Lightning never strikes the same place twice. This phrase is patently untrue, as anyone with access to Google can discover in about 0.298 seconds. However, the general meaning usually holds true - uncommon things happen uncommonly, and for them to happen twice to the same person is highly improbable. But it happens - just ask Roy Sullivan (if you're too lazy to click the link, Roy got struck by lightning a record 7 times).
Speaking of uncommon things with improbable odds, the lottery is stupid. I've heard it said often that the lottery is a tax on people who don't understand statistics. Before anyone complains and yells "Hey Doc you idiot, I won a few dollars/euros/rupees/rubles/whatevers in the lotto!" Yes, I know people win. A few people. A very few. Sure it's great if you win, but what are the odds? Astronomically ridiculously low. In many lotteries around the world, you are many times more likely to be hit by lightning than to win. Literally. Makes me wonder if Roy Sullivan ever played the lottery. Maybe he should have. Hm.
So yes, the lottery is stupid. It's no wonder that I've never bought a lottery ticket. In fact, a friend of mine has his own lottery - whenever he feels the urge to be stupid and buy a ticket, he puts the money in a jar, and at the end of the year, he empties the jar and BAM! there are his lottery winnings.
As stupid as the lottery is, I still told Rufus (not his real name™) to buy a ticket.
"Wait, what? GODDAMMIT Doc, you just told us the lottery is stupid, and you still told a patient to play? And how the hell did that even come up in conversation?"
I'll explain. Obviously.
Rufus came to me as a high-level trauma with a huge gauze bandage around his neck. The medics explained that he had been walking to his car when someone came up behind him and randomly stabbed him in the neck. You know, because that's what normal people do at noon on a Wednesday.
The wound wasn't actively bleeding, but stabs to the neck can be critical. There are a lot of very important structures in that area that connects the head bone to the chest bone - spinal cord, carotid arteries, jugular veins, oesophagus, trachea, etc. When a knife goes in, I never know which direction it went - up, down, left, right, backwards, forwards. So I am forced to do a detailed physical exam (is the patient coughing or vomiting up blood? Are all his pulses intact? Can he move and feel his limbs? Is there blood squirting up to the ceiling?) followed by various studies to confirm and/or rule out any serious injuries.
On my initial exam, there was a rather large and deep laceration to the posterior (back) portion of the right side of the neck with some mild blood oozing out. But there was no blood on the ceiling and no other obvious signs of serious injury. His vital signs were all stable, and he was able to move his arms and legs.
Good, no spinal injury.
His carotid pulses were normal (and besides, the carotid and jugular are towards the front of the neck anyway). The knife wound seemed to go towards the back of the neck, so I was not immediately concerned about the major vascular structures. What remained were the trachea and oesophagus, though it seemed equally unlikely they could be injured. After packing the wound to prevent further bleeding, I got several studies (including both tracheoscopy and oesophagoscopy) which miraculously showed no major injury.
For folks like this who should have died but didn't, my usual joke before they leave the trauma bay is to buy a lottery ticket on their way home, since this was definitely their lucky day. Unfortunately I forgot to tell this to Rufus. He got a few stitches for his trouble, and the next morning he went home.
I saw him back in my office about a week later to check his wound. Everything was going well and his wound had healed nicely. As I was removing the stitches, he and I were marveling about how serious his injury could have been but wasn't. It was then that I finally remembered to tell him to buy a lottery ticket, though I suspected his luck had run out.
Rufus: Oh I did buy one, Doc.
Me: You did? What, this past week?
Rufus: Oh no no. You see I was actually walking back to my car just after buying some tickets and hadn't gotten a chance to scratch them off yet. That's when that guy stabbed me. I thought he was going to rob me, but he didn't even steal them or anything. He just stabbed me and ran away.
Me: Well that's . . . good, though utterly ridiculous. So did you win?
Rufus: Well I scratched them off as soon as I got home from the hospital. And you know what, I won enough to pay my rent this month. That really was my lucky day!
See? Lightning does strike the same place twice. So to speak.