Who needs medical advice from a doctor when you have access to the internet? Well, the people in the following stories should have sought out a professional's opinion before taking matters into their own hands and coming up with some homebrewed medical treatments. As in most cases, results may vary.
(Content has been edited for clarity.)
"We had a patient come in for incision and drainage of abscesses in his deltoids. He apparently had thoughts of being a bodybuilder, but instead of lifting weights or knowing someone who could hook him up with some quality steroids, he decided to bulk up by using some protein powder at GNC.
He would mix the protein powder with water, draw it up into a syringe, and inject 20 to 40 cubic centimeters daily directly into the muscles. If bulk was what he was going for, it worked, but only temporarily. A rip-roaring localized infection makes you look plenty swole.
They got almost a liter of pus mixed with liquified protein powder out of each deltoid. This also wasn't the first time he'd been in for this problem."
"I once shared living quarters with medics at a small outpost in Afghanistan. Whenever they weren't busy, they'd see as many locals as they could. I was working in the back room one day when I overheard this gem of a conversation:
Patient, through an interpreter: 'I caught something (pointing towards his junk) recently during a vacation in Pakistan.'
The locals tend to look at Pakistan like Americans view Las Vegas; a way to get away from it all for uninhibited hedonism when desired.
Medic: 'How bad are the flare-ups?'
Patient: 'Pretty bad, but I'm trying to treat it naturally.'
I leaned in at this point, ready for whatever explanation was coming. There was a long silence from the medic, who was trying to process the situation.
Medic: 'How does one treat that condition naturally?'
Patient: 'I'm eating a lot of cheese.'"
"I was a unit secretary of an oncology unit in the early 2000s. We had a lady come in with a massive fungating tumor in her mouth/half her face. According to her husband, she initially found a small flat lesion on her hard palate that didn't go away, so she went to a doctor and was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth. She elected to swish essential oil solutions in her mouth to cure it. In less than a year, it became so enormous that her mouth couldn't close and it had spread into her brain. They tried to open her mouth enough to figure out how to do the radiation and her remaining teeth fell out like kernels of popcorn. The lady's husband had tried to reason with her, but she insisted natural was best. She only lived a couple days after she got to us.
It was horrible."
"I had a patient tell me he was putting honey on open wounds on his legs, but I quit listening when he also stated that he was letting his dog lick his sores. I threw up a little when he said this, and I have been a nurse for almost 20 years.
It would be one thing if he were using medicinal honey that is sterilized and tested for quality and purity before being dispensed to places like burn units and wound care centers, but no, he was using regular honey sold in a bear-shaped plastic bottle at the grocery store. It isn't sterile or smart to use on wounds. In fact, you don't give honey to babies for that specific reason, it can contain botulinum bacteria.
Also, don't let your pets lick your wounds. If they're eager to do so, it's probably because they can sense infection in it and that's an even better reason to see a doctor."
"I used to be a public health officer for the World Health Organization.
In many parts of the world, there is a traditional practice of covering a newborn's umbilical cord with fresh cow dung. Many societies believe in a connection between temperature and health and consider heat to be an important part of healing. One available material that is warm, easily applied, and readily available is fresh cow dung, which they apply directly to the newborn's stomach.
A colleague, fresh out of medical school in Mexico, was doing a rural health rotation. In this area, the villagers had this practice and the belief of heat as being important for healing. He kept getting cases of babies with tetanus or other infections but he couldn't convince the villagers to stop using dung as they kept clinging to their heat belief.
He decided to work within their belief system. He said that dung was unclean and unsafe but there was something else that was very hot and available: moonshine. He convinced them of this since it 'burns' in your stomach when you drink it. The benefit is not only was it NOT cow dung, but the moonshine they cooked up was a very high proof and made an excellent antiseptic.
The practice caught on and cases of neonatal tetanus in his district plummeted, all because of a brilliant young doctor thinking outside the box."
"I used to work in a lab in a hospital in a rural town. I received a stool sample from the Emergency Room that was basically a blood clot the size of a golf ball. Sometimes the ER gets mixed up and sends me the wrong specimen, like some kind of body fluid and labeled it as urine. I called the patient's nurse and asked what the deal was with the patient and if it was stool they sent up. The nurse I said the patient thought he had eaten bad pork, and to prevent food poisoning, he drank a mixture of bleach, Schmirnoff, ibuprofen, and Tums."
"A friend of mine in nursing school once told me a story of why they have to be explicitly clear when explaining how a patient should administer their medication. A woman came in for an ear infection and was given a liquid capsule for ingestion. She came back in with no results. It turns out she was puncturing the capsule and squirting it in her ear.
Another story was a woman diagnosed with diabetes and needed to give herself injections. The doctor demonstrated how to do the injection by using an orange and injecting the needle into it. The woman had been injecting oranges with insulin and eating it."
"I responded to a nursing home for an unresponsive diabetic patient.
The nurse didn't keep up with the insulin and gave a tad bit too much, decreasing the patient's blood sugar. Ok, this is fixable. I walked in to see another nurse pouring Splenda down this lady's mouth.
She had snoring restorations and the Splenda was being inhaled into her lungs. It also wasn't doing anything for this poor lady because it wasn't sugar.
After giving this lady an IV of sugar water, she came to but felt like she couldn't get enough air.
She ended up being treated for pneumonia.
Some people get their medical licenses from the bottom of a Cracker Jack box."
"When I was in medical school on my family medicine rotation, I was sent in to see a middle-aged woman with complaints of sinus congestion. Sure enough, from the beginning, I could tell she was stopped up by her nasally voice and suspected it was your run of the mill viral upper respiratory infection.
I educated her on symptomatic management and the following exchange ensued:
Patient: 'Do you think it might be the flu?'
Me: 'It's possible but unlikely. It's out of the typical season (it was June).'
Patient: 'Yeah, I guess I wasn't sure it was; I've been spraying Lysol everywhere and it doesn't seem to be doing any good, and it says it kills the flu virus.'
Me: 'Well, that's something that could help disinfect the house and keep the virus from spreading.'
Patient: 'I just wish it didn't burn so much.'
Me: 'What do you mean, 'it burns?''
Patient: 'When I spray it up my nose, it burns so bad.'
Yep. My patient thought that since Lysol kills the flue, the best way to nip it in the bud was to flush her sinuses with it like a saline spray. It did not work, for the record. The fact that I didn't immediately fall over laughing and instead seriously counseled her against ever doing that again is still the greatest feat of composure in my entire career."
"There's a myth that lowering someone's core temperature will save them from overdosing. As a result, many first responders have arrived on scenes to find friends or fellow users inserting ice into someone's rectum.
Sometimes they don't have ice around though, which leads to getting inventive. This includes everything from popsicles to frozen hot dogs, or my personal favorite: a bag of frozen french fries.
It would take a lot of popsicles in the bum to noticeably lower one's core temperature, and even then, it's pointless. If there are people around to shove things up the patient's butt, there are people around to give rescue breaths, which is all the patient really needs until proper help arrives."
"One of my first patients was a man who was injecting a mixture of testosterone, 'human growth hormone,' sesame oil, and sunflower oil into the base of his junk as a DIY enlargement therapy. Well, it got infected, so he ended up going to the Emergency Room for incision and drainage.
I saw him as a post-ER visit, and at that time, he figured that he shouldn't be injecting his member while he was healing. So instead, he was injecting his concoction of oil and sketchy hormones everywhere else into his body because he figured it would still have some effect.
Also, he said he bought his testosterone and human growth hormone 'online from overseas.' Who knows what's in that stuff."
"A woman came in for her 6-month-old's checkup, and she had what looked like chocolate milk in the baby's bottle.
So the doctor started explaining to her as kindly as he could that she shouldn't be giving her baby chocolate milk. At which point she interrupted him and said, 'Oh, that isn't chocolate milk. It's coffee! He just loves it!'"
"A patient sustained severe burns on both arms, his chest, and his face after a portable stove exploded.
His wife put green beans in the blender and covered his burns with the paste. When he came in to be seen, I had to scrape the now dried on green bean paste off his extremely painfully burnt skin. She said it was an ancient Chinese remedy."
"I worked with a dermatologist, and one of the worst things I have seen is people using coconut oil as sunscreen.
Coconut oil does not protect against the strongest rays. It mildly protects against weaker sun rays, while exposing your skin to the more harmful rays. When you brag about coconut oil as being a sunscreen, you might as well hold a sign above your head that says, 'I don't do any research; I get my information from YouTube videos and Pinterest boards.'
And why do people do this? Because they claim that sunscreens on the market have specific chemicals that cause cancer. I've never seen someone have skin cancer from applying sunscreen.
However, I have seen a lot of skin cancer on people who decided that big pharma was lying to them, and who were more willing to listen to some raw vegans and nature 'gurus' on YouTube who give out quack information.
Use coconut oil on your skin after a shower, use it at night or use it to shave, but don't slather it on your skin on the beach - you're better off using nothing."
"A patient I saw had missed an appointment with their care team where they would get their bandage changed. I noticed what appeared to be something oozing around the edges of the bandage. I asked my patient about it, and they accepted my offer to change it out for them. I got fresh bandages and took the old one off and it was sticky and stringy (picture slow-motion shots of caramel being pulled apart) and it reeked.
To be fair, most wounds smell, but this was different. I finally asked them what they used to change their bandage since I knew it wasn't discharge. Maple syrup. They said it was the 'good stuff in a glass jar,' but who knows. Either way, it wasn't sterile and this wasn't a simple wound.
Proper sugar dressings can be used on various types of wounds, but it's not as simple as just pouring some table sugar on it."
"I had a patient who didn't take his blood pressure medicine.
Instead, he watched the morning weather report and checked the atmospheric pressure for the day; then he drank water with salt, modifying the amount of salt based on that day's atmospheric pressure.
He is dead now."
"My diabetic grandpa used to eat all the bread and sugar he wanted, and then would eat lemon drops after everything. According to him, the acid from the lemon juice would counteract the sugar he had just eaten. The nurses disagreed and fought with him for years, but eventually gave in and let him do what he wanted because he was 97 and the food made him happy."
"One of the worst things I have even is parents sneaking essential oils onto their premature babies' skin! The baby's skin has central lines that these oils can wick onto and damage, causing infection, or interfere with medications. Infections in premature babies can mean death within hours.
Premies have incomplete skin with much faster absorption rates than fully developed adult skin. These oils can cause burns and damage their insides. Your pyramid scheme company is not a reliable source for neonatology treatments. Please, dear God, keep oils off of any baby, but especially premies."
"A very nice middle-aged lady with diabetes noticed that none of her ulcers were healing. She lived in Australia but made regular trips home to the Samoan Islands.
During the woman's trip, her great-aunt gave her a mysterious grey paste made from plants and animals, which was hailed on the island as a healing ointment. This lady applied the paste liberally to her open sores but still needed relief from the pain, so she soaked in the South Pacific Ocean.
When she returned to Australia and came to our emergency department, her ulcers were badly infected down to the bone. Our cultures returned a mixture of highly unusual and rare bugs that required some of the most exciting antibiotics I've ever seen prescribed."
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