Doctors Share Their Hospital Horror Stories

Doctors Share Their Hospital Horror Stories

Any visit to the hospital can turn awry in an instant. Perhaps a nurse administers the wrong dosage of a medication, or the surgeon in the OR is half-asleep, or a fire breaks out in the west wing. The following horror stories prove that no person is safe—not even at a hospital:

1. Off Like A Rocket

I was doing a C-section for this poor mom who’d been in labor for hours. The baby wouldn’t come out of the hole we’d made, so we applied more pressure—and suddenly whoooooosh, baby zooms out like a torpedo, covered in lubrication. She zips over the surgical sheeting, which has the texture of a Slip n’ Slide, and almost rockets straight off the table.

The nurse caught the baby’s foot and whipped her up in the air upside down like in old cartoons, but almost dropped her again. Thankfully, the midwife was ready with the towel and caught the baby to wrap her up. Mom and dad seemed to think this was normal practice and didn’t notice, but me and my colleague just stared at each other with a look of absolute horror.

It still makes me shudder to think how close the baby was to hitting the floor headfirst. Never happened before or since.


2. Toilet Training

I took care of a young man with a wound in his abdomen. He had an ostomy bag to collect his bodily waste for a while. When they finally removed it, he was so nervous because he hadn’t pooped in so long. Then, one day, his call light went off in his room.

I came in and he said, “Go look in the toilet, you’re never going to believe this!” I went in and there was his poop in the toilet! His first solid poop I had seen in over a year! I walked out and gave him the biggest hug. He was so proud of his poop. I literally had tears in my eyes. Nursing school never prepared me for crying outside of a patient’s room because I was so happy they pooped.


3. I Can See Clearly Now

I was doing a corneal transplant when I had the “oh no” moment. During surgery, I cut off the patient’s own cornea and replaced it with a new donor cornea. During that moment when the host cornea was off but before I could get the new one on, there’s literally nothing on the front of the eye except a tear film. Anyway, the patient takes that moment to start vomiting.

The reason we tell everyone to skip food and drink is so they don’t aspirate in case they throw up. This patient lied about eating breakfast and started throwing up everything. The eye is still “open sky” at this time. Everything inside of the eye can now become outside of the eye. And she’s bucking and vomiting. It’s awful. I had to grab the new cornea and start stitching as fast as I could on a patient actively throwing up.  Don’t lie about eating breakfast before surgery, folks.


4. A Real Head-Scratcher

This one was fun: a patient in the ER received a standard urine substance screen. The test came back positive for ethanol, but the patient insisted he never drank a drop. The test was then repeated. Positive. The patient got very upset. He swore he did not drink. So we drew a blood test. That’s when things got weird.

The results came back negative. We checked everything we could think of. Did we have the right urine? The right blood? It should be impossible to test positive on urine and negative on blood. Meanwhile, I finished his regular urinalysis. He had a high white blood cell count and really high glucose. Elevated white cells usually require microscope inspection because it could indicate an infection.

I looked and it was loaded with yeast. That’s when it all made sense to me. The man was obviously diabetic and had high sugar in his urine, along with a yeast infection in the bladder. See, the yeast was fermenting the sugar into ethanol in his bladder. He then became known as ‘The Man Who Peed Beer.’


5. The Tell-Tale Signs

I heard an “Oh God” moment happen…when I was a patient on the operating table. A couple of years ago, I was in labor for 28 hours, pushing for six, when my child started showing signs of distress. The baby had a slightly elevated heart rate. My midwife at the hospital told me the doctor was coming in to check to see if a vacuum assist could help.

She checks me. Then I see a horrifying sight. She immediately stands up with blood on her hand and says “We’re going to the operating room NOW.” At that time, I started feeling that zoomed-out tunnel vision I know is shock. I had anxiety, but I figured she knew what was best. She did. We got in the OR eight minutes later, and when they opened me up, I heard the surgeon say, “Oh God. Look at this.”

They saw blood in my catheter bag, and upon fully opening me up found my son was actually trying to come through my uterus. He had ruptured it. They got my son out. Those moments where he was stunned and not crying were an eternity. Then he cried and he was born a completely healthy baby. After I woke up and was back in my room, the doctor came in and told me what happened. I knew a ruptured uterus sounded bad, but oh darn I googled and started having a massive anxiety attack.

A ruptured uterus is extremely rare and often fatal. I read from the time it happens, you have about 15 minutes before you bleed out and the baby is gone. When I went back for my follow-up, my midwife let me know she had never once encountered that, and it was such a big deal for them that a few days after my birth, they all got together to discuss my case.

I was so incredibly fortunate I chose to labor in a hospital, and that the doctor just knew from my vitals and baby’s that something was off. They just didn’t know exactly what until they got me open. I can’t even tell you how grateful I am for Dr. S. You saved my life and my son’s life and our family will forever be grateful.


6. Getting The Stiff

When my mom was fresh out of nursing school in the 1980s, she got a job at a hospital that had a high concentration of geriatric patients. One particularly frail man took out his dentures before sleeping, then passed in the night during her shift. His cheeks were so alarmingly sunken in that my mom and another nurse tried to replace the dentures back in his mouth so as not to horrify the family.

Unfortunately, the rigor mortis had already started to set in. She said nursing school definitely didn’t prepare her for that nightmare.


7. It All Comes Down

My dad had triple bypass surgery in 2011, and right when they were about to close him up, the vent fell out of the freaking ceiling, contaminating EVERYTHING. My dad looked like a Smurf when he finally came out of surgery because they had disinfected him so much. The surgeon was an ex-army surgeon and he came out SEETHING.

He basically told us that if my dad suffered any sort of post-op infection, we would own the hospital. Luckily, my dad was just fine and is still with us, healthier than he has been in a while. From what we have heard, the maintenance crew was epically chewed out, and the story is still told at the hospital.


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8. Jack Of All Trades, Indeed

It was my first year out of my family practice residency. The specialists like to sneeringly refer to us as jacks-of-all-trades and masters of none. Anyway, I was on call from the ER, and a normally unshakable ER doctor was beside himself. He had a very pre-term mom in active labor and the fog outside that day prevented us from flying her out to a well-equipped hospital.

He was the only ER doctor, and the transferring facility wouldn’t take her into transport without a physician on board, so they called me in. En route, I was trying to coach her to breathe through the contractions. Then disaster struck. She felt something coming out—it was the baby’s foot. We were in the back of an ambulance when this happened.

We delivered the baby about a minute or two out of the hospital. When we got there, they were expecting a mom in pre-term labor, not a micro-preemie. One nurse met us in the ambulance bay, took a look at me holding the baby with a blanket and oxygen, and said, “Follow me.” We ran through the hospital and turned on an incubator.

The pediatric doctor wasn’t present at that moment and the baby’s heart rate was low, so I proceeded to intubate her. That was 12 years ago. She survived and is doing great. I wrote my program director at 4 am that morning when I got back home thanking him for all the training. I think I used 100% of my training that night, and it still didn’t prepare me for everything.


9. Don’t Go Empty-Handed

When I was a new nurse working in the ICU in a large teaching hospital, I came into work one morning to a patient who was admitted that night, sedated, intubated, and all. Long story short, by the end of the same shift his breathing tube was out and he was completely alert and oriented, so he was able to tell us what was going on.

He was an end-stage renal patient, meaning his kidneys didn’t work and he needed dialysis, and he was only in his late 30s. He said he never made urine anymore and didn’t need his catheter so he wanted it out because it was hurting. So I went to remove the catheter as I’d done about a thousand times on other patients. It was the start of a nightmare.

As soon as the catheter left, blood started pouring out of his you-know-what in a heavy stream. Turns out, the nurse who placed it on admission hadn’t advanced it far enough, since there was no urine production to indicate correct placement. This had caused a massive amount of trauma. It would not stop bleeding. I had to hold this man’s nether region “shut” to put pressure on it while my co-worker paged the resident.

The doctor came in, looked at me with pity, and told me to just keep holding this 30-something-year-old man’s junk in my hands to staunch the blood flow until urology could get there to assess. It just kept gushing blood every time I eased up to check. For over an hour total, I held it and tried to make polite conversation until the urologist arrived.


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10. Bedside Manner

The first time I had to tell someone their loved one didn’t make it, I was not ready. Though they covered the basics of it at medical school, no one really told us how to break the bad news to someone. No one told us how impotent we’d feel doing it, or the fact that we wouldn’t be able to answer their panicked questions…or what it’ll be like knowing that there’s nothing we can say to family members that will truly bring comfort.

There’s also nothing on how shocked or even angry you’ll be when some people don’t really care about their mom going downhill, or how ashamed you might feel when you look back and realize that you’re becoming numb to it all yourself. Yeah, you probably had to click through some presentation on the five stages of grief at some point and listen to a generic lecture on what NOT to say, but until you’ve stumbled through it a few times, you’re winging it, and probably poorly.


11. Close But Not Quite

When I was in med school, there was an “Oh God” moment for everyone. They were prepping a patient for surgery and put him under and the nurse said “Ok, he’s out” before they were about to start slicing him open. The patient just had enough strength to move his head from side to side and said “No, I’m not out yet.” Everyone laughed it off, but if the patient didn’t do that, it could have ended badly.


12. How To Save A Life

I did chest compressions on a daughter’s mother while the girl stood at the head of the bed, pleading that I save her mother’s life. I’ve had some form of medical training since I was 16, but using it so often in a hospital setting makes you less empathetic. I’m also a male nurse if it makes any difference. I didn’t expect to get the feels after such a critical moment in a family’s life.

The mother survived. I definitely broke most of the bones in her chest, though.


13. Never A Dull Moment

I was a fourth-year resident and I was on call that day. Around 5 pm, I went to do rounds and as I got to the first room, I came in to find the first-year resident on top of a patient who had very recently had neck surgery. As I came closer, my blood ran cold. The resident was kneeling next to the guy’s head with his hands and clothes completely covered in blood.

There was blood on the roof, on the sheets, on the bed, dripping onto the floor, you name it. I was instantly petrified. I knew his carotid artery was ruptured, and I’d never repaired one before. I am completely unqualified to help this guy! Someone, please HELP US! I was the senior resident, so I was the only one on call at the time.

Besides that, no one could get there in time to help this guy. He was bleeding out, so it was up to me alone to help him. So I took the guy to the OR as fast as we could and I opened him up, all of the time praying and telling myself “It’s OK, I can do this, I can do this!” I was pooping my pants while everyone was looking at me to fix him.

I open him up and I see the freaking artery loose, spraying blood all over. I clamped it, put a knot around it, and that was it. We closed him up, bandage, and transfuse the poor guy, and I went to collapse on a stool.


14. Thar She Blows

I was NOT prepared for the day a patient exploded in surgery and splattered all over the entire operating team. Basically, a watermelon-sized tumor was being removed from the patient. It turned out, the tumor was more of a giant cyst. The surgeon didn’t open up the belly wide enough to facilitate the thing, so imagine someone trying to dig out a giant water balloon from an eight-inch incision with their hands.

The pressure on the tumor caused it to erupt out and upwards, spraying its contents on everyone and everything in the room. On the positive side, this made the removal of the thing A LOT easier. I do recall a lot of people screaming when it happened though. The patient came out fine!


15. It’s Getting Hot In Here

I was working in obstetrics during a heatwave. This is important, as maternity wards are kept quite warm since newborn babies aren’t good at regulating their temperatures. Mid-emergency cesarean, the scrub nurse assisting the operation starts feeling faint. This is unusual, as this scrub nurse worked in these theaters full-time, so this was her bread and butter.

I can only conclude it was the heat that did it. Anyway, she has to step out and someone far more junior had to take her place, it was the nurse’s first section ever. They were trying to assist with the instruments in the uterus when they fainted. I had to jump in and grab the back of their gown to stop them face-planting the open uterus, and then sort of gently tug backward to let them fall into me while someone else took over. Thank God the baby was already out.


16. Show Me Your Teeth

If you have a patient in labor (or in any painful procedure) who wants to hold your hand, only let them hold two fingers. They can’t squeeze them too hard and break the bones, yet they still get the comfort of human touch. I’ve had patients in labor pinch me, pull on my clothes, and squeeze my two fingers as hard as possible. Some are just panicked, but some seem to be angry and want to hurt someone.

I always calmly ask them to stop with the pinching or pulling on my clothes because that really isn’t helping them. These are often people who have refused an epidural because they are afraid of needles. While I understand that, I myself refuse to go black and blue. I always teach the new nurses or students the two-finger trick.

Which reminds me: Several years back, I had a couple in for a delivery. I asked what method of pain control they preferred. Their response was bizarre. They looked at each other, giggled, and then he said, “She bites me.” I asked for clarification, and apparently, during her first two deliveries when the contraction pain became unbearable, she would take his hand and literally bite the heck out of his knuckle.

They were both hip to this plan and oddly proud of it. Fast forward to a couple of hours—the labor was getting well advanced. I looked up while doing an exam and saw her clamp her teeth on his calloused knuckle. She appeared to be biting with full pressure. He made a bit of a face but not a sound. Soon after, we ushered their youngest into the world.

When the contraction would start, she’d take a lung full of air and push to the count of 10 while biting the heck out of her man. It worked for them, so who am I to judge, but it made me somewhat uncomfortable.


17. Small Cut, Big Consequences

I was the patient. I had a liver transplant and was having surgery to get a new bile duct stent. Well apparently, my anatomy is different than normal, and my lungs go more down my sides. So the doctor accidentally caused a nick. It had devastating consequences. When I woke up, I couldn’t breathe. They did an X-ray and had to do a chest tube.

Apparently, he cried he felt so bad about it all. But it wasn’t him being malicious or negligent, it was simply an accident.


18. School’s Out

My grandmother was a school nurse at an elementary school. They were letting the kids out for the day, and all of the kids were waiting outside. One little boy’s mom came to pick him up. As she was walking up to the building, she began to have a heart attack. My grandmother began CPR and sent someone to get the defibrillator. She also told another teacher to call 9-1-1.

The woman passed before the ambulance arrived. I don’t think twice her time in medical school could’ve prepared her for that.


19. You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get

One day, I got called into a long, six-hour cardiac procedure to ensure a laparoscopic camera was working and able to record. The surgery was nearing the end, so I knew I was about to see something good—they wanted to record something big. Suddenly, the surgeon pulls out some kind of growth from inside this guy’s heart.

This thing was the size of a chicken wing. It was growing through his valve, and I’m honestly amazed the patient was alive. Supposedly the only symptoms were shortness of breath.


20. Poker Face

Sonographers have to keep a poker face a lot of times when they see something very alarming or sad on the screen. Luckily, most people have no idea what they are looking at, but they’re not allowed to give any results to patients since doctors deliver the bad news. They simply have to stay neutral. A couple of months ago, I had an ultrasound done and was talking with the sonographer about how happy I was to be having a baby.

I’ve lost many people this year and I needed some good to happen. Then I saw her face, and my blood ran cold. It wasn’t super obvious, but I knew. My baby’s heart wasn’t beating, and I didn’t see any movement. She pulled away and told me that a doctor would call me that day. It was awful for me. I remember calling my doctor a few times that day because I wanted to know those results right away.

When I finally got it, I broke down. But I still feel really awful for her. She didn’t say much, but I could really see her heartbreak too. Their job is a lot harder than most people would imagine.


21. The Swamps Of Dagobah

I’m a nurse. I was on call one night and woke up at two in the morning for a “general surgery” call. Pretty vague, but at the time, I lived in a town that had large populations of young military guys and avid substance users, so late-night emergencies were common. Got to the hospital, where a few more details awaited me: “anal abscess.”

Needless to say, our entire crew was less than thrilled. I went down to the Emergency Room to transport the patient, and the only thing the ER nurse said as she handed me the chart was “Have fun with this one.” Amongst healthcare professionals, vague statements like that are a bad sign. My patient was a 314 lb. woman who barely fit on the stretcher I was transporting her on.

She was rolling frantically side-to-side and moaning in pain, pulling at her clothes and muttering Hail Marys. I could barely get her name out of her after a few minutes of questioning, so after I confirmed her identity and what we were working on, I figured it was best just to get her to the anaesthesiologist so we could knock her out and get this circus started.

She continued her theatrics the entire 10-minute ride to the O.R., nearly falling off the surgical table as we were trying to put her under. We see patients like this a lot, though, chronic users who don’t handle pain well and who have used so much that even increased levels of pain medication don’t touch simply because of high tolerance levels.

We got the lady off to sleep, put her into the stirrups, and I began washing off the rectal area. It was red and inflamed, a little bit of pus was seeping through, but it was all pretty standard. Her chart had noted that she’d been injecting IV substances through her bottom, so this was obviously an infection from dirty needles, but overall, it didn’t seem to me to warrant her repeated cries of “Oh Jesus.” I soon discovered how wrong I was.

The surgeon steps up with a scalpel, sinks just the tip in, and at the exact same moment, the patient had a muscle twitch in her diaphragm, and just like that, all heck broke loose. Unbeknownst to us, the infection had actually tunneled nearly a foot into her abdomen, creating a vast cavern full of pus, rotten tissue, and fecal matter that had seeped outside of her colon.

This godforsaken mixture came rocketing out of that little incision. We all wear waterproof gowns, face masks, gloves, hats, the works—all of which were as helpful was rain boots against a fire hose. The bed was in the middle of the room, an easy seven feet from the nearest wall, but by the time we were done, I was still finding bits of rotten flesh pasted against the back wall.

As the surgeon continued to advance his blade, the deluge just continued. The patient kept seizing against the ventilator, and with every muscle contraction, she shot more of this brackish gray-brown fluid out onto the floor until, within minutes, it was seeping into the other nurse’s shoes. I was nearly twelve feet away, jaw dropped open within my surgical mask, watching the second nurse dry-heaving and the surgeon standing on tip-toes to keep this stuff from soaking his socks any further.

The smell hit them first. “Oh god, I just threw up in my mask!” The other nurse was out, she tore off her mask and sprinted out of the room, shoulders still heaving. Then it hit me, mouth still wide open, not able to believe the volume of fluid this woman’s body contained. It was like getting a great big bite of the despair and apathy that permeated this woman’s life.

I couldn’t breathe, my lungs simply refused to pull any more of that stuff in. The anesthesiologist went down next, his six-foot-two frame shaking as he threw open the door to the OR suite in an attempt to get more air in, letting me glimpse the second nurse still throwing up in the sinks outside the door. Another geyser of pus splashed across the front of the surgeon.

The YouTube clip of “David at the dentist” keeps playing in my head—”Is this real life?” In all operating rooms, everywhere in the world, regardless of socialized or privatized, secular or religious, big or small, there is one thing the same: Somewhere, there is a bottle of peppermint concentrate. Everyone in the department knows where it is, everyone knows what it is for, and everyone prays to the gods that they never have to use it.

In times like this, we rub it on the inside of our masks to keep the outside smells at bay long enough to finish the procedure and shower off. I sprinted to our central supply, ripping open the drawer where this vial of ambrosia was kept and was greeted by—an empty box. The bottle had been emptied and not replaced.

Somewhere out there was a godless person who had used the last of the peppermint oil, and not replaced a single drop of it. To this day, if I figure out who it was, I’ll hurt them with my bare hands. I darted back into the room with the next best thing I can find, a vial of Mastisol, which is an adhesive rub we use sometimes for bandaging.

It’s not as good as peppermint, but considering that over one-third of the floor was now thoroughly coated in what could easily be mistaken for a combination of bovine after-birth and maple syrup, we were out of options. I started rubbing as much of the Mastisol as I could get on the inside of my mask, just glad to be smelling anything except whatever slimy demon spawn we’d just cut out of this woman.

The anesthesiologist grabbed the vial next, dowsing the front of his mask in it so he could stand next to his machines long enough to make sure this woman didn’t expire on the table. It wasn’t until later that we realized that Mastisol can give you a mild high from huffing it like this, but in retrospect, that’s probably what got us through.

By this time, the smell had permeated out of our OR suite, and down the 40-foot hallway to the front desk, where the other nurse still sat, eyes bloodshot and watery, clenching her stomach desperately. Our suite looked like the underground river of ooze from Ghostbusters II, except dirty. Oh so dirty. I stepped back into the OR suite, not wanting to leave the surgeon by himself in case he genuinely needed help.

It was like one of those overly-artistic representations of a zombie apocalypse you see on fan forums. Here’s this one guy, in blue surgical garb, standing nearly ankle-deep in lumps of dead tissue, fecal matter, and several liters of syrupy infection. He was performing surgery in the swamps of Dagobah, except the swamps had just come out of this woman’s behind and there was no Yoda.

He and I didn’t say a word for the next 10 minutes as he scraped the inside of the abscess until all the dead tissue was out, the front of his gown a gruesome mixture of brown and red, his eyes squinted against the stinging vapors originating directly in front of him. I finished my required paperwork as quickly as I could, helped him stuff the recently-vacated opening full of gauze, taped this woman’s buttocks closed to hold the dressing for as long as possible, woke her up, and immediately shipped off to the recovery ward.

Until then, I’d only heard of “alcohol showers.” Turns out 70% isopropyl is about the only thing that can even touch a scent like that once it’s soaked into your skin. It takes four or five bottles to get really clean, but it’s worth it. It’s probably the only scenario I can honestly endorse drinking a little of it, too.

As we left the locker room, the surgeon and I looked at each other, and he said the only negative sentence I heard him utter in two and a half years of working together: “That was bad.” The next morning, the entire department still smelled. The housekeepers told me later that it took them nearly an hour to suction up all of the fluid and debris left behind. The OR suite itself was closed off and quarantined for two more days just to let the smell finally clear out.


22. An Unholy Terror

I had a 60-year-old female patient show up for a same-day appointment to establish care from out of state. She had no medical records and she denied having any history of taking medications. She never smoked, drank, or anything. Midway through the exam, she started telling me that she was seeing “evil lines” all over her house at all hours of the day.

She said that she was unable to cross the lines and was therefore unable to access certain parts of her house like her bathroom. She claimed to hear voices coming through the walls and feel shadows at night. She also thought her neighbors were hexing her all the time.

At some point, she started talking about the occult and freemasons ruling the world. Then, suddenly, she stopped mid-sentence, stared at me without blinking, and asked if I could perform an exorcism. Err… Sorry. I missed that section in medical school.


23. Game, Set, Match

When I was in pharmacy school, I was doing my internal medicine rotation in my final year. My supervisor and I were doing med reviews in the ICU when one of the doctors said “Hey, you wanna see something cool?” They were trying to extract a foreign object from a guy’s lung in one of the rooms. So we go in and watch for a bit.

There were about six people in the room. A tube was down the guy’s throat. Little grippers at the end. Two doctors are watching a monitor and trying to control the grabbers and get it like a claw game. I watched for a bit, then after a while, I lost interest and went back out to what I was doing. A few minutes later I hear: “Got it!” *Cheers from the room* “Oh it’s a tooth!”

The dude aspirated his own molar. The doctor walks out with his trophy in a jar, and it’s a completely intact tooth, root and all.


24. There’s A Butt

The complaint in the man’s file was rectal pain. I immediately thought hemorrhoid, abscess, or a fissure. When I saw Mr. Rectal Pain, he told me he had pain down there but had no other symptoms. I got to the examining part it was normal looking. At that point, I had to proceed with a rectal exam. The result made my jaw drop.

I digitally examined him and he instantly said, “Ow, there’s something sharp in there.” Out came a fishbone. It was big too, like two or three centimeters long. I asked the patient about it and he was like, “Oh, I had red snapper a few nights ago.” I put the fishbone into a specimen cup and started parading through the emergency department showing everyone what I just “fished” out of some guy’s butt. Oh, and there’s a coda to this tale.

I told this story to my colleague and he proceeded to tell me how in his residency they did rectal exams on all trauma patients. One time, one of his fellow residents went to perform one and the patient said the exact same phrase: “Ow, there’s something sharp in there.” But instead of a fishbone, it was a hypodermic needle. You can’t make this stuff up.


25. What Lies Beneath

My mom had to have a kidney removed due to her waiting for almost two years to go to the doctor about her pain in her back. The doctors found out it was a large kidney stone and that her kidney was infected and had lots of gross pus shutting it down. After draining the fluids through tubes, she was finally ready for surgery.

Cue last Wednesday, the day of the surgery, and she was ready to finally be done with it. They removed the stent and put in the tubes no problem, next was the kidney. Here comes the “Oh God” moment. As they get ready to remove the kidney, they realized the kidney’s infection had spread to a portion of her lung and a major artery, making them fragile as toilet paper.

As the surgeon removed the kidney, he tore a hole in the lung, and even worse, he severed the artery. At that point, it was a race to save her life and stabilize her. I don’t remember much about how they fixed her up there, but they had to fly her to a different hospital and have a heart surgeon fix the severed artery in a more permanent fashion.

Anyway, the heart doctor saw the grave situation and said she’s got a 1% chance to make it. But he did such an excellent job that my mom is still alive and getting stronger each day. The moral of this story is: If you have insurance and are experiencing pain, go to a doctor as soon as you realize it. You may save your life, and also save some doctors from an “Oh God” moment like this.


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26. Agnes Gets Her Groove Back

People with dementia sometimes forget some or all of their own family members. They also forget common social decorum. By the time the patients are with us, the family realizes that the end is near, so a lot of people that weren’t always present in the patient’s life start showing up.

After the shock disappears, the family then begins to see their relative as just any other person. The grandpa, grandma, mom, dad, whatever, ceases to exist. The patient kind of becomes their true unfiltered self in a way. Some families get the bittersweet fortune of getting to see this person how their friends might see them. Not that this is always good…

At some point, it almost always turns into the patient getting rather, uh “intimate” in their conversations. Sometimes, they even hit on a younger attractive family member. People usually take it in stride and understand the situation. But there are times when the patients lose it when they find out grandma “wants a ride on him.”


27. Lights Out

When I was in nursing school, I was observing a tonsillectomy and the power went out. Everything switched over to the backup generators, except for the suction—which is incredibly important for any surgery but particularly in the throat. They ended up having to connect a giant syringe to a length of suction tubing to suction manually while someone went to the other side of the building to find portable suction.


28. Look Out Below

As a student nurse, I observed a cesarean section when the mother had preeclampsia. The mom was awake with an epidural in place and a screen was in front of her. All went well at first. Her uterus was sewn back up and I was starting to relax…until the surgeon asked the medical student at the foot of the bed to step aside. That’s when I witnessed an absolute horror.

The doctor reached in and pumped the uterus twice and hard, forcing the remaining after products out of her fast. The wall wasn’t that far from the foot of the bed, and the student had definitely been in the line of fire. The patient nor the husband didn’t seem to notice, but when the medical student and I looked at each other, she just said, “Whoa.”


29. Hidden Agenda

I’m a paramedic…so many to tell, but this one will stick with me forever. Rainy afternoon in the spring. The call was for a tipsy person randomly pounding on house doors. Normally, it would be an officer response, but they were swamped. We pull up to the house, no lights, no siren. Heck, I’m so burnt out at the time, I don’t even get out of the passenger seat.

I just power the window down. “Hey!” I snap at the older gentleman on the porch, “What are you doing?” He turns from pounding at the stranger’s door and begins shuffling down the walkway toward our ambulance. I can see the elderly woman close the curtains, her nuisance addressed. “Man, I just got to lay down!” The guy says to me.

I look at my partner, and she at I. Henry Ford Hospital is six blocks away. Surely we can take the guy there? “Get in the back!” I snap at him. “And if you puke in my bus, I’ll mop it up with your clothes.” “But I got chest pains,” He says, holding his hand closed against the pelting rain. I roll my eyes, “Man, I do too. So let’s go to Ford and both get checked.”

The guy begins fiddling with his buttons, and I reach over from my seat to dial up the heater. When I look back, he’s got his trench coat open, to show me exactly where it hurts. What I saw still haunts me to this day. Right in the middle of his sternum, vividly defined against his white sweatshirt, is a star-shaped POWDER BURN.

A big one. Point-blank-to-the-chest, hole-punched GSW. Oh my God. The next four or so minutes were a blur. Rushing out the door to grab the man as he was about to fall. My partner yanking the stretcher out, loading the patient, and loading him in the back. Scissors cutting clothes, oxygen mask going on. Yelling, “Go, go, go!!!” to my partner as she raced the six blocks to the hospital.

I really only managed to get one IV started during the three minute ride. He was gone 25 minutes later. When we rolled him in the trauma room, you could see an exit wound the size of a fist. The doctors assured us that the only thing that could have helped this man was if he fell into the OR after being shot. But that didn’t bring me any peace.

We probably spent 10 minutes talking to the man as he stood in the rain. For me, that was my out cue. I took a week off work, and resigned two weeks later.


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30. I Got This

I’ll never forget the comment my labor and delivery nurse made. I had been laboring in the tub at the hospital but wasn’t supposed to actually birth in it. When I suddenly started to feel the baby coming, my husband pulled the emergency cord and the nurses rushed in. Through the haze of baby crowning pain, I heard a panicked nurse say, “I don’t know what to do. What do we do?”

I distinctly remember laughing to myself and I heard my midwife’s calm voice say, “It’s okay, I’ve got it” as she moved past the nurse and took over.


31. Nightmare Fuel

It was my wisdom teeth removal. All four were impacted, and they had to break out the heavy hardware. I’m knocked out, don’t even know the dentist entered the room. I wake up, but not able to move, just eyes open awake but my limbs won’t react to my brain. I can feel the dentist hammering a chisel into my tooth to break it for extraction.

My jaw is just coming undone on every hit. My eyes are wide open, jaw even wider with some evil metal contraption. I’m staring at the assistant begging for her to see me, and after about a dozen hammers to my jaw, she glances over and drops the suction, jumps up and shrieks. The dentist stops to look at her, then looks at me and I see him say “Oh God.” Next thing I know, I’m waking up post-surgery. What nightmares are made of.


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32. The Saga Of Private Idiot

I was a combat medic in the Army. After basic schooling, I showed up to my first duty assignment. Now, as a fresh little private, I expected my job to be more oriented towards combat medicine, hence the job title. That’s when I got my first taste of “Don’t get your hopes up.” There I was, expecting to settle in when they told me I’d be pulling medical coverage for a 15-mile ruck march.

At that point, I had a couple of thoughts: 1. Do people really walk 15 miles? 2. What the heck is medical coverage? 3. I don’t even have an aid bag, how do I treat people? I got the typical response of “figure it out.” I basically started looking for the friendliest faces in my medic platoon, but mind you—most of this platoon got back from Afghanistan a few months prior and they were already exposed to live combat casualties.

That meant there were no friendly faces. When you are the new private, you are underneath the bottom of the barrel, so NO ONE likes you. Long story short, after a few push-ups and stuff, I got the aid bag. I went over my notes, trying to prepare myself for gore and broken limbs. But no, this is where I truly got in over my head. It turns out, the main casualty any medic will see is a heat casualty. Apparently, the one thing these soldiers just didn’t do…was drink water. Not one person drank water and because of this, guys would drop like flies.

So let’s fast forward a bit. The ruck was happening, and a few miles in, I finally got my first casualty. I hopped out like Captain America with my little cool guy shades on and my helmet unbuckled, thinking I looked cooler than I actually was. In school, they covered heat casualties in about five minutes and I was asleep in class for most of the time.

So there I was, freaking out on the inside. I still tried to treat my casualty as best I can. I brought out the ice sheets, placed him in the shade, the whole shebang. I eventually got him in the truck, removed his clothes, and performed an exam. Naturally, at that point, I was feeling good about myself. “He’s still alive so we good.” And then I got to the one question that messed me up more than anything.

“Did you get a core temperature?” No, no I did not. This process is simple, but in training, you don’t really get the full experience. See, this task requires you to spread their cheeks, maintain steady eye contact with the eye of Sauron, and insert a thermometer while holding back your own vomit.

We called it biting the silver bullet. Everyone knew about the notoriety of the silver bullet, but I was the one who had to bite it. As I was gliding it down the booty crack, I felt it give in. In my limited experience, I thought this was the bootyhole. Wrong. It was not. It was rather, what I call, a phantom hole. Everyone looked at me like I was the dumbest man to ever exist. “THERE’S ONLY ONE…HOW DO YOU MISS?”

As this exchange was occurring, the casualty was just writhing back and forth in pain because I kind of forced it in there pretty hard. I was trying to convince him that I had to go for round two, and after a fruitful conversation, I tried again. I finally got it in the right place. I just left it there for a bit while I started to do paperwork. After about five minutes, my NCO was yelling at me again.

“WHY THE HECK IS THE THERMOMETER STILL IN THERE?”, I sputtered out, “SARGE, I THOUGHT WE HAD TO CONSTANTLY REASSESS!” Yeah, Private Idiot, you don’t have to leave it in there. Needless to say, I had to write an apology letter for tormenting this innocent victim. For God’s sake…they never taught THAT in school.


33. A Comedy Of Errors

My father told me this back when I was younger. He had a 21-year-old patient who needed to have a penectomy. Yep, he had cancer of the penis. There were two “Oh God” moments for this. The first is a common thing: He wasn’t fully asleep. The second, however, is funny and humiliating. So, they are about to start the surgery.

Suddenly, one of the nurses who was there threw up and left. A test later, and boom! She was actually pregnant! Back to the surgery, though—halfway through, the other nurse leaves for a call about her father. So my dad is just standing there, the guy’s junk in his hand. He calls for help, but no one came to assist him again for 30 minutes, poor guy.


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34. Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

Some people talk while under anesthesia. Some people even scream. Honestly, it gets so bad sometimes that I used to go home in tears, especially after treating very vocal patients. The only thing that helped was when patients would wake up and tell us, “Thank you so much. That went so fast.” Post-operative checks a week later when I could see the patients were still doing well helped too.

I remember asking the doctor over and over when I first started, “Are you sure they’re under, are you sure they’re numb?” Now, after a few years’ experience, I understand how much local anesthetic he used. The patients were likely numb for a few hours post-treatment.


35. You Had One Job

We were operating on the carotid artery of a patient. Mid-surgery, there was a gaping hole in his neck, and suddenly the patient woke up. “Easy fix,” I think to myself, and I start shouting at the anesthesiologist to put him back under…only he’d gone out for a moment. I had to hold the guy’s head with my elbow so he wouldn’t move too much and hurt himself until the guy came back.


36. A Twist Of Fate

Sometimes, even when you do everything you’re told to do, tragedy happens. You are going to have an elderly patient who you know won’t make it, but there is little you can do about it other than lessen the damage. There is going to be a patient’s family member you get a little too close to and you will feel hurt when they blame you for something.

You will trust your superiors and possibly get thrown under the bus for it. I had an instance where I had a new patient who arrived on my day off. The nurse gave me a very quick report about him when I came back and I was told that although he would be a little resistant, he wasn’t combative. In fact, he was purposefully placed with me because I was pretty calm and often chatted with my patients.

We were short-staffed, as always. I had another nurse assisting me to transfer him, but the nurse had to leave to get an oxygen canister for him…and she never made it back. My patient got a little restless as we were waiting. I couldn’t move him in his wheelchair as he was hooked up to a mounted canister, and I also couldn’t leave him alone.

While I was standing there, he pulled a shocking move on me. I wound up getting punched in the eye without any warning. My glasses broke and I was stunned. I pulled the call light, but…nothing. I looked out the door but there was nobody there. I wound up using a phone to call the front desk and beg the nurse to come down because he hit me and I didn’t want to be there alone.

It still took her 15 minutes. At that time, I started to realize something was seriously wrong. At some point, I went to the doctor myself. It turned out, I had a concussion, a minor cartilage break in my nose, plus a black eye and vision issues. It’s been a few months now and I’ve lost central vision in that eye and I have started getting spots and floaters in the opposite eye.

They’re going to probably take my license soon. I’ve seen several doctors and specialists who are at a loss and don’t think they can do anything. I’ve been told surgery wouldn’t do anything because the rods and cones are pretty much gone in that eye. Plus, I have migraines daily now. I wanted to go to school to be a nurse. I’m not even 30 and now I have to give up on my dream.

Protect yourself. Little things can change your entire life.


37. When It Rains, It Pours

My grandfather was scheduled to have double knee replacement surgery when he was in his 70s. They go through a bunch of health screenings to make sure your body can take the stress of the surgery, and during one of these screenings, the cardio doctor found an aneurysm in my grandpa’s aorta. But that wasn’t even the worst part.

This beast ran basically the entire length of his torso. The doctors were shocked he was still alive with that in his chest. He ended up having to have stent surgery in his aorta first, and then a few months later was cleared for his knee replacements.


38. Picking Up The Pieces

Nurse here. They don’t teach you how to maintain honesty when your doctor skirts around a cancer diagnosis. I’ve had a few cases where a physician avoids questions and instead just tells the patients and families to wait and see what pathology shows. The doctor will then usually spend 30 seconds in the room giving vague information, then immediately leave me to pick up the pieces.

Patients often ask, “In your opinion, what did the doctor mean when he or she said this?” And my response is almost always straightforward—that when it presents like that, it usually means cancer. I want to be honest with them. I make sure to spend the next 30 minutes educating the patient and offering resources on what the next steps would be.


39. Did I Do That?

I once saw a med student suck up a skin graft with a suction device. The skin graft is a very thin piece of tissue that was being carefully laid onto the wound where it was then to be sewed on, carefully, like a patch. The med student was using the suction to clean up the wound and accidentally sucked up the carefully-prepared graft entirely. Gone instantaneously.


40. The Woman Who Knew Too Much

My twin sister is a nurse. She most definitely didn’t learn how to care for her own dying mother in nursing college. Our mother passed from cancer, and we nursed her until the very end at home. I was very thankful that my sister is a nurse and knew what to do, but the minute my mom passed, my sister could not be in the same room.

She had already seen so much tragedy as a nurse before, but nothing could prepare her for her own mother’s passing. I think my sister questioned her choice of being a nurse after that. To me, I was seeing my mom finally being released from all the pain she was feeling. For my sister, she knew what was happening below the surface.

She knew how my mom’s lungs were giving in, and that her heart was failing. The thought that she knew that hurt me inside as much as my mom’s passing did. I have a lot of love and respect for my sister.


41. Gone In 60 Seconds

Gastroenterologist here. I was removing a large polyp during a colonoscopy. I put the snare around the polyp, and it took an unusually long time to sever the base of the polyp—until, all of a sudden, blood started squirting from where it was removed. The screen quickly turned red with blood, and I couldn’t see a single thing.

The patient’s blood pressure started to drop. The patient, who was a dark-skinned Middle Eastern man, turned pale white on the stretcher in front of me. That’s when I felt like I was going to faint and empty my own bowels…the only thing I could think was “Oh God.” I gave myself a moment to breathe and control my emotions.

Once I cleared my head, I let my instincts kick in. We gave him fluids to bring up his blood pressure and put him a safe position to maintain blood flow of his brain, lungs, and heart while reducing the blood flow to his gut, where the polyp was. I then turned on the water jet and diluted the blood with as much water as I could, hoping to see more on the screen and eventually clip or cauterize the blood vessel.

As it turned out, the patient’s blood pressure dropped just enough to stop the bleeding automatically. That gave me a short window to identify the vessel and clip it. The man lost 1/3 of his blood volume in less than 60 seconds. He was admitted, transfused, and discharged the next day. These days, if I anticipate a similar situation, I just refer them for surgery. I am not interested in being a hero like that again.


42. Just A Normal Day At The Office

I never learned how to deal with the fully-naked man covered in his own poop who barricaded himself in his room and started command flinging his mess at anyone who attempted to deescalate him. But I’ll tell you this much—I’ve never felt more like Captain America than I have while fully gowned and equipped with a riot shield blocking flung poops coming my way.


43. I’m Sorry, Come Again?

Three years ago, my grandmother was in the hospital to get her brain tumor removed. Nine hours later, we got to see her—only for the surgeon to say, “It went well, for the most part, dropped the top of her skull though.” Just like that, he walked away eating his apple. We were all just standing there like ???????


44. A Bonding Experience

When I worked in assisted living, I had a gentleman on hospice. He was a nice guy and was as cooperative as could be. 30 minutes before leaving one day, I was doing my rounds and making sure everyone was getting dressed. This patient needed assistance, so I started doing his routine. All of a sudden, he said he needed to poop.

I asked him if he could make it to the toilet. We tried to make it, but it was in vain. We ended up in the shower just spraying every time he passed a movement because it was the easiest solution. It was absolutely one of the worst things I’ve dealt with in my life. It seemed like it would never end. I ended up getting him cleaned up and in his freshly cleaned wheelchair.

Meanwhile, I stripped his bedding and the rest of the linen casualties that we’d amassed during this adventure. I tucked him into his fresh bed and told him I’d see him that night. My co-worker had the absolute balls to ask where the heck had I been while I carried all of his linen to the laundry. I told her to bug off because I had just handled the poo explosion of my nightmares completely solo.

Still, he and I became quite good friends after that. That kind of thing will bring two people together.


45. Hips Don’t Lie

One of my dad’s colleagues was doing a hip replacement way back in the day. Hip replacements aren’t fun: They have to pretty much butterfly you like a boneless roast to get the top of the thigh bone clear of the ball-and-socket joint of the hip. They then saw off the ball end and attach the new stainless steel one, which is on a long stem they insert down the middle of the bone to keep it in place.

So the doctor has got to that stage, tapping the stem down the femur, when it jams halfway. Won’t go down any further. Won’t come out again. Can’t saw it off, because bone saws won’t touch hardened steel. Can’t close up the patient and come back to it, because there’s a foot-long spear stuck out the top end of his leg. Meanwhile, the anesthetist is saying they can’t keep him under much longer. It was not a “successful” surgery.


46. The Cleanse

I had a patient with a terrible infection at an injection site. I watched in fascination, horror, and disgust as the surgeon squeezed the patient’s arm and thick pus slowly squirted out of the incision. It was like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. To be honest, I found it to be really satisfying because here was this nasty infection that could really harm this person and it was being cleaned out. I could feel the person feeling better as it was being cleaned.


47. Medical Insurance

I was the patient, and I’m pretty sure it was an “Oh God” moment for my OB-GYN. I was at the end of my labor and my daughter was stuck. I’d had two epidurals, both of which wore off. My doctor used forceps to try to get her out. I don’t think she knew my epidural was as ineffective as it was, otherwise I don’t think she would have shoved the forceps in like she did.

I obviously felt the forceps and started thrashing in pain. The doctor got scared and tried to take them out…but they got stuck. She had to wait for the next contraction to push them out. Then blood went everywhere. Most unsettling of all, she was on the phone with her lawyer while wheeling me in for my emergency C-section.


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48. Dangerous Liaisons

I’ve learned that people will literally stick ANYTHING up their butt and the operating crew will get called out on a beautiful weekend day because of it. Every. Single. Time. Then, as they are going up to the floor to wheel the patient down for surgery, the patient will invariably greet them with, “Hi, I’m the village idiot.” Yes…yes you are, and you just bought yourself a permanent colostomy bag.


49. Cradle To Grave

When I was a surgery intern, I was pulled to help out in a circus of a case. One of our older doctors was doing a simple liver biopsy on a patient and nicked her artery. Because the patient was already pretty sick, her tissue had the consistency of toilet paper—so every time they tried suturing the hole, the tissue just breaks apart, leaving a bigger, more leaky hole.

Pretty much all hands were on board. The chief residents were scrubbed in, the seniors were literally squeezing blood bags into the patient’s veins, and us interns were runners, going back and forth from OR to the blood bank to transport blood and plasma. We ended up transfusing over 12 liters of blood, so the patient lost over two times her total blood volume during that surgery.

A vascular surgeon eventually swooped in and did a rather slick patchwork that fixed the problem. Even better: the patient was like a daughter to the surgeon. He literally saved this patient’s life several times already, and they got really close over the years. She even named one of her kids after him. The poor guy broke down a few times during the surgery and was convinced that he had just killed his daughter.

The chief residents had to take over a few times when he was mentally not there. That was his last surgery…He retired the next day. Heck of a way to end a surgical career.


50. A Punch To The Gut

I used to be a pathology collector, so I basically collected patient bits and test them. One fellow needed some nail clippings and scrapings done for fungal testing. We used to see this a lot when it warmed up and people broke out their sandals…But this guy needed it for his hands. His nails were yellowed and starting to deform, and there was a smelly cheese-like substance under them.

Every. Single. Finger. It was the first and only time I ever had to try not to dry retch in front of a patient.


51. That’s The Tooth

I had some dental work done in my teens. I had two impacted teeth, and one was being taken out by some elaborate gear. The surgeon thought, “Well, the tooth is sticking out, I can just pull it.” He tried one tug and I almost fell forward out of the chair. The second pull, he had a nurse hold my shoulders. The third, he put his foot on the chair, used both hands while the nurse held me from behind around the waist and he YANKED!

Like in cartoons when a bullet bounces around the room and nobody can see it…yeah, that was my impacted tooth. I was numb and didn’t feel a thing except a warm sensation all over my chin…I learned then I was a bleeder.


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52. Torn Apart

My young, newly-married patient got in a bad motorcycle crash with her husband. She survived and her husband didn’t. She woke up and started yelling, “Where’s my husband?!” Then it got worse. See, we couldn’t tell her that he didn’t make it, as only the doctor could do that. Unfortunately, the doctor couldn’t come up for three hours.

So for three excruciating hours, we couldn’t tell her anything. I would walk into her room knowing that her life was about to be destroyed. My gut hurt just thinking about it. I’d ask her, “Can I get you anything, ma’am?” and she’d reply, “I just want to know where my husband is. Is he okay?” I would tell her that I wasn’t sure, but no matter how hard I tried to poker face it, I think she could tell in my voice that he was gone. There’s no chapter on that in any textbook.


53. Silent And Fatal

During my father’s residency, a gentleman came in with an infection he developed after having his gum scraped during a dental cleaning. The infection had gotten into his sinus cavity, and my father told his attending that the gentleman was going to die. They had a specialist from Harvard at the hospital at that time, and he called my father an idiot.

The attending corrected the guy from Harvard saying that no, my father was right and the guy was likely going to pass. He had seen 10 such infections previously, and each time the person didn’t make it. Apparently, there’s a part of your face some physicians call the “Triangle of Death.” The gums of your top teeth form the base, with the sinus cavities forming the arms.

Over the next two days, the infection spread to the guy’s left eye. Mr. Harvard said that they should take the eye, and hopefully, that would be enough to save him. My father said it’s not going to make much of a difference and the guy should start working out his final affairs. Obviously not wanting to give up, the gentleman consented to have his eye removed.

It didn’t make a difference, and within three days of having his eye removed, the gentleman was gone. The infection went from the sinus and ocular cavities and through the blood-brain barrier.


54. Fancy Seeing You Here

One of my patients was having pain whenever she peed. I did a standard UTI and STI panel, particularly for chlamydia. It was a self-test, so I had to explain to him the basic procedure of inserting the swab and twirling. The poor guy was so uncomfortable—not that I blame him—but my hardest task was explaining it all with a straight face. He had come from work so he was still in “uniform.” He was a priest.


55. A Second Opinion

For months, I was going to the doctor every Wednesday, because after running just a mile I couldn’t breathe. They checked my lungs and my heart and everything. Yet I still couldn’t run the mile without collapsing at the end. All of my doctors told my mom that I was just doing it for attention and they saw this kind of behavior all the time.

I had a physical scheduled and my mom thought about canceling it. I had seen so many doctors already, why waste the time? She finally decided I should go, just to keep on schedule. My normal doctor wasn’t there. He was sick and called in someone to take his shifts. She pushed on my stomach and asked if I was sexually active. My response made her panic. I said I was 11 and hadn’t even started my period, and she rushed me to the hospital.

After a sonogram, they said they saw something. That night, I was having surgery. When I woke up, they told me they took out a three-pound, malignant teratoma. I’d have to start chemo right away. Being the sassy 11-year-old I was, I just smiled smugly at my doctor and said “I told you I wasn’t lying!” I saw him recently, 15 years later. He still remembers me and apologized profusely for not catching it sooner.


56. Cradle To The Grave

When my wife started out as a fully-fledged registered nurse, her first job was in an aged care facility. She said the hardest part was getting used to working with people with dementia and the things that they’d do. For example, she had residents who would eat their own poop—she had to go home early after that one because she was so sick for the rest of the day.

There was another resident who once walked down the hallway with poop in her hands. She had no idea what it was or how it got there. They had to remove the Christmas tree from the dementia ward after another resident peed on it. But those aren’t even the worst cases. The toughest ones to handle, however, were the violent or aggressive residents; many of whom were (according to their families) sweet, loving people before they got sick.

She also had one resident who apparently was an angry jerk before he got dementia but then turned into a kind, lovely old man, so I guess it can go both ways. In a way, you sort of understand them though. If you have no idea who anyone is or what is going on, it would be very distressing if a random stranger takes your clothes off against your will every day and then puts you under a shower.

It was also really distressing for her to help residents who couldn’t remember that their spouses had passed. They would ask every 20 minutes where their husband or wife was because they couldn’t find them. Apparently, nurses learn quickly that the easiest answer is just to lie. “She’s just gone to the pharmacy to get some medicine, she’ll be back soon.”

One family tried to be helpful by making a very beautiful photo album for their grandpa showing a lot of photos of him and his wife together. They finished the book with photos of him at her funeral to help him remember that she had gone. The only problem is, things like that tend to just make people re-live losing their loved one over and over again each day, so the nurses found it easier to just lie.

So in short, many aged care facilities are terrible; but if you can find a good one with good nurses and good staff, your loved ones will be treated extremely well with people who love and care for them.


57. A Warm Bedside Manner

I’m a female med student, and my first-ever patient had an inguinal hernia. I examined his lower abdomen and balls, and then I had to feel for the hernia. Except I was so nervous, I just started playing with his balls with my fingertips. Well, the obvious happened: He started to get “excited,” and I got so embarrassed I immediately left.


58. A Tale Of Two Families

Working in the ICU, I see mortality all the time and have essentially become numb to it. I’ve also seen the very best and worst of the process demonstrated by family members. The best case: I had a family whose father had stage 4 (end-stage) liver cancer with metastasis to the lungs and the pancreas.

He was experiencing horrible pain but was he was also utterly exhausted from his years of chemo and treatment. He finally said enough was enough and made the decision to move to comfort care. For those who don’t know, comfort care is when we withdraw any form of invasive treatment from a patient. We switch them to primarily pain control only.

This one patient, let’s call him Bill, through a quiet whisper, made the decision to go to comfort care. He wanted us to contact his family to come and see him. The staff agreed and they called his family who were able to make the trip. One by one, the sons, daughters, grandkids, and even the great-grandkids went into the room on their own to say their goodbyes.

Before he passed, Bill wanted to have a glass of merlot with his family. So Bill’s son drove as fast as he could to a nearby store and bought the cheapest boxed stuff he could find. Together, the family sipped on a cheap glass and enjoyed the presence and stories of their beloved Bill. A short while after, through tears, Bill’s family watched him slowly and peacefully slip away.

What truly stuck with me during this event was how the family acted during Bill’s passing. They weren’t saying, “Come on Bill! You’re gonna beat this! Keep fighting!” etc. Instead, they encouraged him to relax, saying, “It’s okay Bill, we love you so much. You don’t have to keep fighting anymore.” They all knew his body was failing, and so did Bill.

Before he passed, Bill’s whole family was present and enjoyed being with him until the very end. While there was mourning, and rightfully so, there was also a sense of joy and peace. Now the bad: We had a patient who also had end-stage cancer of the lungs with metastasis to the liver and bones. We will call her Jen.

Jen was in constant, excruciating pain. The only audible noise she’d make was a moan during each expiration. Due to her condition, Jen required aggressive blood pressure support and breathing assistance using a mask. Her family was adamant about the aggressive treatment of the patient, thinking that her condition could be fixed somehow.

Even after an extensive explanation of Jen’s condition, the family was still certain they wanted to treat her. So we did. What I remember is how the family, even after being told the patient was dying and that nothing we could do was going to help, was blinded by their expectations.

For whatever reason, they couldn’t comprehend that end-stage cancer is not curable and that specifically bone and liver cancer are going to have extensive effects on the rest of the body. Even though Jen, the patient, was moaning in agony, the family insisted on continuing treatment. Because Jen was not making comprehensible sentences, we had to follow the family’s direction.

The staff could not look the family in the eyes because each one of us believed that what the family was doing was atrocious and inhumane. Eventually, Jen passed and her family was still upset with staff for not making her better. The family members were yelling at each other, criticizing each other for not doing this or that.

Instead of being at peace, all we saw was anger. I was never taught in school how to handle either one of those family dynamics. Nobody explained how to navigate difficult conversations in a professional and honest way. I see mortality every day and have come to realize that even though there is grief, there can also be happiness.


59. The Water Cure

When I had mono, I was getting incredibly overheated and was drinking lots of water. I still felt incredibly dehydrated, so I contacted a nurse on call and told them that despite drinking liters upon liters I was still feeling dehydrated and my headache was getting worse. She told me to just keep drinking more water. This turned out to be near-fatal advice.

My symptoms kept getting worse, so I finally went to the doctor—who told me I almost passed from over-hydration. A few Gatorades later, I felt a million times better.


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60. Let It Go

On my first day on a new ward, an older woman rang the buzzer in the bathroom. Me being keen to impress, I ran straight to her. I was confronted with a wall of smell and what looked like an explosion of poop…everywhere. Up the walls, just everywhere. Turns out, she didn’t think she needed her laxatives the past few days, so she hid them.

The doctors, wondering why they weren’t working, increased her dose…then she took them all at once when she felt bunged up. Oh, and she had also been eating an abundance of fruit. I had to use several disposable mops to reach parts of the wall. Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it before or since. Luckily, I work in neonatal now.


61. A Stitch In Time

I was in sixth grade, and my family was living in an upstairs/downstairs duplex. The family above us had two small boys, first grade and preschool if memory serves. Their dad was at work and their mom had to run some errands, so she asked if I could watch them while she was away for a while. It was a nice summer day, so we were outside running around in the yard, generally acting like kids.

A game of tag or something soon developed, with the two boys chasing me. At some point, I ended up running right along the side of the house and losing my footing. Down I went. Instead of my knees or my palms, I hit the side of my head. It HURT. I got to my knees and put my hand to the side of my head, only to feel warm liquid. Lots of it.

I looked at my hand, and it was like it had been used as a prop from the movie Carrie. Blood EVERYWHERE. I looked up to see a nice little trail of blood on the wall of the house, leading up to the head of a nail that was sticking out about an inch. My dad grew Hollyhocks and would tie them up with twine so they wouldn’t fall over, and I just happened to catch one right over my eyebrow.

So, I went inside and informed my mother in very precise terms that I was probably in need of medical attention. My history with the emergency room was pretty robust, so my mom is quite used to the sight of me coming into the kitchen bleeding and/or broken. She made very little fuss, other than a frantic towel-grabbing mission before packing me and those two now-very-scared little boys into the car and heading to the local ER. This is where the “Oh God” moment happens.

Remember, this is a weekday during the summer in a suburban neighborhood. The ER was completely empty, except for the receptionist typing away at something. Mom lets me out to start admission while she parks the car. Apparently, my arrival went unnoticed, because the receptionist didn’t look up until I was just a few steps away. I smiled weakly and said something to the effect of, “I think this needs to get looked at” while pulling away the now very blood-soaked towel. At that moment, everything unraveled.

A small arteriole decided it had had enough and proceeded to burst forth, each heartbeat pumping a nice little jet of blood out, which I could just discern out of the corner of my eye. Needless to say, I was making a right mess of the place. The receptionist calmly responded by fainting. I have no idea how one becomes a receptionist at an ER while having issues with blood, but somehow this poor woman did.

So now I was standing there in that antiseptic-white reception room, bleeding quietly to myself, with an unconscious receptionist behind the counter and my mom out in the parking lot still dealing with two panicky little kids. I had a major “Oh God” right then and there. Fortunately, at that point, someone else of better intestinal fortitude came out and saw what was going on, and got me rushed back into an exam room.

I got 32 stitches and now the scar is barely visible as a minor line right above my eyebrow.


62. Infamous Last Words

I was a new nurse cleaning up a deceased patient. I went to turn her over and she let out a horrendous groan. Did know you could force air over the vocal cords of a cadaver? I did not, and I almost pooped myself in my scrubs.


63. A Flesh Wound

I was working in the trauma unit one morning when I got an emergency call over the radio about somebody with arterial neck bleed from an unknown injury. Prior to arrival, I called down the surgeons and we all gowned up and were waiting for him in the critical bay. So in rolls this old guy with a 4×4 of gauze on his neck just sitting there, and EMS just rolling him in on a gurney.

Clearly in no distress. So we’re assessing the guy and looking him over, half of the surgeons looking at me trying to figure out why I called them down. I remove the gauze… nothing obvious.. maybe a small dot of blood… but really nothing. So all of us are leaning in to get a better look, and all of a sudden one super thin stream of blood streaks out of this guy’s neck all the way across the room and hits the wall.

All of us jumped back and half of us screamed. We all stood there looking at each other for a second before we all started laughing. Apparently this guy had been picking at something on his neck and hit a superficial arterial vessel. Scared the heck out of me!


64. A Parting Gift

Hospice pharmacist here. Pharmacy school never really prepared me for hospice care in general. Overall, I love my patients and their families, and I have become very close to them. Once, I had a patient who had a daughter in her mid-20s and we all loved to sit in his room with his family. They were so friendly and loving.

A few days into his stay, the patient asked me what I depended on my dad to tell me when I was younger. I told him that I needed my dad to educate me on a bunch of car stuff, money decisions; you know, basic dad things. A few days later, he gave his daughter a heartbreaking gift. It was a book of things she needed to know for when he was gone. I still think of that family to this day.


65. Man Vs. Machine

My dad was observing a surgery during his residency several decades ago, just when electronic monitors were becoming a huge deal. He noticed the patient’s fingertips and lips were blue and tried to tell the surgeon, who informed him the patient was fine because the machines showed normal oxygen and blood pressure.

Dad responded by jumping on top of the patient and performing CPR while someone had the common sense to rush them to the ER. Best part is that a representative from the company that made the machines was there to observe this miserable failure.


66. A Leg Up

We had a patient who was homeless and taken to our ER. During that time, we found out that he had stage 4 metastatic cancer with only a few weeks or months left to live. Our unit was a short-term stay unit, so we kept the guy. At the time, he had been off his anti-psychotic medications and we needed to restart them. But…it was a tough transition.

For a short time, we had to take away his prosthetic leg because he would throw it at anyone who walked in the room. We, of course, made sure he got up and around with a wheelchair, but never in school did they tell me a prosthetic leg may be used against you.


67. An Honest Mistake

I have a friend who is a doctor. He was doing a rectal examination using a camera, and all he could see was crazy psychedelic colors in this patient’s rear. He was completely freaked out…Then he looked down and saw he’d pushed his tie in with the camera.


68. Sugar Pie Honey Bum

I did not know that a rectal prolapse can be treated with sugar. Depending on the extent of the prolapse, surgery is usually the only option. But one rudimentary method for a non-surgical repair is just putting sugar on it. Pouring sugar on it draws fluid out by simple principles of fluid dynamics—salt would also work, but that would be quite masochistic.

This shrinks the prolapse so it is easier to place back and also less painful for the patient. So, well, that is how I found myself opening a handful of sugar packets into a cup for a doctor at 2 am as an undergrad while working in an emergency room.


69. Let Me Introduce Myself

As a doctor, I’ve gone into the wrong room and started talking to the patient before, only to realize it’s the wrong one after a bit. But probably worse than that is walking in and completely forgetting who the patient is and why they’re in there. I just keep conversation going until I casually pull out my notes. Sounds awful, but easy to do when you’ve been up 25-30 hours and are following 15+ patients to remember each detail.


70. Mind Games

I cared for a patient who had gallbladder issues. About three days into his stay, he complained of bugs in his room. Then his tragic history came out. We weren’t aware that he was an alcoholic and withdrawal was setting in—his intake interview records simply listed: “Sometimes a few drinks after work.”

The patient threatened everyone who approached him, and he refused all meds including the sedatives which are used to treat withdrawals. Soon, he moved his roommate’s bed (with the roommate in it) to the room’s closed door and barricaded them both inside the room. The roommate was quite ill, had IVs running, and needed a breathing treatment.

I was really worried about both of them as that kind of withdrawal can be life-threatening. We were all totally clueless about how to deal with this. Security had started trying to break through the door, but that was only making the patient more agitated and more of a threat to his roommate.

We were a teaching hospital, so a psych resident was sent to the unit. The resident was young and I did not have much confidence in his ability to be useful. He ordered all personnel to be quiet and started to talk to the withdrawal patient through the door. Within 10 minutes, the patient had opened the door to the resident.

Within another 10 minutes, he let staff in to care for his roommate and accepted sedation for himself. Since then, I have great respect for the skill of a trained practitioner of psychology.


71. A Swing And A Miss

I had a biopsy done on my neck by an ear, nose, and throat specialist. It went horribly. He jabbed it in just below my ear, then wiggled the huge needle around, took it out, put it back in, wiggled it around…just awful. I was left with an enormous yellow and green bruise all over my neck. The results were inconclusive. But it gets worse.

A month later, I went to see a really old doctor. He pushed on the spot in question. “Is this the bump you’re concerned about?” “Yes, that’s it.” “That’s your second vertebrae. That guy tried to do a biopsy on it?” “What? Yeah…” “What an idiot, sorry.”


72. It Hits The Fan

From the reverse perspective, my family tends to entertain the ER with emergencies nobody expects. One time, I gave myself a concussion and whiplash—from a ceiling fan. I broke it on my skull, knocked myself out for like 30 seconds, and then had migraines nonstop for eight days. Surprise, ER! So many people in the ER kept stopping by to ask me my story and laugh about it like, “Now I’ve seen everything!”


73. Doing More Damage Than Good

My father is an ER doctor. One day, an old woman comes in with a headache. Attending sees her, sends her home with some Advil. You can tell where this is going. She comes back two days later with a stroke and chest pain. It is a massive stroke, so they get her on blood thinners right away. They send her in for a CAT scan, to check out her brain.

On the scan, they notice something odd. Do another scan: her aorta has almost completely dissected. This is the most blood-filled, high-pressure artery in the body, and blood thinners are the absolute last thing that an aortic dissection patient should be given. Commence freak out. They wheel her into emergency surgery to repair the aorta, but by then she’s bleeding profusely.

Her heart stops shortly thereafter. Luckily, my father never personally prescribed the blood thinners, but apparently, that was a real “Oh, God” moment. Her condition was fatal either way, but it was not a good day.


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74. If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Break It

Patient here. One time, one of my nurses didn’t know how to give me my new medication. It was an Epi-Pen, and honestly, they’re not that hard to administer, but she and the other nurses were playing around with it outside trying to figure it out. That’s when the worst happened. They accidentally set it off—a $1,500 pen of allergy medication.

The doctor was NOT too pleased, and the nurse even tried to lie her way out of it, saying the pen was “defective.” My dad had to tell the doctor the truth. I was sitting there, half finding it hilarious, and half super angry because I’d been waiting for the medication for four days and then had to wait even longer.


75. Dirty Little Secret

When I was a nursing student, I was on surgery practicum. We had a guy in who needed an elbow repair. I was pretty useless in everything but emotional support, as I wasn’t qualified, so was chatting to him before he went under. He admitted to having an (un)healthy substance habit. I informed the surgeon, who shrugged it off. This was a big mistake.

Apparently, I should have told the anesthetist, because this dude woke up mid-surgery and was trying to reach for his open arm that the surgeon was working on. Super “Oh God” moment as we scramble to contain this guy’s arm and stop it from touching anything sterile.


76. Words Of Wisdom

In hospice, if you whisper “It’s OK, you can go. I will take care of your family” to someone who is “active” (actively passing), they pass a lot faster and more peacefully. Hugging the primary caregivers and telling them “You did such a good job” can also really help them positively process what’s happening.


77. Ignorance Isn’t Bliss

Former medical student here. I remember one young patient, 22 years old, was re-visiting the ER, where he’d been seen six weeks prior for sustaining some abrasions and bruises after falling hard off a skateboard. He was all scraped up everywhere but had healed up OK. But now he’s in the ER again, feeling awful sick and vomiting.

As the third year med student, I was dispatched to the bedside and hung up the CT films on the lightbox, to much finger-pointing and grunting among the surgeons. I had no idea how to read a CT at the time—I wasn’t even really sure what part of the body had been scanned. So when the surgical resident barked “Prep him for surgery,” I decided to disguise my ignorance and just go for it.

We got him gassed and prepped and I scrubbed in. The surgeon said “Open.” That’s where it all started to go wrong. First, I had to be told what we were doing: The Kocher maneuver, where you basically move the intestines to expose what you want to get it. By now, everyone knows I’m not with it, but they watch me do it anyway.

I slid my gloved hand up, getting ready to grab the entire sack of intestines and move it up and over—but I met unexpected resistance. I peered up, seeing in my confusion that everyone was edging away from the table. “What’s the trouble young man, get your hand up there and complete the maneuver! Push harder!” A spongy sort of barrier gave way with a sickening stench.

Suddenly, a gushing cascade of grey-brown, bloody pus roared out of the incision, soaking my gown, scrub pants, and shoes before splattering on the OR floor and walls. The guy had a splenic abscess, as I just found out. After that, the other doctors cleaned it up and mostly cured it. The attending finished up and the patient was good as new. I had to throw out my shoes.


78. Things Fall Apart

Nurse here. You learn everything about the human body in school. Anatomically, physiologically, you know it all. However, you don’t learn about the real emotional side of health care until you actually get out there. I had a patient who was depressed and got into a physical altercation. The county jail brought him to our hospital for complaints of chest pain.

He was a sweet guy. He was a lawyer many years ago, and during a case where gangs were involved, the group he was prosecuting shot up his law office and killed his assistant. He had a psychological break. He lost his law license and started hanging with the wrong crowd. He had no family, so he was basically all alone. The guy’s lack of emotional stability resulted in him not being able to catch a break.

As it turned out, the chest pain was due to anxiety. His toxicology was clean, but he just couldn’t get himself out of this hole. I really felt bad for him. He lost everything and struggled to get himself into a good place. I did everything I could to see if I could get him transferred to a behavioral unit so he could get the help he needed, but the admitting doctor said he didn’t qualify.

I had to wake him up at three in the morning to tell him that he would be discharged and be going back behind bars. It was one of the hardest things I had to do. It was even harder than telling a family member their loved one wasn’t going to make it and they should say goodbye.


79. Lending A Hand

I was observing a hand surgery about a year ago at a teaching hospital. The surgeon was removing one of the carpals, which are the bones near the base of the hand, to be used later. A nurse was given the carpal to hold until it needed to be used. She ended up dropping the patient’s bone right on the ground. The surgeon was not happy.


80. His Cup Spilleth Over

I was still in nursing school at the time this happened and I worked as a nurse’s aide overnights. I had been taking care of this really lovely old guy, and we had some great conversations. He was “with it” and doing well. In the morning, he had told me that he hadn’t slept well and was really looking forward to getting coffee from the cafeteria people.

Later that day, his call light went off and I went to check on him. When I opened the door, he said, “I think I spilled my coffee.” When I realized what it really was, the blood drained from my face. I turned on the light and there was poop everywhere. All over him, all over the walls, a bit on the ceiling, all over the bed, and on the floor. He was holding his cup of coffee, which also had poop all over it, and he was just looking at me.


81. A Seed Of Truth

My uncle is a respirologist, and he was supervising lung surgery to remove a tumor. Well, when they opened the guy up, they all went white as a sheet. Turns out, the so-called “tumor” was actually a root ball. Some type of seed had gotten into the patient’s lungs and started to grow. No one had ever seen anything like it before.


82. Sic Transit Gloria

Actually, pretty much everything I saw and did when working in oncology was new to me after medical school. It was the most amazing, rewarding, messed up, and emotional thing I’ve ever done. One day, I was leaving work for two weeks of holidays and said goodbye to my patient who I’d been looking after for the last week.

Both of us knew it was the last time we would see each other, as he wouldn’t last two weeks. I can’t even explain how much it affected me. He didn’t want to pass and he was an absolute legend. That was four years ago. I think of him all the time; he was stopping treatment a few days after my holidays and going home to have a party with his buddies from the soccer club.


83. No Laughing Matter

I had an ingrown toenail, and it was supposed to be a quick fix. I was 14 and had my mom in with me. They let an apprentice do the surgery, and suddenly he goes “Oh God.” The doctor in charge just laughed and said “No risk, no fun.” Turns out they messed up my toe, and I had to have four more surgeries to correct it. I cried.


84. Choose Your Words

We are taught to explain to patients exactly what we are doing, as we are doing it, so delicate wording becomes important during female pelvic exams. Instead of, “Okay, I am going to place the speculum inside now, so you’ll just feel some warm pressure,” my buddy—who was new at this—ended up saying “Okay, I’m going inside you now.”

The female patient responds, “No thanks, I already have three children.”


85. A Win For Once

Fifth-year resident here. There are lots of bad moments throughout training, but I do have one positive “Oh God” moment. This patient had a kidney tumor. We made a big incision, and my attending and I are dancing around the aorta and vena cava. I was expecting that we’d need to cut and clamp the vena cava to get all the cancer out.

But my attending literally squeezes the tumor out of the vena cava and back into the renal vein and then has me tie it off. It was incredible, and incredibly rare to be able to do. The patient went home in like four days and is still doing great. First time I felt like “Oh man, I’m a surgeon.”


Doctor oh God noUnsplash

86. A Real Tear-Jerker

I’m not a doctor, but a pharmacy technician. About a year ago, a young woman who came in was very upset. She turned in a prescription for a bunch of anti-anxiety and anti-psychosis medications. All was going well until I realized we were out of one of them. I had to tell her that I needed to order it for the next day. She was OK with it at first, but then I saw the rage flooding her eyes.

I asked her if she was OK and she said yes, so I continued typing up the prescriptions. The next thing I knew, she began crying. She started telling me that she was just released from a psych ward and she had tried to harm herself a couple of weeks back. She rolled up her sleeves and her arms were covered in deep cuts. She began to ask me if I thought she would ever get re-accepted to nursing school.

Apparently, they kick you out if you get admitted to the hospital for psychological symptoms. I had no idea what to tell her except that I hoped she got in and that if she worked hard, they should give her a chance. I know this all may sound shallow, but I was not prepared for this. Nothing in pharmacy tech training told me how to react.


87. A Rude Awakening

I was having surgery on my breast to remove what they suspected was cancer. I woke up during the surgery and I looked up and saw four people with scrub caps on, staring down at me. I looked at my boob in pure horror, and that is all I remember because they knocked me back out. Still makes me want to vomit thinking about it.


88. Cat’s Cradle

When you have to euthanize a 91-year-old woman’s ancient cat who belonged to her husband; then, when you set the cat on the hospital blanket, you ask the sweet old woman who lost her husband and daughter in the same month, “Would you like your blanket back?” And she answers with tears in her eyes, “I just want my family back.” No, it doesn’t get easier.


89. Caught Red-Handed

My husband went in for a routine colonoscopy and as they were prepping him, the anesthetist asks him if he’s a ginger. My husband tells him, “Yeah.” When he was a kid growing up, he had fire engine red hair, though it’s faded to a more strawberry blonde now. The anesthetist laughs and says, “Okay, I gotcha, we’ll give you the redhead dosage.”

He then winks. Well, my husband thinks it’s funny…until he wakes up at the tail end of the procedure and the doctors are just chatting it up. Turns out, it’s not a joke and redheads have some type of natural block to anesthesia. The doctor had given him the maximum allowable dosage and he still woke up. It could have gone so much worse.


90. Cruel To Be Kind

Before practicing, I use to think death was the worst possible outcome. After working in the ICU for 10 years, I feel as though the staff is sometimes forced to prolong life despite the morality of it. I would even go as far as to say we put patients through long, arduous torment and suffering. For example, I took care of this patient in a neurosurgical ICU that had a massive brain aneurysm that ruptured.

He came to the hospital and went straight to the operating room to remove large parts of the skull to allow for his brain swelling. Weeks went by and the patient never recovered. The patient only had some minimal reflexes. He was basically unresponsive—he couldn’t move any of his extremities. However, the patient was not clinically brain dead.

Despite many meetings between the healthcare staff and the family about the severity of the injury and the 0% chance of the patient having a meaningful recovery, the family decided that they wanted us to do all that we could to sustain his life. It all went wrong in the worst ways. Over three months of being in the ICU, the patient developed huge bed sores from not being able to be turned due to his critical injuries.

He also developed necrotic appendages in his feet, ears, hands, and nose as well as worsening swelling of the brain. It became so prominent that the patient’s head incisions started to split open. Eventually, multi-organ failure set in and he ended up passing via a slow, painful end. Such a horrible situation, and one that I regret to this day.


91. Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls

I had a hysterectomy a week ago, and I begged the nurse for four hours while in recovery to please take the catheter out because it was painful and I felt like I had to pee. She kept telling me it was a normal catheter sensation, and I know that that’s at least part of what was going on, but it felt like my bladder was going to burst. I just didn’t know how bad it would get.

About 10 minutes after she obviously begrudgingly took it out, I paged another nurse to help me go to the bathroom. She was in the middle of telling me it might take 20 minutes or multiple trips to pee because it’s usually just sensation from the catheter making you think you have to pee—when I unleashed an absolute waterfall of urine.

I don’t know if it was clogged, not put in right, or if I’m just weird and somehow my body wasn’t going to relax enough to let me urinate through the catheter. I really wished she would have pulled it without making me wait four hours.


92. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

I was a psych nurse for nearly two years, and honestly, we learn very little about psychology in school. The clinical lessons were basically useless, so there was a lot I had to learn as I went…like how to stay calm when you’re cutting a pillowcase off someone’s neck that they tried to hang themselves with, or how to deal with a psychotic teenager who’s bigger than you punching holes in the drywall and then using the pieces as weapons.

Or what to do when you walk into the dark day room at 3 am to find your patient perched on top of the giant TV near the ceiling like he’s schizophrenic Batman. Yeah, there was never a dull day.


93. Pobody’s Nerfect

I have a coronary heart issue. I once watched a video of my surgery, as they are used as teaching tools at Baylor, and I convinced someone to let me see. At one point the surgeon, while holding my half-heart in his hand, says “Oops!” I couldn’t pick out the mistake, but it certainly freaked me out at the time. I still think about that.


Doctor oh God noUnsplash

94. Ice Cold

A resident at my nursing home had hemorrhoids, and they were reportedly bleeding at the beginning of my shift. I called in some medicine for her, but it didn’t come in that night. When I checked on her, she seemed fine, so I assumed she could wait. I passed the information about the situation to the next shift and went home. That was a big mistake, apparently.

I got called into the office the next day and my boss yelled at me about it. I followed protocol and charted the situation accurately, so I was super confused about what the problem was. They then asked me, “Why didn’t you just put an ice cube in her?”…WHAT. “An ice cube?” I exclaimed. “Yes,” they said, “Didn’t you learn that in school?” Ummm no…


95. Odd Anatomy

I’m a biomedical scientist, and my officemate was a medical doctor working on his PhD. He once did an appendectomy and cut into this person’s abdomen—only to find no appendix. He started freaking out. The support nurses in the room, however, started snickering at him because they knew right away what the problem really was.

Occasionally, they see someone with a rare genetic disorder where all their left-right asymmetries are reversed. This patient’s appendix was on the other side.


96. The Rear View

Nurse here. A very panicked nursing assistant came running to the desk one day, saying, “You have to see this! I don’t know what this is!” She then brought me into a private room where she was giving the patient a bath. She pointed to an area on the patient’s buttocks. “What is that?” I leaned in for a closer inspection, and my face went white.

The patient then started to turn back around and said, “IS THAT MY EYE?!” Sure enough, my patient had a prosthetic eye that came out of the socket at some point and it became suction-cupped to her buttock. I left the room and had never laughed so hard in my life. Truly one of the most bizarre and hilarious moments in my career.


97. A Slip Of The Hand

I was the patient, and it was a kidney biopsy. I was pretty out of it, but still awake so they could talk to me, laying on my stomach as my kidney doctor worked behind me. He warned me, “You’re going to hear a click and it will feel like Mike Tyson punched you in the back.” “Ooookayy?” I hear, click, feel the punch, then hear, “Oh, GOD. Get on the phone now.”

A nurse came up near my face to calm me, and maybe keep an eye on me. I don’t really remember everything. Apparently, the doctor had nicked a blood vessel, and I was bleeding internally at an alarming rate. I got to spend the night in the hospital and peed what seemed like pure blood for about 24 hours. Never try to fit your kidney biopsy in on a Friday before the doctor leaves for vacation.


98. All Eyes On Me

Medical school didn’t teach me how to put a fake eye back in. A patient came in from a not-so-nice nursing home with a multitude of problems, one of which was a disgusting, draining fake eye that had to be removed for treatment. Upon discharge, we had to put it back in. Simple enough…or so we thought. We had no idea how to do it and struggled to figure it out.

I suppose that is why the nursing home staff never took it out to clean it in the first place. This was decades ago, though. Fake eye technology is probably much better today.


99. Feel My Pain

My friend had a horrible moment when he was going under the knife. Two minutes into surgery, the doctors noticed his pupils dilating or something. He said it was horrible, he could feel the scalpel cutting into his flesh, the agonizing pain, and the oxygen thing only gave him air every few minutes. They noticed he wasn’t under and fixed it. But then the dark truth came out.

Turns out, the anesthesiologist who put him under was his ex-girlfriend, though no one knew about it, and she likely did it on purpose. The surgery went well, the recovery was a bit longer than expected, but he’s all good now.


100. The Line Of Fire

I was in my first year of X-ray school at a community hospital in a mid-sized city. I didn’t even know what an enema was before one of the technologists asked me if I wanted to shadow and watch one get done on a 92-year-old lady. I said of course! I watched them help this little white-haired lady get onto the hard table with just a sheet under her.

I then acted super interested so as to look like a star student, but inside I was screaming. What a horrible and disgusting test! I’m so glad I was oblivious to gastrointestinal studies before deciding to go through with X-ray school—I might have decided on another career path. Somehow, though it got worse. No one told me not to stand in the line of fire when we rolled the teeny frail old woman onto her left side…

Let’s just say that I am glad I kept my mouth closed. I was quickly and very quietly guided out of the room, up to the showers, given scrubs to change into, and given the rest of the clinical day off scot-free. My $60 school clinical scrubs were a total loss and put in biohazard trash. I am pretty sure I showered for several hours following getting back to campus.


101. My Boss Is A Heartbreaker

I had a doctor that constantly ignored patients in serious pain, and it let to a serious “Oh God” moment that was also his comeuppance. He thought all of his patients were faking it to get painkillers. After a senior director at Microsoft died from a heart attack in our ER that he refused to do an EKG on, I went to management and told them what I had seen. He got fired the next day.


102. That’s No Scratch

I’m a nurse, but I was working in the ER when a guy came in for a scratch on his neck and “feeling drowsy.” We start the usual workups and this dude’s blood pressure TANKED. We scrambled, but he was dead within ten minutes of walking through the door. Turns out the “scratch” was an exit wound of a .22 caliber rifle round.

The guy didn’t even know he’d been shot. When the coroner’s report came back, we found that he’d been shot in the leg and the bullet tracked through his torso shredding everything in between. There was really nothing we could’ve done, but that was a serious “what the heck just happened” moment.


Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4,5, 6