We’ve got a brand new book out: Uncle John’s Germophobia. It’s all about hospital horrors, bad doctors, botched surgeries, nightmare nurses, weird diseases, and all the things that can and will go wrong when it comes to your health. Here’s a taste of the kind of thing you’ll find inside.
The threat of someone very ill being mistaken for dead and then buried was a major problem up until the late 19th century—dozens of inventions were even concocted to allow the mistakenly dead to let those on the surface know that they had buried prematurely, particularly graveside bells attached to an in-coffin string. The arrival of various vital-sign monitoring equipment in the 20th century has mostly ended the mistaken burial of the not-quite-dead. Mostly.
In July 2010, a California woman named Maria de Jesus Arroyo suffered a heart attack. She was taken to White Memorial Hospital in East Los Angeles. Emergency room doctors did all they could, but they failed to get Arroyo’s heart working again. She was declared dead, and her body was placed in the hospital’s cold storage facility—a cadaver freezer—until her family could be notified, make funeral arrangements, and have the remains picked up by a mortician.
A few days later, morticians arrived at White Memorial to transport Arroyo. Hospital staff made a startling discovery—Arroyo’s body was no longer face up, as she had been left per common protocol. Instead, she was face down, and had apparently suffered deep facial abrasions, bruises, and even a broken nose. All signs pointed to the fact that Arroyo’s heart had started beating again after she had been declared dead and placed in the freezer…and that she struggled mightily to escape the freezer, or get somebody’s attention before she ultimately froze to death.
Some time later, Arroyo’s family sued. A pathologist examined the body and found that, indeed, Arroyo had indeed caused those injuries to herself in a desperate attempt to get out of the hospital freezer.