The medics told us he was about sixty years old and lived in his car. He had gotten out of the car and collapsed, unable to get back up. He was apparently on the ground for several hours before passersby discovered him.
The medics said they had tried to get all his clothes off but had been unable to do so because, they felt, his flesh was rotting underneath and some of the overlying clothes were sticking to him. They said the horrible smell coming from him was rotting flesh, not feces (a more common cause of stinky people coming to the hospital.)
As we finished undressing him, it was clear the medics were only partially correct about the source of his bad smell because his pants were full of feces. In addition, his clothes were so dirty they were shiny, slick and just tore apart rather than needing to be cut off. It was obvious something was going on under the sleeve of his left arm, which the medics had not been able to uncover. When I got to that area, I held my breath, cut the sleeve of his shirt at the wrist then tore it to the elbow and pulled the cloth away from his forearm. As I did so, a huge pile of maggots fell down off a large mass on the back of his forearm and onto the floor. Everyone gasped and the emergency technician standing by me screamed. The combination of the putrid smell and the sight of the maggots crawling on his raw flesh and the floor was absolutely disgusting.
I looked around for the intern I had brought in the exam room with me and he was nowhere to be found. When I later asked him why he left, he said he was sorry but he had to leave because he was about to lose it. I laughed at him but totally understood since I actually felt nauseous myself.
As soon as we could tell the patient was medically stable, we sent him to the shower where two unfortunate technicians had to shower him to get rid of his excrement and wiggly guests. We then made arrangements for him to be admitted to the hospital.
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