Real Medical Plot Twists

October 24, 2023 | Laura Bergen

Real Medical Plot Twists

These medical professionals shared their real-life stories of medical plot twists, ranging from shocking test results to ignorant patient mistakes. Be prepared to be equally surprised, disgusted, and disappointed with humanity.

1. Pain Tolerance

A man in his 50s walked into the trauma unit needing stitches on his left thigh. Quite a routine injury in a farming region, really. As I was fixing him up, he told me he got the cut by falling off a ladder with a machete in hand. I decided he should get a full leg x-ray, just to be safe.

Though he insisted he was fine, and that his knee was sore from the fall, I still urged him to go to radiology. Reluctantly, he went and came back. The X-ray results shocked me. His femur had a spiraling crack along its entire length. The femur is not only a risky bone to break, it's also one of the most painful. Yet, he had been walking around on it.

In the end, I had to literally show him the broken bone on the x-ray to convince him to take a seat in a wheelchair and head off to orthopedics. The sight left him in disbelief. To this day, I'm amazed at that guy's pain threshold.

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2. Not The Antidote You Were Looking For

A woman visited the ER, showing me a bug or spider bite on her hand that now had a red streak reaching all the way to her arm. She informed me she had applied Benadryl cream to it because it was unbearably itchy. As our conversation continued, I asked about any allergies she might have. 

To my astonishment, she answered, "Yes, Benadryl!" We quickly cleaned off the Benadryl cream on her arm, and to our relief, the itching ceased.

True Medical Plot TwistsWikimedia Commons

3. Forgot To Mention…

This patient was one of my earliest cases during medical school. She was on a waiting list for an intestinal transplant, so naturally, we probed into her past medical history. Despite our numerous inquiries, she kept insisting she was immaculate health-wise before her current situation. 

It was only when we specifically asked, "Do you take any medications at home?" that we uncovered the full picture. She casually mentioned, "Oh, just the meds I take for the lupus". I was so taken aback, I almost lost it right there.

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4. Is This Really Necessary?

So, I found myself working in a region that was heavily populated by Mennonites. One day, a mother from the community called our clinic. She was in a bit of a panic because a wheel had malfunctioned and, sadly, one of the spokes had hit her young child in the eye. But that wasn't what made my jaw DROP.

The purpose behind her call was to find out if medical attention was necessary. She explained to us that they had managed to remove the spoke, and she was certain that her child's eye couldn't be saved. So, she questioned whether she really needed to bring him in to be checked by a doctor. 

Our response was clear: absolutely, yes. Without a doubt, yes.

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5. Fullmetal Toe

I once performed a successful bunion and hammertoe operation on a woman who didn't have any known allergies, at least according to her medical records. Regardless, as a standard practice, I always inquire about potential metal allergies, especially when I plan to implant any hardware during surgery.

About 18 hours after the procedure, while I was on call, I received a distressing complaint of severe pain from her. I immediately advised her on what to do. However, the following morning, before I even got to my office, she was already there, looking extremely unwell. 

I could tell from just one glance that something had seriously gone wrong with her. She was in unbearable pain, sweating extensively, had high blood pressure, and her foot had significantly swelled. I was forced to recommend her admission to the hospital due to her unmanageable pain. 

Hospital tests showed that her eosinophils were high, but everything else was normal, so it wasn't an infection. The hospital physician believed her symptoms were akin to complex regional pain syndrome, but I kept pondering what could have gone wrong. I was just out of my residency five months ago and this case was seriously daunting. 

Considering her unusually high eosinophil count, I took a wild guess and inquired if she had any allergy to jewelry. Interestingly, she confirmed that she once had a tongue piercing that caused severe swelling and had to remove it the next day. Turns out, she was allergic to Nickel. 

Although we couldn't confirm it because we couldn't get an allergist, it was the most logical theory consistent with the hardware I used. After removing the Nickel hardware and replacing it with titanium ones, her pain subsided. 

I could only remember one allergy-related case from my residency out of the 3,000 cases I was involved in, and had it not been for that experience, diagnosing this particular case could have been a real mess. Now, I make it a habit to ask every patient if they've ever experienced any reactions to jewelry. 

It's surprising how many patients don't think about issues with jewelry as potential metal allergies.

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6. Family Matters

When I was in my psychiatry residency, I carried out an assessed 30-minute consultation with a new patient without any knowledge of their past medical records. I used 29 minutes to gather critical medical and psychiatric history. With just a minute left, I chose to delve a bit deeper into his early years. 

He responded, "My childhood was pretty rough. I witnessed my father harm my mom and then himself". Of course, I didn't have the necessary time to process that revelation and, as a result, didn't do well on my evaluation.

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7. Not So Routine

There was this man in his 50s who was getting acupuncture for numbness and weakness that was spreading down his legs. After two months of no progress with acupuncture, he decided to see a general practitioner. By then, he was also beginning to have difficulty going to the bathroom. 

Once we started talking, it was clear to me that his symptoms were indicative of spinal cord compression—a serious medical emergency. We immediately had him admitted to the hospital. The medical scans revealed the awful truth.

He had cancer, with a tumor putting pressure on his spine. Even though he began cancer treatments and steroids that same day, it was, unfortunately, a bit too late. He eventually lost the ability to walk and, a few months later, lost his battle with cancer. 

It was a tragic and frustrating situation because these symptoms typically raise immediate alarms for anyone in the medical field.

True Medical Plot TwistsFlickr, Kim Siever

8. Tooth Tales

I had a patient, a man in his 60s, who needed all his remaining teeth extracted. According to what he told us and his medical record, he wasn't on any medication. So, I proceeded to extract his last eight teeth; it was fairly simple because they were affected by infections and periodontal disease. 

After extraction, however, I encountered a serious problem. I had difficulty stopping his bleeding. I questioned him again about any medication he might be on. After nearly an hour, I managed to stabilize the bleeding but not without consulting our surgeon.

A few months later, during a consultation about dental implants with the surgeon, the patient confessed he was on blood pressure and blood thinning medications. I was wrong for not being told about these important facts. I made the decision not to treat him anymore following this incident.

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9. Trash Day

During my internship as a paramedic in the emergency room, we had an elderly gentleman walk in who couldn't stop a bleed from his thumb. Upon removing his bandage, the nurse came across a shocking scene: a large, bloody wound where his thumb USED TO BE. 

Seeing this, the nurse asked him about the location of his detached thumb. The old man inquired if it was a Thursday (or whatever day it was). He confirmed that his thumb must have been discarded with the day's trash. 

Surprisingly, the unfortunate incident with his lawnmower that resulted in losing his thumb had occurred three days before he arrived at the hospital for help.

True Medical Plot TwistsFlickr, Jo Zimny Photos

10. Not Just The Flu

I once had a patient visit my clinic when I was a resident in internal medicine; her complaint was of a "lingering flu". This was my first time meeting her, a seemingly healthy-looking woman in her 60s. 

A month prior to our appointment, she had gone to her primary care doctor because of an ongoing cough. Otherwise, she didn't seem to have any other flu symptoms, such as shortness of breath, and never complained about her cough being anything but dry.

After getting a flu test that came out negative, she was prescribed tamiflu, just in case the result was a mistake. A chest x-ray was also carried out, but nothing abnormal showed up. Fast-forward a month and she was sitting in my office, still troubled by the cough even after finishing her medication. 

As I performed a physical examination on her, everything appeared perfectly normal. Heart and lungs were sounding good. Though it wasn't usually in my practice, something within me urged me to dig a little deeper. So, I decided to check for any swollen lymph nodes.

I felt something hard and round situated above her left collarbone. The woman was entirely unaware of its existence. I assured her that it was likely just an inflamed lymph node, yet decided to arrange an ultrasound just as a precaution. This led to a biopsy being done which, unexpectedly, identified squamous cell lung cancer. 

A CT scan was carried out, and it revealed a stage IV lung cancer which hadn't been spotted in the chest x-ray. The diagnosis came down to a lymph node that I just so happened to discover during a thorough examination. A year after her journey filled with challenges and complications, I checked her medical file. 

Turns out she endured and recovered. She received treatment and was, at that point, in remission. I will always remember her case, it was a close call which serves as a crucial reminder.

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11. Don’t Forget To Make Your Meds

I had a dental extraction to carry out, so first up was a thorough medical history check. My patient revealed they had both diabetes and hypertension. These are major concerns when it comes to extractions because they can cause bleeding to spiral out of control. 

Unless the patient is religious in taking their medication and refrains from any blood thinners for at least five days before the procedure, we're usually looking at a pretty messy situation. 

I questioned the intelligent, middle-aged lady several times about whether she was diligent in taking her prescribed diabetes medication and if she carried out regular home checks on her blood sugar levels. Assuring me that she hadn't missed a day in over two years, she insisted she was extremely disciplined about her health and would definitely let me know if she neglected her medication.

Just to be on the safe side though, I asked her to take a quick blood sugar test. I couldn't believe it. Her reading came back at 282mg, almost double the usual level. It wasn't even a close call. I asked for an explanation and she looked genuinely shocked, continuing to insist that she'd been taking her medication. 

I then asked her to show me her medications instead of just naming them. That’s when the truth finally surfaced. She casually mentioned, "Oh, I don’t have it on me right now, I prepare it whenever needed". PREPARE. 

Turns out, her daily "medication" was homemade bitter gourd juice, as she found her prescribed pills too large to swallow. She was absolutely convinced that this was the only treatment she needed for her diabetes. Astonishing, considering she's a high school teacher.

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12. Check The Calendar

During my last years of medical school at a European university where I was fluent in the local language, we were tasked with conducting patient interviews and physical exams independently, then reporting back to our instructor. I was handling translation duties between a patient from the infectious diseases department and a classmate with whom I was carrying out the interview.

The patient remarked, "Kudos to you guys for coming in on a Saturday to attend to patients!" This surprised me because it was actually Friday, but I brushed it off as a simple mistake. My classmate then asked me to confirm the date with the patient. 

I hesitated, thinking, "Are you sure about this? Isn't that kind of condescending? He's here for an infection, not head trauma". Even though I thought the question was unnecessary, my classmate insisted, so I went ahead and asked. The patient's answer surprised us. "Oh, it's 2002, of course!" he said, though it was the year 2018. 

Upon further probing, his responses continued to indicate he believed it was 2002—he even referred to a trip to Africa as having happened "about 15 years ago," dating it to the '80s. As a shocking revelation, it was discovered that he had neurosyphilis that had been undiagnosed for numerous years.

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13. Bump On The Head

Not long after I finished my degree, I was working for the army when a soldier came into our Emergency Room. He'd just come back from his holiday and was suffering from an intense headache—the result of a bottle hitting him the day before. 

At first, I wasn't too concerned as he was wide awake and his medical history had nothing out of the ordinary. That was, until I conducted a thorough check up and discovered he had abnormally high blood pressure and a slow heartbeat.

Rather than keeping him there, I decided it was best to send him to a larger hospital. Well, lo and behold, it turns out he had a significant subdural hematoma—which is a fancy term for a brain bleed. It still amazes me how this guy was able to walk around as if everything was perfectly fine.

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14. Under The Covers

When I was working on a broad medical floor, I came across a young patient in his 20s who complained of joint pain, signs of a urinary tract infection, and an aching eye. We had a suspicion it might be reactive arthritis.

I told him, "Sir, we've reviewed the test results that we spoke about earlier today. Just like we initially thought, it seems like there's some inflammation. Usually, this kind of problem is a result of food poisoning or STDs like chlamydia. I asked you before, but just to make sure, have you recently experienced any stomach issues?"

"None at all," he responded. So I double-checked, "So, there's been no suspicious food from a takeaway or a barbecue? No unexplained vomiting or diarrhea?" He confirmed again that he hadn't.

I then asked, "Okay. Have you ever been sexually active?" His response was "No". I wanted to be sure, so I clarified "That would mean any form of sexual activity, including..." providing some examples. He reiterated, "No".

Finding this unusual, I told him, "Alright, that's not the usual case. I'm going to discuss this with my supervisor and will return".

Before I could leave, he shared, "There is something I'd like to discuss. Lately, I've noticed what looks like pus in my urine. Could it be chlamydia from a girl I was with a few weeks ago?" In my mind, I thought: "That's very possible, sir. Very possible".

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15. Scarred

A few years back, when I was still studying, I had a peculiar incident during an exam where I was required to conduct a physical examination of a patient. I started off by asking him about his past medical experiences. 

I asked, "Have you ever had an operation?" He said, "No". I continued to inquire, "That means you've never been admitted to a hospital, right?" Again, he replied, "No". I wound up my conversation and asked him to take off his shirt so I could start the physical check-up. 

The moment he did, I could clearly see a large scar smack-dab in the center of his chest. Taken aback, I asked, "Can you tell me how you got this scar?" He casually replied, "Oh, this? This is from the time I had an open heart surgery a few years ago!"

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16. Same Problem, Different Hospital

A woman came to the ER with stomach pain. She was from Pakistan and couldn't speak any English. Some strange scars were on the right side of her belly which she said were from an appendix surgery a long time ago. 

We asked her if she'd ever had problems like gallstones or surgeries related to her gallbladder. But she was adamant that she'd never experienced this sort of pain before or had those medical conditions. Well, at the hospital, she was in discomfort and undergoing a series of tests. 

Her liver check-up was fine, the readings from the abdominal x-ray weren't clearly showing any problems, and the ultrasound couldn't pinpoint the issue. However, the CT scan suggested various adhesions that complicated our understanding (something not out of the ordinary given that her previous appendicitis was severe). 

ERCP (a specialized endoscopy test that focuses on imaging the bile duct/bladder and so on) could show the common bile duct and hepatic duct, but not the gallbladder because it seemed blocked, possibly by a stone, in line with her symptoms.

We agreed to take a cautious approach because surgery in such a situation, with likely many complicated adhesions, could create more troubles than it would solve. After a few days, her son came. 

Yes, she frequently experiences such pain. No, it's not as severe as she makes it out to be, and the scars, he revealed, were actually from a gallbladder removal surgery. He told us she doesn't really know English, but she's also always in and out of hospitals in Pakistan with this issue.

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17. Baby Blues

A woman visited our maternity and women's health department, troubled by experiencing bleeding twice in one month and indefinite stomach pain. She thought it was simply an irregular period, possibly due to stress or a hormone imbalance, and was seeking medication to manage the symptoms. However, during our conversation, she suddenly felt light-headed and passed out.

When she woke up, she reassured us it was probably because she hadn't eaten breakfast. We suggested she take a pregnancy test, as a precaution, along with a standard ultrasound. Brushing off our advice, she insisted she was perfectly fine and just needed something to regularize her menstrual cycle. 

Upon persistence from our side, she finally agreed to a pregnancy test, which turned out to be positive. As it happens, she was dealing with a burst ectopic pregnancy, causing her to go into shock due to internal bleeding, hence the fainting spell. Fortuitously, we were able to promptly address the situation. 

Digging more deeply into her medical background, we found out that she had previously had an ectopic pregnancy, but didn't consider it crucial enough to bring up. That would have been useful information.

True Medical Plot TwistsFlickr, Marco Verch Professional Photographer

18. Just A Headache?

This happened back in my student days. A man, aged around his 20s or 30s, showed up in the ER suffering from a severe headache. He described his pain as agonizing, and his condition certainly reflected that. 

Everyone initially suspected it was an extreme migraine, especially after he began to throw up—my superior included, whom I obviously had to update. When I probed further, asking if he had experienced anything similar before, he mentioned a past visit to the Neurology department a year ago that trailed off due to a missed appointment.

Feeling uneasy about my superior's decision to discharge him, something in my gut told me that there was more to his situation. Armed with this hunch, I approached the Neurology team with my concerns about the patient. After their assessment, they recommended him for a head CT scan. 

Shockingly, the scan revealed a tumor taking up nearly half his brain.

True Medical Plot TwistsWikimedia Commons

19. Don’t You Put It In Your Mouth…

I'm yet to become a doctor, but I've been working as an ER tech for a couple of years now. One time, a mother came in with her baby and two older children, complaining that her baby hadn't had a bowel movement in days and wouldn't stop crying. As a nurse, I helped them get comfortable while the baby cried loudly.

Out of nowhere, the mother pulls out a white shopping bag and places it in her baby's mouth, claiming it to be the only thing that silences her cries. The sight left the nurse and me stunned. We quickly ordered an urgent x-ray for the baby's stomach. The result? 

The baby had actually swallowed a large amount of bag material, causing a potentially deadly blockage in her stomach. When we questioned the mother about her baby's diet, she defended herself saying, "Well, I've reviewed the bag thoroughly and found no warning labels indicating it’s not edible".

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20. Not Just Butterflies In The Stomach

During my time as a resident physician in internal medicine, I met a nice 50-year-old woman from the Dominican Republic. Polite as she was, it was evident that she wasn't highly intellectual. 

When I was reviewing her medical records before our first meeting, I saw that she'd consulted with every single gastroenterologist in our hospital system. Even more, she'd had all possible digestive procedures imaginable.

This collection of procedures included everything from endoscopies to an exploratory laparotomy, which is a surgery where they open you up to look inside when they can't figure out what's wrong. All this medical attention was triggered by her one persistent complaint over the years: a severe gnawing pain in her stomach. 

Now, it's essential to mention that she could only converse in Spanish. Furthermore, she had a strong Dominican accent. Surprisingly, I was her first Hispanic doctor. As a native Spanish speaker, I even struggled to understand her. After we exchanged initial greetings, I asked how she was doing. 

Despite her smile and her statement claiming she was well, she pointed at her stomach and said it was "biting" again, asking for a cream to kill "it". This sparked my curiosity since her medication list just included a cream used for treating herpes outbreaks. The prior doctor's notes indicated that she only ever asked for this cream during her appointments. 

Wondering about her explanation for the biting and how she would use the cream, I asked her. I was shocked when she nonchalantly told me she'd use the cream rectally to kill the bird she believed was living inside her. Digging further into her story, it became clear that she didn't have any physical health issue. 

Instead, she had a lifelong belief that, after consuming a quail egg, the bird hatched inside her and gnawed her insides when she was extremely hungry. This landed her a visit to psychiatry where she was diagnosed with a somatic type delusional disorder.

No form of medication or psychotherapy seemed to help her, yet she was a fully functional mom of two, a taxpayer, and held two part-time jobs. In an effort to protect her, I connected back with all the gastroenterologists in our hospital to ensure she wouldn't have unnecessary invasive procedures. 

I've been overseeing her case for the past three years and she seems happy, despite the fact that she believes she has a foreign bird tenant...

True Medical Plot TwistsFlickr, EU Civil Protection

21. Open Wide

I'm a med school student, currently interning at a local clinic in a small town. A woman in her 70s came to me, worried about a tiny, painless lump that she spotted at the back of her throat. I grabbed my light to get a closer look and struggled to hold back my laughter. Apparently, she had just noticed her uvula after seven long decades.

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22. Born That Way

While I was doing my residency in a bustling city in the northeastern part of the USA, I had an encounter in the clinic. A lovely woman, who appeared to be in her 50s, came in for a routine check. The visit was going smoothly until she out-of-the-blue asked me if there were any new vaccines available. 

She was already up-to-date with her shots, so I asked her if there were any specific issues she was concerned about. Surprisingly, she was innocently inquiring if she could possibly vaccinate her adult son, who happens to be gay, against his orientation.

Through it all, she remained very kind and consistently had a cheerful demeanor, even when I conveyed to her the "unfortunate" news.

True Medical Plot TwistsFlickr, Asian Development Bank

23. Stomach Ache

So, there's this 19-year-old guy who walks into the emergency room. As I'm taking his history, I ask him, "What brings you here?" He responds, "Every morning, I wake up with a stomach ache". I press on, asking, "How long has this been happening?" He drops a bombshell—"All my life".

I'm curious, and I ask, "What changed today that made you decide to visit?" He replies, "My girlfriend told me it's not normal". We continue with more inquiries, an examination by the ER doctor, and some lab tests. Something peculiar surfaces—his abdominal pain always disappears after eating, without fail. This is a daily routine for him.

Interestingly enough, he conflates his hunger pangs with the pain.

True Medical Plot TwistsFlickr, Marco Verch Professional Photographer

24. Just Some Soreness

During my work at a general practice, I had an appointment booked with a patient. By going through his file, I noticed a history of knee and shoulder pain. Given he’s in his 70s, my initial thought was arthritis. I planned to inspect his aching joints, ask a few questions, prescribe some pain relief medication, and wrap it up quickly.

When I invited him into my office, he walked in happily, took a seat, and greeted me with a smile. "I've been noticing you have some joint pain lately. What can you tell me about that?" I asked him. He then told me about his knee pain. After examining his knee and gathering more information, everything seemed normal. 

When I asked if there were any other problems, he mentioned some neck discomfort too. After inspecting his neck, everything seemed to be in order there too. He then thanked me and prepared to leave. As he was about to go, I asked, "Before you leave, are you sure there's no other discomfort?" I'm incredibly grateful I asked him that. 

He then slowly sat back down and explained that he had been experiencing a heavy, centralized pain in his chest that was spreading down his left arm and into his jaw since the previous night and felt somewhat short of breath. He also shared how he felt an unusual sense of doom when the pain occurred.

I know that not all of you reading this are doctors, but you might recognize these as classic signs of a heart attack (MI). I immediately called for an ambulance and he was swiftly transported to the hospital for a Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI, a procedure where a catheter is inserted via the arteries to locate and remove the blockage in the coronary artery).

True Medical Plot TwistsFlickr, Judy Baxter

25. Name Game

I work as a paramedic. Once, I assisted in the birth of a baby right in our ambulance and gently laid the newborn on their mother's chest. Not recalling the baby's gender, I asked the mom about its name. She gave me a puzzled glance and said, "I thought you were the one to name it". Honestly, I was taken aback because I didn't expect her to think that.

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26. Minty Fresh

I recently attended to a patient visiting for a follow-up, post his three successive day visits to the Emergency Room due to asthma. This was our first interaction since he was an international patient. His lung condition seemed remarkably bad, although he affirmed taking the medication every two-to-four hours without experiencing relief. 

This made me extremely suspicious as the same medication was effective during his ER visits. In order to clarify, I requested him to demonstrate how he was administering the medication. To my surprise, he held the inhaler about a foot away from his mouth and puffed twice, as if he was using a breath freshener, following it up with a swallow. 

My heart ached for him. Apparently, he'd never been taught about his condition or how to correctly use his medication.

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27. The Math Checks Out…

I once held a job at a country clinic for obstetrics and gynecology. I recommended a patient of mine take vitamin B6 as a way to alleviate her morning sickness and general nausea. After several weeks with no relief, she got back in touch. Something was amiss.

I wanted to know if she had been taking the B6 vitamins as advised. Her answer truly made my day: She let me know that her local Walmart wasn't stocking Vitamin B6 at the time. So, she settled for Vitamin B12 and thought halving them would work just as well.

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28. Parched

In Mexico, we have a unique system known as social service. This is because some of our college education is free, but in return, we must work for a year in a rural area. In my first month on duty, I met a woman in her 30s who often felt "off" in the mornings. 

She described waking up with a dry mouth that eventually clears up within an hour or two. Naturally, I asked, "So, how much water do you usually consume in a day?" She casually replied, "Well, I might have a glass or two. One at breakfast and then maybe another one sometime during the day". 

On enquiring if she understood the concept of thirst, she quipped, "Yes, it's the feeling that drives you to drink water so you can then urinate, right?" This led to us having a lengthy conversation about what thirst really is and how it impacts our bodies. I also had to impress upon her the importance of drinking plenty of water.

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29. Hormone Imbalance

I'm a doctor specializing in children's health. One time, I had a 13-year-old patient referred to me (for a different problem, I can't recall exactly) and during our conversation, I asked if he was currently on any medication. As a response, out came birth control pills from the boy's mother. Quite honestly, I was taken aback. 

It turned out that his family doctor had prescribed these birth control pills to help with his acne. That's right. A fully certified physician had suggested a teenage boy going through puberty should ingest female hormones to combat his acne issues. From what I gathered, he had been following this routine for about a year now.

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30. Follow Directions

I once had a unique experience while working as a nurse in an urgent care unit. One patient came in with a severe scrape on his leg as a result of a tumble down some stairs. Among other treatments, the doctor prescribed him a topical cream with the seemingly simple instruction: "apply to the affected area".

But during subsequent visits, it was noticeable that the wound was in a bad condition and showed no signs of healing. The patient defended himself, stating he was indeed applying the cream to the "affected area," yet it wasn't helping his injury at all.

This led the doctor to suspect the patient wasn't using the cream correctly, so he requested him to show us how he was applying it, thinking we might be able to provide additional assistance. But the patient claimed he couldn't do that because we weren't at his home, where his staircase was. 

It turned out that the patient had been applying the cream on the actual stairs he fell down, following the instructions "rub on affected area" quite literally!

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31. Brothers Who Herniate Together…

During my time as a medical student, I had an interesting encounter with a patient and his sibling. The patient had come in for a routine check-up after a hernia operation. Shockingly, I uncovered that he had another hernia, the size of a baseball. His brother, however, had an even larger problem—a hernia the size of a football, prominently visible through his shorts on his left leg. 

It seemed to be an inguinal hernia, and it was so large that he was using it as an armrest. When questioned if it bothered him at all, he calmly responded saying, "My brother experienced pain with his hernias, but I haven't, so I believed this was just an unusual abnormality". 

I was taken aback and hoped he was downplaying his predicament, but we strongly suggested he seek immediate medical attention.

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32. Unplanned

When I was interning, I once had a late night shift at the emergency room's triage section. If you aren't sure what that is, the triage area is where we assess patients to see how urgently they need medical attention. A little background: I'm from a developing country and work in a public hospital built for underserved communities.

Instead of having one hospital for all specialties, we have three separate ones: the main hospital, one specifically for obstetrics and gynaecology, and a children's hospital. So, I met this woman around her late thirties. She mentioned experiencing severe pain in her lower abdomen, rating it a full ten. 

She didn't show signs of food poisoning, kidney stones or a urinary tract infection. I then asked her about her most recent menstrual cycle. While she couldn't remember the exact date, she did mention it was around four months ago. I quickly realized her condition might be pregnancy-related and directed her and her family to the hospital across the street. 

It all came down to one thing—we didn't have OB-GYN specialists on site, and if it were a matter requiring general surgery, they had surgeons available at the other hospital. Just about twenty minutes later, we received a call. That woman had given birth in the triage section of the other hospital.

True Medical Plot TwistsFlickr, The White Ribbon Alliance

33. Bodily Tricks

I had this patient who was wondering why her ribs had been hurting pretty regularly. That's when she did something that took me aback. She slid her hand right under her ribs and started shaking it around. Definitely an image that stuck with me...

After investigating, we found out there were other strange things she was capable of—feats that, honestly, no one should be able to do. Turns out, she was suffering from a subtype of Ehlers Danlos syndrome. Caught me off guard, let me tell you.

The most shocking part? I was so focused on her rib popping in and out—an unusual sight in itself—that it didn't even hit me how terrifying it was that she could sneak her hand under her ribs in the first place. It wasn't till I was retelling the whole incident to a colleague that it really sank in.

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34. Giant Junk

I work as a nurse. One day, another colleague requested my assistance in installing a urinary catheter for a patient. As I entered the room, I was shocked by what I saw: The patient had the largest scrotum I'd ever seen—think the size of a basketball. 

The other nurse was struggling to insert the catheter due to the inability to locate the entry area beneath the significant swelling. I opened a fresh catheter kit and attempted to find the urethra for about a quarter of an hour, but with no success. We had to call in Urology to accomplish this task. 

In the meantime, I got a chance to chat with the patient about his condition and why he hadn't sought medical help earlier. Apparently, the swelling had been developing for months. The patient, a computer programmer, led a sedentary lifestyle and hardly left his bed. 

It was sad to find out that his life partner, who was present during our conversation, also hadn't realized the seriousness of the situation to seek prompt medical attention. As you might guess, the area was infected.

True Medical Plot TwistsPxhere, Alan Levine

35. Stroke Of Luck

Just last week, I checked in a gent who arrived in the emergency department complaining about a tingling feeling on his right side, which had been bothering him for the past few days. 

It seemed he might have had a stroke. But, as we dug deeper into his medical issues, we found he also had a serious, rapidly spreading infection in his thighs, and private areas. This was so severe, it called for immediate surgery. Can you believe he wouldn't have even thought of seeking medical help if it wasn't for what seemed like a stroke?

True Medical Plot TwistsPxhere

36. Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

This woman experienced lengthy, heavy menstrual cycles, along with itching and discomfort. She initially assumed these symptoms were related to the periods, and potentially, a yeast infection. However, despite two weeks passing, the itching remained persistent. Concerned, she decided to seek professional advice. 

During her pelvic exam, the unthinkable occurred: maggots. Due to her severe overweight condition, she wasn't keeping herself properly examined. She used sanitary pads, but likely didn't change them as frequently as she should have. She didn't pay close attention to observe any abnormalities. 

She could have noticed something off if she had considered using a mirror but usually, she didn't self-inspect. Here's a piece of advice for everyone, regardless of gender: Make use of a mirror to check your private areas and all hidden corners routinely. 

Various conditions like yeast infections, cellulitis, vaginitis, boils, hemorrhoids, epididymitis, testicular cancer, and the like do affect many young individuals regularly. Even if there doesn't seem to be a problem, it's crucial to perform regular checks on yourself. Be familiar with your body in its regular state. This way, you'll notice if something changes.

True Medical Plot TwistsWikimedia Commons

37. Not Pregnant

During my training in obstetrics and gynecology, a lady came in to get a special procedure known as hysterosalpingogram. She was there to find out why she was having trouble conceiving. A

fter going through the final comments of the medical report, it was clear that the medical team had started the procedure but had to stop it. They ended the report with "IUD is in place". 

Turns out, this woman was hoping to have another baby but completely forgot she had a tiny device inside her uterus to prevent pregnancy...

True Medical Plot TwistsWikimedia Commons

38. Second Skin

I work in healthcare, specifically in a clinic that focuses on falls and balance. One day, I asked a patient to remove their shoes and socks. Taking off the shoes was easy but they seemed to struggle quite a bit with their socks. After watching them wrestle with this for about five minutes, I stepped in and offered to help, curiously asking how they normally managed.

As I started taking off their socks, they made a disturbing confession: They hadn't been able to remove them for several months. The surprise hit me like a gust of wind when a cloud of dead skin flew about as I peeled the sock back. 

I had to muster up some courage to continue pulling the sock off because the patient's skin had somehow started weaving itself into the sock's fabric. Their nails were excessively long and had elongated to an extent where they were curling around the toes, causing discomfort as they dug into the skin underneath. 

Their skin had also begun to break down, which made me realize the severity of the situation. Needless to say, those socks were disposed of immediately and thoroughly incinerated.

True Medical Plot TwistsWikimedia Commons

39. Not Normal

Hello, I'm an oncologist. I'd like to share an experience from my medical school days. I was conducting a check-up for a patient complaining of foot pain. When I rolled up his pants, I spotted a sizable tumor named basal cell carcinoma. I asked him, quite surprised, why he hadn't sought another doctor's advice when the tumor started to grow. 

He confessed that he assumed it was ordinary. But let me clarify, if you ever spot a red, expanding tumor anywhere on your body, please remember—it is not normal.

True Medical Plot TwistsWikimedia Commons

40. Putting On A Show

Let me tell you this story from when I was a nurse. There was a 67-year-old woman who believed she was pregnant because her belly looked like she was nearing the end of the term—in a sense that she appeared to be carrying a basketball in her abdomen, as some pregnant ladies do. But remember, she was 67. 

As it turned out, it wasn't a baby, but a 37-pound ovarian cyst. I even asked if I could witness the operation. The cyst was removed in one whole piece, making a sound I'll never forget. This was back in the day at a local hospital, way before HIPAA came along. 

The lab folks decided to invite anyone who was interested to come take a look at this extraordinary specimen before it was sent for pathological examination. The queue during lunch was so immense it seemed like they were handing out complimentary tickets to a music gig.

Hope that's never me, never ready for that.

True Medical Plot TwistsShutterstock

41. Checking In

I work as a medical assistant at a pediatric clinic. About two years back, a woman walked in with a deep cut on her heel which she'd been ignoring for several weeks. When I removed the homemade dressing from her wounded foot, I was shocked to see maggots feasting on her flesh.

She told me she assumed the tingling sensation she had been experiencing was standard and just wanted to get it verified. Another medical assistant and I had the unpleasant task of removing six maggots from her foot. Her negligence of not seeking immediate medical help after sustaining such an injury left me utterly bewildered.

True Medical Plot TwistsPexels

42. Free Vitamins

While I'm not a licensed medical professional, my job as a Spanish medical interpreter entails supporting a variety of healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses, in communicating with Spanish-speaking patients who have a limited grasp of English. 

Besides translating a range of unusual and sometimes bizarre scenarios first-hand, which can occasionally be quite disturbing, I also experience many intriguing moments. I have loads of stories to tell, but the one that stands out the most is about a young Spanish-speaking lady who consulted a fertility clinic because she was struggling to become pregnant. 

In a session with the doctor, she revealed, "I have a four-year-old, but I've not been able to conceive since I moved to the States a year ago. I don't think I'm infertile, so I'm not sure what's going wrong. Can you please help me?" The doctor reassured her, "You've come to the right place". 

He then proceeded to ask her general health-related questions. Looking at her medical record, the doctor said, "Interestingly, the records indicate that you're on a birth control injection treatment, also known as Depo-Provera. Is that right?" 

The patient confirmed, "Yes, I've been on it for about a year—ever since I got to the States. In fact, I had my last injection just last week". Taken aback, the doctor pointed out, "Well, the reason you're not able to get pregnant is that you're on birth control. As long as you're on this treatment, you won't be able to conceive, hence it's termed 'birth control'". 

The patient was astounded and replied, "Oh, I had no idea! Everything has such technical and confusing names. I assumed it was some kind of supplement". Situations like these sometimes shake my faith in common sense.

True Medical Plot TwistsFlickr, United Nations Photo

43. Special Elixir

When I was a medical student, we went on a study visit to a clinic in the country where I was studying. Impressively, many people had managed to nurse and heal ghastly injuries by applying a homemade mixture of soil, motor oil, and the saliva of a local elderly woman, even on an exposed bone of an arm, and similar wounds. 

I remember this one young woman, in her 20s, came to us suffering from breast cancer. It was a type that grew like a hard lump out of the skin, similar to a mushroom or a mold. It would bleed easily just by touching it. Her family had a mindset that frowned upon showing injuries or any physical "imperfections". 

So, she believed covering it up would eventually help the issue go away. But that was far from the truth.

True Medical Plot TwistsPexels

44. Lucky Break

A man arrived at the Emergency Room after an accident at home. He and his wife were just having fun, chasing each other through the kitchen. Unfortunately, he made a sudden left turn, slipped, and fell to his side. Being a large gentleman, falling can be a bit more distressing for him. 

The moment he couldn't put weight on his leg, he instantly knew he was seriously injured. Still, he managed to crawl to the couch, where he claimed the pain was bearable. That night, he chose to sleep on the couch to avoid climbing the stairs. In the morning, the couple scheduled a visit to the ER to avoid waiting all day. 

However, we didn't have an available slot until two in the afternoon, so they stayed home. The man was obviously in some constant pain, but it didn't seem critical at the time. When they finally arrived at the hospital, we examined the man and found out he had fractured his hip. 

Amazingly, the entire ball joint at the top of his femur had snapped off. It was shocking that he was not just awake and alert, but also sitting upright. He'd even slept through the night. We informed them that they should've come in the previous night, possibly in an ambulance. Fixing his hip required surgery and some heavy-duty bolts to reattach the ball joint.

However, the most surprising discovery was yet to come. It's incredibly odd for a fit man in his thirties to fracture his femur from merely standing up. Following multiple tests and an MRI, we found out that he had early-stage osteoporosis caused by a pituitary tumor in his brain. So, surprisingly, his slippery socks led us to discover an inconspicuous brain tumor.

True Medical Plot TwistsPexels

45. Chipped Tooth

I'm employed in a dentist's office. One day, a worried patient comes in for a checkup because she thinks she's chipped a part of her tooth. But as we take a closer look, we realize it's not a broken tooth we're dealing with. Instead, it's a chunk of calculus or tartar—a tough, hardened substance that covers your teeth when they aren't cleaned regularly. 

Sometimes it's minor deposits, but in this lady's case, a whole 'bridge' of tartar was cloaking her real teeth. She had mistakenly assumed it was part of her tooth and was quite taken aback when we told her that her real teeth were invisible to us. To eliminate all of it, she would require a substantial cleaning session.

True Medical Plot TwistsPexels

46. Broken Body

One person came to me, complaining about pain in their hip and thigh. They couldn't even rest on that leg for more than half a minute without experiencing pain. Despite their belief that it was muscle-related, I suspected it might actually be pain radiating from their back. 

After a series of x-rays, they discovered that in the past, they had actually fractured their hip, had a loose bone chip in the hip area, suffered from degenerative disc disease, a spinal birth defect, and even mild scoliosis. Talk about an unexpected revelation.

True Medical Plot TwistsPexels

47. Heroes Don’t Feel Pain

I came across a young woman who'd been struck by a car, with her very distraught boyfriend standing right by her side. I quickly gave her a basic physical check, gathered some medical history, and tried to soothe her as we awaited the arrival of an ambulance. 

Upon the paramedics' arrival, they asked for the exact same information, leading me to a shocking realization. As it turned out, it was actually the boyfriend who had taken the brunt of the car's impact, not the girlfriend. He had protected her by positioning his body as a shield against the car. 

The car's windshield was deeply cracked, marking the intense impact of his back. His main concern was for his girlfriend's safety, so he hadn't yet noticed the shock setting in, nor had he started feeling any pain.

True Medical Plot TwistsFlickr, Inventorchris

48. When You Can’t Go…

I work as an emergency radiologist, and I often encounter patients who come in with seemingly minor symptoms that end up being indicators of severely advanced diseases. One case that still deeply affects me is a four-year-old boy who was suffering from abdominal stiffness for a few months. 

His pediatrician initially thought it was just constipation, but his parents didn't seek further treatment when his condition didn't improve. While performing an abdominal scan for the little boy, I discovered a mass that had completely taken over his liver, implying he had hepatoblastoma, a type of liver tumor. 

I spoke to his parents and asked why they had taken so long to get this checked out. They just told me they were content with the constipation diagnosis. That encounter, I must admit, really ruined me.

True Medical Plot TwistsWikimedia Commons

49. Below The Belt

A young man in his twenties visited the hospital, struggling with several health issues that, sadly, might end his life before 40. Currently, he was battling with an infection. We'd been treating him with antibiotics, which were working, albeit not as efficiently as we had hoped. After about a week of his stay, I entered his room for a conversation.

During our talk, he mentioned that during his last visit to the hospital, he had undergone a medically induced circumcision. I requested if I could inspect the area to ensure everything was healing fine. I must admit, I was taken aback by the sight. The area was severely infected and had turned black.

I was puzzled as to how a married man in his twenties, along with his wife, hadn't thought it necessary to bring this alarming issue to anyone's attention over the past week.

True Medical Plot TwistsPexels

50. Weight Loss Secrets

The ER asked for my help with a psych consult, involving a patient who had some odd GI complaints. Although he had no clear signs of a stomach issue, he insisted he had "Barrett's stomach" (not esophagus)—a diagnosis he claimed was made by a top-notch gastroenterologist. 

He believed that if he could shed some pounds, his GI problems would disappear. During our chat, besides his peculiar obsession with his "Barrett's stomach," he seemed quite normal... Until he revealed his harmful approach to weight loss. 

He intentionally created a severe wound on his thigh, hoping for gangrene to set in, leading to an amputation that could help him drop the required 20 pounds to solve his stomach problem. Turns out, he shot himself in the thigh a few days prior. 

I didn't inspect the wound myself since my task was a psych consult, but I quickly alerted the ER team. Casually, I told him, “Hey sir, pardon me for a moment…I'm going to step out and notify a team member so they can examine your wound".

This particular ER was in a county with on-staff mental health social workers who could assist with psych cases. So, whilst he was being physically evaluated, I called in one for assistance. I'm not sure about his current status but I genuinely hope he's doing better.

True Medical Plot TwistsWikimedia Commons

Sources: , ,

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