14 Doctors Share Stories of Patients They Couldn’t Believe Were Still Alive

If there’s one thing that’s true about life across the board, it’s that you really don’t want to surprise a doctor. Strictly speaking, you’re definitely better off having an experience that a doctor has seen a bunch of times than one they haven’t – and you definitely want to avoid anything that makes other doctors have to come and check you out, too.

These 14 doctors are recalling moments when they looked over a patient and had no earthly idea how they were still alive…I imagine right before they low-key panicked about how they were going to keep them that way.

14. I’d be mad, too.

Had a guy who was shot 22 times, all at once. Man, was he mad. Missed everything (guy was in the 600 lb range).

A little more: The guy was huge, so the bulk of his cross section was fat. The gun was an Uzi. This is an Israeli knock off of an AK47. It fires a .22 cal at a rapid rate. At any distance at all, the bullet velocity is slowed, and the rapid fire rate moves the arms of inexperienced shooter. So the shooter hit lots of fat, missed the vitals.

13. A big one or a small one?

A woman shot in the side of her head six times with a small caliber pistol.

I asked her how she felt. She said she had a headache.

12. Some things you can’t explain.

Seen a brain MRI from a malformed person that had approx. 40% of its brain. The right hemisphere just wasn’t there, less than half thalamus and midbrain. Only cerebellum, medulla and spinal cord were whole in the central nervous system.

To my surprise, besides not being able to walk and having difficulties doing precise movements with hands, the patient was a pretty normal and functional human being. Not even my teachers knew how to explain it.

11. Some people don’t quit.

My fiancé was actually run over by a bus. A big one. Crushed her pelvis, broken bones in her back, all sorts of internal injuries. She was in a medically induced coma for several weeks. 30ish surgeries and 15 years later she can do anything she wants (don’t challenge her). She even had 2 kids.

We only met a few years ago and she still drops little bits of the story in passing like it’s no big deal.

10. He guesses he was about to die.

I was that. I felt like I had a flu for two weeks, got a bit worried it was just getting worse so I went to urgent care. I’m not sure if it’s common for a doctor to turn white and tell you they’ll drive you to the ER if you don’t have a ride, but that’s what happened.

I found out later my heart function was at the end of life point and most of my organs had failed. It turned out stress from a really fucked up divorce caused damage to my heart, which failed without huge symptoms and cascaded to my organs.

I never felt that bad outside of normal flu symptoms, but I guess I was about to die. With some medication and a lot of very slow workout I got back to normal health within a year. Really f*cking strange how your body could just fail randomly.

9. I wish it was more surprising, to be honest.

When I was in medical school, we had a patient come in with symptoms of scurvy. Yes, that scurvy.

When we presented the patient to our attending, they laughed and said it was impossible to get scurvy these days since basically everything is fortified with vitamin C. So we went back to the patient and decided to get a full record of what their diet was.

For the past 2-3 years they are McChickens. As in, that’s LITERALLY all they ever ate, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After 2-3 years they finally came down with a vitamin deficiency, and thus scurvy.

To this day I don’t know what surprised me more. They fact that they went two years eating nothing but McChickens, or the fact that the only problem they had was scurvy.

8. Everyone was stunned.

I had overdosed on paracetamol (acetaminophen). I had ingested 250 tablets, so 150 grams in a suicide bid. I was actually already an inpatient on a hospital ward recovering from a previous suicide bid.

I refused treatment for the overdose and was eventually held down and restrained whilst an anaesthetist delivered drugs to sedate me so they could intubated me and deliver the NAC antidote but by then there was nearly a 20 hour delay in administering any treatment. I was put on the transplant list and my family were told to expect the worst…miraculously I not only survived but my liver repaired the damage done. When I was woken up and extubated the consultant ICU doctor was stunned that I survived. I was stunned I was alive. All the nurses were stunned.

I’m in a much better place now and incredibly grateful for the treatment I received from the amazing medics who looked after me. I gave permission for my case to be anonymised and be published in a journal this year. It’s apparently one of the biggest paracetamol overdoses ever taken where the patient not only survived but didn’t need a liver transplant.

I’m incredibly lucky.

7. Don’t listen to the haters.

Not a doctor, but an acquaintance of mine was skating across the street and got hit by a bus head-on. It crashed into her, ran over her, and she ended up beneath it, where it began to crush her when it automatically lowered upon stopping. She shattered her legs and her pelvis.

She told me it was incredibly traumatizing for the many people who ran and tried to lift the bus up to get the weight off her to hear her literally scream that she was dying, and that for many years some of them believed she had died – until running into her by chance on the street, fully recovered.

Her doctors had told her she would never walk unassisted but she is walking, running, hiking. She credits her helmet (and the doctors, obviously) with saving her life.

6. They just missed it.

Not a doctor but on my first call as an EMT we went to check out a guy that fell off a ramp at a skate park. When we first got there he was getting a pretty good black eye, talking, walking, good spirits, vitals looked okay. He almost refused us but we persuaded him to go to the ER just to get checked out.

So we get him in the ambulance, have him lay down, and start going to the ER lights off. Blood pressure starts dropping very quickly, which was weird cause he wasn’t bleeding anywhere…or so we thought. By the time we got the hospital lights flashing in maybe 5 minutes, he’d vomited several pints of blood and was totally unresponsive, very weak blood pressure.

Turned out he didn’t just have a black eye, he’d crushed that whole orbital area and was bleeding profusely internally, but it was running down the back of his throat and filling his stomach so there was no external blood till he laid down and started vomiting it back up. It was super lucky we convinced him to come to the ER in the first place, based on our initial assessment he could have declined and probably wouldn’t have made it to the ER in time if we had to go back a 2nd time.

ER doctors were very peeved at us for not fully palpating his forehead (normally you would do that), we skipped it because we didn’t want to cause added pain, but had we done that it would have felt soft and mushy instead of bony, an obvious sign he needed to get to the ER fast, head injuries bleed a lot.

He was rushed into surgery, not only lived, but they found and removed a brain tumor that would have probably caused problems later anyway. Can’t remember for sure but don’t think he had a helmet on, if that was the case he probably wouldn’t have gotten away with just a mild concussion.

5. I can’t even compute this.

Rewind almost exactly 1 year ago, I’m working out at the gym (pandemic wasn’t a thing yet!), and I’m really thirsty all of a sudden. I walk over to the fountain and the water couldn’t come out fast enough – I almost Pawnee’d the fountain nozzle. A gym-friend sees me just slugging water down, and that’s not healthy, so he comes over to break my attention and basically pulls me off the fountain. Like a hollywood movie, I immediately cracked open my water bottle and started slugging it like it was $2 pints night at the local pub, and it got knocked out of my hand.

I was actually satiated at this point, with probably 3 Litres of water in my gut – visibly bloated belly and all. I go change and shower, and go home. Throughout the night I just couldn’t keep my thirst at bay – drinking around another 3L of water from 6pm to midnight. The next day, same thing – slugging back so much water that it was making me sick but I couldn’t stand the intense feeling of thirst all the time – even sipping water wasn’t enough, I had to gulp it down like that scene from 127 hours.

After a month of this, yes, I waited a month before getting worried enough to think to call a doctor, I go into the walk-in clinic and tell them what’s been going on, and well, yadda yadda over 2 months of tests and incorrect diagnoses, mid-july I go see another walk-in clinic at the advice of family. This guy sends me for a special blood test that no one else thought to look into, diabetes tests.

He gives me the blood form requisition and since I booked the day off work, I went to do it right then and there. They suck out 6 vials of blood and take other fluids from me, and tell me to go home.

The next morning, 5:45am, my cell phone rings. It’s the doctor from the walk-in. He said my blood glucose levels were so high, that it set off an alarm in the blood testing machines, notified all parties involved, and sent him an automated call at 430 that morning. After double checking results and what not, the doc calls me and says “hang up the phone, call 911, and get to the hospital right away. Don’t drive there yourself or call a taxi/uber, you call 911. Understand?”

I don’t listen to him, and go and wake my parents up in the next unit over, tell them what happened, and my Dad drives me over to the hospital. More bloodwork is done, more tests, and within 10 minutes of blood being taken, they had me hooked up to IV’s and three doctors and multiple nurses are all discussing what to do with me, do they check me in, do they call for transport. I’m freaking out.

A doctor comes in with the other doctors and asks me to re-tell the last 24 hours. He also asks me to call someone who can verify it – a work boss, a partner/roommate, someone. No one could except for the walk-in doctor during the time I was there, because I live/work alone.

The doctor asks me if I know what diabetes is, what blood glucose levels are, and where they should be. My mom has the ‘betus, so I know a bit. The doctor tells me a normal non-diabetic glucose level should be 4.0-7.9. Someone averaging 7-10 is pre-diabetic, 11-15 is high, 16-21 is critical, and anything over 22 is usually diabetic shock/coma inducing or a super critical “time for 911” phone call. EDIT: Adjusted numbers, they were originally incorrect. Thanks /u/punkerster101.

I was averaging 44 mmol/L (~800 mg/dl) – with 3 different tests performed on 2 different samples of blood, each taken days apart.

They couldn’t figure out why I was so crazy critical “you shouldn’t be conscious right now, or be able to hold a conversation with me..” and yet, I was fully conscious, holding a conversation, standing under my own power, and all with no symptoms other than thirst starting to get crazy one day.

4. He must have had a hard head.

Guy came in conscious, had a ruptured left eye. Shot point-blank with a pistol through the eye, the bullet ricochet off the back of the skull and crossed the midline of the head.

When he came in, I was on my way out from duty, so I’m not sure what happened to him. ER trauma had a fast turnover.

3. I hope she took it as a sign.

ICU doc here. Woman overdosed on drugs, stabbed herself with a knife, wrapped a plastic bag over her head and jumped in the river, in the winter. Made it out alive.

2. This is a whole lot of nope.

Not a doctor but a paramedic. Went to a lift assist with no apparent injuries. The man was on the floor with a small blood soaked hand towel on his head.

I lifted the towel and saw that he had no scalp left, it had been eaten away because he refused to get medical attention.

1. Good for him?

Work in a pharmacy, we got a call from a doctor about his patients chemo. He had prescribed a strength 10 times higher than he should’ve for a cancer patient. But not only was the patient still alive, they were in full remission.

I honestly hope a doctor never has this reaction to me.

If a doctor has had this reaction to you – or you’re a doctor yourself – share your own stories in the comments!