Dumb Patients At The Doctor's Office

October 24, 2023 | Nia Williams

Dumb Patients At The Doctor's Office

Doctors spend years studying in their medical field of expertise and have probably seen it all. But let’s face it. People can be quite stupid—especially when it comes to ailments and self-diagnosis. 

1. The Sign Of Ignorance

I once questioned a patient who was dealing with dizzy spells if a doctor had determined she was suffering from "vertigo". Her daughter piped up with the funniest response: "No, no, she's not a Vertigo... she's a Libra!"

I burst into laughter, appreciating her wonderful joke. But, she was totally serious.Krakenimages.com, Shutterstock

2. Try Not To Laugh

This gentleman walked in clutching his stomach, declaring, "I'm guessing it's my gallbladder acting up."

As I reviewed his medical history, I realized that his gallbladder had been taken out two decades ago, making his assumption improbable. I shared this information with him. However, his reply left me completely taken aback: "Sure, but it's regenerated since then."

Man is talking with female doctor in her office.cottonbro studio, Pexels

3. Fatal Denial

Once, a patient came in accompanied by her relatives. They were quite challenging to interact with.

The patient struggled with severe obesity and suffered from open sores and wounds across her body folds. It was tremendously tough to clean her. We discovered a floral pillowcase hidden in one of her skin folds, and a squashed piece of bread crust in another.

In any case, due to her extreme weight, she wasn't suitable for surgery. Therefore, there wasn't much that our team could do for her. We conducted roughly five to six meetings with her family to discuss her situation. 

Her daughter refuted the head doctor, questioning his understanding and insisting that her mother had recovered from similar conditions before.

She had an incredibly low pH, reading "<6.8", and her blood pressure was consistently at 60/25, even with all kinds of blood pressure-raising drugs administered at triple the maximum doses. When the head nurse showed her daughter the blood pressure readings, she simply responded with, "I've seen lower." 

When the patient eventually passed away, her family was furious that we hadn't been able to save her. We attempted resuscitation for 20 minutes, but they argued that we should have persevered "for at least an hour". 

It was heartbreaking knowing that her final days were filled with pain because her family refused to accept the severity of her condition.

A couple are talking with young female doctor in her office.didesign021, Shutterstock

4. Don’t Judge My Stupidity

One day, a patient walked into the emergency room entirely sober. Ironically, it was only because he'd accidentally spilled his rubbing alcohol all over his trousers, leaving none to consume.

What happened to him was horrifying—you see, he came to the ER because he had this idea of setting his alcohol-soaked jeans on fire, thinking the alcohol would burn off, not his trousers.

Sadly, he suffered quite severe burns from his calves downwards as he just couldn't remove his footwear, effectively trapping him in his flaming trousers. On a brighter note, he was an agreeable chap — exactly the type you'd envision accidentally setting himself ablaze. Surprisingly, he was rather pleasant, given the situation.

Male patient is laying in hospital bed an talking with a female doctor.Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock

5. Madam, I Am A Medical Doctor

Just the other day, I introduced myself to a patient as her anesthetist and told her I am a doctor. The patient responded, saying anesthetists can't be doctors. Not too long ago, a different patient asked if I had to attend university to become an anesthetist. 

On top of that, another patient asked if my knowledge level needed to match up to a pharmacist's.

Woman is laying at hospital bed and talking with a female doctor.RDNE Stock project, Pexels

6. Testing His Limits

I once had an old gentleman, a colorful character to say the least, who was quite a tippler throughout his life. He came to me one day, worried, saying "I can't drink my beer anymore. Every time I have one, I end up vomiting it out".

As it happens, this fellow, let's call him Bob, had been living off alcohol alone for months. He hadn't had a proper meal or even moved his bowels in well over two weeks. However, none of that seemed to bother him until he was unable to enjoy his beer. That's when he decided it was a crisis!

What was really happening was that Bob had a sizable tumor blocking the lower part of his left colon (that's almost the end point - in terms of our digestive system). Consequently, everything was getting backed up to the point of filling his stomach. Hence the vomiting - there was simply no extra space left.

I performed a colostomy on Bob, which seemed to help, and he left. Despite refusing chemotherapy, I assumed he would eventually succumb to his illness. To my surprise, roughly a year later, he was back with a similar problem. This time he couldn't even swallow his beer.

Turns out, his colostomy had tucked itself inside his stomach and skin had started to form over it, leaving only a tiny hole for bodily waste. Even my most experienced colleagues were stunned. Nonetheless, Bob was undeterred. 

His only request was that we rectify the issue so he could return to his beverage routine. I did as he asked and haven't heard from Bob since then. I like to imagine he's still out there, fighting his cancer with alcohol, and blithely dismissing the shadows of mortality.

Senior man is laying at hospital bed and talking with female nurse.Gorodenkoff, Shutterstock

7. Hard To Fathom The Stupid

I had a tough conversation with the family explaining that, sadly, the patient wasn't going to make it. Her test results showed conditions incompatible with life, meaning I was getting them ready for the worst. Yet, they held onto hope, suggesting I put ice in her underwear to stimulate a reaction. That was, of course, something I couldn't do.

Even after she passed away, the family couldn’t come to terms with it. They kept trying to wake her up.

Doctor is talking with family members in his office.sebra, Shutterstock

8. Beyond Revolting

I once did an internship in an emergency room in a small town, where I encountered quite a few questionable decisions. The most memorable, and by far the worst, was this one incident when I came in at the start of my shift and was hit by an unidentifiable foul odor. Trust me, it topped the list of the worst smells I'd ever experienced. 

Curious, I asked a nurse walking by what could possibly elicit such a smell. He nonchalantly suggested that someone might have had an accident. Well, then it was time for the doctor to go and check on a patient, and I tagged along, unaware of the potent revelation that awaited me.

As soon as the doctor opened the door, the smell hit me so hard I almost fainted. It was a serious struggle to maintain a professional demeanor. The patient in question had his leg all wrapped up. When the doctor asked him to remove the bandages, I saw it—it was gangrene, and it was bad

From his foot all the way up to mid-thigh. The horrendous smell was from rotting flesh. When asked the reason, the patient casually replied: "Six months back, the ATV I was riding, caught fire".

Male nurse is seating at hospital hallway.Jonathan Borba, Pexels

9. Your Tests Prove Otherwise

As a physician, I often hear the phrase, "I know my body." For instance, I once examined a man's knee post-operation and reassured him that everything seemed fine. 

However, he responded with, "No, my tendons are destroyed. I know my body." On another occasion, I informed a woman of her pregnancy, only to be met with, "No, I'm not pregnant. I've just had a large meal. I know my body!"

I completely understand and support the idea of getting a second opinion when something doesn't seem right and your doctor isn't willing to listen. After all, you're familiar with your usual state of health. 

However, if a person has examined your joint post-surgery, or has seen a fetus in the ultrasound, it's likely that they know what they are discussing.SHVETS production ,Pexels

10. Nope, This Isn’t Going To Pass

Once, I had a kid who gobbled down a pretty big magnet that ended up in his intestine. We thought it would naturally come out in his poop soon enough. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Well, it wasn’t.

The very next day, when he came for his check-up, we were surprised to hear that he had swallowed another magnet. What happened then? It clung to the first magnet from inside his stomach wall, causing a blockage in his intestines. 

Without wasting any time, we immediately rushed him to the operation room to go under the knife and remove those magnets.

Kid in hospital bedwavebreakmedia, Freepik

11. Doc, You Explain It

In the ER one day, I had a 12-year-old patient accompanied by her mom and grandma. The young girl was experiencing her first period, which led to a lot of confusion. Though this was a natural occurrence, it seemed the mom and grandma weren't up for discussing it with her. Thankfully, their ER visit was brief.

At the time, I was an intern and had another patient who worked in the medical field and was battling breast cancer. She needed a chest tube insertion to address a possible malignant pleural effusion. Once the procedure was done, I headed home, leaving the on-call resident in charge.

The following morning, the sleep-deprived on-call resident told me the patient was now my responsibility and promptly exited. On my way to see this patient, the ward staff filled me in. Apparently, she had steadfastly refused any pain medication post-procedure, which meant she could feel the tube scraping her parietal pleura. Not fun.

When I met her, she complained about the tube placement, claiming it was too deep and painful, and asked me to adjust it. Despite her request, I wasn't authorized to take such action. Plus, her x-ray showed no issues that would warrant intervention.

As I urged her to take her pain medication, she rebutted with a claim that pain meds might exacerbate her cancer condition - a statement she expected me, a medical student, to agree with. Furthermore, she insisted that I should pull the tube out slightly, without informing anyone. 

Unfortunately, her persistence hit a wall as I wasn't about to conduct any procedures without my professor's approval. I took note of her refusal and carried on.

Ultimately, she left the hospital on the same day, disregarding medical advice. I wished I could have done more, but her refusal left me with little options.

Pavel Danilyuk, Pexels
12. Unbearable Pain And Stupidity

Back when I was an intern, I worked with a patient who was also a healthcare professional. She had breast cancer and needed a chest tube inserted to drain suspected malignant fluid build-up in her chest. After performing the procedure, I went home. 

Overnight, the on-call resident was bombarded with calls from distressed ward staff about this patient. Sporting a tired look and bloodshot eyes from his busy shift, the resident informed me she was now my responsibility before heading home to rest. When I went to visit this patient, the ward staff intercepted me—and their update made my jaw drop. 

They informed me that she had completely refused any pain medication after the tube was inserted, leading to it rubbing uncomfortably against her chest wall. Oof. Thanks to their heads up, I stepped in to check on her. She told me that the tube was ''inserted too far'' and it felt like it was ''piercing'' her. 

She suggested that I undo the stitch and pull the tube out a bit. But I couldn't do that. The X-ray showed everything was fine and no further intervention was needed. I suggested she take her pain medication to ease the discomfort, but her response left me speechless. 

She claimed that ''pain medication could cause her cancer to spread", suggesting that I was not well-informed as a medical student. She then said, ''No need to tell anyone, you're a doctor. Use your judgment and pull the tube out''. She wouldn’t budge. My professor was running late that day, so obviously, I wasn't doing anything without his approval. I

 noted down her refusal of treatment in her records and moved on. By the afternoon, she chose to leave prematurely, refusing to heed my advice. As much as I sympathized, there was nothing I could do for her if she wasn't willing to accept help.

Sick female patient laying at hospital bed is talking with female doctor standing by her side.Tima Miroshnichenko, Pexels

13. Just Tell Me The Truth

I had a really difficult conversation with one patient that didn't seem to progress, despite taking up nearly 45 minutes of my time. She kept on proclaiming that she was gaining weight, yet insisted she wasn't eating anything. I explained to her that's not how physics works.

She went on to say, “But it's happening to me. I even tried a diet where all I ate was 800 calories per day for a fortnight and I still put on 5 kg. Seems like these laws of physics aren't applicable to me." I responded, letting her know I found it hard to believe that. Her immediate reply was, “So, you're saying I'm lying!?"

In the end, I calmly informed her that if she indeed was creating matter from nothing, scientists globally would be eager to investigate such an anomaly. That was the only instance where I nearly lost my cool with a patient.

Female patient is talking with a female doctor who is checking her blood pressure.RDNE Stock project, Pexels

14. Shaking My Head In Disbelief

I once questioned a patient as to why he discontinued his antiretroviral medication for his HIV. He explained that an internet witch advised him to stop the treatment. I verified that he did say "witch," then he went on to disclose that she had been sending him a variety of herbs on a monthly basis to treat his HIV. He even claimed that last time he checked, he was cured.

I queried him about where and how he validated this alleged cure. He said the online witch directed him to take an internet-based test. The test included numerous random questions, but in the end, it stated that he was HIV-free. I couldn't hide my bafflement at this point. But there was more to come.

I convinced him to get a blood test for a reliable confirmation. I then asked about the herbs he had been taking. As it happened, he had them along with him. He retrieved a bag from his backpack and presented it to me. My examination of the bag revealed nothing but mashed up oregano mixed with an odor that closely resembled chlorine.

Sadly, a month later, the patient succumbed to a serious sepsis infection caused by a highly drug-resistant pathogen.

Male patient is talking with female doctor at her office.stefamerpik, Freepik

15. Don’t Ask, Just Do It

I work as a radiographer. One time, the ER doctor sent me a patient for neck x-rays of the soft tissue and basically told me, "No questions, just get it done." After the patient walked out of the ER, the doctor came over and shared with me that this guy showed up at 3 am because he drank hot milk three days prior and was dealing with a painful tongue since then.

In essence, the patient had scalded his tongue and was so worried about it that he wouldn't rest until he got an x-ray to confirm nothing else was wrong.

Doctor is sanding next to a male nurse at hospital looking at camera.MART PRODUCTION, Pexels

16. Mystery Solved

One day, a man came to me saying his knee wouldn't bend. I requested him to take off his pants, so I could take a look at his leg. The mystery was solved instantly. He still had a plaster cast wrapped around his knee!

Taking a peek at his medical history revealed that the hospital had sent him a bunch of letters, requesting his presence for cast removal. Since he hadn't shown up at any of the hospital's outpatient departments, the common belief was that he had taken off the cast on his own.

Male patient is seating on the bed with doctor taking off his knee cast.HenadziPechan, Shutterstock

17. Bizarre Indeed

A woman visited complaining about strange stomach cramps and spasms. I wondered if she might have an unidentified case of dementia, as it was quite an unusual occurrence. When I asked her to describe her sensations and why her abdomen was twitching, she shouted, "It feels like it wants to escape!"

Inquiring further, I asked, "What exactly is trying to escape, ma'am?"

Her bewildering response was, "My--my SPERM!"

Once she'd calmed down, I gently explained to her that, as a female, she doesn't produce sperm.

She simply responded with, "Oh".

Female doctor is talking with a patient and smiling.Kampus Production , Pexels

18. She Never Had “The Talk”

A woman visited with worries regarding her inability to conceive. She shared their struggles, stating that she and her partner had been unsuccessfully trying to have a baby for nearly five years, exhausting all possible options. At one point, she said, "She and I—" which made me prompt her to clarify.

She provided more context: Earlier, she had been in a straight relationship for some time, during which they didn't use any birth control and didn't get pregnant. Later, she fell in love with a woman, and despite their earnest attempts for her to conceive, she didn't become pregnant, leading to her concern about possible infertility.

Upon my attempt to clarify that pregnancy necessitates two key elements - sperm (typically from a male) and an egg, the woman reacted with surprise. She staunchly expressed her independence, stating she didn't require a man in her life and felt uncomfortable that she was being judged.

Female doctor is talking with a female patient , looking upset at her office.freepik ,Freepik

19. Healthy But Not Very Smart

A 24-year-old prisoner from a rural county was brought in for treatment. While doing roadside cleanup, he found and drank from a bottle abandoned in a ditch. He mistook it for a bottle of booze. It wasn't.

What he swiftly consumed wasn't spirits but a liquid containing sulfuric acid with a harsh pH of less than 2.5. The acid was so potent that it dissolved a litmus test strip. Not long after his admission to the ICU, he agonized with severe pain and began throwing up blood.

The patient was handed over to a gastroenterologist, who carried out an EGD - a procedure where a camera attached to a flexible tube is used to examine the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The images were appalling, clearly showing the disintegration of his stomach and esophageal lining.

Due to the extent of the damage, he was transferred to another hospital equipped with an esophageal surgeon capable of mending the severe damage. Several surgeries and an extended hospital stay were necessary. 

When I saw him several months later due to a different issue, his weight had dropped from 150 lbs to just 90 lbs. His nutrition was managed through a PEG tube.

Despite his unfortunate and dangerous mistake, he was fortunate to be young and generally in good health. Nonetheless, this incident demonstrated a serious lack of judgement.

Young bearded man in hospital bed is feeling big pain.Freepik,freepik

20. Not Your Area Of Expertise, Doc?

During my medical student days, I had an encounter with a middle-aged man from the countryside. He had come into a colorectal clinic for an unrelated issue and seemed convinced that I knew absolutely nothing. He thought he was doing me a favor by providing unsolicited lessons.

This man eagerly began talking about a supposed "gland" on the back of his neck that would experience drainage from time to time. He chuckled knowingly when he realized I wasn't familiar with this specific "gland," and proceeded to enlighten me, the naive medical student, about it. 

According to him, everyone possesses this gland as part of the immune system, which drains only under stress. Little did he know he was completely wrong.

In truth, I was merely showing courtesy—the reality was that he had a rather severe abscess on his neck. I was somewhat amused by the situation, hoping against hope that he might share his unique medical understanding with my mentor. Unfortunately, he chose not to.

Young male doctor is talking with male patient.pressfoto, Freepik

21. A Different Shade Of Intelligence

A lady was quite alarmed because she thought her skin was "becoming black".

Soon after she pulled up her sleeve, I simply moistened my thumb and gave her a gentle rub on her arm. It was evident then that she had on a brand-new black sweater and some of the lint transferred onto her arms.

Female patient is talking with a female doctor standing next to her.Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock

22. Let’s Shake On It

Just the other day, I had a chat with a patient about an impending operation. I brought up the fact that robotic arms would be a part of the procedure. These arms would aid in extracting the tumors, making smaller cuts possible, and ensuring greater accuracy.

My interaction with the patient concluded, and as I stepped outside the room, the patient insisted on seeing the doctor. Figuring she had further questions, I returned to the room. "I insist on seeing the doctor," she said. I gestured to myself and replied, "But, I'm the doctor."

However, the patient responded, "I'm aware you're A doctor, but I want to meet THE doctor!" Somewhat puzzled, I reassured, "But, I'm the one performing your surgery." That's when the amusing reality dawned upon me. "No, not you! I want to meet the robot doing my operation! I think we should at least shake hands first!"

Turns out, the patient had expected some sort of metallic humanoid to enter the room.

Shocked doctor is looking at camera.Krakenimages.com, Shutterstock

23. Wake Me Up From This Nightmare

I encountered a young lady at the Emergency Room. She'd been categorized by the attending nurse as having "lethargy" as her main concern. However, when I paid her a visit, she seemed far from lethargic. I pointed out to her, in a non-offensive manner, that she didn't appear lethargic, especially as most lethargic patients are usually rushed in by ambulance, not walking in under their own power. I then asked her to clarify what she meant by 'lethargic'.

She proceeded to explain, "Well, it happened last night while I was asleep...", at which point I somewhat hastily cut her off. It seemed evident to me that everyone's a touch lethargic while sleeping, after all. But correcting myself, I urged her to go on. This is the story she shared:

"So you know, as I slept last night, again I was talking in my sleep. I've been told quite a few times by my family and roommates, that I do so. This time, I was saying 'Mary- wake me up!' Mary happens to be my roommate’s name. Reportedly, she had a tough time rousing me from my sleep."

"And that's the reason that brings you here today?"

"Correct, indeed."

Female doctor is talking with female patient at hallway.Freepik, gpointstudio

24. If Only Surgery Can Reverse Your Stupidity Too

Recently, I dealt with a patient who was facing paralysis due to a lower back condition that could be corrected with surgery. However, the night before the operation, his blood glucose skyrocketed to around 500 and kept rising. 

I explained to him that we had to regulate it with an insulin drip, because no surgeon would go ahead with the procedure with such high glucose levels.

But there was a major problem—using insulin was "against his faith". Now, I encounter religious concerns frequently, so I attempt to be understanding and discuss the matter with him. He tells me he's a Catholic. I can't emphasize how much time-consuming it was, trying to convince him to take his insulin at 3 am.

He was dangerously close to another day of paralysis because he fabricated a religious restriction against insulin. It was truly mind-boggling to comprehend the level of irrationality that went into his refusal.

Man in hospital bedTima Miroshnichenko , Pexels

25. Honey, This Isn’t Going To Work

When I was a resident doctor in the ICU, I was treating a patient who was in a critical stage of blood cancer (although I can't remember the exact type now). They were also dealing with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, kidney failure, and sepsis.

Having made their medical preferences clear, the patient had chosen not to undergo CPR. One early morning, sensing their condition was deteriorating fast, I requested the family to come to the hospital. It was then they made an unusual suggestion.

The family believed that if we fed Manuka honey to the patient through their G-tube, it would speed up their recovery. Despite me explaining multiple times that all of the patient's body systems had already failed despite all the possible treatments, they remained stuck on the idea of the honey providing some miracle cure. It was a really tragic situation.

Senior woman in hospital bed ,looking at side.Flickr, Judy Baxter

26. Yes, I’m Healthy

We had a 40-year old visitor in the emergency room. He claimed to have no medical history as he was generally hale and hearty. Going through my records, I noticed he was taking metoprolol. When I enquired about its purpose, he admitted, “It’s for my hypertension”.

“So, you have high blood pressure?” I clarified.

“No, because I’m on my medication”, he responded.

Curious, I probed, “So what would occur if you stopped taking your metoprolol?”

He looked at me as if I was making no sense, stating, “My blood pressure would shoot up”.

I acknowledged and asked, “Alright, so you do have high blood pressure. Any other medical history?”

It's astounding how many people believe that their daily medicines "heal" them, making them free from any health issues.

Man is talking with a female doctor standing next to her.RDNE Stock project, Pexels

27. And You Call Yourself A Doctor?

Once, I was treating a patient who had severe diabetes, but she was consistently refusing insulin treatment. Even after her other health conditions improved, her blood glucose level remained elevated. This was the single issue stopping her from being sent home.

The woman's sister yelled at me: "Don't you realize the best method to lower a patient's blood sugar is by having them walk around? Aren't you supposed to be a doctor?"

Well said, ma'am! So, we should ignore insulin, right? Can't imagine why that would be effective!
Upset woman is arguing with female doctor.KAMPUS, Shutterstock

28. Too Painful To Watch

There was a little boy, just two years old, in the emergency room, crying out in discomfort. His mom explained that he was struggling to get the hang of potty training. As I examined him, I noticed his foreskin appeared swollen like a balloon. Only a slight dribble of urine was coming out of the tip and I could tell his bladder was full.

It became evident that the poor boy was suffering from a severe case of phimosis. This was causing a blockage and not letting him urinate properly. I explained to his mom, who resembled one of the most typical modern-day hippies I've ever met, that her son urgently needed a circumcision. 

He reaction was startling. She strongly disagreed with me, convinced that this was something he'd "grow out of". Meanwhile, the little boy was still in obvious agony. Eventually, I managed to involve the grandmother and contacted the boy's father. It took three painstaking hours, but finally, the mom reluctantly came around.

Kid laying on stretcher is pushed in hospital by doctor.wavebrakemedia, Freepik

29. You’re Testing My Patience

Recently, a young woman visited me, worried about a sinus infection she had. I confirmed her guess, offering her a prescription for Augmentin. Surprisingly though, she insisted on getting an HIV test. Why, you might wonder?

Simply put, she was concerned about catching two colds in one winter, which was unusual for her. She turned to our virtual friend - 'Dr Google' for answers. The search pointed her towards being immunocompromised, possibly having HIV. No matter how much I reassured her, she remained unconvinced.

After shedding numerous tears, she finally persuaded me to run an HIV test. As expected, the test result was negative, much to her relief.

Female patient is talking with female doctor in blue uniform holding results.PeopleImages.com - Yuri A , Shutterstock

30. I Think You Fried Your Own Common Sense Away

It was a sweltering mid-summer day. A mom rushed her lifeless, unresponsive baby into the children's ward. The child was bundled up in a snowsuit suitable for a harsh Canadian winter.

Once we'd successfully lowered the baby's temperature, I tried to keep my composure while talking to the mother. Despite the situation, she insisted on bundling her baby in a snowsuit to prevent any risk of the child feeling cold. 

I tried to explain that the slight discomfort of the baby crying for a blanket was far better than the potential risk of life-threatening heatstroke, which could seriously damage the child's brain.

I regret to say, I chose harsh words in expressing to the mother how her actions had almost cost her baby's life, with a possible risk of causing irreversible brain damage.

Female doctor is check in small baby wearing white clothes.Rawpixel.com ,Shutterstock

31. Let That Sink In

I've once gently alerted someone about the possibility of health risks tied to using testosterone shots without a medical prescription, or a genuine medical reason such as significantly low testosterone levels. This is because these hormones can sway our levels of good and bad cholesterol and also raise the possibility of heart diseases like cardiomyopathy.

When I shared this, the person replied, saying, "If it's made in my body, it can't harm me". He then subtly insinuated that I was part of some big pharmaceutical company scheme.

While I acknowledge his perspective, it's worth noting that both cancer cells and acid are produced by our body too. If I had the opportunity, I would have liked to illustrate my point by administering him with the same excessive dosage of stomach acid that he wished to take in testosterone - but of course, only for a brief moment, for the reality to hit home.

Let's just say, that wouldn't have ended well.

Male doctor is looking at camera and make NO hand gesture.RollingCamera, Shutterstock

32. Let Me Demonstrate My Intelligence To You

A gentleman well into his 90s was brought into our neurological clinic diagnosed with a severe brain tumor. The condition was terminal. Despite the surgical intervention, some cancer cells remained, and it was a particularly aggressive form of cancer.

Regrettably, the elderly patient then developed significant delirium. This was likely the result of several factors, including his advanced age, the aftermath of brain surgery, steroid usage, painkillers like opioids, the ICU environment, not forgetting the ongoing presence of terminal brain cancer.

I was explaining his delirium to his family, specifying why he was such a high-risk case, and mentioning all the contributing factors. When the discussion came to the brain tumor, his daughter spoke up. After identifying herself as a doctor, she interjected with an outrageous comment: "Wait, the tumor was successfully removed, so I don't think that attributes to his condition".

Later, she attempted to convince me to administer a homeopathic remedy that, according to her, was commonly used at her workplace—a hospital in Boston. I had to clarify that our neurological ICU and our hospital as a whole do not administer treatments that aren't FDA-approved.

Young male doctor is talking with young female, seating next to him.Ground Picture, Shutterstock

33. Mom’s Don’t Know Best—In This Case

I'm an emergency room doctor, and not too long ago I treated a young man, who for about the fifth time, showed up with complaints of stomach pain and repeated throwing up.

Looking at his past reports, I noticed his symptoms had been pinned down either to acid reflux and gastritis, or simply his routine heavy drug use, causing a condition known as cyclic vomiting syndrome. He'd been advised to take Nexium twice daily, ease up on the marijuana, and also see a specialist, a gastroenterologist. But, he chose to ignore all of these suggestions.

Now he tells me, "Doc, I did an online search of my symptoms and I'm convinced I've got stomach cancer. My mom is battling cancer, so she gave me some of her chemo pills, which I've begun to take". Clearly, he's disregarding sound medical advice, and instead, decided he has stomach cancer. 

He's been self-medicating with his mom's chemotherapy drugs. He was unclear about what type of cancer his mom had, but I tried to help him understand that different cancers call for different treatments. 

I highlighted that chemotherapy drugs are some of the most regulated substances around and if used incorrectly, could have lethal effects.

I reassured him that at his age, stomach cancer is highly unlikely, and that his symptoms seem more consistent with too much stomach acid. I encouraged him to take the medication previously prescribed during his earlier ER visits, which was intended for his condition.


Male patient is talking with doctor and holding his stomach at hospital.Suwit Rattiwan, Shutterstock

34. Spare Me The Free Advice

My relative, a chiropractor by profession, advised me to seek a second opinion after I was instructed to have my thyroid gland removed. According to her, without a second opinion, I risked a sharp increase in the chances of suffering from diabetes and heart disease.

Discussing my condition further, I mentioned that my thyroid had multiple growths and was causing difficulty while swallowing. She was quick to dismiss these concerns as mere '"hyperplastic tissue"'. However, I chose not to follow her opinion.

Post-surgery, the doctor informed me that my thyroid gland had expanded into my chest area and was exerting pressure on my aorta. It also turned out that I had thyroid cancer, which was affecting my lymph nodes.

Since then, my cousin has stopped providing medical suggestions over social media.

Young woman is laying in hospital bed and looking at side.Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

35. There’s A Logical Explanation For Your Symptoms

Once, a patient came to me saying his left arm felt numb. He mentioned this only occurred when he was reading in the evening, putting a lot of weight on his left elbow while seated. Despite this, he fiercely insisted it had nothing to do with his position, but rather an issue with his neck or shoulder.

It's really surprising how often individuals refuse to accept that their own behavior might be at the root of their problems.

Dark skinned young female doctor slaps her palm on her forehead ,looking shocked.Studio Romantic, Shutterstock

36. There’s Nothing Abnormal About That

I had a meeting with a patient who weighed 400 pounds and was at a loss as to why she was overweight. She stated she was consuming the same amount of food as her peers, but found it impossible to shed any pounds. I asked her to recall her meals from the previous day as representative of her usual diet, to which she simply said, "cereal."

Prompting her to provide a bit more detail, I was absolutely astounded by her response. She admitted to consuming four bowls of Frosties, the total equivalent of an entire 1 kg box. And that's not even the worst part. Turns out she topped each bowl with a heaping helping of double cream. Surprisingly, she didn't perceive anything unusual about such a hefty breakfast.

Detailing the entirety of her daily food intake would be a substantial task. And keep in mind, that enormous morning meal was only the first part of her breakfast!

Female doctor is listening to big (fat) female patient's heartbeat at her office.New Africa, Shutterstock

37. Oddest Belief

Once, while gathering a patient's medical history, he told me he had bladder surgery as a teenager. Interestingly, he claimed to have had a pig's bladder transplanted inside him. I found it necessary to clarify that it's not medically possible, to which he quizzically asked, "Then why do I have a pig's bladder?"

I wondered aloud if he had any surgical scars. He replied that the procedure hadn't left any. Intrigued, I prodded further, asking how the pig bladder could have been implanted? Unable to provide an answer, he simply asked, "How do you usually do these transplants?"

Young doctor is looking at side with arms up and surprised face.FS Stock, Shutterstock

38. Dumbfounded And Dumb

As an emergency room doctor, I once had a peculiar case. A panicky 20-year-old man and his girlfriend showed up in the middle of the night convinced that something had ripped open his throat. 

But he looked perfectly fine to me: no bleeding and his breathing was normal. When I asked him to open his mouth, I couldn't find anything amiss. I didn't want to lose his faith, so I kept checking.

Despite thoroughly examining his throat multiple times, I remained convinced there was nothing wrong with him.

Eventually, I asked the young man, "From your perspective, what's going on? And how are you feeling?"

I don't sense anything, he insisted. "BUT LOOK, IT'S RIGHT THERE!"

"Where?" I was getting quite frustrated, but kept inspecting his throat.

And then I saw it. He was worried about his uvula.

It was quite shocking to discover that this young man had gone 20 years without ever realizing his uvula existed. His girlfriend was equally shocked and confused. I reassured them that it was perfectly normal, but he wasn't convinced. 

So, I added a dramatic flair, warning them I was about to blow their minds, and proceeded to show him his girlfriend's uvula. Needless to say, they were both flabbergasted. Just another day saving lives in the ER.

Young man is seating next to his wife and talking with a doctor at hospital.Pixpan_creative, Shutterstock

39. Losing My Marbles

A mom dropped by with her eight-year-old boy, certain that he had oppositional defiant disorder. From her explanation, it seemed she was interpreting his typical eight-year-old behavior such as avoid chores, preferring to run around and play, as symptoms of this disorder.

She confessed that she was trying not to appear as a neglectful parent because of her kid's unruly behavior. Hence, she preferred to label his behavior as a sickness.

Even after two doctors declined to diagnose her son, she visited again. This time, I suggested she can enroll in parenting classes rather than seeking a formal psychiatric diagnosis for her child that could stick with him his whole life.

When I told her this, she inquired if she could consult with a different doctor in our hospital.

Mother holding her young son is talking with a young male doctor at his office.Dragana Gordic, Shutterstock

40. Can’t See Or Think Clearly

During my internship in the emergency room, I encountered a woman whose eyes had become increasingly painful and red over the past few days. The last day had been particularly agonizing.

I questioned her about the usual factors, but she was clueless about the cause of her eye condition. She had no past history of eye issues. I decided to drip some dye into her eyes to examine them under a microscope. When I did, I discovered she was sporting contact lenses.

It turns out, she wasn't fond of her natural eye color, so she opted for a pair of blue-colored lenses eight months ago. The truth was shocking—apparently, she never took them out; not even when she slept. She didn't think to share this piece of information with me, or acknowledge the presence of any "foreign materials" in her eyes.

Needless to say, I sternly educated her on the dangers of wearing contacts round the clock and promptly sent her to see an ophthalmologist.

Close up photo of woman with red eye.Julia Diak, Shutterstock

41. Define Stupid

I once had a patient who continually tried to step outside the hospital for a smoke. We have stringent no-smoking rules in our establishment, so I had to firmly inform her that this was not permissible.

I explained that if any patient exits without our approval, it's regarded as leaving against medical advice (AMA). Such an action could lead to them being prohibited from returning to our unit, being potentially deemed a trespasser, and facing a $500 fine.

She claimed that we were discriminating against her because she suffers from a unique medical condition that compels her to smoke. Her declaration made me smile a bit and I remarked, "I understand the power of addiction." She continued, emphasizing the rarity of her condition, stating that only 3% of the population is affected by it.

If she were to quit smoking, she would develop mouth ulcers. Her esophagus and lungs would secrete fluid, posing a risk of her literally drowning. She claimed to have been diagnosed with this unusual condition after consulting with thirty specialists.

Surprisingly, doctors from top-tier facilities like Mayo, Johns Hopkins, and Stanford were unable to diagnose her condition. But, she said that thankfully, a local doctor from our town, which isn't particularly known for its outstanding healthcare, had managed to identify it. 

I was tempted to ask if the diagnosing physician was a psychiatrist. Her condition was so rare that it didn’t even have a name yet. I mean, seriously, how gullible must she think I am? I spent eight years in college earning two bachelor degrees, and being a healthcare professional, I'm well-acquainted with various diseases.

Young female doctor is looking at front with upset face.pathdoc, Shutterstock

42. Next Time, Read The Instructions First

A patient recently paid me a visit after being diagnosed with asthma. She expressed that her newly prescribed Ventolin inhaler wasn't working. I was curious about her usage, so I asked how frequently she was using it. Her response was every couple of hours.

Because I suspected she might be using it incorrectly, I asked her to demonstrate her inhalation technique. To my surprise, she began by shaking the inhaler, removing the cap, then, lifting her shirt up and sprayed the inhaler directly onto her chest.

Doctor is holding an inhaler in her hand.Duet PandG, Shutterstock

43. Homemade Repairs Gone Wrong

This piece of information is about a farmer who had an unfortunate accident with machinery where he ended up with a fractured ankle and a big cut across his chest. Shockingly, he opted for a do-it-yourself remedy where he treated his broken ankle by making a cast from concrete, and took care of the wound on his chest by stitching it up with copper wire.

As a result, he, unfortunately, suffered from chemical burns due to the concrete, and the copper wire caused a blood infection. Surprisingly, he managed to pull through.

Hospitalized man lying in bed while doctor checking his pulse.Jacob Lund, Shutterstock

44. Idiots Doubled

I recently had a conversation with a pair of gentlemen—both of whom happen to be gay—regarding their laboratory tests. The couple, in their 40s and around 30 respectively, displayed contrasting knowledge about health matters. The younger man, who was noticeably overweight and likely lacking consistent exercise, had a concerning triglyceride level exceeding 4,000.

Upon sharing this information, the older man's reaction was a dramatic, triumphant exclaim: "SEE, I TOLD YOU!" Facing me, his tone switched to grave seriousness as he added, "Right. You tell him, Doctor. 

Instead of choosing a triple meat dish, he should opt for a—" Anticipating him to suggest a healthier alternative, like "salad", I was surprised when he turned back to his partner and suggested mischievously, "DOUBLE MEAT?!"

After a brief moment of amusement, I thanked both for their time, wrapped up our meeting, and exited the room/

Young doctor is laughing at camera on red background.RealPeopleStudio, Shutterstock

45. Complete Lunacy

A patient approached me for treatment for hyperglycemia, known commonly as high blood sugar. This condition is diagnosed when sugar levels exceed the normal range of 70-100. Her readings, however, were alarmingly high, reaching into the 800's.

After some effort, we got her blood sugar down to a significantly less dangerous, but still alarming, 300. Surprisingly, she then asked for Chinese food and a medium-sized pizza to be delivered to her hospital room. 

Not stopping there, after she finished her meal, she wanted someone to bring her some cereal. Instead, the on-call nurse decided to check her blood sugar levels.

At 1:00 am, she came out of her room, shouting she needs her nightly cereal and we were intentionally starving her despite her diabetic condition.

She seemed somewhat obstinate and failed to understand the risk of her actions. She claimed her blood sugar below 300 suggested hunger and called for more food. 

Our efforts to reason with her were unsuccessful, and she ended up dismissing herself despite our medical advice. Honestly, I'm astounded. I could pen a whole book on such illogical actions by diabetic patients.

Young woman is screaming at camera.Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

46. This Story Is Hard To Swallow

I witnessed a young man, around 20 years of age. His background was one of poverty and illiteracy. This young man was struggling with a severe episode of tonsillitis but stubbornly turned down any medication. He was under the impression that "biting the sun" would solve his problem.

Essentially, he would wait until midday, then angle his face towards the sun, opening his mouth as wide as possible. His belief was that if he symbolically "bites" the sunlight multiple times, it would slowly "burn" away his infection over a few weeks. If somehow this method failed, he had a backup plan which involved the same routine, but instead at nighttime and only under a full moon.

Young man is looking up with open mouth on white background.pathdoc , Shutterstock

47. Nothing To Smile About

I met a patient, a woman in her early 40s. She frequently sought after prescription painkillers. Since going to different doctors in her small town in West Michigan for more and more pain meds had made her notorious, she no longer could fool medical professionals into supplying her with them. So, what did she resort to?

She took the drastic measure of pulling her own teeth out. Though she faced difficulties, having made several attempts, she was finally able to get one out. Yet, she thought that might not be convincing enough.

Then she played the waiting game for a few days. Why? She hoped an infection would set in, leaving us with no options but to provide her desired painkillers. But her plan failed. Instead of prescription medication, she was prescribed over-the-counter painkillers and antibiotics.

Young woman is covering her mouth with her hand.Ketut Subiyanto ,Pexels

48. Baffling Explanation

Once, a marine visited me, distressed about a rash he'd noticed on his right forearm. The rash had been there for two weeks, and it was the first time he'd experienced something like this. He was beginning to get more anxious as his symptoms worsened over time.

When I inquired about any previous skin conditions, he mentioned having ringworm just before the onset of this rash. Upon examining his forearm, it appeared to be a mild second-degree chemical burn, somewhat circular in shape, surrounded by blisters. The precision of the burn's edges caught my attention.

I finally asked the young marine how this happened—and his response astonished me. He casually said, "Oh, it's the burn from the bleach I poured on my arm". When I questioned why he would pour bleach on his arm, he responded, "How else would I get rid of the ringworm?"

Man wearing military uniform is seating and looking at side.RDNE Stock project, Pexels

49. Make It The Same Size, Doctor

During my rotation in the urology department during med school, I was asked to examine a young man in his twenties. He was worried about an issue with his "private parts".

He was sitting on an examination table, dressed in a hospital gown, and informed me that one was noticeably larger than the other. He shared that this has been his condition for quite a few months and he wished for them to be identical in size.

As part of the examination process, he stood up and lifted his gown. The right part was roughly the size of a grapefruit, whereas his left was of average size. That wasn't what shocked me though. He turned to me and said, “See, they aren't the same size. I want the left one to be as big as the right one”.

Sadly, the right part was actually enlarged due to cancer, and it had already started to metastasize.

Man in hospital bed wearing hospital pajamas.Freepik,tonodiaz

50. Stubborn To The End

A woman arrived, struggling to breathe. We examined her troponin levels which were notably high. We gently informed her she was suffering a heart attack. Unbelieving, she responded, "No, I'm not".

"Actually... you are", we reiterated. But she steadfastly refused, "No, I'm not". Her primary family doctor, at the emergency room, ultimately dismissed her as a patient. Against medical advice, she signed a waiver and departed. This was a regrettable decision.

Sadly, she passed away the following day—from the very heart attack she denied. Indeed.

Medical OMG EncountersShutterstock

Sources:  Reddit

More from Factinate

Featured Article

My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.

Dark Family Secrets

Dark Family Secrets Exposed

Nothing stays hidden forever—and these dark family secrets are proof that when the truth comes out, it can range from devastating to utterly chilling.
April 8, 2020 Samantha Henman

Featured Article

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.

Madame de Pompadour Facts

Entrancing Facts About Madame de Pompadour, France's Most Powerful Mistress

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
December 7, 2018 Kyle Climans

More from Factinate

Featured Article

I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.

These People Got Genius Revenges

When someone really pushes our buttons, we'd like to think that we'd hold our head high and turn the other cheek, but revenge is so, so sweet.
April 22, 2020 Scott Mazza

Featured Article

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.

Catherine of Aragon Facts

Tragic Facts About Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s First Wife

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but very few people know her even darker history.
June 7, 2018 Christine Tran

Dear reader,

Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your time!

Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your help!

Warmest regards,

The Factinate team

Want to learn something new every day?

Join thousands of others and start your morning with our Fact Of The Day newsletter.

Thank you!

Error, please try again.