It can be incredibly frustrating when healthcare providers don’t always appear to take things as seriously as they should. However, it’s important to remember that medicine is a field that’s seen and heard just about everything. Doctors and nurses dedicate their lives to working with people, and they encounter a lot of random things in their vocations, especially when they’re confronted by patients who say seemingly oddball things that couldn’t possibly be right…or can they? Read on to check out these Redditor stories of the strangest things patients told their healthcare workers that turned out to be true.
1. Told You So
A schizophrenic lady told us someone was trying to kill her. Then it turned out someone shot up her house in a drive-by while she was in the psych unit…
2. Different Strokes For Different Folks
A few weeks ago, I got dispatched to our local casino for a 30-year-old “having a stroke.” Yeah, right, I thought, as I approach the guy, who was obviously a fit and athletic dude pacing up and down a hallway. He reeked from drinking and had apparently spent the whole morning on the slots before coming up to security and announcing that he was having a stroke.
I did my assessment, and besides the typical mumbled speech of an intoxicated person and some lethargy, nothing was especially worrisome. Still, we transported him anyway because he was insistent and started to make a scene, and you don’t really mess around with strokes. But there was no way in my mind that this healthy-looking athletic young dude with completely normal vital signs and very little medical history was having a stroke.
But golly gosh, he was having a stroke. Never before in my career have I been so dramatically proven wrong.
3. Somehow, He Knew
A guy had oesophageal cancer, and we scheduled him for an operation. His cancer had not spread, and we expected him to get better after resection and a gastric pull-through. While doing his pre-op checkup, he said to me that he had a feeling something would definitely go wrong and he wouldn’t survive the surgery. I assured him that nothing would happen and he would get better after the surgery—I was so wrong.
The surgery went smoothly, and we shifted him to the ICU. On the second day, he showed good signs of recovery, so we planned to take him off the ventilator the next morning. But that night, he developed an anastomotic leak. Though everyone tried their best, he passed on the fifth day.
4. Neighbors Can Be Real Panes
I’m a medical student. During my mental health placement, I saw a guy on a home visit who tried to convince us that his neighbor was trying to kill him. This guy had a history of mental health problems, and the doctors were sure he was psychotic and that all of this was in his head. However, a few days later, the doctor came around for another home visit and found his patient’s neighbor trying to climb through the window with an AXE.
The poor man wasn’t psychotic at all, his neighbor was actually trying to murder him, and everyone thought he was just mad.
5. Well, Well, Well…
My grandfather had schizophrenia, and for years he told us that someone was poisoning his water. We all ignored him until one day when one of my uncles tested the water, and it turned out it was actually unsafe to drink. Everyone felt really bad for ignoring his complaints for years. However, it probably wasn’t the Soviets who did it as he claimed…
6. My Business Partner Is Better Than Yours
I worked on the ambulances for a stint when I was fresh out of university. One day, I transferred an elderly patient to another county with such severe dementia that he didn’t remember his wife or even his own name. He happily chatted away the whole ride there, telling me that he was an ex-international footballer, about his big victories and how he owned a business with David Beckham, mixed in with other psychedelic nonsense.
I just kept asking him questions to keep him occupied and chatting, but in my head, I thought it was just a funny side effect of his dementia. So we arrived at the new hospital, and his lovely wife was waiting there. My crewmate and I transferred him to his hospital bed, and his wife shook our hands and thanked us profusely for being so kind to him.
She asked, “I know he’s a bit of a handful. Did he say much on the way?” I said, “Yes, he was telling us about being an international footballer and that he owned a business with David Beckham.” She scoffed and said to her husband, “You told these nice people you were David’s business partner?! You only met him a couple of times!” What she said next floored me.
When I asked how he knew him, she explained that he had indeed been an international football player and was well known for “heading” the ball. In fact, the doctors thought that was why he developed dementia. I was so shocked. I’ll never forget him.
7. Hitting Rock Bottom
When I was a medical student, I worked in an inpatient psych ward. We admitted a guy who was having psychotic delusions. He lived in a “holler,” or a small valley between two mountains. For weeks, this idea that the mountain was going to fall on his house was absolutely preoccupying his every thought. He would spend days at a time without sleep finding rocks, branches, and other junk and piling them up behind his house because “the mountain’s gonna fall down on my house.”
I guess this wasn’t the first time this happened because the family brought him in, saying he was off his meds and was working himself to the bone to build a pile of junk behind his house. We admitted him for a week or two; he went to group therapy, had his meds adjusted, and was doing well. We decided he’s all tuned up and ready to be discharged.
But when his family came to pick him up, they had grim looks on their faces. “We’re bringing him back to the hotel. Yesterday there was a landslide. It destroyed the house.”
8. What, Do You Think I Was Bourne Yesterday?
I work in neuro rehab. I saw a patient who had a history of excessive drinking and attempting to end her life. The last attempt left her with brain damage, hence my involvement. She had a five-second memory. She asked if her mother was still alive, then asked if she came to visit her, then asked again if her mother was alive.
Anyway, I’m going through basic orientation questions with a calendar, asking if she knew her name, where we were, and what she did for a living. Her name was correct, but as to her occupation, she replied, “I’m a spy, but I’m not supposed to say that.” I tried to cue her to the correct answer, asking questions like, “Do you work in an office? Are you in finance?” But she wouldn’t change her answer.
After the session, I went to look in her personal file to check her occupation—I couldn’t believe what I saw. It read, “Classified.” I checked with the family, and they told me that they’ve never known what she does, but she works for the national intelligence agency… I tried to convince my patient she wasn’t a spy. She was.
9. Convincing The Doctor Was Done In Vein
I tore the ligaments in my knee when I was twelve, and the doctor had a difficult time getting the stitches out. One broke, and he decided to leave it under my skin, telling my parents it would dissolve. When I was 16, I banged my knee against something and out popped the end of the stitch. I went to the doctor to get it removed. You could see a long curly blue thing under my skin.
I insisted this was the remaining stitch, but my doctor just thought it was a vein. She froze a small area around the protruding stitch and pulled on it. She pulled out two or three inches of curly stitching. She held it up, looking shocked, and said, “I have to go show the other doctors this,” and left the room.
10. Cast All Doubts Aside
My daughter had a bad fall on the trampoline when she was three. She let out this really weird scream, then went pale, quiet, and sweaty, and she wouldn’t let us touch her arm. We only live five minutes from the hospital, so I put her in the car and drove her there. She slept in the car. We get to the hospital and check-in, and she’s found her second wind.
The triage nurse rolled her eyes at me when I asked for an X-ray but ordered one anyway. At this point, my daughter was literally pirouetting around the waiting room. I was starting to doubt myself. Even the X-ray technician was laughing at us—but she wasn’t laughing when we got the results. About five minutes after doing the X-ray, a very red-faced triage nurse runs out to the waiting room and firmly tells me to stop my daughter from dancing; she’s broken her arm, and they don’t know if she will need surgery or not.
She didn’t need surgery in the end, but she spent six weeks in a plaster cast. It turns out she’s tough and has a great pain threshold. I love her.
11. She Was So Frustrated She Could Burst
I have my own story about doctors not believing me. I had my appendix out six years ago. Doctors also discovered that I have a chronic pain condition called endometriosis as well. For the last six years, I’ve been in the ER with extreme pain (similar to when I needed to have my appendix taken out). During this time, I had three more abdominal surgeries for endometriosis and tons of scans.
However, the pain still persisted, and I kept going back to the hospital. Eventually, I got labeled as “drug-seeking,” which was completely not the case. Finally, in August of last year, I went back to the hospital and kicked up a fuss about how much pain I was in. They got a surgeon to look over my latest CAT scan and noticed that the doctor who did my appendix surgery left in a part of my appendix; I had to have a second appendectomy!
It turned out that most of the pain I was experiencing was from the leftover appendix. I still have pain, but not nearly as bad now. I don’t know why no one found it before August, as I had a ton of scans done and other abdominal surgeries. But I’m so thankful that the surgeon finally did find it; if the remaining appendix had burst, I could have lost my life.
12. He Really Tested His Metal
I had a bone replacement surgery (upper third of the tibia), and the surgeons fixed it in place to heal with a titanium plaque and screws. One day the plaque broke, and I went to the ER and told the doctor that I had broken a piece of titanium, but he called it a bunch of bull. After seeing the X-ray with the plaque separated into two pieces, the look on his face was priceless.
13. Hips Don’t Lie
My mom was in the hospital with sepsis due to a surgery she had on her ankle. She kept telling everyone she was there because she broke her hip. The sepsis had made her mind a bit “screwy.” Then one day, while they had her in therapy, she fell—and broke her hip. We were all pretty much in shock. After they did surgery on THAT, she came out SMILING and said, “I told you so.”
She’s gone now, but we still laugh at her dang broken hip.
14. Um, Excuse Me, But…
I was the patient. While I was in labor with my son, the midwife checked me and said I was five centimeters dilated. She took me to the delivery suite and went off to get some equipment. I asked her not to leave me because I needed to push, but she shrugged it off and told me I shouldn’t need to push because I was still only five centimeters.
I insisted to my mum that I was pushing now; I couldn’t stop. She ran to get the midwife, who looked a little annoyed and told me she’d check again, but that it was impossible I was pushing. Lo and behold, I was not only 10 centimeters dilated, but my son was already halfway out! I believe the midwife’s words were something like, “Oh my God, you’ve gone another five centimeters in 10 minutes,” and she rang the alarm for a second midwife to help her deliver.
They were both shocked at how fast I’d progressed, and my poor son was born with a bruised forehead and black eyes from slamming into my cervix so hard and fast. He was desperate to get out!
I’m an occupational therapist. I was gathering the social history of an elderly patient, and I asked her who she lived with. She told me she lived with her six dogs and 200,000 bees. I was like, “Yup, this lady has postoperative delirium.” I called her son to get the real social history, and he was like, “Yeah, she’s a beekeeper, and she adopts old dogs.”
This is a case where the doctor called bull on what I had. I broke my arm once. There was a huge waiting time at my local hospital, so I decided to go to another hospital the next morning. I slept really badly but managed to get like three or four hours of sleep (instead of spending the whole night awake in a waiting room). When I explained what happened to the doctor, she said that I couldn’t have broken it because I would never have been able to sleep if it was.
So I get used to the idea that I did not break my arm. I stayed there for some scans because my arm swelled, and then I waited. The doctor eventually came back with two pills of morphine and said that I had incredible pain tolerance because my arm broke in three places. She then explained I needed surgery the same day, and they were making a place for it on the agenda. I can still remember her face as she explained the procedures of the surgery to me, knowing she told me earlier it was not possible.
17. Having One Is Difficult Enough…
I’m an OB nurse who assisted a doctor in performing a transvaginal ultrasound on a patient with a long psych history. The doctor looked at the ultrasound screen (which was facing away from me) with a slightly puzzled expression, then removed the probe. Polite and pleasant as can be, the patient asked a question that left me stunned: “Are you going to check my other vagina now?”
The doc’s eyes widened, but she recovered quickly as the odd images from the ultrasound started to make more sense. Sure enough, the patient had uterus didelphys: two vaginas, two cervixes, and two uteruses.
18. What A Pain In The Neck
I am a medical provider, and this happened to me while I was still in training. I had a sore throat; nothing miserable, but it was mildly annoying. I figured it would go away. It didn’t—one week turned into two, and two weeks turned into an entire clinical rotation. After about eight weeks, I’d convinced myself this low simmering sore throat was probably thyroid cancer.
Except, I didn’t have any thyroid cancer symptoms at all. No constipation or diarrhea, hot or cold intolerance, weight changes, fatigue, heart palpitations, skin, hair, or nail changes. Just a sore throat. Soon I started palpating what I was convinced was a lump when I swallowed. I had my attendings feel it as well. They all told me I was a stupid student who thought he had all the ailments he was learning and reading about in textbooks.
Another couple of weeks went by before I scheduled my own ENT appointment. I told the ENT my hypothesis of thyroid cancer. He put a scope down my nose into my throat, and then he tried to convince me that my problem was GERD. I challenged this and told him I could eat a bowl of habaneros and wash it all down with a pot of coffee and orange juice, without thinking twice. He wrote me a script for omeprazole and told me to follow up in three to four weeks to see how well the PPI took care of my GERD.
I flat out told him I didn’t have GERD and that if he wasn’t going to do an ultrasound on my neck, I’d find another ENT who would. He was clearly upset with me for dumping on his well-manicured morning schedule, and he wheeled in the ultrasound begrudgingly. He gooped up my neck and started looking. All it took was 30 seconds, then his face went white. He said, “Huh… looks like you are right. Your thyroid is chock full of microcalcifications. This is a telltale sign of papillary thyroid cancer. I need you to have a biopsy tomorrow.”
I did the biopsy, and the results came back malignant. I had that hitchhiker removed the day after Christmas eight years ago. The surgeon said it was the size of a golf ball and my collarbone almost completely hid it. That’s why I was the only one who could feel it; it would hit the clavicle when I swallowed, but nobody could palpate the mass below the clavicle.
I went back to school three days later for the first day of my surgical rotation. The first case I ever scrubbed in on was a thyroidectomy for cancer; I had to flip a coin with some other jerk student who was going to stiff me on this opportunity, despite the fresh sutures in my neck. It was wild to see what had just happened to me 72 hours prior.
19. Thanks, Grams!
I work as an emergency doctor. I once had a woman come in after visiting her psychic. She went because she had been feeling just generally ill, nothing specific. The psychic used some tarot cards and then told her that her dead grandmother was trying to warn her that she had Lyme disease. I totally doubted it, but you’d better believe I ordered the test just in case.
The next day, the test came back, and she had it.
20. Eve Wouldn’t Want This Rib
I was the patient. I broke the same rib 11 times over the course of three years, but the doctor often wouldn’t bother ordering an X-ray to check it out; she just said it wasn’t healing right and to give it time. I told her that I thought something else was going on, but she dismissed me. Finally, after it broke for the 11th time, she said, “FINE, we’ll X-ray.”
The X-ray showed a mass. The mass got biopsied, and it turned out that I had a tumor. The tumor was weakening my rib to the point that the bone would break when I reached into an upper cabinet for the sugar. I had that bad boy (I named him Adam) removed in 2018. The procedure involved a week-long hospital stay, and it was the worst surgery I could imagine, but now I’m doing great.
21. It Wasn’t Humerus
I was the patient in this situation. I was riding scooters with my little brother in grade seven, and I fell off when I hit a pothole (dang Michigan). When I fell, I put my arms out in front of me, and I felt the worst pain in my right arm radiating from my funny bone. I have never screamed so loud, and I still had to walk home. My brother freaked out, and I kept telling him, “I broke my funny bone, I broke my funny bone.”
We finally got home, and I told my mom the same thing—she’s a nurse, by the way. She didn’t believe me and didn’t even check my arm. I sat on our sofa for about four hours, crying and saying I was in pain before she finally brought me to the doctor. They took an X-ray, and sure enough, I broke my ulna. My mom never even said sorry for not believing me, and I had to wear a cast and everything. Plus, I had to go through months of “Well, it wasn’t very funny, was it?”
22. Google Knows All
I work in healthcare, and I once had a patient who claimed to be a former member of a very famous sports team. I googled it, and it was true. The poor guy was kind of unknown. He made the team and then quit due to various illnesses very soon afterward.
23. It Was Really Bugging Him
A patient complained of movement and itching in his lower-left edentulous mandible. While in my chair, he reached up and scratched a hole through his gingiva and was bleeding profusely, trying to “show me the wriggling things.” I’m sad to say that I suggested a psych evaluation. But to be fair, I did refer him to an oral surgeon just in case. I even made a personal phone call to ensure a “warm hand-off” and a rapid response.
When I discovered what they found, I almost lost my lunch. They uncovered some kind of parasitic insects. He healed, and now I listen to patients no matter how bizarre-sounding they are. They feel something.
I’m a nurse. I had a patient in her late 70s talk about how her mom was upstairs and how she passed last night. I used to work neuro, so confused older people was our gig. So I just listened like, “Hmm, wow, okay,” and did my job. I told another staff member about how she wouldn’t stop talking about her mom being upstairs and dying last night, and they said, “It’s true, her 98-year-old mom passed in our ICU last night.”
I checked the roll in the morgue, and lo and behold, her mom’s name was on it. Well, okay then.
25. This Doctor Really Tested His Patient
I complained for YEARS about being tired, achy, dizzy, always cold, stomach pains, etc. My local GP assumed I was a stressy teen and refused to treat me. Eventually, I managed to convince him to run just one test (a simple one to check the circulation in my feet), and he was SHOCKED at how bad it was. Slowly, he ran all the other tests I needed.
Blood tests showed my thyroid was out of whack. Inflammation tests showed I had arthritis at 14 years old. I also had kidney stones, which my doctor said shouldn’t happen at my age, but the ultrasound showed them loud and clear. Slowly, I got to know myself pretty well, and when I went in for what felt like really light or skipped heartbeats when I was 16, he again didn’t believe me; but on the off-chance I was right, he gave me a beta-blocker. That turned out to be a horrible mistake.
I took it the next morning, and two hours later, my heart stopped. The beta-blocker triggered an autonomic collapse. A classmate got my heart going again, and I was blue-lit to hospital with a blood pressure of 24/13. It turns out I have 24 different conditions and may have a genetic disorder causing all of them. If my doctor had taken me seriously the first time, I likely wouldn’t have needed to be hospitalized so freaking much, and I wouldn’t now be so completely messed up.
I’m 22 now, and I’m mostly coping well, but I’m in a lot of pain and need some help around the house. I FINALLY got the rheumatology referral I needed. I’m certain I’ll be diagnosed with the condition I’ve been told I have by three different specialists but was never officially assessed for because my GP didn’t believe me. At least he finally listens now.
26. A Stroke Of Luck
When I was a tech in the ER, a young-ish guy (maybe mid-30s or early 40s) came in. He had felt weird driving to work and decided to drive himself to the ER instead. Based on his symptoms, they did some early tests for a stroke, mostly as a precaution because what 30-year-old has a stroke and catches it that early?
Lo and behold, he was probably within the first 10 minutes of a stroke. The doctor that the patient got transferred to said he’d never before had a conversation with a patient prior to their receiving treatment. The average time between admitting to transfer is usually 40 minutes to an hour; this guy was in and out in 20 minutes max, and he was completely lucid the entire time.
27. That’s Quite The Act
When I was 11, my brothers were harassing me, so I rode away on my bike really fast and went head over turkey over a log. I decided that to teach my brothers a lesson, I’d go all in, so I cried and cried. When my mum got home, she said my arm was probably broken and did all the first aid stuff: Rest, ice compression, elevation, and she put me in a triangle bandage.
She took me to the doctor, with me thinking, “Wow, she’s going to be super mad when she realizes nothing’s wrong.” Nope—it was fractured. I got a cast and everything. It never even hurt. So, I guess I’m glad someone bought my BS story because, despite the lack of pain, I was the one who was wrong.
28. Why Did The Heart Cross The Road?
I work as a nurse. My confused patient told me, “My heart’s on the opposite side.” I didn’t think anything of it until his chest X-ray confirmed it.
29. He Just Needed A Quick Break
I’m a paramedic. This was not my patient, but I heard the story from another ambulance yesterday. It was a boy—I think about 12 years old—who believed he broke his arm by throwing a ball. He heard something in his arm while throwing, and then it hurt. However, he just sat in his school’s gym without being in any great deal of pain, and then he jumped into the ambulance by himself. Even the trauma check was allegedly unsuspicious.
The ambulance team put his arm in a SAM splint and brought him to the accident clinic. Later, they asked in the hospital whether or not the kid actually broke his arm because they didn’t really believe him. It turned out that he did.
30. Dismissive Doctors Are The Worst
I was the patient in this scenario. My boyfriend came home to find me unconscious and covered in vomit; the only words I could get out were, “I’ve had a stroke,” on repeat. The doctors dismissed it for nearly 48 hours before someone with common sense finally gave me a scan and discovered that I had a bleed on both sides of my brain. They didn’t believe me because I was 22 and “looked fine.”
31. A Different Kind Of Insane
This wasn’t my patient, but it’s a crazy story nevertheless. A patient got asked what his job was, and he said that he was a chainsaw juggler who just came back from performing for Kim Jong-il. It was indeed true, but unbelievably enough, he was thought to be psychotic and was committed for a time until someone actually checked his story out.
32. Slack Medical Care
I dislocated my knee for the second time when I was about 18; I merely slid into a booth at a bar. I screamed at the sudden pain, and one of my friends called an ambulance. The only problem was that my knee had popped back in by the time the ambulance got there. They decided that I couldn’t possibly have dislocated it. It would take a while, but I would eventually pay for that mistake.
Fast forward about nine years, when—after many more dislocations of my knees, shoulders, and wrists, and finally a cancer scare because my boob suddenly changed shape—they discovered that my ligaments just weren’t holding me together properly. It was my physiotherapist who advised me to ask for a referral for an Ehlers-Danlos diagnosis.
When I did ask, I was told, “You can’t possibly have that; your skin springs back straight away.” I insisted, and about six months later, I finally got referred to a rheumatologist. Spoiler alert: I have Ehlers-Danlos.
33. Bursting With Laughter
My appendix had burst, and I waited until the next morning to go to the hospital. They dismissed me pretty much right away because I was laughing and joking around. After a couple of hours of waiting, I had an ultrasound. The lady said she couldn’t find my appendix so that it couldn’t be the issue (makes sense, right?).
So she tried another type of ultrasound and found that my appendix had dropped below my ovary before it burst, so they quickly gowned me and started pumping pain meds into me. Then they rushed to get the OR ready. As I was put on the gurney and got wheeled in, I was still happy and joking around because I was ready to get it out, and I was nervous about it all.
The doctors had to double-check that I did, in fact, have a burst appendix because I should have been in a lot more pain…
My mom used to work as a nurse in intercity Chicago. She told me the story of some guy who came in saying he had injected excrement into his leg. It turned out that he wasn’t lying. He literally injected liquid poop into his leg to get himself sick.
35. Thumbs Up
When I was a teenager, I went to my GP with a sore thumb after a game of softball where I’d caught some other kid out one-handed at close range from an absolute screamer of a hit. It had swollen a little and bruised, but it didn’t hurt too bad. I said, “I think it’s broken,” and started to move my thumb around to see what hurt the most.
But the doctor didn’t believe me. He said, “Son, if it was broken, you couldn’t move it like that.” Lo and behold, after an X-ray, we found that my thumb knuckle had shattered into several pieces and the only reason I could move it was that there was nothing really holding it all together. I was in a cast for 12 weeks rather than the usual six.
36. Always Advocate For Your Loved Ones
On a Thursday, my ex-husband sprung on me that he was having a lung biopsy on Friday. He had no ride afterward, so I picked him up and took him home to my house to recover, and the doctors told me that if anything went south to bring him back in right away. He later started “vomiting” a clear liquid that I believed was actually coming out of his lung.
My mind started replaying a bunch of weird things that occurred back when we were still married that got brushed off as tics (such as a cough when he would laugh and repetitive squinting or hard blinking); things that weren’t really acknowledged at all or attributed to other things. Hindsight is so 20/20. I just knew something was terribly wrong. After the flood of things in my head started waving huge red flags, I took him to the ER.
This was the day after his lung biopsy. The ER doc looked so young—I think it was his first year—and he asked me why I brought him in. I said, “I think you need to scan his brain. I think the tumor is lung cancer, and it is in his brain as well.” The doctor replied, “Um…we don’t even know if this tumor is lung cancer yet…pathology won’t be back until at least Monday” (the tumor was the size of a medium orange).
I then gave him a 10-minute rundown of the list in my head of all the things that had happened. The ER doc then gave me an emotionless stare for about 10 seconds before he finally acknowledged, “I think you may be right…” They scheduled a brain scan, and within a few hours, we knew instantly that the lung tumor was indeed cancerous before we even had results.
He had multiple tumors that were too innumerable to count; the scan looked like someone had thrown dime-sized confetti inside his brain. It had metastasized throughout his whole body: bones, joints, everywhere. It was in Stage Four. The ER doctor said he almost didn’t listen to me but was glad he did. The doctor made a bunch of calls, and whole-brain radiation was scheduled and started the very next week.
It was like a movie…I still wonder how the doctor felt during that whole thing. It was surreal.
37. Soldiering On
I was once at the doctor for a routine checkup, and he asked me whether I’d had any previous serious illnesses or surgeries. I told him I’d contracted the avian flu in 2008 while overseas on deployment with the US Army. He kind of scoffed in disbelief, as the avian flu was pretty rare worldwide back then. He later came back into the room and told me that he’d verified my claim. He said, “Do you realize only 44 people worldwide caught that in 2008?” I said, “Yep, I’m one of 11 survivors.”
I’d fought that flu off with only Nyquil and Dayquil. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy!
38. How Ironic
After doctors investigated why my uncle had liver damage for no obvious reason, he got diagnosed with genetic hemochromatosis. I also needed to get checked, along with all other close genetic relatives. When I asked my doctor about it, she made a face and wrote me up a referral to a geneticist. We joked about maybe needing to do some good old-fashioned bloodletting (this is seriously the treatment for hemochromatosis because the cause is an abundance of iron in the blood, so draining the blood once a month or so treats it effectively).
I went to the geneticist and told him what I was there for. He, too, made a skeptical face and went over my family history with me. He told me how extremely unlikely it was, how he’d never seen it before, yadda yadda. It took him forever to find a test kit for it. The test came back, and it turns out I don’t have it—by pure luck.
However, I am a genetic carrier, as I only have one of the two required genes. The geneticist looked at me when he got my results and just shook his head. “You were right to be worried. I’m amazed.”
39. This Sounds Exasperating
When I was 19, I had symptoms of a uterine fibroid. I went to the doctor, and she proceeded to tell me it was more likely that I had two vaginal canals causing the symptoms (I swear to GOD). She then pulled out an anatomy book and tried to explain menstruation to me. I was almost in tears with frustration. I finally convinced her to do ANYTHING to investigate what I was saying.
She ordered an ultrasound, which revealed that I have a grape-sized fibroid in my uterus. Looking back, I am sad at how I let her treat me. I was young and dumb, I guess.
40. His Heart Was In His Mouth
My dad was the patient in this story. He fell backward, broke a rib, and was lying in bed that night recovering. He called me over and said, “Something is wrong with my heartbeat.” He was right. I could hear it clear as day; it sounded like it was coming from his mouth. I’ve never heard anything like it, and it was actually terrifying.
We go to the ER, and I told the doctors about his heartbeat and how it sounded like it was resonating…but the only air in the chest is in the lungs. The doctor looked at me like I had two heads and sent us home to “monitor” the problem. The next day we went to the primary doctor since my dad now also had shortness of breath.
They did an X-ray, and it turned out the rib had punctured a lung, which had subsequently filled with quite a bit of liquid. The beating I heard was, in fact, his heartbeat resonating from his lungs.
41. The Trifecta
I was at a festival a couple of months ago when I got knocked about in a mosh; I went down hard before someone yanked me out. I went to the med tent three different times because something in my knee didn’t feel right, but I was turned away every single time and told I just had a bruised knee and that all they could do was give me ibuprofen and an ace bandage.
After about six hours of walking on it (and having it repeatedly collapse out on me), I finally called it and went home. I convinced a mate to drive me to the emergency department the next morning (it was a free hospital visit because my country isn’t stupid), and I walked in by myself. I sat there waiting for a couple of hours before I could see someone, and then when I did, I had to push to get an X-ray and an MRI, saying I thought I’d torn my ACL.
The doctor dismissed this and told me I wouldn’t have been able to walk from the car into the emergency department if that were the case, let alone the six hours the day before. The scan results come in, and it turns out I’ve done the terrible triad: ACL, MCL, and PCL. So that’s major surgery and a six to nine-month recovery time. So yeah, screw you ED doctor and ambo volunteers.
42. The Doc Gave The Cold Shoulder
I have a long history of getting hurt in stupid ways, and after I moved to Europe, I dislocated my shoulder for the millionth time. I told the doctor that I’d dislocated it. He said I would not be talking to him in that calm a manner if I had. He then moved my big jacket aside—and his eyes went wide. Lo and behold; it was right out of the socket.
I have a ridiculously high pain tolerance, and I’m used to it.
43. Maybe The Sixth Time’s The Charm?
Upon going to the ER with viral meningitis for the sixth time, my wife told the doctor why she was there. He asked her why she thought she had that. She said this is how it feels every time. He scoffed and replied, “You can’t get viral meningitis more than once.” Four hours and a lumbar-puncture-she-can’t-remember-but-I-can’t-forget later, the doctor admitted her with viral meningitis.
44. Sometimes, You Just Feel A Little Yellow
I’m a doctor. I had a teenaged patient who convinced her mom to bring her to the ER because she felt like her skin was yellow—that was her only complaint. Her skin didn’t look yellow to me, but she had pallor (a sign of anemia) and a new heart murmur, which prompted us to get some lab work. She ended up having profound autoimmune hemolytic anemia causing her bilirubin to be mildly elevated (which would make her skin yellow if the level got high enough).
She was surprisingly sick but ended up doing fine.
45. A Bad Therapist Can Really Shrink One’s Mindset
Several years ago, I told my therapist how much stress my fiancé was under and how it affected me. My therapist asked me to elaborate, so I did. I ended up with a psychiatrist referral because my story sounded like I might be having a manic episode with delusions of grandeur. About three years later, my husband was outed in the media as a whistleblower in a major federal case against a huge corporation, which most importantly also revealed corruption within the federal agency responsible for certifying their products.
After my husband’s name was printed in major newspapers and talked about on news programs worldwide, we suddenly got followed everywhere. We had news vans parked outside our house on our quiet cul-de-sac, and investment firms hired reporters and private investigators pretending to be reporters to try to befriend our closest friends and acquaintances to find out what my husband had given the FBI.
I wish I could go back to rub it in my therapist’s face. Still, considering that I got followed while my husband was across the country in DC testifying to congress in a closed-door meeting, I haven’t really felt like being seen or getting mental health services lest my husband’s evil employer try to use that information to further retaliate against him somehow.
46. Time Is Just A Construct
I was sitting with a confused patient. He looked up and asked what was wrong with the clock. I brushed it off and told him the early morning time off my digital watch. Eventually, I looked at the clock, and couldn’t believe what I saw. It was spinning super fast. I cracked up laughing. I was like, “Nooo, this is NOT helping my confused patient.”
47. Maybe The Doctor Will Get To The Bottom Of This One Day
I had this patient who was a really nice guy but had a pretty severe untreated mental illness. He was always telling me stories about his celebrity friends, how he was producing a Broadway show, and other really grandiose stuff that there was no way could be true. He was barely scraping by; he always dressed very neatly, but his clothes were very worn, and he was on Medicaid and lived with an alcoholic roommate.
Anyway, at one point, he needed a colonoscopy, and I tried to send him to a clinic where I knew they would take Medicaid, but he said that he had been in a medical research study with a fancy gastroenterologist, and the guy told him he would do free colonoscopies for life. Right, I thought and resigned myself to having this conversation again in three months.
Three weeks later, a colonoscopy report from a very upscale GI practice arrived on my desk. I’ve always wondered how much of the rest of it was true.
48. The Patient Got The Last Laugh!
I work in palliative care/hospice, where delirium is extremely common. It presents itself differently in different people, but delusions and hallucinations aren’t uncommon. We had a clearly delirious guy—agitated, disoriented, and unfocused. That said, many delirious patients have clear patches. But one day, he told me that he was waiting for a visit from a past prime minister of Canada.
We sort of chuckled to ourselves and played along since it’s dickish to be mean to patients. It got put in the notes that he’d started having delusions. Until, of course, a security detail showed up with a previous prime minister of Canada, and they spent a few hours visiting. It turned out this guy was a staffer for multiple past PMs but was especially close with this particular one. Egg on my face, for sure.
49. This Sounds Like A Soap Opera Plot
I had an odd 74-year-old patient keep telling me that her mom passed upstairs last night and that her mom’s lover, “a 51-year-old Mexican man,” would be down to bother her, and we were not to let him into her room. I deal with a lot of dementia patients and loopy older people coming down from anesthesia and pain meds, so I treated all her comments like I would any other patient making odd claims.
It turned out my patient’s 94-year-old mother really did die in the unit above us the night before, and she really did have a 51-year-old Mexican caretaker/alleged lover who got turned away from the daughter’s room the next shift.
I’m an OB-GYN resident. This one still freaks me out. As a medical student, I had a superbly kind and funny patient with mild hypertension and an IVF twin pregnancy conceived overseas; she was a little older than usual, slightly overweight, and had a previous C-section. There was nothing really remarkable about her condition, just a few small risk factors altogether.
She came into the high-risk clinic, and the fetal heart tracing was a bit too quiet; not scary, just not great. The maternal-fetal medicine subspecialist doctor said she should go for delivery. The lady and I were chatting, and she was from the same city as my then-girlfriend. She had a great sense of humor, and she took the delivery news like a champ.
She jokingly said, “Okay, but don’t let me die. I want to meet your girlfriend after all this.” We said goodbye, the nurse and I smiled, and we wished her well. The attending then said, “I don’t like this. This is the kind of patient that smiles, looks good, then dies.” The nurse and I both thought he was crazy. She had a textbook, uncomplicated C-section, and we moved her to recovery.
One hour later, she suddenly lost her pulse with essentially no warning and passed from an amniotic fluid embolism. Amniotic fluid embolisms are unpredictable and unpreventable. It occurs in one out of every 20,000–50,000 births. I can still remember how she looked, waving goodbye to us. I’ve seen a lot of people in a lot of different fields die, but this one still hurts my heart today.