May 24, 2024 | Derek Choi

These Patients Should Have Been WORRIED

Some people just don't have ANY sense of urgency. These clueless patients simply did not take their health seriously, leaving doctors totally shocked and disturbed.

1. My Aching Back

I intercepted a young woman who was just hit by a car. Her boyfriend was standing with her freaking out. I do a basic physical exam, get a history, and make her comfortable as we wait for the ambulance to arrive. Once the ambulance arrives, they ask for the same information, the truth comes out. This time the boyfriend mentions he was the one who was actually hit by the car and was shielding his girlfriend's body.

The entire car's windshield was cracked by the impact of his back! He was just freaking out and worried about her, and was in shock and hadn't begun to feel any pain yet.

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2. It’s Not That Bad

We had a male in his 50s walk into trauma to have his left thigh stitched up. It’s not an uncommon wound in an agricultural area. Speaking to him while stitching him up, he tells me he fell off a ladder while cutting a branch and the machete sliced him on the way down. I told him I was going to write him up for an x-ray of the entire leg just in case.

He kept on saying he was fine, but his knee hurt a bit, since logically that was from the fall, I agreed, but I asked him to go to the x-ray department just in case. He reluctantly walks there and back. X-rays showed a helical fracture almost the entire length of his femur! Besides being a dangerous fracture, the femur is supposed to be the most painful bone to break and he was walking around.

In the end, I had to show him the break to get him to sit down on a wheelchair and into the hands of orthopedics. That man's pain tolerance still impresses me.

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3. Falling Apart

I had a 65-year-old dude who was diagnosed with lymphoma eight months before we saw him. He lived an hour out of the city and didn't want to drive in for treatment, so decided he wouldn't get treated at all and stayed on his little remote place in the country by himself. Big mistake. Essentially, because it didn't get treated, it spread along his skin and his neighbors called an ambulance when popping in on him.

It had spread so far that it essentially went from his head to his knees. It had started to invade his eyes and mouth membranes. He couldn't drink and could barely see. His skin had started to slough off and he was so severely dehydrated because he was losing so much excess fluid from his open skin that we had to treat him like a severe burns patient!

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4. A Serious Headache

I had a headache, and a few hours later noticed that my irises were different sizes. I went reluctantly to the emergency room. Minutes after presenting myself, I had neurologists looking at me and I was rushed to get scanned. The artery about an inch and a half below my brain had torn. The doctors were basically just waiting for me to have a stroke. I didn’t. Somehow.

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5. A Stab In The Gut

When I was 18, I went to the ER for chest pain. It was the most painful thing I had ever felt. Seriously, I felt like the guy from Alien. A few hours later, the ER doctor released me, telling me I had acid reflux and that I would be fine. Over the next two years, this was a continuing problem. Once a month, on the first Saturday night of every month, I would get this terrible chest pain.

No amount of antacid medicine would help, from over-the-counter medications to prescriptions. I tried not eating that day, drinking milk, sitting straight up all night, and nothing helped. Finally, after I literally passed out from the pain one time in front of my mom, she convinced me to see a doctor again. The doctor sent me in for a gallbladder ultrasound on a hunch and they discovered well over 100 stones in it.

Cue emergency surgery, a dumbfounded surgeon, and a doctor amazed I had been passing gallstones for two years on the regular.

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6. Short Of Breath

For six months in 2014, I complained to my family doctor that it felt like I swallowed a super ball and it had gotten stuck and that walking to the mailbox and back caused me such labored breathing that I needed a ten-minute break to catch my breath. I was also coughing up quite a bit of blood from time to time. He was getting annoyed by my complaining and would just keep prescribing steroids.

He told me that because I was fat and a smoker, I needed to accept that I had COPD and that was going to be my life from now on. I finally said, "Look, send me for whatever type of test will look that far into my throat, and if it comes back as nothing I will stop complaining”. Three weeks later, I had a sonogram, they asked me to stay for another test, and then they started freaking out.

They said I had to go from the testing facility to the ER in an ambulance. Their hospital refused to see me so they sent me to a different one that also refused to see me. We still had no clue as to what was going on. I finally get taken to my current medical center and they tell me I need emergency surgery to try and remove the cancerous tumor that is growing inside my airway. I only had 4mm—the size of a coffee stirrer—to breathe through.

Had I not made that deal and had just accepted that not breathing was my new normal I would have only lived another week or two. I definitely got a new family doctor.

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7. Back And Forth

I once had an older lady call in wanting a prescription for pain meds because she was sure she had shingles. She said her neighbor had them and she was sure that’s what it was. She hadn’t been in for an exam in almost two years, so the doctor asked that she come in to be evaluated before a prescription could be given to her.

She refused and called again the next day asking for a prescription. This went on all week. She called for pain meds, and the doctor asked her to come in to be seen. She finally agreed to make an appointment. It wasn’t shingles. It was actually skin ulceration from advanced breast cancer.

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8. A Kick In The Gut

My grandpa ended up dying because he waited too long before going to the hospital. This was about 17 years ago; he was tending to one of his mules when something spooked it and he got kicked in the gut. He was hurting a lot and could barely move due to abdominal pain, so he decided to take it easy and lounge on the couch for a week.

He refused to go to be taken to the hospital. Unfortunately, that mule kick ruptured an unknown tumor in his intestines. The doc said it was huge, like volleyball-sized huge, and he may have survived if he came in sooner. By the time we got him to the hospital, he had a severe case of gangrene. His leg needed to be amputated within a day of him being there, and he passed a week later.

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9. Seeing Spots

While pregnant with me, my mom was wrapping up an OB appointment. The GYN had already left the room, and mom was gathering herself to leave and complained passingly to the nurse her contacts were messing with her—she had spots in her vision. The nurse went white as a sheet. She stopped and asked her to sit down. They brought the GYN back in, who had her stay and deliver me via emergency C-section.

Without anyone knowing it, she had spontaneously developed pre-eclampsia and her blood pressure was rocketing sky-high. She was dangerously close to having a seizure and that would've been that if she hadn't mentioned the spots in her vision and just left as the appointment was over, or if the nurse didn't listen and do something.

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10. Dragging It Around

I am a doctor and while working in A&E we had an older chap, possibly in his 70s, who several days prior to presentation had a sudden onset of severe chest pain and vomiting while loading the car with shopping. He ignored it and struggled home. The next day, he started to lose the use of both legs and by the time he came to the hospital had been crawling around his house for several days because he thought it would get better.

He had had a major cardiac event, and developed a clot that his heart had pumped out, it went down his body, broke in half, and blocked off the blood supply to both legs. He literally had useless legs. I don't know what ended up happening to him, but there was no way to save the legs and I reckon the outcome was very poor.

These Patients Should’ve Been WAY More WorriedFlickr, Peter Stevens

11. Have You Been Flossing?

Children’s nurse here, my first week in the pediatric ED, we had a young girl come in with a really swollen jaw and face. The poor girl was unable to move her jaw without intense pain and hadn’t been able to eat for several days. Turns out she had only just started cleaning her teeth for the first time ever, and managed to develop several abscesses and rotten teeth in the process—but that’s not the worst part.

Her mum told us that she was recovering from the same procedures to remove most of her teeth because of almost the same thing. She didn’t want to bother any doctors, as she thought the kid was just messing about to get out of school.

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12. A Tiny Little Secret

When my little sister was four or five years old, my mum took her to the doctor for an eye infection. They told her she had conjunctivitis and gave her meds, and sent her on her way. Her eye kept weeping for weeks and just wouldn’t get any better, so in the end, my mum took her to the hospital and asked to see a specialist, who was super angry he’d been called in just to look at a case of conjunctivitis.

That’s when the bizarre truth came out. It turns out, my sister had stabbed herself in the eye with a pair of scissors but was too scared to tell anyone, and it was the fluid from inside her eyeball that had been leaking out for weeks! She was rushed into surgery where they managed to save her eye with synthetic fluids and microscopic stitches. She has almost no sight in it, but still.

The doctor said even a couple of hours more and she would’ve lost her eye altogether. Kids do the darnedest things!

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13. Don’t Worry, It’s Fine!

My brother is an EMT for a warehouse. He recently had a guy come to his station saying something was wrong with his toe. So, he asks him to take off his shoe, which he does. My brother was about to ask him to take off the bandage around his big toe before he realizes a disturbing realization. That it wasn't a bandage, it was his skin. Apparently, this guy dropped a 20-pound tote on his toe a week earlier and had been showing up at work anyway.

They sent him to the doctor, and the doctor sent him to the ER. The diagnosis came back as a tissue infection as well as osteomyelitis, a bone infection. But wait, there's more! The guy comes back from the ER and tells my brother that he doesn't want to go through the ER doctor and would rather go through his own insurance.

My brother explained to him as best as he could that as it stood, he was already likely going to lose his toe, and if he waited any longer to get it treated, he ran the risk of losing his entire leg. I’m not sure what happened after that, I just hope he got the point.

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14. Out In The Yard

I was working in the ER as a paramedic intern. An older man came in with his hand bandaged stating he couldn't get his thumb to stop bleeding. As the nurse unwound the bandage there was a gaping wound oozing blood from where his thumb used to be. The nurse asked him where his thumb was, and the old guy asked what day it was. The nurse said Thursday.

The guy said, “Well, I guess the thumb went out with the trash this morning”. He'd lost his thumb to his lawn mower three days ago and only now was coming in!

These Patients Should’ve Been WAY More WorriedFlickr, Enrico

15. What Even Is That?

I was called to a suburban ER to see a man who said he had horrible stomach cancer and needed to lose weight in order to get better. He insisted that he'd been diagnosed by a very prominent gastroenterologist with "Barrett's stomach" which isn't even a thing. I guess I got called in because the story was bizarre and the staff didn't know what to do with him.

He eventually disclosed that he'd deliberately injured himself in the leg a few days previously and was waiting for gangrene to set in. He believed that the resulting amputation of the leg would allow him to lose the required amount of weight, thus curing his cancer. I excused myself to let the ER staff know that they should probably examine the leg and to call the county psychiatric service, which was protocol at this particular hospital.

I'm not sure whatever happened to him but that was a very impressive manifestation of a delusion!

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16. Cut The Complaining

I had a patient in his 60s several years ago that was brought in during my ER training and you could tell something was wrong from the moment you walked into the room to examine him. I guess his grandson had come to visit him because it was just after Christmas and he had been alerted by the smell in the house. He was a diabetic who'd not been taking care of himself and had developed an infection that had turned into Fournier's gangrene.

Over the next three days, he got debrided twice from both knees up to near his belly button, sparing only a little bit of his perineal area. Amazingly with antibiotics and very diligent care with a very good team, he survived. However, he continued to scoff and badmouth us through the entirety of the time that we took care of him as if we had inconvenienced him by saving his life.

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17. Hiding It Away

About 12 years ago, I was asked to look at and give advice on a lady who had a very slow-growing tumor on their nose. A Basel cell carcinoma. It’s usually not much of an issue because if it’s caught early, it can be removed with surgery or a short course of radiotherapy. Turns out this lady was quite vain, and as soon as the lump had started to grow, she hid it under a scarf.

She ended up hiding it for 20 years. By the time it was seen by any medical professional, the tumor had taken over most of her nasal cavity, crushed one of her eyes, deformed her whole face, and grown in between all the nerves and blood vessels. It was inoperable and there was very little you could do with radiotherapy without doing a lot of damage to everything else.

It was such a shame as it would have been so easy to fix 20 years ago. Please get lumps and random bleeding checked out!

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18. Is That Your Story?

I was a dentist in the Texas penal system. I had a guy walk in, and his lower four mandibular incisors were loose. He said they hurt a little. X-ray showed there was a perfect semicircle of bone containing those four teeth that was completely fractured. There are no root canals behind bars. Or dentures. I laid a flap and removed one whole piece of bone with all teeth in it.

I was certain he’d been in a fight but he said he walked into a pole. There are serious penalties for fighting in lockup. He was really unhappy to lose those teeth. So, a couple of days later another guy walked in with his upper centrals broken off at the gums. I figured he walked into the other side of the same pole.

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19. Back In My Day...

When I was in my final years of med school, we were to do patient interviews and physical examinations on our own and then circle back to our supervisor. I was translating back and forth between the patient and a fellow classmate whom I was doing the interview with. The patient said, "So you guys are coming in on a Saturday to do patient work? Good for you for going the extra mile".

It was actually a Friday, which I initially brushed off as a mistake. However, my classmate noticed something was off. He asked me to ask the patient if he could tell us the date. I was like, "Are you sure? He's here for an infection not head trauma, he might think it's a bit degrading". I thought it wasn't important but she insisted, so I translated the question. The patient replies, "Ah well, its 2002, of course”!

It was actually 2018! After some more questioning, we realized all of his replies were all as if it were 2002. As it turns out, he had neurosyphilis that went unchecked for many, many years.

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20. The Practice Lesson

I’m a veterinarian, and sometimes we have classmates bringing in their own pets for us to train about different techniques. For example, we practice how to handle a pet that is aggressive, a pet that for some reason has to be handled a certain way, or that has a certain condition so we get to see in class what it's like.

This girl brought in her two elderly dogs. One of them actually had several health conditions and was blind, while the other one was brought along just because they hate being away from each other. Of course, we were focused on the dog that had health conditions, but at some moment the "healthy" one made a weird noise with her throat and the girl went "Oh, she does that sometimes, I think it's just allergies or something, don't worry".

The teacher thought it would be a good idea to train auscultation on the "healthy" dog as well anyways. Turns out it was an ugly tracheal collapse, and the student hadn't known the signs up until that point. She would never have known if our teacher hadn't decided to check anyways out of curiosity.

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21. More Than A Hangover

When I was a recent grad while working with the army, a soldier came to the emergency room. He had just returned from vacation and complained about a severe headache. He had been hit with a bottle the previous day. I didn't think much at first because he was conscious and there wasn't anything alarming, but after a medical examination, I found that he had high blood pressure and bradycardia.

I sent him to a larger hospital and surprise, surprise, he had quite the subdural hematoma. I still wonder how that man was walking as if nothing was wrong with him.

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22. A Surreal Shock

As a patient, I went to the doctor because I had some kind of infection in my mouth. The doctor had a look at me and was like, “How have you been otherwise”? I was a bit tired, but my new sport had lots of 4 AM starts, so that made sense. That was also why I assumed I’d been losing weight. We talked through a few more things and the doctor said, “This might be diabetes. Let’s take some blood and meet back up next week”. I brushed it off—not knowing I was in serious danger.

A few hours later, the doctor called me at home telling me to go to the ER right then because my blood sugar was sitting over 40 mmol and he didn’t think I’d make it through the night without going comatose. The surreal thing was that I felt fine! I felt how I’d been for months and I was walking around looking healthy enough.

When the hospital staff asked me what I was in for, the blood drained from their face and they freaked out. Anyway, I have type one diabetes now.

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23. A Routine Check...

My mother had an epidural for neck and back pain a couple of days before an appointment with her cardiologist. Her cardiologist sent her for a standard chest x-ray, which was a follow-up for the quadruple bypass she'd had nine months prior, then sent us home. A couple of hours later, his office called instructing us to go to the ER for a CT scan because something looked off on her chest x-ray.

It might have been nothing, but better safe than sorry. It turned out her colon had ruptured and it was leaking matter into her chest cavity. She didn't feel any pain because of the epidural and had no clue. She'd have been in big trouble within 24 hours if not for that cardiology appointment.

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24. Following My Gut

I had an inkling my 9-day-old son wasn’t right and made my husband drive us to the local children’s hospital. I remember saying to the receptionist “You probably get this all the time, but he just doesn’t seem right”. Within half an hour disaster struck. He was in what we later know to be a cardiac arrest. They worked on him for five hours until his toxin levels dropped enough so he could be transferred to a local heart hospital, a journey “he wouldn’t survive”.

He’s now 12 and a keen basketball player. I visited the hospital to be part of a good news story article. They told me my son’s note said his toxin levels were “incompatible with survival”. They said they saw 50,000 kids a year, only 100 with a heart condition and they had never had a family walk in off the street with a baby with his condition—those babies arrived in ambulances, and most didn’t make it.

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25. A Hard Loss

A regular patient, who was very sweet but unfortunately had an ongoing battle with alcoholism, was brought in by his roommate and I knew instantly that he would be gone soon. I'd seen some jaundiced humans in my time there but this man was a yellow I never knew was possible. His roommate said, through tears, "I've been telling him to come in for weeks”! and the patient kept telling his roommate to relax, and that he was fine.

He was majorly in denial. I helped him to the exam room and when the doctor entered the room, he immediately asked me to go call an ambulance. A few weeks earlier wouldn't have helped, but perhaps the end could have been made bit easier for him. He passed seven days later in the hospital. It hit me very hard because I'd known the guy for a few years.

Sometimes he would be sober when he called, and sometimes he would be slurring and completely incoherent, but he was ALWAYS kind.

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26. Not Just A Runny Nose

I read medical records for a living and had a case where a young man kept coming in for frontal headaches. His doctors tried all the usual remedies for migraines, but his headaches persisted. Then, he developed a runny nose that wouldn't quit. Eventually, they made a chilling realization. The liquid coming out of his nose was cerebrospinal fluid. They did a CT scan of his brain, but it was normal.

Eventually, someone decided to get imaging of his sinuses. They found packing material in his left sinus, left over from a sinus surgery he'd had more than a year before. It had rotted and eaten through some structure in his nasal passages, opening up into his brain cavity!

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27. My Aching Foot

My dad, while not a farmer, goes to help the in-laws at their farm every lambing season. Last year he came home after being down there for three weeks and said that four days in, one of the ewes gave him a big stomp on the foot because he was trying to turn the lamb. He stayed the extra two weeks and a bit, drove five hours home, hobbled into work, and then took the guy he was caring for to a doctor’s checkup.

The doc sees him limping, so checks out the guy then asks dad what happened. He called dad's boss and told her to arrange cover and send someone to collect the guy who was being cared for and called the ambulance out. Gets to the hospital and they send him for an x-ray. Eight of those tiny bones were broken and the bruising still looked bad. He ended up in a surgical boot for three months because of the broken bones in his toes!

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28. Rolling With The Punches

I had a patient come in saying he couldn’t see. How long had it been going on? For five days. The man had been blind for five days and didn’t come in because he thought it might be “like a cold or something”. But then it got even more deranged. During the exam when I asked him to move his legs, he said “oh, I can’t do that”. I asked how long he’d been unable to move his legs or walk.

His wife chimes in—about two whole years! He never saw a doctor about it; they just borrowed a friend's wheelchair and kept it rolling. Turns out he’d had multiple strokes with multiple risk factors he never addressed. Given how little insight he appeared to have into the condition, I honestly felt sorry. He didn’t have insurance, so I’m sure that played a role in him avoiding seeing anyone.

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29. Pandemic Pauses

During the pandemic, a guy with a history of heart issues had a heart attack, with classic chest pain. Then he had symptoms of heart failure, which he recognized, because it had happened to him before. But he still waited a few days because he was worried about coming to the hospital during the pandemic.

Finally, it got so bad that he couldn’t breathe from the fluid backed up into his lungs, that he came to the ER, when he was obviously hospitalized.

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30. It’s Off The Charts!

I’m a lab scientist. Had a guy come in at the end of the day for chest pain that’s been bothering him all weekend. The ED doc ordered a troponin blood test which helps determine whether it’s a heart attack. If the test runs above 0.03, we consider that a sign for a heart attack and act accordingly. When I got this guy’s results, I nearly fainted. 

This guy’s very first troponin was 21.00. TWENTY-ONE. The highest we’ve ever had up till then was an 8.00. The guy should’ve been in big trouble ages ago, but he somehow pulled through. Don’t ignore chest pains, people.

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31. A Bad Bike Crash

I remember when I was eight, I had crashed on a mini bike. My dad didn't have parental rights after the divorce, and the ER felt since I was only missing some teeth and had a split lip but was not reporting pain or anything, there was no emergency and they needed to get a hold of my mom. A couple of hours later, mom comes and they take me back for x-rays.

The X-ray tech looked at the prints and kind of hurried out to get the doctor who got on the phone and started calling for a clear room for surgery and a doctor to be called back. It turned out I had crushed my skull and had a tooth in my eye socket! The pressure caused fractures in my forehead, breaking a disk of bone that had fallen in and caused swelling on my brain.

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32. It Won’t Stop!

I feel like I'm probably some doctor's example of a late patient. When I was 16, my uterus suddenly decided to hate me and I started bleeding very long, and very heavily. I figured it would fix itself eventually, but spoiler: it didn't. A year goes by of me bleeding for about a month straight with around two days in between.

One day, I bled so heavily at callbacks for the school play, I was on the toilet for about 30 minutes because no products would help. Eventually, I went pale, and one of my friends noticed and had me sit down because I started shaking. I went to the doctor and they took some blood and mentioned that maybe they would put me on birth control but they would see how my results came back.

The very next day my mom receives a call from the doctor asking how I was doing and then telling her to bring me to the ER. My hemoglobin levels were at a 5.6, and the average for a woman is 12. They had no idea how I was still standing, much less having gone through this for a year. They gave me a blood transfusion, put me on iron supplements because I was anemic, and birth control to regulate my hormones.

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33. Shrugging It All Off

My father, who is in his 60s, fell during a holiday a few weeks ago. We weren’t aware. He has had similar accidents before in his life and always shrugged it off. This time it was bad, but he thought he was fine. The next week, he started to show confusing behavior and speech, which led to fellow employees starting to make their concerns.

They informed the family, and that’s when we looked into the situation. Turns out he had been working the whole week and eventually had a 39-degree fever and had to puke two days in a row, but still shrugged it off. He went to work like nothing was wrong. He had to call for a doctor and after an exam, he told my father he had to be hospitalized as soon as possible.

He had a wound from the fall that led to a serious infection, and eventually ended up staying at the hospital for a week and a half.

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34. You Did WHAT?

Had a guy show up in my clinic one day with a complaint of finger swelling. So as the story went, his finger got swollen and painful about a week prior. It just got worse and worse, and about three days prior to coming, a hole opened up in the tip of his finger. This point is where I, personally, would have noped right to the doctors.

So come the day of the visit, he says, “By the way, I pulled something out of the hole in my finger yesterday with a pair of tweezers, and I have no idea what it is”. I asked him if he took a picture or kept it, and he produced a tissue from his shirt pocket. I was so stunned, I nearly passed out. 

The object was the last bone in his finger! The bone had gotten infected and the body did its thing and basically tried to eject what was now a hot foreign body. The guy pulled his fingertip out of his finger. A better or grosser magic trick, I have not since seen.

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35. One, Two, Three, Clear!

I work in a very rural hospital, and we have a patient population that seems to avoid the hospital at all costs. I have had so many bad stories, usually related to diabetics with foot sores almost always resulting in the amputation of a toe. However, my favorite was an elderly farmer who came in with chest pain that, “Wouldn't go away”, as he put it.

When we asked him if he had it before, he said that he had been having chest pain on and off for years, but it would typically go away after he grabbed his electric fence. Apparently, the first time he had the pain, he was standing out near an electric fence on his farm, and he reached out to steady himself and accidentally grabbed the electric fence.

The fence shocked him and made the pain go away. So after that, whenever he would have pain, he just went and grabbed the fence and it made him feel better. He had literally been cardioverting himself for years. He was fixed up and sent on his way, but we all still chuckle about it now and then because he was so nonchalant about it.

These Patients Should’ve Been WAY More WorriedFlickr, C. K. Hartman

36. Don’t Ignore That!

In my sophomore year of college, I started drinking coffee. And, as college students can be wont to do, I drank a lot of it. One evening, during midterms week, I got a bad headache, so I drink some coffee and settle in to churn out a few hours of work. My headache goes away, but I start noticing tingling and numbness in the right side of my body.

It eventually gets bad enough that I can feel the line down my face where the tingling ends. My whole right side is totally numb. But it's midterms week, and I probably just need to sleep it off and it'll be fine. Right? So I go to bed, wake up for my 8am, and everything is a hundred percent worse. Eventually, at like 10 AM, I finally asked a friend to drive me to the ER.

The ER doctor was horrified that I had ignored a very obvious sign of a stroke for at least 12 hours. It ended up being a complex migraine brought on by, essentially, too much caffeine and sleep deprivation. I adjusted parts of my lifestyle including monitoring my coffee intake, and haven't had a repeat episode.

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37. Just A Small Hole

I’m a PA in ortho and was working in hand surgery at the time. The patient says he had a wrist replacement a number of years ago and has a hole in his wrist. I figure he has a small draining sinus. He comes in, and when I first see his X-rays, it looks like he has a massive contracture. It wasn’t ideal, but not uncommon.

He has a band on his wrist which I peel off to see a three-by-six-centimeter hole in his wrist opening directly on his implanted wrist replacement, specifically on the poly insert that allows the two portions of the implants to glide on one another. He said he noticed the hole about four whole years ago and only decided to see someone when it got this large!

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38. That’s...Unexpected

When I was training to be a nurse, I got paired with a play specialist for a few weeks. A mum came in with a little boy of about four or five. The doc requested we come and entertain or distract the little man while he examined him and left it at that. The boy was happy, chatty and a picture of health from the shoulders up.

His belly, however, looked like he was expecting a baby! This was a shock to both me and the other girl who had brought in the usual toys. We trailed this little guy while he had a multitude of tests and he was extremely brave letting the docs do what they had to. Mum was asked how long it had been going on and she said three months.

Turns out, he had a tumor and the surgeons managed to remove it, but the poor kid was so embarrassed after surgery because he had saggy skin and stretch marks. He often plays on my mind, even more so since having a kid of my own. I hope he's doing OK now.

These Patients Should’ve Been WAY More WorriedFlickr, Juhan Sonin

39. The Tattoo Troubles

I’m not a doctor, but an Army medic. I had a dude come into the aid station at like, 2 AM with his arm all wrapped up. I took the wraps off, and his arm looked necrotic. I asked him what the heck was going on. That’s when I found out the nasty truth. Turns out, the weekend before we went out to the field, this man went and got his whole forearm tattooed. He then spent the next week wading through chest-deep swamps, figuring that if he just kept his arm wrapped, he’d be okay.

Obviously, he was not.

These Patients Should’ve Been WAY More WorriedPexels

40. Saving Face

This guy had untreated skin cancer on his nose for several years that had over time become infected, developed MRSA, and spread across his face. He had no nose, no cheek, and no eye on one side of his face, and was starting to lose his other eye. You could even see part of his skull! I don't know why he chose to leave it untreated and I have no idea how long it took to get that bad, but I will never ever forget the smell and texture of his rotting face.

On the upside, we were eventually able to convince him to have reconstructive surgery. He ended up getting a skin graft that covered up his eye, nose, and cheek. So, if you ever meet a very grumpy dude with nothing but a mouth and one eye, know that this is way better than the alternative.

These Patients Should’ve Been WAY More WorriedPexels

41. A Hairy Situation

I took care of a female patient on a ventilator that needed an EEG to determine if she still had brain activity. This involves electrodes being glued to the scalp. We tried brushing her hair to reach her scalp, but her hair was matted so badly we couldn't. We had to get permission from the family to cut her hair so we could do the test.

As her nurse that shift, I was given medical shears and told to get to work. As soon as I started cutting the matted section of hair began peeling back in one piece and I made a gruesome realization. It was, at one time, a wig that had essentially dreadlocked with her natural hair over the course of many years. After I cut this matted rug of real and fake hair off her head, a few bonus goodies fell on the sheets in the form of some mummified bugs. I totally gagged.

These Patients Should’ve Been WAY More WorriedPexels

42. Just Go To The Hospital!

My mother was one of those holistic medicine types who preferred to treat her chronic illnesses with herbal suppements she could buy off of the Internet. She had chronic constipation for months, and a persistent sore on her abdomen that would not go away, no matter how much Manuka honey she smeared on it. I wish she’d taken what was happening seriously. 

Long story short, my brother finally convinced her to go to the doctor for this sore that wouldn’t heal and they discovered that she had a tumor that had eaten through her viscera and through her abdomen, the same one that was obstructing her bowel. She only lived another six weeks. Stop diagnosing yourself on the Internet, friends.

These Patients Should’ve Been WAY More WorriedPexels

43. Some Sketchy Swelling

I went to my doctor with some back pain and also brought up that my leg was swollen. The doctor I saw said it was probably just swelling due to sodium intake. A week later, the pressure and pain in my leg were so bad that it hurt to walk. I called off of work and had my husband take me back to the doctor. The doctor took one look and told me to get to the hospital immediately because he suspected I had a blood clot.

I ended up having a massive blood clot from my hip to my knee and a pulmonary embolism. I was transferred to another hospital for surgery and stayed in the ICU. Had I waited any longer, I would have been in big trouble!

These Patients Should’ve Been WAY More WorriedPexels

44. Feeling A Bit Heavy

Emergency radiologist here. I see plenty of people presenting with understated symptoms that turn out to be some mind-blowing advanced disease—but one devastating case sticks out. There was a four-year-old boy who presented with a rigid abdomen for a few months. The family was told by their pediatrician it was constipation months ago but his parents never followed up when it didn't resolve.

When I imaged his abdomen, I found his entire liver was replaced with a mass consistent with hepatoblastoma. I asked the parents why they waited so long to work it up. They said they were satisfied with the diagnosis of constipation!

These Patients Should’ve Been WAY More WorriedPicryl

45. A Frustrating Result

I once saw a guy in his 50s who had been seeing an acupuncturist for an area of numbness and weakness traveling down his legs. He’d had two months of acupuncture for his legs with no visible improvement, so very reluctantly booked a routine GP appointment. At that point, he’d started to have issues with his bladder control as well.

As soon I started speaking to him, it became obvious that the symptoms he presented with were consistent with spinal cord compression—an absolute medical emergency. We got him straight into the hospital and the imaging showed cancer, with a tumor pressing onto his spinal column. Although he started treatment and steroids that day, it was too late.

He lost the ability to walk and passed a few months later from cancer. It was enormously sad and frustrating as that constellation of symptoms would have raised an immediate red flag with anyone with medical training. Had he come in months earlier, maybe his prognosis would’ve been quite different.

These Patients Should’ve Been WAY More WorriedPexels

46. Leaving Things Out

I had to take out the remainder of this guy's teeth. He was in his 60s and told us verbally and on his health history that he didn't take any meds. So, I took out his last eight teeth, all easy extractions due to infections and periodontal disease. But there was a huge problem. I couldn't get him to stop bleeding. I asked him again if he was taking anything.

I finally got the clots stabilized, but it took almost an hour and I had to consult our oral surgeon. When he saw the oral surgeon a few months later about placing implants, he told the oral surgeon he was on BP medication and blood thinners. I refused to see him anymore after that.

These Patients Should’ve Been WAY More WorriedPexels

47. Putting It Off

I got a call from a patient who had broken their forearm two months ago and never followed up. I got them scheduled, but they no showed their appointment. Rescheduled, but they no showed again. Second reschedule, they arrive with a very obvious deformity to their arm due to the fracture healing incorrectly. If they had just come in, it wouldn't have been an issue at all.

It blows my mind that they went almost three months without care.

These Patients Should’ve Been WAY More WorriedFlickr, A.Currell

48. Do I Have To Come In?

I was working in an area with lots of Mennonites—a mom called into the clinic because a wheel had broken and one of the spokes had penetrated her toddler’s eye! The reason for her call was even more mind-blowing. She wasn’t calling for an ambulance—she was calling to see if he needed to be seen by a doctor. She told us that she had removed the spoke and she knew he was going to lose the eye, so asked if there was really a reason for him to be seen. The answer was obviously yes!

These Patients Should’ve Been WAY More WorriedPexels

49. Some Real Good Care

Had a patient brought in by her son who “took care of her,” when she arrived at our unit, I performed a skin assessment—and when I took off her socks, I made a disturbing discovery. I found a fallen-off gangrenous toe. Seems fake and I wish this was, but it was by far the nastiest thing I’ve witnessed. The son said he had no idea when his mother’s foot became “that bad”. I had no words.

These Patients Should’ve Been WAY More WorriedPexels

50. Patching Myself Up

I was working as a surgical junior when my team was called down to A&E to see a patient who had come in with a complication from a recent hernia operation. When we came down, we saw that the patient was holding a plastic bag over their abdomen. When this was removed, we found that their wound had opened and their intestine was visible to the air.

It was horrifying—and we later found out the twisted reason why it had happened. It transpired that this was not something that had happened overnight, it had taken several days. The patient had started using plastic bags and newspaper to dress the wound when they ran out of dressings, which is why they came in.

These Patients Should’ve Been WAY More WorriedPicryl

Sources:  Reddit

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