Many times over the past 8 years that Mike has been practicing Emergency Medicine, he has told me about his interesting cases. He continues to do so now.
When we get together with friends, especially other doctors or my sister, Emili & her husband, Dallon who is a physician's assistant, the conversation and exchange of experiences can get pretty lively. Some of the stories are wild! Don't worry, he doesn't share names or information that might betray confidentiality.
I enjoy hearing these tales. The only problem is when we're eating dinner and the story gets more detailed or gory than I want to hear at the moment. I guess it's part of being married to a doctor.
So these are written by me-to the best of my recalling ability-after Mike has related his experiences. I thought you might find some of these stories as fascinating as I do.
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Some parents brought their 2 year old daughter in one night about 10 PM. She had a foreign object in her ear. It was a piece of tempered glass. She told her parents that she had “put the diamond in her ear to keep it safe.”
Can you believe it?
One of their neighbors had tried to get it out, unsuccessfully. When Mike saw her, the ear was bleeding a little. He tried to get the glass out, but couldn’t. When he was done trying, the ear was bleeding even more and he was worried that it had punctured the ear drum.
He told them it would have to be removed by an ear, nose & throat specialist with her under sedation. The dad had a $5000 deductible on his insurance. Mike told him it would definitely be more then that for the surgery.
Ouch! I don’t know of any other way around this kind of problem.
The story reminded me of when I was a little girl. We had a large atrium window in our house. Here’s a picture of me with the location of that atrium behind me.
One day my dad was on the roof hammering the rain gutter and shattered the whole thing. It didn’t fall out right away, though. We had enough time to put blankets underneath. Then the whole thing fell and there were millions of pieces.
I thought the pieces looked like diamonds too. I secretly collected a few and hid them in a little suitcase I had. I can still visualize the moment I was walking outside with that suitcase and grabbed a few of the glass pieces. I held them in my hand for a few minutes and when I looked down, my hand was full of blood! The cuts were minor and I didn’t even feel them at first, but it sure scared me! I still remember that moment in time, and I can relate to this little girl!
Moral of the story: Diamonds are not always a girl’s best friend.
My husband has shared this story a few times recently.
A canyoneer was flown by helicopter to the ER. She had been climbing with two guys out in some canyons and were rappelling down a high, steep cliff.
It was the girl’s turn and somehow her rope had slipped and she started free falling. She was about 100 feet up from the ground. There were no other safeguards to stop her fall.
Her companions were fearful beyond panic. They were sure she would hit the ground and be dead. I would imagine that her life flashed before her eyes in those endless few seconds.
When her death appeared eminent, at about 10 feet from the ground, the rope bound up at the top and suddenly yanked her to a stop. She banged against the side of the rock wall with such force that it broke both her ankles. Her friends were immensely relieved that she was still alive. They were visibly shaken when they arrived about 45 minutes after her, to the ER.
Mike had some x-rays taken and splinted her fractures for follow up in another state. Otherwise, she was fine.
Moral of the Story: You can’t always know what the ultimate outcome of a given situation will be. Never stop praying!
A mother brought her 6 month old baby to the hospital because she was worried the baby’s head was too big. Her doctor decided to order a CT scan for the child. On the scan they noticed a couple of subtle things that could have been problematic, but were not anything that needed emergent intervention. However, they immediately sent her to the ER for an MRI at 10:00 at night.
The baby was not vomiting, was not sick at all. He was fine. Mike didn’t think it was medically right to order an an expensive, inappropriate test late at night for a baby that was perfectly happy. He discharged the patient, recommending an MRI in the next few days.
Why was all this going on? Because of fear.
Moral of the story: Fear clouds our common sense, costs a lot of money and can ultimately harm us through poor decisions.
Made this hilarious video to tease Mike while he’s on his 2 week trip to South America. He has a T-shirt that has a picture of the Cat in The Hat and says, “Trust Me, I’m A Doctor.” So this is a little spoof on that!
The dad was a rodeo champion and was used to being tough. He didn’t want the paramedics to take his son to the hospital.
The boy was acting hurt and having trouble breathing, so the paramedics convinced the father to let them check his son’s oxygen level and other vitals. The oxygen level was at 82%, which is really low. They told the father that his son was actually hurt and needed to go to the hospital. He finally consented and let the paramedics take him.
It turned out that though the boy hadn’t broken any ribs, his lung had been punctured. This was why he was having trouble breathing. Mike had to put a chest tube in him to get his lung inflated again and help him breathe.
Mike explained to me that children and teens rarely break ribs because their ribs are soft and still forming. They have lots of cartilage in their ribs. So, even though kids don’t break ribs easily, they can still sustain serious internal injuries.
Mike loves tough people who don’t run to the ER for every little problem. In this case, he was glad the father recognized that his son was injured enough to require expert medical attention. Luckily this boy got the treatment he needed and should be fine.
Moral of the Story: Operating out of common sense can help us know when to seek professional help.
Mike said he had a rock climber brought in to the ER that had fallen 20 feet and landed on his head. His gear had failed. Luckily the guy was wearing a helmet or he wouldn’t have lived. There was a huge crack in the helmet. He ended up having some bleeding around his brain.
Mike talks to family members of the injured patients, to tell them what’s going on, how serious it is, and what the potential results of the injury could be.
The guy’s father called from back East and ended up talking to a social worker. Mike was grateful for that, because the concerned parent was asking a lot of questions: “Is there anybody there that understands rock climbing injuries and the forces involved in rock climbing injuries and the treatment of rock climbing injuries, etc, etc, etc.”
Southern Utah is a rock climbing capitol, and St George gets the largest share of the injuries. The ER docs there have plenty of experience in that area. One of the docs happens to be a phenomenal rock climber himself.
Anyway, Mike was very relieved he didn’t have to defend the level of care in his ER for who-knows-how-long he might have been on the phone.
Moral of the Story: If you’re going to question the competence of a professional, at least be polite and/or discreet.
A guy came into the ER with a dislocated knee cap. Most the time the docs can get this problem corrected without sedation, but he wouldn’t hardly allow them to touch it. He needed to be sedated in order to get the cap back into place without hurting him too much.
They went ahead with the sedation. As he was coming out of it, he started “hitting on” the nurse in front of his wife, who happened to be 8 months pregnant.
The guy’s brother kept telling him to shut up, but he wouldn’t stop. The staff thought it was pretty funny.
Moral of the Story: Be aware that under sedation you may say things you don’t intend. Chances are, if you keep your thoughts pure and faithful in your everyday living, they’re more likely to be so when you’re not in control.
Mike shared a story about a kid that came in drunk one night with several other young people. One girl had been punched in the face and so had another boy. They were okay.
The young man Mike treated said he had been wrestling and “fell” through a plate glass window.
He had bad cuts into his elbow and on his arm and hand.
A physician’s assistant stitched up the bad cut on the elbow, then Mike went to work on the hand. He discovered that the kid had no feeling in a couple of his fingers, so he called the orthopedic surgeon to come check it out. They guessed that one of his main nerves had been severed, so they took him into surgery and reopened his elbow.
The doc said that he found the main nerve flapping around inside, but was able to reconnect it. Most the time those peripheral nerves will heal up and function again. I guess time will tell.
Moral of the story: No good thing comes from abuse of alcohol.
When Mike was in residency, he did a month-long rotation up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was great! We took our whole family up and stayed with Mike’s sister who lived nearby, and did a bunch of sight-seeing while we were there.
The ER is very close to Yellowstone National Park, so they see many cases coming from the park.
One day a man in his fifties brought in his wife who had a dislocated shoulder.
She was giving her husband a really hard time, telling him he would be doing the dishes for the next 6 months.
The couple had been observing nature out in the park and had discovered a grizzly bear. They moved closer to see it until they were only about 100 feet away. They were watching intently when the bear turned their direction.
The man was so startled (understandably) he whirled around, sprinting at full speed. Unfortunately his wife was standing behind him. He ran her over.
The bear couldn’t have cared less.
The man rushed his wife to the ER. The ER staff thought the situation was hilarious, especially because she wouldn’t let him live it down. Luckily, except for the dislocated shoulder, man and wife were just fine.
Moral of the story: If you startle easily around wild animals, take care or you may be on dish detail for a while.
A man in his late forties and his wife and his mother came into the ER. The wife said he came into their bedroom at 2 AM, sat on the bed and fell over. She talked to him and shook him, and although he was breathing comfortably, he wouldn’t wake up. She called an ambulance to take him to the hospital.
He was awake, but groggy when Mike saw him. Mike asked them if he had drunk any alcohol that evening. They said no. Mike asked if the guy EVER drank alcohol. His wife answered that he did not. Mike asked if he had taken any drugs. They said no.
Mike started ordering tests. He ordered blood work, a urine sample and a CT scan of the brain.
The urine had barbituates and benzodiazepines-both sedatives, and the blood contained alcohol.
Mike returned to the room and excused man’s wife and mother. He told the guy there were drugs in his urine. He said he had taken Donatol for his stomach and Ambien (a strong sleeping drug). Then he had gone in his garage to work on his motorcycles.
Okay folks. First of all, it’s wise to lie down after taking a drug like Ambien because it makes your body go to sleep. It also cause your brain to be amnestic, which means you can’t think or remember things. People do crazy things on this stuff. They don’t remember a thing. Older people sometimes take this stuff and end up behind the wheel. It can be quite dangerous.
Mike told the guy that his blood alcohol was close to the legal limit. The guy said he couldn’t remember anything.
Mike asked, “Did you drink tonight?”
“I may have.”
“Do you have alcohol in your garage?’
“Yes.” He lowered his head a little.
“Do you drink it sometimes?”
So this guy had taken the sleeping drug, gone out to the garage for some tinkering, fallen asleep on his feet, drank some alcohol out of his hidden stash in the garage while he was “semi-conscious”, and then returned to his bedroom to pass out heavily and scare his wife to death, without remembering a thing.
A considerable amount of money was wasted on tests.
Moral of the story: If you go to the ER, make sure you tell the physician what drugs you’re taking, and if you take Ambien, go to bed not to work.
A little while ago Mike treated a guy in the ER that had been run over by a pig.
The man was going to slaughter the pig. He shot it in the head and it had slumped to the ground. When the man went over to the front of it, the pig jumped up and rammed him, breaking the man’s tibia bone in his leg.
The pig chased the man around the room for a few minutes. The man was frantically trying to keep away from it. Finally, someone else came into the room, saw what was happening and shot the pig again. This time it died.
The man was alright except for his broken tibia.
Usually Mike treats people in car injuries, not pig injuries.
All in a day’s work.
Moral of the story: Make sure your pig is good and dead . . .
One time a dad brought his daughter into the ER. He was very excited.
“She’s got something up her nose! It stinks so bad!”
The dad had detected a smell coming from his daughter, but could not figure out where it was coming from. He was giving her baths 3 times a day, and it was driving him crazy.
He finally noticed when she looked up, there was something in her nose. The something was a small strand of carpet she had stuck up there. It blocked the airflow and started attracting mucus which then started to reek.
When Mike was telling me this story he commented that cases with foreign bodies were quite interesting. He’s also seen beads and beans in noses and ears.
The weirdest is when people get bugs in their ears (hold on to your stomachs folks). When the person feels the bug in their ear they usually smack it, which drives it into the ear canal.
Mike is the one that has to delicately pull the insect out with alligator forceps, without puncturing the eardrum. He said it’s really strange to see a transparent wing poking out or two beady little eyes looking back at him.
Moral of the story: Don’t smack your ear if a bug tickles it, and if your child starts to stink mysteriously, be sure to check the nose.
There’s a doctor that works with Mike in the ER, I won’t name any names, but I hear he’s a bit of a jokester; I’ll call him Doc #1. And there’s another doc that’s more serious, level-headed and conservative (he would never break the rules)-I’ll call him Doc #2.
One day the hospital was repaving the cement of the entrance to the ER. The job was finished, but the cement was still wet. Mike was working, and Doc #1 suggests they go out and etch their names into the soft concrete. Mike asked him if he was crazy.
Doc #1 continued to describe how fun it would be, trying to persuade Mike to join him, but to no avail.
A few days later, someone showed Mike a photo of the concrete. It ended up, Doc #1 had written the name of Doc #2 with the year 2009.
Doc #2 was fairly concerned when he heard that his name was etched in the concrete. He vehemently denied doing the dirty deed. What Doc #1 didn’t realize was there was a video surveillance camera at the entrance. It had recorded the whole act.
Some people started joshing Doc #1, telling him he was going to have to pay $1500 to get the patch of concrete repaved. Someone got a hospital administrator to write him a letter telling him he was going to be required to pay. Some people even got mad at the administrator, thinking he was going overboard…
Doc #1 finally figured out it was a big joke on him.
Moral of the story: Make sure the cameras are turned off when you’re going to play practical jokes, especially if you blame your actions on someone else (or maybe don’t do the deed in the first place–you may save yourself some grief).
I am not a doctor (that would be my husband). Any advice or recommendations you find on this site should not be construed as medical advice. I do not claim to be able to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease (you can do that yourself). If you choose to follow my example, you will be taking responsibility for your own health and wellness.