Medical Professionals Share Their “I Can’t Believe This Happened” Moments While On The Job

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Doctors see a lot–some of it is shocking, some of it is sad. And some of it is weird … very weird.

In the following stories, medical professionals share the most shocking things they encountered while at work. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the stories involve objects on and in the body that have no business being there (oh, humans). The moral of the story is: don’t put things in your body that shouldn’t be there, and see a doctor immediately if you think something is really wrong with you!

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45. “Never Lie To Your Doctor”

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My dad is an ER doctor and my mom is an ER nurse. One night, my dad is working and some older (probably mid 50s) gentleman comes WADDLING into the ER on his own. Fills out the forms and sits down. He didn’t seem to be in pain so my dad and the other people working weren’t in a hurry to get to him.

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Once they do, my dad sees him off in a side room and asks him what’s wrong. The patient said, “Well doc, I’ve got a cantaloupe stuck in my behind.” Confused, my dad asked, “Sorry, did you say a cantaloupe?” The guy pauses, looks at my dad right in the eye, and to his credit is one hundred percent honest … “Yeah Doc, I’m that naughty and adventurous.” A. Freaking. Cantaloupe.

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44. The Cat In The Fat

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I just recently caught up with an old friend who is now an OR nurse, and she told me this gem: She was preparing a morbidly obese woman for surgery, scrubbing her down and cleaning the areas up underneath rolls that haven’t seen the light of day in God knows how many years. When she picked up one particularly hefty roll around the side of this lady, near the lower back, she stopped suddenly. “Is that … a bone?” She mustered her courage and continued to investigate. A moment later she uncovered the skeleton of a small kitten. The bones were fused with the still-rotting flesh of the sad little creature.

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Holding back tears and vomit, she walked around to face the woman. “Ma’am, I don’t want to alarm you, but I’ve just found the remains of a small cat in one of your rolls.” The lady’s response, seemingly unfazed: “Oh! I’ve been looking for him!” Apparently people this huge develop rather thick callouses in their rolls from all the friction. This cat could have been clawing for life in there, and she might not have felt a thing. Poor little guy died trying to claw his way out of his worst nightmare.

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43. Pleasure Desires Gone Wrong

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I once cared for a middle-aged patient who presented to an emergency room with an adult toy-related, very embarrassing situation. He purchased the toy for one of his “pleasure desires.” Curiosity hit. And he shoved the damn thing in his pooper, high, high up! “Me first” attitude didn’t do him much good. Funny feelings subsided fairly quickly and the horror struck when he couldn’t get it out. His drainage was jammed, the toy was slipping further up and after about 24 hours of wishfully waiting for it to naturally pass, it hurt bad enough to seek medical help. The official party line that he vehemently iterated was, “I just fell onto it; how else do you think it got up there!?”

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Needless to say, emergency surgery was necessary and he landed in the ICU with sepsis-related post-op complications. It took him a long time before being able to use the toilet normally! Though I have seen some really absurd stuff in the ER, this one surely wins the now-that-was-stupid award.

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42. Was That The Highlight Of Your Career?

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A couple of years ago, a patient came in complaining of lower abdominal pain. I was looking at a CT of their belly. While looking through the stomach, I saw something that caught my eye. There was an unusually shaped foreign object in the stomach. I measured it, reformatted it in multiple planes, and finally came to the conclusion that it was a highlighter marker. I could clearly see the end of the marker where you store the cap. I made my report and was called at least three times by doctors doubting my report.

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The conversation went like this: Another doctor: “But the patient denies swallowing anything.” Me: “I don’t care; it’s there.” Doctor: “Could it be a remnant feeding tube?” Me: “No. It’s a highlighter.” Doctor: “Are you sure?” Me: “I’ll bet my salary on it. In retrospect, it’s been there for two years, but was missed on their previous CT.” Doctor: “But they’re having lower abdominal pain.” Me: “Yes, this is probably unrelated. Doesn’t change my mind though.” The next day, I was called. Surgeons did an upper endoscopy on the patient. They removed a blue highlighter from their stomach.

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41. A Very “Supportive” Family

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I was on my OB/GYN rotation and I had a 300-400 lb woman come in. We get to talking about her recent delivery, and she’s talking about how it was really hard to conceive, but that eventually, she was able to use the “two by four” method. I had no idea what she was talking about, so I asked her to elaborate. Because she was so large and her pannus (a dense layer of fatty tissue, consisting of excess subcutaneous fat within the lower abdominal region) was so big, her husband was unable to physically enter her.

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So what they did was had her father and her brother take a 2×4 plank and hold her pannus back so that her husband could physically make love to her. It apparently worked as I heard she had a healthy kid. No idea how many times they all had to get together to get pregnant. I didn’t ask; didn’t want to know.

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40. Nailed It!

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I interned in a city that gets very cold in the winter. Homeless people who were having a tough time surviving outdoors would come to the ED to get admitted, even if just overnight. They’d get a warm bed, a few hot meals and a cleanup. This one fellow was in really rough shape, “couldn’t walk.” The poor nurses did most of the cleanup–delousing, sponge bath, dressing the open sores. My job was to do the physical exam including the mandatory rectal. I literally had to lift that scrawny flap of a butt cheek and pick the encrusted dirt/feces/matted hair away from the rectum to expose the butt. Thankfully, I only had to turn 180 degrees to reach the sink that I dry heaved into.

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But before this fellow can be discharged he needed a podiatry consult. His black gnarled feet have thick yellow big toenails that have grown in a circle and are now piercing the bottom of the toe (the reason he can’t walk). The podiatrist intern comes in, starts a foot soak, and proceeds to tackle those nails with something that can only be described as modified tin snips. Now you know how some people have that habit of opening their mouths when concentrating really hard? Yup, he clipped that nasty nail and it flipped right into his mouth. We shared the sink.

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39. What’s The Bill For?

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I was working in the ER one night when a woman came in with a “retained vag foreign body.” When I went in to see her, she told me she had been having sex and the man told her that the rubber slipped off. She tried to retrieve it, but was unable to (but she could feel that something was in there). I grabbed a nurse, a speculum, and some forceps and took a look. There was certainly something in there. I pulled it out and it was … a $20 bill.

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I then asked her if she had put it in there and she said she hadn’t. She was clearly as confused as I was. I asked her if she wanted it, and she declined. (Needless to say, it went in the trash). I could never come up with an adequate explanation of why this woman had a $20 bill in her lady bits, nor why her partner would have put it there.

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38. This Made Me Cringe

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Well, I’m not a doctor yet, but here is a story from one of my professors: This was in rural Alabama. This middle-aged married couple had presented to the ER after they had been drinking for almost the entirety of the evening and got into a huge argument. Things got heated and the woman eventually fell off the porch of their trailer into the shrubs a few feet below. The husband in his belligerent state suddenly dropped the argument and came to his wife’s aid. She didn’t suffer anything too serious, just a couple of scratches here and there–except for what the man said looked like a piece of glass or pipe or something that became lodged in the woman’s arm when she hit the ground. He decided to not come to the hospital because he could remove this object himself. He got his largest pair of pliers and gripped on to this glass/pipe looking thing lodged in his helpless wife’s arm. He clamped down and pulled and pulled. Cranked and cranked. Trying to remove this object and it wouldn’t budge. After his masculinity defeated and the buzz wearing off on both of them they decided it sensible to finally come to the ER.

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Upon arriving to the ER the doctor immediately realized this poor woman had a compound fracture of her humerus, and this “pipe or piece of glass thing” was her bone sticking through her skin that her husband was trying to pry out with a pair of pliers.

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37. Do Not Try This At Home

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My friend works as an A&E nurse and she loves telling stories of things she has had to help remove from various places but the one I remember most is this. Before I tell the story. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!! One day, two men walk into the A&E department one of whom has a light bulb in his mouth. The story unfolds that they read somewhere on the internet that it is possible to put a light bulb in your mouth but once in there because of its shape it is impossible to take out again and he didn’t think this could possibly be true and decided to test it, well guess what? It is true. So they took him off so that they could get the light bulb out and sent him on his way all in all fine just a little embarrassed. That is not the best part.

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Four hours later on that same day, another man comes into the A&E department also with a light bulb in his mouth which he had successfully inserted but was unable to remove; thinking this was a very strange coincidence, questions ensued. Turns out the two boys from before had to get a taxi to and from the hospital the second man was the taxi driver who heard about the day’s events from the two boys as he was driving them home, didn’t believe it was true and decided to try it for himself when he got home.

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36. This Is Why I Don’t Wanna Be A Doctor

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A fourth-year med student here. On my ER rotation a couple of months back, I walked in to the ER and was immediately asked to help a nurse and resident put a catheter in a patient. Now a catheter placement is usually a one-person job, so I was pretty confused as to why they needed my help. I walk into the patient room, and I’m immediately greeted by a disgusting rotting flesh smell. The worst thing I’ve smelled in my life. The patient has to be pushing 400 lbs and has the worst edema (soft tissue swelling) from congestive heart failure I’ve ever seen. His balls and foreskin are about the size of a small watermelon, and the foreskin had swollen completely over the tip of his junk.

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The nurse had a speculum (tool OBGYN’s used to look inside the female’s private part) inserted into the man’s foreskin while the resident took the catheter in a hemostat (pliers type thing) and jammed it into the man’s pee hole for 20 minutes. They finally got the catheter in and took the speculum out. It was covered in a thick brown discharge that looked like fermented nasty pee. I still don’t know how he let his balls and “family jewels” swell that much.

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35. ‘Cause If You Like It, Then You Shoulda Put A Ring On It

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EMT and former scribe. I used to work nights in Vegas in the ER and would see all kinds of weirdness. One day I’m working in the trauma area and a nurse practitioner from the triage area walks up in a huff. She’s a friend of mine, so I ask her what’s up. She tells me very exasperatedly that she needs to ask the doctor a question. Long story short, a man (about 26 if memory serves) she was seeing had decided to pleasure himself using his class ring, which was easy to put on and not to pull off. He then asked his parents to help him. When they had no avail, they decided to go to the ER. At this point, I’m laughing so hard that I’m crying because, like who wouldn’t? She then tells me that because it’s a class ring, it’s too thick for the ring cutter and actually broke the blade.

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So I walk out and see a nurse and a scribe trying to reassemble this broken ring cutter and try so hard to contain my laughter as the family is in a nearby room. Eventually, they got a blade from another floor and cut the thing off, but not before the mother filed a complaint and chastised the nurse practitioner for laughing at her son to which the nurse practitioner replies something to the effect of, “What would you do if this situation happened at your job?” Great night.

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34. If You Want To Try This, Just Never Forget The Code

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Paramedic here. While working in the ER one night we had a guy come in complaining of groin pain. So we bring him back and it turns out he has a master lock (the kind with the spinning dial that you used to secure your locker at school) locked around his junk. Essentially blood could flow in but could not flow back out so this thing was hugely swollen. He had panicked after he realized he could not remember the code (dealing with a real genius here) and he took a screwdriver to the dial and snapped it off. So we consulted with urology and the urologist wanted to take him to surgery, cut his ween lengthwise, slide the top out then the bottom, and then suture it back.

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Needless to say, the patient wasn’t thrilled with option A. So option B was for this big nurse, we’ll call him Tom, to go in with bolt cutters and cut it off. Option B selected, the curtain closes Tom gives a 1. 2. 3. A loud scream at three a pop noise, Tom exits with a broken lock and the man was sent to the floor to recover. That’s just one of so many but I always tell that one.

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33. Mr. Crabs

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My dad is a doctor, an internal medicine physician (if that means anything to anyone). He told me this story once of when a young man, late teens, came in to the hospital with a question about a condition he was having. He said his pubic region was itchy and uncomfortable, so my dad asked him to remove his pants so he could try to identify the problem.

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Now since the guy was African American, my dad had quite the “what the heck” reaction when the man pulled down his pants, and his pubic hair was white. It turns out the guy had gotten crabs from his lover, and the little bugs had laid microscopic eggs in his pubic hair, making it look white. The mental image still gives me chills…

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32. Her Own Version Of Permanent Contact Lenses

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I’m an optometrist. I had a patient who over-wore her soft contact lenses for over seven months straight without removing them. The contact lenses deprived the cornea of oxygen and tiny blood vessels started to grow from her eye into the contact lens.

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By the time I saw her, the contact lenses had been fused onto the front surface of her eyes. Her eyes were blood shot, and she was in a great deal of pain. The contact lenses could not be removed. Our corneal specialist had to bring her into the operating room and sever all the blood vessels to peel off each of the contact lenses.

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31. There’s Always A First Time

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In OBGYN rotations, I was delivering my first baby. It was an older lady from the rural side of town. When I asked her to push as the baby had fully crowned, a wad of worms exited her pooper. I’m talking at least 60 live worms.

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I gagged so hard, but managed to keep a straight face throughout and deliver the baby. I realized then and there that OBGYN was not for me.

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30. Glad He’s Clean Now

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I work for an ophthalmologist. We had a 16-year-old kid high on an illegal substance think there was a “government tracking chip” behind his eye, so he decided to cut out his eye with razor blades. He only manages to lacerate his eyelids. Once he came down he freaked out went to the ER they cleaned him up and referred him to our office. This kid leaves the ER, gets high again, and just started jabbing his eye out with his finger. He stays high for three days comes down and then goes back to the ER. This time the ER sent him directly into our office. He comes into our office and he has his eye covered with a Dixie cup and tape. He said he kept it covered like that for the last three days. Before I even got him into my office I could smell the infection. I took off the Dixie cup and I thought it was covered in Vaseline. It was covered with infection and his vitreous (back part of the eye, it’s like a jelly substance) was mixed in with it. It was so bad we instantly canceled the day and had to take him to the OR to remove his eye completely and start him on IV antibiotics before he had brain damage from the infection.

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After all this, he still took the drugs for years. I saw him around three years after this, and he was finally clean and a healthy weight and said he goes to schools now and talks about the dangers of substance abuse. I’m glad he’s finally better.

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29. Ruby Shower

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There used to be a well-known patient that would present to the emergency department with frequent urinary tract infections. Now, urinary tract infections are much less common in men than in women and don’t occur sporadically that often. This gentleman was a male club dancer, and his party trick would be what he called a “ruby shower.”

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In essence, he would empty his bladder, and replace its contents via a catheter with red wine. He would then empty his bladder during his performances… Unfortunately, fate caught up with him. One infection became too severe and he did not survive.

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28. What An “Appropriate” Group Activity For Five Grown Men

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I was working in an urgent care clinic in south Atlanta and had a patient come in complaining of itchiness on his chest and back. I examined him, did a scraping and diagnosed him with tinea (fungal infection). As I am discussing treatment options he casually mentions that he has some itching in the groin area as well. After consulting with the supervising physician, it was decided that it should be examined I gave the patient a gown and asked him to change.

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Upon returning to the room, I see him sitting on the exam table in only a pair of mesh underwear (the disposable kind you get after childbirth) stuffed with gauze. I inquire about his use of this particular type of undergarment, and he proceeds to tell me that he (in his 50s) and four friends of similar age had been circumcised seven days prior. The diaper rash (for lack of a better term) was visible on the inside of his thighs and I informed him that we would need to examine him further. Removal of the underwear and gauze revealed a swollen mess with stitches on the underside barely holding together a non-healing, split apart incision. There was pus oozing from the unhealed incision and a yeast infection covering his entire groin. He repeatedly said he was not worried about the surgery he just wanted to stop the itching. We started him on antifungals and antibiotics and tried to reach his surgeon. After several hours he decided to leave and promised to see his surgeon the next day.

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27. That “Funny” Feeling

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While my wife was in medical school, she helped treat a patient who was having difficulty urinating. She and the doctor asked all the preliminary questions, but they still weren’t sure what the problem might be. So the doctor orders an x-ray. She notices a tangle of dark lines in the patient’s bladder.

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The doctor then went in to show the patient the results as she was thoroughly stumped. After the patient sees the x-ray, he freely offers up that he likes to take baby snakes and let them slither up his urethra where they ultimately die in his bladder. His reason for doing this? Well, he said it gave him a “funny feeling.”

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26. He Wants It Back

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I am a surgery resident. I once helped operate on a man whose face was chewed off by a bear. I had to find little scraps of skin at the edges of the hole in the middle of his face and try to decide where they went to try and make the damage smaller.

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I also saw a patient come to the emergency department with a barbie in his rectum. He apparently puts the arms up and legs down like a diving position, rubber bands the arms together, then places it in his rectum for a time. When he wants it out, he takes laxatives. Only this time it got stuck. The kicker: when we removed it, he asked for it back.

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25. Holy Hole

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I recently had a patient that had an operation on the lower back. It was a rather easy procedure, and it should’ve been a pretty routine healing process, changing dressings every day. However, this person was in the care of a nursing home, and bad things happened. The nursing staff allowed the back wound, plus two other wounds, to become infected and necrotic. My partner and I were livid, and the nurses couldn’t figure out why it made us so angry to find out that they only changed the dressings once a week.

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Here’s the kicker though: we didn’t know about all three wounds, just one on his back, and another on his ankle. We didn’t find out about the third until we brought the man to the ER (doctor’s orders upon the revelation of the wounds). We had transferred care, and I was cleaning the stretcher. My partner was out talking to the hospital nurses. I’m just scrubbing away when I glance back into my PT’s room, and I see him leaning over the side of the railing and not moving. I panic for a second, like holy moly this guy just keeled over. I ran back in and asked him what he was doing. “Oh, I’m just trying to get comfy. My rash is burning.”Rash?” This is the first we had heard of it. So I investigate. I swear to god … the smell was worse than a GI bleed. This wasn’t a rash; it was a hole in this man’s hip, literally the size of a softball, I guarantee I could fit both my fists in, and it was necrotic and stuffed with week old gauze.

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24. A Grape Flavored Pee

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As a medical student in a urology office, we had a young healthy male come in with problems urinating. He said he had hesitancy and a decreased stream, pretty odd for a young male. So the doctor went through all the standard questions and it was a benign physical exam. Did a prostate exam and nothing was out of the ordinary there either so after a couple visits a cystoscopy was done (a little black tube with a camera on the end is shoved up your pee hole to look at your bladder). Well, this guy had strictures all over the place, extremely odd. So more questions like have you ever had a catheter? Nonchalantly, “Oh yeah, hundreds of times.” For what? “Well… When my partner and I host parties I take a catheter and drain my bladder.”

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We both thought that was strange and thought maybe he doesn’t want to miss any of the party by having to pee? We were clueless. So then he states, “and then I fill my bladder up with special grape juice.” OK, it doesn’t work like that; butt-chugging sure but not the bladder. So here comes the kicker: this guy would go around and pee in people’s mouths to give them a drink! It was a big gay get together to come to find out!

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23. It’s Not An Animal, But A…

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I heard this story third hand from a friend who worked in a hospital. A husband and wife come into the ER. They are obviously from far outside the city limits. The wife doesn’t do much except stand there looking uncomfortable. The husband does the talking, and he makes an amazing claim: he says that there is some sort of critter living inside his wife.

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The nurse doing initial intake asks why he thinks that. He said, “Because it bites me when we have loving.” Once a doctor gets the woman on an exam table, feet in the stirrups, it becomes clear there is no animal inside her. But there is a plastic tampon applicator up where it should not be.

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22. Not Just 1, But 50 Of Them

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Doctor here. When I was working in the ER one evening I had my worst experience so far. I was called to one of the examination rooms that are designated for infectious patients. This is already a bad sign as it usually involves some sort of abscess that needs to be drained. However, this time it was far worse. I was told by the nurse that it involved a man who had bilateral venous ulcers on his legs and that they were now infected. I looked through his journal and saw that he last saw a doctor about 10 months earlier and there was no note of any check-ups after, not by a nurse or a GP. Therefore, I asked my nurse when someone last took a look at his legs. “Not since his last journal entry.” Then I asked when was the last time he changed his dressings on the legs. “He hasn’t …” Some background info on the patient: He was an old man who lived by himself in his trailer that was parked in the middle of the forest. He had no running water. He was a bit of a drinker and had a general “I don’t care” mentality. Awesome. Suited up and went into the room. The room smelled like an odd combination of stale inebriate, mold, and disease. Certain infections smell differently and this one was very pungent, almost sulfuric. I introduced myself to the patient who didn’t understand what he was doing there. All he wanted was some antibiotics for a flu, and then he was sent here. “What do you want to look at my legs for? They were already taken care of last year.” Hmm, great. So we started unfolding the dressing. They were crusty and crackled as we unwrapped the first leg. As we got deeper it changed color to some sickly yellow and the stench became worse and worse. One of my nurses left the room to throw up. Then I saw it. Very small but inside a fold, there was a little maggot who squirmed.

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When we finally got to the wound, we saw all the little maggots feasting on this man. There must have been 50 of them. The stench was absurd. I was focusing a lot to breathe through my mouth but then it felt like I could taste which made it even worse. My nurse came back and promptly went out again. I unwrapped his other leg and it was the same story there but the infection was much deeper and I could see a few tendons on the base of the ulcer. Absolutely delicious. We had to clean off the maggots and placed them in a bowl, but they were squirming and went on the floor and crawled all over the place. I had to watch my feet so I didn’t step on them. After that, we took the patient to hose him down to at least try to get rid of some smell. Then booked to the OR for debridement and a fresh vacuum dressing. He was discharged a few days later with strict instructions and booked to return for re-dressings and check-ups. Then we never heard from him again.

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21. Rubberbands + Newspaper + Garbage Bags

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I had a husband bring his wife in for an ingrown nail. Every nurse avoiding that room due to the smell was my first clue. I looked at her and pondered what to do with this foot that was wrapped in a big black garbage bag. Underneath the said bag were layers and layers of newspapers. Unwrapping their homemade dressing invoked the worst odor I’ve ever experienced. I got to the point of gagging (and I have a very strong stomach) and had to leave the room, put a surgical mask on, chew gum, and breath through my mouth.

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Finally, I got the “dressing” unwrapped and this toe had wet gangrene and is auto amputating due to the layers of rubber bands the woman had wrapped on the base of it. The couple lived in an RV, driving from place to place/state to state. The lady thought by wrapping the toe with rubber bands she’d prevent the ingrown nail from “spreading.” The odor started, and she wrapped newspapers and finally garbage bags. The husband admitted that he brought her to the clinic because he couldn’t stand the smell anymore. She ended up getting a trans-metatarsal amputation. It was interesting for me since I got to perform it and it was my first one.

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20. Her Baby Monkey

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A good friend of mine is a nurse, and by nature has the best stories. She was working on the med-surg floor in the hospital and had a female patient who was so morbidly obese that she needed a service animal to help her. No, not a dog, as most people would think, but a monkey.

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This lady had a service monkey. It would get her glasses for her, grab the remote for the TV… all kinds of things. Odd, but not really a crazy moment … until she walked in to the room to take the woman’s vitals and finds her breastfeeding the monkey.

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19. It’s “Hilarious”

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This was in med school, dermatology rotation. I got to see my own patient. So I asked what the problem was. He told me he thought that warts in his private parts were back; I asked why. He didn’t say a word but turned around, dropped his pants, spread his butt cheeks and show me a cluster of warts around his pooper at least 10 cm in diameter. Even when he stood up straight it was just sticking out of his buttocks.

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I put up my most professional voice to say “Hmmm. Yes. I think you’re right.” The man thought this was hilarious! I’m not sure if I’ve not seen more surprising things after this, or have just gotten used to them …

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18. Sneaky Slugs

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When attending a urology conference you get to hear quite a few crazy stories. Here’s my favorite where there even was a video along with the question “Guess what we’re looking at?” My guess was that what was shown was the inside of a bladder (got that part right) and two small corn cobs floating around inside of it (lighting and overall video quality of the endoscope feed wasn’t all that good). Two small corn cobs would have been weird enough as it is.

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Turns out we were looking at two slugs. Actual slugs. Apparently, the PT walked into the hospital claiming that something did not feel right when peeing, and after being confronted with the contents of his bladder claimed that he took a nap in the grass the day before and the slugs “must have crawled inside by themselves” without him noticing.

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17. A Cup Of Water

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I work in the ER. We had a very pregnant patient come in needing stitches in her nether regions. Turns out she was a realtor and didn’t want her water to break while she was showing a house, so she put a glass cup in her pants to catch the water.

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So, instead of using a pad or an adult diaper, she went for a GLASS CUP. She sat down while showing a house and sure enough, it broke and cut her up pretty bad.

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16. Well, It Didn’t Hurt

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My sister is the head physical therapist at her nursing home. A little crappy motel calls because of a smell. They show up. There was a little old man with a bunch of sores and holes all horribly infected. He has these boots on. He said he put them on to keep away the smell and flies. They take it off. Gangrene and sick ooze everywhere. His toe fell off by spontaneous amputation.

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They ended up having to chop both legs below the knee. They asked him why he didn’t call a doctor. He calmly replied, “Well, it didn’t hurt, so …”

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15. When Things Go Hanging

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I have seen a lot of things, but the one thing that really sticks out is something I saw as a medical student. I was on a general medicine rotation and was seeing an elderly lady for urinary problems. Specifically, she was having trouble holding her urine. She mentioned in passing that she had something coming out of her private part, like a mass, but she couldn’t see what it was. My resident and I decided that we ought to take a look.

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Upon examining her pelvic region, we were unable to use a speculum to visualize the interior of her vagina because there was a firm mass protruding from her vagina introitus. The mass was her bladder. It had prolapsed.

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14. Yup, Grape Jelly

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I’m not a doctor, but this happened to a doctor who did some work for our agency. The patient came in for a complete physical. As the doctor was performing a gynecological examination, he encountered a very strange dark discharge.

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He discontinued the exam and told her she needed to see a specialist right away, explaining his findings. She said, “Oh doctor, my primary care doctor told me to use jelly to prevent pregnancy …” Yep, grape jelly.

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13. A Huge Chunk Of Flesh

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Hearing an elderly lady fall in the next room and running in to get her. It’s dark, and I can see she’s on the ground and has lost one of her shoes, but she’s not yelling. I ask if she’s okay, and she says, “Yes, I’m sleeping; can’t you see?!” So I go pick up the shoe so it doesn’t get in the way when I pick her up.

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Once it’s in my hand, I suddenly realized what it is. It’s not a shoe; it’s a huge chunk of flesh from her calf. She’s not in pain (weird, but dementia patients are like that sometimes) so I put a pillow under her head, a blanket on her (again, dementia. She wanted to rest) and call 911. She was fine. She ended up growing 30% of her calf back in four months. The feeling of a bloody, warm chunk of the calf in my hand will linger on though.

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12. Okay, I’m Gonna Buy It

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A good friend of my family is a doctor. His favorite story is the one of this guy who came in with the branch of some coniferous tree in his urethra, that he couldn’t get out anymore.

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Yup, they had to cut his junk open, as there was no other way to remove that thing. The man said he was at home, decorating the house for Christmas, slipped, and fell on the table decoration. Sure.

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11. The Hidden “Treasure”

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A few years ago I was working in the OR, assisting on a laparoscopy when the surgeon decided to have the nurse clean the woman’s belly button. It turned out her belly button was much deeper than normal and appeared to have NEVER been cleaned.

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It took the nurses at least 15 minutes to finally extract a “concretion”–many years worth of dirt, dead skin, etc. that had been there so long it had hardened like a rock about the size of a pecan. I’ve seen lots of horrific things but this one has stuck with me more than 30 years later.

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10. No Wonder Why Snow White Fainted

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I’m not a doctor, but I work in medical records as a medical coder. I recall a patient (a man known around town because he was a registered abuser) coming in for an apple up his butt. Like WAY up his butt, almost around the final bend in the colon. Apparently it had been placed in there “by his partner” and it was stuck.

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The first doctor tried to pull it out with tongs but couldn’t get a grip on it. So he was sent to a second doctor who tried to expand the colon using a balloon to loosen things up. The balloon popped. Finally, he had to be shipped out to a bigger hospital because he had to have it removed surgically and our little hospital didn’t have the facilities for it. To be honest, the most horrible thing about it for me was how hard it was to code his visit.

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9. Doll-Like Feet

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I was working as a scribe when we went to see an 8-year-old girl that had a fever. Nothing too remarkable until we started the physical exam. We examined her head … normal. We examined her upper extremities … normal. Then we pulled up the blanket to examine the lower extremities. Her feet were the size of an infant’s.

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You should have seen the look on the doctor’s face as he was trying to figure out how the girl’s feet got so small. The mother looked up at the doctor, saw the look of confusion on his face, and said, “Those aren’t her feet.” She pulled up the blanket a little further, revealing a pair of perfectly healthy feet, nestled next to the feet of a doll that she put under the blanket. We saw the doll’s feet and thought they were the girl’s.

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8. A Roachy Surprise

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This didn’t happen to me; a friend who is a doctor told me this story of when he just graduated with his medical degree from Johns Hopkins.

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A very large woman was being prepped for a gastric bypass surgery. When cleaning her, the nurse found a hard, crusty object in the patient’s belly button. What was it? A calcified cockroach. Yep. The woman had no idea it was there either.

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7. A Smell You’ll Never Forget

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I’m not a doctor, but when I was a paramedic student we used to do rotations in the ED. A guy was brought in from what I assume must have been a horrendous nursing home. He looked fine at first, but once they took his pants off the issue became apparent. His balls were about the size of a football, and necrotic. It’s called Fournier gangrene. He must have had it for quite some time as well, judging by the size, color, and smell. He had a stroke in the past and was now much less alert than his normal. It looked painful, but the worst part was the smell. It smelled like rotten crab meat. One of the residents that came in to evaluate him looked as if he was going to vomit and left the room within 20 seconds.

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I felt terrible for the guy; he had no clue what was going on. And he clearly must have become used to the smell. When I went home that night, my roommates and friends decided to make appetizers. One of them brought mini crab cakes. The smell gave me an image of that guy’s balls immediately, it was the cruelest irony I could think of.

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6. Never Forget What You Put Inside

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So this young female comes in complaining of acute abdominal pain and a fever. We run through all the normal procedures and come up with nothing. So we push ahead and give her a quick vaginal exam.

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As soon as she spread her legs I almost threw up. No joke, I’ve been around some stinky folks and some smelly wounds but this was horrendous (we wound up evacuating half the clinic because the smell of death that emanated from her vagina was causing people to gag in the hallways and waiting room); anyway long story short she left a tampon in, forgot it was there, and shoved another one in burying the first one. That tampon sat for (we guess) at least two months decaying and then, of course, the area around was extremely infected. When she came to us she was in the early stages of septic shock.

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5. Not KY, But Smucker’s

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I had a young woman with recurring urinary tract infections that began after a recent partner. She had no STDs and we went through the standard questions trying to figure out what could be causing them.

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We eventually found out that she had been lubricating with jelly. Not KY jelly. Like, Smucker’s. The mix-up had literally been a joke on the TV show House. It took me some effort to keep a straight face, but we eventually resolved the problem and she stopped getting UTIs.

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4. A Mysterious Lump

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A friend who is a family doctor was treating a pre-teen girl who was complaining about a pain in the back of her neck. He did a preliminary examination and found a lump, and thought that it was likely a cyst that had become infected, and the parents agreed that he should remove it. That’s when he noticed it move.

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Turns out it was a large botfly larva that the girl had picked up while vacationing with the family in South America. It was the size of a nickel.

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3. “I’d Rather Eat The Mosquito Coil Than Do The Dishes”

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Working in the ER surely gives you a lot of interesting experiences; it’s like riding an emotional roller-coaster. From the most tragic one that makes you devastated, to the silliest one that makes you have to resist the urge to roll your eyes so hard to the back of your head. The most recent one was an 18-year-old girl who ate insect repellent (in this case, mosquito coils) because her mother asked her to do the dishes.

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She went on a temper tantrum, shoved a handful of crushed mosquito coil into her mouth, and managed to swallow most of them before her mother came to interrupt. I wanted to laugh but kept reminding myself that it would be unempathetic because her mother told the story with tears streaming down her face. Talking about teenagers and their drama.

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2. Because … I Don’t Like The Color

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I worked in the ER during my internship and met a girl who had increasingly painful and red eyes for a couple of days. The last 24 hours had been horrible. I asked about all the normal stuff, and she claimed to have no idea why she had this eye problem–she had never had anything wrong with her eyes. I proceed to drop some dye in her eyes to check them under a microscope, and when I do, I realize she’s wearing contacts.

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It turns out she didn’t like her natural eye color, so she had bought a set of blue colored lenses eight months earlier and never removed them, not even during night time. Didn’t even think to mention this to me, claimed to have no “foreign materials” in her eyes. I gave her quite the harsh lecture and a referral to an ophthalmologist.

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1. A Complete Salad Of Lodged Items

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I worked as an ER orderly and still in the medical field now. Over several years in a trauma hospital, there has been a veritable salad of natural ingredients. Different people, different times: cucumber, carrot, squash/zucchini, potato, sweet potato, eggplant and to top it off a bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch.

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The howling laughter is still echoing in the lounge every time anyone sees ranch dressing, and it’s constantly stocked in the fridge. The cucumber guy admitted to thinking it might get stuck, and specifically picked a “natural item” there is “less chance” that it would be bad if it got stuck.

Marijean Grace

Marijean Grace

Spreading some good positive vibes!

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