Health care workers have to deal with a lot, including explaining ridiculous things. Whether its lack of education or simple confusion these stories are unbelievably comical. In this piece, health care workers share their "I can't believe I had to explain this to an adult" moment. Keep in mind, each story was edited for clarity.
"I work at a pharmacy and we get crazy questions all the time.
We had gotten a phone call from a seemingly distressed woman asking if we carried a larger-sized NuvaRing. My first thought was, 'Holy moly, how big are you down there?' but I realized that there is only one size of NuvaRing, so I told her to come up to our help window, and we can try to figure out what the problem was.
When she finally came up, I kid you not this will most likely be one of the funniest things I have ever seen. She comes up, and she is honest to God wearing the NuvaRing as a bracelet...
Her actual thought process was if she wore the NuvaRing on her wrist, she could have all the unprotected procreation she wanted and be just fine.
The look on her face when we told her that it was an inserted contraceptive, she turned ghost white, and gave a meek 'thank you' and ran out of the pharmacy. I felt bad for her, but I could not help myself from laughing."
"Worked in an optical practice in the UK. Man comes in complaining of bad vision. His astigmatism has increased by like 3 diopters. That's a lot and definitely shouldn't happen. The optician retested using different kit. Same result. Told him to come back in a week, and we will retest it.
This time we're looking at 4 diopters. They freak out. Recheck again, another optician checks it. Same result. They run through health, smoking, drinking, medicine. Nothing out of the ordinary. The guy looks super stressed, put his head in his hands and put his thumbs against the side of his eyes.
The optician asks if he does that a lot. Apparently whenever he's stressed, he pushes the sides of his eyes. He's done it so much that he has physically changed the front of his eyeball and ruined his vision.We told him to stop doing that. Never thought we'd have to tell another human being to not squeeze their own eyeballs."
"Patient had been referred to my pharmacy by his physician for an OTC enema. The guy was not the sharpest tack, and apparently either his physician did not explain it well or the guy didn't listen, but our conversation went like this:
Patient: 'So I drink down this whole bottle and then I'll have to poop?'
Me: 'No sir, this is an enema. It is used on your back-end.'
Patient (confused): 'So what's that mean, I don't have to drink the whole thing?'
Me: 'No sir, you'll lie on your side and insert the applicator tip of the bottle into your rectum and squeeze the contents into your bowel. You'll then remain lying on your side and hold the enema in until you feel the urge to have a bowel movement.'
Patient: 'You're telling me I gotta stick it up my butt!?'
Me: 'Yes sir, this is an enema and it is used on the rear. There are detailed instructions and diagrams in the box.'
Patient: 'BUZZ OFF!'
And he stormed off. That was the last I saw of him. Not sure if he thought I was messing with him or what, but I hope he eventually got to go."
"I have a friend that works in a doctors' office in Amish Country in Pennsylvania. They had an Amish couple come in, saying that the wife couldn't get pregnant. They ran a couple tests, and everything was coming up normal. So then they gave him a cup and asked him for a sperm sample. He came back with it full of his pee. He had been peeing in his wife, thinking that is how you impregnate someone."
"Older man, terminally ill. New Year's Eve. Presented to the ER in the company of a woman from the streets. He had a finishing nail in his erect male genitalia. He was in to penile sounding. He says, 'Well, there was nothing else lying around. And I'm so messed up and can't feel a thing.' Indeed, he was messed up. Coke, hard drinks, mdma, woody medicine and some hydros. Poor dude just wanted one last rager. I told him, 'Wood is just a euphemism, man. Don't shove sharp things up your pee-hole.' He took it in stride. He was in the hospital for two days. The woman basically stayed with him the entire time. Come to find out, she was only one of the three women he had paid. She wasn't even the one who shoved the nail up there. I thought it odd that she hung around until he told me how much he had paid them. Turns out the other two were hanging out at his house waiting for his return. I visited him before he was discharge. Dude popped some x right in front me and says, 'Just getting a head start. No more sharp stuff. I promise, Doc.'"
"I was an EKG (ECG) tech and a unit secretary for a 24 bed Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. The worst one by far was we had a patient who was a long time dope addict who was brought it by the Department Of Corrections because he was experiencing a 3rd degree atrioventricular block (look it up if you want more information). This is a relatively common thing for habitual long time dope users.
I was in the room, resetting my leads, when the cardiologist and his nurse were explaining to him that he needed a pacemaker to live. Not just for comfort, legitimately needed it to stay alive or his heart would flat stop from all the damage. He said he didn't need one because his heart was fine, to which the cardiologist promptly replied, 'That is factually not the case.' He proceeded to try to convince everyone in the room that this substance does absolutely no harm to your body and everyone just wants him to stop because they are jealous of how much fun he was having. I am trying so hard to not laugh while shaving portions of his hairy chest.
So they proceeded to bring every piece of evidence to him to convince him that dope is actually bad for you to save his freaking life...yeah, that happened. Long story short, the doctor released him because they didn't want to pay for his treatment, he checked himself out of the hospital against advice screaming, 'Dope man here I come!' down the hallway, then made it to the parking lot before his heart stopped. They brought him back to life in the ER and he was back on my floor being prepped for surgery within the hour. Can't make that stuff up."
"I work in an ophthalmic clinic. This lady comes into my work, recently diagnosed with diabetes with glucose readings of 230 (should be 70-110 before breakfast) and A1C of 13 (should be 5.6-8). Complaints of blurriness, not being able to see as clearly as she used to for past few months. She decided that her diabetes medicine is affecting her vision, so she stopped them a few months back. Had to explain that her sugars were uncontrolled for so long that she adjusted to the poor vision in her eyes. The medication did its job, and she thought her vision was getting worse, but she was so used to seeing poorly that she thought that was normal. If I recall correctly, she was having beginning stages of diabetic retinopathy with muscular swelling.
If you have diabetes, take your medicine and glucose readings daily. If your sugars are high, then they will make your vision blurry, if you don't monitor it you can have damage to your eyes that's irreversible and you will need injections to your eyeball.
If you've had uncontrolled diabetes for a while and you just found out, continue to take your medication even if you feel your vision is changing."
"An older lady was brought into the ER barely conscious by her husband. In a very thick Italian accent, she told the doctor she was dying. She had complained of feeling tingly and having a dry mouth prior to passing out.
The doctor sat the husband down, and they did a history. No serious medical problems and she was very fit. In fact, she spent the morning cleaning her son's bar, as she often did on a Sunday morning.
Considering her age, they took these symptoms very seriously and begun running tests to find the source of her ailments.
The son came in to visit his mother, and on the way he bypassed his bar. He noticed that his mother had helped herself to some of the 'treats' prepared the night before.
The son, the apple of his parents' eye, had to then explain to his father and the doctor that the treats she had enjoyed were space cakes. And apparently she really enjoyed them as she ate quite a few.
They then had to sit down and tell this elderly lady that she was not dying, and that she was in fact stoned!
Fortunately, she was still high enough to see the humor."
"I have so many, I don't know where to begin. I worked 911 on an ambulance for 4 years and have been an ER Technician for the last 3 years. The waiting room is where most of my favorites happen. When a patient walks into a waiting room and sees it’s packed, it’s actually amazing to see the kind of determination and theatrical performance someone will present just to try to go in before the others. I’ve learned to convince myself that they’re either loopy, or were dropped on their head as a baby (a few dozen times) rather than try to sit and explain 'common sense' to a grown adult.
This one happened in winter of 2017 when everyone had the flu. I was up in the triage area helping a nurse check in the huge line of people:
Me- 'Hi, what's your emergency today?'
Patient- 'Yeah, I had a dream that I had a heart attack, so I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t really having one.'
Me- 'Okay....have a seat, and we’ll call you back when there is a room available.'
Patient- 'How long is the wait? This is an emergency!!'
Me- 'We can’t give out wait times, but all I can tell you is that there are 30 other people waiting right now.'
Patient- walks away to find an open chair, then falls down and starts flopping around on the floor while screaming, 'I'M HAVING A SEIZURE!!!!'
Me- 'Sir, that’s not how a seizure works. Go sit down, and we’ll call you when there is a room.'
"This isn't my story but my significant other's. She was working years ago in an optical practice when an elderly man accompanied by his wife come in. The elderly man asked if he could book an appointment with the optometrist because his wife was worried about his eye. The man's eye was red, inflamed and looked irregular so my significant other went to talk to the optometrist because it looked like an emergency.
The optometrist saw the man almost immediately because it was obvious something was wrong. After the examination, the optometrist asked my significant other to call the hospital and let them know an urgent patient is coming in. The man was still in the practice as my significant other was finishing up the call, however, he had started to argue with the optometrist. The man had pulled out his keys and had intended to drive himself to the eye hospital, which the optometrist objected to. The reason she had object so harshly is that the man's eye has become infected and started to attack itself and was on the verge or rupturing, which would cause the contents to leak out.
They had an argument because he wanted to drive and his wife wasn't allowed to drive his car. The optometrist was telling him it was unsafe because if his eye ruptured while driving, he could cause an accident. He eventually left and when my significant other talked to the optometrist about the man's eye, the optometrist said that they learn about these problems but are told they would never see it because it would be too painful and the patient would seek help before it got to this point. The man ended up losing his eye."
"I worked in obstetrics for many years. I was taking care of a woman in her late twenties, definitely not a teen mom, married, with a job. She got to 10 centimeters, so I did my usual speech about how to push effectively. She nods and pushes when I tell her and she did great, really moved the baby down. I’m excited but I notice she’s whispering to her husband. He looks at me and says, 'So why do you want her to do that?' I was a bit taken aback and very slowly explained that she had to that to get the baby out. She asked if I was kidding. At this point I feel like I’m the butt of a practical joke, but it didn’t stop. He kept asking if there wasn’t 'a better way to do it' and muttering that I was being ridiculous. She continued to push and thankfully didn’t take long because she kept rolling her eyes at me. I was thrilled to hand this lovely couple off to the doctor. They looked slightly more convinced when he told her to do exactly what I had told her to do and then a baby magically appeared. If she’d ended up in a c section, I’m sure she’d have been convinced I had done it all to torture her.
How does a woman make it into adulthood in normal society without knowing you have to push a baby out?"
"I was waiting to get my colonoscopy done a couple of years ago and they were asking the lady in the next station if she'd fasted. They went through all the questions and double-checked that she had fasted, then after confirming, almost as an aside, she throws in that she had oatmeal for breakfast that morning.
Nurse: 'Ma'am, fasting means you can't eat anything before the exam.'
Lady: 'I know. But I always have oatmeal for breakfast.'
Nurse: 'I understand. But you can't eat before this exam. The doctor has to look at your digestive system.'
Lady: 'But oatmeal is good for digestion.'
Nurse: 'You can't eat anything before this exam. You have to be completely fasted, so he can look at your intestines.'
Lady: 'But I always have oatmeal for breakfast.'"
"If you are at all squeamish, turn back now...
My first job after graduating from high school involved instrument sterilization at a dental office. One day an elderly woman came in with a complaint of chronic halitosis (bad breath) and stomach problems. Standard procedure for admitting a new patient is to take x rays after removing all metals from the neck and up. The woman carefully pulled out her jewelry and hair pins and the panoramic x-ray was taken and quickly developed. With the imagery in hand, the tech noticed that the woman had not removed her upper denture. The tech returned to the room and let the patient know that she had accidentally left her dentures in and that the x-ray would have to be re-done.
At this point the woman expressed confusion about taking out her dentures. The creeping horror set in once the tech realized that the patient had never removed her dentures from her mouth for several years. Our dentist came into the room and explained proper denture care with her before explaining that he needed to have a look give them the circumstances... he pulled out the denture and discovered, to his horror, that the patient not only had maggots underneath the dentures in her mouth but that her hard palate had completely disintegrated. The stench that swept through the office resulted in cancellations of all appointments for the rest of the day to ventilate the office and clean up all the staffs' vomit."
"Firefighter/EMT here. Just because you're taking medication for something doesn't mean it's gone away! Here's a real conversation that happens about once or twice per shift at minimum.
Me: 'Do you have any medical history, diseases, sicknesses and/or conditions I should be aware of?'
Me: 'Are you currently taking or supposed to be taking any medications?'
Patient: 'Yeah, I'm on [insert 12 different medications here].'
Me: 'Ah, I see one of your medications is Metformin, are you a diabetic?"
Patient: 'Not anymore, I just told you I take medicine for it.'
"Old friend of mine is a nurse practitioner. She told me she once saw a patient, male, complaining of severe rectal itching and general pain.
She is a very smart people-person, she can read people very well. She got right to the point and asked him about his daily hygiene routine. She had a hunch based off his presentation that he was a 'man's man'...'ain't go gay stuff happening here!!!'
Long story short, when showering, he NEVER cleaned his behind. Ever. He told her, that it was 'gay' to touch his butt.
She had to explain to him that the severe rash and itching he had been dealing with for apparently YEARS was a direct result of his perceived 'homo acts.'
She instructed him to go home, take a proper shower, and apply witch hazel for a few days.
Amazing that a grown man thinks this way."
"RN here. I see some crazy stuff, but one thing that stands out was the time I was admitting a guy to the hospital. I can't really remember what for, but he was about 400lbs, diabetic, heart disease, you name it. Anyhow, I'm at the computer going over some admission questions with him and his 10 family members who are crowded in the room with him. A few minutes in he starts complaining that he's thirsty. He needs something to drink RIGHT NOW. So I get on my phone and call the nurse assistant and as her to bring in some ice water. As soon as the words are out of my mouth the whole family screams, 'NOOOO! NO WATER! HE'S ALLERGIC TO WATER!'
Well this is gonna be a problem. Turns out the guy had been drinking nothing but Sprite and sweet tea for years because of his 'water allergy.'
The next question the wife had was, 'Where are we all supposed to sleep?' The whole family, 10 people, were planning to stay at the hospital with him."
"I am an ER doc. I once had a 20-year old and his girlfriend come in at 2am freaking out because 'something had torn his throat open.' He seemed fine. No blood. Breathing fine. I had him open his mouth, saw nothing. I didn't want him to lose confidence in me, clearly something had happened, so I'm looking, and looking....there is nothing wrong with this kid's throat. Finally, I say look, it seems ok...what do you feel or see?
'I don't feel it but LOOK ITS RIGHT THERE.' WHERE??? Looking, looking.
It was his uvula.
Somehow this kid had gotten to the age of 20 without ever noticing his uvula. Girlfriend was also horrified.... I told them it was normal. Did not believe me. So I told them I was about to blow their minds and showed him his girlfriend's uvula. Minds blown, another life saved in the ER."
"Had a partner try to threaten to take our patient out of the hospital because she was in increasing pain and we weren't stopping/fixing it. Note, she was in labor and minutes away from delivering. We had to explain that leaving now would not help her pain as it's normal for pain to increase as labor progresses and by leaving, we would have to remove the epidural and that would definitely make pain worse (note, we had zero plans of actually doing any of this, but still had to point out how stupid his logic was. There was no way we would let someone whose about to deliver to walk out. Like close enough we checked between legs to make sure no surprise baby on the bed level close to delivering). Luckily her mom showed up a few minutes later and very quickly put him in his place. He tried to brag to her about how he was threatening to leave (going for 'tough guy/macho' type persona) and she told him to either shut up or wait down in lobby."
"Just stop reading now if you have a weak stomach. But, having to remind someone that a tampon must be removed and cannot just be forgotten for days. It was an assisted living situation where she was pretty high functioning but still refused the level of care she actually needed.
Her mother insisted she could use tampons and kept bringing them despite the fact she had already forgotten more than once but it had always been noticed before it got too nasty. None of the nurses would really intervene because the parents paid so much for her to live there in a luxurious condo, and they were very outspoken about letting her choose her own level of independence.
So despite being reminded numerous times to take the last tampon out when her period was done, she still ended up forgetting this time. Once we finally figured out there was a problem, it had been there for 4 days and you could smell it from the hall outside her room. If you’ve ever had the misfortune to smell a severely infected abscess you have some idea, it was similar but so much worse. I will never forget it. It took a trip to the ER to remove the tampon and clean her out before it was decided and her mother agreed she should only use pads; she could have literally died from infection."