With how many patients medical workers see day in and day out, its safe to say that they've seen it all. What's shocking for us may be Tuesday for them. Nothing surprises them anymore. So when a medical worker is surprised a patient is still alive, then you know something truly strange is going on.
"Belligerent guy comes in, in a wheel chair. He doesn’t want to be here, he’s freaking fine, the party was good (EMS) messing his evening up.
Ems brought him in from a bush party, the guy had a chainsaw stuck in his thigh and shin. Literally jammed in his leg. And severe burns after falling into the bon fire on half his body. Guy was hammered, didn’t seemed bothered by the fact he was severely burned or had a chain saw in his leg.
He ended up losing the leg below his knee, and got a nasty infection from the burn.
But still. If his leg wasn’t completely injured, I am convinced he’d have gotten up and tried to fight people."
"I was on home call for ER in a small town, got a call from the ER nurse one night and she was like 'EMS brought someone in here and they think she might be dead?' I was like, 'Well, IS she?!' She was like, 'I don't know.'
This was a seasoned RN, by the way, so I was like, well, guess we're treating this is a Code Blue kind of situation, so without any further information, I jump into my car and rush over to the hospital. Once I got there, I realized why the triage nurse was so confused. In the trauma bay, lay what appeared to be skeletonized remains under a blanket. The person felt warm to touch, so I opened their eye, and a yellow, wrinkled, shrunken eyeball stared at me and then suddenly MOVED. Potassium of 1, for those familiar with lab values.
The backstory was extreme self-neglect/depression combined with caregiver neglect. Weighed in at 67 lbs at a height of about 5'5". We actually resuscitated her, very aggressively, and unbelievably, after about 8 litres of fluid, she started speaking a word or two at a time and recognized her daughter."
"My father’s doctor couldn’t believe a) he didn’t need to amputate his feet and b) he was still alive. Dad had 'brittle diabetes'. His pancreas would kick in & out due to a congenital deformity. At 82, he had significant heart issues, including angina enlarged heart & clogged arteries. One day, his feet went black. (Not just bluish, or grey; black as charcoal) rushed to emergency. We were told they would amputate, but 'to say our goodbyes'. Dad refused surgery. Said he’d rather be dead, at his age.
Hours later, his feet were pink. We took him home that morning. Doctor actually apologized for upsetting us, but said he’d never seen anything like it."
"Patient here. When I was two I was being treated for asthma due to wheezing, labored breathing, etc. One night it got exceptionally bad so my mom took me to the ER. They put me face down to do a CT scan (this was 1990) and when they were done, they turned me back over and I was blue, had stopped breathing.
CT revealed a volleyball-size mass in my chest. Emergency surgery revealed what was supposed to be my twin. It kept growing inside my rib cage and finally had nowhere to go in my toddler body so it cutoff my airway. It had fingernails, hair, appendages... everything but major organs. I made a full recovery. I am a healthy 31 year old now. Zero asthma. Only remnant of that night is a scar that goes from the center of my chest to the center of my back."
"Currently in residency, but this was a patient I saw in medical school:
This one has more to do with a patient's past medical history instead of anything acute. Had one patient in one of my internal medicine rotations who was admitted for hip surgery who was one of the nicest sweetest people I've ever met. Her surgery was pretty routine and there were no complications.
In her past medical history, she was diagnosed with stage IV endometrial cancer that had spread to her brain. Apparently she had undergone chemo, radiation, primary tumor resection, and surgery to remove the brain met. She remained cancer free since that period. The fact that she had undergone that whole ordeal and appeared to be mostly healthy and was in remission from her cancer really blew my mind."
"During residency, my ICU patient had to have his chest reopened less than an hour after 6 hour open heart CABG surgery. He needed 12 units of blood, his heart massaged then shocked 4 times. Cardiothoracic surgeon in the ICU operating because no time to go back down to OR.
He was an illicit substance abuser and heavy drinker. Nurses called him the 'cockroach'. I checked in on him for 4 weeks. He was unresponsive every day. On week 2 we had to consult ENT.
To take maggots.
Out of his nose.
I was sure he was a goner after that. Week 3 passed, no change. Week 4, day 24 I believe, at 6 am, he opens his eyes. I was shocked. He has a permanent trach and ostomy now, but somehow is alive."
"A couple pictures of me before and after brain surgeries were on the front page around this time last year. The mortality rate for acute subdural hematomas is 50-90%. Of those who live, approximately 20-30% regain any brain functioning. Due to the subdural hematoma, the bleeding in my skull was so severe that I also had cranial herniation. My brain tilted 5 millimeters, causing my brain stem to compress into my spinal cord. That I not only lived, but woke up, and recovered well enough to go back to work/get married/travel the world/return to baseline physically is a straight up medical miracle. I’m still in touch with the neurosurgeon who was on call at the hospital that day, and he says the same thing."
"I had a patient who was literally cut in half at the pelvis after a car hit him and pinned him to a telephone pole. Paramedics carried his legs in separately. He was wide awake and talking to me as we quickly put in a central line and he got all the bleeders ligated by like 5 different surgeons. He declined pain meds repeatedly, what a legend. He was in the OR 5 minutes later. Luckily this was at a major academic center with an exceptional trauma surgery team. Apparently the guy lived, not sure what his quality of life was after, but pretty crazy."
"Lady in her mid 30s was in the clinic for a 1 week follow up post foot amputation (diabetes), she was admitted straight from the clinic because her blood glucose was 600mg/dl (normal is 80-120) and the wound was severely infected. We used super concentrated doses of insulin to bring it back to the 200s. She was on strict diet restrictions and we couldn't figure out how it wouldn't drop any lower than 250.
Turns out her kids (teens) had been sneaking giant 64oz sodas and candy bars into the hospital, literally one week after we chopped her foot off because of uncontrolled diabetes. Not exactly a case of 'how did you survive that trauma/disease' but 'how do you even function on your own?'"
"I work in trauma and once had a guy fall off a roof he said he remembered hitting the bars on the scaffolding on the way down. We originally thought he'd fractured his femur but nope just a small hematoma. He was in bed next to a man who had broken his ribs and had a small C spine fracture when he fell forward picking up his keys."
"As a med student on my emergency rotation I had a guy brought in who had fallen off a 7th or 8th floor balcony and landed on his head. Essentially DOA and we couldn’t get a blood pressure when he got to the hospital. As a student my job was to basically stand to the side and squeeze the bajillion bags of blood that went into this dude. His cervical spine was essentially dust on the initial CT scan we got. I figured he probably wouldn’t have made it but about a month later I’m now on my ICU rotation and I see this guy awake and conscious. Pretty crazy.
When I last I saw him we were basically seeing how much function he would get back but he was going to be in the icu for a loooong time. From what I can remember he couldn’t really move either leg but he actually had some movement in his arms/hands so they weren’t sure how much he was going to get back by the time he left the hospital."
Brought in a PT who's (now former) girlfriend stabbed him in the face with a Chef's knife.
The knife went through his right eye, missed his cranial cavity, and stopped about a mm from his brain stem.
The X-ray was nuts. We showed everyone."
"We had a guy with a major aortic dissection one night. From the bedside ultrasound, he looked like he had already bled out. He had some chest pain, but he was alert and oriented, and we were shocked he was even still alive. He absolutely shouldn’t have been with how much blood we saw and the size of the dissection. This happened when I was still a tech and had only been in the ER for about a year. His ECG was normal, and he didn’t have any pertinent history, just chronic HTN and a few minor surgeries. But he was hypotensive and really pale.
We called the surgeon in, who was really blunt, and explained to the guy he was probably going to die in surgery. He was a young guy, like late forties, he was on a business trip, and it was completely unexpected. Late forties is young for this kind of case to happen. We usually see people dissect in their 70s to 90s. Also late forties is a pretty young age to die, especially if you don’t have any chronic illnesses. He kept trying to call his wife, but it was like 2 am and she wasn’t answering. He just wanted to talk and tell her goodbye. It was actually pretty devastating to watch. Meanwhile he’s so coherent and alert as if he isn’t actively bleeding out and dying. Most patients we would get in the same situation wouldn’t be conscious or would already be dead.
They swooped him off to surgery before he could contact his wife, and the dude lived. When we performed an US, we found what looked like a huge volume of blood in the abdomen, and a visible intimal tear. We pretty much immediately diagnosed him with AD and had vascular surgery in the room within a few minutes. I followed up on his chart a few days later and found out not only that he was alive, but he was already extubated and able to walk. Remembering that story got me through a lot of tough years in the ER, because I think it just reminded me that hope and good outcomes are still out there."
"Typically, if you get appendicitis it’ll rupture and sepsis will set in within a day or so. And when that happens...it gets real bad real fast.
So I got appendicitis. It freaking hurt so bad, but I didn’t know I had appendicitis. I went to the doctor, he couldn’t tell what was going on. He though I had compacted stool and wanted me to take stool softeners. So I did, it didn’t help. (Cause spoiler, it was appendicitis, right?)
And then a roommate who thinks he knows what he’s talking about tells me that it’s all in my head and I just need to physically get off the couch and exercise, because he feels much better after he exercises. Okay dude...I can’t even get off the couch to use the restroom without almost passing out in pain. He tells me to just play a video game to get my mind off of it.
I go to class (grad student at the time.) I call the doctor and make another appointment. He doesn’t know what’s going on. I talk with another doctor, no clue (he thought maybe it’s appendicitis, but I didn’t have a fever and didn’t have a recoil pain.) So maybe it was gastrointestinal stuff. So I schedule an appointment, meet with them. All the while I’m going to class and taking the maximum dosage of all pain relievers I can get my hands on. And finally! Finally the GI doctor’s scans showed that I had appendicitis. Hooray!
I go to the nearest ER and I say, in a totally calm tone, 'Hi, my name is So, my doctor said I should probably go to the ER because my appendix burst a while ago and it should probably be taken out or something.'
Turns out, my appendix burst and I held onto it for 3 and a half weeks. I had a dozen doctors come in, and some of them even started by saying, 'Hello, my name is doctor such and such, and I heard that you’re the guy who has had a burst appendix for nearly a month and you’re still alive. I am not on your case, but I just wanted to meet you. How the heck are you still alive? How the heck did you drive yourself here and just waltz into our ER?'
I got that alien bioengineering upgrade where the abdomen moves around and wall seals off the burst appendix so it doesn’t leak everywhere."
"Obligatory not a doctor, but my dad is and he liked to tell us about the crazy stuff he saw, this post made me think of one of those in particular.
Huge guy, linebacker build, came into the trauma ward with a bullet wound dead center of the chest. He could breathe fine and he had a pulse. So they did a chest Xray and found that the bullet had spent all its energy getting through this guys sternum and was just resting on his pericardium."
"Currently a med student, but was formerly an ER nurse. While working as a nurse I had this one patient who was originally from the Congo complaining of right lower abdominal pain, with a subsequent diagnosis of appendicitis.
Nothing crazy about that, see it everyday.
The crazy part was the story he told me next. He said that he didn't think it could be appendicitis, and when I asked him why he told me this: when he was in the Congo, he was out in the bush trying to poach Gorillas (awful, I know) when he developed right lower abdominal pain, nausea, fever etc. Being out in the bush, far from medical attention, he and his buddy decided the best course of action was to cut open his abdomen with a machete and REMOVE HIS OWN FREAKING APPENDIX. After nearly dying from the surgery, he then went on to nearly die from sepsis over the next several weeks (i assume he was under medical care by this point). Somehow, he manages to overcome nearly impossible odds and survives and years later immigrated to Canada where he develops appendicitis... again.
So after hearing this I was equally amazed as well as skeptical, but he showed me his scar which I thought was fairly validating. I told his surgeon the story and asked why would he still get appendicitis, and they said he most likely just didnt remove the whole thing. I know this is all hearsay and it is definitely possible it was exaggerated or even entirely fabricated by the patient, but if it's true, it's one of the craziest things I've ever heard and definitely belongs here."
"When my mom was in her ER cycle during internship, man with police officers behind him came in the ER. The man was perfectly fine and walking, so my mom and her colleagues were confused. The officers showed them a picture of a crumpled metal piece, which was a car. It didn't look like a car at all, just metal trash. The officers told my mom and her colleagues that they rescued the patient from the car, which was lit on fire only a few seconds after they rescued him. The patient didn't have a single scar on him, was perfectly fine, and got his name around the hospital for being 'immortal.'"
"My sister was the patient, but every doctor who's gone through her whole file has had this reaction. When when was 9 she fell around 35ft off a bluff and landed head first on bedrock. Shattered every bone in her skull. A very well known neuro surgeon took a look at her when she was brought in, said 'Sorry there is absolutely nothing I can do for her, I'd say she had a 10% chance of surviving the night, say your goodbyes now'.
3 weeks in a coma, three months in an ICU, 6 months as an in-patient, she's still alive today. She has permanent damage of course, but holy cow can kids bodies recover from a lot."
"I’m a psychologist, not an MD or DO, but I work at a psychiatric hospital. Anyway, one of my patients a few weeks ago was a 15 year old boy who was regularly neglected as an infant by his mother who was an addict. When he was around 5 years old, his mom sold his body to men in return for more illegal substances. When he was 9, his step father gave him a skull fracture after beating him with a wrench. When he was 14, the same man shot him for 'talking back.'
He’s in foster care at the moment, and suffers from PTSD and depression. But, he’s the sweetest boy I ever met. I wish him the absolute best in life going forward, he deserves it."
"ER doctor. Oh my goodness, so many patients. Too many to tell.
One good one: I once took care of a guy in the rural South who came to the hospital because people said he was growing salt. And he was— totally covered in what looked like snow. Uremic frost! I said, since I was fresh out of residency. Guy had been in renal (kidney) failure for 3 months and had been vomiting every day which kept his potassium low enough that he didn’t die! But it was still 9.7 and his ecg was a sine wave and he definitely should have been dead.
Google uremic frost. It’s a good one."
"A guy, now passed away who had incurable lung cancer from Agent Orange exposure during infantry service in Viet Nam and his wife had recently died.
Cancer. Wife died. Guy was pretty positive glass half- full about chemo considering the double-whammy. Asked him how he managed to keep it on the positive.
He said he was returning to base with just days left on his enlistment. Rookie pilot has a mechanical failure of some sort in their Huey. They are going down, and not the controlled kind of landing either. He assumes he is about to die: says everything got real slow, real bright and a sense of acceptance and peace washed over him.
Rookie pulls one out at the last moment, lands their bird with no casualties.
Patient told me he felt he should have died that day, and every single day since was a complete gift.
Maybe being alive has a lot to do with attitude!"
"I'm a funeral director and I received the body of a 90-something man. I could tell he had been sick for quite some time just by looking at his face; another funeral director did the embalming, so I hadn't seen the rest of his body. Seeing that he was so old and just looked sick, I was surprised when I met with his daughter and she inquired about an autopsy.
I ask her my usual questions and discover that this man, for 40+ years, had unregulated diabetes. He was shot on three different occasions in his life. He had a history of strokes. Bedsores, deep ones. In and out of the hospital for sepsis, pneumonia. Heavy smoker, heavier drinker. Suffered a major heart attack just days before. His vision was going and he couldn't keep himself awake, horrible jaundice, cirrhosis. Had an infected kidney removed. On and on. I don't think this man lived one healthy day in the last 20 years.
I ask the daughter, 'So, you want an autopsy because . . .?'
She tells me that her father was not an ill man and it was not 'his time to go.' She's furious I even questioned her request.
I'm baffled that this man lived for 90+ years.
The denial people can experience in hand with grief is astounding."