A doctor's job certainly is not easy. They deal with serious cases as well as ones they even find hard to believe. But when these patients told their medical providers what they thought was wrong with them, the doctors thought there was no way it could be true. Boy, were they proven wrong.
Content has been edited for clarity.
Nothing They Could Do
“I’m an obgyn resident.
This one still freaks me out.
As a Med student had a super superbly kind and funny pregnant patient with mild hypertension, IVF twin pregnancies, conceived overseas, little older than usual, slightly overweight, previous c-section. Nothing really remarkable, just a few small risk factors all together.
She came to high risk clinic and the fetal heart tracing was a bit too quiet. Not scary, just not great.
Maternal fetal medicine sub specialist doctor said she should go for delivery.
The lady and I were chatting, she was from the same city as my then girlfriend, she had a great sense of humor, took the delivery news like a champ. Jokingly said, ‘Okay, but don’t let me die, I want to meet your girlfriend after all this.’
We said goodbye, the nurse and I smiled and wished her well.
The attending then said, ‘I don’t like this, this is the kind of patient that smiles, looks good, then dies.’
Nurse and medical student me both thought he was crazy.
She had a textbook, uncomplicated c section. Moved to recovery, 1hr later suddenly lost her pulse with essentially no warning and died of an amniotic fluid embolism.
Amniotic fluid embolism: unpredictable, unpreventable. Occurs in 1 out of every 20,000-50,000 births.
I can still remember how she looked waving goodbye to us. I’ve seen a lot of people in a lot of different fields die, but this one still hurts my heart today.”
He Wasn’t Totally Wrong
“Worked on the Ambulances for a stint when I was fresh out of Uni. One day I was transferring to another county with an elderly patient with such severe dementia he didn’t remember his own wife, or even his name.
The whole ride there, he was happily chatting away, telling me that he was an ex-international footballer, about his big victories and how he owned a business with David Beckham, mixed in with other psychedelic nonsense. I just kept asking him questions to keep him occupied and chatting, but in my head I was thinking it was just a funny side effect of his Dementia.
So we arrive at the new hospital and his lovely wife is waiting there. I and my crew mate transferred him to his hospital bed and his wife shook our hands and thanked us profusely for being so kind to him. She said ‘I know he’s a bit of a handful, did he say much on the way?’ and I said ‘yes, he was telling us about being an international footballer and that he owned a business with David Beckham’. She scoffs and says ‘You told these nice people you were David’s business partner?! You only met him a couple of times!’. When I asked how he knew him, she explained that he had indeed been an international football player and was well known for ‘heading’ the ball. In fact, the Doctor’s thought that’s why he developed the dementia.
I was so shocked, I’ll never forget him.”
Proved Them Wrong
“Broke my arm once. There was a huge waiting time at local hospital so I decided to go to another hospital the next morning. I slept really badly but managed to have like 3-4 hours of sleep. (instead of waiting the whole night awake in a waiting room)
When I explained what happened to the doctor she said it was not broken because if it was I would never be able to sleep with it. So I get used to the idea I did not break my arm. I stay there for the scans (because it was swelled) and wait.
The doctor came back with 2 pills of morphine saying I had incredible pain tolerance and that my arm broke at 3 places. She then explained I needed a surgery the same day and they are making place for it on the agenda.
I can still remember her face when explaining to me the procedures of the surgery knowing she told me earlier it was not possible.”
He Was Right All Along
“Inpatient psych ward when I was a medical student:
We admitted a guy who was having psychotic delusions. He lived in a ‘holler,’ a small valley between 2 mountains.
For weeks, he had been absolutely preoccupied by this idea that the mountain was going to fall on his house. He would spend days at a time without sleep finding rocks, branches, and other junk and piling them up behind his house because ‘the mountain’s going to fall down on my house.’ I guess this wasn’t the first time this happened, because the family brought him in saying he was off his meds, working himself to death to build a pile of junk behind his house.
He’s admitted for a week or two, goes to group therapy, has his meds adjusted, and he’s doing well. We decide he’s been tuned up and ready to be discharged.
His family comes to pick him up, but they have this grim look on their faces. ‘We’re bringing him back to the hotel. Yesterday there was a landslide. It destroyed the house.'”
They Laughed At Them
“My daughter had a fall on the trampoline when she was 3. She let out this really weird scream, then went pale, quiet and sweaty, and wouldn’t let us touch her arm. We only live 5 minutes from the hospital so I put her in the car and drove there. She slept in the car.
We get to the hospital and check in, and she’s found her second wind. The triage nurse rolled her eyes at me when I asked for an x-ray, but ordered one anyway. At this point my daughter was literally pirouetting around the waiting room. I was starting to doubt myself. Even the x-ray technician was laughing at us.
About five minutes after the x-ray is taken, a very red-faced triage nurse runs out to the waiting room and firmly tells me to stop my daughter from dancing, she’s broken her arm and they don’t know if she will need surgery or not.
She didn’t need surgery in the end but spent 6 weeks in a plaster cast. It turns out she’s tough and has a great pain threshold. Love her.”
She’s Telling The Truth
“Occupational therapist here. I was gathering a social history on an elderly patient. Asked who she lives with. She told me she lives with her 6 dogs, and 200,000 bees. I was like, yup this lady has post-operative delirium. Called her son to get the real social history, he was like, yeah she’s a beekeeper and she adopts old dogs.”
Sometimes They Just Know
“I am a medical provider, and this one happened to me, while still in training.
Had a sore throat, nothing miserable, but like 2-3/10 annoying. Figured it would go away. It didn’t. One week turned into two. Two turned into an entire clinical rotation. After about 8 weeks I’d convinced myself this low simmering sore throat was probably thyroid cancer. I didn’t have any thyroid symptoms, like at all. No constipation or diarrhea, hot or cold intolerance, weight changes, fatigue, heart palpitations, skin, hair or nail changes. Just a sore throat.
Soon I started palpating what I was convinced was a lump when I swallowed. Had my attending feel it as well. They all told me I was a stupid student who thought he had all the ailments he was learning/reading about in textbooks.
Another couple weeks go by before I schedule my own ENT appointment. I tell the ENT my hypothesis on thyroid cancer. He puts a scope down my nose into my throat. Tries to convince me it’s GERD. I tell him I can eat a bowl of habaneros, washed down with a pot of coffee and orange juice without thinking twice. He starts writing a script for omeprazole, telling me to follow up in a 3-4 weeks and we’ll see how well the PPI took care of my GERD.
I flat out tell him, I don’t have GERD, if you’re not going to U.S my neck, I’ll find another ENT who will. He was clearly upset with me for making fun of on his well manicured morning schedule.
They wheel the ultrasound in begrudgingly. Goops up my neck and starts looking. 30 seconds. That’s all it took. He says, ‘huh… looks like you are right. Your thyroid is chock-full of microcalcifications. This is a tell tale sign of papillary thyroid cancer. I need you to have a biopsy tomorrow.’
Did the biopsy, came back malignant. Had that hitchhiker removed the day after Christmas 8 years ago. Surgeon said it was the size of a golf ball, and was nearly completely hidden by my collarbone. So that’s why I was the only one who could feel it, it would hit the clavicle when I swallowed, but nobody could palpate the mass below the clavicle. Went back to school 3 days later for the first day of surgical rotation. First case I ever scrubbed in was a thyroidectomy for cancer (had to flip a coin with another dumb student who was going to stiff me on this opportunity, despite fresh sutures in my neck). That was wild to see what had just happened to me 72 hours prior.”
Not An April Fools Prank!
“Not a doctor, but my mom’s a nurse so close enough. One year, during college the day before Easter break, I dislocated my knee. This was a year when Easter was in early April, meaning I injured myself on April 1st.
I was oddly calm (every one was panicking and someone had to take charge), so I sent people to get ice and someone else to go get my car keys and drive me to the ER (broke college me did not want to pay for a wee-woo wagon). Someone (who didn’t follow directions) freaked and called an ambulance anyway.
During this time, I figured I would be a responsible adult and call my mom at work and let her know I would not be able to drive back home for break that day, but maybe the next (spoiler alert: no). Of course, she did not believe me, especially since there was no panic in my voice. As I was trying to tell her that my knee cap was on the side of my leg and DEFINITELY SHOULDN’T BE THERE, the EMTs showed up. One guy took the phone from me and said ‘M’am, with all due respect, your daughters knee needs to be put back into place and we’re going to take her to the ER to do that.’
Of course, I refused the ambulance ride at first, but after realizing I wouldn’t be able to get into a regular car without immense pain, I let the EMTs take me. Multiple pain killers later, I felt much better about my decision.
I ended up in the ER by myself (everyone had classes I guess or was already gone? I don’t really know) and at one point I texted my mom a picture to prove that my knee cap was not in the right place. Doctors nicely put that thing back where it came from, gave me more meds and crutches (pro tip: don’t use them on while on painkillers) and sent me on my way. Thankfully a friend’s mom lived close by and dropped me back off at my dorm, of which I lived on the second floor without an elevator. Somehow, I stumbled up those stairs like a champ, made it to my room, and passed out on my bed until my parents were able to pick me up and take me home (a 3 hour drive one way).
Long story short, I dislocated my knee on April Fool’s Day and my mom thought it was a joke.”
She Knew Something Was Up
“My ex-husband sprung on me on a Thursday that he was having a lung biopsy on Friday. He had no ride so I picked him up and took him home to my house to recover and the doctors told me if anything went south to bring him in right away. He started ‘vomiting’ clear liquid that I believe was actually coming out of his lung. I rushed him to the ER
My mind started replaying a bunch of weird things that occurred back when we were still married that were brushed off as tic’s (cough when he would laugh, repetitive squinting / hard blinking), things not really acknowledged at all or attributed to other things. Hindsight is SO 20/20.
After the flood of things in my head started waving huge red flags I took him to the ER.
This is the day after his lung biopsy.
The ER Doc looked so young… I think it was his first year.
Er Doc to Me: Why have you brought him here?
Me to ER Doc: I think you need to scan his brain. I think the tumor is lung cancer and it is in his brain as well.
ER Doc to Me: Um… we don’t even know if this tumor is lung cancer yet … pathology won’t be back until at least Monday. (Tumor was the size of a medium orange)
Me to ER Doc: I know but this happened and this other thing happened and this other thing happened. (Gave him a 10-minute run down of things)
ER Doc to Me: (Gave me an emotionless stare for about 10 seconds) I think you may be right…
They scheduled a brain scan and within a few hours we knew instantly that the lung tumor was indeed cancerous before we even had results. It had metastasized throughout his whole body. Bones, joints, everywhere. It was Stage 4.
Brain scan verbiage: Multiple (insert type of tumors) too innumerable to count.
The scan looked like someone had thrown dime sized confetti inside his brain, it was everywhere.
ER Doc said he almost didn’t listen to me but was glad he did. The doctor made a bunch of calls and whole brain radiation was scheduled and started the very next week.
It was like a movie… I still wonder how the doctor felt during that whole thing it was surreal.”
“Obligatory not a doctor, but a medical student. On my mental health placement there was a guy I saw on a home visit who was convinced his neighbor was trying to kill him. This guy had a history of mental health problems and the doctors were sure he was psychotic, and all of this was in his head.
However, a few days later the doctor went round for another home visit and found his neighbor trying to climb through the window with an AXE. The poor man wasn’t psychotic at all, his neighbor was actually trying to murder him, and everyone thought he was just mad.”
She’s Really Good About Keeping Her Identity A Secret
“I work in neuro rehab. Seeing a patient who had a history of substance abuse and attempted suicides. The last attempt left her with brain damage hence my involvement. She has a 5-second memory. Asks if her mother is still alive then asks if she comes to visit her then asks again if her mother is alive. Anyway I’m going through basic orientation questions with a calendar such as what is your name, where are we, and what do you do. Her name is correct but her occupation she notes as ‘I’m a spy but I’m not supposed to say that’. After trying to cue her to the correct answer like ‘Do you work in an office?’ ‘Are you in finance?’ She won’t change her answer. After the session I go look in her personnel file to check her occupation and it says ‘classified’. Checked with the family and they say they have never known what she does but she works for the national intelligence agency…”
That’s Just Nasty
“Not a doctor …. friends son age 2 came home from daycare said he had stuck an acorn up his nose, mum looked, no acorn. Around 2 and a half boy develops chronic throat and sinus infections has 8 courses of antibiotics in a year. Age 4 boy is sent for tonsillectomy. Surgeon comes out of theater shows mum a moldy rotten acorn. Turns out he did put an acorn up his nose! They left tonsils in boy ridiculously healthy ever since.”
Is It Too Early To Draft Him?
“Back when I worked in childcare, there was a little boy in my class who was extremely precocious and active. One morning his mom drops him off and says he was jumping on the bed the night before and injured his leg. She was initially concerned, but an hour later he was running and playing hockey indoors so she assumed it wasn’t too bad. Told us to call if he complained of pain and headed off. We noticed him occasionally limping throughout the day while he played but it wasn’t slowing him down. We ask him if his leg hurt and he repeatedly told us no. Relayed this to his mom when she picked him up.
A few days pass, he’s still limping on and off, but otherwise his normal self. His mom tells us she’s talking him to urgent care just to be safe. It was broken in two places. This sweet little boy still ran on it, napped just fine and insisted it didn’t hurt. Long story short, his mom felt terrible and I’ll be watching the NHL in a few years because I’m sure this tough kid will end up a pro.”
Crazy Small World
“I’m a nurse. I had a patient in her late 70s talk about how her mom was upstairs and died last night. I used to work neuro and so confused old people was our gig. So I just listened like ‘hmm, wow, ok,’ and did my job. I told another staff member about how she wouldn’t stop talking about her mom being upstairs and dying last night, and they said ‘it’s true, her 98-year-old mom died in our ICU last night.’ I checked the roll in the morgue and lo and behold, her mom’s name was on it. Well ok then.”
People Know Their Bodies
“Patient here. I broke the same rib eleven times over the course of three years, but the doctor often wouldn’t even order an x-ray, she just said it wasn’t healing right, give it time. I tell her there’s something else going on, she dismisses me. Finally, after the eleventh time, she says FINE we’ll X-ray. X-ray shows a mass, mass is biopsied, I have a tumor. The tumor was weakening the bone to the point that it broke when I reached into an upper cabinet for the sugar.
Had that bad boy (named him Adam) removed in 2018, one week hospital stay, worse surgery I can imagine, and now I’m doing great.”
It Didn’t Dissolve
“I tore the ligaments in my knee when I was twelve and the doctor had a difficult time getting the stitches out. One broke and he decided to leave it under my skin telling my parents it would dissolve.
When I was 16 I banged my knee against something and out popped the end of the stitch. I went to the doctor to get it removed. You could see a long curly blue thing under my skin – I insisted this was the remaining stitches, my doctor just thought it was a vein.
She froze a small area around the protruding stitch and pulled on it. She pulled out two or three inches of curly stitching. She held it up, looking shocked and said, ‘I have to go show the other doctors this’ and left the room.”
She Wasn’t Crazy
“I was called to give a psych eval for a similar case. Woman in her mid-late 30s. The ED wanted me to evaluate because during their interview and physical she was complaining of itching and lines appearing on her skin. To prove her point she ripped the soap container off the wall and started rubbing the soap all over her skin to make the lines stand out.
When I walked in to see her she was sitting in the ED stretcher, wild-eyed, and making no attempt to cover her bare nethers beneath the hospital gown. She gave a fairly convincing history of living in an apartment which had some unknown infestation (she saw bugs several times but wasn’t sure what they were and several others in the apartment were also itching). When she did show me the lines on her skin I asked her if anyone had tested her for scabies (spoiler alert, they hadn’t).
Thanked her for her time and told the ED to evaluate for scabies. To be fair she likely did (does?) have some sort of disorder, but it wasn’t psychogenic formication and it wasn’t anything that needed me to actively treat.”
What Is Wrong With People
“My mom used to work as a nurse in intercity Chicago.
She told me a story that some guy came in saying he had injected poop into his leg. He wasn’t lying. He literally injected liquid poop into his leg to get himself sick.
A second story is that a homeless lady came in for some reason that I don’t remember. When they were giving her a bath, some white and soggy lump was found in the tub. The lady said ‘Oh, that’s my fry!’ She had been stuffing them into her lady part to store to eat later.”
Grandma’s Never Wrong
“Emergency doc here. I once had a woman come in after visiting her psychic. She went because she had been feeling just generally ill, nothing specific. The psychic used some tarot cards and then told her that her dead grandmother was trying to warn her that she had Lyme disease. I totally doubted it, but you’d better believe I ordered the test just in case.
The next day, the test came back, and she had it.”