Doctors swear to “Do No Harm.” Judging from these stories, however, the Hippocratic oath is an easier thing to say than to practice. A stethoscope and scrubs aren’t enough to scrub away prejudices, or just plain bad manners—even in front of patients. Get a prescription for these 42 wild stories about the most outrageous thing medical pros have said to their patients.
1. No Opportunity for Exit
My female doctor, now retired, once told me I had great birthing hips. I’m a male.
2. Not All Guts Are Viewed as Equals
When I was in middle school until 10th grade, I would get violent nausea anytime I got hungry. It felt like my stomach was on fire, and I would miss a lot of school from feeling bad (although I was a good student and wasn’t falling behind in any way). After a lot of fighting with my mother, who accused me of exaggerating, she agrees to take me to a gastroenterologist to be checked out.
Before agreeing to do an endoscopy, the gastro accused me of exaggerating because I was a teen girl and that’s just apparently what young women do, he suggested I was just making up these symptoms for attention, and then asked me point blank if I was lying about my pain level to skip school and suggested I had a mental health issue I was trying to cover for.
I had freaking GERD and severe acid reflux, as confirmed by the endoscopy he reluctantly agreed to perform on me. Instead of letting it go, the gastro made a point of angrily telling me that I had “the stomach of an 80-year-old man” and must have been intentionally eating in a way to mess up my stomach. I have a family history of stomach problems and GERD. I don’t understand why it was so implausible that my brother could have acid reflux at a young age, but I must be a hysterical liar when I claim to have the same symptoms in my teens.
3. Breathe Before You Breed
When I was about four, I got diagnosed with child asthma. Doctor told my mum it was her fault because she decided to have a child despite having asthma herself…
4. Not Good Grief
In the ER, about six months pregnant, with heavy spotting and no noticeable fetal movement. Idiot doctor is unable to find the baby’s heartbeat. Just looks up at me and says, “Yep, probably dead in there.” He couldn’t possibly have said it in a more casual, offhand manner. Note: I delivered my son three months later, perfectly healthy.
5. Head Case
Wife took our two-year-old daughter to the doctor because she was sick and her behavior seemed to be changing. She couldn’t eat or drink. Our local doctor said that’s how kids are sometimes and told us to just monitor her behavior. As we were pretty sure there was something definitely wrong, we kept seeing different doctors.
Last one said we were acting hysterically, and our behavior was a problem. Five days later, our daughter seemed to have a seizure, so we went to the hospital. Our daughter had a brain tumor and the doctor at the hospital said this should have been recognized sooner. He was astounded that we’d seen five doctors all blaming us as parents to “just be acting up over nothing.”
6. The Weight of The World On Your Self-Esteem
I had gained a lot of weight around my mid-section a few years back, and my periods stopped. I was scared, young, and thought I was pregnant, but the tests came back negative. I went to a doctor to have myself checked out and she did some basic tests before telling me. “There is nothing wrong with you, you’re just fat.”
I already had some body confidence issues, but hearing it from my doctor, when I was trying really hard to get in shape, really hurt. I worked hard to lose weight, but my belly wouldn’t shrink. I was starting to feel really sick, and went back to the doctor, who again told me it was that I was just fat. I was crushed.
A year later I went to the hospital for something unrelated, and it was discovered that I had a giant Ovarian Cyst, about the size of a newborn. It was throwing off my hormones, making me gain weight, among many other issues. I have since lost weight and am feeling super confident now, but that doctor really messed me up for a long time.
7. Use a Q-Tip, Then
“It’s all between your ears” after missing at least one, but probably two, crippling vitamin deficiencies by not ordering the right test. It took me two and a half years of thinking I was lazy and pathetic before I went to another doctor and got diagnosed.
8. Can’t Clean Away This Problem
Was having digestive issues I eventually learned were a result of my undiagnosed cancer. Doctor suggested I should wipe better.
9. Ho-Ho-Horrible Advice
When I went for a repeat prescription for anti-depressants as I was suffering with PND, anxiety, PTSD and OCD, the nurse refused to prescribe them and told me to “Just cheer up, it’s almost Christmas!” Silly me!! Why didn’t I think of that first?!
10. Spare Me the Beans
I did a video chat service to talk to a doctor for 15 minutes. I told her my symptoms and thoughts since we were low on time. I had been very sick for weeks, possible urinary tract infection and respiratory infection. Also gave my other ideas from my symptoms. She told me I had Valley Fever and told me all about it over chat and we got cut off at 15 minutes.
I got her final email which should have a prescription in it and was told she actually thought I had Somatic Symptom Disorder, AKA that I was making all of this up and was perfectly fine. Her prescription was for a freaking psychologist!! She told me in detail about my possible valley fever even though I said I hadn’t been to the areas she said it was prevalent.
I made an appointment with my normal doctor and had a few tests ran. Had a respiratory infection and a freaking KIDNEY infection!! Ten or so days of meds and I was fine. My gosh I was so angry at that quack.
11. The Sound of Subpar Bedside Manner
When I was 16 and dealing with partial deafness: “Sometimes being a teenage girl is hard, but it’s hard to parent them too so there’s no need to exaggerate things to make things harder for your parents. Knock it off, there’s nothing wrong with you.” Two tumors, nine surgeries, and a CSF leak later, yes doctor. There really was something wrong.
12. Doogie Howser, WebMD
I had surgery in October to remove a rather large mass on my ovary. The pathology results indicated I might have endometriosis. At my follow-up appointment to remove the stitches rather than explaining to me what that means, he says, “Go home and Google it. If you have questions come back for a follow-up in January.” Thanks doc. According to Google, I’m infertile and will probably need more surgery in the future.
13. Herp at First Sight
Dr.: *Glances at my genitals* You have Herpes.
Me: But I’ve never had sex!
Dr.: Oh, stop crying. I diagnose this all the time. It’s pretty common.
Me: But aren’t you going to at least do a test
Dr.: Fine, but it’s going to hurt and it’s going to show herpes.
[Indeed, it was an allergic reaction to a medication.]
14. Can’t Pay for This Kind of Sanity
Finally worked up the courage to work on my mental health problems and asked my doctor for a recommendation to see a therapist. His only response was I’m too poor to get a therapist since my health insurance sucked. That was a bad day.
15. You’re Not Gonna Be Awake for This
Not psychologically hurtful necessarily, but the most terrifying thing I’ve ever been told… “We’re going to have to defibrillate you and we don’t have time to sedate you.” They rolled the crash cart with paddles into my room and I said, “Get that thing the hell away from me!” and almost cried. My mom was in the room with me and was absolutely hysterical. Thankfully a cardiologist was able to look at my EKG in the nick of time and determined my heart rhythm was stable enough for me to just be transferred to a room for further evaluation without defibrillation.
16. Not Open to That
My doctor suggesting that I have a baby because my nether regions were too tight and causing discomfort during sex. Yes, poop out a screaming ham and see if that increases my pleasure
17. Don’t Look Now
Before surgery on my knee, the nurse was telling me how her daughter and I went to the same high school. She then peeked under my gown to look at my penis and let out a small laugh. I was more shocked than offended but she didn’t have to laugh…or look at my junk. A few clarifications: I didn’t report her or say anything. She was done shaving my knee, waited, then lifted the gown for a real quick peek. It wasn’t like she up-skirted me and laughed, she sought out the peek.
George Costanza covered shrinkage at pools but didn’t mention a 62-degree hospital room in nothing but a gown, lying down, while nervous about surgery, and the effect that has. It is not a flattering effect. It was hurtful because of her giggle and stayed with me because she could have known me by proxy of her daughter or the family I knew in her neighborhood.
I am insecure about what others think about me, so the fact she could have told her daughter is why it felt extra and comes up in those lovely anxiety plays my brain likes to put on while I try to sleep. It would have been a bit different if she was some random nurse with no connection to me, a friend’s family, my old school, or her daughter being in my sister’s grade. Most importantly I am REALLY surprised how many other guys have had the same thing happen.
18. Asking for a Third Opinion
“What are you going to do if your boyfriend would rather you had bigger boobs?” said by the doctor to 15-year-old me. I was getting a consultation for a breast reduction because sporting G-cup was a freaking nightmare. Still got it. No regrets.
19. Toothaches Hurt, But Words Do Too
Me, when I was nine, about to go under anesthesia for the first time ever for oral surgery and being extremely scared. Nurse: You need to grow up. I’ve had kids half your age not be as much a scaredy-cat as you. My mother was not, by any means, a helicopter parent…but the thrashing she gave that nurse, the other nurse who chuckled at it, and the doctor who came in was insane. And then she took me out of that office (the surgery was not a time-sensitive thing, just to fix a soon to be impacted adult tooth) and for ice cream. I had the surgery done at a different office with a staff that had far better bed-side manners.
20. A Sigh Says a Thousand Bowel Obstructions
My doctor didn’t actually speak, his reaction was worth a thousand words though: he literally rolled his eyes, threw his head back and sighed very loudly…I had been having a semi-regular pain in my abdomen for years, a terrible cramping pain (I’m a man so it wasn’t menstrual in nature) that would double me over in pain and would last for a day or two and then go away. I had seen a few different doctors about it and none of them could figure it out.
I was seeing a gastroenterologist about another problem and mentioned my pain to him. He did some tests, tried a few things, did an endoscopy and told me he couldn’t find anything wrong. The next time I got the cramping pains I went back to him and he performed his non-verbal routine mentioned above. It would have been less hurtful if he’d just told me I was a hypochondriac.
I gave up on figuring out the pain. Fast forward a few years and I’m having a bout of these cramps. Middle of the night I get up to go to the bathroom. I puke my guts out and proceed to pass out on the bathroom floor for a few seconds. I make it back to bed without waking my wife and somehow fall back asleep. In the morning I get up and need to puke again.
My wife goes with me out of concern and I pass out on the toilet. She calls 911 and I get whisked away to the hospital. Didn’t take too long for the doctors to determine I had a bowel obstruction. After six hours of surgery and a subsequent week stay in the hospital I’m back home and feeling better than I have in years.
Turns out that I had a 99% bowel obstruction caused by adhesions that had been slowly developing on my intestines since an appendectomy that I had in 1980. The surgeon told me that it was so bad in a few places that my intestines had been twisted on themselves. He referred to it as a “rat’s nest.” The surgery was in March, 2017, and not only have the cramps not come back once, I haven’t felt this great in decades!
21. System Shock Full of BS
The suggestion that I had confused a panic attack for a seizure. To clarify, this was my first grand mal seizure. My father had them prior, and my mother witnessed both him having one and myself having mine. According to her, it was identical. I even hit all the textbook marks of having had an epileptic seizure, from the memory loss to the postictal fatigue.
The emergency room doctor didn’t run any tests or examine my family history of epilepsy. He simply noticed the anxiety disorder in my medical history and assumed that I was just having a panic attack and wrote it off as my only issue, ignoring that I’d hit my head. Talking to my psychiatrist later about the incident, he confirmed based only on my account (corroborated with mom’s details where I couldn’t fill in) that I had definitely had a seizure, and he sent the orders for further testing himself. He also couldn’t refrain from saying “What the heck is wrong with this doctor?” I’m glad that at least one of my doctors took me seriously.
22. I Don’t Think That’s Your Choice
“It’s unethical for women who have never given birth to a child to get an IUD. You will change your mind about not wanting kids, you are too young.”
23. Is That a Baby or Are You Happy to See Me?
Went to the emergency department with my friend who was nine months pregnant, due any day. The doctor asked which one of us was the pregnant one. My friend was laying down on the chair bed and I was sitting in a chair. I started hyena laughing because I was so mortified.
24. Feeling Me Out
“Your testicles feel weird.” I thought I had ball cancer or something. Turns out he was joking. Last time I went to that doctor.
25. Healthiness Is Just Next to Prejudice
Not me but my gf. We’re both girls and she went to the gyno with a minor issue. Gyno was an old man with crosses everywhere in the lobby of the place; he saw a blonde college girl that was into other girls and very quickly diagnosed herpes. She explained to him that she and I have only ever been with each other and so the odds she had herpes were very VERY microscopic.
He basically gave her a pitying look and insisted it was herpes and basically insinuated that I’d cheated on her and then given her herpes. He wanted to test her for it and told her that he was 80% sure it would be positive, and that even if it came back negative, he would assume it was a false negative and that she had herpes anyway.
Test came back negative; she most certainly does not have herpes, but what she DOES have is severe anxiety, so she spent about a week beforehand worried she’d somehow immaculately contracted herpes. She will not be returning to that gyno. In other words, an old religious gyno falsely diagnosed my bisexual gf with herpes.
26. Better Sorry Than Safe
When I was pregnant the phlebotomist at the doctor’s office told me to stop wearing my seatbelt because “my brother didn’t wear his and he got into a wreck and he would have died if he had worn a belt.”
27. Someone Else Needs a Chill Pill
I had an appointment to set up a birth control pill prescription because my periods were complete hell and needed to be beaten into submission. The nurse who did my medical history got to the appointment reason and started “tsk”-ing and told me “You shouldn’t be here, you don’t need this, come back when you’re having sex.”
THE HELL? That’s horrible advice, but the worst part was this was coming from a nurse at a clinic attached to a college so you’d think that attitude wouldn’t have lasted long. The actual doctor was awesome, but that nurse was an obnoxious, ignorant moron and I hate to think how many other patients she treated like that.
28. Look to the Future
Before I started my six months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments my doctor told my wife and I that not freezing my sperm was a “bad life decision,” and we should reconsider it so that I can “have it for [my] next wife.” We both are now seeing a different primary doctor.
29. They Don’t Teach Tact in Psychiatry School
In college, I was extremely depressed and was going through a tough time working out some past trauma. I couldn’t sleep, had no appetite, and felt nauseated/ill almost constantly. Naturally, a few months of this led me to dropping weight drastically. I had previously been quite average, but I ended up being thin enough that my ribs were easily visible, and my sternum, clavicle, and hipbones jutted out.
I ran out of fitting clothes to wear and my period stopped. I just couldn’t bring myself to eat anything and would feel sick if I did. I was failing almost all my classes because I just couldn’t concentrate. Needless to say, it was a very unpleasant time.
Now, I was seeing a therapist at the student health center and she did wonders for me. As a matter of fact, I would be dead right now if not for her.
Unfortunately, she was unable to prescribe me things, so I had to see the resident psychiatrist as well. The psychiatrist and I had never gotten along very well, as right off the bat she did things like answer her cell phone while in session with me or admit that she hadn’t read my most recent file prior to our appointment. Still, she was the only psychiatrist at the health center, so I kept seeing her for about two years.
Since our last appointment, I had, as said above, lost a tremendous amount of weight and many people told me I looked skeletal. The only thing that I could wear without it falling off were my dresses, so that’s what I wore to our latest appointment. We got to talking and I ended up having to explain why I’d lost so much weight, as she once again admitted that she hadn’t read my therapist’s notes that had been sent over. I described all of the discomfort and unhappiness I was feeling, and how it was affecting my grades. She looks at me and says, “Well on the bright side, at least you look much better than you did before.” It was our last appointment.
30. Mothers Need Not Apply for Trust
This past week, I took my two daughters, 15 and 17, to Johns Hopkins Pediatric ER with extreme pain. They both have been diagnosed with a form of dysautonomia called POTS. They each have a cardiologist and a neurologist at Hopkins, and I communicated with these docs and went to the ER at their suggestion. The resident told my 15-year-old to “suck it up” and deal with the pain.
My daughter started to cry, and the doc just stared at her. The attending questioned the meds that the neurologist prescribed for my 17-year-old and told her they wouldn’t work on her kind of pain and felt the need to contact the neurologist to personally speak with him before she would consider preparing the IV. When my daughter explained the level of pain she was experiencing, the doc told her that they “don’t have pain meds other than Advil and Tylenol.”
When she came back in an hour and grudgingly said she would give her the IV, my daughter was so frustrated that she said she’d rather just go home (she’s terrified of needles, and once she had an hour to think about the doctor’s comments that it wouldn’t work, she wasn’t willing to do it). Their specialists were furious when they heard how they were treated in the ER.
We think that because I came in with both of my daughters looking for pain relief they assumed I was after drugs for myself. Unfortunately, I cannot control if my children’s flare-ups coincide. The cardiologist has since offered to give me a letter to carry for each of the girls to certify and explain their medical issues. Just to clarify, I love Hopkins and their peds ER. We have been extremely satisfied with the level of care my girls have received in the past.
31. She Must’ve Really Hated Daddy Daycare
I had my doctor at the time chew me out because I was leaving my newborn son with his dad while I went to a different state due to work for a few months…I just remember her raising her voice a bit and asking me who was going to watch the child while I was gone…I gave her a confused look and just pointed to my son’s dad who was sitting right next to me.
She looked shocked and almost repulsed. Still pisses me off to this day…and she was also acting really confused why I was the one that wanted to work and not the dad. The doctor was an old woman who seemed very old fashioned. I was gone for three months but made enough money to where me nor the dad had to work for a while after that. I think being able to afford a roof over our heads is better than breastfeeding and not having rent money.
32. A Hole Where Her Empathy Should Be
“I had a hole in my ear and that healed, why don’t you give it some time? If you get hearing aids you will just be reliant on them.” I’ve had a hole in my ear and been hard of hearing for the last 25 years. Same practice, different doctor: “Well, are you sure it isn’t AIDS? That would affect your immune system.” Since she found out I was bi, everything was AIDS with her.
Sore throat? AIDS. Ear infection? AIDS. Arthritis? AIDS. She was very polite about it, she was just absolutely convinced I must have AIDS because my medical history included sex with men (At the time of several of these, I had recent HIV tests on my chart. Because I have a chronic illness—shockingly, an immune condition, you know, one that might affect my immune system—so when they run off with tubes of my blood, I get all the bonus tests done because you might as well).
33. Chew On This Nonsense
Ugh, a dentist. I went in for a cleaning, and had another appointment to take care of a wisdom tooth “You’re fat, you know that? Your teeth wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t so fat. God you Native Americans are all so fat.” Let’s discuss what’s worse. Her visibly uncomfortable dental technicians, who are all Natives. The fact the clinic was EXCLUSIVELY for my tribe. The way off-color remarks she made later about tribal members being poor, and how she was better than this. Or perhaps the fact she just insulted the medical director’s grandson.
It’s really sad because they had trouble finding a dentist (because we are a disgusting people I guess) but she magically “found a job in Florida” the second time I was there. She wouldn’t shut up about how she was leaving for this great job in Florida. She bragged so much it seemed almost unbelievable. Almost like it was a total lie and a racist jerk was losing her job. I should have called her out, but I’m sure her techs already knew.
34. Just Say No
It’s a bit of a story. In short, a nurse accused me of doing drugs. A few years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with a bit of dry mouth, so I stood up and went to go get some water. I took a few steps and immediately felt like I was going to puke, so I turned around to go to the bathroom, and I fainted as I went through the door.
I woke back up to my parents looking at me and asking if I feel alright, and then I fainted again. The next time I woke up, I feel cold and my parents tell me that all the color had drained out of my face. I managed to stand up without fainting again and was rushed to the hospital. They get me in a bed and start going through the standard procedure.
They hooked me up with saline, took some blood. They wanted a urine sample, but it took forever and a half to get to the point where I needed to pee. By that time, I felt fine. My parents and I thought that I had fainted because I was dehydrated, because that had happened a few times before. In comes the nurse with the urine test results. He comes in, pulls up a chair, sets down the results, looks at me and asks “Son, is there anything you want to tell me?”
It’s like 5 am and I’m freaking exhausted. He looked like he was fishing for something, but I had no idea what was going on, so I said “No?” “Are you sure you don’t want to tell me what was going on before I tell your parents?” “What are you talking about?” He picks up the folder with the test results, takes out the papers, and slams them down onto a table next to him. “So you said you think your son fainted because he was dehydrated? He fainted because he was doing meth.”
My parents and I all say “What?” at the same time. He thinks I’m trying to deny a drug habit, so he gets closer to me and yells “Don’t you lie to me! Your urine tested positive for amphetamines!” I don’t do drugs. I’ve never been interested in doing drugs. My immediate reaction to his accusation was to freak out because I thought I had been poisoned in the middle of the night, with meth.
My parents similarly understood that I had never done drugs in my entire life. They asked the nurse if there was literally anything that might have caused a false positive on the test. She mentioned that I had taken Claritin-D (which contains sudofedrine, which can be used to make meth) before going to bed that night, and she reckoned that taking that and being dehydrated might have caused a false positive.
The nurse shot back with “No! That’s impossible! That could never test false-positive for amphetamines! Your son does meth!” He looked so freaking smug, having “ousted” me. So, he gathers his stuff up and leaves, saying that he’ll wait until we get things sorted out before leaving the hospital. My mother called my godmother (who is some sort of medical professional—I don’t know what, exactly) and asked her if being dehydrated and taking Claritin-D could possibly cause a drug test to show a false positive for amphetamine use, and my godmother said: “Yeah, that happens all the time!” I really hope that jerk nurse got fired.
35. Mistaking the Forest for the Bedside Manner
I was probably 16 or 17 and went to my first OB/GYN….the doctor’s small talk was “Oh, I see you don’t have a fur coat!” Because I was clean shaven……..never had a male OB again after that.
36. Last Choice Haircutters
I went in after getting bit by a stupid cocker spaniel because the hand it bit was inflamed, and it looked infected to me. The doctor after looking at my hand just casually goes, “Oh by the way your haircut makes you look like a dude, if you didn’t have breasts, I’d have asked you if the info you gave us was correct.” I’d shaved my head a couple weeks before as a show of solidarity with my cousin who had cancer. I was too shocked to say anything, and he just left the room.
37. Look at the Not-So-Bright Side
First time in a hospital, first surgery, first time going under. I have an anxiety disorder, so I was really trying to keep it calm and collected. The anesthesiologist came in to administer sleeping drugs. She sticks a needle in me, pushes the drugs in, and I start to go blurry eyed tunnel vision. She laughs and says “Oh, don’t worry. This is a standard procedure, and few die from it. If you do die, your dad is in the waiting room, so it’ll be fine.” ??????
38. Gone Baby Not That Gone
When my son was born, we had a resident physician who’d assist the attending. She is a one-woman show: not a single thing that came out of her mouth was professional, kind, compassionate or even remotely helpful. During labor, she would routinely tell us the wrong information; tell us my wife was more/less dilated than she really was (the nurse or attending would rectify this) and would constantly warn us that my wife was getting too sick to deliver and was getting into a dangerous zone with her health (the hospital we were at is a Level I Trauma Center known for having a world-leading L&D department….).
Eventually, my wife had a C-section, and this resident would amp her up: listing off the possible complications, including death, brain death, paralysis, blindness, etc. It must have been a hundred life-ending/altering complications. My wife is in tears when the anesthesiologist comes in. My wife’s blood pressure is through the roof, and the doctor asks what’s wrong. Through her tears, she tells him. He loses his mind. Mutters a swear…then gives us a realistic picture of complications. Off we go. Zero complications and a healthy baby.
Next day. Resident comes in, almost at a full run. “BILIRUBINS….” panting “OFF THE CHART….” Panting “UHMURGENCY….” So, she looks around for the baby. The baby is in with the pediatrician, who happens to be the hospital’s Chief of Pediatrics. She’s running down the hall trying to find the doctor/baby. I’m going into a full panic attack (We had been having latching problems and the pediatrician was brought in for a routine check-up).
I’m chasing her. She finds the pediatrician. This guy is in a golf shirt, slacks and is holding my son with a senior nurse. Neither of the two senior staff look the least bit worried, but I can’t tell what’s going on. She screams “BILIRUBINS!” and he says, “Shut up.” Turns out, his bilirubin was in the normal range. She had read the wrong file, it was for a little girl who was already undergoing light therapy and was due to be discharged.
The nurse, who is Jamaican, grabs me and tells me to relax. She forces me into a chair, hands me some water and is patting my back. The Chief of Pediatrics lights-up this resident. He goes off, telling her she’s traumatizing patients and her behavior is unacceptable and that he’s speaking with the resident director. “So, the baby isn’t going blind?” I just sat there, shocked, horrified and shaking. As I write this, my son is tearing his toys to bits and randomly farting, then laughing.
39. Sugarcoating Won’t Help, But It’s Nice
I woke up in the hospital and heard a nurse running out saying, “He’s awake.” The doctor comes into the room and tells me to move my toes. I ask them where I am and what’s going on, he just gets more insistent that I “move [my] toes.” I asked again where I was and that was going on, he almost yells at me “Move your toes.”
I said I am moving my toes, and immediately he says, “You will never walk again.” That’s how I found out I was a paraplegic at 21 years old. I had been in a single car wreck and was thrown 70-80 feet from the car. My vertebra was dislocated and laying next to another one. I don’t remember the car wreck but that exchange with the doctor is burned into my brain, and that was 31 years ago.
40. Not Too Sick to Not Have Feelings
Wasn’t said to me, but someone I knew. I work at a hospital, so does my mother. We had a forty-three-year-old woman who had a very rare form of cancer that spread incredibly fast to just about everywhere in her body. From diagnosis to death was about twelve weeks. The medications and therapies and the general lack of mobility caused her to become swollen and obese.
She was a terribly sweet lady. They took her down to Radiology for a scan and the technician made a bunch of really mean comments about her weight because she was too large for our machines. They had to arrange for a transfer to another hospital for her scans and then have her transferred back. The technician thought that because Miss Jeannie was dying and sick that she was deaf or didn’t understand English any longer, and so while they were alone, she made so many mean comments. Miss Jeannie waited until she was back in her room waiting for her transfer before, she started crying. I’ll never understand people who feel the need to make others feel less than or badly.
41. Bad News About That Delivery
After years of fertility treatments, we finally got the wife knocked up. Just before the 12-week mark they found “something.” The something was “Anencephaly.” Not knowing what it was, we kept asking doctors what this meant and got very doctor-y answers. “The prognosis isn’t good,” or “It presents significant challenges to the fetus,” all of which made it sound bad, but somehow manageable.
As we continued through the gambit of doctors, we eventually ended up with one who had that declarative Scandinavian accent, when we asked him what does this mean for the child he answered: “This condition is incompatible with life. If it survives to birth, it will live only for days.” It was at once soul-crushing and a relief. We finally knew how bad it was, but we knew what we had to do. The decision was no longer ours, and while it hurt the clarity was welcome. Recalling this story many years later still makes me feel emotional.
42. Better You Don’t Learn From Me
For me, it wasn’t so much what a doctor said, as what they didn’t say. About six months ago I went in to my general practitioner for a yearly checkup. I’d been having some weird vision problems, but other than that I felt perfectly fine. Blood work came back a few days later and I was told to come in and discuss. Ok, little worried now.
Come in, talk to my doc, and he’s got a big smile on his face. He hands me my blood work results, almost every line-item says its either way above or way below “safe” levels, and tells me to “frame it” because it’s the single worst blood test result he’s ever seen, and it’s obviously a lab error because “if your blood was really this bad, you’d basically be on your death bed, and you obviously look and feel fine.”
Phew! New blood work is drawn, I’m told to wait a few days and they’d let me know once the lab ran the tests correctly, but not to worry since lab errors like this happen all the time. Few days later I get a call from a nurse I’d never spoken to. “You need to call this number right away,” she says, offering no further details, “and make an appointment with Dr. XXXXX.” I was so taken aback that I didn’t ask any follow-up questions, I just hung up and called the number. Voice on the other end picked up: “Cancer Specialists of [My State], how may I help you?” Aaaaaaaand that’s how I learned I had cancer.