Human bodies are complex and amazing, and often just plain weird. There are many extremely rare ways that things can go wrong (or surprisingly right).
Reddit user u/Piperjamas asked about these rarities:
*Content warning: graphic medical descriptions*
I'm a speech therapist/ speech language pathologist. I was a student when I saw a person who had fallen 30 feet through a disused factory roof. They had skull fractures, multiple strokes, multi organ trauma and multiple spinal fractures and had a tracheotomy.
I was there to assess speech and review eating and drinking. Reading their notes I imagined there would be serious issues.
They were able to eat and drink with only slight texture modifications. They could speak using a speaking valve and had no aphasia (problems with understanding or finding words) or dysarthria (unclear speech). They seemed slightly amused and bored of my assessment- took my notebook and pen and wrote "I can write too" in flawless handwriting and handed it back.
I finished placement not long afterwards but they were expected to make a full recovery!
Husband is a doctor and one night came how with a surreal look on his face. He had been seeing a patient for a bit and noticed that although in his mid 20s, had few signs he went through puberty. The patient didn't mind his state all too much but my husband believes that medicine should improve your life, not just keep it going. So, on a shot-in-the-dark hunch to simply improve a patient's life, my husband sent him for an MRI.
The patient had a previously benign and now malignant brain tumor suppressing the part of the brain that controls puberty. The shot-in-the-dark effort to see why the patient hadn't gone through puberty by late 20s led to a very early brain tumor detection.
He was still a resident, he couldn't believe how much a hunch made a difference one person's life.
Not rare, actually the opposite, but something we don't see too often. I had a patient with early stage pregnancy and some minor bleeding. I did ultrasound and saw normal fetus but no heartbeat and told her that it was likely due to pregnancy just being at an early stage. I checked her ovaries and told her that I could print a picture of the fetus. I moved the scan back to the fetus and there was a clear heartbeat. During the minute or so that I was scanning the ovaries the heart started to beat.
I'm a nurse, and this happened at the hospital I work at, in the car park.
A staff member got out his car and it started rolling, he reached in to pull the handbreak. From where I was sitting in my car I didn't notice anything other than the car move, and the guy jump back in his car. A few minutes later a lady walks by and starts screaming.
Turns out he had been pinned half inside his car by his car door, as his car had rolled towards the car next to him. He was unconscious, blue, not breathing.
A bunch of us tried breaking into the car next to him to move it, and eventually when there was about 20 of us we actually managed to push his car back enough for ppl to pull him out.
Luckily this happened at a hospital so the crash team had already been called. They did CPR. He lived.
I was a paramedic and I came to a scene where I had a patient who was talking to me, but he had NO blood pressure, and no detectable pulse. I couldn't even hear his heartbeat with a high quality stethoscope.
They dumped a few bags of fluid in him in the ED before they were barely able to get a BP on him.
We give an antibiotic called Rocephin very frequently for patients diagnosed with a UTI. The only complication I've ever seen from it is vomiting if it's pushed too fast.
I had a patient transferred to me from our urgent care side who had walked in fairly healthy, but complaining of UTI symptoms. They had tested his urine, diagnosed him with a UTI, given Rocephin, and were planning on discharging him home with oral antibiotics. We still don't know completely what happened, but this is our best guess.
We think he had a gram negative infection that reacted to the Rocephin by "lysing". The bacteria essentially exploded and raced through his body putting him into almost instant septic shock. He had to be intubated and put on blood pressure medications to keep his BP high enough to perfuse his organs. His temp went from 98.6 to 104 in under an hour. A central line was placed because we kept running out of IVs to give medications. He was transferred to an ICU.
I have never before visited a patient of mine in the ICU, but because of his drastic decline, I had to see him and know how he was doing. I cleared it with the ICU charge and visited him 2 days later. He was extubated and walking almost on his own. One of the fastest declines and recoveries I've ever seen.
Happened to a patient of my physio.
Guy comes in and swears he tore his ACL. Physio does a test, yup doesnt seem like there's an ACL there. Guy goes to an orthopedic surgeon. Surgeon checks it. Nope, no ACL. Sends him to get an MRI for surgery. MRI shows he **does** have an ACL. Its in tact. No need for surgery.
So guy starts rehab with physio. He still thinks his knee feels weak, like there's no ACL. Rehab goes on and it doesnt get better. Same issues persist. The guy has been conferring with the surgeon this entire time and they agree to do a surgery to scope out the ACL and see if something was missed. Once the surgeon's scope is in the knee, he pokes at the ACL. ACL is completely loose because the bone has avulsed off, but otherwise it goes back to the same place so it *looks* like its intact.
This is a true moment straight out of house md. it both illustrates how dumb luck can determine whether we live or die and how well trained and observant some professionals are. As a neurologist i was rotating with once was walking to the parking lot through the emergency department and one of the er docs stopped him and asked him to do a quick looksy on a lady he was about to discharge home (we called these drive-by consults).
This woman had some vague, non-specific complaints like headache and passing dizziness but nothing out of the ordinary and all tests in the er came back negative so she was waiting for discharge.
neurologist spends 5 minutes with her, comes back and says admit this woman and do a stat mri of her brain. he noticed an extremely subtle vertical nystagmus of her eyes. a nystagmus is basically a repetitive, uncontrolled movement of your eyes which can have dozens of causes. a horizontal nystagmus is what you'll see 99.9% of the time and it's usually benign in origin. vertical nystagmus, on the other hand, is a stroke in your cerebellum until proven otherwise.
They sent the woman to mri which showed infarcts in both sides of her cerebellum and she was in neurosurgery the next morning. if it weren't for that drive-by she would have been sent home and probably died overnight.
A few people have pointed out that if she had surgery the next day and could have died overnight why did she not pass away at the hospital? answer is that non-surgical treatment also began as soon as she was admitted.
Not a doctor but an RN. I worked high-risk labor &delivery for 15 years and I've seen LOTS of odd stuff (Potter's syndrome, tetrology of fallot, anacephalus, yada, yada.) I had 3 mom's deliver babies that all had transposition of the great vessels, where the heart vessels grow 'backwards'. All within a 3 week period and all families lived within a 5-mile radius. Too uncanny. We had no research department, so I contacted the epidemiology program at our local medical university for the research opportunity. You might be lucky to see 1 in a lifetime, but 3 in 3 weeks is phenomenally weird.
Was operating on a pregnant lady that came in having been shot in the belly. OB delivered the kid through our incision and the baby had a perfect line across his shoulder where the bullet had grazed him. He was totally fine and didn't need stitches. Mom lived too.