There’s nothing scarier than waking up with a strange illness or blemish. Is it a cold? Is it a bug bite? Is it something much, much worse? The worst thing you can do in a situation like this is panic. That, or self-diagnose using the power of Dr. Google, the only truly free doctor on earth. Yeah, that’s probably worse. Next time, we hope these poor souls leave the diagnostics to the medical professionals.
1. Let’s Wrap This up
I had a patient several years ago come in thinking they had testicular and/or prostate cancer and surprise…they didn’t. Instead, they had a really bad case of gonorrhea. But that’s not even the worst part. We found out later that this guy was actually “patient zero” of a bad outbreak. Several of his partners were hospitalized due to the resistant nature of the particular strain.
2. Lady Problems
Not a doctor, but I had a co-worker come into the office with this, and it was utterly ridiculous. He was having nausea, fatigue, frequent urination and decided to WebMD that noise. We’re chatting in the office one day and he says something like “Yeah, I’ve been feeling really bad lately, and it sounds like gestational diabetes, but I can’t find any cases of men getting it.”
I just slowly lowered my head into my hand and asked him “Do you even know what GESTATIONAL means?” He did not. Yes, it means you’re pregnant.
3. Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
I asked a patient once if he was diabetic. He said no, but his condition told me otherwise. I then asked him if he had been tested. He said “Yes, and they said I was.” Uh, okay my dude. So I said, “Okay, so you ARE diabetic then?” His response was so dumb, I’ll never forget it. He said, “No I’m not, because I choose not to be.” Wow.
4. No Good Spiders
I’m not sure if she got it from WebMD, but she was convinced the spider bite she woke up with on her thigh was from a brown recluse. We don’t even have brown recluse spiders in our state.
5. Sounds Like a TLC Show
Paramedic student here. Last week, a patient started having abdominal pain that would last a little bit and stop. And about two to three minutes, later would start again. When she googled her symptoms, the answer shocked her. Everything she found was saying she was in labor. Well, unlike most people, she actually was. She had no idea she was even pregnant, but as we walked in, the baby was crowning.
6. Red in the Face
I had a dad make a really big scene about his kid. He claimed she has internal bleeding and a clotting disorder, all because she had some red areas on her tummy. He even claimed she was fading into unconsciousness. At that point, the child was dancing around the examination room. No trauma in the history, so he assumed it’s a genetic clotting disorder.
We told him it’s fine, she might have a rash, but if it doesn’t go away we can see them again. Then he took it to the next level. He threatened the doctor, screamed in the hall, then demanded emergency MRI and blood transfusion because the internet said that’s what we should do. We even had to call in security.
When we finally offered him to give her an ultrasound to rule out bleeding, he agreed sobbing. He was clearly distressed, so even with his attitude, we tried to balance helping him (rather than the child, who was fine) and staying safe ourselves. A few minutes later, supervisory doctor comes to take ultrasound. The results were immediate and incredible.
The gel makes the RED PAINT she had on her skin wipe right off. Probably from some clothing. Needless to say, he was embarrassed…
7. Tinfoil Hat Brigade
CMA here. Had a patient call complaining about a full-body rash and itching. His reasoning behind the symptoms almost made me spit out my coffee. He comes in that afternoon and very calmly tells me he had a flu shot two days ago and the worms the government hid in his body hatched and we’re moving around under his skin.
8. Sprung a Leak
Saw someone ER. She had a runny nose and was insistent that her cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds your brain) was leaking through her nose and causing her to have a runny nose. This is usually pretty unlikely, especially without a history of trauma. Order a CT of her head, but it doesn’t show anything and she otherwise looks fine, so she’s sent home. We quickly found out this was a huge mistake.
She comes back the next day with a jar of this fluid she had collected saying, “This isn’t snot!!” Ran some more tests and turned out she was right. I’m glad she was persistent.
9. I’m Thirsty, Call 9-1-1
Not a doctor, but I worked at a hospital for a while. One of our doctors came back to the nurse’s station laughing because someone was fully convinced they were diabetic because they were “craving” water and WebMD said that makes them diabetic. Turns out, they are just human like the rest of us and require it to live…
10. Slow Clap
I’m not a doctor, but I’m a medical assistant and I room patients for the doctor. This is in the occupational health field, and we had a young gentleman come in who was pretty sure he had a groin hernia according to his Google search. He said he’d been lifting produce crates and experienced sharp, overwhelming pain in his groin.
When the doctor examined him, he burst into laughter. Turns out the kid had chlamydia which had caused things to become swollen and just happened to get symptomatic while he was at work.
11. Be Persistent
I’m not a doctor, but in 2013 I was feeling awful. Shaking, puking/dry heaving, shaking, excruciating and debilitating pain. Went to the ER had blood work done that I never knew what it said, and the doctor told me it was a gallbladder attack, gave me pain meds, and sent me home. Their mistake almost destroyed me.
Three days later I was even worse. Couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, the only relief I felt was when I was in a scalding hot bath. I finally went back to the ER and they did more blood work and told me my gallbladder was septic and my pancreatic enzymes were 6500 and rising (they should have only been 100-150) and I was dying.
I was admitted and when they did my gallbladder removal, my gallbladder was solid black and had 80 stones and a tar-like substance from sepsis. Come to find out the first time I went to the ER my enzymes were 2,000, I should never have been allowed to leave the hospital. Actually ridiculous. Listen to your patients.
12. There Goes My Brain
There was one time when someone was certain he had Herpes Encephalitis. I’d never heard of that thing, ever. Apparently, it’s when Herpes travels from either your genitals or your mouth to your brain through nerve endings, then rots your brain and turns it into a bunch of pus. He said he thought his concentration and IQ were decreasing (law school student) and when he kneeled down, he felt his skull “jiggle.” Therefore, he concluded that herpes was rotting his brain.
13. Skip the X-Rays
I have a funny story about self-diagnosis from when I was in a motorcycle accident. It was a head-on collision and I had gone over the hood and windshield of the car that hit me and skidded through an intersection. Was wearing a helmet, boots, leather jacket. I absolutely had a massive concussion but wasn’t aware of it at the time. But then I made things so much worse.
I was not in pain; I felt disoriented and insanely thirsty, but no pain. I sat up and took off my helmet and there was a crowd of bystanders trying to get me to lay down, but I just wanted to go home. The thing is, no matter how many times I tried, I could not actually stand. When the EMTs arrived, I was sitting upright on the ground.
I then helpfully informed them that I thought my leg might be broken, because I had tried to stand and found it was not weight-bearing. One of the EMTs scoffed and said something like “You think?” or “No way!” I very sincerely insisted my leg might be broken, at which point he got serious and asked me if I had actually looked at my leg or not.
I hadn’t thought to do that. (Bear in mind I had one heck of a concussion.) I looked down, and there was my bone sticking out from my skin and through the denim of my jeans. There was blood everywhere. “Oh,” I said. “Yes, your leg is definitely broken,” said the EMT gently. “Well,” I said, reasonably, “I mean…how do we know yet? I mean, we should probably get an X-Ray.” Shock, am I right?
14. Doctor Me
My brother is both the doctor and the patient in my story. Around two months ago, he had started to feel really tired and ill, like really ill. He had said to his partner that he “felt like he had leukemia,” which was of course just kind of shrugged off because “Why/how would he have leukemia?!” He had been suffering with a throat infection for a few weeks and was given antibiotics by a GP at his practice.
After a week or so, it hadn’t helped and he was tired and slightly breathless whilst walking the dog one Sunday afternoon. The next morning he registered himself as a patient and took his own blood and sent it for testing. Unfortunately, he had been completely correct. When his results returned, he saw immediately that he did have leukemia.
As he went to confirm them with the GP next door, the specialist hospital had already called and asked for “the patient” to be brought into hospital. Unfortunately, his hemoglobin levels and general cell count were so low and he was in a really bad way. Many transfusions and one round of chemotherapy down and he is determined to beat this horrible disease.
There’s a long way to go, but he won’t give up and neither will we. I love that guy so much and wish I could trade places with him. There’s potential that I may be used as his bone marrow donor, I hope I can be because anything I can do to help, I want to do. Anyways, no Google, but turns out these doctor guys are pretty dang good at their jobs.
15. I’m Stroking, Get Me Google
Just had a patient come in the other night with a couple of stroke-like symptoms, so we called a code stroke. Did her CT scan, stat labs, and got a neurologist from USC to consult. The neurologist examined all the results and did a full neuro assessment. Turns out the patient just had a swollen tongue from an allergic reaction. But the patient’s response was priceless.
The patient told the neurologist that she was wrong and that it was definitely a stroke because she looked it up on her phone. Hint: if you have enough motor skills to get off the gurney and get your phone from your bag, probably NOT a stroke.
16. Follow Your Heart
Not a doctor, but the brother of the patient. My older sister diagnosed herself as having symptoms of systematic heart failure. Her new primary doctor agreed and gave her some basic guidelines of what to do, and had her visit her cardiologist. The cardiologist pooh-poohed her, saying there was probably nothing to worry about and scheduled a test in a few days just to be on the safe side.
One of the things her primary had her looking out for was sudden weight gain, and when she woke up two days later suddenly six pounds heavier, we went straight to the emergency room and they ran tests, including an echocardiogram. Her injection fraction was 12, and they immediately sent her to the biggest hospital in the area, where they ended up saving her life from congestive heart failure. She had had at least two silent heart attacks due to the amount of damage they found.
I had an insect bite basically next to my nipple. It was itching like crazy, and my usual bite cream said not to be used on nipples, so I decided to Google what else I could do to relieve it. I got so much more than I bargained for. Found out that, apparently, no one else has ever had an insect bite on their nipple. Instead, it was even scarier.
It said that what looks like an insect bite on or right next to your nipple is almost certainly inflammatory breast cancer. Phoned up my GP and was in a right state because I thought I had this incredibly aggressive form of breast cancer. He listened to me for a minute, asked a couple of questions and then said, “It’s an insect bite. Come back to me if it’s still there in three weeks. Oh, and try deodorant on it.”
The deodorant calmed it right down, and it had gone by about five days afterwards.
18. No Guarantees
My most ridiculous diagnostic was actually a young, healthy man in his thirties who couldn’t believe that he had a heart attack, saying that it was impossible because he ate healthy and exercised and everything. We couldn’t get him to understand that it just reduces the probability of a heart attack, it doesn’t prevent it. So yeah, he got ticked off and wanted to be discharged.
19. Mystery Mono
Not a doctor, but once back in fourth grade, during winter break, I had some sort of illness that made me throw up, sleepy all the time, and a few other symptoms I can’t remember. So I was at my mom’s computer, and I decided to Google my symptoms since my mom wasn’t there. Turns out I “had” mono, or also referred to as the kissing disease. My reaction was unforgettable.
I burst into tears and ran crying to my mom, hacking my guts out, while my mom tried to calm me down. And to this day, legend has it, I still don’t know what I had, and I have never had it again.
I’d say about 3/4 times a year I get a new, young, male who has Googled their symptoms and determined they need a smear test. Yes, you read that right. A few men look for advice for their symptoms online and will end up on mumsnet or the like and see women saying get a smear test, without them actually knowing what it is. I always have to leave the room to excuse myself whilst I have a laugh.
21. No Swimming
I correctly diagnosed myself with dyshidrotic eczema…the pictures I saw matched the issue I had. Then, I read that there are often chemical triggers…then, I thought about all of the stuff I had done recently. Then, I remembered the lake in my backyard is full of chemical fertilizer runoff from the surrounding golf course, and I was in it about a week prior.
22. Sleep Paralysis
My friend once woke up and couldn’t move either of his arms. Terrified, he called 9-1-1 using the tip of his nose, just to find out four mins later that he just thinned the blood supply in his arms by laying on them during the night and could move them perfectly fine. Ambulance was already called though, and he had to pay a big fine once they arrived.
23. Nothing to Do But Amputate
I am currently in med-school. When I was about twelve years old, I felt a painless lump inside my nipple. I thought this was something of low importance, so I continued to live my life. A few days later, when I was in the shower, I felt another painless lump inside my other nipple. I thought this was weird, so I decided to Google my symptoms.
I thought about male breast cancer, and I knew it was a low chance of me having it, but I decided to look up some signs of the cancer. And there it was, In my exact words. “Symptoms of breast cancer include a painless lump in the breast.” I was terrified. I informed my parents, and I was in tears. I didn’t know what my future would look like, and this thought shook me even more.
Would I ever become a doctor? I then searched for treatments of breast cancer on Google, and it said the only treatment was to amputate the breast. I was even more torn. The next day, my mom explained everything. She showed me an article about my “breast cancer,” and it turns out that I was just going through puberty, and this was completely normal. To this day, my family and I still laugh about the incident.
24. Downgraded to the Flu
I’m no doctor, but my mom was convinced she had myasthenia gravis when she was like 17, so she went to her friend in tears and told her she was dying. For those who don’t know, you have to be old to have that. She made the optometrist test her for it anyway. My mom also once called her mom in hysterics because she thought she had AIDS. It was the flu.
25. Premature Burial
Med student here. This happened on a gastroenterology/onc ward. A woman in her fifties is diagnosed with metastasized gastric cancer. The young resident has to break it to her during Saturday morning rounds. He does quite a good job, talks to her for a pretty long time, tells her that his attending will get back to her with more info as soon as he’s in.
Well, soon her entire family comes to visit and, in the evening, the attending doctor. The attending and the patient talk through everything again, this time with her family. We were sitting in the break room when we heard a chilling sound. There were weird cries of joy and laughter from that room. What had happened?
Previously, her semi-bright children had looked up the statistics for gastric cancer on Dr. Google and somehow found out that their mother had only like a week left. Don’t ask me where they got that from. They had already told their mom and planned everything accordingly. So when the doctor told her she would probably live for at least another good six months or more, they were overjoyed.
26. Beyond Google
Midwife here. Google has its place; it helps people be more informed if you take what you read with a grain of salt and listen to your health care provider. Had a young lady last week who thought she might have pre-eclampsia because she’d googled it, and based on her symptoms she was absolutely right to come in. We were surprised when the tests came back negative.
But she was also very anxious about getting it, so I was clear to her that she shouldn’t go home and google it more because it would just make her anxious. I also always try to give people appropriate websites to go to, so at least they can google something evidence-based when they’re worried about their symptoms.
27. Brushing it off
Not a doctor, but this happened with my mom. A few years ago my mom was getting violently sick after eating sometimes. One time in the middle of the night it was really bad, and my dad decided to look up her symptoms on WebMD. He concluded that she just had the flu and they waited her sickness out. My dad had never been so wrong.
My mom goes to the hospital the next morning, and it turned out she had something wrong with her gallbladder. So thanks for that dad.
28. Gastrointestinal Disease: Period
Not my story, but my dad’s. He works as a doctor in one of the bigger hospitals in my town. One day, he had a mother and her daughter come into the hospital because the girl was having bad stomach cramps and she was bleeding out of her female body part. At the time the girl was 13-14 years old, so it’s pretty evident what this is.
But alas, the mother thought her daughter had Gastrointestinal disease. The girl was very clearly on her period. The mother’s reasoning for this was because she took medical school and she did extensive google research.
29. Drinking Disease
Student nurse here. I picked up a shift in the Emergency Department as a healthcare assistant. Completed a triage of a 19-year-old student on a Monday. Mondays in Emergency are absolute poo, it’s either really poor people or just the worst. There’s just no in-between really. This girl said she suffered “abdominal pain and vomiting” the Sunday morning.
I asked what brought her in today. She said, “Well google said so.” I was like okay…I told the practitioners and the leading triage nurse. Then the real story came out. The student then proceeded to tell the nurse she was vomiting mere hours after getting home from a night out. Apparently, she hadn’t realized alcohol could make you vomit.
30. Paying for Nothing
Long story short, I used to be in a relationship with a highly anxious hypochondriac. There were many spells of “OMG I’m dying…” that were laughable, then things would calm down and life would be good again. One time, for a handful of symptoms, headache, neckache, general sick feeling, she mentioned: “I think I have Meningitis.” Normally, it was just the process of calming her down, etc. etc…
This time I thought, “Hmm I’ll google that.” Off things went, I bought into it. One long embarrassing call to the CDC later, there was nothing wrong. I figured they would know for sure, beats me what I was thinking. Another expensive as heck trip to the doctor confirmed that nothing was wrong. That was embarrassing as anything, and about $200 in a wasted trip to Urgent Care.
31. Fear of the Pink Sock
I’m a nurse. This crazy patient was convinced her rear end was collapsed and sticking outside of her body. It was not. Then she flipped out and whined about it. At first, she said she was a nursing student. Then she went from nursing student to being a nurse. Then, at the end, she said she was in nursing school for five years.
I asked her if she graduated. She said yes. So, I asked her if she was licensed. She said yes. I looked her up online—and finally learned the truth. She failed the nursing exam twice. Hard to get a license when you fail the exam…
32. The Bugs
Not a doc, but after I took a bout of antibiotics, I had really bad runs. I mean I know antibiotics screw up your gut flora and can cause some poops, but with me it was disproportionate. So, I google it, and turns out a filthy bug called Clostridium Difficile can typically occur after certain antibiotics and the ones I took were apparently very infamous for doing so.
Went to my GP, explained it, and she said that while she really would advise not to google your symptoms because according to Dr. Google, everything is cancer, she did think it was safer to have me do a stool test. Sure enough, I had C-Diff.
33. Dr. Mom
Nearly a year ago, I was preparing for bed. I bent down to pick up the cat and I felt this excruciating pain in my back. It was so severe I couldn’t move and could barely breathe—I was terrified. I called my parents to come and help me, and when they arrived, I told my mum that I’d slipped a disk and needed to go to hospital.
She said there was no way they were taking me to hospital at midnight, and that it wasn’t a slipped disk at all. After being helped to bed (still in extreme pain) they came back the next day (this is over 12 hours later and I hadn’t been to the bathroom in that time) and I managed to convince them to take me to hospital.
Less than ten minutes after seeing the triage nurse, I’m given strong pain medication and I’m on a bed in the short stay ward. The diagnosis? Exactly what I knew it was. A slipped disk. I turned to my mum and said, “I told you so.”
34. Unfortunately Correct
I’m not a doctor, but I once googled back pain causes because I had back pain. It came up with lots of reasonable, common and not so scary causes. Then it came up with a few “scary” and “rarer” causes. So did the ultimate Dr. Google move and convinced myself I had one of the rare scary diseases that caused my back pain.
Went to my doctor suggesting I have it, expecting to be shot down like the ridiculous hypochondriac I knew I was being. Instead, it was my worst nightmare. Turns out I actually had it. Back is crippled by Ankylosing Spondylitis at 24 years old along with Crohn’s Disease and chronic eye inflammation. None of them pleasant on their own, let alone all together.
35. Not Quite
Obligatory, not a doctor but…I improperly diagnosed myself as having a possible heart attack. Why? I had experienced some severe neck/back pain due to back spasms…but when it migrated to the front of my chest and felt difficult to breathe, I hightailed it to the ER. My BP was 200/110 (and my BP is normally 115/80). They got me on heparin almost immediately.
The MRI/Stress test then determined that a) my heart was in great shape for a 50+ year-old guy, and b) my back is totally screwed. Got a nice shot of valium which unseized my back from the spasms, and the pain in my back and chest went away. Now I have a script for valium when I get severe spasms, which happen about once every few months.
36. Trust Gone in the Blink of an Eye
Not a doctor, but I got a cut on my eyeball when I was in high school. It healed up pretty quickly but then for a year afterward, my cornea would feel like it was tearing while I was sleeping. Just excruciating pain. I did some googling and “recurrent corneal erosion” seemed likely so I went to the doctor and mentioned this. He told me it couldn’t be that because eyeballs heal very quickly.
So, she sent me home with seasonal allergy eyedrops and asked me to come back in two weeks. I came back and it was still happening. She asked me which eye it was and I told her. Then she went off the deep end. She accused me of lying about it because she claimed that last time I said it was the other eye. Just FYI, when your eyeball is tearing every morning, you don’t forget which one it is.
So pretty much gave up on going to the doctor. Fast forward three years and it’s still something that happened on a weekly basis. So, I finally went to a different doctor and turns out I was correct about my self-diagnosis. This doctor even asked me if I was considering medical school.
37. Research Never Hurts
I am a patient who did exactly this. I did not like my doctor much and she tended play ring around the rosie with me about my weight and gender and lifestyle when I was there for having bronchitis. I got pink eye. See, there are two ways to get pink eye. It is either viral or bacterial, and there are some differences between them.
I did a bit of research because I had to wait two days to get in. After reading a handful of articles from trusted sites, based on my symptoms I probably had a viral infection. I told my doctor this, and after ringing around the rosie again, I leave with an antibiotic because she took one look at it and figured it was bacterial.
My infection does not clear up and even spreads to my other eye over the next week and a half of unneeded antibiotic. After deciding I’m not dealing with my doctor again, I went to my eye doctor. I mentioned my thoughts of a viral infection, he asked about my symptoms before and after the antibiotic, then said I was absolutely right.
He gave me a prescription for an antiviral eye drop and a steroid for the pain. Cleared in three days. Yes, a lot of people are ridiculous. But don’t deny good research. My doctor is like this often. I finally got a different birth control because my old one was giving chronic migraines. Took me three years of three to seven plus migraines a month and so far, nothing after the switch.
38. You’re Depressed, Trust Me
Not a doctor, nor was my brother despite him thinking his Google-Fu is a degree. A couple years ago, my brother decided that since I had been laid off and asked him for money, it meant that I was utterly depressed. Thus, he deduced that I needed to be institutionalized and took me to a doctor. I’ll never forgive him for what happened next.
He lied and said he wanted me to just get a normal checkup since I hadn’t had one in a while. I was, I believe, rightly ticked off and embarrassed but since I needed the money, I went along with it. So, he decides to just come into the psychiatrist’s office with me while she is trying to ask me some questions and see how I am.
He starts throwing out terms like “Maladaptive Coping” and talking about how I needed treatment. She finally tells him to leave and I speak with her for a bit. Now I was a bit morose because I had lost my job and was embarrassed about asking for help, but I wasn’t in mental trouble, and the psychiatrist agreed, stating that I just needed support.
39. The Doctor Conspiracy
“I Googled my symptoms and I have thyroid cancer, that’s why I’m fatigued!”
“Yea so your thyroid levels came in—no thyroid issues. Let’s discuss other reasons you may be having exhaust-”
“NO! STOP LYING TO ME AND DISMISSING MY CONCERNS. MY LEVELS CHANGED FROM 2.5 TO 3.5 OVER A MONTH, SOMETHING IS GOING ON!”
“Yea, that’s still normal. Like how a heart rate goes from 60 to 100—totally normal range. Definitely no reason to suspect thyroid cancer.”
“Ugh, you’re the second doctor to tell me this and lie about my results. You must be in cahoots with them.”
Sometimes people get worked up over nothing and it’s hard to help them.
40. The Incredible Shrinking Head
ER doc here. Guy came in with insomnia and was very concerned that he had fatal familial insomnia. I asked if anyone in his family had the disease. They did not. Gave him some Ativan, told him to stay off the internet and discharged him. Another guy was a psych patient who was convinced that his head was shrinking. His head looked normal so I asked where exactly it was shrinking. Pointed to a spot on the back of his head, felt there, didn’t find anything, he seemed satisfied and went home.
Had a physician (in a non-clinical field) come in with abdominal pain. Thought he had colitis, so he wrote himself for cipro several days ago but wasn’t getting better. Pain was epigastric, radiated to the back, worse with eating. Clearly pancreatitis, not colitis. Tests confirmed it. Told him to stop treating himself.
41. Good Guessers
My mother grew up with a father who was a doctor and a mother who was a physical therapist, while my father had worked for medical companies all his adult life. In my family, we love self-diagnosing, but the thing is we’re usually right. Recently, I ended up with a more than 40-degree fever and breathing difficulties, and we realized it was probably mycoplasma due to a plethora of reasons.
It took the doctors more than two weeks, five different antibiotics, three trips to the hospital, three days in the hospital, two lost tests and blood samples to tell me it was mycoplasma and give me the correct medication. Those 17 days with a fever hovering around 40 degrees were even worse than the time a doctor failed to diagnose my swine flu.
42. You Are NOT the Mother
Not a doctor myself, but a Psychology student in grad school. A Dr. Phil episode a few weeks ago had a girl who believed she was pregnant with the next coming of Jesus Christ. She claimed to be nine months pregnant and they gave her an ultrasound. They compared it to a normal ultrasound of a woman who would be nine months pregnant where you could clearly see a fetus. There was no fetus in the girl’s ultrasound. She declared the test was wrong to Dr. Phil’s face.
43. Dr. Google Says Cancer
Not a doctor, but my sister once burst out crying when she googled why mum had a lump in her finger. Turns out Google said our mum either had a very dangerous cancer or a tumor. It was actually just an inflammation at the joint, nothing too bad.
44. Lung in the Toilet
I’m an ED RN and I would guess about 80% of people “self-diagnose.” This really is potentially dangerous because if individuals focus on their own diagnosis, they become unaware of their actual symptoms. I know there are bad doctors and nurses out there, but most of us know what we are doing. Just let us do our job.
Drug seekers aside, the most ridiculous thing I have heard is people thinking they are actually vomiting their own organs. Like a uterus or a spleen. Ignorance is frightening.
45. Prescription Coke
I’ve self-diagnosed semi-moderate problems correctly like five times now. Self-diagnoses include but not limited to; Kidney stones, hernias in both the right and left sides in the exact spots, dehydration multiple times, vitamin A and D deficiencies on two separate visits. This sounds much more self-congratulatory than it actually is! I have so many problems, someone please help me! I still had to pay the co-pays too!
46. Doctor Lecturer
Just got back from urgent care for my husband. His left testicle began hurting and a lump was there that wasn’t there three days ago. Yes, I googled it. I saw that it could be benign like enlarged veins to very serious such as testicular torsion. We waited overnight and then he called the insurance’s medical advice line. What we heard made our blood run cold.
The nurse told him to go immediately to the urgent care and if he was throwing up, to go to the emergency room. Turns out, though, that it was the benign varicoceles. I stated to the doctor that was what I had hoped it would be based on my research and I got a lecture from the doctor about googling the symptoms!
Um, we are here because the nurse on the phone told us to come in and not because I looked up why my husband’s left nut suddenly hurt and had a hard lump! Ticked me off a bit.
47. Too Young, Come Back Later
Not a doctor. When I was 19, I had severe stomach pains and Google kept throwing up all sorts that could be wrong with me. One doctor took me seriously and would try to help me check for anything we thought or Google thought it could be. I was in and out of emergency frequently but “nothing serious could be wrong with me I was too young” according to the doctors there.
After three years of debilitating pain and being told I was making it up, “Oh it’s just IBS.” I had tried cutting out everything and this hadn’t helped. Also, my symptoms didn’t align with it. I could barely eat, and even drinks would come back up. I lived and breathed next to my sick bowl; it just became a part of life. I finally got an ultrasound and two endoscopes.
The first time, they couldn’t get down to the bottom of my stomach as I had to take so many tablets for the pain. 22 a day. But they saw a tear in my stomach the second time. They scheduled earlier so I wouldn’t have to deal with the pain as long. Then I had three tears in my stomach. Two were rather large and the bottom part of it had gone green and moldy looking.
Suddenly I was taken seriously. I had gastritis (this was something WebMD had suggested!) and was finally given the correct medication. Now I don’t have to take any but do have to stay away from NSAIDS, can’t have too much caffeine. I can’t drink frequently but I never have anyway, and have a pretty steady diet away from trigger foods.
I had a grade school kid tell me he had a brain tumor. Turns out he put a dried bean in his ear and forgot about it. The kid was nine or 10, so no stupider than your average nine or 10-year-old. He didn’t really have a reason why, but they’d been using beans for some counting thing in math at school. I don’t know what kind of bean it was—small and red.
It came out with tweezers. This was years ago, and he has probably forgotten all about it, unless his mom reminds him periodically (I would).
49. The Milk Is for the Baby
I saw a patient who was concerned because she was still lactating, despite the fact that she stopped breastfeeding her twins two years ago. She said: “Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and find my husband sucking on the breasts. He says he’s trying to drain the milk for me.” I had to explain to her that breastfeeding her husband will lead to continued lactation.
50. Baby’s First Attempted Chemical Lobotomy
So, I’m a therapist and I work with kids. Worst misdiagnosis was a family with a two-week-old who was convinced the baby had 1) anxiety—because he cries, 2) autism—little eye contact, and 3) bipolar disorder—because the baby would seem content then suddenly angry. I spent HOURS explaining child development, what these diagnoses mean, how they would present in kids.
I provided them with books, handouts, etc. Then they did something that made me furious. They insisted on going to see my co-worker and a psychiatrist as I was surely lying to them. Even after meeting with the other two professionals, they still weren’t convinced. They requested psych meds from the doc.