Doctors have lives too. Despite the current worldwide situation that would suggest otherwise, doctors like going to bars, hanging with colleagues or friends outside of the medical field, and being out in the world.
Sometimes, however, their job gets in the way of their personal life. You've seen it on TV: "Is there a doctor in the house?" Sometimes, they're that doctor. And in some cases, they aren't even called for-yet know they're desperately needed.
Just A Minor Mental Disorder
When I was young, around 12-13. I started to really annoy my parents because I'd randomly make a grunting sound. During movies, just chatting. Parents thought I was just trying to be annoying/doing it for fun. I had a friend whose parents were doctors and after having hung out with them for a while they took my mom aside and said "I think Savassan has Tourettes". It wasn't a life-threatening illness or anything, and luckily my form of Tourettes is very minor. My parents felt so bad for giving me crap about "being annoying" when they found out.
From 0 To 60
My good friend has a similar story with a Doctor (PhD, not MD) - She was a college student, a talented writer with near straight A's. After she turned in a paper her professor requested a meeting during office hours. Confused she went to see them and he showed her the paper she had written: six pages of complete gibberish, words and punctuation but not a single coherent sentence in the entire paper.
Asked her about her stress levels and when she said she was fine they suggested she go see her Primary Care Physician. This lead to that and they discovered a tumor on her brain stem which due to its location couldn't be removed.
I met her 2 years later after Chemo shrunk the tumor. Then she developed severe gastroparesis and malabsorption syndrome. She dropped 100 pounds from an athletic 175 to about 77 pounds. I quit counting the number of times she coded when that number hit double digits.
She's rebounded to the high 90s but she's been fighting to stay alive for 3-4 years. She is doing okay now that they removed an infected part of her intestines that was likely causing recurring infections.
Some People Are So Stubborn
My dad was gaining weight in his belly and one day his belly button popped out so we poked fun and called it his baby belly. Finally a family friend, who was a doctor, asked if he could feel my dad's stomach and told him he had a hernia. My dad never told us he was golfing a few months earlier when he fell to the ground in pain after swinging so we never questioned that his belly was anything but weight gain.
The End Of The Line
A family member is a doctor and a man in his 60s crashed into their parked car. The man said he wasn't sure what had happened, that he must have been distracted. He was speaking and acting completely coherent but a bit upset (understandably). My family member suggested he should see a doctor and ask for a brain MRI. Turned out he had a brain tumour and passed away within 6 months.
Out Like A Light
I had a non-medical doctor (one of my highschool math teachers) point out to me that he noticed that I always fall asleep in his class. He didn't bring it up because he he thought I was slacking in his class, he brought it up because based on his observations of HOW I fell asleep made him believe that I should be tested for Narcolepsy.
Behold, I had a neurological and sleep study evaluation, and I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy.
One of my cousins is a cardiologist, he met my buddy for five minutes while I was getting a driver and vehicle for them. No idea what was said, but my buddy saw a doctor, turns out he had a heart problem and eventually had to get a valve put in.
She Saved His Life
My uncle showed up at Christmas with a seriously droopy eye. He told everyone he'd been to the eye doctor who told him it was fine and would heal. My mother is a nurse who told him to immediately go to the hospital, as she felt he was showing signs of a brain tumor. She was right. He had a pituitary tumor. They caught it in time to prevent permanent damage.
Saved By The Test
I was at a restaurant and noticed a Kayser–Fleischer ring in the waiters eye and mentioned that he may possibly have liver disease. I was really nervous about telling him, as it may have been too forward. He was very appreciative and said he was being treated for it already. I had literally just taken my state and national boards and received my licence a week prior and that exact diagnosis question was on it, even though it has nothing to do with my speciality.
I'm Just Kidneying You
Thirteen years ago I was home for my grandma's funeral. Hanging out with my brothers for a few days afterwards, one of them a nurse (now a CRNA). We were going to bed on my last night here and I said isn't it weird how my legs do this? My socks were leaving indentations at the top. Due to edema. He said I needed to get it checked out right away.
Got back to the Dominican Republic...turned out I had an auto-immune disorder that was attacking my kidneys. Long story short got into a trial program at Mayo Clinic which saved my kidneys and my life.
For A Better Life
Fairly related but my dad's best friend, a doctor, was at a medical conference one year and had this happen to him. He was listening to a presentation about some sort of heart monitor and the presenter asked for a volunteer. Since it was towards the end of the day, no one volunteered, so my dad's friend figured he'd take one for the team and volunteered to be the patient. He got on stage, the guy demoed the monitor, then he went back to his seat.
Right after the presentation, as he was leaving, the guy chased him down and said something to the effect of "Hey man, thanks for volunteering but you need to go to the ER right now." I'm not a doctor, so don't know the specifics, but apparently he had a genetic heart condition that only showed up on this new test. He went to the ER, the presenter was right, and he had the operation that night. It was 5~10 years ago and he's had a complete recovery!
If you've spent any time in hospitals you understand that when it comes to one on one time with the patients, it's the nurses who do the bulk of the work - and it can absolutely be a thankless job. Working in the medical community can be draining, physically, emotionally and mentally.
That being said, a little bit of appreciation goes a long way. But how, exactly, do you thank your nurses when their shifts rotate so quickly and you never really know who is going to be on staff when?
Reddit user PossibleDogNapping asked:
Turns out there are quite a few ways, but it pretty much boils down to snacks and a thank you note. If that's all it takes, then nurses really must not get thanked anywhere near enough. So allow us to take this moment to say THANK YOU - from anyone who has ever been a patient to anyone who has ever provided treatment.
We appreciate you.
Most places have comment cards or a mechanism for feedback - i'd do that as well as flowers/candy/donuts/etc. Those compliments go up to the managers and are considered in decisions about promotions and funding. At least for my place of work, compliments go in your 'permanent file'. Also be sure to visit later! The work can get you really down, but seeing someone who's thriving is just the best.
I am not a nurse, but I used to work in a hospital with 18 nurses as my coworkers. I can tell you the one thing that made people cry was handwritten notes of thanks. I saw at least 3 people (one of them a big, burly, heterosexual, father of 2) cry because of notes patients or their families sent because they were so heartfelt.
You can also send donuts or pastries or whatever, those are always a hit. As long as the gift/food is addressed to the whole office, there's no ethical qualms about accepting it as a gift. The note can be addressed to just one person if you want.
Tell their manager, please, please tell their manager. Or write a letter. Someone doing their job well can often go unnoticed by management and in my experience, nurses suck at giving positive feedback. Our job is hard and it would be nice to be professionally recognized now and then.
Patience From The Patients
As a tech and a nursing student, a big thing to show appreciation is just show understanding that they have other patients. If you need something (Tylenol or Dilaudid) it may take awhile. We also hear your complaints but they can't always be taken care of (ex. Clear liquid diets).
When my daughter's were born, I brought a gallon of ice cream for the nursing staff from an amazing ice cream stand.
Walked off the elevator to the nurses station... May I help you? Yes, could you help me eat this, pulling out 2 half gallons. Eyes grew WIDE as did the smile. I'm going to see (wife's name) down the hall.
Wife and baby basically wanted for nothing while they were there.
I took names. The woman who raced me into ER, the nurse, every technician, even those folks dressed in red (yes, the phlebotomists actually wore red). It was exactly 27 people in all. But I was scared and they were actually helping me and I wanted to know their names.
For 3 days they worked to save my life. And when I got home I wrote a 2-page, single space, 11-size-font-Calibri letter. I itemized every single person and what each did for me, addressed it to the ER and the 6th floor of the hospital and mailed it.
When I returned again, this time for life-saving surgery, I again took names - I intend to send the floor some donuts at shift changes and some personal cards. While I was post-op, someone from admin came to check on me and see if there was anything she could do. Some sort of case manager. I told her I was great (relative to being dead that is!), but I had written a letter and really wanted to be sure it went to the right place, that someone had read it.
She returned the next day to tell me that she'd 'found' the letter - it had moved through the hospital and into the Leadership's Hands and was read aloud at a meeting; and they intended on blowing up the letter and placing it in the break rooms for nurses, doctors, etc. Sometimes, I think just stopping and taking the time to write it out, to really be specific about what their care meant, might be the most meaningful. I'll never forget them, and I told them that.
Standing Up To The Family
Just be nice to me, I know you might feel like crap or are going through a lot but I'm working hard to help you get better. Stand up to those family members of yours who are awful because they feel they need to look like they are doing something for you. A smile from my patient is worth more than anything else.
In the words of my mom who is a nurse
"Please don't die, thanks."
Notes & Snacks
As a nurse, I love notes! I put them in my portfolio and pull them out after a long day. And hugs! But gift wise, we love being able to share candies/snacks with our unit or pods.
But truly, nothing beats a handwritten or personal note ♥️
Basic manners. Saying please and thank you. Also, trust your healthcare team over WebMD or your mom's group on Facebook.
Ticky-Box Worshipping Sniglets
Chocolates, pizza, cookies are all lovely and we (at least my coworkers and I) appreciate them greatly. But this is a massively difficult job that is frequently supervised by petty, ticky-box worshipping, sniglets who care much more about the paperwork.
SO please, if we did a good job, made you or a loved ones life better, more comfortable, or maybe even saved a life - tell our bosses.
From An ER RN
From an ER RN:
Be kind. The ER is busy, yet a lot of waiting (for results, orders and meds to cross over, for an eval) happens. We're not ignoring you.
Not getting angry when you're discharged without a clear diagnosis. The ER evaluates and treats life-threatening conditions and ensures stable patients can receive outpatient treatment; if you're one of the stable patients, be thankful and follow up as recommended.
Notes v. Food
If there is a nurse or two who has made an extra impression on you, go ahead and write an individual note. I have received three of those in ten years of nursing and you better believe I saved them. It means a lot to know you make that much of a difference, especially when you are feeling stressed and frustrated at times.
Food is nice but it's gone in 5 minutes and people who aren't on shift won't get to share.
Pizza Buys Our LoveGiphy
Food. Many floors/units are so busy and chronically understaffed (by design because profits are more important than patients regardless of what bullshit a CEO spouts about patient safety being the #1 priority) that the staff typically have just minutes to grab food or drink in a 12 hours day. Pizza buys our love.
Tell them. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Nurses go through so much more than what people assume. Expressing your appreciation in words may seem minor, but to them it means the world. In a cruel world, it's gratefulness like that, that reminds them why they chose that profession and makes their job a bit easier to do.
Also, this does not apply to everybody. This is more a personal opinion. Violence against nurses (and health care workers in general) is a growing problem in many parts of the world. If you really want to show appreciation, advocate for them when they are being pushed around. A coworker of mine died from an attack from a patients family member. No one batted an eye when we spoke up about this growing problem. Violence is not part of our job.
Medical professionals see all sorts of interesting things at work, but also a lot of tragedy.
Presented below are some of the interesting and lighthearted (and some downright silly) things that doctors, nurses, EMTs, and other medical professionals have witnessed while on the job.
Reddit user u/Cay_Rharles asked:
*Content warning: this article contains descriptions of injury and drug use.*
I used to work transport at a children's hospital (exactly what it sounds like – taking patients to and fro different places within the hospital). One day, we get a call to take a kid from x-ray back to the ER (this was pretty standard).
The kid was probably six or seven, and when I got there, I asked, "Oh, hey, ready to go back? How did your pictures go?"
The kid tells me they went good, and then said there was another little kid there getting pictures taken, too, except his wrist was like this – the kid then proceeds to bend their obviously-broken wrist all the way backward.
The kid's mom told us that the kid had been inconsolable when they'd arrived but a little bit of morphine worked its magic!
Not a nurse but it was an interesting experience so imma tell yall. I went to pt earlier this week (cubital tunnel syndrome) and when the physical therapist was having me do some things to make sure it was cts (like spreading my hands as wide as i could and holding my arms out) she saw that my fingers don't actually straighten all the way (no injuries whatsoever, they just wont straighten) and that ive got hypermobility in my elbows and my elbows only. She thought both of those things were * wild*
Senior-year nursing student here. In my pediatrics clinical I was working in the ER at our local children's hospital. A 15 year old girl came in because her mother had discovered she'd taken ecstasy and was less than pleased. The girl was stable, we were just giving her fluids and running some blood tests. When I was taking her blood pressure she began using both hands to slowly feel up and down the sleeves of my sweater, the entire time talking about how "amazing this stuff feels right now." I backed away and finished what I was doing with professionalism, but couldn't help but laugh as soon as I walked out.
Once looked after a mother who'd just given birth. Together we had to figure out how we were going to manage the milk supply to her third nipple, which was in her arm pit. When her milk came in her third nipple started to swell and let down milk when she breastfed her baby. We had to make a breast pad for her arm pit so she didn't leak through her clothes and slowly try to dry up the milk to that nipple without her getting mastitis. Lucky she had a great sense of humour and we had a lot of good laughs during her stay.
I’ve seen an unnerving amount of babies born without buttholes. So... surgeons just make one.
The ICD-10 coding system has about 69k reporting codes. Some of them covering medical conditions or causes of injury are extremely specific, weird, and/or funny.
V00.11 In-line roller-skate accident
V00.12 Non-in-line roller-skate accident
T75.00 Unspecified effects of lightning
R46.1 Bizarre personal appearance
Y35.412S Legal intervention involving bayonet, bystander injured
M21.70 Unequal limb length (acquired), unspecified site
T63.633A Assault with sea anemone
W59.13XS Crushed by nonvenomous snake
Y93.85 Deliberately holding your breath until you pass out
Apparently my Dextrocardia (heart on the right) is super interesting to doctors. They listen to it to see which side it's louder on, look at my x-ray, etc. Its kinda cool but also weird.
I used to run sleep studies in a Hospital. Sometimes we would also consult inpatients who had been admitted to the Hospital who used CPAP, and one time someone brought their home CPAP machine/mask with the moisture reservoir attached to the side. You're supposed to use distilled water in it to avoid mineral buildup and calcification, and change the water daily and clean it regularly, but this person NEVER had in the years they owned the machine - they only topped off the water occasionally. The clear plastic water reservoir over the heating element that warmed & humidified the air this person breathed had a thick black mold growing over the entire thing and into the hose. I dunked it in some chemicals to attempt to clean it, but ended up trashing the whole thing.
Not an oddity, but hormones during pregnancy make your hair and nails grow faster. So often there is LOTS of pubic hair on display when we go check for dilation. One day I had a patient complain about how hairy she was down there, and her sisters sang "Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia! Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia pet" just to make fun of her. And we all sang it for the next 12 hour shift.
I've told a lot of my wife's stories on here but here's a classic quick one.
She was covering registration when a man came in and said that he was there because he had severe abdominal pain, and his poop "looked wrong."
While my wife was typing his complaint into the computer, this guy actually pulls out a tied off plastic bag, and plops it onto the counter with a wet thud. He asks, "do you need to see it?"
"...no I do not," my wife answers. She resumes typing in stunned silence.
People say all kids of wonderful things when they are coming round from an anesthetic. I've had people thinking they are aliens and we are experimenting on them, marriage proposals and one guy who was convinced I was a pixie there to take his shoes!
Coolest thing would have to be the old guy with hypospadias (his urethral opening was on the underside of his penis rather than the tip). We had to straight cath him so when we pulled up his gown it was 30 seconds of ?????
I work in an urgent care lab but we had a 27 year old dude come in with nausea and general sense of not feeling well. Doctor talked to him and turns out that for the last 2 weeks, he hadn't eaten any solid food. He wanted to do a juice cleanse but couldn't afford juice and figured jolly ranchers would work. So for 2 weeks, in place of actual food he had been eating jolly ranchers. Doctor told him to eat food and stay away from candy for a while
We had a 92 year old woman come in for breathing difficulty. She had to remove her clothes, but refused to take her bra off. She was very sweet, and very adamant that her bra was staying on. We figured she was so old that it was most likely modesty on her part. Different times and all.
Well, the doctor really wanted us to take her bra off, because of the breathing constriction and the tests he wanted to run. She still refused, and guarded the area closely. Guarding is a thing people do when they have a lot of pain.
I finally talked her into it, after much pleading and trying to explain to her why we had to remove it, and I helped her remove it. Tucked in the middle, between her breasts, was a tiny little baggie of crack cocaine. She was so ashamed. I put the hospital gown on her and buried her little drugs away, in with her personal belongings.
And no, I didn't turn her in.
Not a nurse, but my aunt is a doctor and she tells this story all the time. There was a younger guy (about 16 or so) who came in because of gastrointestinal distress that just wouldn't go away. He had tried medication, pooping, and medication to help with pooping. None of it worked.
Eventually they found out that this guy's very young brother had taken to dropping smaller objects into his mouth when he sleeps. Most of the items did pass without difficulty, but there were a couple larger ones that were stuck and that was causing the distress. He did need surgery to get them removed, but everyone had a good laugh about it.
I had a little kid (maybe 5 years old) come into triage in the ER one evening. Parent was concerned about a rash that suddenly appeared on the chin just below the the lip. It was red and a perfect little circle. Looking hard at it, I start saying/asking the kid, "you know when sometimes you put a cup or a bottle on your mouth, you suck the air out of it and then it gets stuck? Did you do that?"
Child sheepishly looks around and tells me, 'actually, I had a water bottle..." then proceeded to perfectly describe the motion and how it got stuck on their chin, down to the popping sound it made when it was pulled off.
You could see the frustration grow in the parent's eyes, then proceeded to scold the child for wasting another trip to the ER for not telling the parent what happened.
Parent apologized for wasting my time (I was amused, not bothered) and left the ER.
I love working in triage.
My wife works for an organ procurement company. When I've gone for medical procedures requiring anesthesia, I very seriously tell the nurses "Do not let my wife steal my organs while I'm out!" I think it's hysterical, my wife not so much, and the nurses just look confused with a wtf is this guy saying look.
Mildly sedating a kid for a procedure, who then proceeds to giggle while hallucinating bubbles all over the place.
I looked after a lady who came into the operating theatre very late. I was on call and had already done my 8 hour shift. So I stayed on until 2 am. But we are a small hospital so someone from the operating theatre helps the recovery nurse after the operation. Being the youngest and without a family I stayed back.
This lady woke up to see me and the first thing she says is "oh honey, you must be tired you look like sh*t, but you are still a very pretty girl. But your eyes are tired, go to sleep!!!!" Then she went back to sleep. Hahahaha.
Not my story, but I am a nurse and this story was told to me by someone I worked with. A lady in her 30s, let's call her Sarah. She had a stroke and spent quite some time in a neuro ICU. Her bf was at the bedside all the time, and he saw with his own eyes that she is not really having any progress with recovery. She'd open her eyes, but that's it - no tracking with her eyes, not responding to painful stimuli, not responding to verbal commands, nothing.
Anyway, one day multiple staff were in her room doing various assessments and whatnot. Neurologist once again tried poking at her feet and got no response. So he said something along the lines of "C'mon, Sarah, give me a sign that you can hear me, any sign, you can even flip me off" And guess what? Sarah raised both of her arms up and flipped him off. For the next few days the entire unit kept talking about Sarah flipping off her neurologist, which her bf thought was hilarious.
And since that day Sarah started recovering pretty quickly. Don't know if she ever made a full recovery, but last I know she was doing pretty well.
First responders and medical professionals see some pretty messed up stuff in the line of duty; humans are, unfortunately, easily hurt and accidental injuries can get very bad very quickly.
Reddit user u/MyAltRedditAccount1 asked:
*Content Warning: this article contains graphic descriptions of violence and severe injury, as well as mentions of substance use and attempted suicide/self-harm.*
Guy convinced a friend to drill a hole in the back of his head because he read somewhere that it alters the flow of cerebrospinal fluid to give a permanent high without any drugs. Somehow worked out with no bad effects except that he and the friend just left it open for like 2 weeks and the cut edges of his scalp started rotting. I could literally see into the inside of this dude's brain through the dime-size hole he had drilled (not sure if penetrating the brain itself was intentional or not).
But the god d*mn shocking thing is that, except for the infection in his scalp, the guy was otherwise completely fine, told me all about what he did in a totally coherent manner and then extolled the virtues of drilling into your skull over taking drugs.
Had a faculty member of the College I work for have a heart attack on the stairs, fell down and slid down an entire flight of about 30 steps, on his face, each step breaking his nose slightly more than the last. His nose was basically flat and he was pouring blood everywhere, IIRC, lost a few teeth too.
I used the AED that was thankfully right there beside the stairwell, before I had to do CPR on him, while trying not to get his blood in my mouth, for a whole 14 minutes before EMS/FD got on scene.
Had an officer show up, and he just stood beside me and watched. He didn't attempt to provide any kind of first aid or CPR relief. (After about 2 minutes of CPR your efficiency drops significantly, I was doing it over 6 times as long.)
EMS finally arrived and rushed him to the emergency room and thankfully the guy survived.
By far, not the worst thing someone has dealt with in this line of work before, but, it was traumatizing none-the-less.
Ended up being honoured with the first "Life-Saving Award" The College has ever issued.
I should also point out, I am only a Security Guard, and I was only on the job for 2 months before this happened.
Got a call of medical aid request, male subject and chainsaw related injury. Showed up and found a male in the middle of the street head in one place body in another. Chainsaw still running. Guy had found out his wife was cheating on him with his own brother, got drunk put the chainsaw up to his throat to show them a lesson the chainsaw teeth caught his neck and just kept going.
People Share Which Social Norms Absolutely Baffle Them | George Takei’s Oh Myyy
For me the most f**ked up thing that I see as a nurse, are loved ones that refuse to let their sick and miserable family members pass with dignity . I know losing a loved one is hard, been there, but instead of stopping treatment, they want us to continue doing everything possible for their 90+ year old grandparent. We as medical professionals know that they aren't leaving the hospital or nursing home and family are advised as such, but want us to continue full code status. This means doing CPR and breaking multiple bones when they code.
one of my patients sneezed out his intestines. He had a hernia so severe the skin had stretched to the breaking point so all it took was a sudden increase in abdominal pressure and bam! Edit: to elaborate... he had had multiple surgeries to repair the hernia in the past that all failed. He came into the hospital looking like he had swallowed a basketball, the skin around his belly was very thin and damaged so all it took was a sneeze to rip the skin and all of his bowels came shooting out. Not a single loop of bowel, basically all of it since he had little support in there at all to keep them in place. He survived the initial trauma since evisceration is not as immediately fatal as it may look if the bowel is undamaged but I think he had a very poor long term prognosis.
In my stint as an RN at the county jail I saw a lot of patients who had either not had the resources or desire to seek out healthcare. One case that really stuck out to me was a middle aged male who was being booked and had a bandage wrapped around his ankle. It looked pretty soiled so a bandage change was offered and accepted. This man had a host of maggots that had made their home inside his ankle that fell out as soon as the old bandage was removed. The clinical term for this I learned is myiasis. I also learned that these maggots had actually been doing him a service and had actively been keeping his wound clean by eating necrotic tissue.
Another wasn't an actual visual "saw", just I was there and saw the whole thing unfold. 17 year-old was brought in for a very feeble suicide attempt. Took a few too many Advil or barely scratched her wrists the short way, something along those lines. She seems like a good kid, just depressed. Obviously in need of some help. Then her parents come in. They look fairly affluent. They start telling her how everyone gets sad and she just needs to deal with it. Doctor and mental health professional decide she needs an in patient stay.
Girl agrees she needs this. Parents refuse. They don't need their daughter sent away with the crazies. Doctor has to get an emergency custody order to have her in patient. Parents leave throwing a fit, threatening to sue, etc. Once they're gone and the girl realizes she will be getting help the look of relief on her face was amazing. Mental health worker comes in and talks with her about how she'll be 18 and graduating soon and to just hang in there for a few months. This was probably 3-4 years ago and I really hope she's doing well.
A man was paralyzed from the chest down was having phantom feelings on his legs and hips. He felt extremely cold, so for 3 hours he tried to warm himself with a hair drier on high. Being paralyzed he never noticed the damage he was causing. He had severe burns for almost a day before someone noticed and called 911.
Im an xray tech. Had to xray a guy's penis because he stuck little magnetic balls up his urethra. Surprise surprise when he tried to take the string of them out they disconnected and got stuck.
Former EMT here. I was once working a rodeo event in Chicago which just so happened to be next to Cook County Corrections. Some guy decided it would be a great idea to climb the fence into the prison and got caught in the razor wire at the top. He ended up hanging there bleeding all over the place like some kind of f**ked up Jesus for a few minutes until security could get him down. Pretty sure he ended up fine, just lots of scars.
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
For most of us, a bad day at work might mean a missed deadline, having to fire off a few snarky "per my last email"s or maybe a snoozefest of a meeting. For medical professionals a bad day at work can mean literally the worst - or last - day of someone's life.
These are those stories.
Reddit user J0E_The_Psych0121 asked:
We're going to caution you, if you've got a weak stomach for talking about bodily fluids (or solids... or semi-solids) or you're easily upset by talk of death or dying, proceed with caution. This article will have plenty of it all.
The responses were sometimes funny in retrospect, but for the most part they ranged from disgusting to heartbreaking to disgustingly heartbreaking.Take a look.
Go Through It Alone
Taking care of a fall patient that broke her pelvis. She just found out her husband had cancer and she wouldn't be there for him. She was crying, telling me that he was there for every appointment and treatment when she had cancer, and now he'd have to go through it alone. She felt like she was failing him or letting him down.
"She About To Die Anyway"
Watching another nurse pulling a fall mat away from a patients floor next to her bed. When asked why, she said flatly (in front of the patient!) "She about to die anyway."
The patients mouth was stuck open because she was so emaciated, but she could still cry. Her frozen face somehow allowed her to still cry after she heard that, and she did for a long time. I sat there with her. The patient was in custody of the state (a mental hospital) and they chose to withhold food and water as a type of forced DNR (do not resuscitate.)
Part of a DNR type of plan can include refusing artificial ways of being fed like a feeding tube etc... and if someone else is in charge of making you a DNR or not because you've been deemed not of sound mind, then yes that can happen. A lot of mental patients have no family and their "guardians" are the state. The state doesn't know the patient and will chose whatever option they want, typically the most "cost effective" one which can lead to situations like this.
She was around 90 something. We were forced to watch her slowly starve to death and were not cleared to give her enough medication to ease her awareness of it.
The nurse who made that heartless comment in front of the patient was reported, but I don't know what happened because I quit right after that.
The Longest Incident Report
Former Paramedic, long story short, got a call for what turned out to be a very dead, decomposing man who had passed alone in his apartment. His body was filled with gas (fairly common.) As I'm standing by the body calling the hospital to give them a heads up about what's about to come their way and get approval to move, the new EMT decides to poke gas filled body. It explodes. He loses a hand and a trillion vaporized bits of dead old man cover me, got in my open mouth, under my clothes, etc. Taste was...awful.
A lot of gas can accumulate in dead bodies, and if it gets trapped, it can be almost like a bomb. New guy was kneeling next to the body, I think this was his first serious call because he had that kind of glazed-over, "I'm in shock" look in his eyes, and he put his hand on the guy's stomach. NEVER press on bloated dead body's stomach. His hand sank down into this bloated, gas filled sack until said sack just..broke.
My crew chief said it would be like sinking your fist into a box of firecrackers. Honestly, not sure how he came up with that analogy and didn't really work in my mind. But yeah... dead body exploded, got gunk everywhere and took off the EMT's hand.
After hundreds of showers I could still smell corpse on me. My SO at the time said every time she nuzzled me, or got close to my hair she could smell it too. It was like that for about a week. It still makes me gag to think about - but that new kid's life was pretty much permanently changed.
Longest Incident Report I have ever filed.
Fear Of Dentists
This happened when my wife was a student nurse. A guy came in who had broken a tooth; but as he had a morbid fear of dentists and of anything to do with his mouth, he didn't seek any treatment for months and the tooth got horribly infected.
By the time he came to hospital, he was seriously ill and it was too late. The infection got into his blood and he died a few days later of septicemia. Apparently, the smell from his mouth was the worst smell that any of the staff had ever experienced.
Why I Gave Up On Pediatrics
This case in my internship made me give up on specializing in pediatrics.
Young boy got brought in for rheumatic heart disease, already in heart failure. Apparently this all started from a minor skin infection and went all the way up into his heart valves. We met him already in the pediatric ICU. He was still conscious and able to talk, and so for his first day we built a sort of rapport.
The next morning, before my friends and I clocked out, he wasn't looking so great so the resident in charge called in the general surgery team to perform a cutdown to expose his veins for access. I had to hold down the poor kid during the procedure, since local anesthesia could only do so much. He was screaming so I told him, "Just hold on, we'll get through this!"
He nodded and said "Okay" then tried his best to be brave.
That was the last conversation we had. When I came in for my next shift, he was already intubated. The only parent with him was his father, since his mother was employed overseas. Now for many of these cases, a letter to the employer is needed to explain why so and so must go home in this case of family emergency. I volunteered to draft the letter and send it out so we could get this lady on a flight soon, and have her come home for her son.
As soon as I put the last period on that letter I was typing in the nurse's station, the kid coded just a few feet away. We couldn't bring him back. The next worst part, of course, was telling his father what had just happened and asking if he wanted us to stop the resuscitation. That conversation will stay with me.
No one should have to bury a child due to something so preventable.
Death Over Debt
The saddest one was a woman who had an aggressive but treatable cancer. She was riddled with guilt from all the debt her family was incurring and broke down when she told me she wished she would just die soon so that the debt would stop accumulating. That one hurt to hear.
When Mom Only Wants One Baby
Respiratory therapist here. When I was a student we had to do a rotation through a NICU/PICU. The NICU was very busy with 7 or 8 sets of twins all on mechanical ventilation. As the therapist I was with was giving me a generalized report on the babies and trying to teach me about the disease states the babies were experiencing, she said "and mom only wants one of them" and moved on like it was nothing.
I asked if it was common if a family only wanted one baby and she said "Oh, yes. all the times. sometimes it's because one baby is a lot worse than the other and mom doesn't want to get too attached in case it doesn't make it, or, like those two over there, mom can only afford one of them."
I couldn't believe something like that took place and was as common place as it was. Made me never want to work in pediatrics. The human experience is far, far worse than the traumas and illnesses.
People think they want everything possible done to save them until they see what that means on a dying family member. We had it happen in our family. It took two months for her spouse to finally let their dying partner go and the shock and grief made our younger daughter not talk for a year. I went gray in those two months and my husband barely spoke during that time. Death with dignity should be available for anyone who needs it.
Our younger daughter is back to singing again after years of therapy. We all wish more people knew the importance of medical wishes being filed before things go really wrong so that nobody else suffers the way my family member did because of someone that just doesn't want to let go. She needlessly suffered and it devastated everyone else.
I worked a temp job for a local hospital's home health/hospice department. One of my jobs was to call new patients and confirm their address before the nurse and/or therapist would make their first visit. I had to call this one patient who tried to take his own life by jumping in front of a commuter train.
When I called, his uncle answered and went on a twenty minute rant about how worthless his nephew was and how he was a complete burden on the family now and that it would have been better if he died. I understand suicide can be seen as a selfish act but my heart went out to this guy.
The patient obviously had some stuff going on to push to the point of attempting to end his life and then for him to survive and have to listen to his family member say such harsh things... it was brutal to say the least. I often wonder what happened to him.
Diarrhea Blood FountainGiphy
I was a 3rd year med student on my 3 month internal medicine rotation. For people who don't know, this is generally the time in your life where you feel the most stupid every minute of every day.
I had arrived for work just barely on time (at 430 am) for my 573 hour shift. Of course I was dressed to the nines because medicine is stupid sometimes and you have to dress to impress. Tie, nice shoes, slacks, button up, that sort of thing. Might as well have had on tails and a top hat. Imagine a monocole for effect.
I started rounding of course. I went in to see a patient I will call "Mr. Hipaa." I had seen him for several days at this point and he was usually pretty chipper. He had been in the ICU for a GI bleed, but had done great and now stepped down to the floor. This morning he wasn't talking very much. That's not unusual though, it was 442 AM and I was barely conscious myself. But something felt off and there was just an odor in the room.
My spider sense was tingling so I checked the bathroom. They always say you only have to smell melena once to never forget. This was my once. The floor, the toilet, the walls, were covered in that inky black anal spray. I was assaulted by the pungent aroma of iron shavings and death. It was icky. So I went, "Oh. Mr. Hipaa I'll be right back!"
I toddled off to find one of my residents. Those lazy bums didn't usually wander in until after 5. Managed to find my chief who seemed uninterested in what I had to say. I wasn't chicken little, I had never cried wolf before. I remember this seemed fairly important and him showing no interest whatsoever. Bad resident, no donut.
So I went to the real power on the floor, the nurses station.
They promptly did the wrong thing too.
They check his BP and systolic is in the low 80s. Prior had always hovered in the 130/40s. My internal dialogue is screaming "that boy aint right!" but my third year medical student body is standing there, now surrounded by multiple nurses, just trying not to get in the way and trying not to look even more stupid or say the wrong thing.
Well, they want to move him to the chair. I still all these years later have no idea why. I managed to squeak out a "Should we be standing him up right now given the crazy low BP and massive blood loss?" but an MS3 speaking is like a fart in the wind so I went unheard.
So we stand him up. I'm holding on to his left arm, another nurse on his right. He had little strength to support himself. A half a gallon of blood-tinged feces (or feces tinged blood?) promptly falls out of him and on to the floor. I mean it literally fell. Imagine moving your china cabinet and it tilts a little bit and the dishes just FALL. It didn't squirt, or spray. It just fell as a mass, hitting the floor and splashing out.
At that point Mr. Hipaa decides, "Enough with being conscious!" and promptly passes out. It could have been something to do with he now had a Hgb around 3 and went from laying to standing with a BP on the lower end of life compatibility. Now I'm a regular sized big guy, 6' 200 pounds. My nurse was 5'3 120. Mr. Hipaa was 6'3 250. There was no stopping this fall once it began. Timmmmbbbeeeeeerrrrrr He fell face forward and planted... right into his bed! Crisis averted! My moment of joy was instantly changed to terror as I looked down at his bare behind, jack-knifed into the air like a Whataburger A-Frame. Then it happened.
Diarrhea blood fountain.
The perfect symmetry of it as it exploded from him is something I'll never forget. It was like the Bellagio, or Buckingham fountain in Chicago. Just this perfect fluid dynamic cone that reached a foot and a half into the air then gently allowed gravity to pull it down making that gorgeous trumpet like flare.
Except it was made of diarrhea and blood.
I, in my tie and fancy clothes suddenly became Neo from the matrix. My concrete pillars were the various nurses. They took hit after hit, while I dodged like Christian Bale in Equilibrium. I danced, I juked, I spun like no one has ever spun before. I was the Fred Astaire of sh*t swerving.
When it was all said and done, three nurses lost their lives that day (meaning were covered in feces and blood) while I, who had been staring down that fleshy barrel, had gotten away without one speck of red or brown or black on me.
The outcome? Mr. Hipaa went back to the ICU, little bit of PRBC, another embolization and he was home happy and healthy two weeks later, I got in trouble for not letting my resident know what was going on (WHAT?!), And as far as I'm aware those nurses are still showering to this day.
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/