Physicians Share Their Best "Is Anyone Here A Doctor?" Stories
Doctors - they're always on call even when they're not on duty. And thank goodness for that, because they're often needed at the most random times, like when someone goes into labor on an airplane or gets heat exhaustion in church. They're unsung heroes outside of the office; nurses and EMTs are too.
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
Hey kids, who wants to cut open dead people?
Last week. Camping with my son. Cub scouts. Miles from anywhere. Scout leader asks..."we need help. Is there anyone here that could be considered a first responder? That has medical training?"
Figured this was an alternative way of saying 'is there a doctor in the house.' Panicked. Because I'm a doc. But.... a pathologist. I do autopsies, look at biopsies. I'm, if you will, a last responder. I put up my hand because I still know more than a layman.
"Oh great, we need someone to talk to the Cubs about a job in the medical field as part of their medical badge. You in?"
So goddamned relieved...
Assistance, Mrs. Doubtfire style.
On a late night flight, around 4am or so. Lights out, dead silent. Out of nowhere a lady starts yelling "he's not breathing! he's not breathing!"
The guy on my window seat comes out of a dead sleep, leaps up and climbs over me before I even knew what was going on and ran back to the man.
A few minutes later I could feel the plane accelerate a little and the captain came on and said that LAX had cleared a path for us to land directly without delay. They guy was ok apparently because he was on my connecting flight to Denver.
TIL to use lukewarm water, not cold water, to alleviate heat stroke.
as out pheasant hunting with some people. Never hunted with them before. A couple of fields in everyone just kind of stops and looks down the line and there were a couple people yelling about a dog. Jogged over there and the owner of the dog was just kind of in shock saying, "Did he really just die?! How am I going to explain this to my daughter???"
I look over his feet and his yellow lab (who was a very good boy) is lying on his side stiff as a board. The owner thought that he was dead and that was the end of it. I realized that the dog was having a severe heat stroke and seizing. (Keep in mind it is somewhere around freezing out in that field and the dogs had been getting water.) I was then told that he had been stumbling around and started shaking before going stiff.
I had never seen a heatstroke this bad in a human and I definitely couldn't just pass the good boy off to higher care. Nearest vet was something like forty minutes away and the owner was not really the "vet" type.
Started treatment. That basically consisted of trying to cool the pupper down using water that was not too cool (if you cool them down too fast they can go into shock) and wrapping him in blankets soaked in this luke warm/luke cold water. It was kind of weird trying to get water through his waterproof coat while not letting the climate cool the water too much, but it worked.
All in all this poor pupper suffered about fifteen seizures in the span of about fifteen minutes. Once I got him stabilized, he started drinking water on his own and ended up recovering as much as you can after an episode like that.
PSA: Your dogs love you and will literally kill themselves if they think that would make you happy. Keep them hydrated and give them breaks! (Watch the movie Megan Leavey!) If your dog does stroke out, cool them down in a controlled manner and get them to a vet. It also wouldn't hurt to learn Canine CPR.
Another day, another "holistic medicine" disaster.
I was on a flight with my grandparents when the flight attendant got on the speakers and asked for any medical professionals to go to the back of the plane. Grandad was a surgeon, so that included him.
There was a lady who was very pale and had passed out on the flight. Turns out that she had a phobia of flying, and took some anti-anxiety medication before the flight. She also took a "calming blend" of tea from some holistic shop, and that had a bad reaction with the meds she took and made her blood pressure plummet, causing her to pass out. They got her stabilized (read: lots and lots of water) and she went to the hospital after the flight.
Don't mix meds and "holistic remedies", guys.
Two for the price of one.
Was at my stepsons baseball game (13 yr old kids). Infielder takes a line drive to the face, and drops to the ground. Our coach yells "Mike! Come quick". Other team's coach yells "Mike, we need you!". Two dads sprint onto the field, one from each dugout entrance. Both arrive to the player at the same tome and look up at each other and realize they both know each other. Both are orthopedic surgeons named Mike.
When you call for a doctor and the whole team comes running. Score!
My toddler had a seizure in an airport and stopped breathing, and I screamed for a doctor. I was answered first by a military EMT, then a doctor, several nurses, and finally a pediatrician. They got her breathing again and saved her life before the paramedics got there. The first doctor wouldn't let anyone near her unless they told him their medical credentials. The pediatrician was wearing the (emptied out, handed off to her husband) carrier for her own baby the entire time. They were all so kind and reassuring to me at my most terrifying moment.
Noted for when I have a seizure in a restaurant.
I was having dinner at a fancy restaurant when a guest at the next table had a seizure and collapsed to the floor. As it happens, I was having dinner with two orthopaedic surgeons, who both got up to help. They were soon relieved by a neurologist and an emergency medicine specialist who took care of the poor guy. He seemed to recover quickly and was probably fine.
LPT: if you're going to have a seizure in a restaurant, try to do it close to a national medical association conference.
This is why doctors and nurses can't treat family or friends - it's too emotional.
My mom was having lunch with her friend when she dropped and had a grand mal seizure. My mom is a nurse, has been a nurse for like 35 years, and is probably a great nurse, and she just screamed for help while it happened. Luckily her friend was fine but my mom, I've learned, is useless in emergency situations that don't involve strangers.
"But I'm on break" isn't something you'll hear from EMTs.
I walked out of my security office and at the top of the parking entrance I saw a 60ish lady on her back while a couple of people stood around looking panicked. I ran up: daughter: "My mom's having a heart attack!" I put the lady in the recovery position and she promptly puked on my shoes. "Ma'am, I'll be back in a second, okay?" I ran down to our Starbucks, where two EMS crews were taking a break, and walked in and quietly said, guys, I've got a lady outside I think is having a heart attack. They looked at me, at each other, and slowly got up, and we went outside; when they saw the lady, they went into over drive, getting equipment from the rescue ambulances and doing their magic. Guys, thanks. Sorry about the coffee break.
'Pardon me, I'm having a heart attack, brb.'
My FIL ( who is a doctor) had a heart attack while eating dinner with a friend who is also a doctor. They both recognized what was happening and rushed him to the car rather than wait on the ambulance. He drove him at high speed to the very close hospital where my FIL flatlined right after arriving. They got him back but if he had waited at the restaurant he would have most likely died due to the amount of time it would have took for the ambulance to get there.
Luck of the draw on this witness.
Witnessed a man hit by a motorcycle. A woman comes rushing out of traffic who was a nurse on her way home from the trauma ER close by. She asked me a complete stranger to go get her car and purse so she wasn't carjacked because she left if running in the middle of the road.
All that was missing was a cape.
I once saw a car accident happen and a woman in scrubs on a scooter pulled a u-turn, dumped the scooter in the ditch, pulled gloves out of her pocket and ran to the cars, all in one smooth motion. I swear to god I could see the cape flapping behind her and hear the swell of epic music.
The show must go on.
I was once one of those patients when this situation happened. Its kind of a dumb situation, but also pretty funny.
I once played Blanche in my university production of Streetcar Named Desire. I had had this pain throughout the day of a performance, but decided not to go to a doctor. Well about 30 minutes before the production I went to the bathroom and... peed blood. It was like it hit me at once, and I was so uncomfortable and had to pee every few minutes. I remember the weird sensation feeling so awful and constantly needing to pee. I told my director. Our entire production was student run, so we didn't exactly have an adult say, "hey! you should go to the doctor."
Instead, One of the other drama kids go on the mic and ask the audience if we had a doctor in the audience. When no one responded, one of our lighting techs came up to the booth and told us he was an EMT.
He took my blood pressure which was fine but he said we should call it off and send me to the doctor.
I was not about to have the entire show stopped for me. I told him I was feeling better and that maybe I just started my period and I didn't realize. I told them all it was just jitters.
We did the show and it turned out to be a pretty gnarly kidney infection.
Edit: I would also like to add, It was some of my best work too. Real easy to act like you are getting dragged off stage, and slowly going mad when it feels like there is a knife in you and you may pee your dress.
Not a doctor, but I broke my right radius playing soccer when I was 12. When I was down, a man who I'd never seen before had followed my mom after she came over. Turns out the dude was a doctor and his kid was on the opposing team. I didn't learn this til after the fact cause I was in hella pain, but the dude identified himself as a doctor to my mom and informed her that I had broken a bone and he told her it needed to be set. Fate be damned, this man set my arm on the side of the pitch in between a notebook splint tied together with socks. This happened out of town so I get to the ER the next day and after the xrays came back, they informed my mom that my arm had been set perfectly and if we hadn't told them my arm was broken they would've had a hard time knowing at all
Tldr-random man sets my broken wrist perfectly on the side of a soccer pitch.
Where were you born? 35,000 feet.
My aunt was in that situation. Someone on her long-distance flight was about to give birth, and she got to move up to first class to deliver the baby.
Gotta look tight for your wedding, no matter the cost.
Very first time, it was at my cousin's wedding.. the patient was his bride. So that was an interesting way to meet the new member of the family! Turns out she was just dehydrated/hypoglycemic from not eating all day.
Doc pulls double duty on flight and at restaurant.
Airplane to Vegas.
Woman had a blood sugar issue according to the flight attendant afterward. I just told her I was very happy to see their professionalism at work in a crisis.
The doc and crew got the woman stable and we were given priority to Vegas, the pilot basically floored it.
Which got us into Las Vegas way early, early enough to get into Hash House a Go-Go with a reservation.
A bit after we ordered 2 ladies are standing there screaming. Great, happy mothers day....
Except they were shaking a small kid upside down. I got up and moved closer
Little girl was turning colors she shouldn't and not doing well, so I reached in and took her away, felt for sternum and pulled, no luck, so I lifted HARD and she was soon screaming for Momma.
So, the need for a doctor on a flight saved a little girl several hours later.
Mothers Day 2012.
And, free breakfast.
Little girl last seen eating a giant strawberry when I stopped by to thank her parents for paying our bill. She was NOT a fan of mine and I am OK with that.
This isn't the same thing, but several years ago I was at a Med school graduation and the woman announcing the names fainted. When it was clear she was fine, one of the other faculty members asked on the microphone, "Is there a doctor in the house?" and got some big laughs.
There's nothing Costco doesn't offer.
One time I was at Costco with my aunt, who is an RN, and she helped deliver a baby in the bathroom. It was wild.
Seriously, why are paper fans still necessary in church?
My Father in Law is a doctor. On two occasions in church I have seen him help a little old lady who collapsed from heat stroke. He says it's happened five times.
All were fine, the pastor literally didn't even stop his homily as the woman was carried out to the hallway for my FIL to look at her.
My take away is that the church needs to install an AC.