…ft. The Internet. Happy International Nurses Day! We all tend to take nurses for granted. So I hope this compilation of horror stories told by nurses will help us appreciate our nurses even better. And if you made it through “The Swamps of Dagobah” a.k.a the last story and didn’t (at least) gag, you deserve an award.
We had one very demented lady who used to hoard things in her clothing, and hair, and was constantly mumbling nonsense. Well, it was shower time and I noticed something coming from in between her legs. I got out some napkins and a pen cap. When I noticed there was more, I had to get my charge nurse. Now, keep in mind this is a very large older woman who was screaming and yelling the entire time. It took 3 of us to get the rest out (2 to hold her down, 1 to dig) We got a peanut butter and jelly sandwich out of her vagina. Who knows how long it had been there, but it didn’t smell pretty.
Three days into orientation to my new role, a woman was admitted into the unit after a drug overdose. She was combative, confused, and angry. She was screaming obscenities and calling people crude names. Her hands were restrained, but her legs were swinging and kicking at anyone in her range. Her stained and ripped clothing and dirty skin told us she was homeless, or at least living like a homeless person. But the stench that filled the room was something so rotten I didn’t recognize it as an odour I had smelled before. We quickly identified the source. Her groin area was covered in layers upon layers of maggots. It was unclear whether it was infection or disease or just filth attracting and feeding those nasty larvae.
A nice little old man in a wheelchair waved at one of my coworkers (a pretty little 18 year-old, fresh out of high school sugar and spice type of girl). He said, ‘honey come over here please’ as she bent down to talk to him. He moved the blanket covering his legs and SPLAT! He ejaculated right in her face and mouth. I never saw her again and thus my nursing career began…
Add together a brass cock ring, alcohol, meth and Viagra along with an overactive wish list and fantasy life and at some point you get an ER patient, let’s call him Mr. Johnson, who just after he took a picture of his ever expanding magic wand, realizes his member continues to grow and now is a little painful and turning purple. Let’s say when he got to the point where he would look more at home in the vegetable bin at the supermarket along with the other eggplants, he finally made his way to the ER. Brass is really hard and a first we thought we would call one of the guys in services and get a big bolt cutter. That’s when Mr. Johnson finally gave in and let the urologist on call break out the 14-gauge needle to drain Mr. Johnson’s Johnson. Hurts to think about it.
I was training this CNA to give a soapsuds enema on an elderly man. I showed her how to fill the bucket, mix the castile soap in, etc. I also told her the techniques for the actual enema process. She was fine with it. She began giving it like a pro. I told her how to slow it down for cramping and such, and I told her to get the bedpan ready….She was standing RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE PATIENT’S butt, which I told her wasn’t a good place. She didn’t listen. DIDN’T LISTEN. The old guy coughed and out it shot. Brown flaky water with nuggets, all down her blue scrubs. My god. Impaction city. That poop had that OLD POOP smell and I just cringed. The poor CNA gagged and ran.
This occurred in a nursing home I was working in. There was a man who was very ill with gastro and my work partner and I were putting him into his PJs and night pad and all that so he could sleep for the night. He had dementia and was very febrile and not responding. We were doing this whilst he was already lying on his bed and just rolling him from side to side. We finally got him changed and I heard this weird sound coming from this man and I wisely took a step back. It all happened so quickly that I couldn’t warn my partner in time. She lent into him and was saying something, and this man projectile vomited right on her face. Lucky she was wearing her glasses but unluckily she was talking and vomit went all in her mouth. She started screaming and spitting out the vomit onto the floor and ran off to the bathroom, screaming.
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Where to start! Maybe not “horror” stories but definitely weird ones.
Recently we had a gentleman come in to the ER with the initial complaint of “Deep sleep concern”. At triage he started off by emphasizing that he sleeps incredibly deeply. When we pressed further the patient said that he had left some Q-tips out on his bed. While in his “deep sleep” and rolling around in bed somehow multiple Q-tips ended up lodged in his urethra (way up his pee hole). I’m not talking 1 or 2. There were 11 non-lubricated Q-tips in total. Took a few hours but we pulled them all out.
Another incident that comes to mind relates to a early morning beverage. A young male, in his 20’s came in by EMS with what seemed like excited delirium/potential drug use. After a struggle we were able to restrain the patient. Hours went by and all tests were negative (CT, bloodwork, urine). By early morning the patient was pleasant and cooperative. As there were no further tests to obtain and the patient seemed at his baseline we elected to remove his restraints. The patient got up, ran to the nearest sink (which was in full view of the staff/patients). The patient began stuffing paper towels into the sink, plugging the drain, and filled it with water. He then pulled out his penis and began aggressively masturbating. After ejaculating into the warm sink water, the patient used his hand to scoop the warm sperm water liquid into his mouth, proceeding to run out the back ambulance bay.
I have too many screwed up stories to list. But thanks for keeping me awake on my night shift Reddit!
This is from one of my teachers. One night she was in the ER and this lady comes in complaining of leg pains. Now she had a cast on the leg, for it had been broken. So they decide to cut the cast off. Turns out, the last had broken her leg almost a year before and the cast was still on. Taking the cast off, tey saw maggots eating away at exposed bone.
People are going to think I’m making this up because it’s entirety ridiculous. I’m not a nurse but I was a CNA and telemetry tech for many years. I got floated from my “home unit” of medical neurology to the ER at least once or twice a month when they were short.
We had a man drive himself to the hospital because he was having delusions and decided it would be a good idea to cut off his own penis. According to him, after said penis removal he regretted the decision. To remedy the problem he stuck a pencil through the severed penis, stuck it back on the stump and attempted to superglue the whole thing back together. He tried for a while and then when it didn’t work drove on over to the ER. He said that God had told him that if he removed his penis as a sacrifice he would stop global warming, so I guess it was a noble reason for him to do it. And the next night when I returned to work he had been admitted to my home unit and was one of my patients. Yay.
Oh and just for all the poor guys reading this, they were able to, by some huge miracle, reattach his penis. They didn’t know if it would ever be “fully functional” again but he could at least pee out of it.
And now I feel like between this and the ‘what surprised you after moving in with a man’ post I’ve been talking about penis all night…
[Shareen: This story is superbly long but it’s absolutely worth the read. I definitely saved the best for last]
OR Nurse here. This is kind of a long one…
I was taking call one night, and woke up at two in the morning for a “general surgery” call. Pretty vague, but at the time, I lived in a town that had large populations of young military guys and avid meth users, so late-night emergencies were common.
Got to the hospital, where a few more details awaited me — “Perirectal abscess.” For the uninitiated, this means that somewhere in the immediate vicinity of the asshole, there was a pocket of pus that needed draining. Needless to say our entire crew was less than thrilled.
I went down to the Emergency Room to transport the patient, and the only thing the ER nurse said as she handed me the chart was “Have fun with this one.” Amongst healthcare professionals, vague statements like that are a bad sign.
My patient was a 314lb Native American woman who barely fit on the stretcher I was transporting her on. She was rolling frantically side to side and moaning in pain, pulling at her clothes and muttering Hail Mary’s. I could barely get her name out of her after a few minutes of questioning, so after I confirmed her identity and what we were working on, I figured it was best just to get her to the anesthesiologist so we could knock her out and get this circus started.
She continued her theatrics the entire ten-minute ride to the O.R., nearly falling off the surgical table as we were trying to put her under anesthetic. We see patients like this a lot, though, chronic drug abusers who don’t handle pain well and who have used so many drugs that even increased levels of pain medication don’t touch simply because of high tolerance levels.
It should be noted, tonight’s surgical team was not exactly wet behind the ears. I’d been working in healthcare for several years already, mostly psych and medical settings. I’ve watched an 88-year-old man tear a 1″-diameter catheter balloon out of his penis while screaming “You’ll never make me talk!”. I’ve been attacked by an HIV-positive neo-Nazi. I’ve seen some shit. The other nurse had been in the OR as a trauma specialist for over ten years; the anesthesiologist had done residency at a Level 1 trauma center, or as we call them, “Knife and Gun Clubs”. The surgeon was ex-Army, and averaged about eight words and two facial expressions a week. None of us expected what was about to happen next.
We got the lady off to sleep, put her into the stirrups, and I began washing off the rectal area. It was red and inflamed, a little bit of pus was seeping through, but it was all pretty standard. Her chart had noted that she’d been injecting IV drugs through her perineum, so this was obviously an infection from dirty needles or bad drugs, but overall, it didn’t seem to warrant her repeated cries of “Oh Jesus, kill me now.”
The surgeon steps up with a scalpel, sinks just the tip in, and at the exact same moment, the patient had a muscle twitch in her diaphragm, and just like that, all hell broke loose.
Unbeknownst to us, the infection had actually tunneled nearly a foot into her abdomen, creating a vast cavern full of pus, rotten tissue, and fecal matter that had seeped outside of her colon. This godforsaken mixture came rocketing out of that little incision like we were recreating the funeral scene from Jane Austen’s “Mafia!”.
We all wear waterproof gowns, face masks, gloves, hats, the works — all of which were as helpful was rainboots against a firehose. The bed was in the middle of the room, an easy seven feet from the nearest wall, but by the time we were done, I was still finding bits of rotten flesh pasted against the back wall. As the surgeon continued to advance his blade, the torrent just continued. The patient kept seizing against the ventilator (not uncommon in surgery), and with every muscle contraction, she shot more of this brackish gray-brown fluid out onto the floor until, within minutes, it was seeping into the other nurse’s shoes.
I was nearly twelve feet away, jaw dropped open within my surgical mask, watching the second nurse dry-heaving and the surgeon standing on tip-toes to keep this stuff from soaking his socks any further. The smell hit them first. “Oh god, I just threw up in my mask!” The other nurse was out, she tore off her mask and sprinted out of the room, shoulders still heaving. Then it hit me, mouth still wide open, not able to believe the volume of fluid this woman’s body contained. It was like getting a great big bite of the despair and apathy that permeated this woman’s life. I couldn’t fucking breath, my lungs simply refused to pull anymore of that stuff in. The anesthesiologist went down next, an ex-NCAA D1 tailback, his six-foot-two frame shaking as he threw open the door to the OR suite in an attempt to get more air in, letting me glimpse the second nurse still throwing up in the sinks outside the door. Another geyser of pus splashed across the front of the surgeon. The YouTube clip of “David at the dentist” keeps playing in my head — “Is this real life?”
In all operating rooms, everywhere in the world, regardless of socialized or privatized, secular or religious, big or small, there is one thing the same: Somewhere, there is a bottle of peppermint concentrate. Everyone in the department knows where it is, everyone knows what it is for, and everyone prays to their gods they never have to use it. In times like this, we rub it on the inside of our masks to keep the outside smells at bay long enough to finish the procedure and shower off.
I sprinted to the our central supply, ripping open the drawer where this vial of ambrosia was kept, and was greeted by — an empty fucking box. The bottle had been emptied and not replaced. Somewhere out there was a godless bastard who had used the last of the peppermint oil, and not replaced a single fucking drop of it. To this day, if I figure out who it was, I’ll kill them with my bare hands, but not before cramming their head up the colon of every last meth user I can find, just so we’re even.
I darted back into the room with the next best thing I can find — a vial of Mastisol, which is an adhesive rub we use sometimes for bandaging. It’s not as good as peppermint, but considering that over one-third of the floor was now thoroughly coated in what could easily be mistaken for a combination of bovine after-birth and maple syrup, we were out of options.
I started rubbing as much of the Mastisol as I could get on the inside of my mask, just glad to be smelling anything except whatever slimy demon spawn we’d just cut out of this woman. The anesthesiologist grabbed the vial next, dowsing the front of his mask in it so he could stand next to his machines long enough to make sure this woman didn’t die on the table. It wasn’t until later that we realized that Mastisol can give you a mild high from huffing it like this, but in retrospect, that’s probably what got us through.
By this time, the smell had permeated out of our OR suite, and down the forty-foot hallway to the front desk, where the other nurse still sat, eyes bloodshot and watery, clenching her stomach desperately. Our suite looked like the underground river of ooze from Ghostbusters II, except dirty. Oh so dirty.
I stepped back into the OR suite, not wanting to leave the surgeon by himself in case he genuinely needed help. It was like one of those overly-artistic representations of a zombie apocalypse you see on fan-forums. Here’s this one guy, in blue surgical garb, standing nearly ankle deep in lumps of dead tissue, fecal matter, and several liters of syrupy infection. He was performing surgery in the swamps of Dagobah, except the swamps had just come out of this woman’s ass and there was no Yoda. He and I didn’t say a word for the next ten minutes as he scraped the inside of the abscess until all the dead tissue was out, the front of his gown a gruesome mixture of brown and red, his eyes squinted against the stinging vapors originating directly in front of him. I finished my required paperwork as quickly as I could, helped him stuff the recently-vacated opening full of gauze, taped this woman’s buttocks closed to hold the dressing for as long as possible, woke her up, and immediately shipped off to the recovery ward.
Until then, I’d only heard of “alcohol showers.” Turns out 70% isopropyl alcohol is about the only thing that can even touch a scent like that once its soaked into your skin. It takes four or five bottles to get really clean, but it’s worth it. It’s probably the only scenario I can honestly endorse drinking a little of it, too.
As we left the locker room, the surgeon and I looked at each other, and he said the only negative sentence I heard him utter in two and a half years of working together:
“That was bad.”
The next morning the entire department (a fairly large floor within the hospital) still smelled. The housekeepers told me later that it took them nearly an hour to suction up all of the fluid and debris left behind. The OR suite itself was closed off and quarantined for two more days just to let the smell finally clear out.
I laugh now when I hear new recruits to healthcare talk about the worst thing they’ve seen. You ain’t seen shit, kid.
Don’t shoot IV drugs into your taint.
Header image source from here.