The methods that people use to fake illness convincingly are even more numerous than their motivations, including bringing “evidence” to prove conditions, contaminating test results, and self-inflicting wounds. However, in a few rare cases, fakers can turn out not to be faking, or to be faking for a good reason. These Redditors share the full spectrum of people of all ages faking illness, doctors busting them, and families reacting to being deceived.
While taking a trauma call during my surgery residency, I had a prisoner come in after a fight claiming he couldn’t move or feel his legs. All of the CT scans and MRIs were normal. We also tried shielding his legs so he couldn’t see them and poking them with needles and other sharp objects with enough force to cause pain—but he never flinched or moved his legs at all.
He was diagnosed with SCIWORA (spinal cord injury without radiographic abnormality). He stayed in the hospital for a week, with no improvement. He always had one guard with him. One night, they were down in the lobby watching some television when the guard needed to use the restroom. The patient said, “Where could I possibly go? I’m paralyzed!” So, the guard left him alone for two minutes—but that was all it took.
The patient was last seen sprinting down the road in his hospital gown, bare butt cheeks flapping in the breeze. He made it to a city four hours away by car before he was caught again. I have never seen anyone fake so well. Truly playing the long con!
Dermatologist here. I once saw a patient who was convinced she had a melanoma and needed a biopsy, and would need to be on workers comp. I told her the spot she was pointing to looked like ink from a marker, but she still demanded a biopsy. I wiped the area off with an alcohol swab, showed her the ink, and pointed out that there was no spot on her skin anymore.
She stormed out threatening to sue. I'm just glad I cured her melanoma!
We had a patient faking a seizure, so my supervisor told one of us to go get the “brain needle.” Upon hearing those words, the patient made a miraculous and swift recovery without intervention.
When I was a nurse in the ER, a guy came in because of a stomach ache. When I asked him about his history, he randomly mentioned having a fight with his girlfriend that night, culminating in her leaving in a tizzy. He claimed he then fell asleep on the couch and woke up with this stomach ache. Twenty minutes later, we looked at the CT—and couldn't believe our eyes. He had a satellite cable remote, wrapped in a prophylactic, lodged in his bum.
I suppose he intended to frame his girlfriend by claiming she had inserted it while he slept. I didn’t get to hear the conversation he had with the doctor, but I was curious how he was going to explain why she was nice enough to wrap up the remote first!
About 10 years ago, I had a friend who had a serious back injury. He walked on crutches, or sometimes with a cane, and at one point was even in a wheelchair for a month, claiming a doctor screwed up when doing surgery. He was suing everyone. This went on for a couple of years until the day his case settled and a check came in the mail.
He showed me the check, laughed, walked to his door, opened it, and threw his cane and crutches out into his yard. He told me to come with him, and quickly walked to and jumped in his Jeep. He told me he was heading to the bank, but I told him I was going to head home and for him to have fun. He bought a house a few days later and moved.
He's currently faking being straight (he married a woman who lives in his house with him and his boyfriend) and fakes being Christian. He advertises his straightness and Christian-ness weekly on Facebook so that his Mom won't cut him out of her will.
One night, I was bringing a patient claiming to have kidney stones to a room. I had him stop at the bathroom and provide a urine sample so that we wouldn’t have to get him up again for that. The dude came out with a specimen cup that literally had a piece of concrete sitting in the urine. I looked him in the eye, expecting some sort of joke.
Nope! He. Was. Serious. I threw the sample away and walked him back to the waiting room to contemplate his own stupidity.
I was in a Children’s Hospital in Seattle back in the early 90s for a huge surgery due to a birth defect. I was rooming with a girl who had woken up one morning and just couldn’t use her legs. I think she was between 8-11 years old. They spent a lot of time doing physical therapy, and she would cry and scream like it was the most painful thing she’d ever felt.
I would cry with her, because my physical therapy was also very painful, so I understood. She got really good at using her arms, but her legs showed no improvement despite the tests still showing nothing. They were stumped. Then one day, we were all outside for lunch and the volunteer that was watching us left for a moment to step inside (we were in an enclosed courtyard perfectly safe). In an instant, this girl's web of lives unraveled.
All of a sudden, Miss Can’t Use Her Legs did a cartwheel! Then she did a backbend! Her legs were supporting her entire weight! I didn’t catch it at six years old, but an older girl did and told her nurse when they went back in. They pulled the surveillance tapes and she was busted. She just stood up and started crying.
She said she didn’t know how to stop lying once it got out of hand. It was nuts.
When I was in my last year of med school, a patient came in who was apparently a regular at the ER. She came in unconscious, but as soon as the paramedics said the word "seizure," she started convulsing. The physician calmly said, “Observe: in grand mal seizures, you also see convulsions of the legs.” Sure enough, as if on command, the patient suddenly started to move her previously neglected legs. After a short while, she fell "unconscious" again.
No amount of poking or shaking would wake her, and her arms fell limp on the mattress when picked up. So the ER doctor took her limp arm and held it over her face. He let go and the arm dropped but, centimeters before she would have hit her own nose, the arm stopped. She opened her eyes and muttered an swear word, then got up and walked away.
When I was a kid, I decided to plan my “sick” day way ahead of time. I had an old thermos into which I poured leftover milk, meat, or whatever I could find. I sealed it tight and left it on the windowsill in my bedroom, just letting it fester for a month. I set an alarm for the middle of the night on the night before I wanted to have my “sick” day, and dumped the contents of the thermos onto my rug.
I then ran in to tell my Dad that I was throwing up and “so sick.” However, there was a problem. This thermos monstrosity filled the entire condo up with horrible smells, and both my Dad and I ended up puking into the tub at the same time every time we tried to clean the rug! He had to take the day off of work too. Needless to say, I never pulled that stunt again.
Every few weeks or so, we had a family calling for a Medicab (a cab paid for by income-based insurance) from somewhere out in the large, surrounding rural area to our ER in a college town. The mom would be seen for some ailment or the other, while the rest of the family would go to Walmart, go to the mall, and do all their in-town errands.
She was basically faking an emergency illness every few weeks so that they wouldn't have to pay for a cab to get their shopping done!
While working at a pharmacy, we saw a guy come in to try to get a refill on some pain meds that had no refill prescribed. After pleading with us and claiming that his ear really hurt, we told him again that we couldn’t refill it without a new prescription. He stormed away, but one of the other employees saw him step into a side hallway, take a pencil, and JAM it forcefully into his ear repeatedly, drawing blood.
He then calmly left and went to the ER, and came back a few hours later with a prescription for pain meds.
When I was an intern, I had a patient who was feigning blindness. However, she would also constantly be playing on her smartphone when she was alone. When someone from the care team came into her room, she would hide the phone quickly. Finally, my attending physician came up with an ingenious plan to bust her. One day, he strolled past her room and threw his hand up in a highly exaggerated "hello" wave.
She started to throw her arm up to return the wave automatically, and then seemed to remember that she was blind. She threw her hand back into her lap and pretended to be staring off into nothing.
I once had a patient who worked in a hospital as a janitor, so he knew enough to fake illness fairly convincingly. He was seeking pain meds, complaining of chest pain. He was worked up for everything cardiac and was fine. Then, he tried to claim GI discomfort when he was being discharged. He was checked and cleared again for everything.
Then, he faked chest pain again; he was cleared again. Then he was sent to me, and since I was a new face, he claimed to have abdominal pain again. I called the doctor, knowing the guy’s history, and he said he’d be up to see him soon. This patient asked for a ginger ale, and after bringing it to him, I decided to go to lunch.
About ten minutes later my co-worker came into the lunchroom, looking supremely disgusted. Apparently, the guy had defecated in a basin and then dumped the ginger ale over it and tried to tell her he’d had fecal vomiting. He claimed that he needed pain medication immediately. I went back and told him I’d have to take away his food and drinks and we’d have to give him a nasogastric tube. Suddenly, he changed his tune and admitted to faking it.
We had a guy who had to come in every three months to get a medical certificate saying he couldn't work at his retail job due to severe, disabling back pain. He was receiving large amounts of insurance money for this condition. After the doctor had done his usual examination and questions and signed it off, the guy asked the doctor to check his shoulder, as it had been giving him pain. The doctor checked it and asked how he had injured it.
The guy answered, “Playing rugby for a competitive team.” The doctor was surprised and asked how long the guy had been playing on the team. Apparently, the guy had been playing and training the whole time! The doctor added that information on the insurance form, sent the man home, then lost it in the staff room, laughing.
The next week the patient returned and lost it, yelling in reception because his insurance had been canceled.
I went to a sober-living facility that was very work-intensive. One of the guys there with me faked seizures for eight months just so he could take a break every now and then. I'm talking A-list acting; the guy could have won an Oscar for his performance. Ambulances were called every few weeks and he even did a week at UCLA hospital for testing.
He finally admitted to faking it after we all started becoming suspicious and asked him about it.
I worked at a detox center with a bunch of people who liked to exaggerate their symptoms for more medication. Some patients were actually experiencing really bad withdrawal, but some just wanted a bed and free substances. One girl tried to raise her blood pressure so that she could get some anti-anxiety meds. We checked vitals every four hours, so when she saw us with the cart, she immediately went to the bathroom for an unknown reason.
She obviously didn’t realize that, when the bathroom blinds were open, we could see into it from the stairs by the entrance. The patient was doing jumping jacks in her bathroom so that when it was time to take her vitals, she came out sweating and breathless. After this happened a few times, we told her that if she had high blood pressure, she couldn’t smoke.
She promptly freaked out because she wanted the medication AND to smoke, and she left. She came back a few months later actually wanting to be sober, and I mentioned the jumping jacks and we laughed about it. She’s doing much better now, thankfully!
While taking a break from the ICU, I worked in home health for a bit. I had a patient who clearly had Munchausen Syndrome. On a daily basis, she would call her insurance to see what things would be covered if she was diagnosed with this or that. She called her doctor's office an average of five times during my shifts with her, reporting all kinds of "symptoms."
She actually pestered the doctors into doing exploitive laparoscopic surgery, though of course, nothing was found. But that's nothing compared to the worst thing I caught her doing. I walked in and she was rubbing her incisions with rotten cabbage trying to get them infected. She wasn’t seeking pain meds really, she was just as happy with antibiotics or stool softeners, anything, as long as they wrote her a prescription and she got to go to the pharmacy. Of course, she did a whole song and dance for them too, claiming all sorts of allergies and reactions.
All of her ailments also became progressively worse fairly quickly. One time, she fluttered her eyes (after making sure I was looking) and said that she had lost consciousness in that half a second. She then called the doctor and claimed she had lost consciousness for five minutes; she then called the insurance and claimed it was 10 minutes; she called the pharmacy and claimed it was 30 minutes; and then finally, she called 9-1-1 and told them she woke up on the floor after losing consciousness for four hours.
Years ago, I had a patient who had been rear-ended in an auto accident a few weeks before I saw her. She also had a history of lupus. She was decked out in the usual paraphernalia; crutches, neck brace, elbow braces, wrist braces, and knee braces. She could barely walk. I saw her a couple of times, and she showed no improvement.
Then, one Saturday I was on call, but had to take a back route to the hospital because of an event taking place on the main thoroughfare. I apparently drove through her neighborhood because, wonders behold, there she was, wearing old-lady spandex, power walking down the sidewalk and holding weights in both hands!
The next week, she was back in the clinic, with her crutches and all of her braces on again. A few weeks later, I received a subpoena for a deposition in her case. I was glad she’d been caught.
A fellow nurse who worked on a psychiatric floor in a hospital told me this story. This one woman was convinced that she had been impregnated by a ghost-like figure and upset that no one would believe her. One day, she started complaining about massive pelvic and uterine pain. She called them contractions.
The doctor did an exam and he felt something larger in there, so they prepped a table to get the object out. The woman still claimed that she was having contractions, and was yelling things like, “SHOULD I PUSH?!!! I’M GONNA START PUSHING!!!” The doctor was trying to work forceps around this woman’s parts in a way that would not hurt her.
He finally said, triumphantly, “Got...” and as he started saying “it,” he pulled out a baby doll’s head. It’s not unusual for psych patients to stash things in various orifices, so the doctor wasn’t overly surprised, but there was a third-year medical student helping with the procedure who had not been adequately prepared to witness a doll’s head get pulled out of a woman screaming that she was giving birth.
The poor medical student did the wobble, went flushed, had problems keeping his balance, and then almost passed out. She was told that he didn’t live that down throughout his whole rotation.
On my ER rotation, a trauma patient who had been apprehended by law enforcement came in. During the drive, the patient apparently banged her head four times against the window of the squad car and then went unconscious. She came to us with a bruise on her forehead and still unconscious. We all thought that she was probably faking to get out of going to prison, but the patient was a great actor.
She didn’t even flinch during the digital rectal exam, which is standard for all patients that come in through the trauma bay, but some of the nurses said that they had caught her peeking at us when we would leave the room. We ended up getting a CT scan (which was normal) and were even considering intubating her to secure her airway when our attending physician finally walked over to her.
He opened her eyelids and held them open while telling her to wake up. She held out for a few moments, but then started automatically fighting to close her rapidly drying eyes and the jig was up. The doctor called her out and she proceeded to start screaming at us. She was much more pleasant when she was pretending to have a brain injury.
When I was a medical student, I worked in the pediatric side of the emergency room, and we would give popsicles to all the kids. One afternoon, an 8-year-old came in with his father, and I asked what was wrong. The kid couldn't remember what he had complained about to his Dad, and the Dad couldn't remember why he had brought his kid in.
The kid's mom was a nurse, and she was the one who would usually keep track of these things, but she was working at another hospital at the time. After a few minutes trying to figure out what was going on, the kid asked: "So, can I have my popsicle now?" The kid was 100% healthy. He had just come in for the popsicle.
Unfortunately, we reinforced bad behavior and both the kid AND the Dad subsequently left with popsicles, after a conversation about telling the truth.
My mom was an emergency room nurse. Years ago, they brought in a prisoner from the local penitentiary who seemed to be unconscious. The guards were suspicious that he was faking it, as they had checked his vitals and everything seemed to be ok. The attending doctor tried poking him in the foot with something pointy, but it got no response either.
Then he got an idea. They took a rubber hose and inserted it in the back of his throat as if they were intubating him. That did the trick! He sat up very quickly coughing and gagging.
Once, I was taking a dude to lockup for beating up his Mom. On the way to the detention center, he started to pretend he had passed out. So, we pulled over and asked him what his problem was. He opened his eyes, told us, “I’m having a stroke!” and proceeded to bark like a dog and stick his tongue out as if he was licking something. I don’t think he knew what a stroke was. He went to lockup.
My Mom is an ER nurse. She told me that one day, some lady came in and complained that she had the whooping cough. To prove it, whenever she coughed, she followed it with an extremely loud "whhoooOOOP!"
I've seen all sorts of weird people faking symptoms. The most devious was a guy I'll call Steve. Steve had to be in the medical field somehow, probably a nurse or technologist, because he had a good knowledge of conditions. He was fairly tall and skinny naturally, but he claimed to have Marfan Syndrome, a rare connective tissue disease that makes you tall and skinny and puts you at a higher risk for an aortic dissection.
You can think of aortic dissections as a condition in which the main pipe carrying blood starts to break. They're bad. Steve didn't only claim to have Marfan's; he also stated that he had had a dissection in the past, and that a "Dr. BFD" at BFD Medical Center had treated it. He did display classic symptoms of dissection; he'd say he had a tearing chest pain radiating to the back, but then clever Steve took it to the next level.
He'd flex his arm when the blood pressure cuff was on one arm, and then relax the other. This caused vastly different blood pressure readings in each arm, and this is another classically-taught finding in dissection. In addition to this, Steve would say that he had had an anaphylactic reaction to contrast dye. He did this in an attempt to force us to pre-treat him with Benadryl and steroids, which took eight hours. During those eight hours, he'd request opiate after opiate before getting his CTA done.
He also would get nauseated and request medication for that as well. For those who don't know, that particular combination of substances is the best "ride" the hospital can really give you. Highly reviewed by opiate junkies everywhere. I got Steve on his third visit. His two prior visits showed no dissections.
Steve was dumb enough to come in during normal business hours the third time, so I decided to make some calls. I managed to get hold of the surgeon that he had claimed had seen him, who said he'd never taken care of the guy, but that he'd received multiple calls about him.
I still offered the CTA scan to the patient, but I told him he'd be getting zero opiates. He left in a fit and no one has seen him since. I'm sure he's at a new hospital now.
I had a woman in my office claiming that she had multiple personalities. Dissociative Identity Disorder is kind of a sticky diagnosis to begin with, but she was claiming that she could talk to her different personalities and then bring them forward if she needed to. All of this seemed like it could potentially be more of a psychotic disorder or attention-seeking to me, but I was prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt and do some tests.
Then she introduced me to her girlfriend who, shockingly, also had multiple personalities. DID is not a common diagnosis, and the odds of having two affected individuals in my office who happened to be friends is very low. I almost lost it laughing when they started naming their other “personalities.” Most of them were Disney princesses except, notably, the bad one was called the Beast.
I was in my local pub one Saturday night when an old lady walked in using a walking stick, doubled over and leaning heavily on the stick. Other old people helped her to her seat, where she put her stick down and sent someone to the bar to get her a drink. To give you an idea of the average age of this crowd, my Mother, who was also in attendance, was pushing 70 and was considered to be one of the young ones there, since the live act was doing covers from their generation.
The little old lady drank fairly steadily for the first half of the set, sending older pensioners to the bar regularly. The singer then apparently sang something that this lady liked, so she suddenly forgot her stick, stood up, practically jogged to the dance floor, and danced unaided for the rest of the night! She wasn't very popular after that...
We had a woman come into Emergency carrying a kidney stone she had “passed” in a plastic bag, and claiming she was in agony with another stone. She received pain medication, but it was never strong enough, she claimed. However, all of the scans came back negative and when we had the stone she brought in analyzed, it came back as being quartz, which is not a mineral that occurs in the human body. When confronted with these facts, she quickly left.
Six months later, I’d been rotated to another nearby hospital, and I was working in Emergency again. A woman came in with abdominal pain. When I walked in her room, we locked eyes and instantly recognized each other. It was the same woman! I said nothing, but she knew the jig was up and self-discharged.
We had an elementary school-aged female get admitted with a full workup, sent in from her primary care provider, for "red blobs in the urine." She was totally well aside from the blobs. We couldn't find anything acute going on, so we discharged her while we waited for the pathology results of the blobs. However, we got a call from Grandma called the next day.
Apparently the kid confessed to putting crayon shavings in the urine collection cups, which she had hidden in her underwear.
I had a patient complain of a toothache that required extraction, so I did the extraction and the patient left in good health. However, the patient called within 20 minutes of leaving saying they were in the worst pain of their life and asking for oxycodone. I wrote a prescription for one dose. The patient came back the next day in tears, and I started to feel bad because it looked like they were in genuine pain.
However, when I took a look in their mouth, everything was healing normally. Once again, they requested oxycodone, but this time I said we needed to think of something else. That’s when everything changed. When I declined giving a strong narcotic, the patient suddenly became violent; they started yelling and throwing instruments to the point that they had to be escorted out.
There was a geriatric patient taking advantage of the call bell one night because she was an attention seeker. She always needed really basic things to get done for her because she thought the place was a hotel. She would ring the bell for reasons like "please lift the blanket up for me" or "please pass me my phone" or "please feed me," even though we all knew she could do these things herself.
After days of saying no and that she needed to start doing things for herself, she grew more and more frustrated. Eventually, she snapped—and it was chilling. She grabbed me by my collar, shook me aggressively and yelled, "What don't you understand about the fact that my hands don't work?!?!" I didn't know what to tell her. I just looked at her and blinked as she slowly released her grip on me. I guess I healed her hands. Praise the Lord.
When I was in prison, there was a guy who wanted to go to the medical ward because it wasn’t as strict as a regular ward. He told the guards he felt like he was having a heart attack, so they called for a medical emergency. He pretended to fall on the ground and the prison’s doctor came strolling in, not hurried at all. He put his fingers on the prisoner’s neck and said, “I can’t feel a pulse!”
The guards looked scared, but the doctor just opened his bag and took out his clipboard. He started tapping on it and making other noises with it, as if he was setting up a defibrillator, and then yelled out, “I’m going to shock him!” The prisoner immediately sat up and gasped (I think he was holding his breath). The doctor put his clipboard away and sent him to segregation on suicide watch, not because he was concerned the guy would hurt himself, but as punishment.
Just to be clear, suicide watch SUCKS. You get absolutely NOTHING in your cell but a dress made of rip-resistant fabric. He was there for two weeks and didn’t try any tricks like that again.
I was x-raying a guy in his 30s who claimed that he had fallen down a hill and broken his leg, and then crawled to his father's garage and lay on the floor for three days until his father found him. Now, this was in the heat of summer, I’m talking 30°C plus—and yet somehow, this guy smelled fresh as a daisy. No body odor, and no smell of urine or excrement.
He moaned and groaned the whole way through the exam, except when he thought we couldn't hear him. I heard later that he somehow managed to get a two-day hospital stay out of it. Nothing wrong was found.
We had a 13-14-year-old girl come in for spontaneous bruising and pain in her medial ankle/calf. Apparently the symptoms came and went sporadically, so her Mom was really concerned, but there was no trauma history. When I looked at the leg, the “bruise” was shiny and seemed to almost be shimmering. I grabbed an alcohol-soaked gauze and wiped off the bruise—which was really graphite from a pencil.
The girl was mortified, the Mom was embarrassed, and I felt that it had obviously been done for attention, so I strongly recommend a psychiatric evaluation.
We had a lady who was utterly convinced that purposely turning her leg slightly inward was enough to fool us into thinking that she had a dislocated knee. Repeatedly. She used to sit for hours waiting for a low priority ambulance to pick her up because she was "unable to walk." She failed to remember that she'd called so many ambulances that literally everyone in the area knew who she was.
She managed to hit the frequent flyer mileage-level of being refused any ambulance unless dying.
I had a young male patient who was compelled to give a urine sample. He "couldn't go" which was fine, though somewhat unusual for a young guy. He had some iced tea in a bottle that he was slowly drinking, apparently trying to make himself go. After about 45 minutes, he tried again and provided a sample that looked absolutely normal, so he left.
As soon as he walked out the door, I put on my gloves and picked up the sample; it was cold. He'd poured iced tea into the sample container and diluted it to urine color with cold water. Here's a fun healthcare tip from me to you: freezing cold urine is a sign of about one thing, and it’s not good.
When I was at boot camp in the army, we were scheduled to have a one-week survival drill outdoors, in the wintertime, in the Arctic, so we knew it was going to suck. A buddy and I decided to try to get out of it, so we reported in sick with a fever and went to the infirmary a day before the drill began. Young civilian nurses did the triaging; we were sent to a room and each given an old-school thermometer covered in plastic and lube and asked to insert it in our backsides.
The nurse left the room for a few minutes to give us time to insert them ourselves. That also gave us time to take the thermometer out of the plastic sleeve and warm it on a light bulb. However, the first time we tried it, the light bulb made them spike beyond possible human temperature, so we then desperately shook them get them down to a reasonable fever temperature.
We just had time to put the sleeve back on before the nurse returned and voila, we had proof we had a fever! And it worked! We had a few great days in the sickbay getting pampered by the nurses (and joking around and flirting with them as every awkward 18-year-old does). Every morning, the doctor made his rounds, so we repeated the thermometer routine and even blew hot air into the pillows to warm up our foreheads and make them "sweaty.”
On Thursday morning, the nurse came in, gave us the thermometers as usual, and said the doctor would be visiting in a few minutes. On her way out the door, she smiled and added, "And by the way guys, if you still have a fever, you will not be released until Monday, because the doctor has the day off tomorrow and there are no doctors here on weekends."
We were miraculously fever-free and healthy again by the time the doctor arrived and were dismissed that morning in time to enjoy our weekend leave.
I had an employee tell me that his spine couldn't stay straight. He claimed that when he tried to sit up straight, he'd flop to the left or right uncontrollably. He followed that up with telling me that he had recently found out that this was due to one of his lungs being deflated. You know...because your lungs hold your spine straight.
A highlight of my career was when he finally quit because he "just wasn't about that cubicle life."
My Mom once had a guy come in with terrible pain in his testicles, which had also turned blue! He was crying in apparent agony, with both nurses and doctors unable to work out the reason for his blue appendages. One doctor suspected twisted testicles, and the patient was told he was about to have emergency surgery—until one of the nurses noticed some blue on his inner thigh.
Apparently, he was either using dye on his skin or he had gone commando in new jeans, and some of the dye had rubbed off. They found out later that he was an addict who had visited most local hospitals with obscure excuses for requiring strong painkillers. He had even convinced one doctor to give him stomach surgery at another hospital weeks before, also for some pain the surgeons couldn’t find a reason for!
Once there was a woman who came into the ER with her husband looking for pain medication. Her husband told the staff not to give it to her, and she got angry and suddenly “slipped into a coma” and had multiple “seizures.” All of this was happening while she was hooked up to monitors, so she obviously wasn’t fooling anyone.
It was particularly fun to watch her grab the bed rails and manually shake them violently every 5-10 minutes before becoming unresponsive again. Her husband just looked embarrassed.
Pediatric patients are my favorite fakers. Once I was giving the kids in the ward Mantoux shots (a test to see if you’re TB positive), and a 5-year-old boy kept telling me I couldn’t give him the shot because he was allergic to needles. He started fake coughing when approached, and said he couldn’t breathe. I just said that it was a pity he couldn’t get the shot, because I gave free tattoos to the kids who got it.
He said that maybe we should try again to see if he was still allergic because he wasn’t so sure. We did, and his cough went away.
My Grandmother was a hypochondriac. She was always saying she was sick to try to get sympathy from a family that she had mostly alienated. The last family member who still hadn't caught on was my cousin. One day, my Grandmother called her complaining that she was spitting up blood. My cousin freaked out and rushed her to the doctor.
The doctor, who already knew how she was, asked her a few questions then told her to open her mouth so he could take a look. She did—and he immediately told her to spit. Out. The. Candy. In. Her. Mouth. Turns out she had been holding a peppermint hard candy in her lip and spitting out the juice from it, which had a slightly reddish tinge.
Needless to say, that was the last contact my cousin had with her.
Early in my career, I was seeing a workman's compensation patient for a low back injury. She came into my office bent over and practically crawling, crying and yelling out in pain. She told me she couldn't walk or stand up straight after the injury. I tried my best to complete an evaluation, but every time I attempted to initiate a test to pinpoint the injury, she would scream and cry.
I couldn't even lightly touch her skin without her crying out. I even offered to call her an ambulance several times since she was so distressed, but she refused. She left and I walked over to my computer to write up my report. My co-worker, who had witnessed the whole thing, looked at me and said, "Wait, you're about to miss the best part of the show!"
I looked out the window into the parking lot—and saw her walking fully upright, strutting her stuff across the parking lot while slinging her purse over her shoulder with one hand and chatting on her cell phone with the other. She got in her car no problem and drove away. I’ve never seen such a fast cure. It was a miracle!
One night, a little girl was bouncing on the bed after dark. She was told once to stop, but kept doing it. She fell out of bed, which alerted her parents, and rather than face their wrath, she pretended she had a neck injury. The parents then called an ambulance. It was obvious she wasn't hurt, but the parents were in such hysterics they hadn't noticed.
The whole situation seemed extreme, and despite trying to scare her out of pretending, the little girl wouldn't stop the act. I started thinking that if she was that terrified of what her parents would do to her when I left, then something terrible must be going on. She would not drop the act, so we took her to the hospital for further investigation.
This horrible story would later make the news. She was a victim of abuse and her parents were utter monsters. Her sheer determination not to set them off was what clued us into something being wrong. In this case, faking may have saved her life.
I was working as a paramedic at a very large maximum-security prison, so there was a pretty large amount of fakers. One guy was on special double lockdown, and started having a "seizure." Well, apparently he had only ever heard about what seizures looked like. He heard you become incontinent, so he pulled down his jumpsuit, defecated on the floor, pulled his jumpsuit back up, then laid on the bed to "seize."
His "seizure" included doing sit-ups while staring straight ahead and shouting “GAAAHHHWOOOOO” every rep. We stood there, casually chatting about how obviously fake his seizure was until he stopped, sighed, turned over, and pretended to go to sleep.
Kidney stones are very painful and pretty much a guarantee to get opiates, so those seeking a high sometimes fake the symptoms. One of the signs suggestive of kidney stones is blood in the urine, and many addicts know this. A person came in complaining of kidney stones, and so was asked for a urine specimen. While in the bathroom, they stuck their finger with a needle to put a few drops into the sample. Unfortunately, they went too deep, and then couldn’t stop the bleeding with just pressure.
The nurse was getting worried when the person spent so long in the bathroom while refusing to let anyone in. She called me because she was worried something was badly wrong, and we unlocked the bathroom. The patient was sitting there on the floor, holding a stolen needle tip and a sporting a thumb that was still flowing with fresh blood.
We found the urine pot on the sink with only a little blood at the bottom, but no urine in it.
One patient that I met had faked cancer for over a year. He ended up in our Emergency room and I saw him as a consult. He had two liters of urine in his bladder (which is too much) and said he had stage-4 melanoma. However, the hospital where he claimed to be getting treated had no record of him. His Dad and girlfriend were in the room when we confronted him, and his poor Dad was so embarrassed.
This man had had his girlfriend shave his head every day, claiming that he was embarrassed by how patchy it was getting from the chemotherapy. They had all even gone on a huge trip together as a bucket-list goal. It was insane. He would text his girlfriend updates from the “doctor's office” while she was at work.
His parents would give him rides to get his treatments, but no one actually went in with him, because he didn’t want them to. They would wait in the lobby or the parking lot, which they didn't find super unusual since he was in his 30s and said he wanted privacy. We signed off on the case before they figured out why he had such bad urinary retention since we were so disgusted with the whole thing. I hope that girl dumped him.
A young woman went running into a small rural hospital ER pretending to have abdominal pain. The law enforcement officer who followed her in had tagged her going 40+km/h over the speed limit, which was considered "stunt driving" as per the new law in Ontario, and resulted in an automatic car impoundment and license suspension.
The officer said he’d be waiting for her when she left the hospital. When I talked to her, she flat out admitted that she just came in because she freaked out and didn’t stop when he tried to pull her over, and now didn’t know what to do. I told her I’d give her 45 minutes to call her parents before I booted her out.
In the meantime, one of her tests came back, and something looked seriously wrong. A subsequent ultrasound came back showing extremely early ectopic pregnancy. The officer figured out something was up when he heard an air ambulance call come in over the radio, as our small hospital did not have the resources to treat her safely.
She was completely asymptomatic, so she was incredibly lucky that we found it. She managed to dodge both charges and a life-threatening issue, purely by accident!
A few years ago I hated my boss, so I pretended to have lots of migraines and headaches that were too severe to work through. After seeing the same doctor a few times (to get the doctor’s note), he sent me for an MRI brain scan. I played along and, when the date came around, I had the scan. Imagine my surprise when, three hours later, I was rushed to Emergency at my local hospital due to my scan showing two lower brain aneurysms.
I never had any outward symptoms, I was only faking them! But if I hadn’t faked them, I would never have had the scan that found a real problem. Bit of a blessing in disguise I suppose.
My mother worked in the ER and she once told me this crazy story. One day, a scruffy guy in his mid-50s came in looking for nonspecific help. He was confused, smelly, and dressed in a ragged, mismatched, thrift store suit. He was clearly homeless and just looking for a bed. He also kept muttering something about quantum, so she thought he was a little off his rocker. She was in for the shock of her life when she discovered who he really was!
Mom decided that she might as well give him a workup so that she could teach the residents. Tests showed that the guy was actually in near-total renal failure, so they gave him dialysis. Fairly quickly after that, he became coherent and sane. Suddenly, he started talking about REAL quantum physics. It turns out that he was a math professor!
His kidney problem had sent him into a mental tailspin on his way to a conference a month earlier. Apparently, he had exited his train in wrong city and had been wandering the streets ever since, missing and presumed deceased!
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
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