Ever been to the doctor when you REALLY needed it? Like when it was life and death stuff?

Odds are you went straight to the emergency room, got fixed up and went about your life. But when you’re on the other side of the equation you see some INSANE sh^t.

Redditor FanisPapa asked other users this simple but brutal question: “Hospital staff of Reddit, what is an ER moment that has scarred you for life?” And they answered. Oh, did they answer.

Caution, the following stories are rough to read. You have been warned.

1. Cracking good time

ER call one night when I was a medical student. Chief complaint was penile pain. Guy’s mid-forties, seems otherwise normal, no obvious past medical or surgical history. Ask him about when it started and he tells me that it’s been hurting ever since he “cracked it” that morning. I’m assuming I misheard or that he misspoke, so I ask for clarification. He proceeds to explain that, ever since he was a teenager, he started waking up with morning wood, so he would “crack” his p*nis to make it go away so he could get on with his day. He demonstrates cracking by placing his two closed hands together on top of each other, then quickly bending the top one ninety degrees. He’s completely lost as to why it still hurts today when it’s been thirty years and the pain always went away by mid-morning before.

2. Face hole

FF/EMT turned ER Nurse here. Took care of a person who was attacked by several dogs. Responding officers had to use lethal force so that the medics could get the person into the ambulance. The dogs would end up testing positive for cocaine, steroids and other substances

We weren’t sure which hole in their “face” was the best to put a breathing tube into. I believe it was a 19-hour surgery.

She didn’t live too long after.

3. Cute maggots?!? No such thing.

Nothing scarring just mildly interesting: 1. Buttock infection from self-administering street bought steroids. Right buttock so swollen and raw with underlying tissues macerated creating a tunneling into his rectum. 2. A guy with backpack stuck to his back. Found like that in his apartment. Severely necrotic ulcer and very foul. We scr*ped like a bag and a half of cute maggots (visible and hidden ones) 3. Homeless guy. Bed bugs and lice. Crawling all over. Like lots. We-all-ran-out-of-the-room lots.

4. Sock foot

I removed a guy’s sock once. “I haven’t taken those socks off in 3 months.” The flesh came off with the socks because over enough time it “soaked” into the sock so the cloth and flesh were one.

It was all muscle and tendons underneath.

5. Karma’s a bitch

A woman I knew from a previous stay in our hospital was admitted. The woman was already about 95, basically tetraplegic from two strokes she had the year before, and “cared” for by her daughter. The daughter said that it’s quite nice that the mom can’t move anymore because she could just put her in a chair or a bed and she couldn’t get up and walk, so the daughter could go and work. People who don’t move spontaneously usually have severe problems with skin breakdown due to pressure ulcers and need to be moved around regularly, so that was kind of a red flag. With social services and our whole team, we were able to put the patient in a nursing home where she was cared for appropriately.

The ER-occurrence happened about three months later. We knew that the daughter wasn’t quite happy about everything because she wanted the mom to change her will in her favor. The mom was in no condition to ever be able to do that, but the daughter just didn’t realize that.

Well, she was sent to the ER from the nursing home with cardiogenic shock (meaning her heart was not working properly, and she was dying). The nursing home wanted to just let her go in her own bed at the home, but the daughter threatened to call her lawyer if she wasn’t moved to the hospital. So we saw her in the night, saw that she was in her last few hours on Earth and she was going to die (see above, she was old and sick and there wasn’t much we could do). The daughter demanded (and I mean with screaming and waving with her lawyer’s card) not to give her anything to lessen her symptoms. We also had to try and put a cannula in to “revive” her. So we had to try really hard, knowing it was basically torture for her mom – but the daughter had a certificate showing that she was the person allowed to decide on medical issues.

Best part is: daughter has a private practice for karma healing.

6. The moment you become an orphan

40-year-old man motor vehicle accident, not the patient’s fault, car swerved into his car on the highway. Patient comes into the trauma room with an EMT still giving chest compressions, patient’s vitals crashed on the way to the hospital. Nurses take over the chest compressions once the patient gets on the hospital stretcher. They continue compressions for 35 minutes with no positive response. Up until this moment, I’ve seen this before so not a big deal. A young 12-year-old girl walks up behind me and sees the compressions going on and stays silent. The ER doctor looked at her and then took over compressions for about 5 minutes. He tired out and a nurse took over. The doctor looked around the room at everyone with the familiar look of “are we all ready to call it”. The room is pure silence except for the noise of chest compressions. 5 more minutes go by. The doctor stops the nurse doing compressions with only his hands. The young girl starts to cry softly behind me. The patient was a single father, that girl became an orphan in an instant. I had to leave the room.

7. Beat down

Not ER worker, but had an internship with a hospital’s IT department and on occasion would have to service equipment in the ER.

One time I was sent into a room to work on something and there was a young woman there who had overdosed. She was dead, but they were waiting for her parents to arrive, which all happened while I was there. The mother begins wailing, understandably, but the father immediately begins BEATING the daughter’s boyfriend, screaming it was all his fault. Beating to the point of skull fractures and blood splattering everywhere.

It took three security guards to subdue him.

8. Ricochet

10-year-old boy shot in the head with a high-powered bb gun by his cousin. Came in fully alert, talking, normal mental state. Just a tiny BB hole between the eyebrows.

By the time he got back from CT his words were slurring and he was a little confused.

By the time Neurosurgery called back his eyes were pointing in 2 different directions.

By the time he was going up to the OR, he was starting to posture (abnormal body positioning due to primitive brain reflexes taking over when higher function shuts down).

This was all over the course of about 20-30 minutes.

The CT showed the BB went straight into the skull and pretty much just ricocheted all over the place. AFAIK the kid lived, but of course he’s never gonna be the same.

9. Every. Single. Rib.

Ex-wife is an ER nurse and this is the worst story she ever told me.

Guy was driving his Jeep Wrangler with the roof and doors off. He also wasn’t wearing his seatbelt, you can guess where this is going. What should have been a minor MVA ends with the Jeep rolling over. Not wearing his seat belt means the guy is tossed out. The roll bar of the Jeep rolls right over the guy’s sternum. Every rib, EVERY RIB, was broken in multiple places. He made it to the ER, but didn’t live long after.

Worst part: he was a firefighter at the station right next to the hospital. Everyone knew the guy and he was well liked.


One of my colleagues told me about a guy that came in c/o eye pain and sensitivity.

Turns out he didn’t wear eye protection while doing some DIY home repair with a metal grinder of some sort. He had metal filings embedded in his cornea.

After numbing up his eye, they picked out some of the filings with a needle. My colleague was pretty sure that his coworker pierced through the cornea at some point.

I HATE eye stuff. I nearly puked when he told me this story.

11. When parents are horrible people

House fire- family of six. One child didn’t make it.

Parent shrugged, laughed, said- “Well I’ve got three more don’t I?”

*To save the armchair psychologists of Reddit some time, this was not an instance of “Dark Humor”

12. The noises drowning people make

In the early 80’s I was a night shift Orderly in a small hospital when an ambulance came in with two drowning victims. They were in an SUV that had rolled into the water and they were unable to escape. They had been under water for a long time so there was no attempt to resuscitate.

The State Police had been called to collect a blood alcohol sample and to maintain the chain of custody someone had to stay with the bodies until the Trooper arrived, and I drew the short straw. For a half hour, I was shut in a small examination room with two people who I knew (small town) waiting, and drowning victims make noises.

It was horrible having to see the parents arrive to identify their daughters and it was bad seeing a cardiac blood draw but the noises stuck with me for a long time. It didn’t help that I had been reading Stephen King’s Night Shift when the ambulance arrived.

13. “I only came out to see him suffer.”

Cousin told me this one. He was doing side work in an acute care nursing facility, and full time as a critical care nurse.

He is standing next to the bed of stroke victim. The guy is twisted into a knot, and suffering every moment of every day. There is no going back.

My cousin says to the man’s wife, “Look, this is as good as it gets. We can keep him alive for a long time, but every day will be a day of suffering. Maybe it is time to let him go.”

Her reply, “F_ck him. He cheated on me our whole marriage. That mother f_cker is getting the full ride. I only came out to see him suffer.”

He was stunned, but he couldn’t do a thing about it.

14. Corked

My partner is an ER nurse so I asked her – she said an older lady came in one day and said that she couldn’t get a cork out of her vagina.

They asked how it got up there and she said when she shaved she puts a cork in to stop the shaving cream from getting in, but this time it wouldn’t come back out.

Said she had been doing it for years

15. Broken junk

Years ago we had a guy come into the ER with a broken p*nis….yep, a broken p*nis. He and his wife were having sexy time at what he described as “a very rapid pace” when he pulled back to far and came out when he went to shove it back in, he hit a dry spot on the side of her leg and bent his p*nis 90 degrees.

The problem was that he had ruptured his urethra. Scarred for life is a good way to describe the effect on the entire staff.

16. We all have limits

My mom works in the ER and tells me stories. Some take something out of her. Last year a two-year-old came in with head trauma. The 2-year old’s brother was backing out of the driveway and ran him over. After hours of trying to save him, he was gone. The ER went silent and the mothers scream echoed throughout the hospital. My mom said she couldn’t help but break out into tears when she left.

I have a son that was the same age at the time so it hit her hard. The Dr that was trying to save the child had already lost another patient that day and went on a leave of absence after that.

Well, that was insane.

Have a good night!