questioning how to get the catheter in. She called in her coworker to help steady his dick (well, also so someone else could just WITNESS what she was seeing hahaha) while she gave him every painkiller she was legally able to give, and stuck the catheter in. Got it in the first try, thankfully. She still doesn't know how she managed to get it in but was thankful she did lol
Eventually it came out that he hadn't broken his dick during sex but actually masturbated after cleaning his fish tank without washing his hands and got an infection from it 😐
34. Necrosis Is Never Good
I am a surgical tech. I got called in on a Saturday for a lady who had an infection from a component separation. Basically they put a giant piece of mesh in you for hernias. I wasn't prepared. When we lifted up her gown.... the smell wafted and I have never almost puked before until that moment. About 20 cm circle around her umbilicus was black and necrotic. It was absolutely awful. We basically removed the entirety of the necrotic tissue all the way down to the peritoneum. Just gray and black slimy mass of fat and skin.
The worst part is that I had to measure the necrotic tissue and it requires me to lean in a little close to it. The surgeon was laughing because I was green when I got back to the surgical field. Then during that surgery another person who had the same procedure had come to the ER with an infection. AND THEN A THIRD! We stopped using the mesh because that's what was getting infected.
33. Sweet Galactic Jesus
ER Tech here, a few months ago we had an elderly gentleman come in presenting with shortness of breath. As I was getting him into the gown and into hospital socks, I noticed very old, yellowing bandaging around his foot. I inquired to its purpose and he told me it was a large wound on the back of his heel that wasn't getting better.
I asked him if I could unwrap it to inspect it/possibly re-wrap it (basic wound care is one of my duties), and it was a literal hole in his heel about 4cm in diameter, skin necrotic around the edges, with a large flap of skin covering the middle. I wasn't terribly shocked...until I swore I saw the skin flap writhe a little bit. I got the patient's consent to look under the skin flap and sweet galactic Jesus, there were 3 sizable maggots just chilling. I've read about it before but I have never seen it in person.
My brain went "what in the solar f*ck" and despite my attempt at a poker face, the gentleman read my reaction and asked, "Is it that bad?" I was straight up with him and told him that the wound had maggots and needed immediate treatment and the poor guy started apologizing for "bringing something disgusting." I told him, "I see this more often than you think. Maggots are actually great at cleaning out dead tissue and are used as treatment sometimes." He seemed relieved by that but it was definitely my first time ever seeing a maggot infected wound.
32. This Was Definitely Not Part Of The Curriculum
As a new nurse, I worked on a nephrology unit, which meant that we dealt with mostly patients who had kidney failure and needed hemodialysis three times a week to clean their blood. A patient was admitted through the emergency room and told me that he hadn't been to dialysis in 4 weeks. He had HIV, kidney failure, had lost custody of his kids after a messy divorce, and had no will to live. He planned to just stay in his home until he died. He probably wasn't far from it, but a neighbor, who hadn't seen him for a few weeks, peeked in the window and saw him sitting, unresponsive on the couch. They called 911 and he was brought to my hospital.
Three weeks is an insanely long time to go without dialysis. Dialysis removes toxins and excess fluid from your blood. Missing a session can leave you feeling sick and swollen. Missing 12 sessions can kill you. This guy was SO swollen. I've never seen a person who was so full of fluid. He looked like that girl from Willy Wonka that turned into a blueberry. His feet and ankles were particularly massive. I wasn't sure that he'd live. Miraculously, after several dialysis sessions, he'd fully deflated. However, he was left with lots of loose skin afterwards, which had the fragile texture of an old balloon.
One night, he called me to his room and said, "I think my foot is bleeding". He was right. He'd slid down towards the bottom of his bed and used his legs to push himself back up towards the top. In doing so, the fragile skin on the bottoms of his feet and been totally sheared away, leaving only tissue and bone and so much blood.
I had no idea what to do, so I just called a Code Blue. The patient wasn't dead or dying, but no part of nursing school or practice had prepared me for an HIV+ patient who had ripped the soles of his feet off and was currently laying in a 3ft wide, rapidly expanding, puddle of blood. I just needed to get a whole bunch of people to the room as quickly as possible.
I threw on a waterproof gown and some gloves and held pressure on the bottoms of his feet with a towel until help arrived. They didn't know what to do either. We called in the general surgeon, who seemed to think we might be exaggerating the extent of the damage and blood loss. He told us he'd be there in an hour and just to hold pressure until it stopped bleeding. We soaked towel after towel until, finally, the surgeon shows up.
He breezes into the room, moves my towel away, and says, "hmph". Then he reaches towards the patients foot, and pulls off a a HUGE, softball sized, blood clot. In that moment, time stopped. He held out his hand, holding the huge clot, and I, without really thinking about what I was doing, held my hand out too. He plopped the clot right into my outstretched hand.
In the next moments, several things happened all at once. I realized I was holding a big, coagulated mass of blood. I started dry heaving. I dropped it on the floor. It splattered. The surgeon exclaims, "OH JESUS F*CK", not in response to my gags or the fact that he was just splattered by the clot I dropped, but because the patient's foot is now profusely bleeding again. He darts off and tells us to get the patient down to the OR immediately. We get him down there and, on the way back, realize that he'd left a trail of blood down the hallways, into the elevator, and to the operating theater.
I saw the patient during my next shift and he jokes, "I thought you were going to pass out when the doctor handed you that mess!" to which I replied, "Sir, I was positive that you were about to bleed to death".
31. Comfort Your Patients
Worked in a heart procedure lab that helped try to get rid of bad heart rhythms. A prisoner came in for a last ditch effort to help his failing heart and had developed a condition called Ventricular Tachycardia. Setting the patient up and looking at his rhythm / heart, it looked pretty bad.
Before we got started he grabbed me on the arm and said "I'm scared. Is it going to be okay?"
"We have very talented physicians here sir, and they do this all the time."
The Ventricular Tachycardia was set off during the procedure and deteriorated into Ventricular Fibrillation. We were able to resuscitate him, but he never woke back up.
Comfort your patients folks.
30. Multiple Issues.Giphy
Probably too late to the party, but I had a lady come in to the ER listed as "Multiple Medical Problems." This usually means diabetes and the issues stemming from it or maybe bleeding issues from another disease or maybe odd blood tests results at a clinic. I hadn't seen the patient yet, but the Dr. came to the nurse's station asking who had room 15. I jumped up and followed him into the room.
I walked in and saw what I thought was a corpse. Then the patient's eye swiveled over to look at me. She truly looked like one of the people they found in a concentration camp. I could see every bone and her body was twisted in a decorticate position with her jaw locked open. Then the smell hit me: rotting flesh, death, and body fluids. I struggled to keep a neutral face and not gag.
I tried to place a blood pressure cuff on her arm and her skin just started flaking off in my hands. I gagged. The Dr. started removing her clothes to examine her. Her feet were black to the ankles. Her hip bones were poking through her skin and were black. The skin around her ribs was worn away to oozing muscle fibers. Her calves were incredibly swollen and the skin was splitting like ripped pants.
I removed her Depends, and there was feces coating her entire genital area. Then the dr. went to remove a large bandage on her lower back. Her entire sacrum was exposed and the bones were BLACK! The skin around it was a black liquified mass. It smelled like nothing I've ever smelled. I can't even describe it. The dr. Told her family I would clean up her ulcers and wounds in preparation for surgery (liar, no surgeon would operate on her).
I had no idea how to clean dead bone tissue and liquified skin (they don't cover that in nursing school). When I went to clean her sacral area, all the liquified skin separated and oozed all over the bed. I really struggled to keep my stuff together.
Afterwards, I needed a moment in the supply closet to cry it out for a second. I had no idea the human body could breakdown so much without dying. I still think about that woman sometimes and what led to her living like that. It still breaks my heart. cohen14722
29. Naked from the Waist Down.
I showed up to a house for a possible overdose. Three firefighters and a police officer were on top of a man who was prone and naked from the waist down. They immediately told my partner and I to restrain the patient to the gurney because the patient was combative. It turns out he took something thinking it was weed but turned out to be laced with something else (possibly PCP?).
During his trip he attempted to cut his penis off, but wasn't successful. As fate would have it, I knew the patient personally and tried to comfort him on the way to the hospital. During the ride he became somewhat cognizant and was ashamed of himself. I tried to comfort him as I held his penis in place. I would be lying if I said I had seen a severed penis before. Suspicious_Quarter
I'm a nurse and I work in a pediatric ER. A young woman brought her baby in to be seen for vomiting. I ask her to put the baby on the scale. While on the scale I notice a strong odor of bug spray so I asked about it.
Mom: "A roach crawled into her mouth so I sprayed a little Raid in there." She said it matter of factually like it was no big deal.
Que up calls to the police, CPS and a 1:1 sitter for the child and the mom.
When all was said and done the baby was fine and turned over to her grandmother so no worries there. I have no idea what happened to the mother.
I don't believe she was intending to hurt the child. I think she was just butt ignorant. TomTheNurse
I worked as a mental health tech to get through undergrad.
15F in the adolescent ward claims to have swallowed a staple. Eh, but whatever, as I'm taking her down to x-ray I tell her about the dime I swallowed when I was a kid. It happens.
Well, turns out she underestimated the number of staples by around a hundred. Every printout given by the therapists had been a swallowed staple. She had gotten staples from the other kids. The x-ray of her abdomen looked as if it were a weird staple-y snow globe.
And yet, somehow, she was back to trying to steal psych ward staples a week later. Never did figure out how they removed them all. UnfairCanary
26. Cavities are of the Devil.
Not medical professionals, but we were the patients. My daughter, who was 3 at the time, had to have a cavity filled. As we were leaving, the dentist told me just to watch my daughter because sometimes kids chew their gums because it's numb and feels weird. So the drive home took 30 minutes and I had been talking to my daughter the entire time to keep her busy.
I park my car in my drive way, opened the passenger seat to get my daughter out, and her entire lower lip on the left side is gone. She had chewed it off down to her chin. She ended up in emergency surgery, but the surgeon kept telling us it would be fine and he sees this stuff all the time.
She ended up having multiple surgeries, and when she was finally healed, the surgeon told us that it was the worst injury like that he had ever seen. He wasn't sure how she would heal, but you can hardly tell it happened now. imcloudnine
25. From Crotch to Sternum.
Not a medical professional, but a story about my father.
After years of a blood disease, his spleen had to be removed as it had swollen to a size that made breathing difficult. Apparently the surgeon had a photo taken, post extraction, where he is cradling my dad's ~22.0 lb spleen.
To top it off, one day into recovery, when doing on of those "gentle push on the abdomen" type exams on him, my dad's sutures catastrophically failed and he let loose a spray that coated the doctor, his nurse, and a good portion of the ceiling. Luckily for dad, the hospital staff was on point that day and kept him alive despite his body's best effort.
I heard all of this from the doctor while he was removing the line of staples (that went from crotch to sternum) some weeks later. Dad didn't like to share, apparently. CallousJack
One guy had a penis inflammation. Was like 14 inches long and 6 wide. I could practically sense the pain. FalloutNVislife
23. Skin Tags.
Years ago (2000) I was playing soccer and noticed a little skin irritation underneath my arm. I thought it would go away but it developed into a weird thing. It was about 2 in in diameter and grew to be a collection of essentially looked like hundreds of skin tags grew together in a little circle. I went to the doctor who didn't have a clue and he sent me to a specialist. While there it seemed like he didn't know either.
This was further evidenced when 4 other doctors came in to take a look and were really interested. They took a ton of photos and told me they hadn't seen this before and couldn't really offer any medication and said they would monitor it. About a week later the 'skin tags' developed little circles on the top that turned into scabs within a couple days. Then, the thing just kinda dried up and fell off me. It was fucking weird and to this day I have no idea what it was.
I was not comforted. negative_space_
22. The Uninsured.
A huge subset of the population we treat are uninsured, blue collar, low educated people. A lot of smoking and diabetic noncompliance, that sort of thing. Therefore we end up seeing a lot of what happens with diseases if you never treat them and let them run their natural course to end stage. We've had so many diabetic foot and toe amputations I've lost count.
However one lady that sticks out had a huge area of loculated, necrotic tissue on her low back. Usually you'll have a foul smell and purplish-black overlying tissue to tip you off. This lady's back had several areas that got so gangrenous and necrotic that there were basically just large pockets down to her subcutaneous fat and muscle.
The appearance resembled a sponge with large holes that was filled to capacity with pus. The smell was indescribably atrocious. What made it worse was every time we cleaned out a pocket, we would probe with a finger and it would lead to another pocket of puss and the smell would double up again.
Unfortunately she lost nearly all the skin on her low back down to muscle/bone in some places. We slapped a huge wound vac on it and she ended up being shipped out to a specialist center. Took forever for the smell to leave my nostrils. traumaguy86
21. Oh Mother!
Young man (18) apparently comes in about something else (trying to work up courage). Right before he should actually be leaving (this can be really annoying if there are people waiting), he says 'I need your advice. `i'm having sex with my mother.' What do I say? 'Oh my god?' No, I didn't... I said, 'This isn't the first time someone has told me this.' This wasn't true. Turns out that he knew it was wrong, that mother had initiated it, he was trying to extricate himself, and he was desperate for help.
But the thought that someone else had been in his position meant to him that he hadn't been judged, that he wasn't doomed or would go to hell, and that there was hope. But he didn't know what to do because the person to whom he should've looked for advice was actually his abuser. But the lie helped defuse the situation. dr_pr
20. No Dude.Giphy
Genital warts the size of grapes on the guy's penis. Quoth he, "The ladies never complain." EmberingR
19. The Drop.
I had to see an orthopedist oncologist because I had two sarcomas. One in my left thigh in the sciatic nerve and one in my left pelvic.
My surgeon said he would get both out and the most I would get would be a drop foot (where you can't lift up your foot on your own).
I went back two years later and my doctor told me he thought he would have to remove my leg because of how the sarcomas were enmeshed in my bones, muscle, and nerves. I honestly thought the whole time that it was an easy out. Though the two 10 hour surgeries may have been a clue that it wasn't so simple.
These days I have a limp as I'm missing half my left pelvic bone and most of my glute and thigh muscle- but I got to keep the leg! Resse811
18. From the Nose.
I'm an oncology nurse. The other day I had a patient who had a nose bleed that just wound not stop. I gave him an extra infusion of Platelets, vitamin K, and multiple doses of afrin (nasal spray which vasocontricts). It would stop for maybe 20 minutes before it would start bleeding like a facet again through the family's pinching fingers.
The whole time I was "nose bleeds are common, it is the dry air from the heater ect." I ended up personally holding his nose for over an hour while straight we waited from someone from ENT (ears nose throat) to show up to pack it. He lost so much blood he need a blood transfusion. My arm was so sore and the patient looked like he had be murdered twice over from all the blood on his clothes. nutmeg2299
17. Flushed Out.
A patient with rectal cancer with an exposed colon and rectum. I could see her tailbone and and the head of the femur. And whenever she would poop, it could collect inside this open cavity and had to be flushed out. Festigoer
16. Hearing the Beats...
When I was a med student on the trauma service, there was a gentleman who decided to attempt suicide using a shotgun aimed at his heart. Unfortunately, the first thing that comes out of a shotgun when it is fired is a gust of air... which changed where the gun barrel was pointed when the shot came out. The shot pellets ended up hitting everything but his heart - lungs, ribs, spleen, stomach, liver, pancreas, and large and small intestines.
In the OR, the attending surgeon told me to put my hand on his beating heart because that will likely be the only time in my medical career that I would touch a beating heart. I did. It was cool.
In case anyone reads this in a thread with 1500+ posts... he survived. Though, he was on the trauma service for the entire month I was there, and was in the hospital for a long time further. BananaFrappe
15. All the Soft Tissue...
4th year med student here. On my ER rotation a couple months back, I walked in to the ED and was immediately asked to help a nurse and resident put a catheter in a patient. Now a catheter placement is usually a one person job so I was pretty confused as to why they needed my help.
I walk into the patient room, and I'm immediately greeted by a disgusting rotting flesh smell. Worst thing I've smelled in my life. The patient has to be pushing 400 lbs and has the worst edema (soft tissue swelling) from congestive heart failure I've ever seen. His scrotum and penis foreskin are about the size if a small watermelon, and the foreskin had swollen completely over the tip of his penis.
The nurse had a speculum (tool OBGYNs use to look inside vaginas) inserted into the man's foreskin while the resident took the catheter in a hemostat (pliers type thing) and jammed it into the man's pee hole for 20 minutes. They finally got the catheter in and took the speculum out. It was covered in a thick brown discharge that looked like fermented pee-poop. I still don't know how he let his scrotum and penis swell that much.
Edit: We comforted the patient the whole time and kept telling him we had done it like this before. Total lie. No one in the ED had ever done or seen anything like it. Trisomy__21
14. Caught the Curve.
Crowbar stuck in a patient's head sideways (curved end in brain and bar across his face). Elderly man who was attacked in his home during a robbery. He was "alive" on arrival in ER but died several days later despite an heroic effort by neurosurgery to remove the bar. Too much brain damage. Never encountered any relatives as my only contact was in ER. One of the most vivid and disturbing episodes in my career. This was about 25 yrs ago but the image is burned in my memory.
The assaulter was caught and charged with second degree murder (Canada). Pretty straight forward conviction. bobsuruncleandaunt
13. Rubbed Raw.
Obligatory not a medical professional, but a first aider. I was doing a duty at the finish line of the London marathon as I have done for many years. I've seen enough chafing, dehydration and blisters galore. Someone always has the worst of the day but it happens so fast that you can hardly mentally tally who's nipples were the most raw.
Until I had a runner come in covered in blood complaining that her nipples had completely gone. She had chafed so bad that her nipples and areolas were rubbed to nothing... And the worst part was that she had her nipples pierced and the piercings had EMBEDDED THEMSELVES IN HER EXPOSED BREAST TISSUE. I had to talk her through sterilizing the wounds while trying to assure her that 'it happens to everyone.' The image of a nipple bar peeking out of red, raw breast tissue will haunt me. mostlyjosie
12. Abdominal Issues.
I was the patient in this case. Had pain in the lower right part of my abdomen that grew more serious over a few days. Eventually got so bad I nearly passed out and was on my bathroom floor screaming on the third night. That morning I felt much better and went to work, but felt the pain coming on again that evening.
Also decided to go into work the next morning while running a fever that was getting steadily worse. Finally decided to go to the doctor, where they immediately referred me for a CT scan. My appendix had been ruptured for a day and a half at that point, and I had sepsis/gangrene/massive infection. I was in surgery within a few hours, but prior to that the nurse that was with me said, "Yeah, this will be no problem. You'll be fine." Surgery was ok, but was followed up with a bunch of time in the hospital on intravenous antibiotics.
My primary care doctor called me while I was recovering and told me the CT scan was one of the worst they had seen. The doctors I saw post recovery all had a *holy crap* look when they saw scans and read the surgeon's report. Kudos to that nurse who kept me calm before surgery. Don't screw around with lower abdominal pain. blownapp
11. Capitol L.
Doc here, currently working with accident victims.
I had a patient once hobble in (walking in is key later) a week after being hit by a car. He'd been to the ER, they discharged him and said just the usual bumps and bruises.
I did my round of X rays, and his femoral heads were broken on both sides. Think of the leg bone as a capital L, with the bottom of the L hooking into the hip- his were cleanly broken through the bottom sections on both sides.
Turns out he'd had occult fractures on both sides the X rays didn't initially see, and walking on them collapsed them. Never seen that before.
Another was a patient with shoulder injury, both sides. Got an MRI, and both shoulders were basically destroyed. Complete failure of the rotator cuff on both sides, with the humerus being drawn up and back on each side. Instant surgery. Flaxmoore
10. The CNA.Giphy
I was working as a CNA in a nursing home. There was a lady who had been neglected before she came in so she had stage 4 bed sores (all the way to the bone) and the treatment nurse wanted me because I am calming and really good with the residents that needed a little support. She has me roll her on her side and then carefully peels back the bandage. I'm staring done in half horror/ half fascination as I can clearly see the bone, ligaments, muscle, layers of skin.
I'm gawking hard and the nurse is showing me some neat procedure when I hear a small, frail voice, "Is it getting better?" I turn on my biggest, friendliest smile and reply, "It does! It looks SO much better. Does it feel better?" She smiles and nods; I change the subject to grand kids (she had a picture of them).
I haven't seen anything like it before or since. But she was such a lovely lady and I started looking forward to helping because she was such a nice lady to talk to. dotchianni
9. WASH YOUR HANDS!!
Not the doctor, but the patient. In 6th grade, i contracted so many different forms of dysentery that I was placed into CDC quarantine while they tried to figure out where I got it. I was barely conscious throughout the whole time but all I remember is my doctor in my room with me, having hooked up my Wii and playing Brawl as I recovered. I had no clue that my parents were being investigated for child abuse or that I was in quarantine until a few months later, or that I had passed out and had been covered in vomit and poop for hours before my mom found me and took me to the hospital.
I ended up getting it from someone not washing their hands after handling a snake and then cooking dinner at my science camp. Wash your damn hands people! Dr4k399
I'm an RN who specializes in wound care. We see a lot of crazy things in my clinic. A common occurrence is a pilonidal cyst, which is an abnormal growth in you gluteal cleft (aka butt crack) that contains hair. It usually happens with younger ppl (say 13-20s) and is obviously very embarrassing to the patient. When we get them, they've already had the surgery to open and extract the cyst, so there's a few holes left that we have to heal.
One poor soul that came in had the worst post surgical "hole" I've ever seen. It was so big, it extended from the top of her crack to the top of her anus, then our on either side about 12 centimeters. It was like the surgeon carved out most of her butt :( The patient was devastated, and I tried to comfort her by telling her she's not the worst I've ever seen. Poor girl. ldshimek
7. See a Dentist!
Yep. Had a patient who was 62 and he had never seen a dentist before (I am a dentist). Had literally everything going on orally (especially the smell OMG, the smell). Me and the assistant were like: don't worry we see this kind of stuff all the time!... not a lie. Just never all at once. JRDR_RDH
6. Feel the Rib.
Not a medical professional, but I have impressed a couple.
It's not super weird but just uncommon I guess. I was overweight but active when I was younger and broke my lowest rib while snowboarding, long story short, I did not know it was broken (honestly) so I never got it checked by a doctor. The rib traveled up over the next 2 ribs and has since fused to them. I now have a permanent tilt on my spine where this rib attaches to it and now that I have lost some weight a bump you can see/feel on my chest.
It is kinda weird when you tell a doctor about something on your body and their face lights up like a kid on Christmas and they ask for permission to feel it. ptsfn54a
5. Ozone Away.
Had a patient who had a melanoma the size of a cauliflower head on the back of her ankle. Melanoma doesn't generally grow like that, maybe it was the "ozone injections" she'd gone to another country for? mom3coffee
4. Seek Help Friends.
Had a guy that shot himself under the chin with a shotgun. He had actually done it like 16 hours prior to family finding him. He was still alive, conscious and alert to what was going on.
His jaw looked like predator. I had family freaking out of course. Had to tell them we see worse often. Which may be true, but they are usually dead. He lived for almost a day after shooting himself, then died in the back of my ambulance. pokemon-gangbang
3. The Mannequin.
I'm a surgeon. A couple of years ago they send us this guy (52 yes old) that had shown up in the ER because he allegedly hadn't pooped in a week or so.
To make a long story short X-ray showed he had SOMETHING lodged in his rectum (and sigma, and descending colon... so way up there) that was a little over a foot long. He denied having put anything up there. Yeah, right. We try to go from the bottom up and nothing. We see something but we can't clamp onto it.
So. What now. Operating room.
Ended up opening him up, and inside the colon we see a hand. I just about shit myself, ended up being a mannequin's arm. Like store mannequin. It was stuck up there up to the elbow.
That was an odd one. ilariaenne
2. Hell on Earth.Giphy
We had a patient in the ER who was sick of her visual hallucinations so she scooped her eyeballs out. She looked like something out of Hellraiser and unfortunately did not fix her hallucinations.
Another patient came in with a colostomy and ran out of his equipment so he duct taped a trash bag to it. It had several pounds of feces in it. brownieFH99
1. Check the rash.
I'm a pediatric nurse, and triaged a young girl with a rash, mom had been to several doctors and they didn't know what it was. I recognized it right away called Stevens-Johnson syndrome, I remained calm, patient was flown to a burn center, but died. I had only seen it once before and it was fatal for that patient too. AdmiralMeeko
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
Laws should always protect the people, ALL the people!
Laws are amiable. We know this. They often change with the times, with enough revolution that is. Laws are there to protect and serve, however they can be too complex and just downright odd and often absurd.