Truth truly IS stranger than fiction.
There is one awesome side benefit to having been so close to the medically related world most of your life. Most of you may think it’s the free medical advice while others may think it’s the info you soak up along the way. The former is definitely a good thing. The latter…eh…let’s just say that then you know enough to become a hypochondriac with strong webmd skills. For me, though, the best part are the very interesting stories that you get to hear…and the images that fire the imagination.
When I was in eigth grade I remember tittering with laughter in one of my girl friend’s rooms as we talked about the sheer humiliation of two of her classmates. These two youngsters had snuck to the girl’s house during lunch period that day to make out. Well, they both had braces. Yes. You guessed it! Their braces locked together. Fortunately they had the same orthodontist and it was a small town. The humiliating part? They had to walk to the orthodontist’s office locked at the mouth, then their parents had to be called.
When I wound up in braces myself, I had flashback moments to this story. I was very reluctant to date any guy who was also wearing braces for fear of this situation happening to me. As I got more experienced I realized…if you’re a decent kisser and know what you’re doing…this isn’t really an issue. The problem becomes when you get more sexually active. For example…an EMT friend of mine responded to an emergency call. As he and the rest of the guys walked in, they weren’t sure exactly what was going to greet them. Sitting on the couch was a pretty young woman in her early twenties…with her boyfriend attached, quite literally, to her nipple. The boyfriend in question was not trying to nurse on this young woman…but he wore braces. When he went to suck on her nipples, apparently some how, some way the skin from her breasts became caught in his braces. As he tried to pull away, she howled in agony, advising him to keep still. As they told the story to the paramedics/EMT’s, the guys tried very stoically to maintain professionalism. The young lady proceeded to tell them that she freaked out. She’d considered trying to drive them in, but realized that as he was attached to her left breast there wasn’t really a way to get him into the car and to the ER. Even if she could, she couldn’t get her arm both around his head and on the steering wheel in a way that would allow her control of the car. Oh, the images THAT one evoked.
But wait! It gets better! I used to work in the ER sometimes, but mostly upstairs in admissions. When I’d work evenings, I’d lock up the admissions office, then bring all the pertinent information I had to the ER registration people. One night, as I dropped my info off and was getting ready to head out the door, one of the guys pulled me aside to tell me what I’d missed. It was around the holidays, so a lot of the college kids were back in town. Apparently, a cute little brunette in her 20’s had come in a few minutes before I arrived. When she walked up to the registration desk, my friend invited her to sit down. She declined, preferring to stand. She moved around quite a bit & paced. Her face was flushed. He took down her name and address, got her emergency contact, then asked her our standard question.
Registration employee: What seems to be the problem today?
College girl: (blushing profusely) Do I have to say?
Registration employee: Well, I have to write down what’s wrong so that they know what they’re seeing you for.
College girl: (Mumbles)
Registration employee: I’m sorry, what did you say? I didn’t quite understand you.
College girl: Ummm…(leans in close and whispers softly) I lost my vibrator.
Registration employee: Oh. OH! Ok. And do you have insurance?
College girl: (realizing her parents will get the ER visit bill) Um, can I pay for it myself? And can I give you a different address to send the bill to?
Registration employee: Sure.
As he told me the story, all I could think of was…no wonder she declined to sit. Can you imagine what her drive into the hospital was like? Guess she was missing her boyfriend!
Then there was the day that my mom came home from work back when I was still in high school. She got off at 11 pm and also did time in the ER. Apparently when her relief person came in the lady was disgusted. She was a larger German woman with four children. Her hands were waving dramatically as she muttered under her breath. That convo?
Mom: Karen, what’s wrong?
Karen: There are some really sick people out there Jos’!
Mom: What happened?
Karen: As I was walking in there was a man laying face down on a guerney.
Mom: Oh, dear. I hope he’s okay.
Karen: He was fine! He was an idiot!
Mom: What makes you say that?
Karen: He’s here because he got a carrot. Stuck up his butt! (hand motions pointing to the derriere) The carrot broke! Now he’s here.
Mom: Oh dear!
But wait! There’s more! I got promoted from my registration job to “bed control”. This meant that when I was on shift in the evenings, I became the manager on duty. It also meant that every time a person got admitted into the hospital I got called. I also got called with updates from the emergency room when someone would go on lunch, filling me in on potential admissions or situations. So here’s a call I took one evening.
Me: Hey, Tam, what’s up?
Tammy: You’re not going to believe this one.
Me: I don’t know. We both know I’ve seen some pretty interesting things over the years.
Tammy: Um, this was interesting even for me.
Me: Soo? What is it?
Tammy: There’s a guy in the back right now because his wife shoved a real thermometer up his urethra.
Me: What? Seriously? A MERCURY thermometer?
Me: That’s poisonous. Does she have any idea how dangerous it is?
Lady walks up to Tammy’s desk: (embarrassed) You know, I’m his wife. I find it very rude and unprofessional of you to be discussing my husband this way.
Tammy: Hang on, Kitt. (Puts the phone down and turns to the woman) Ma’am. I’m sorry that you’re embarrassed about what is going on with your husband, but it is my job to update my supervisor on potential admissions before I go to lunch which is exactly what I’m doing. (Turns away, dismissing the woman) You still there?
Me: Yup! Did the lady walk away?
Tammy: Yeah, she finally stomped off. Hey! She shouldn’t do stuff like that if she doesn’t want people to hear about it.
Me: LOL! I think this is worse than the call I got from the Operating Room a few minutes ago. They needed a bed for a guy who had a penile fracture.
Tammy: I wonder if they put it in a cast? And if this thermometer breaks, who knows! (laughing) This guy may have a fracture, too.
Me: I was wondering the same thing!
Had enough yet? How about one last one? Tammy seemed a magnet for these strange situations, because it was she and I working in the ER together for the last one. She got called into a room to register an elderly woman. She was sweet and adorable and looked like everyone’s grandma. Tammy told me about this conversation when she got back from the room…she couldn’t keep a straight face.
Tammy: Hi there, ma’am! How are you today?
Grandma lady: Hi dear! I’m doing okay.
Tammy: Do you have your drivers license and insurance card so I can get started on your registration?
Grandma lady: Sure! (hands the info over)
Tammy: So what brings you in today?
Grandma lady: I have some greenery growing…Down there!
Grandma lady: I appear to have some sort of shrubbery growing…DOWN THERE! (pointing toward her lady parts)
Grandma lady: Yes dear. I felt something strange down there, so I took a mirror and I looked. There is greenery growing…down there!
Tammy: Um, ok. Thank you ma’am.
She walked back to me, told me the story and asked, “What in the heck do I put the diagnosis section on something like that?”
“Foreign body in vaginal area?” I guessed.
What had actually happened? That’s what you’re wondering, right? Well, so did we, so we asked. Apparently the woman’s uterus had been prolapsing. One of her friends had just had the surgery done, but she felt she was too busy to have the surgery after the doctor had told her what was wrong. To temporarily “fix” the problem she’d shoved a potato up there. What do we know about potatoes? What is the ideal environment for them to grow in? Warm, dark, wet areas you say? Imagine that! You see, dementia had begun to set in for this poor woman…and she’d forgotten that she’d shoved that potato up there. Wow!
So what about you guys? What are some of the strangest “wound up in the hospital” stories you’ve heard? Have you been one of those strange stories? C’mon…share, share! It’s all fun and games until a potato starts growing…;-)