Doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other medical professionals see all sorts of things while on the job. Perhaps among the more frustrating situations for medical professionals is when someone comes in for treatment... well after the time they likely should have.
After Redditor catcrazylover asked the online community, "What have been your 'WHY DIDN'T YOU COME IN SOONER?' moments?" doctors, nurses, and the like weighed in with their experiences.
"Called to a patient..."
Former medic here. Called to a patient who had cut their leg while chopping wood about a week prior and now it was really itchy. Old gentleman, didn't drive, lived alone. Got to his house, unwrapped the ungodly swollen leg to find that he'd tried to superglue the wound closed and maggots had commenced to growing inside. The itching he was feeling was the writhing maggots under his skin.
"I have a million of these."
Imaging guy here. I have a million of these, I work with vascular patients and wounds. Had a guy whose foot was completely broken sideways at the ankle. he had it still wrapped from when he left the hospital. He would use the stumpy part to move around on his wheelchair and leave little blood sponge prints on the floor.
Another guy with bad ankle and foot wounds decided to stop going to wound care, and was afraid to take the wraps off even after his foot started to stink. By the time I saw him his skin had kinda liquified.
Earlier on in my career I saw a guy with necrotizing wounds to both legs that had eaten to muscle in multiple places below the knee. I asked him how long they looked like that and he said about two years. Next time I saw him he was bilateral above knee amp.
Stump wounds. Just... Stump wounds.
Take care of your feet people. If you're diabetic and can't feel the bumps and scrapes please check your feet regularly.
"He couldn't believe..."
Guy came in with a dead leg. Waited until it turned black and then decided to head to the ER. They tried an angiogram to open up blood flow but it was way late for that. Guy had several clots in his lungs and legs. Undiagnosed atrial fibrillation. He couldn't believe we were going to amputate, kept asking me what else I could do.
Go back in time a week ago and come in. Kinda around when it turned blue.
"On the upside..."
Years ago as a nursing assistant on an oncology floor we had a guy admitted because he had had an erection for several days and had lost the ability to pee. His bladder was close to bursting and his poor junk was... think microwaved hotdog. Really bad.
But NONE of that was as interesting as the fact that this guy had untreated skin cancer on his nose for several years that had over time become infected, developed MRSA, and spread across his face. He had no nose, no cheek, and no eye on one side of his face, and was starting to lose his other eye. You could see part of his skull. I dont know why he chose to leave it untreated and I have no idea how long it took to get that bad, but I will never ever forget the smell and texture of his rotting face.
On the upside, we were eventually able to convince him to have reconstructive surgery. He ended up getting a skin graft that covered up his eye, nose and cheek. So, if you ever meet a very grumpy dude with nothing but a mouth and one eye, know that this is way better than the alternative.
"This happens all the time..."
This happens all the time.... People have a big stroke at home and can't move an entire side of the body. They wait several days thinking it's a flu or something. Nope, not the flu.... Just a large clot in the brain that could have been reversed if you came in right away.
"Came into our clinic..."
This has happened a few times, actually...
But I had a gal come in on Monday after being discharged from the hospital Friday after giving birth.
So basically, we tell ladies to avoid intercourse until a doctor clears you, and well, her spouse kept insisting and insisting and insisting that Friday night she caved and let him go to town. He wound up tearing some stitches that were placed and bleeding like a stuck hog all weekend long.
Came into our clinic, blue in the lips and fingers, and her hemoglobin was 4 (normal should be 12 - 15).
She didn't wanna be a bother, so she waited until she started feeling dizzy all the time. She got another trip to the hospital for transfusion and repair for that.
But...like I said, this isn't the first time I've seen that, so for the love of God...if homeboy is begging for it after you just had a baby, maybe he needs a lesson in self control and a bottle of moisturizer.
Had a patient that had a growth on her head, but she was too embarrassed to go to the doctor over it, so she just kept coming and spraying her hair to hide it.
Growth got larger and larger and larger until one day she felt a pop. She didn't want her family to know about it, so she just continued to comb and spray her hair to hide it.
Until one day she said she had a funny sound in her ears, and she could hear something moving.
That's right. She could hear something moving.
Finally comes in, upon assessment in the ER they look at her head first, not her ears, because there was a very noticeable odor, that's when they discover maggots. Live maggots crawling inside of wound bed on her head with a disgusting odor. One MRI later and she's on my unit, where we have to start picking the maggots out of the wound and count them.
She ended up buying herself a "Washout" where they take her to the OR and clean and debride the wound, which tunneled from the top of her skull down along her head and just into her skull near her ear. The one good thing about the maggots though, was that they had eaten a lot of the dead and decaying flesh, so even though there was a funky odor, she didn't have a super massive infection.
"As a medical student..."
I've seen a few over the years, and they generally fall into the category of 'If it's not diagnosed then I can't have it,' or 'I didn't think it was that bad.' As a medical student I remember an older lady that had a breast that was necrotic and falling off. It had been progressing over the last several years. But, if she didn't get diagnosed with breast cancer, then she couldn't have it. In the other category I've seen a few cases of Fournier's Gangrene. Pretty much obese, male diabetics that had a pimple/sore that started in the pubic region. By the time they come to the hospital it's a raging infection where the treatment is basically to cut away everything in the pubic/ groin region down to the muscle layer. That little sore didn't seem like much at first.
"Once had an older lady..."
Once had an older lady call in wanting a prescription for pain meds because she was sure she had shingles. Said her neighbor had them and she was sure that's what it was. She hadn't been in for an exam in almost 2 years, so the doctor asked that she come in to be evaluated before a prescription could be given. She refused and called again the next day asking for a prescription. This went on all week. Her calling for pain meds, the doctor asking her to come in to be seen. She finally agreed to make an appointment. It wasn't shingles. It was a skin ulceration from advanced breast cancer.
"A biopsy and PET scan later..."
We once had a patient who went to Emergency for abdominal pain and they discovered a fungating breast wound (don't image search that) that she'd had for two years and hadn't gotten medical attention for. A biopsy and a PET scan later she was diagnosed with breast cancer with extensive liver, lung and bone mets. This was also in Australia so it wasn't a money issue. Just sad.
"She had been dealing with abdominal cramps..."
A bit late to this, but the worst one I've seen was actually my own mother.
She had been dealing with abdominal cramps for a few weeks. They were bad enough to make her stop what she was doing and double over in pain. She refused to listen to people telling her to see a doctor. Eventually, the pain stopped, for about a week. Then it came back worse, accompanied by fever and nausea. It was at that point she finally went to see her pcp, where they immediately sent her to the ER in an ambulance. Her appendix had ruptured, most likely when the pain stopped the first time. It had been a week between rupture and when she sought treatment, and now she had sepsis.
She's fine now, but it was a close call.
"She was fine..."
Left a menstrual plastic cup in vagina, got stuck, decided to wait a month or more to come into the ER, it smelt like rotten flesh. She was fine, but people don't leave s*** up in your rectum or genitals for more than a couple hours. If you can't get it out at first, it won't be easier later.
One weekend I worked on ER ans the on-call urological surgeon told me about this 18 year-old kid who came in for a triple testicular torsion. The kid already went to the ER in another hospital, where they explained he had to undergo surgery to fix the problem. Kid didn't want to, and all his parents did was make fun of him. So on this day, the surgeon explains she has to go, or he could lose his testicle, kid still refuses and she ends up trying to do it without him under general anaesthesia, kid suffers like crazy and eventually accepts surgery. Turns out he waited too long and his testicle was already necrotic. 18 minus a testicle, because your parents mocked you and you couldn't listen to different doctors and nurses.
"To this day..."
We had a patient attempt to give himself Lasix surgery. Gouged his corneas with a scalpel. He waited a week before showing up at our office. By now, he had serious infections in both corneas, and endophalmitis because he actually punctured the globe. He was transferred by ambulance to a corneal specialist. He ended up being legally blind.
To this day, he claims our doctors blinded him by not treating him and transporting him to a specialist.
"They shift her..."
I got one.
Late to the party.
A lady found a lump on her breast, 39 years old, two kids, two years later has hip pain and can't walk.
They shift her bed to bed onto the ct machine, and pop.
Her hip had turned to dust on the transfer, it was a tumor that broke down.
Riddled with cancer.
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