18 Doctors Share Their Best 'How Are You Even Alive Right Now?!' Stories.

".... Where's the rest of his skull?"

Doctors of Reddit were asked: "What is your "How the hell are you even alive right now!" story? These are some of the best answers.

1/18 A boyfriend and girlfriend came in because they tried an in-home abortion. By running her pelvis over with a car... Abortion worked but I hope they actually never reproduce.


2/18 One time I had a patient who was walking in the street, got hit by a car, thrown into oncoming traffic, bounced off another car, and then got pinned under a third. Or so the EMS report said. He had a dislocated shoulder and a non- displaced femur fracture. He was on cocaine, which probably explained how he was able to scream at the trauma team to leave him alone.


3/18 20 something year old male, motorcycle vs SUV; SUV won. We arrived on scene to a man face down in a pool of blood, ~1L. We were told he was wearing a helmet, but it was nowhere to be found. He was about 30 ft from his bike and there was a clear trail of blood to the bike because he wasn't wearing leathers. We rolled him onto the board and that was the first beating heart I ever saw. His road rash was so bad it eroded his chest wall and we were staring at his heart, a collapsed lung, his great vessels, and the branches of the brachial plexus. Amazingly, they were all intact. Of course he had multiple injuries to his other extremities, mandible, zygomatic arches, etc. but we frankly didn't care at the time. We were on scene for no more than 2 min before we sped off to the trauma center. I remember transferring the patient to the chief of trauma surgery whose first words when the trauma pad was removed were "Holy s**t!" I thought for sure he died.

Fast forward 2 years when I was at my primary care physician's office for a checkup after my medical school interview and saw a collection bin for a veteran's wedding. Guess who? Yup, it was him. They had taken his left arm to reconstruct his chest since the nerves were shot and he recovered.


4/18 When I was in trauma surgery in upstate by, got a notification about a man who was shot 3 times in the head. He comes in, literally one eye hanging out of the socket, blood everywhere, and he's slumped forward. Apparently he was shot in the temple, exited out his right eye socket, in the nose exited from the roof of the mouth, and In the cheek one with exit from the side of the head. At this point I'm thinking they just brought him in so we can pronounce him in the ER because he looked dead. I go to examine him and tilt his head back, and he's says "Yoooo be gentle!!!!" I jump back and scream like a little boy, as did everyone in the room. Literally the bullets missed his brain in every single shot.


5/18 We have a homeless patient right now with active endocarditis, end stage renal disease on dialysis, HIV, and a carcinoid tumor. Totally noncompliant with antibiotics even though he has a PICC line and shows up for dialysis once a week maximum. Never got chemo or surgery for the cancer. Constantly shows up to the ED looking for pain meds or in hypertensive emergency. After treatment he just walks out again. Gomers don't die.


6/18 We have a patient we see at our hospital monthly. Young guy, early 20's, absolute turd to take care off. He has diabetes and essentially refuses to take his insulin. He comes in every time with diabetic ketoacidosis, which is essentially your body going into a coma like state due to your blood pH becoming acidotic and very elevated sugars.

The impressive part isn't that he survives this, most people do. Its that this is a recurring event EVERY month and each time someone manages to find him/get him to the hospital. If he was ever alone when this occurred and no one found him in a timely fashion, he'd be toast. Been seeing him regularly at the hospital for the last 18 months I've been here.


7/18 Anesthesiologist here.

I once had a 20-something year old Jehovah's Witness as a patient who kept bleeding and bleeding after childbirth. Because of her religion she refused blood transfusions. After other measures failed, we finally took her to the operating room for an emergency hysterectomy that saved her life. In a pregnant woman, the normal hemoglobin (the protein in your blood that carries oxygen) count is between 9.5-15 g/dL. When we took her to the OR, her hemoglobin was 3.1 g/dL. In the ICU after, it was down to 2.6 g/dL.

I remember talking to her before going to the OR, and all she could do was lie flat in bed. If she did so much as lift her head, her heart rate would jump from about 130 to 180 and she started having chest pain. I also had to tell her A) that I didn't know if she would live through the surgery, and B) that I wasn't sure how much of an anesthetic I would be able to give her, so there was the possibility she might remember some of the procedure. Fortunately she did survive, and didn't have any recall. If she wasn't otherwise young and healthy, I'm sure she would have died.


8/18 In med school I had a patient who got shot in the head a couple blocks away from the hospital. He was still able to talk for a few minutes after arrival, but it was clearly not a survivable injury. I stayed with him as his brain started to swell. I remember the moment his eyes became dull and his speech slurred to a stop.


9/18 Paramedic here. I ran a call on a guy that was ejected out of a late 80's mustang. The guy said the car rolled 2 times before pitching him out of the driver's side window. He said he landed on his head and the 7 inch scalp avulsion seemed to corroborate his story. The car was completely crushed and sitting on its top. The guy wanted to refuse treatment and transport. GCS 15 and never lost consciousness. I insisted though that he be seen at the ER. He rode the whole way texting people. When I told him that he shouldn't be alive he said "Yeah I got a hard nugget"


10/18 A 92 year old lady with urosepsis (bacterial infection in her blood from a urinary tract infection). Her initial gas had a pH of around 6.7, and a lactate of 12 (too acidic and too high for the non medical peeps - young patients would have a hard time surviving that let alone the very elderly). She was unconscious, but had received one dose of cipro (an antibiotic) by mouth from her family doctor before becoming altered.

Family agreed to a comfort (Do not resuscitate) level of care and said their goodbyes.

The next morning, the resident on call got pages asking if Mrs Blahblahblah could eat - she was awake and hungry. Guess the dose of cipro kicked in.


11/18 Internal decapitation. Only saw it once, guy walked into the ER after a car wreck saying "I'm a little banged up, my neck kinda hurts, I thought I'd better get checked out". We're all laughing and joking with him, I stick a C collar on per protocol, and we take him to get a CT scan. No biggie. I'm thinking he'll be walking out in a couple hours with a script for Norco and a couple days off work. Then the scan comes back. The attending MD ran into the room and starts barking orders. "Call Neuro! Call trauma surgery! Call spine! Don't let this guy move another f*cking inch!" Needless to say, the patient was fairly alarmed.


12/18 Working late one night and ambulance brings in a guy that tried to commit suicide by lying on the train tracks and waiting for a train to hit him. He was in a really bad shape, which was made most clearly evident by a chunk of brain about the size of a grapefruit which was hanging out of his head. He also had some pretty bad chest injuries and one arm had been ripped off. Turns out though his skull fracture was in several pieces which decompressed his head (released the pressure inside the skull), and the primary damage was only to one side, which meant the rest of his brain (including his brain stem) was OK and he ended up surviving.


13/18 I looked after this young guy who stumbled onto oncoming high speed traffic drunk and got hit. We took him urgently to theatre and started resuscitating him while he got his laparotomy. He ended up getting 69 LITRES (not units!) of blood products back in the one operation. We completely depleted the states' blood stores and we had to call in supplies from the next state. He had torn both his abdominal aorta and inferior vena cava. At one stage we were giving saline whilst waiting for blood to be driven to our hospital and were seeing the saline oozing out of him instead of blood (luckily not for longer than a few seconds before the blood came!). Still not sure how, but he made it out of hospital.


14/18 A while ago now, I looked after this guy who decided he would try to make drugs in his kitchen after doing some googling. He read that some of the substances were volatile, so decided to wear a welders mask whilst cooking his drugs - however he was wearing a singlet top, shorts and flip flops. Long story short, his lab blew up and he got burns to his whole body apart from his face / head. He was pretty high when it happened, as were his friends who came in and saved him, at which point they all legged it and decided he needed to get to hospital fast.. but not before he told them to stop so he could smoke a cigarette... which they had to buy from the petrol station first... That genius break meant he came in peri-arrest and spent about 30 days in ICU in really bad shape.


15/18 I was EMS for a few years and one day we came up on an accident on the highway involving a motor cyclist and a minivan, usually that is not good, at all...it's always a mess.. We get there and find out he hit the minivan at 80 MPH while it was stopped on the side of the road and flew through the back window, through to the front and survived without a scratch on him, no broken bone no AMS (altered mental status aka blunt head trauma)... he even got himself out the van and asked if the people inside were okay. He was wearing a helmet and I think that saved his life.

Blew my f*cking mind.


16/18 I did a medical rotation where my consultant was an endocrinologist. We had a young man with type 1 diabetes who would present almost weekly in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA - actually a medical emergency as can cause coma and death) from not taking his insulin and just eating whatever he wanted. Always self discharged once he felt better.

In my last week of the rotation, he came in after overdosing on IV opioids - found by his family after no one having any contact for about 24 hours.

His temperature was 24 degrees celsius in the ambulance and the pH of his blood was 6.76 (7.35-7.45 is normal, less than about 6.8 is not generally compatible with life). The paramedics (who all knew him) genuinely thought this was it for him, as did all the ICU. But as the old saying goes, you're not dead until you're warm and dead (in that at cold temperatures, your metabolic rate can be slowed to the point where it appears you're deceased however on warming, your body resumes more normal metabolic function).

Warmed him up in the ICU, treated his DKA and he survived. I rotated away to another hospital before he was discharged but he was out of ICU when I left - awake and interactive.


17/18 Had a patient once with throat cancer and his tumor ate through his carotid artery. Due to the cancer and a previous surgery he had a fistula (a hole) in his neck. He and his wife were at home... he was dozing in the sun room. Wife goes to the kitchen and comes back to see him covered in blood and bloody handprints on the glass door where he tried to open it and get help. He had perfed his carotid artery and the blood was pouring (spurting?) out of his fistula. This tiny little old lady pulled the drapes from the window, jumped on his neck, and pushed her life alert button. Somehow she held pressure enough to keep him from bleeding out, and we actually save the man with very little neuro deficit. People perf carotids in the ICU and don't survive the run to surgery... and he survived until EMSA got to him and got him to the hospital, all because his wife thought quick and was remarkably strong.


18/18 CVT here! I had a cat come in with SEVERE renal failure. At least 95% of the kidney's were completely dead and blood was barely circulating through them. The blood toxicity levels were the highest I have ever seen while I've been in practice. It was amazing the cat could even stand on its own. It didn't make it very long, but I still found it amazing.



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