Real-Life People Reveal Their Medical Nightmares

December 15, 2021 | Eul Basa

Real-Life People Reveal Their Medical Nightmares

Medical professionals take a sacred vow to treat the ill to the best of their abilities and to preserve the privacy of their patients. Unfortunately, some patients make keeping that promise extremely difficult. From self-diagnosing know-it-alls to stubborn Karens who just refuse to listen to their more knowledgeable caretakers, these real-life medical nightmares will make you all the more appreciative of the work that our doctors and nurses do for us.

1. Satiating The Itch

A patient visited the emergency room, expressing severe discomfort "down below". During the physical examination, we saw that there was significant swelling, and both the inner and outer tissues were notably red and inflamed. She was swollen to the point that we had to insert a catheter before she could use the bathroom. After conducting a pelvic exam, the doctor discovered blisters all over.

When questioned about the onset of her symptoms, her answer sent a chill down my spine: "It started with itching tonight. I thought I was battling an infection, so I attempted to treat it by pouring a cup of bleach inside. However, after some time, it started to get rather painful". "Rather painful" sounds like an understatement if you ask me.

Medical Nightmares facts Shutterstock

2. A Make-Shift Solution

I once held a job in a local hospital's medical lab in a small town. One day, the ER sent me a stool sample that essentially looked like a blood clot as big as a golf ball. Sometimes, there can be a mix-up in the ER and they send me incorrect samples. In light of this, I connected with the nurse attending the patient to clarify whether the sample they sent was actually stool.

The nurse informed me that the patient believed he had ingested spoiled pork. To ward off potential food poisoning, he downed a mixture of bleach, ethanol, alcohol, ibuprofen, and a few antacids.

Medical Nightmares facts Wikimedia Commons

3. Vaseline Queen

Back when I was a lifeguard in college, there was this woman, smack in the middle of middle-age, who practically lived at the pool. You'd spot her swimming and stretching on the deck for hours, day after day. Apparently, she had some sort of reaction to chlorine, and her go-to solution was slathering Vaseline all over herself before jumping in the pool.

This would leave the pool deck slick and risky for other folks, but she didn't stop at her external use routine. This was just the beginning. Somehow, she got it into her head that eating Vaseline was beneficial too. At first, she'd bring a tub of Vaseline and dig in for a quick snack whenever she took swimming breaks.

When the pool's manager had a word with her about this, she got creative. Instead of the tub, she'd stuff the inner cap of her water bottle with Vaseline and snack on that.

Make You Smile FactsPublic Domain Pictures

4. Mother Doesn't Know Best

When I was around 16, I began to notice these small, red, irritated spots appearing on my arm. My mom quickly suggested, "Oh, you just have psoriasis, tanning should clear it up". So I spent about a week tanning, but the spots only seemed to get worse. Before I knew it, I had them all over my body - I even had spots on my eyelids. Eventually, I went to the doctor...and it turns out I actually had ringworm.

The real kicker is that, by tanning, with all the lotions I was applying, I was unknowingly encouraging the spread of the spots while I tanned. Appreciate the advice, Mom.

Lawyers should have mentionedPexels

5. A Failed Attempt

I know this a person who tried to take their own life by consuming antifreeze (ethylene glycol). That's not even the whole story. Afterward, she had a few drinks and ended up getting slightly inebriated. But there was something she wasn't aware of. The interesting thing about ethylene glycol is that the alcohol in the drinks she had can counteract its harmful effects. So, she ended up saving her own life, only to feel terrible in the hospital for a while.

Awkward Visits To The Doctor factsWikimedia Commons

6. Quick Improvising

When I was just twelve, I had a pretty nasty bout with tonsil stones. No trick seemed to work to remove them, and I was pretty frazzled. In a moment of desperation, I thought it was a good idea to use a full-sized household vacuum cleaner, on its lowest power, to suck them out. Unfortunately, this only resulted in a lot of bleeding and a seriously swollen uvula that nearly blocked my throat.

Despite all this, the hospital refrained from removing my tonsils. Looking back, I can't say it was my brightest idea.

Die A Little Inside factsShutterstock

7. Insect Intruder

When I was studying to be an EMT, a man dialed 9-1-1 because he felt an insect crawling in his ear. When we showed up, he told us the bug was in his right ear, but oddly enough, he was also complaining about a burning feeling in his left ear. We saw his wife nearby, holding a can of bug spray. That's when the gruesome (and hilarious) reality hit us.

After asking a few more questions, we learned that she had sprayed the insecticide into his left ear, believing it would somehow drive the bug out of his right ear. I had to gently break it to her that our ear canals are separate, with our brain positioned between them.

Wait, It Gets Better factsUnsplash

8. Blood Is Thicker...

I work as a pharmacist. One of my regular clients who has diabetes recently took a trip to the Caribbean, but she accidentally left her insulin on the cruise ship. She neglected to take any insulin for a full week. When she got back home to the U.S., she found that Medicaid wouldn't cover the cost of replacing her misplaced medication. This is where the mess started.

She flatly refused to pay out of pocket for a new bottle, stating she didn't have the funds. Eventually, she connected the dots and realized that without insulin, her blood sugar would rise, leading her to believe her blood was effectively "thicker".

To counteract this, she decided to take a variety of medications she had, including Plavix, warfarin, and aspirin—all of which are blood thinners and have the potential to cause bleeding. In significant amounts, these types of medications can even result in internal bleeding. When she came to the pharmacy to request early refills, I asked her why she needed them ahead of schedule. After she filled me in on her recent experiences, I firmly advised her to go to the emergency room straight away. I can't be sure if she followed through though...

Work mistakes FactsShutterstock

9. Backed Up

My sister, who works as a nurse in an operating room, always tells this one insane story. One of her colleagues treated a patient who, oddly enough, had managed to get a butternut squash lodged in his rear end. Unfortunately, the patient left it there for quite a while, and by the time the medical team finally removed it, it had started to decompose. The smell was so terrible they had to temporarily close off that section of the hospital for the rest of the day.

These days, that nurse gets gently teased about the story, with people pinning butternut squash recipes on her locker as a light-hearted joke.

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

10. Planting Roots

I've got a friend who works as a navy medic. When he was in town on leave, we all got together to relax and swap stories before a night of fun. He shared a few eye-popping tales, most of which I've forgotten—except this one, that's VIVIDLY imprinted in my memory.

One day, a young woman came to him suffering from intense stomach pain. He initially thought it was just menstrual discomfort and planned to prescribe her some basic painkillers. However, she returned in less than a week, with the pain becoming even more intense. That's when he decided to order an X-ray to find out the root cause of her discomfort.

He says the results literally made his jaw drop. It looked like tangled roots were twisting inside her stomach, even snaking around her spine. It turned out, in an attempt at homemade contraception, the young lady had inserted a potato into herself, following her mother's advice. However, under the warm and damp conditions, the potato started to thrive, and also partially decay.

I can't even begin to imagine her gynecologist's reaction. It's one of the most disturbing stories I've ever encountered.

Doctor Visits Took A Horrible Turn factsShutterstock

11. The Cheese Cure

Once upon a time, I bunked with a group of doctors at a modest outpost in Afghanistan. If they had any free time, they'd see as many local folk as possible. One day, while working in an adjacent room, I overheard this intriguing exchange:

Patient: "I contracted an STD during my recent trip to Pakistan".
Medic: "How severe are the symptoms?"

Patient: "Pretty serious, but I'm aiming to treat it naturally". At this point, I couldn't help but lean in. VERY curious as to what he was going to say next. There followed an extended pause by the medic, clearly attempting to digest the rather unexpected response.

Medic: " do you go about treating an STD naturally?"
Patient: "I'm consuming copious amounts of cheese".

Memorable Patient Experiences factsShutterstock

12. Butter Me Up

A young boy, just eight years old, stumbled over a deep fryer cord and ended up pouring its hot oil over his shoulder and arm. His granny's solution was absolutely ridiculous. Literally buttering him up, she believed it would "cool him down" and "extract the heat". When my fellow medic and I arrived and began checking over the child, I was hit with a mix of sadness...and unexpected hunger. Regrettably, the kid smelt absolutely...delicious.

Worst thing on the jobUnsplash

13. Cracks By A Quack

I'm a doctor. I had a situation where a cancer patient was persuaded by his chiropractor to quit chemotherapy in favor of "natural healing techniques". Believing he was improving due to the absence of side effects from chemo, he stopped his treatment. I bet you can guess how this story ends... :(.

Surgeons Mistakes FactsShutterstock

14. Selective Hearing

I work as a pharmacist, and I often get asked some really intriguing questions. One of the most challenging ones came during my first year as an intern. One day, a family of four came in, including a baby less than a year old, and asked me how to treat their baby's cough and cold so their trip to Six Flags wouldn't spoil.

I had to tell them that there aren't any suitable treatments for kids under four for a cough and cold, and the best they could do was give the baby Tylenol for any pain or fever, ensure he gets plenty of fluids and maybe use a humidifier. I also pointed out that taking the poor baby to Six Flags in his condition would not be a good idea. Their response made me want to scream.

Despite my advice, they kept insisting I recommend something. There wasn’t any other effective remedy I could suggest. The other pharmacist confirmed what I told them, but they paid us no mind and headed straight for the cough and cold aisle. Well, we did our best.

Customer Questions FactsShutterstock

15. Blurry Vision

Eye doctor speaking. I once had a client who used to moisten her contact lenses with her saliva when they seemed dry. Unfortunately, this caused her to develop a serious ulcer on the front of her eye, which required a complete transplant.

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

16. All For Nothing

A man visited with his wife, worried about his bleeding from the rear. He'd tried to fix it himself by numbing the area with disinfectant, applying lubrication, then attempting to seal the wound with a curling iron. Honestly, it got in quite far before he pulled it out, judging by the extent of the visible damage. As a result, we had to remove about a foot of his GI tract due to the burnt and scarred tissue.

But somehow, that's not even the worst part — his DIY attempt didn’t even stop the bleeding. Turns out, the source of the issue was even further up the GI tract than the iron could reach.

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

17. Pop Goes The Weasel

As a surgical nurse, I treated a man whose reproductive organ had unusually swelled to an extent it looked like Snuffalufagus's trunk. His girlfriend, who was notably good-looking and not at all overweight (we verified out of curiosity), was involved in the incident when it all started. During a moment of passion, the man heard a loud pop and felt an excruciating pain. Yet, he brushed it off and they carried on. Afterward, he went to bed and woke up to find his private area significantly swollen.

The guy wasn't exactly keen on surgery, but reluctantly agreed. In the operating room, we were stunned at the condition of his injury - the "pop" sound was a result of a ruptured muscle that created a quarter-sized hole through which you could see. The urologist told him it was unlikely he'd regain full function. While immediate attention may not have evaded the damage entirely, his hesitation to undergo surgery could have led to disastrous consequences.

Coma Survivors factsShutterstock

18. Canine Cruelty

I work at a pet hospital. We once had this tough older farmer walk in with his Australian shepherd that had a massive growth hanging from its neck. It was so big that it dragged on the ground and was a terrible sight. Our vet strongly urged the farmer to let us do a surgical removal of the growth. In response, the farmer mentioned he had done it before. Do it again? He had!

The shepherd had a similar but smaller growth in the same place a few years back. The farmer had removed it himself using nothing but a pocket knife and a bottle of alcohol - no stitches, no antibiotics! We couldn't believe it! The vet patiently explained why his plan was not advisable. Eventually, the farmer agreed to our professional handling of the matter, but he was quite a challenging client.

It's still a mystery to us how the dog managed to survive the previous DIY surgery without any complications.

Medical Nightmares factsWikimedia Commons

19. It's Not Candy...

A woman in her mid-60s walked in with a severe burn around her hairline and on her scalp. When I asked what happened, she explained that she had used some old hair dye she had lying around. The poor woman had managed to give herself a third-degree chemical burn all over her scalp. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Next, we needed to know if she had any allergies because we planned to prescribe preventative antibiotics. She assured us she had none.

When we moved on to discuss her daily medications, she mentioned a long list, including daily doses of 1,000 mg of amoxicillin for the past two years. This revelation was particularly concerning. Amoxicillin is an antibiotic, and she had been taking an enormous quantity every day.

This excessive antibiotic use led her to develop antibiotic resistance and created a slew of health complications. She was struggling with a severe yeast infection in her colon, malnutrition, stomach ulcers, and multiple sores on her feet and knees. To make matters worse, a few days later, the burn on her scalp became superinfected. Not a pretty picture.

Doctor Visits Took A Horrible Turn factsShutterstock

20. Quack Medicine

Once, a person with Type-1 diabetes came to the emergency room, continually throwing up. I asked if he had eaten anything unusual the previous day, but he said no. His medical history didn't offer any clues to explain the relentless vomiting. So, I went back and asked him to clarify what he had consumed the night before. Then, he told me: "Could this have anything to do with the liver-cleansing tea my naturopath gave me?"

Teas provided by naturopaths often include substances harmful to the liver. Thus, this patient unwittingly harmed himself trying to purify his liver. Due to his relentless vomiting and his Type-1 diabetes status, he developed DKA, a serious complication of his condition. He had to be admitted to the hospital.

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

21. A Sanitary Suggestion

In several places across the globe, from Asia to the Americas, it's customary to cover a newborn's umbilical cord wound with fresh cow dung. Many cultures link temperature to health, so they believe warmth plays a vital role in healing. Cow dung is commonly used as it’s quite warm, easy to use, and readily available, so it's applied directly to the newborn's tummy.

Obviously, this is a TERRIBLE idea. One of the typical outcomes is neonatal tetanus. A coworker of mine, newly graduated from medical school in Mexico, encountered this while working in rural healthcare. New doctors often work in rural health centers for a few years to repay their medical school fees. The locals in the area maintained this practice.

He continued to see cases of babies with tetanus or other infections, but he had a hard time convincing the locals, who usually didn’t have trained birthing professionals on hand, to drop the cow dung practice. They stuck firmly to their belief in the healing power of heat. That's when he had a genius idea—to work within their belief system.

He explained that the dung was unsanitary and unsafe, but pointed out there was another widely available, very hot element—alcohol. He persuaded people to swap the dung with alcohol, which also "burns" when applied. His suggestion not only got rid of the cow dung, but the homemade moonshine ended up being a fantastic antiseptic.

His idea quickly gained traction and the cases of neonatal tetanus in his district dramatically decreased—all thanks to a clever, young doctor who dared to think creatively.

Medical Nightmares factsPxhere

22. Not As Advertised

One day, a seasoned farmer walked into the emergency room, suffering from a badly infected wound on his head. It turns out, he'd been having a lump growing on his head for several weeks, which ended up being a tumor. The kicker? He had been applying Round-Up, a highly effective herbicide, thinking "if it can destroy everything else, why not this".

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

23. Yank It Out!

My uncle was dealing with a severe toothache due to a decayed tooth. His dentist scheduled a proper tooth extraction for the next day, but that was just too far away for him considering the intense pain he was in. So, in the middle of the night, he decided to take matters into his own hands by trying to pull the bad tooth out using a pair of needle-nose pliers. But there's one thing he didn't take into account: how fragile that decaying tooth really was, and so, when he went to pull it out, the tooth broke into pieces.

This forced him to grab his car keys, bite down on a cloth soaked in blood, and drive himself to the hospital for an unexpectedly pricey emergency surgery to take out the remaining pieces of the tooth. It wasn't the smartest decision he's ever made.

Funniest Comments Anesthesia Patients Made factsShutterstock

24. For The Ladies

I'm in the rehab business. Once, I received a patient: an older guy, fresh out of minor surgery. The nurses mentioned his bladder control was not ideal, but for a 95-year-old, that's not exactly news. Our task for the day was to help him on his feet for a little stroll, and as we prepared him, we made an unpleasant discovery: There seemed to be a peculiar object tucked away under his PJ's in his groin area.

Through a roundabout conversation, we finally addressed the elephant in the room- it appeared he flat out refused to use adult diapers.

From his perspective, he was still quite the ladies' man and needed to maintain a certain image. The lack of bladder control wasn't exactly doing him any favours, so he'd come up with a unique solution. He chose to buy oversized underwear and place his "private part" into a portable urinal which he'd carry around inside them. His reasoning was that he could sense when he needed to go; he just couldn't restrain it. So when the time came, he'd nonchalantly excuse himself mid-urination and discreetly drain his covert container in the bathroom.

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

25. Toothpick Twinge

This gentleman singed both of his feet a bit while attempting to burn leaves. The burns became seriously infected and he came to the realization that he had to drain them. He casually took the toothpick he had been chewing on and pierced it through the burns. Can you believe he used a previously chewed toothpick? Naturally, he ended up in the hospital.

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

26. What The Heck, Grandma?

I'm a doctor, and I'll never forget a scary medical incident from my time as a medical student. I was doing my rural rotation at a small practice in the countryside when a man urgently came in with a rash. I was first on deck to start gathering information about how it happened. He was a young, in-shape, pleasant guy clearly in discomfort.

His job as a telephone line repairman, especially during late summer, exposed him to lots of poison ivy, leading to rashes all over his arms and torso. He had dealt with something similar before, however, the rash was worse this time. I asked him to take off his dark shirt, and what I saw next nearly sent me to the floor.

There were open sores across his arms and chest; the poison ivy blisters had burst, leaving his underlying skin tissue damaged. The areas were bright red, bleeding and oozing. You could tell how painful it was. It was the most severe skin damage I'd ever come across. I initially thought it was either Stevens-Johnson Syndrome or TEN, which led me to ask about his medication intake.

He didn't take any medicine, but admitted his grandmom had given him a homemade "solution" to apply to the rash. He was in the dark about its contents. We reached out to his grandmother to inquire about it, and it was bleach. We immediately arranged a trip for him to the burn center. I really felt for the guy.

Doctor Visits Took A Horrible Turn factsShutterstock

27. Foot Problems

As an ER nurse, I was on duty in the triage. Another nurse in the triage beckoned me to take a look at an incredibly damaged foot. Right away, I spotted that something wasn't right. The very first observation that caught my attention was the absence of any foul smell—usually, it's quite noticeable. I began to question why there was no smell. That's when the patient chimed in, letting us know, "Bleach. I've been immersing it in bleach every night".

Nurses Worst Work FactsPxHere

28. Instructions Not Clear

A friend of mine, who's a nurse, told me about a young girl who came in complaining of intense cramps and stomach pain. They wondered if it was her period, maybe her first one, and thought perhaps she wasn't sure what it should feel like yet. Nevertheless, she clarified that she started her period one to two weeks ago and since then, her pain had been progressively getting worse.

When my friend checked her out, the reason amazed them. They found 11 buried tampons and had to take them out individually. Apparently, the girl had misunderstood 'biodegradable' as they'd simply dissolve inside her - that's why she hadn't bothered to remove them.

Memorable Patient Experiences factsShutterstock

29. Snake Charmer

I'm a nurse who primarily does triage. I once had a patient come in because of back pain. During my regular check-up, I asked if he'd taken any medication for his discomfort. His response was "Cobra Venom". Apparently, he'd heard about Cobroxin, which is a topical pain reliever made from cobra venom... but he figured getting a cobra to bite him would work better.

I'm still clueless about how he managed to find a cobra.

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

30. Parenting Fail

I'm a lab worker at a hospital. A few years back, I was doing the night shift and often got called to the ER to collect blood samples. One such call led me to a situation that genuinely unnerved me. There was this little two-year-old boy, entirely unresponsive. His mother was beside herself, shrieking and flailing about. Quickly, I took the blood sample, hurried back to my lab, and began testing it.

The results were staggering – an ethanol level of 350 mg/dl, potentially lethal even for grown-ups. I rushed to inform the doctor about it, sparking immediate intervention from Social Services to question the mother. As it turns out, she'd found her boy in the garage with an antifreeze container and thought he'd been drinking from it because he was acting strange.

In a panic, she searched online and mistakenly believed that ethanol was the antidote. So, she went to her liquor cache and started FORCING a bottle of alcohol down her little boy's throat! Afterwards, when he lost consciousness, she decided it was time for the hospital. Thank god, the boy survived.

Worst Misdiagnoses FactsShutterstock

31. Sharp Objects

During my first year at Boy Scout camp, I had to attend a different week from my troop, so I joined a provisional group. I didn't know anyone initially, but I made friends quickly. One kid I met enjoyed playing with his super sharp pocket knife, usually by throwing it at the ground near him.

One day, he grew bored with the ground and tried aiming at trees instead. We were all chilling out between classes when he suddenly hurled his knife at a nearby tree. But the knife bounced back, slicing his shin. The worst part was that he was working for a first aid merit badge and thought he could manage the situation himself.

Ignoring our warnings, he applied a tourniquet below the wound, assuring us he was okay. He started hobbling to the first aid station with a friend's support. He fainted before he got there.

Medical Nightmares factsFlickr, Marcin Wichary

32. The YouTube Surgeon

I saw this patient a year ago who was suffering from persistent, yet non-specific abdominal pain. Despite numerous tests and consultations with multiple doctors and gastroenterologists, we found no clear cause for his discomfort. He was convinced that his pain came from intestinal parasites that he believed he contracted from a woman he met online.

He never stopped believing this theory—even after numerous investigations, including a gastroscopy and colonoscopy. So, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He bought surgical tools and a local anesthetic from the internet, and watched YouTube videos to learn how to perform an abdominal surgery, also known as a laparotomy. He even set up a video camera to monitor himself during the process.

But, as it turned out, the self-surgery was more complicated than he expected, so he ended up calling an ambulance to intervene.

Steph Curry Facts

33. Out On A Limb

As an orthopedic nurse, I see a lot. Usually, if someone breaks their hip, the leg appears shorter and rotates outwards. One lady I met was convinced her hip had just dislocated. She even had her child try to snap it back into place by pulling on her leg, but that didn't help. Still, at first, she didn't think she had a serious problem. She was very wrong.

Fast forward three months, she finally came to the hospital. But by then, she'd made a big mistake by waiting so long. The only reason she came was that she had lost feeling in her foot and her leg was swelling from deep vein thrombosis, a serious condition.

Doctor Visits Took A Horrible Turn factsShutterstock

34. The "Antidote"

I'm an ER worker and a while back, we had a woman come in with a massive lump on her arm and severe stomach upset. When we checked out her arm, it had two small bite marks. The explanation she gave just floored me. She informed us that while gardening, she was bitten by a snake...THREE DAYS AGO!

Her treatment plan was to drink vinegar, believing it would heal the bite. Not only did this fail to stop the infection from the bite, but consuming only vinegar for three days wasn't so wise! She ended up with an ulcer on top of her other health problems.

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

35. Off The Mark

A woman once asked me for compression stockings that were mercury-free. It had me puzzled... I didn't believe that mercury could ever be an ingredient in these socks. Apparently, a nurse had advised her to avoid mercury in socks. Just to clarify, mercury is indeed very harmful to the human body. Finally, when I was helping her pick out a pair, it all clicked into place.

The boxes had "mmHg" written on them. This stands for millimeters of mercury, which is actually a unit of pressure, used to indicate how snug the stockings are. The misunderstanding arose when this nurse took the reference to mean actual mercury in the stockings!

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

36. All Tubes Are Equal

Speaking as a nurse here, a mother was looking after her son who'd lived with a feeding tube in his stomach most of his life - it's known as a G-tube. Occasionally, it would get blocked up, and she'd use Coca-Cola to clear it out. Surprisingly, this is a common thing to do with G-tubes. However, there was a time when the kid needed to take antibiotics through an IV at home.

Now, unlike the G-tube, an IV drips directly into the bloodstream, not the stomach. At home, his IV got blocked. So the mom - probably thinking all tubes are the same - tried to unblock it with Coca-Cola. Luckily, it didn't work and the blockage prevented any soda from going into his bloodstream. If that had happened, it might have been fatal for the kid.

Just to clarify, the mom was just trying to solve a problem based on her past experience. I suppose all tubes seemed similar to her.

Deathbed Confessions FactsShutterstock

37. In Stitches

Once, I ended up sewing up my own wound. I assumed that my mom's insurance wouldn't cover hospital fees if my dad took me there. So, I grabbed some thread and a needle, and did the stitching myself. Boy, did it hurt! After that, I covered it with a bandage and no one had a clue. But one day, my grandma wanted to know what happened. Being a mischievous kiddo and knowing how queasy such stuff made my grandma, I unwrapped it and showed her. Turned out, we both got quite the disgusting surprise.

I was shocked myself by how nasty my wound looked. She immediately informed my mom and off to the hospital we went. The doctor praised me somewhat on my stitching effort, but advised leaving it to the experts next time.

Steph Curry Facts

38. Unequal Substitute

One day, while I was on duty in a clinic, a gentleman walked in with his visually impaired wife. She's living with diabetes, and in our conversation, I learned that she's experienced several bouts of extremely low blood sugar levels in recent months. The kind of low where even food intake wasn't enough to bring it back up. Her husband revealed to me that in order to recover her from this state, he had to give her an injection himself.

Typically in such scenarios, we use glucagon, a substance that does the exact opposite of insulin - it increases blood sugar levels. However, he confessed that he'd been using a homemade solution of sugar dissolved in water as an alternative to glucagon because it was too costly for them. He'd draw up this homemade concoction and inject it directly into her thigh. My surprise must have been apparent despite my attempts to hide it, but he simply looked at me and said, "Well, it did the job, didn't it?"

I explained to him the numerous reasons why he should be using glucagon instead of this makeshift sugar water, but he was adamant and wouldn't be swayed. I suggested that the needle's pain, not the sugar water, might have been responsible for her recovery, but to him, the cost of glucagon was a deal-breaker. After contacting numerous pharmacies, I found one offering glucagon for $20 for two doses, but he still wouldn't make the purchase. Finally, we had no choice but to call adult protective services.

Memorable Patient Experiences factsShutterstock

39. Dairy King

While I was serving as an EMT in Buffalo, NY, I once attended to an incident involving a fireworks-related injury. When we arrived, the scene was full of noticeably unsteady, frightened, and underage party-goers. There were no adults in sight. After assuring one of the kids we weren't the police, he led us to the injured boy.

The sight shocked us all into silence. He was only 14 and his condition was dire—his hands were blackened, his chest skin was peeling off, and his face was covered in blood. It seems the boy had fused together about 20 motor ball fireworks to create an ad hoc explosive...He assumed it would be safe, but when he lit it, things took a turn for the worse. Now, third-degree burns are certainly extremely painful, but his attempt to ease the pain was beyond belief...

His solution; chocolate ice cream! I mean, there was chocolate ice cream everywhere—on his face, over his burnt hands, spread across his chest. It was as if he'd had a chocolate cookout! Let me tell you, dairy products are never the solution to serious injuries, folks.

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

40. Too Far Gone

When I was in medical school, I cared for a patient who was homeless and had chronic circulatory problems affecting both of his lower limbs. He developed a wound that became infected, and sadly, the infection began to spread to other parts of his body. In his desperation, he came to believe that toilet cleaner could somehow cure his infection. By the time he came to us for help, his legs were both stained a shocking blue from the cleaner and riddled with maggots.

There's no way I could forget the overwhelming smell... I found it necessary to pop a handful of Altoids into my mouth before putting on my mask just to be able to cope with it—so I would be breathing in my own minty fresh breath. Unfortunately, the poor man decided to leave our care even though we strongly advised against it, because he didn't want to go through with an amputation. Tragically, he passed that same week due to a severe blood clot.

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

41. You're So Vein

I'm employed at a health clinic where we provide services like needle exchanges and harm reduction for Intravenous (IV) substance users. Part of our services includes cleaning and dressing abscesses for them, which occurs quite often.

On this one occasion, a lady walked in like many others before her, looking to get her infection treated. As standard procedure, we took her to the treatment area to prepare for the process.

She had a bandage over a certain part on her arm, which, to us, seemed like a better option as opposed to leaving her wound exposed. However, when she removed the bandage, we were all taken aback by what we saw - not only was there a huge abscess, but a large, four-inch segment of a vein was dry, rotting and hanging out from her arm.

We were shocked even more when she explained that, in order to simplify injection, she had pulled out her vein from the abscess and left it that way. Essentially, she was running her own IV using a vein she'd extracted from her abscess. Without wasting any time, we sent her off to the hospital.

Steph Curry Facts

42. Helping Hand

One day, a sliding window accidentally slammed down on my hand, causing a deep cut on my palm. I immediately applied pressure to it and dialed for an ambulance. Within moments, a police officer arrived on the scene and took it upon himself to administer pressure to the injury. However, his methods were somewhat unconventional - it felt like he was trying to locate my arteries.

Before I knew it, he was wearing his blue gloves and had his thumb lodged in my wound. I couldn't help but scream in agony, pleading with him to remove his thumb from my hand. Despite my protests, he assured me it was necessary to maintain pressure to prevent significant blood loss. Thankfully, the paramedics arrived shortly after to rescue me from this rather zealous officer.

The incident resulted in about 15 stitches and the need for physical therapy.

Worst Misdiagnoses FactsUnsplash

43. Mr. Gullible

I used to be an archaeologist. This one guy on our team, working in Mountain Valley, CA, ended up with a deep cut smackdab in the center of his palm after he slipped and tried to brace himself on a rock. It was an older hippy dude on our crew who, weeks before, had shared his unusual skin care tip: super glue is perfect for fixing skin cracks. Pretty laughable, right?

But anyways, this guy figured it would be a bright idea to patch his wound up with super glue, bandage it, and be back on the job the next day. And there he was, spending all day digging neat holes in the clay with his hand tools. Despite three days of everyone practically begging him to get to a hospital, it wasn't until our crew boss insisted on him removing the bandage to have a look.

Unwrapping the cut, everyone's eyes bugged out. It was entirely green, teetering on the edge of becoming gangrene. Immediately, the boss drove him to the hospital. The moment the nurse got a glimpse of his hand, she couldn't contain her outrage. "WHAT IN THE WORLD DID YOU APPLY TO THIS?" She couldn't believe when he told her. "Superglue?" "SUPER GLUE?! WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND..".

We only came to know about this conversation because that night, our boss couldn't stop retelling the story back at the hotel. It was so funny that it actually inspired the design on our team shirts: "WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND..". plastered right over the pocket. It never fails to bring a smile to my face, that one.

Doctor Visits Took A Horrible Turn factsShutterstock

44. Extra Precaution

My friend who works as an EMT loves to share this story. His team got a call about a potential heart problem at a nearby resort. When they got to the room, the door was shut, but they could hear muffled rhythmic noises coming from inside. They knocked and heard a stuttered, "C-c-come in-in-in". Inside, they found an older man on the floor, shirtless, pumping on his own chest.

They asked him to stop so they could examine him, but he just stared at them in disbelief and refused, stuttering, "I-I-I'll di-die". He explained that his doctor had warned him about potential heart problems. So, he'd been regularly checking his own pulse. When he couldn't find it, he assumed his heart had stopped, and he was trying to save his own life.

They spent a significant amount of time trying to convince the man that if his heart had genuinely stopped, he wouldn't be able to restart it himself. All the while, he kept pounding on his chest, growing increasingly frustrated that the EMTs wouldn't just step in and do their job.

Memorable Last Words factsNeedpix

45. Double-Checking

I'm currently training in urology. I had a situation in the emergency room with a patient suffering from priapism - a condition where a man's erection doesn't subside. He'd been in this state for about eight to ten hours by the time he arrived. Typically, patients seek help sooner than this, but sometimes they hold out. Delaying makes the condition tougher to deal with.

At the side of his bed was his girlfriend; while not a classic beauty, she was his support for the day. My first step was to treat the patient by draining the priapism. I informed him that the procedure could potentially result in erectile dysfunction, but a refusal would result in long-term damage due to scarring and fibrosis. He agreed to go ahead with it.

I used a needle to drain the excess and then flushed the area. This process was repeated numerous times. Thanks to his delay, it took a good two to three hours. Part of the treatment involved injecting phenylephrine to constrict the blood vessels and prevent additional blood flow. I also used a local anesthetic, but it can only numb so much. After a host of punctures, aspirations, and injections, we made good progress reducing the rigidity by about 60%.

Now, keep in mind, the patient was completely conscious in the ER. After the procedure, I suggested he rest for an hour before I returned to check on the situation. In the meantime, I attended to other duties and dropped by after an hour.

It was a shock to find his erection had returned to 90% of its previous state. The patient didn’t seem as concerned. He then admitted he'd stimulated his girlfriend in the ER out of worry about the potential for dysfunction.

As a doctor, the immediate thought was another two to three hours rescuing him from another bout of priapism. Thankfully, when I returned after another 30 minutes, all was well and he could finally head home.

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

46. Lemon Squeezy

I work as a 911 dispatcher. A coworker once shared this wild tale regarding a little boy with a soaring fever who just couldn't stop crying. The paramedics were stunned when they arrived on the scene. The child's mother was busy smearing lemon all over the kid's forehead. She was adamant that this unconventional method would help to reduce his fever.

The mother seemed completely befuddled as to why her baby was still crying. She was insistent that the lemon juice, which she'd been dripping into her son's eyes for the last 20 minutes, couldn't possibly be the reason. Oh, definitely not.

Law Enforcement Creepy Calls FactsShutterstock

47. Sun And Moon

You wouldn't believe this story I heard about a young man in his early 20s, from a poor and uneducated family. This poor guy had a nasty case of tonsillitis but was absolutely against taking any medicine. Instead, he had the most eccentric idea. He was convinced that all he needed to do was "bite the sun". Basically, when the sun was at its highest point at noon, he would tilt his head back, open wide, and pretend to "bite" the sun a few times. He thought that the sun's powerful rays would "burn" away his tonsils, healing him over a couple of weeks.

And if that didn't work, his backup plan was even more bizarre. He was going to try the same thing under a full moon, but at night.

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

48. The Wrong End

While I was on shift in the emergency room, a mature lady came in complaining about a headache and some rear-end discomfort. These two aren't usually related, making her situation a bit unusual. As we started discussing her symptoms, we made an unsettling discovery. This poor woman had been trying to cure her headache with over-the-counter ibuprofen - but she was using it from the wrong end.

Needless to say, she felt quite mortified when we informed her that over-the-counter medication isn't supposed to be used in that way unless clearly stated in the directions.

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

49. Let It Burn

One time, a patient of mine applied Nair to his backside and left it on all night. As you might guess, he woke up with burns that resembled a bedsore. Instead of rushing to the emergency room immediately, he thought he could ease the pain with honey. When this failed, he attempted to wash off the honey using alcohol. Explaining to his roommate how to help him with the wound care was the strangest moment I've ever experienced in my professional life.

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

50. Too Close For Comfort

Four years ago, my girlfriend unexpectedly felt a severe pain in her upper thigh. Despite being fit, the discomfort appeared mysteriously. Her left leg became swollen, and the agony only intensified. I, considering myself a bit of a home doctor, wrongly diagnosed her with a pinched nerve and suggested she walk it off.

I offered this reasonable-sounding solution and for another hour, that was that. We were visiting my parents and her pain was worsening. Acting on my mother's insistence, I agreed to take her to the ER for a check-up. My mother even said she'd cover the expenses. Reluctantly, I thought it best to heed her advice.

We reached the emergency room around 9 pm on a Tuesday. They attended to my girlfriend swiftly and conducted an ultrasound on her thigh. The results were profoundly unsettling. It turned out she had a massive blood clot which was making its way to her brain. If it had reached, she would have unquestionably been in mortal danger.

They quickly scheduled a surgery and uncovered another intricate issue—she was suffering from DVT, a condition that demanded daily self-administered injections. Soon after her initial hospital visit, she underwent a second surgery to detach and then reconnect one of her sizeable veins.

Lowest Point factsPixabay

51. Not Your Ordinary Blackhead

I used to work at a seniors' facility close to my home. One day, I was assisting an elderly gentleman when I noticed a blackhead, about the size of a dime, on top of a noticeable bump on his hip. It was roughly 5 cm long (or about 2 inches). After putting on some gloves and of course, asking for his permission, I decided to try and clear the blackhead. 

Much to my surprise, I ended up pulling out a piece of gauze from the spot. The gauze had been left inside after his hip surgery a decade ago, and for some reason, he never had it removed. The smell was devastatingly terrible. It's a stench I'll never forget.

Medical Horror StoriesShutterstock

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.

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.

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.

Featured Article

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

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 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 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.