People Confess The Most Selfless Thing They've Done That No One Knows About
While the world is a dark and scary place, there would not be a world, or a human race, without inherent kindness.
Kindness always gives you a little thump to your heart that nothing else can truly provide. A rush of knowing you've made someone's day better. And you may change the trajectory of that person's life because of it.
To hear more of these kindnesses, for inspiration, Redditor slizsarbleh asked:
"What is something you've done purely out of the goodness of your heart, but have never told anyone?"
Here were some of those stories.
One Grieving Heart To Another
"I lost my mom earlier this year and am still working through the grief. The first week a came back my coworkers had gave me a check for several hundred dollars as a kind gesture. I was truly overwhelmed by the generosity."
"The following week I came into the break room to find one of the techs with a lost look on her face. She had just gotten a phone call that her brother had been murdered the night before."
"She had moved to our city just a year prior and didn't have any family close by. As I held her and listened to her cry, I booked her a flight home."
"It was several hundred dollars as she is from a small town and the flight was for later that day. I told her to go be with family and let me know when she was ready to come back. I had no doubt that is exactly what my mom would have wanted me to do."-thatgirlmocha
Taking It For The Team
"I was extremely stressed and took a mental health day, planning on going to mom's and crying myself to sleep. We ended up going to the mall, and even though money was really tight for her, she wanted to buy me lunch (we split the bill)."
"She realized that she lost a newer $50 bill while walking around. She was devastated."
"I traded my smaller bills to a cashier for a newer $50, folded it like she would, and tossed it under the seat of her car. The next day she called me, almost crying because she was excited to find it and said that without it, groceries would've been pretty tight that week."
"Taking me out that day prevented me from having a full breakdown. I think $50 was a small price to pay for what she did for me that day."-SleepsLikeACat
Services For The Poor
"I do IT work, usually small business and a lot of home repair. I have many wealthy clients and a few not so fortunate. It is not unusual for me to go to a home and it is obvious they are barely scraping by."
"So I either don't charge those people, or make it a nominal fee. I also refurb the old PC's and give them to people who have one that is not repairable."
"My best fee ever was a basket of home grown creole tomatoes, damn those things are delicious."-Disposable70
It really does cost nothing to be kind.
Just A Game, But More Than Just A Game
"This isn't as impressive as the comments I've read but this is just something I did recently."
"I'm a member of a Sims group on FB where people talk about the game, expansion packs etc. I noticed a comment by a teenager who said her favourite pack would be Pets but she can't afford it."
"I went onto her page and saw that she really loved horses. I could also tell from her pictures that her mum was disabled and money looked tight."
"I was fortunate enough when I was her age to always get the packs on the release dates and I used The Sims as a wind down from revising and school."
"I thought that this girl needed the escapism way more than I ever did so I bought every expansion pack, messaged her the activation codes, a link to a YouTube video on how to use them, and a short message saying I hope you enjoy playing and to keep smiling."
"I really do wish her the very best."-MariaOSullivan
People Share The Scariest Thing They've Ever Experienced While Home Alone | George Takei’s Oh Myyy
Saving And Changing Lives
"Bought insulin for the child of a lady in front of me at the pharmacy. The woman (single mom) was in tears & didn't have the $200 copay for that month."
"I gave her my number & told her to call me within the next few days. That was a few years ago. She now manages the office at my practice, makes enough $ for anything she needs/wants, & is one of my closest friends."
"And now she has excellent insurance for herself & her son! Be kind—it can literally change lives! <3"-EJX713
A Simple Blanket
"There's a semi-secluded bus stop beside a store I used to work at, and a homeless guy started sleeping there on the bench halfway between the stop and the parking lot one winter."
"One day I got to work 15 mins early and saw him sleeping, wearing just a flannel and jeans. So I ram into the store, bought a blanket, and covered him up with it."
"He never woke up so he didn't know it was me. Every time I saw him sitting on the bench he had the blanket wrapped around him."-SeleneSlayer
Even In The Face Of A Feud
"I have an ongoing silent feud with one branch of my family (my dad's cousins and their kids, my second cousins), and we haven't spoken or really seen each other in over 10 years."
"I've pretty much written them off, and I don't really care if we live out the rest of our lives without patching things up."
"Two months ago, one of my cousins from that branch unexpectedly died at the age of 38. Their immediate family had always had financial troubles."
"So while I didn't fly across the country to attend the funeral, I quietly sent my sister a bunch of money and instructed her to pretend it was hers and pay off part of their funeral expenses."
"And then just last week, some of my other relatives started a GoFundMe for one of my aunts in that branch (she's my dad's oldest cousin)."
"She has Stage IV cervical cancer and wants to leave the hospital to pass away at home surrounded by her loved ones, but the hospital won't release her until her medical bills are paid in full (this is in another country)."
"I haven't told my dad or anyone else in the family, but I anonymously donated my last paycheck plus the money I had been saving for my upcoming birthday trip."
"I don't really consider it out of the goodness of my heart, though. It's just that the thought of an elderly, terminally ill person dying alone somewhere that isn't home eats away at me so much that I physically couldn't sit by and do nothing."-OrifielM
And these gestures are the kind where the kindness is its own reward.
To Instill Hope
"A lady was fleeing an abusive marriage without much more than her kids and the clothes on her back. Word went out within a whisper network requesting a few essentials she needed."
"Packed up several things from the request list and also one thing that wasn't requested. I make jewelry as a hobby. Put a pair of handmade earrings into a gift bag: silver and pearls."
"Added a handwritten note that every woman deserves something beautiful and sending good wishes her way."-doublestitch
"At the beginning of the pandemic, I was volunteering at a local pizza shop to distribute slices to kids who otherwise couldn't get fed because the schools were shutdown."
"There was a woman with 3 kids that came by every few days to get slices. Turns out the father had died unexpectedly right before the pandemic started and they lost their house because of the slumlord they were renting from."
"The mother lost her job because she had no one to watch the kids. They were living in their minivan and things were bad for them."
"They were so nice and grateful, but ashamed when they'd come by to get slices that I genuinely felt for them. I had lost my job and got a pretty decent windfall of 2 months worth of unemployment and the CARES Act at once."
"My landlord had a few properties open and is a close friend, so I got in touch with him and we worked out me paying their security deposit and the first 2 months of rent and he'd cover their utilities."
"I gave her his number and said he might be able to help and they moved in the next day. They've been there ever since and are doing extremely well now."-eyexxiii
A Little Birthday Surprise
"I was in my art class in high school and there was a girl who I didn't really know a few grades younger. I could tell she didn't have many friends but was really sweet."
"She was talking to me one day and told me her birthday was soon and that she was so excited. I decided to send her those balloons and whatnot you can get through the student store on her birthday, though she didn't know me very well so I didn't sign my name."
"It just so happened that the student store worker brought them in during our art class and I got to see her reaction. She lit up and kept telling us it had to have been her mom or her best friend who did it, and how she couldn't believe that someone got her something and she wouldn't stop smiling the whole rest of class."
"I never told her it was me, I was just happy she felt special. That was a pretty good day."-Rbbbb30
Humans, above all else, have the capacity to be unendingly kind. Despite all the darkness in the world, it is these little moments of light that define us as a species.
Hopefully this has given you some faith in humans today.
Reddit user pizzabagels1994 asked: 'What caused your last break up?'
There's a saying about needing to kiss a lot of frogs before finding Prince Charming. Most people date more than one person before settling on a life partner.
And even then it doesn't always work out.
Most of us have at least one breakup in our past. The reasons things don't work between people vary greatly.
But we all have our breaking point.
Reddit user pizzabagels1994 asked:
"What caused your last break up?"
Lack of Empathy
"I had just been diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic cancer. All the attention I had been giving her I didn't have the energy to maintain while getting Chemo and avoiding Covid."
"My final straw. She yelled at me on the phone while I was in intensive care with pulmonary embolisms."
"Just that light bulb moment, and I was done."
"That was 3 years ago. All good now. I'm in remission, and thinking about dating again."
"I got into an argument with a crazy ex that was about 8 years older than me when I was 19 and we were screaming and chatting at each other and I remember she grabbed this vase that I had just bought her some flowers in and chucked it at my head and barely missed.
"It's hard to remember what kind of insanities I was yelling at her after that but she came around the corner with two brand new butcher knives from a knife set we had bought earlier that day and chased me around the house in circles."
"The house had bars on the windows and you had to have a key to open the front and back door it did not just have a manual lock."
"I ended up putting myself in the bathroom and holding the door as hard as I could and she actually stabbed one of the knives through the door."
"The whole knife did not come through the door only about two inches of it but that's plenty enough to still scare you."
"It was around 2010 and I had one of those prepaid phones in my pocket and I called her dad to come get her. He lived across the street."
"After her dad got her calmed down he took me on a ride to the duck pond at like 2 or 3:00 in the morning and was feeding the ducks old pizza and was just telling me that I needed to chill out and trying to give me some kind of a life lesson."
"He was probably pretty intoxicated himself but usually managed to hold himself together."
He really wasn't a great guy but came in during his daughter's mental crisis."
"The duck pond adventure started to end as the sun came up and I went and locked myself into the bathroom at the house and just went to sleep on the floor."
"I was going to get my things and get out that morning but she begged me to stay and at the time I thought that was what I really wanted."
"I think she kind of was mentally unwell at the time and I wasn't my best either."
"I did not call the cops on her and we reconciled for a time."
"Unfortunately I seem to have a pattern of not realizing I'm in a major mentally abusive situation due to growing up in one."
"Wife and I were attending couples therapy."
"The therapist said she was being literally abusive to me. My then-wife demanded a new therapist."
"Second therapist said she was being abusive to me. My then-wife filed for divorce.
"While my life right after was hell, it's come back around and I'm doing better than ever."
"My drinking, lies about drinking, and sh*tty finances because of drinking. 107 days sober today."
"Finally, someone who admits it was their fault. Me too brother."
"Past exes all was because of my drinking. Thankfully, I found someone who helped me quit."
"I'm 1yr 8m sober. We got this."
"We had our home, our plans and were preparing to marry in about three months when we separated."
"Thank goodness you found out before getting married."
"I know it must really hurt and maybe even keep you from trying again with someone new but you really dodged a bullet."
"Yep, my wife cheated and it's costing me about 100k between legal fees, buying out her equity in the house (which she paid none of), give her a chunk of my retirement and liquid cash."
"Honestly I think everyone should have a nasty infidelity clause in a pre-nup at this point."
"I can also look forward to sending her 70k in child support over the coming years. And I'm gonna take a wild guess that most of it won't be spent on the kid."
Something is Missing
"It took some time but we both realized that we weren't giving each other what we needed."
"Same! He saw it first so he was the one to leave me, but thank God he did, we were so incompatible!"
"Leaving my last relationship was rough—it was my first ever relationship and lasted 7 years—but I was so relieved at the same time when I got dumped."
"It was a very healthy breakup on both sides, and we kept in touch on and off for just under a year afterwards until she began seeing someone else and I felt it would be best to leave it be out of respect for her new partner."
"We honestly just both grew up (got together when I just turned 18; both young) and eventually fell out of romantic love."
"I still hold her to the highest respect and will always have a place in my heart for her, but I was so glad when she bit the bullet and broke it off. I would've felt too guilty to do so; I owed her so much."
"We had a very tumultuous relationship for the first couple years—we were very much in love but I had a lot of unresolved mental health issues, had a nervous breakdown, etc..."
"I still hate what I put her through but hope I was able to make it up to her in the last couple years of the relationship."
"Anyways, I wish her the best. My life and mental well-being has gotten SO much better in the last few years of being single; in a way I owe that to her too."
"He wants to get his life together."
"We still love each other and he thinks he needs to do this on his own but I want to be here for him, I promised him when we first started dating I’d be here for him as much as I can."
"It just hurts because he thinks I’m not strong enough to still love him and be apart from him when I am. It’s complicated."
Not enough time
"Her not having enough time for both grad school and a relationship."
"She did make the right choice though."
"Oof, yeah. Grad school is a real drain, emotionally."
"Like, you need the support of a partner while you go through it, but you don't really have anything to give back."
"It's an awful time."
"Just broke up with a girl halfway through a medical degree. I couldn't do it. I had been supporting her financially for 8 years and even another four I couldn't do. She also wanted me to cook, shop more than her."
"I started telling her I wanted her to contribute more towards the relationship. She grew distant but then really leaned on me when she needed financial and emotional support."
"She gets through her exams gets admitted to the doctorate and then cheats on me on holiday with a Swiss rocket scientist."
"He's now supporting her finanically in a long distance relationship. Feels like I dodged a bullet. Still 8 years is a long time."
It's complicated seems to be the mantra of relationships in the 21st century.
Are we no longer as loyal or loving as we were in the past?
Or do we just have more options and an unwillingness to settle.
When you've spent enough time in your professional industry, you tend to learn secrets about the industry that the general public won't know.
For example, I work in social media. I create social posts for influencers and activists. I have no real affiliation with these people, and I usually don't even get guidelines on what to post, past that I have to post every hour or so.
Every industry has a secret, and Redditors are ready to share secrets about their own industries.
It all started when Redditor Thealexiscowdell1 asked:
"What is a "dirty little secret" about an industry that you have worked in, that people outside the industry really should know?"
All The Same
"Not all that much of a secret, but, i used to work in a peanut butter factory, we produced about 25-30-ish different storebrands ranging from very cheap to stupidly expensive, we had a grand total of 3 recipes, chunky, not chunky and no additives."
"Peanut butter should taste like peanut butter."
"Wash the top of your cans. Mice poop on those things all the time while they are in warehouse or transit."
"I’m so relieved that my mother raised me to do this lmao. I thought it was strange growing up but then I just started to do it automatically without question."
"Absolutely, I did security at a local supermarket warehouse, and doing my walkthrough, I saw rats 🐀 so big the porters used to ride around the warehouse on them (obviously not really) but I did see the rats and they’d be everywhere. Of course, they cr*pped on everything."
Quite The Employee Discount
"I worked at a major jewelry company in the US. When we wanted to buy jewelry, we paid what it costs to make the product (material, labor, shipping), plus 10%. I paid around $115 for a pair of $950 diamond earrings."
"I worked wholesale diamond sales so I had connections throughout the entirety of the industry. Made my wife's 15k+ engagement ring for about 3k."
Keep Track Of Your Belongings
"I worked in the moving and storage industry and if you EVER pay movers to pack and move your family, DEMAND an itemized bill and proof of service."
"These people are out here RAKING people over the coals. Inflating box counts, charging for services not performed, etc. it’s not AS BAD if it’s COD but if it’s a corporate move for your job?? DEMAND IT. You might not be paying for it out of pocket, but it’s still showing on your income as taxable wages."
"special note to say not ALL companies do this but ALL the ones I worked with did."
"High volume recruiters spend an average of 10 seconds looking at a resume."
""You are a perfect fit for this [job title that's not remotely close to what you have done in the past] position based on your experience at [company].""
"Emails are mostly just basic keyword match mass batches. They might not have even read your CV, it just had a keyword."
"Totally. It's usually through LinkedIn. I generally respond with, "Oh wow! What part of my profile do you think makes me a good fit for the position?""
Heavier Is (Apparently) Better
"They put little weights in lipsticks to make them feel more expensive so they can charge more."
"Same for Beats headphones."
The Truth Comes Out
"Zoos and museums are universally held together with double sided tape. The size or prestige of the organization doesn’t matter either."
"You guys can afford double sided tape?"
"We had to use single-sided tape, taped together."
"Also, the dinosaur bones that you're ooh-ing and aah-ing over are probably plaster. The actual bones are stored safely in the basement."
"I imagine most artifacts on display aren't real, just very high-quality fakes. You really can't trust the general public not to f**k it up somehow. Honestly, as long as the museum is using the real ones to learn more about our history, I'm OK with it."
Like Cramming For A Test
"When the health inspector shows up, a mad scramble happens in the back to clean the kitchen while they start the inspection in the dining/bar area of the restaurant."
"Yup. One manager will hold the health inspector up in the front of house while back of house is busy labeling and making sure minor violations they visibly see are dealt with."
"Truer words have never been typed lol send out the king or queen of small talk and people skills while the back of the house tosses anything that isn’t temping correctly and runs ribbons of labeling to the walk in to make sure it’s all labeled."
"If you’re ever buying bulk gravel/sand/crushed stone from a local pit/quarry that has scales to weigh the amount of product you’re getting- you’re getting f**ked because you’re paying for water. Most of these pits/quarries spray the living f**k out of their stockpiles before/during operation to make the material heavier in the truck. Never buy by the ton- always buy aggregate by the cubic yard. It’s a measure of volume- not weight."
"Source: I own a rock crushing business/multiple quarries and I charge by the cubic yard to not screw the public :)"
He No Longer Works For The Company
"I wouldn’t say it’s mostly a secret but agency staffing firms churn and burn college graduates who are basically thrown in the wild. The recruiter you worked with may be gone in six months and that’s why a lot of ghosting happens."
"Yeah, recruitment and headhunting are not altruist professions. They're not social workers looking out for clients best interests."
"I got a high-paying job via a headhunter. After three months at the new place, I realized I hated it, and I quit."
"Three days later, I got a call from the headhunter, and he was IRATE, YELLING at me over the phone at the top of his lungs. He called me every name in the book, and went hoarse from yelling."
"Turns out, he gets paid a commission for placing me at that job ONLY if I stay at least 90 days. I just happened to quit on the 89th day coincidentally."
"So he lost out on a good chunk of money thanks to that."
"The roses you buy at Valentine's Day were harvested around Xmas. It's the worst time of the year to buy roses and I don't mean because they're more expensive. They're also the worst quality because it's a longer holding time between harvest and use than any other time of the year."
"Never ever ever send flowers through an order processing service. Look at the location you're in or sending to and talk to a florist in that area directly. Don't pick a picture off some external website. Ask the florist what they have and can make that fits your budget. If you're worried, ask them to text you a pic of the completed design."
The Psychology Of Groceries
"There is a lot of money spent every year that decides where specific items are placed on grocery store shelves."
"If you're at a grocery store that's part of a chain, and you look at a shelf and there's an item that's approximately at eye level, I guarantee you that the company that makes that item paid a lot of money to put them there. There's lots of weird psychological tricks that go on in terms of how stores are laid out."
"Candy, sugary cereals with mascots, the more expensive toys...etc. all at child height."
"The milk and toilet paper are always in the back because those are what people often make a quick run to the store for. By putting it in the back, it forces the customer to walk past all sorts of tempting end caps. The chances of the person going in for one thing and coming out with a bunch is increased."
"People joke about doing this all the time at Target, but it's not just a joke, Target actually paid a lot of money to get customers to spend a lot of money. All by designing things just so."
"I learned this in the one and only marketing class I took. It was really interesting, while also being kinda horrible."
Turns out the world is even more manipulative than I thought!
Like many people, I spent my time in retail. Customers were by far the hardest part of the job.
In college, I worked as a "bookseller"—our official title—in a mall for a national chain of bookstores. Without fail, every shift one or more customers would ask for something like "that book, the red one, by the guy."
When we'd ask for more information—like genre or if it was new or where they saw it—they'd just repeat, "red book, guy, you know which one I mean."
We most definitely didn't know which one they meant, but customers thought if we worked in a bookstore we should know every book in print from even the vaguest of descriptions. And they'd get mad when we didn't.
Anyone who has worked with customers has war stories.
Reddit user j-rock292 asked:
"What is the dumbest thing a customer has gotten mad at you about that was not your fault?"
Were they blind?
"They asked me to cut a blind."
"When I asked for the dimension they wanted it cut to, it was larger than the original blind length."
"Said I can't make it longer, only shorter and she lost her sh*t."
Tag, you're it.
"Back when I worked at Target, some guy came in about 30 minutes before we closed, and wanted to buy a laptop."
"He wanted to run some obscure software on it for his laser ttagarena and got really nettled when I told him I was unfamiliar with the software and so I couldn't give a definitive answer."
"Then he started going on about how much he made in a week compared to my paycheck."
"So I told him something along the lines of, 'Well then buy this laptop and if it works, it works. If it doesn't, it won't hurt your wallet'."
"He really didn't like that and after some colorful language, was escorted out of the store."
"In an odd twist of fate a few months later the mother of one of my best friends bought his laser tag arena because he ran it into the ground."
Credit where credit is due.
"Not me but a friend of mine worked customer service for a credit card company."
"She said a young guy called and asked why he couldn't use his card. She told him because he had exceeded his $15K limit."
"Dude was like 'yeah but that was for last month. Don't I get another $15K limit this month?'."
Can you hear me now?
"Customer got mad at me because I could barely hear her over a bad connection."
"I was on a landline, she was not."
"After disconnecting the call because it was going nowhere, she immediately called back and complained to me about the a**hole she'd just been talking to, saying, 'He said I was bad at making connections. Why the f**k was he talking about my love life?! You are much more helpful, though'."
No, I can't help you.
"I wasn't even working at this shop, I was just another customer. I didn't even wear a shirt similar to an employee's."
"A woman comes up to me and says, 'Excuse me, do you work here?' But before I can say no, she asks where something is."
"She sounded polite enough so I responded just as politely, 'Sorry, I don't work here. The people with the blue shirts do'."
"She got slightly upset and said someone else had pointed at me when she asked for a worker."
"I look to my side, and literally less than a couple feet away, there was an actual worker. I told her 'I think they meant that guy right there'."
"She then completely lost her cool, screaming various things at me and calling me all sorts of names."
"The employee tried to intervene but she just kept screaming. She eventually stops with, 'I want to see your manager!'."
I told her to f'k off. The employee laughed and she stomped off, then I just went back to shopping.
"Didn't see her again."
Maybe if you hum a few bars?
"I worked at a Music Store in a mall around Christmas."
"A lady came in and wanted to get the album of whatever was playing at the store she was in earlier."
"She got mad when I didn’t know what music they played in other stores."
Full service doesn't include time travel.
"In the ‘60s I worked at a gas station that also did repairs."
"A customer drove in with a flat right rear tire and no spare. I pulled out the nail and plugged it."
"She was good to go and left happy."
"She drove in about 2 months later with a flat left front tire."
"I pulled out a screw and plugged it while she screamed that I should have checked it last time she was there."
"She has every right to be mad."
"You’re obviously a terrible tech because you didn’t make a time machine to go into the future and prevent her from getting another flat."
"You must feel terrible that she takes her car somewhere else now."
The call is coming from inside the house.
"A long time ago I serviced someone's Internet connection at their house."
"When I left, my supervisor called to let me know that I had been accused of theft at this house."
"This crazy lady thought I stole a handset for her landline phone, not even the base with it, just the handset."
"She called later to report she found it in between her couch cushions."
I control the weather, but work here for minimum wage.
"Got yelled at for ruining his family’s vacation at Disney world because the rides shut down due to the storm."
"The summer right out of high school I worked at an amusement park."
"We had a massive severe thunderstorm ( heavy rain, lots of lightning, 50+mph winds, whole deal) one day, because giant metal structures and lightning dont mix we had to shut down all of our rides."
"Well this dipshit accused ME of starting this storm just to ruin his day."
Maybe she didn't want to wash it.
"I was refusing her a refund on a kids' duvet set."
"This woman threatened my colleague, so I (manager) stepped in."
"Protocol states we had to check and repack before giving a refund, so I took it to the stock room only to find that she had folded it back into the packaging, complete with the vomit chunks!"
Florida is hot in May
"So, I worked at a chocolate shop in Boston MA."
"Someone called to place an order, for shipment, to Florida."
"I said, 'okay, we do require next day shipping and an ice pack on shipments to Florida, so the chocolates don't melt. The shipping Will be $30 and the ice pack and insulated packaging will be an additional $8'."
"It's my standard spiel."
"The person's like 'the chocolate is only $22. No. I'll pay for the shipping but not the ice pack. It will be fine'."
"'Yadda Yadda warning. Yadda Yadda. When it shows up melted it won't be our fault I'm noting it in the system'."
"So, what phone call does my manager get 2 days later?"
"Oh? Person got melted chocolate? Oh it's our fault is it?"
"But look? There's a note in the system they refused to pay for an icepack."
"Did I warn them the chocolate would melt? Yes I did."
"Do they now have nothing for mothers day? No they dooooon't."
I also sold mattresses and appliances. Maybe because they were a major investment, I had far fewer bad experiences with those customers.
My worst experiences were working a customer service phone line for a Department of Defense agency.
People were almost always angry before they picked up the phone.
Have you had a customer go off on you? Share your experience in the comments.
Medicine is a difficult profession. Thanks to the wonder that is human nature, healthcare workers are subjected to incredible Darwin-award-winning scenarios daily, so it’s no wonder that many of them feel the need to go home and scream into their pillows at night. From self-inflicted injuries to dangerous prescription misuses, these Redditors revealed the most facepalm-worthy patients they’ve ever encountered.
But be warned: They’ll all leave you wondering how we’ve survived this long as a species.
There Is No Plan Cwhite and red cross signPhoto by Markus Winkler on Unsplash
I’m a pharmacist. One evening, I was working a relief shift (not at my usual pharmacy). A man comes in looking distressed. He tells me, “I had intimate relations with a woman I do not intend to pursue a long-term relationship with”. Yes, he said it just like that. I say, “Okay. I’m assuming there was an accident, or it was unprotected. How long ago did it happen”? He answers, “Last night, at 7 PM on the couch”.
Woah, TMI. I just needed to know the approximate time so I’d know if Plan B would work. I start to tell him, “We have this medication called Plan B, and since the incident happened within 72 hours—” but he interrupts me and I was thrown completely off guard: “Oh yes, I got that for her already yesterday, right after we finished. We want to know if there is anything we can do to know if she is pregnant now”.
I answer, “Unfortunately not. She’ll have to wait three weeks or so to see if she gets her period, and if she doesn’t, she can do a pregnancy test then. Theoretically, you could do a blood test for faster results, but that would also not be until a couple of weeks, at least”. He responds, “We’re just really anxious because she doesn’t want to be pregnant. Is there anything that she can take to prevent the pregnancy? Any multivitamin? Minerals? Food”?
I tell him, “She’s already taken it, which was the Plan B. There are some other options, but those are prescriptions. And no, there are no over-the-counter products she can take”. Then he asks, “What about me? Is there anything I can take now to prevent the pregnancy? Any multivitamins or minerals”? A little bemused, I just answer, “…No sir. There isn’t anything you can take now”.
Get A Load Of This Guy
I’m 73, and I’m a former clinical microbiologist from LONG ago. Still, I found myself all over the clinical lab at times, not just infectious diseases. So, one day, this 20-something guy (with his wife and mom in tow) walks in with a paper request for an analysis of his “swimmers”, pre-computer era. Okay, not the most comfortable encounter, but I’m a professional, and I’d done this drill many times.
It turned out he had not been briefed by the doctor and had no idea how establishing infertility in males was done. Well, okay—this would be a challenge, then. I took him aside and, using standard medical terminology, told him how a diagnosis is made and what he needed to do to provide a specimen. He couldn’t believe that I was asking him to “do it” into that container.
Astonished! Then he played dumb as if the concept was unfamiliar to him. We looped through the medical terms and procedure again, and I eventually resorted to every word I knew to describe the “act”. It was like a George Carlin bit! A half-hour later, he emerged from the toilet with two inches of urine in the cup. God almighty.
The report came back: “Patient provided improper specimen”.
This Is How The Elderly Get Their Wrinkles
I’m a paramedic. I had an elderly woman complain that her mouth was dry and she felt a bit dizzy climbing the stairs earlier. So I go through the whole rigamarole of getting a medical history, vitals, and more detail on her symptoms. Then I asked her what she’s had to drink today. Her answer? A cup of tea—ten hours ago. I asked, “Any water”? She says no.
Guess what fixed it within five minutes.
The Mother Got A Lot Of Heat For This
I was at the children’s hospital with my eldest when he was a toddler (ah, the day we found out he was allergic to penicillin) when a rushing team suddenly occupied the bed next to me with a limp, unresponsive infant. This happened on a hot day during the mid-summer. The baby was in a full Canadian winter-level snowsuit.
After they got the baby’s temperature down, I overheard the doctor losing his mind a little bit with the mother as she kept insisting she had to have her baby in the suit lest the baby risk feeling chilly. He explained that the minor discomfort of having to cry for a blanket did not trump the risk of it losing its life or the possibility of literally frying the kid’s brain.
He had to get quite nasty with his wording in that she had almost unalived her baby and might have given it brain damage.
Mr. Hot Shot
I had a buddy who was an EMT, and he was called out to a location for a GSW. What happened was a father was mowing his lawn when he accidentally touched a part of the mower near the engine and burned his hand. He got mad at the lawnmower, pulled out his pistol, and shot it. The shot ricocheted and hit his son in the leg.
Now, He’s Gonorrhea-Valuate All His Conditions…a woman holding a stethoscope in her right handPhoto by Eben Kassaye on Unsplash
I worked in ED for 10 years. Every day. Every day people come in, and it shocks you how they’ve managed to evade unaliving themselves for that long. One of the worst was when we had a guy come in. He was a twin. He told us he needed to get checked for STDs because his sister just got one. We, of course, had to ask if he’d had intimate relations with her, and he said no, but they were twins, so whatever she has, so does he.
After a collective sigh of relief that this wasn’t some weird Alabama, your-my-sister scenario, we had to educate him on how that’s not how it worked at all.
It Was An Arm of Intervention
I got told to go introduce myself to a patient to get vitals, history, and more info on their chief complaint, before starting an IV and drawing blood for labs. She came in for arm pain, and it looked like she had a nasty bug bite on her arm. So her story was she was an exotic dancer, and her Adderall prescription wasn’t doing the trick. So, she had an idea of how to make it more potent.
She heard from a friend that if you crush it up, suspend it in water, and then inject it, it would be more effective. Except she used tap water to dissolve the Adderall before she injected it. This ended up causing a huge abscess and infection at the site of injection. She ended up losing her arm at the elbow...So now she’s a one-armed exotic dancer.
They Must’ve Gone Ballistic
I had a patient who had a bullet lodged in her leg. We had the surgeon come and assess her. Based on its placement, he suggested leaving it because removing it could cause even more danger. We discharged her. She immediately walked to the ER in the same hospital to complain of leg pain. She had prescriptions and wound supplies in her hand.
Still, they brought her back, discovered her injury, and called for a surgical consult. The same surgeon was on-call and came to assess her. Guess what?! The surgeon made the same suggestion to leave it. Then we educated her EXTENSIVELY about never getting an MRI or the metal will fly out of her skin. Eventually, she left.
She returned a few months later to a sister hospital complaining of a headache. She got inpatient admission, and you guessed it: They did an MRI. The slug ripped out, and the MRI machine was down for almost a week!
She Just Couldn’t Seem To Grasp The Conception
I had an 18 or 19-year-old girl come into my ER with some complaint that required an X-ray. It’s standard that we do a urine pregnancy test before imaging on any female of childbearing years. She insisted she’d never “done it”, and there was zero possibility of pregnancy. We did the test anyway, and it resulted that she was pregnant. We then did a blood pregnancy test to confirm the result since she insisted she couldn’t possibly be pregnant because she’d never had intercourse.
That was positive too. We gave her a few minutes to herself to figure out what the heck happened, and when I returned to check on her a short time later, she asked me if she could get pregnant even though her boyfriend “didn’t go all the way in”. She 100% believed that as long as he wasn’t entirely inside her, it didn’t count as intercourse.
It took nearly a half hour of explaining reproduction for her to understand that, whether it’s halfway in or in, sperm travel.
It Ultimately Wasn’t Very Fun-Knee
I overheard a conversation between a nurse, a doctor, and a patient in the ER. They were trying to figure out whether the patient was very stupid or had a head injury. It was both hilarious and sad. He kept telling them that he was there for a hurt leg, but he couldn’t explain why his leg was hurt, how it was hurt, or how he got there—nearly anything.
I heard them talking in a hallway to each other. The nurse was convinced the patient hit his head. The doctor, without skipping a beat, dropped his unexpected diagnosis: “No, he is just an idiot.” It turned out the doctor was right. They got ahold of the guy’s wife. She told them in the hallway he’s always this dumb, and if she left him, he would get lost in his own house and starve.
It sounded like the patient’s leg was visibly injured or swollen. But when asked what happened or how it felt, he gave nonsensical idiot answers. He wasn’t slurring, but answering in a regular idiot voice, saying things like, “It feels hurt”, and “I was talking to Jimmy, and we were doing our usual work, and my leg hurts”.
The doctor would ask, “Did something happen? What is the work”? But the patient kept responding, “Something always happens; you know how it goes”, or “I just want my leg fixed”.
An Change Of Heartman in white dress shirt wearing black framed eyeglassesPhoto by Usman Yousaf on Unsplash
This one came from a colleague of mine. So, this 60-something-year-old suffered from an acute complication and got a pacemaker to solve the problem. Everything went normally, and as planned, he recovered. Every care and medication that he needed to take got prescribed and explained and his medical appointments with a cardiologist/arrhythmologist were scheduled so he could get the follow-ups he needed. The man then proceeded to never show up to any appointments and never answered any calls from the hospital to know of him and reschedule.
This went on for around three years. Then one day, he showed up without former warning and asked to talk with the doctor who did the procedure to put in his pacemaker. People were weirded out, but since the doctor was present that day and this patient was in clear distress, they talked to him and managed to find a couple of minutes to have the doctor check on him. Inside the appointment room, the doctor noticed that the man was wearing a bra inside his shirt.
The man explained he’d been wearing his daughter’s bra for three months after his “problem” got worse. So the doctor asked that he take off his shirt…and there he stood, this shirtless man wearing his daughter’s bra, showing off the pacemaker that should’ve remained inside his body. It was now dangling outside of it, being held by the left bra cup, with a big infected open wound above it with the pacemaker leads still inserted into his veins and connected to his heart.
Nobody had any idea how the man let that situation come to be or how he didn’t pass from sepsis or any other health problem that might’ve appeared, for that matter.
The Parents Were The Real Suckers
While working the midnight shift in the ER, a family brought in a four-year-old at 2am-ish. I asked them what was wrong. They said, “Ask him. He said he needed to see a doctor”. I further pressed, “Did he say anything was wrong”? They answered, “No. He said he needed to see a doctor, so we brought him”. A quick back and forth firmly established that they actually showed up to the ER at 2 AM, purely because the four-year-old said he needed to see a doctor and that they didn’t know why.
So I asked the child, “Why do you need to see a doctor”? His answer made me shake my head in disbelief: “The doctor has suckers”. To be clear, it was the parents who lacked sense and not the kid.
A Very Delicate Condition
I’m a social worker, and one of my clients kept getting pregnant over and over after having kids. I had a frank conversation with her about birth control or getting her tubes tied because she kept going through horrific births only to get her kids taken away, and she said to me that she didn’t know that birth control or safe intercourse would save her from getting pregnant.
She didn’t realize that intercourse = pregnant because she was mistreated as a child, and her father told her that she could only get pregnant when she fell in love, and she had never been in love, so she didn’t understand why she kept getting pregnant. Intercourse was only a pleasure for her, so she didn’t realize that was what was getting her pregnant.
The Answer Was At Hand
I am a dermatologist in India. As is the culture here, people eat with their hands, and almost all of our curries or even other dry side dishes have a lot of turmeric. It is common knowledge to anyone born and brought up in India that this means the nails of your dominant hand (statistically, the right hand) will be yellow-stained because we have seen this happen since our childhood.
Usually, this wears off in about a day and a half if you wash it a couple of times. Cut to the first patient in my OPD, a young girl in her early 20s, very anxious. I ask her, “What brings you here today”? The patient says, “Doc, my right-hand fingernails keep getting yellow-discolored”. I take a look and confirm, “Only your right hand”? She answers, “Yes, and only after meals”.
So I ask her, “Erm…do you eat with your hands”? The patient confirms, “Yes, always”. I then explain to her, “So...you know it’s just turmeric, right”? And she goes, “Yes, but can you make it stop happening”? Perplexed now, I just tell her, “For God’s sake, use a spoon”! But she’s still not quite getting it. Surprised, she asks, “So you mean there is no medicine to make it stop”?
I just stared at her while she looked at me expectantly. “NO”! This might hit home more with people of South Asian cultures or people who habitually eat turmeric-cooked food with their hands. Anyway, for a grown person to complain about this was just…well, surprising and a little ridiculous.
This Guy Wasn’t Very Treat Smart
I work in emergency medical services. I had a diabetic in his 30–40s who refused to take insulin since 2012. It was 2020 at the time. When I took his blood sugar, it only read as “HI”, meaning it had to be over 700 for the glucometer not to read it. Upon seeing this, he asked me if that was high and then went, “Is this because of all the ice cream I ate”?
He was playing a Facebook Messenger video with his girlfriend the entire time. I met him later on in the parking lot after he got discharged, and it took this man less than fifty paces from the ER door to rip off the bandage covering his IV and play with the IV wound until it started bleeding all over the place again.
He then knocked on our ambulance door and asked for a bandaid to fix it. We had to walk him back into the ER and bandage his entire arm with gauze so that, hopefully, by the time he got it off, it would’ve clotted enough for him not to end up exsanguinating himself.
Rubbing Salt In The Woundbrown and white shell on orange round platePhoto by Arnold Antoo on Unsplash
My sister told me a story of a woman with chronic blisters and lesions on her lips. They couldn’t figure out what it was for weeks. It would heal and come back, heal and come back. The truth was disturbing—it turned out she would jam out on like three bags of salt and vinegar chips a day for weeks at a time until the sores hurt too bad to continue, then she’d go to the doctor.
Details Make A Difference
This was one of the funniest yet cutest ones from when I was a student doing a shift in andrology/reproductive health. Doctor: “So, you’re trying to have kids but not managing to. Do you have any other kids”? Patient: “Yes, Doc. I have one”. Doctor: “Okay, so we need to do [this and this and that]”. Patient: “Okay, great”.
Then he proceeded to visit him and stuff, after which he went away. But after a couple of seconds, he knocked on the door again, saying: “Hello, Doc. My wife told me that it would be relevant to you that the son I have is adopted, but that makes no difference to me. I’ve always considered him my son”!
Do No Farm
I’m a physiotherapist. For those who don’t know, after a total knee replacement, you have a six-week window after the surgery to regain the range of motion. If you don’t regain the range in those first six weeks, it ain’t coming back. I had a patient who was a farmer who was very enthusiastic about regaining the range because he needed to be mobile for his work. I saw him for the first time about five days after his surgery.
I showed him all the basic exercises, told him not to do any farm work for at least six weeks, and told him to come back to see me once a week for the first six weeks. He disappeared and came back about eight weeks later. His range was non-existent, maybe 30 degrees of range in total. He was visibly mad at me as if it was my fault. He was shouting and calling me incompetent.
Our conversation went something like this: Me: “Have you been doing the exercises”? Him: “No”. Me: “How often are you doing farm work”? Him: “Every day”. Me: “Why haven’t you come back since the first appointment eight weeks ago”? Him: “Too busy with farm work”. Me: “So, to summarize here, you did absolutely nothing that I told you to, and this is somehow my fault”?
I never saw him again.
A Jaw-Dropping Encounter
As a pharmacist, I often encounter a lot of people who lack common sense; namely, everyone who comes in to buy homeopathic stuff, especially for serious things. Once, a lady came in with a prescription from the dentist for some heavy antibiotics and painkillers due to an infection that threatened to damage the jawbone.
When I asked if she knew how to take them, she went: “Oh, I’m not gonna take those; they’ll go right into the garbage. But I gotta buy them so that my dentist is happy. I’d rather stick with [insert name of homeopathic stuff here] instead of harming me with some devilish chemicals”!
Throughout the years, I’ve learned to just shrug and accept those Darwin-award candidates instead of arguing with them. It just infuriates me when I see that they’ve got children or/and pets…
That’s Never Gonna Heel Now
This was circa 1983, and I’m a nurse (retired). I had this one guy in his early 20s who went swimming hammered in a notoriously nasty lake in our area. It was a “don’t drink the water” kind of lake, and he went in without shoes, stepped on an old booze tab, and cut his foot open. He didn’t go to the hospital or try to clean it at all for about a week. His girlfriend said he kept saying, “It’s fine, it’s just a cut”, when she pressured him to get it seen, so of course, he showed up in the ER with a foot that blew up like a balloon.
Healing it took two and a half months in the hospital, with his foot completely laid open in surgery, doing debridement and packing, which I can honestly say after over 30 years in healthcare stands as one of the nastiest jobs I have ever had to do—and I had been dealing with things like bedsores and open wounds from radiation treatments and cancer for about seven years at that point.
It was bad, but that's not all—on top of this, he was obnoxious, disrespectful, and, when the opportunity presented itself, cruel. Other nurses, you know the type, they’re everywhere. Hopefully not as open about it these days, but yeah. I had a student nurse I was training come running out of the room in tears and refused to go back in and would not tell any of us what he said, but I can imagine.
Eventually, we finally got it cleaned out, and it’s responding well to antibiotics, and the tissue is granulating well. He gets sent home with antibiotics and strict instructions on how to care for it and to keep it clean and dry. THE DAY he left the hospital, he went back out to the same lake, got inebriated, put on some nasty tennis shoes, and went swimming.
He showed up on our floor again a week after being discharged. He lost the foot. His girlfriend left him.
Fortunately, They Caught Him Red-Handedman in blue scrub suit wearing blue stethoscopePhoto by Bruno Rodrigues on Unsplash
I don’t know if a cleaner in a hospital counts, but this one time, I got to work early on a Saturday morning, and we immediately received a request for help from the ER and got sent over by my boss. When I got there, the first thing I heard was yelling from this guy behind one of the curtains. He was shouting at the nurses, “Don’t touch my downstairs”, and “I didn’t use any substances”!
Then I smelled iron in the air, and then I found out there was blood all over the hallway, with hand prints in blood against the wall. Almost the entire floor was covered in blood, with actual puddles in some places. What happened? The guy pulled out his catheter, causing arterial bleeding, and he decided to run away from the nurses who were trying to help him.
It seems like he lived through that. I had never seen that much blood before that day, nor after.
Thinking Against The Grain
I am a medical professional, but I have two really good ones about my ex-fiancé. Laugh at me all you want; this relationship was not my proudest moment. For starters, at our baby shower for my son, he asked if we were going to pick “innie” or “outie”. I looked at him like he was insane, and he started getting angry and just repeated the question louder until I shushed him and took him aside to explain to him that we don’t choose how the belly button looks; it just happens.
Another time, he had really bad eczema and went to a doctor who suggested oatmeal baths during flare-ups. He bought a couple of boxes of Quaker Oats Maple & Brown Sugar and would dump the entire box packet by packet into the tub. It was a couple of weeks before I found the wrappers and questioned him about it.
He told me (angry again) that he wondered why he was so sticky after getting out and why the freaking literal brown sugar was making his open wounds fester. I explained that an oatmeal bath is not flavored oatmeal and that he had to buy either plain oats or actual oatmeal bath packets. He was furious that I expected him to just know better.
When I asked him why he picked maple and brown sugar, he said he didn’t want to smell like strawberries or peaches after his bath. After our son was born (and we had broken up, thank God), my son also had some occasional eczema, but not nearly to the same degree. The pediatrician recommended oatmeal baths, and GUESS WHAT THIS FREAKING GUY BOUGHT?
He said he only remembered what happened the last time when he picked my son out of the sink, and the towel stuck to him. When I started to scold him for being so stupid, he looked at me like I was an idiot and told me he only used one packet since we were still bathing the kid in the sink instead of in an entire tub.
The Patient Had A Med-ley Bag
I’m a pharmacist. I had a woman bring in a literal sandwich bag that she kept all her meds in, unseparated. She needed help seeing which meds she was low on or out of and was asking different questions about the medications. When she pointed to an Apoquel and stated it was her blood pressure medicine, I immediately became concerned as to why pet medicine was in her bag (and also why she was mixing all her meds in a bag in the first place).
It was then that I found out that she had been throwing her pet’s meds inside her bag of medicine, too. So Lord knows what she’d been giving her dog or taking herself. I immediately stressed how important it is to keep medicine in its original container to protect both the medicine and herself and to know the directions of how to take it.
I’ve seen her a few times since then, and I’m glad to see she has since taken my advice. But how any pharmacist or doctor hadn’t advised her on this before is beyond me.
They Didn’t Air On The Side Of Caution
I used to be a medical oxygen tech, mostly doing in-home work. One guy was on such a high concentration that he would have drawn nearly zero oxygen from breathing regular atmosphere. This required two heavy-duty machines hooked up in tandem just to keep him barely alive. This was explained ad nauseam to him and his wife with fully signed documentation of every conversation.
What they did was absolutely ridiculous—they’d shut one machine off because they decided it was too loud. He’d take his mask off because he decided it was too cold. She would unplug the hose if she decided it was in the way. So on and so on. They did everything you could think of that would restrict or cut off his oxygen intake. Then they would panic and call our emergency service when he started to react to no oxygen intake.
I lived not even five minutes away, right beside our EMS station, and calls would always come for me to “fix” the machines at random times of the day and night, 3–7 days a week. They refused to call 9-1-1 because they “didn’t want to make a scene”. This went on for ages, well over 18 months, until he was having trouble sleeping one night, and they shut the machines off before going back to bed.
It’s been years, and I still see the wife around town. She always glares at me as if I’m the one who unalived him.
She’ll Just See Herself Out, Now…
I’m an ophthalmology surgical technician. A glaucoma patient in her late 50s was going blind despite her drop therapies for the past six months. Her pressure was consistently in the 30s and 40s. I asked her if she was using her drops regularly (twice daily), and she said yes. I asked, as politely as I could, if she’d missed any doses in the past month. She said no. I asked if she was using them properly, and she got super offended.
She asked me very rudely, “Do I look like an idiot to you”? I said, “No, but I just need to be sure. Sometimes patients think they’re doing it right, but they can easily miss it. Can you show me how you use your drops”? So she took out her drop bottle, gave it a good shake (so far, so good), looked up at the ceiling (also a good sign), opened her MOUTH, and swallowed two drops.
I got in trouble, but my OD backed me up and told her that’s the stupidest thing he’s ever seen in 25 years. She cried and said we were being mean to her and that the drops burned her eyes, so she didn’t want to put them in there, and since the eyes, ears, nose, and throat are all connected, why did it matter where she put them?
That’s not how glaucoma therapy works. She needed a shunt implant, and we were able to save about 30% of her visual field. But yeah, she was drinking her drops and going blind.
That’s Ill-Adviseda woman in a white shirt holding a stethoscopePhoto by Alexandr Podvalny on Unsplash
I used to volunteer at a free medical clinic to take vitals and histories. A woman came in with pneumonia and wanted to know why her normal treatment of drinking half a bottle of Listerine and inhaling a pack of cancer sticks a day wasn’t working. I asked why she thought ciggies were a good treatment for a lung infection, and she said, “Indians used to purify the ground by burning all the weeds away before planting, so I’m puffing to purify my lungs”.
I left that one to the doctor.
I’m an optometrist. I had a patient booked in for an emergency appointment with a raging red eye. It was very painful. So I looked under the microscope, and the cornea was not happy: wobbly reflexes, haziness, the works. So I asked, “What happened”? The patient said, “It’s my niece’s wedding this Saturday, and I wanted to tint my eyelashes to match my hair, and the color scheme of the wedding is light blue, so I used the same dye for both to match the color”.
I inquired, “Does that hair dye contain ammonia, by any chance”? The patient answered, “I think so. Do you think my eye will be better by Saturday? Will it match the color scheme”? I just responded, “Unless you can convince them to change the color scheme to red, no”.
This Grave Mistake Takes The Biscuit
I heard this story from a sibling; I don’t think he’d mind me sharing it just on the off chance it prevents someone else from making this mistake. Lots of surgeons have a similar story, but thankfully this one doesn’t end in someone’s demise. According to my brother, these parents claimed that their child hadn’t eaten anything before surgery, as they were carefully directed. But it turned out they thought the surgical team was just being cruel to their child.
So when she said she was hungry that morning, they detoured on their way to the surgical center and got her a full Southern breakfast. The result was triggering—she dang near passed from aspirating biscuits and gravy. I’ve rarely seen my brother so angry and disgusted (somehow, biscuits and gravy look even more nauseating the second time around) as he recounted what had happened.
I do not doubt that he tore a strip off the parents once their five-year-old was stabilized, and they probably still felt justified and angry at the surgeon for telling them what they could and could not feed their child right before anesthesia. The parents did feel justified and hard-done-by, although, as far as I know, they didn’t express anger at my brother (knowing him, they didn’t get a word in edgewise).
There was no acknowledgment or realization that they could easily have unlived their own child or that they’d made a bad decision. I remember they were annoyed by her whining for food.
The Outcome Suited Them Just Fine
I’m a pharmacist. One time my coworker, another pharmacist, got served with a lawsuit while I was there. The patient suffered a fall resulting in a concussion, and she claimed it was because her Lisinopril (blood pressure medication) got increased from 10mg to 20mg and that she’d not been informed and passed out as a result. She was suing the pharmacist, the pharmacy, her doctor’s office, and the doctor.
It eventually came out in early discovery that she was at a rave and had a BAC of 0.18, THC, and MDMA in her system. The case against the doctor’s office, doctor, and pharmacy fell apart right away, so she decided to go all-in on trying to sue the individual pharmacist. The pharmacy’s POS system confirmed that she checked, “I decline pharmacist consultation at this time”. So the case was eventually dropped.
He Had To Take A Pregnant Pause
I work in the ER. I have so many stories. The one that left me dumbfounded was a woman who was brought in by her sister for pelvic cramps and amenorrhea for three months. Lo and behold, she’s pregnant. The sister informs me that she sleeps with the Brazilian construction workers building the condo complex next door. I ask if they have any questions.
The patient then asked me if her baby would come out speaking Spanish. After a long pause and her sister staring at the ceiling, I told her, “No, because they speak Portuguese in Brazil”. The patient seemed relieved, and the sister hustled her out of the ER before I could discharge her.
It Cost Them An Amen And A Legman in white dress shirt holding black tablet computerPhoto by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
I worked in cancer research/surgery a couple of years ago. There is a good amount of people who will refuse to have a small removal/surgery because they think holistic medicine or praying it away will work. They always come back, and we always have to remove so much more. One time a patient had melanoma on their calf, and the doctor wanted to do a simple wide excision, but they left because they wanted to pray it away.
They came back a couple of months later because it got bigger, and we had to amputate their leg. I’m pretty sure they had positive lymph nodes at that point too.
They Gave Her A Herbal Warning
A lady brought her baby into the ER with a rectal temp of 103. The kid had tachycardia (i.e. a fast heartbeat) and looked awful. The worst part? The lady refused all medications. She said she didn’t believe in them and wondered why her herbal tea (she brought a jug of it) wasn’t working. She wanted us to just check her out. She thought a children’s emergency room just checked them out. I tried to explain why the kid needed an NSIAD. She kept refusing. She said she didn’t know what was in it.
I brought up the fact she had her kid in a hospital and that she received medication herself (IV, epidural, etc). The lady didn’t budge. Only concerned for herself, I told her that when the kid has a seizure or goes unresponsive and she calls 9-1-1, she can expect the medics to give the kid everything it needs regardless of whether she likes it or not.
Desperate times called for desperate measures, so the doctor threatened to contact social services for child endangerment and mistreatment. Only then did she start to listen…for, like, five whole seconds. She then left against medical advice. People like this exist.
Words Cannot Expresso How Ridiculous This Call Was
I’ve been a firefighter for 18 years. People call 9-1-1 for the dumbest things ever. But the one that takes the cake? It was a guy who called 9-1-1 to say he was choking. He answered the door as high as a Georgia pine with a lit joint in his mouth. I asked him who was choking. He calmly said that he was. He said he swallowed an ice cube, and now he couldn’t breathe.
Just to be sure and partly out of morbid curiosity, I looked in his mouth and then asked him to take a few deep breaths...which he was able to do easily. He still insisted he couldn’t breathe. So I told him to make some hot coffee and then drink it. He asked me, “Why”? I told him that the coffee would melt the ice cube, and he’d be able to breathe again. “Oh, cool. Thanks, man”.
Then I left.
I work in clinical research at a hospital. Basically, for patients who have cancer but don’t have other standard-of-care options, clinical trials, or “experimental treatment”, are a viable option for many. Some people have a negative view of research, but it’s highly regulated and not as scary as it sounds. Anyway, we went through the consent form with this one patient who had a history of substance use.
We don’t know everything about this new medication, but one thing we DO know is that using coke while taking this drug will make your heart “explode”, in layman’s terms. This patient “promised” they were off the sauce and that they “totally wouldn’t do coke while they’re on the trial”. Two weeks later, they relapsed, and well…You can figure out the rest of the story.
Wrestling With Logic
My brother did a rotation in an ER before med school. Paramedics brought in a man with a lacerated neck. He was inebriated and fell into a fish tank. His equally inebriated buddies called 9-1-1. When the paramedics arrived, they realized his friends had put a very tight tourniquet around his neck to stop the bleeding. It turned out that the guy and his buddies had been playing a boozy game of WWE.
He had a two-inch glass shard stuck in his head in addition to the neck laceration, but the dude came into the ER with no idea the glass was there. Four different firefighters had to hold him down as he screamed prejudiced remarks at the female doctor. My brother said that when they removed the glass, blood shot out about 10 feet in the air.
My brother, at that point, silently “noped” the heck out of medicine. He went on to attend Berklee Music School and is living his best life as a musical producer and engineer, and is not arguing with rednecks about whether or not there is a glass shard in their head….
Shear Stupiditya close up of a person laying in a hospital bedPhoto by César Badilla Miranda on Unsplash
I’m an ER nurse with seven years of experience. The list of dumb things I’ve seen is nearly endless. People coming in with massive burns because they smoked in bed is not as rare as you’d think. But the one that got me the most was a guy who came in for chest pain and fatigue. An EKG revealed he was having a really bad heart attack.
We activated the cath lab for emergency stents to hopefully save the guy’s life. They almost always access the patient through the groin for the procedure, so one of our jobs in the ER is to shave the patient’s groin to prep them for the cath lab. We got the clippers out, as we don’t use actual razors anymore, and informed the guy we needed to shave him. This is when things got annoying.
He refused. No problem, we figured we woul adjust let the cath lab do it once he’s knocked out. Nope, the guy refuses to sign the consent for the stents because he doesn’t want his downstairs shaved.
After trying to educate him, pleading with him, and contacting every goddang lawyer the hospital had, the guy signed himself out of AMA and went home.
He would rather die than have his curlies shaved. We looked up his address, and we weren’t the closest hospital to him, so if he passed at home, the medics would have to take him to a different hospital. I doubt he survived the day.
Paws For Thought
I’m a vet. A few years ago, I had a client bring his young cat in complaining of lethargy. Besides being a bit underweight, the physical exam was unremarkable, so I asked more questions about the cat’s diet. I asked him, “What do you feed the cat”? The owner answered, “I feed him [online trendy raw food brand]”. I asked, “How is his appetite? Does he finish what you feed him”? The owner replied, “Yes, he always eats everything”.
Pressing further, I asked, “How much do you feed him”? The owner said, “Half a cup”. For clarification’s sake, I then asked, “Once or twice daily”? What he said next absolutely floored me. He answered, “Once every three or four days”. Shocked, I replied, “…You only feed your cat twice a week”? The owner explained, “I believe in a more natural feeding approach, and based on my research, that’s how often cats eat in the wild”.
This owner was slowly starving his cat into oblivion based on some cockamamie idea he’d made up while watching National Geographic. I had to explain to him that domestic cats are not tigers and that small wildcats eat 10–20 small meals daily. Surprise, surprise, the cat’s lethargy and weight improved with regular feeding.
I once heard a story about a particular patient receiving radiation therapy. It was impressed upon her that she couldn’t miss her fractions of radiotherapy, even if she were busy, so she needed to inform us if she really couldn’t make the appointment. Well, one day, she couldn’t make it. But instead of just informing us, she sent her twin sister to receive the radiation therapy in her place.
Of course, the twin answered yes to all the ID questions and had the same birthday, etc. She was only found out when the radiographers had trouble matching her to the CT. The CT was of a person who had undergone a mastectomy, while this “patient” still had both her mammaries. This story, many years later, is still told to new staff during training to reiterate the importance of ensuring correct identification.
You would be stunned by the number of people who try to skip the queue. The number isn’t high. But it isn’t zero.
It Took Some Arm Twisting
I work in orthopedic rehab. I had a patient with a common fracture of the wrist that a doctor sent over because she was inexplicably getting stiffer and stiffer. I spent 17 sessions with her one on one, 40ish minutes each. But nothing I did worked. For whatever reason, instead of just bending her wrist, she would contort her entire body.
She was married, raised kids, had a career, and was a seemingly functional adult. I tried everything to get her to actively use her muscles to move her wrist. I put her in front of a mirror, filmed videos of myself doing the exercise or her doing it, and tried to get her to spot the difference between moving your shoulder versus moving your wrist.
The last time I saw her, I even strapped her arm to a chair, and she still didn’t understand that she should’ve only been trying to move her wrist. I will never understand it.
There Was No Sugarcoating It
I work at a vet clinic. We get a lot of this sort of thing, oftentimes with diabetic patients. One of the worst I’ve seen was an older owner come in with an extremely overweight, diabetic dog. The owner says the dog has been slow, tires easily, and has been “flopping around”, which is odd for her. The doctor checks the dog’s blood glucose, and it is so high it is literally off the charts.
Normal blood glucose for a dog is around 100 or so. The dog's reading was shocking—it was beyond 1000. We asked the owner how it got so high. Was she eating? She was because she was obese. Were you giving her the insulin? The owner then proceeds to say that they think she’s probably fine without it since she’s a “strong and hardy dog”.
Ma’am, your nine-year-old 80-pound Dalmatian is currently half-alive on the floor because you don’t give her insulin. How they kept that poor dog alive for that long was astounding.
Are You Kidding Me!?a person is holding a picture of a babyPhoto by Amr Taha™ on Unsplash
When I was an intern posted in the obstetric department, I saw a 42-year-old pregnant woman who came for an antenatal checkup. This was her seventh pregnancy, and she had only one living child. So she had five pregnancies previously, which failed (three spontaneous abortions and two stillbirths). The sixth one had been high-risk too, and she’d needed to get a cervical cerclage done (they stitch the cervix because it is too weak to hold a baby in until term).
When the OBGYN asked her why she would put herself through pregnancy again instead of being content with her daughter, she replied, “My in-laws want us to have at least two children”. It was the biggest Pikachu-face moment of my life.
Jesus Took The Wheel Years Ago
I’m an optometrist. I had an elderly patient come in surrounded by concerned family members because the patient ran over one of those pop-up tents on the side of the road that the telephone engineers use to protect themselves from the rain. Luckily no one was hurt as the worker was on lunch. Worried as to how the elderly driver missed seeing a large, red, and white tent in the middle of the day, it was then that the elderly relative admitted to having spent the last three years driving from memory.
Trying Hard To Be Patient
I had a patient come to see me in the clinic on a Monday; everything was fine. By Tuesday morning, she’s on the hospital census with a pending consult for me. When I see her, she says she’s fine and doesn’t know why she was admitted. She then walked out of the clinic, called an ambulance from across the street, and got taken to a different hospital.
She reported her problems were uncontrolled, and nobody was taking her seriously. They transferred her back overnight because I don’t work at that other hospital. She then gets discharged Wednesday morning. On Friday morning, she is again back on the census with a pending consult. I go to see her, and once again, she says she’s fine, and she’s not sure why she’s there.
This time she had a friend pick her up from the hospital and drive her to a small outlying hospital without the services she needed. She walked into the ER and said she was in distress but that nobody was taking her seriously. Yet again, she gets admitted and transferred back to my hospital overnight. She gets discharged on Friday afternoon.
Sure as heck, she came back on Saturday morning. I asked her, “Why do you think you keep getting admitted to the hospital”? She has no clue. Completely baffled. I tell her it’s because she keeps going to hospitals and telling them she needs help. No lights come on. I ask her, “Why do you keep going to other hospitals”?
Finally, she tells me, “I didn’t know what else to do. My apartment is a complete mess. My caretaker won’t clean my apartment because I’m supposed to learn how to do it, and I just don’t want to do it”. Please note that she is not a ward of the state but still gets most of the services, like coaches, guardians, drivers, etc.
So, I follow up with, “But why do you keep telling them that I’m not taking you seriously”? What she said next is forever burnt into my brain. “If I don’t, they just send me home in a cab”.
I’m a dental nurse. My favorite story involved a 30-something-year-old woman who came in for a checkup at the low-cost emergency clinic I worked at. Her teeth were broken and almost black, and her gums were angry, swollen, bright red, and bleeding by just moving her tongue against them. She needed multiple scaling and hygienist appointments and a debridement.
An X-ray showed she needed work on all but her wisdom teeth, and the results made me raise my eyebrows—she needed 10 fillings. She also needed root canals to try and save some teeth and extractions for, I think, three teeth or possibly more if the root canal treatment didn’t work. I explained everything and did the usual explanation of proper oral hygiene.
I then asked her if she had any questions, to which she said, “It’s okay if I lose this set of teeth; my others will come through”. The dentist and I just looked at each other, probably a lot longer than we should have. No words. I couldn’t think of anything to reply to that comment. I had a lot of weird and disgusting things happen at that clinic. I miss working there.
When You Just Can’t Sulfa Fools
I’m a paramedic, and I had this call while working on a rural fire/EMS service. A call came in for an allergic reaction. I arrived at a rural farm and found the patient in the kitchen on the ground, wheezing. Her husband said she took sulfa, which she’s allergic to, and after grabbing her blood pressure, we hit her with epinephrine (which is the same as an EpiPen) and Benadryl.
Her breathing improved, and she started to be able to answer my questions. First, I confirmed her allergy by asking, “So, you’re allergic to sulfa”? The patient says, “Yeah”. I reply, “And you took sulfa”? Again, she goes, “Yeah”. So I asked, “Was it mislabeled or in the wrong bottle”? She answers me with a simple “No”. Okay…
Needing more information, I inquired, “Was it your husband’s prescription”? And unbelievably, she tells me, “No, it was for our horse”. Huh? Feeling a lot more confused, I respond, “Was...Wait, did you say a horse? You took sulfa prescribed for a horse”? She then clarifies, “Well, I only took half”. Sure, that makes it better.
Still trying to follow her logic, I guessed, “...You only took half because a horse is much larger than a person”? The patient confirms, “Yeah”. Uh-huh…I’m still not fully understanding, so I respond, “...Okay. Were you intentionally trying to hurt yourself”? And the patient indignantly answers, “No, of course not”. Exasperated now, I pressed, “But you know you’re allergic, right”?
And she goes, “Yeah. I just have a cold and thought it would help me breathe better”. I couldn’t believe it. Incredulously, I then summarized the situation back to her: “So you took horse sulfa—which you’re allergic to—because you had a cold and thought it would help your breathing”? “I took half a horse sulfa”, the patient corrected me. Good Lord.
I just responded, “Sorry, half. Gotchya. Let’s go to the hospital”.
This Patient Was In A Jamopened white and orange travel trailerPhoto by Muhammed Abiodun Mustapha on Unsplash
I’m a paramedic and was called out for a stroke. The man was having a stroke; upon doing a stroke screen, it looked like the patient had something large in his mouth. Thinking maybe this guy had some sort of oropharyngeal cancer or mass, I asked his wife if this was indeed the case, and she looked at me with a very puzzled look.
She said no, and then I asked, “What is in his mouth”? His wife then says it’s a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that she shoved in there. When her husband’s symptoms started, she thought it was just that his blood glucose was low, so she tried to force-feed this poor man an entire sandwich before she called 9-1-1. Ah, job security.
It Was An Oxidant Waiting To Happen
There was a 24-year-old patient who was brought in from a prison in a rural county. He was working roadside cleanup when he found a bottle in a ditch that he thought contained booze, and he quickly chugged it down. To be fair, it did look like booze. It wasn’t. It turned out it was a substance that contained sulfuric acid. Its pH was less than 2.5...It just ate up the litmus paper. So shortly afterward, he gets to the ICU, and he is in excruciating pain and vomiting blood.
The gastroenterologist took him to do an EGD (basically a procedure where they can look at the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum with a camera attached to a flexible tube), and the pictures were horrendous. You could see his stomach and esophageal mucosa eroding. He had to be sent off to another hospital where they had an esophageal surgeon who could repair the mess.
He, of course, needed multiple surgeries and had a very long hospital stay. I saw him a few months later when he was admitted for another issue. He was down to 90 lbs (from about 150) and was getting fed through a PEG tube. He was very lucky to be young and otherwise healthy (but not very smart).
A Rash Decision
I’m a pharmacist. This story comes to mind, although I’m sure there are plenty more I’m not remembering. A woman came in, claiming that her medication was making her vomit. She said she couldn’t remember what it was called. So, I looked up her profile, but there was nothing recent, just some one-off antibiotics and an anti-fungal from almost a year ago.
I asked her if her medication was over the counter, and she said that it was and pointed me to the Monistat cream. I thought it was incredibly strange that a cream meant for “lady parts” had made her vomit, so I asked her how she had been using it. That’s when I learned the disgusting truth—much to my surprise, she’d been taking it by mouth.
She explained that she would fill the plunger with the cream, shoot it to the back of her throat, and swallow it so she wouldn’t taste it as much as putting it directly on her tongue and swallowing.
What A Meathead
I’m a rural ER doctor. A 35-year-old female walked in with right-sided jaw/neck swelling. She says, “I think it happened because I ate some meat yesterday that my body is reacting to…” Then suddenly, 10 minutes later: “Oh yeah, and I accidentally swallowed a bee, and it stung me in my mouth right before this happened. Sorry, I forgot to mention that”.
When Urine Need Of Some Whizdom
I had an adult male patient who needed a Foley catheter. His mother was in the room, and they both lived together in the backwoods of Tenessee. I informed them both of the order for a catheter, how it worked, and why it was needed. His mother stated, “Well, he’s still a virgin, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with his virginity being taken in a hospital”.