Monday, October 10, 2005


I've seen some disgusting things and performed even more disgusting things during the current course of my career. I've stuck my fingers up the butts of countless patients, had every imaginable body fluid ranging from saliva, blood, vomitus, feces, pus, and any combination of the above spilled onto me (sometimes onto my bare skin), watched a patient's ischemic intestines deteriorate in my hands, changed a necrotic anal wound every morning for 3 weeks, and even sniffed open sores trying to detect traces of Pseudomonas. But nothing prepared for me for Patient H.

Patient H was involved in a MVA (motor vehicle accident) where he was ejected from his car after colliding head-on with an SUV at highway speed. To make matters worse, a swerving car ran over his body, crushing his head, chest, and legs. Amazingly, Patient H survived the trauma and was initially resuscitated at an outlying military MASH unit for a few days before being transferred to my hospital.

Patient H is a mess. There's no other way to describe this traumatized bloated mass of a human lying in bed. He's got tubes in every orifice. IV tubing and drainage tubing criss-cross and dive into him as if he were some alien experiment in a science fiction movie.

I started to examine him from head to toe after he was transferred. I had to assess my new patient and understand his injuries so that I can treat him. While examining his deformed skull, something on the bed caught my eye. I focused onto this object and saw a small squirming wormlike thing next to his ear. I leaned closer to inspect it. It was a maggot.

Curious, I slowly peered upwards and into his left ear and immediately recoiled in disgust. His external ear canal was packed with wiggling, squirming maggots, swimming in a pool of pus.

There were too many to count.