THE BATSHIT-CRAZIEST THINGS I'VE SEEN WHILE PRACTICING MEDICINE
Thanks for the request, @ChrisK! I love National List Request Day. It took an embarrassing amount of concentration to separate my memories from ER and Grey's scenes. I left off things that were crazy horrible because this is a fun list, and patients/parents saying or doing ridiculous non-medical things because people be cray, which is its own list.
- •Lawn mower accidentThis kids leg was caught under a lawn mower and all kinds of chopped up, including some of his bones. You could see every different part of the body (muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, bloods vessels, etc). I won't go into more graphic specifics but it was INSANE, and full of grass.
- •Beads in a penis, TWICEThis teenager presented with a super sketchy story that he had been sleeping with a single bead on his bed and then it disappeared. When we did an X-ray, he had an entire metallic chain of beads in his bladder (which is how I learned about urethral beads, Google at your own risk). Then, the same month, ANOTHER teenager showed up in a different ED where I work with strings of almost 100 Mardi Gras beads in his bladder.
- •Tube sock ingestionOne of my patients ate a tube sock. Not much more to say about this.
- •Brand new esophagus (connection between your mouth and stomach) made out of colonOur patient had esophageal cancer, so his whole esophagus had to be removed. In order to allow him to swallow and eat, we constructed a new esophagus out of his intestines, cut it out of the intestines, and inserted it where the esophagus had been. It's one of the largest incisions I've ever seen in a surgery.
- •Real conversion disorderEssentially something traumatic happens (emotionally) and it becomes physical symptoms. When it's real, it is WILD. A teen I took care of would lose all strength and feeling in her legs and regain it spontaneously. There was absolutely nothing wrong with her legs or nervous system, but while she was having these episodes, you could pinch her leg (HARD), even when she was asleep, and she wouldn't even twitch. Then, out of nowhere, start walking and feeling again.
- •A heart transplantI think all transplants are unbelievable, but as a med student, I got to be first assist (it was just me and the surgeon) on a heart harvest. Meaning I literally cut out someone's heart and then held it in my hands. Then I scrubbed in on the transplant, and shocked the new heart to life using those fancy long paddles you see on TV. Two days later, the patient with the new heart was awake and talking to me about how excited he was to see his grandchildren grow up. Absolutely banana pants.
- •Potatoes only dietTwo completely separate patients were admitted with severe issues, i.e. intractable vomiting, because for an extended period of time (I'm talking months to years), the ONLY thing they ate were potatoes. Literally. Only. Potatoes.
- •Organs not being where they belong and/or coming out of people's bodies, especially babiesI actually see this a lot, so it no longer registers as bonkers, but objectively I know it is. There are conditions where babies are born with their brain/spine/spinal fluids in a sac outside their body, abdominal organs coming out of their body, or going up into their lungs, or flipped onto the wrong side of their body. All are generally treatable via surgery, and most do pretty well (there's actually someone on listapp who was born with one of these, but I won't call them out here 😉).
- •No skull, new skullThis child was born without a skull, which was crazy enough. Then a plastic surgeon built him a skull, which, if you can believe it, looked crazier.
- •EXIT procedureIn brief: a baby had a mass on their windpipe, their head and shoulders were delivered via csection while the rest stayed in the uterus, ENT operated on the baby WHILE STILL IN MOM, then after they finished, the rest of the baby was delivered. 😮
- •HemispherectomySometimes (usually to treat intractable seizures), we cut out half of people's brains and they are like, fine afterwards. Just chilling with half a brain. I've taken care of at least 2 of these kids and it definitely counts as one of the unreal things I've seen.
- •The bounce backI've mentioned this before, but kids are really resilient. I have seen multiple patients so sick they were close to death recover so quickly that they were playing basketball a few days later. Like, in the ICU, with a breathing tube, sedated, then going home 2 days later, horsing around with their siblings. It's actually sometimes confusing to my brain how they get better that fast.
- •Stomach skull flapOne teenager had a head injury and needed some room for the brain to expand. The neurosurgeons made what's referred to as a skull flap, taking out a part of his skull so there wouldn't be so much pressure on the brain (like a pop off valve). Then they implanted that piece of bone in his belly. You know, to keep it warm (really to keep it healthy) until they reattached it.
- •Walking ECMOECMO alone is absurd; it's a machine that takes out all your blood, runs it through a machine that's acting as your lungs, then pumps it back through your body like your heart (essentially a bypass machine). Obviously, generally people on this are VERY sick. But I've seen a patient on ECMO, awake, alert, walking down the hallway. With their (essentially) external heart and lungs being pushed next to them.
- •Lots of boring, medical stuff that is hard to explain why it's crazy but it really isBatshit deranged labs in normal appearing patients, radiology images that have to be seen to be believed, disease progression that seems to be from the movies, totally wild rare diagnoses, zebras and not horses. Anyway, I promise it's all really whackadoodle and exciting to me as a nerd, but I'll spare you all.