Doctors Share Unbelievable Patient Stories That Made Them Think, "How Are You Still Alive"
The human body is capable of some amazing things normally when you consider everything required to keep us going daily. But every now and then you hear about someone who really beat the odds and survived the unsurvivable. Who better to share those stories than doctors?
Reddit user TheDestroyer asked, "Doctors of Reddit, what made you say 'how are you still alive'?"
Here are some of their stories.
When the Party's Over
I had a college student come into the unit on the night of their 19th birthday. They wanted to party, but had a test the next morning. One of their "friends" told them that if they took one Adderall for every drink that they had, they'd be sober by the morning. They had 15 shots and 15 20mg Adderall tablets.
If you were wondering, no, that does not make you sober. It does, however, make you rip off all your clothes in a hallway, spit at the nurse that is trying to help you, defecate all over everything, and then literally die. Luckily for them, they weren't dead for good. We got them back and they spent most of their sophomore year of college in a hospital, with a hole in their neck, learning how to walk again.
Be Still My Beating Heart
I had a guy with a Bowie knife sticking out of his chest. The knife was pulsating. I could literally count his pulse from across the room.
The Stories They Could Tell
I used to do elder care and was constantly amazed at some of the tough badasses I took care of.
Man - 99 - Once ate dinner with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Made sure to serve me ice cream as his wife of 73 years lay dying (I was caring for her, she was in a coma and on her last journey), because it was a warm afternoon and manners must be followed, regardless of circumstances. I tried to refuse, but...he's 99 with a dying wife. It was strawberry.
Woman - 96 - Was in the Nursing Corps in the Navy/Marines in WWII. She married a Marine. She told me, "I always like 'em rough and ready!" Her lecherous grin spread its icy fingers into my soul, and I had to laugh.
Woman - 101 - Tried to murder me with a clothes iron because dementia can change people into superheroes when they think the care aide is a stranger breaking into their house.
Woman - 96 - An atheist Jew from New Jersey, with the accent to boot. WWII Navy nurse. She would threaten spam callers with murder. Graphically. It was hilarious. She also had me pick up a package for her. Turns out, she gets her weed delivered. (from California)
A Century Plus 10%
Simply meeting someone who was 110 years old. (Wow!)
Thank Goodness There Weren't Any Fish
(Worked) in diagnostic imaging at a hospital and we had a man come in for an x-ray complaining of chest pain. His records showed his last visit was two years prior when he got drunk and fell into a fish tank, breaking it. ER stitched him up and sent him home. Fast forward two years, and we are all gathered around the computer screen looking at an X-ray that showed a 12 inch long piece of fish tank glass sitting in his chest, with his aorta resting right on top of it (it was on an angle running from his left shoulder down towards his right hip). There were other shards of glass too, but this one was the biggest. Emergency surgery happened right away.
Anesthesiologist here. A shotgun under the chin can completely remove a face and frontal lobe of the brain while leaving the patient very much alive.
Guy comes in with a bit of chest pain. tells me the big coronary artery on the front of the heart was 100% blocked. I tell him "who told you that?" he says his doctor did about 10 years ago. I don't believe him since patients never ever get any of the stuff their doctor tells them right. I let the cardiac surgeon know what this guy said and he too goes "haha 100%? so he's dead?"
If the biggest coronary artery is totally occluded and for 10 years no less, you are a dead man. Lo and behold...we get an angiogram and it was f'ing 100% occluded. The artery on the back of the heart made a connection with the front of the heart to pick up the slack. It was some lucky stuff.
Patient stabbed himself in the neck with a thermometer that pierced his trachea. Missed all the important arteries (carotids, vertebrals); just hit some minor nerves.
Good guy patient provided his own temperature reads until they removed the thermometer.
Just a Little More Time
About 20 years ago, I had a patient come in with obstruction of his colon by a large colon cancer. The cancer had spread to his liver, and CT scan showed the liver basically replaced by metastatic tumor. So he wouldn't die of intestinal obstruction (I won't go into detail, but trust me, it is a very unpleasant way to die) the patient, his family, and I decided to try placing an expandable metal stent through the tumor. It worked! His obstruction was relieved and he was able to go home to spend his last days with his family.
18 months later the patient came in for an office visit...for heartburn.. He was even more jaundiced than when I first met him, but he felt basically well and was eating well. The stent was still functioning. I never saw him again and assume he finally succumbed to his disease, but he got at least 18 months of precious and really GOOD time.
Not a doctor....but my best friends brother-in-law during the Superbowl was acting totally normal until about halfway through and started talking gibberish, walking into walls, taking all his clothes off, and generally being NOT himself.
It took about 5 EMT's to even get him in the ambulance because he was fighting them all off, and he continued to do so until they took him to the local hospital where he was put into a medically induced coma and airlifted to 'The Shit Is Real Hospital'. Turns out he had bacterial meningitis and he had been acting like that because his brain was had gotten so swollen.
Everyone was convinced he was going to die because of how severe it had gotten before he presented any symptoms. It took him weeks to recover, relearn how to talk, understand where he was, etc...but he did. He completely 100% recovered. Doctors think it was caused by a dog bite. Which I've never heard of...his wife and kids also tested negative thankfully.
Benefits of Obesity
I'm an ER nurse. Had a guy walk up to the front desk after hitting himself in the throat with a chainsaw.
All the flesh of his neck was flayed open. I could see his trachea and his right jugular vein. If he had cut in just a tiny bit deeper, he would have sliced right into both.
The only thing that saved him was that he was a big fat guy with a huge neck. A skinnier man would have died very unpleasantly.
They're Called Internal Organs for a Reason
I was in school to be a paramedic and I was doing my externship in an ER. A guy came in happily complaining about a sore on his belly that wouldn't heal. He was really pleasant and didn't seem to be in much pain. When he lifted his shirt, we could see his liver.
Guy had an argument with his girlfriend, wanted to leave the apartment. Instead of taking the door, was real angry and jumped off the balcony, fell down 40 feet directly on his heels on cement.
He ended up having an ankle sprain. I wondered how he managed previous issues in his life.
One for the Medical Books
Not a doctor : My grandfather had a heart attack . He went in for a simple stent in his heart. Hours go by and we hear code blue over the intercom. Doctor comes out to tell us his left ventricle has an inch and half tear in it. They had to transport him to another hospital ASAP. He died three times that night and went through 11 pints of blood. The surgeon successfully repaired the torn ventricle. They woke him up on my birthday and he sung me happy birthday. 3 weeks in Cardiac ICU my grandfather walked out. The surgeon told us for a man of 75 years to have lived through a left ventricle tear is unheard of. The doctor wrote a Journal on him as well. He's still alive today. He even got his hip replaced a year after.
Don't I Look OK?
Saw a guy with a machete lodged up into his skull. Asked him if he was OK (not sarcastically, just threw a generic question to check his ability to respond), he said "yup!"
A patient I took care of had a car fall on his face. He was underneath it working when it slid off of the jack. The only reason he survived was because he broke every bone in his face (he had a Lefort III) which allowed for his brain to swell (he also needed an additional surgery to relieve the pressure of cerebral edema, but the facial fractures did allow for a great deal of "give" in his skull). I was rotating through ICU so I first saw him just a day after the accident. His head was so swollen, he didn't even look human. Fast forward a few weeks later... I was rotating through a different unit in the hospital and came across the same patient. He was quickly recovering and had minimal neural deficits.
This End Up
Pathologist here: Had a guy who had died suddenly and unexpectedly. I soon learned he was the recipient of a lung transplant about 15 years prior.
When I opened the man up, his transplanted lung was upside down. I flipped the lung into the proper position, and bloop. It flipped right back to upside down. That was quite alarming. The surgeons who originally performed the transplant incorrectly attached the organ. When he by chance entered the correct position, the lung flipped over, causing his pulmonary artery to seal shut, resulting in his death.
The man lived for 15 years with a lung that was dying to flip upside down. And it was only by sheer chance he didn't move in such a way that allowed it to do so until the fateful day of his death. It is one of the most fascinating cases I have ever witnessed.