5 Unusual ER Visits

By: Jennifer Sellers

Emergency room
Some trips to the emergency room are funnier than others. Keep reading to find out what tops our list of unusual ER visits.
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There's an entire category of jokes that begin with a variation on the phrase "A man walks into a bar ..." These gags are often based on disparate characters in unusual situations thrown together in a common place: a bar.

But if comedy imitated life, a better setting for such jokes might be a hospital emergency room. It's a place where any person from any walk of life could wind up under the most bizarre of circumstances. Just ask a health care professional for an unusual ER story, and he or she will probably offer you fodder fit for a comedy routine.

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Of course, any injury or condition that requires immediate care is no laughing matter, as patients who have experienced medical emergencies can attest. But after the fact, many of us (the former patients included) can't help but find entertainment value in some of the unusual situations ER staff and visitors find themselves in.

On the following pages we'll explore some of the more unusual ER visits in recent years.

5: Surprise Labor (and Pregnancy)

Surprise labor as the result of an unknown pregnancy isn't the rarest of our unusual emergency room visits. In fact, TLC has a show, "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant," devoted to the topic. But it's not a common occurrence, and when it happens, it shocks everyone involved -- including the patient.

In early 2010, a Michigan woman was surprised when she started giving birth in her home bathtub. Not only was she unaware she was pregnant, but her husband had undergone a vasectomy several years before [source: Sher, et. al]. A Kansas State student experienced similar shock when she delivered a baby into a toilet as she suffered from what she thought was a urinary tract infection [source: Heavey].

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Unknown or surprise pregnancies often go undetected when a woman experiences none of the symptoms (weight gain, morning sickness, loss of menstruation) of a typical pregnancy. So when a woman unaware of her pregnancy goes into labor, she may assume the pain or abdominal discomfort she's experiencing are due to another cause. Or, when she has just delivered a surprise baby and makes her way to the emergency room, even veteran medical staff can be shocked.

Not all unusual emergency room visits involve human patients. Keep reading to find out more.

4: Rocky Shows up, Minus Bullwinkle

As a first-world country, America prides itself on the general lack of vermin in its hospitals. So when a rodent shows up in an emergency room, it can come as quite a surprise. Even more shocking are flying rodents.

Such unexpected visitors made an appearance in a New Jersey emergency room in late 2011 [source: Pfeiffer]. During the course of several weeks, two different flying squirrels entered the hospital, soared across the ER and temporarily evaded the firefighters (who weren't named Boris and Natasha) sent to capture them. Thankfully, the rodents were caught and then released safely in the woods near the hospital. However, the local fire department -- and probably a few unsettled ER staff members -- are still bracing for the return of the gliding invaders.

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Unfortunately, rodents aren't the most stomach-turning things that can appear in an ER. Click on the next page to see what we mean.

3. Barbecue, Relocated

Typically, if someone's meal makes reappearance in an emergency room, the way it comes back is conventional, although unappealing. A Texas man, however, ended up bypassing any traditional route of regurgitation or elimination when he showed up to an ER with a stab wound in his abdomen [source: Lang, et. al].

Apparently, the patient had just eaten before the stabbing. So when he coughed, the contents of his stomach came spilling out. The ER staff had to deal with cleaning up the inadequately digested components of a traditional Texas cookout -- barbecue and corn -- inside the man's abdominal cavity.

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The next unusual ER visit may not be as gross, but you'll probably find it more disturbing.

2: The Inquisitive Eel

According to "Memoirs of a Geisha," the Japanese once used the word "eel" as a euphemism for the male member. So an injury in which an eel swims inside a man's penis seems like bizarre collision of reality and double entendre. But this is no erotic tale from an alternate reality; such an incident actually occurred.

A Chinese man was undergoing a spa treatment involving an eel bath (one similar to the fish pedicures that have become popular in recent years), when a small eel swam into the urethral opening of his penis [source: Pangallo]. The fish then made its way into the man's bladder. The eel was ultimately removed during a three-hour emergency surgery.

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The most unusual part of the story is that this was not the first medical case involving an eel entering a penis. At least one other instance is on record.

One more bizarre ER visit to go!

1: An Impromptu Wedding

When a Michigan woman was rushed to the ER with a perforated appendix on the morning of her wedding, she and her fiancé worried their special day would be ruined. But not if the hospital staff had anything to do with it [source: Isom].

When the ER workers learned that their patient was missing out on exchanging vows with her intended, they set out to make sure the ceremony happened anyway -- although probably in a much different way than the bride's wedding planner had originally laid out. The staff decorated the bride's ER recovery room, bought her flowers from the hospital gift shop, made her a gauze veil, brought in a hospital chaplain and played the wedding march from an MP3 downloaded on a cell phone.

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While many unusual ER visits involve horrific events, this is one that had a storybook ending.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • CareerBuilder. "Employers Share List of Most Unusual Excuses for Calling in Sick, According to CareerBuilder's Annual Survey." Oct. 20, 2011. (Feb. 13, 2012) http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?id=pr663&sd=10/20/2011&ed=10/20/2011
  • Cosmopolitan. "Sex Snafus That Ended Up in the ER." (Feb. 13, 2012) http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/tips-moves/Sex-Snafus-That-Ended-Up-in-the-ER
  • Heavey, Jenene. "Unknown pregnancies, surprise births are possible."Kansas State Collegian.April 22, 2009. (Feb. 13, 2012) http://www.kstatecollegian.com/unknown-pregnancies-surprise-births-are-possible-1.1727324#.TznT6phZ3FE
  • Isom, Andrea. "Bride Gets Married in Ann Arbor Emergency Room." MyFoxDetroit. June 21, 2011. (Feb. 13, 2012) http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/dpp/news/local/bride-gets-married-in-ann-arbor-emergency-room-20110621-wpms
  • Lang, Rocky and Montero, Erick. "Confessions of Emergency Room Doctors." Harbor Lights Productions, Inc. 2007. (Feb. 13, 2012) http://books.google.com/books?id=m9w9V6Y6W_EC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
  • Pangallo, Mark. "Eel removed from man's bladder after entering penis during beauty spa." Metro UK. Sept. 13, 2011. (Feb. 13, 2012) http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/875317-eel-removed-from-mans-bladder-after-entering-penis-during-beauty-spa#ixzz1l0hN0LcB
  • Pfeiffer, Eric. "Flying squirrels invade hospital emergency room for second time in two weeks." Yahoo News. Dec. 1, 2011. (Feb. 13, 2012) http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/flying-squirrels-invade-hospital-emergency-room-second-time-210354055.html
  • Sher, Lauren and Jackie Jaeger. "Medical Mystery Behind Mom's Surprise Birth." ABC 20/20. April 9, 2010. (Feb. 13, 2012) http://abcnews.go.com/2020/vasectomy-complications-womans-surprise-pregnancy/story?id=9561100#.TznGoJhZ3FE

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