Medical emergencies can be a mystery on their own, but when doctors are surprised to see a patient pull through, it's a whole other level. These medical professionals share the time they couldn't believe their patient was still alive.
"This guy was working at a factory. Somehow there was an accident and a long board got shot THROUGH his head. Entered through tip of his nose and exited just below his skull on the right side. His face was a mess. Came in from another hospital intubated to see if our neurosurgeon could remove the board. We all assumed he was likely neurologically devastated permanently, but we cut down the board and took him to CT to see what we were dealing with.
As we were waiting for CT results, we realized the guy's sedation had worn off, and he was awake and could follow commands! You couldn’t tell he was awake because his face was so swollen and macerated!
We quickly put him under again. Turns out the board missed nearly everything important. Messed up some arteries but missed his spinal cord by about 2 mm.
He walked out of the hospital five days later after several big surgeries to fix his face. Neurosurgeon said he’d have a crooked neck forever but otherwise would be fine."
"I'm an EMT in a really diverse area. We get toned out for a shooting with no updates. My squad runs two ambulances on all shootings, I was on the back up truck. We get on scene and see a large crowd of people all screaming and crying. The cops point us to this kid who is holding his face in his hands. He has no obvious injuries, until he looked up at us.
Blood just started to pour out of his head. This kid was shot in the face but was still able to talk to us. He was losing an unhealthy amount of blood, so we very quickly got him in the truck and called for a bird (helicopter). As we are loading him in the back he asked us 'why am I alive?' Those words stick with me, no one had an answer for him. We quickly start bandaging the wound. It's a small hole right above his eye, we can't find an exit wound and suspect the bullet is still inside of his head.
He is bleeding so much that any piece of gauze is immediately soaked. We get a trauma dressing on the wound and it's barely working. Medics arrive and start with IVs and fluids. The helicopter finally arrived, and we were able to ship him to a good hospital.
We later find out that the kid was shooting a rap video of his friend on his phone when the weapon went off. The bullet traveled through the phone, struck him above the eye and started to bounce around in his head. The bullet exited below the kid's eye. We didn't see that hole from the amount of blood. When we packed the trauma dressing it, we applied pressure to both wounds.
The kid is expecting to make a full recovery, but will most likely never see out of that eye again. I think about that kid a lot, I hope he is doing better now."
"I work on an ambulance as an EMT and one day we get a call for an accident involving a bike and a vehicle. The patient as it turns out had decided to ride his bicycle through a busy street without using a crosswalk or looking both ways. He was hit by a car going approx 20-25 mph. When we arrived on scene, the fire medics had just gotten there as well. The patient was a traumatic full arrest with a partial (basically complete) amputation of his left foot above the ankle. We started CPR while the medics prepped an advanced airway and prepared their AED and cardiac monitor. Probably spent five minutes on scene back-boarding this guy and getting him prepped to move.
The closest trauma center was about 15 minutes away and it was a teaching hospital, so when we arrived students would be managing the hands on care of this patient while observed by a doctor and several nurses to direct them.
When we arrived, the patient was still in serious condition. We moved him into the trauma room and handed him over to the trauma team. At this point it had been about 20-25 minutes since cardiac arrest and no one was really hopeful for his survival at this point. The trauma team cut open his chest cavity to do an open-heart massage. We could see his lungs expanding like balloons from outside the room into the space they cut open.
After about 20 more minutes of CPR, the lead student asked the room at large if anyone was opposed to stopping resuscitation attempts. She rationalized that they were going for 40 minutes and had already used an ungodly amount of epinephrine, I think it was something like 16-18 doses, and the patient was still showing no heart activity. The rest of the team agreed, and they called time of death.
The next part I remember vividly because it shouldn't have happened. The patient was still connected to his heart monitor at this point. About five seconds after they stopped CPR and called time of death the patient's heart started on its own. At this point the regular MD and nurses took over and I specifically remember the doctor saying, 'Welp let's get him prepped for surgery.'"
"Once had a call where we went to a guy's house, and we knew it was going to be a 'fantastic' call when we pulled up to witness the firefighters vomiting in the front yard.
As we traversed the yard to enter the home, a revolting, pungent smell filled our nostrils.
We went inside to find a guy sitting on his couch, covered in feces, blood, and vomit.
This gentleman was so jaundice he had the appearance of a Simpsons character, and was severely dehydrated to the point he couldn't even move. Turns out the guy had been discharged two weeks prior from the hospital for his drinking problem. He returned to his house and sat on his couch doing nothing but drinking, he didn't even get off the couch to use the restroom.
We got him off the couch, to which his skin was partially fused to thanks to the feces and vomit, and had to deecontaminate him in his backyard.
The scariest part about this was that someone had enabled him enough to continuously bring him drinks and clean up all the empty cans for these two weeks before deciding to get him help."
"I was on a vascular surgery rotation when a farmer was airlifted in with a lacerated jugular vein. He was out in his yard cutting wood with a chainsaw and didn't notice a long piece of wire embedded in one of the logs. When the chainsaw caught it, the wire whipped up and sliced across one side of his neck, cutting his jugular. His wife came home shortly after and saw a huge pool of blood next to a still-running chainsaw. She followed the blood into the house where there was a trail of bloody hand prints and her husband collapsed at the end of it with his hand clamped around his neck. He was airlifted to hospital and was pretty much straight into theater from the helipad. An extremely lucky AND unlucky chap."
"Here is the story of the man I killed twice. Years ago. This gentleman had Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome, a heart condition that makes a person liable to bouts of uncontrolled, irregular, rapid heartbeat that can be fatal if not stabilized. He was brought into the ER complaining of feeling faint, and his monitor showed a very rapid, irregular heart rate (atrial fibrillation with a rapid ventricular response). His blood pressure was dropping, meaning he was about to get into serious trouble. I had to do something quickly.
The treatment in this situation is to administer a low energy shock with a defibrillator (50 joules), which usually restores a regular heartbeat. This I did, but instead of regularizing his heartbeat, it put him into ventricular fibrillation, a situation where the heart pumps no blood at all, and soon gives out entirely. In other words, I killed him!
The treatment for this is a high energy shock with the defibrillator (200 joules). This fortunately restored a regular heartbeat. His heart started beating regularly again (sinus rhythm). But a minute or two later he went back into his original rhythm, rapid, irregular, with falling blood pressure. I had no choice but to give him another low energy shock. This unfortunately had the same result: he went into ventricular fibrillation again! In other words, I killed him a second time!
To my, and the nurses' great relief, another 200 joule shock brought him back, and by that time we were able to use medications that kept things a little more stable. We sent him up to the ICU with a sore chest from all those shocks, and a few days later he walked out of the hospital."
"Surgical resident here. I was briefly involved in the care of a patient who stabbed herself in the neck with a kitchen knife. She managed to miss every single major blood vessel on the way in, went through the bony part of her spine (which requires a tremendous amount of force), and severed her cervical spinal cord. She became paraplegic but did not die. Then when she finally came out of her coma in the ICU, she asked a nurse for her makeup bag so that she can 'freshen up' before her husband visited her. Proceeded then to stab herself 11 times with a pair of nail scissors in the bag. She arrested (i.e. her heart had stopped) and was brought urgently into the OR, where I was assisting. We cracked open her chest to find that she managed to poke a hole into her heart, and she was bleeding out from it. We patched up her heart and she survived the operation. She walked out of the hospital alive weeks later, after a lot of rehabilitation. Definitely the craziest patient care experience that has ever happened to me."
"Nurse here (male). At the beginning of my career, I used to volunteer full time in the ER, this was back in 2011-2012.
As it's never a dull moment in the ER, one night, a man was brought in by the ambulance in a huge hurry. He was driving a horse drawn carriage filled with lumber (I live in the second biggest city in my country, in Eastern Europe, but horse drawn carriages are still a thing today in most rural areas) when, under the influence as heck, he somehow fell out of the carriage, and the wheel went over his head crushing his skull. When he was brought in the ER, there was such a rush to operate him that the surgery took place in the X-Ray room, so they could get X-rays on the go as needed. I didn't get to handle that patient much except bring certain equipment because I had others on my hands, but after the surgery he was stable enough to be sent to intensive care.
Another story is a man brought for unknown reasons (again I was busy with other patients at the moment and didn't get to find out much about him) when he suddenly flat lined. When the monitor alarms go off, everyone available heads to it. He quickly got intubated for ventilation and CPR started as he already had an IV line. We took turns performing CPR (because it's really tiring) and his heart started working again. After a while, he coded again. We managed to get the heart pumping again. This process repeats a few times when other very serious causes arrive and I'm left alone with him and yes, he codes again. I was pumping his chest until I couldn't feel anything from my fingers to my shoulders, but kept going until he was again stable. Finally, some people were free to replace me, so I could take a short break, I went outside and smoked 2 smokes and drank a half liter of coffee in about 5 minutes then went to sit down a bit. When I came back, I learned he coded another 3 times while I was gone and did so another 3 times after, but then was stable. His heart stopped 13 times that night and was started again.
When I couldn't afford to volunteer anymore, I got a job in another hospital in a different clinic and moved on to better paying clinics after that, but I do miss my time in the ER."
"I'm in EMS work, know a guy who had to get a patient who was 400lbs who hadn't moved from this spot on a couch in months, possibly years. Not even to use the bathroom. They go down there, and they try to lift him off the couch, and they find that the person's skin is literally embedded and stuck into the couch cushions, so the person and the couch are one. They had so many bed sores that they'd open and try to heal and scabs would form along the cushions and the like. Skin was coming off in places if they tried to move the cushions, and they had to wear elbow length gloves as the human excrement was inches deep in under the cushions like a sea.
The craziest part is that this person was in a basement of a perfectly nice house with a welathy family, this person was just their shame that they hid in the basement and waited for him to die, I guess."
"On the patient side of things: I go to the ER complaining about symptoms of dehydration, abdominal pains, constipation, and diarrhea.
They do normal tests, take a urine sample (first red flag as it's orange.) The nurse does a literal double take at the urine sample.
Up until now, the doctors have come in every half hour; it's cool because I can hear that it's a busy night. Then they take my blood pressure. They come in and put me on an IV transfusing about two liters of water over the course of 45 minutes.
A nurse comes in about seven minutes later and tries to casually mention what my blood pressure is. Now I've always run a little low and my norm is about 107/84.
The nurse mentions that they think I may be staying overnight because they transfused about two liters of water and my blood pressure was still at about 80/40 (the normal blood pressure for an infant for those who don't know).
Next all the doctors and nurses came in asking how I was doing, and nurses who hadn't been informed of my blood pressure went silent when we told them what it was the previous time someone checked.
It wasn't the first time I had been in the 'how are you this ok with your condition,' but it's the most recent."
"I was a nurse at my county prison. The area was having substance busts every two or three days it seemed. We got a batch of 10 new prisoners in and everyone cleared perfectly, except for this one woman. She was nodding in and out of consciousness and slurred her words.
So I get one of the CO's to obtain a urine sample to do a spot test. Sure enough the whole test lit up. So she's placed in detox for a few days, and then we would retest her. A few days pass, and she's not getting any better, in fact, she got even worse.
So we test her again and the test came back positive for just about everything. I have the CO's search her thoroughly in case we missed something and sure enough this lady had two extra large contraceptives stuffed up her 'jail purse' and they both were torn open and her body was absorbing all those substances. We counted a total of 200 pills she was carrying, by all rights this girl should have been dead but she recovered after that."
"Patient not person in the medical field but...
One time, I went in for stab wound. (My own fault, don’t run with knives). I drove myself to the hospital because I wasn’t going to pay a couple hundred bucks to have someone do it for me. I get in there and the receptionist immediately started to freak out because I was 'as pale as an Irish albino."
They get me in the back and start asking me a bunch of questions on what happened. While they were hooking me up to stuff, I remembered something and said 'Oh, you might want to hook me up to some -O blood. I’m anemic.'
All of their faces went pale in unison as they immediately started getting that done. One of the RNs looked at me and just yelled in the loudest voice I have ever heard (probably because I was delirious with blood loss) 'HOW ARE YOU NOT DEAD OR EVEN UNCONSCIOUS FROM WHAT YOU’VE LOST IN THE LAST 5 MINUTES?!?!?!!?'
I didn’t lose a lot of blood it just looked like I did because I was trying to keep pressure on the wound with only my hand (because I didn’t have time to grab a cloth) and my pants were already blood stained in the same area because I would use them when I butchered chickens. Also, I looked really pale from blood loss because I am Irish and hence naturally really pale. The doctors freaked because a lot of misunderstandings led to the assumption that I had lost a lot of blood
This all happened during last summer while both of my parents were at work. Both worked an hour away from me and the hospital. I drove my 4-wheeler to the hospital because this is Alaska and people do that."
"Got called for a 'sick person,' which is basically the dispatch's way of saying 'we don't know, go find out.' We get there and this guy literally cannot move his legs. Dead weight. He's also having major body pain. Not bull pain like 99% of my patients, no, this guy is crying for his life, he's in so much pain. I touch them, and they're cold and losing temp fast, and getting discolored. I first think some kind of stroke, but that leaves fast, since he's still alert and very panicky. I go do vitals while my partner calls for a medic. Both sides are completely different sets of vitals. What the heck is going on?
This guy is big, easy 250, probably 300, some fat some muscle, but he's big. It's me and my average build, and my female partner, and the dude's girlfriend. Their bed has no rubber stoppers on the legs. We're trying to get him on our chair and the bed is sliding around. Finally, we get him halfway on the chair, and I run to the other side of the bed and shove. Now he's on the chair but sideways. We turn him, get him going, medic comes up the elevator, and we say meet us downstairs. We get him outside, into the bus, loading, etc. medic asks her questions to him, then gets really specific. She asks if he feels like he's burning inside, or like he's splitting in two. This was my "oh no" moment, catching on a bit. Medic calls for us to takes him straight to the best medical hospital in the area, about a 14min drive from where we were. My partner, god bless her and her crazy driving, got them there in like 10. I met up with the fly car at the hospital and basically just stood there with my thumb up my butt while an entire team of nurses and two of the doctors at the ER just went to town on this guy. Who was still conscious by the way. Somehow. His legs were pure purple and ice-cold, no blood flowing in them at the time, his body drew it all back.
ER team hits him with fentanyl like four times right in front of me, and he's still crying in pain. Big guy, again. He gets into CT as soon as the other large bleeding person in there is done, we help move him, and at that point there's nothing more for us.
The medic did a followup, the lucky dude lived. He lived through surgery, made it through rehab, and was discharged intact. This guy had something like a 10% chance of even making it that far."
"A friend was looking a bit pale. She was getting out breath when walking (had to take a break when walking less than one block). We convinced her to see a doctor — she wanted to go to her primary care practitioner who could not get her until early next week. She goes to her appointment and they draw blood. Her O2 stats are fine. She goes home. And, the next morning drives into work. Her primary care practitioner office calls freaking out — her red blood cell count was super low. She gets directed to the ER where she gets four units of blood. When she sees a GI doc, they ask her if the medical notes are accurate — she says yes. He replies with something along the lines of, 'And, yet I see you here, alive.' He said it was the lowest he had ever seen outside of an ICU. The cause was thought to be a very slow GI bleed.... She is fine now."