Every day, thousands of people take a trip to their doctors to find out what's going on with their bodies. While they might think it's a major issue, sometimes there's nothing wrong at all. Something these people know all too well.
Medics on Reddit share the "That's not a real thing!" moment they've with patients. Content has been edited for clarity.
Finding Out The Real Issue
“My dad’s a doctor and when you are the child of a doctor there are many moments like that in your life, mostly where you’re on the receiving end of the phrase, ‘This isn’t a real issue.’
But when my dad was still doing his home clinic, he had several patients with the weirdest symptoms. Once, a man came in and said he had a burning member. He actually thought someone was coming in and lighting a fire under it while he slept. He wanted a cure for burning when in reality he had gonorrhea.
The guy got offended when my dad told him this because he was married and his wife was fine but 80 percent of women that have gonorrhea are asymptomatic. Turns out the dude had a serious cheap lady of the night addiction which is where he and his wife got it from.”
Don’t Trust Everything On The Internet
“I had a patient come in for a general surgeon consult, and was convinced that she had a blood cancer (which is nonsurgical). I asked her, ‘Okay, have you had (insert all probing questions here)?’
She says no. Ok… So I asked how she was so confident in having ‘blood cancer.’ She proceeds to tell me she read about this test you can do, on the internet, where you get about ‘this much’ (while approximating like half a cup) of a beverage and drink it. If doing this makes your lymph node hurt then you have cancer. And then she points to two spots where there definitely aren’t major lymph nodes and says that’s where she felt it.
I said, ‘Okay, well I will keep that in mind and check your labs in case.’
So I finished my interview and walked out.
I checked her labs from a month ago and they were perfect.
No one told me how solid your poker face would need to be when I started medical school. Thank goodness for masks.”
“My Dad Decided To Test This Guy”
“My dad is a paramedic, and he has had some interesting interactions with people who try to claim fake medical issues as real ones.
In the medical world, there are those kinds of people who think they have every problem/condition/sensitivity under the sun. When meeting one of these people, my dad decided to test how far this guy can go faking symptoms. He started asking the man pretty normal problems like diabetes, heart complications, IBS.
Then in a feat of genius, my genius dad asks if he’s had any problems with his ‘Fagiggly gland.’ That is a made up body part found in the faeries in the beloved children’s show, Fairly Odd Parents. My dad got this guy to admit he had issues with a made-up body part for cartoon fairies. The best part is that as a paramedic, he has to write what is called a ‘run report’ for every call they respond to (basically explaining what happened to the patient, what was done, things like that).
My dad had to look up on Nickelodeon’s website how to properly spell ‘Fagiggly gland’ to put on an actual run report.”
This Guy Has Dealt With A Lot
“After working in the medical field for quite some time, I have come across my fair share of people thinking their condition is quite serious when in reality it’s nothing.
My first case of this was when I had a woman come in with her two-year-old child freaking the heck out because he started ‘acting dumb.’ This woman was wholeheartedly convinced that the vaccine he recently received made him mentally handicapped. She still didn’t believe us even after we explained that not how it works. Still, didn’t believe it. The whole thing was heartbreaking
Another time, this guy in his 50s came in with unexplained pain and burning in his esophagus accompanied by ‘feeling like he was swallowing scabs.’ He kept on telling us he was dying from the inside out. Turns out he swallowed a whole bottle of drain cleaner in one go and had severe chemical burns down his throat.
We also had a girl who was freaking out about her ‘twin’ growing on her and was very persistent we ‘got rid of her’ as soon as possible. Weird things can happen at any time in the medical world, but a fetus isn’t going to magically grow off your shoulder like a watermelon on a vine. I almost lost it when she showed me her mole she was convinced was her ‘twin.’
A woman came in telling us she was possessed by demons but the only way to tame them was with very illegal dosages of Adderall and Oxy. Yeah, we saw through that ploy in an instant.
This last story did not happen at the emergency room, but an observation unit. I had a guy come in that was, self admitting in his own words, ‘addicted to making love.’
He expected all of us to cater to his ‘needs’ to overcome his addiction. Had to remind him this was a hospital and not a brothel, and he got super mad when ‘we couldn’t help him.'”
“Had To Bite Down Laughter”
“My friend is a veterinarian, and one day this very worried lady comes with a puppy in a box and an egg. She whispers to my friend that she has a female duck and that her puppy had been ‘messing around’ with this duck. So, she was worried that the egg the duck had laid that morning was some kind of abomination like The Basilisk or some other folklore monster.
My friend had to bite down laughter and explain that eggs are not laid as a result of an interaction like that and her duck’s egg wasn’t fertilized. The lady gave the puppy away eventually, unconvinced that there was no possibility of creating a dog-duck freak.”
“I Was Furious”
“I work in rural EMS. Shift change is at 8 am; this call came in at 7 am. Keep in mind, a call for us can last as long as five hours depending on which hospital we are heading to.
The call comes in as uncontrolled vomiting. My partner and I immediately head to the address. It took us a while to find the house because we had a house description, but the house was behind a tree line that was behind a locked gate.
Anyways, we grab our pack and monitor, climb the gate, only to be met by our patient who was driving herself to the gate. She climbs out of her truck, limbos under the gate, and crawls into the back of the ambulance.
I asked her, ‘When was the last time you threw up?’
‘Last night before bed,’ She said.
She claimed to have eaten bad Mexican food and believed that was the cause. She was totally stable the entire time. It ended up being about a three-hour call over nothing. I was furious.”
An Interesting Math Equation
“I work in a lab that does substance testing.
People mostly go for the good old ‘I have never done any illegal substances before in my life!’, but their concentration is literally off the charts, which means active use.
Excuses range from switched samples (nope, someone watched you pee into a cup, took the sample, and then labeled the tube in your presence), botched analysis (unlikely, we use mass spectrometry for these kinds of things), spiked drinks (possible, but you can’t prove that and it’s your responsibility to stay clean) to having consumed passively (again, unlikely because of the value).
If people are really convinced that they didn’t do that specific substance, I ask if they took something that potentially wouldn’t show up in our test panel. In about 80 % of cases, they get really quiet for a couple of seconds, and then just stop arguing. People just assume that the things they buy on the street is homogeneous and not laced with god knows what else.
The weirdest ones are usually: ‘I slept with this girl/guy and she/he used, it must be from that!’ Which is just ridiculous. And it’s never kissing or ‘took something while I was there,’ it’s always straight-up sleeping together. Like your member is an express highway for substances.
The funniest one was a guy, who claimed he tested positive for a substance because the girl he was with took the substance. He just drank her pee but did not use himself. We had fun with that one and calculated the amount of pee he had to ingest. Turns out it would take a couple of dozens of girl and a literal ton of that substance, given the normal amount of urine a person passes in a day, which would have resulted in about 100 liters of pee he’d have to drink.”
“We Have No Idea Why She Believed That”
“I’m a veterinary student, and we had a lady bring her dog to internal medicine because she was convinced he had echinococcosis. Apparently, she had contacted it once upon a time (unknown if true), and she was convinced her dog had it despite the fact that the dog had never been in an area with endemic echinococcus, and she had it several years before getting the dog.
She was dead set on the most extensive diagnostic workup possible. Usually, it’s harder to convince people to pay the couple of thousand bucks for a cat scan, and here’s this lady demanding basically an elective one. The dog was not sick, and the cat scan did not find any hydrated cysts. We still have no idea why she chose that moment in her and her dog’s lives to suddenly believe in her core that he had it.”
That Poor Guy
“I’m a medic student, and my first night shift on placement, we got called for a 19-year-old female who had been drinking too much. We get to the scene of this woman yelling at her boyfriend, telling him to go get bent and not to talk to her. She basically bolts to the ambulance crying when we ask her if she wants to come with us.
She said she needed a safe space away from her boyfriend and out of the house. So at first, we are thinking this is some sort of domestic dispute. Nope. Turns out after getting smashed at her boyfriend’s house party, she had cheated on her boyfriend with his best friend and he had caught them (or something along those lines), she was behind hysterical so someone called us.
During the ride to the hospital, this woman was just inconsolable, wailing, and kept saying stuff like, ‘I am just a disgusting girl like my mom.’
I just look at the medic and we are looking at each other like did she just say that?! I couldn’t believe this kinda nonsense happens in real life and we got called to basically console and transport a trashed 19-year-old. Felt bad for the boyfriend.”
“He Was Absolutely Sure Of It”
“I had a guy come into the emergency room complaining of the right lower quadrant (RLQ) abdominal pain, but stated it was because he was pregnant. He was absolutely sure of it. His wife was in the room with him and fully vouched for the story (which is probably the craziest part to me). Said that he had seen this other doctor at this other hospital who had confirmed it on ultrasound and shown him the fetal heartbeat (the doctor the patient cited was a real doctor but did not work at the hospital he said he’d been to). This was a small emergency room, so our ultrasound tech had to be called in. Obviously, no freaking way that would happen for this.
We wanted to work him up for appendicitis because obviously, that could be a real thing, and if he’s actually having this pain something could be wrong. Recommended a cat scan. The patient said he didn’t want a cat scan, he just needed an ultrasound to check if his baby was okay.
We told him multiple times, ‘Sir, it is impossible for you to be pregnant. You don’t have those body parts.’ He didn’t budge. We ordered the cat scan anyway because we still want to see what’s causing the pain, and sometimes you just have to put the orders in and hope for the best.
This guy ended up leaving his room, followed a nurse taking a patient to radiology, and gate-crashed radiology, telling them that he badly needed this ultrasound. Security took him back.
Needless to say, as is often the case, he eloped when we wouldn’t cave to his ludicrous demands.”
Not Everything Is As It Appears
“My most recent was a woman who was convinced that the tickle in her throat is throat cancer. She had no other symptoms of cancer that at the stage of causing a tickle would be evident; things such as swallowing difficulty, voice changes, weight loss.
Anyway, she calls us in HYSTERICS that she needed to be scoped immediately because she was going to die. I talked her down, I thought. But to give her peace of mind, I told her what to watch for (difficulty swallowing, etc) and if she experienced them, to go to the emergency room so she could get imaging sooner than her cat scan, which was booked seven months away.
She went to the emergency room that night and got the cat scan. They found nothing. She was enraged with these results and started slinging ‘negligence’ around.
She got scoped two days later, and it turns out she had a clump of gastric cells in her throat that produce acid causing the tickle.”
“Why Aren’t We Freaking Out Like Him?”
“I’m an army medic working in an aid station. One day, this guy comes in with a nosebleed, says it keeps happening, and doesn’t stop. Of course, we tell him to just chill and hold some tissue to it while we write up his paperwork.
Then this dude’s SGT comes in. He’s furious at the situation. Why aren’t we helping his dying soldier? Why aren’t we freaking out like him?
He repeatedly tells us, medics, that he knows nosebleeds mean brain tumors or cancer. Seriously, that is exactly what he said. Angrily.
Also, the nose bleeder wouldn’t stop snorting the gross blood clot and spitting it out. So it wouldn’t stop bleeding. Neither one of them listened to a word we told them but eventually, we just said forget it. There was no way this guy was about to die. So we sent them away while his SGT grumbled about our laziness.
It’s like he wanted us to pop smoke and have a Black Hawk take him away.”
That Doesn’t Exist
“I had a lady come in convinced she had hypothermia. Every morning, she kept checking her temperature orally immediately on waking and it was always 92 degrees. She thought it was getting low while she slept and causing her snoring, daytime sleepiness, etc.
I explained that since she is snoring and sleeping with her mouth open, taking her temperature via mouth immediately on waking wouldn’t be accurate and a temperature of 92 degrees wouldn’t be compatible with life. She wanted continuous temperature monitoring while sleeping. Yeah, that isn’t a thing. Even in a sleep study.
I discussed with her that she probably has sleep apnea and that she doesn’t need to check her temperature unless she is having chills, sweats, other symptoms of infection. She got mad and left. Some people are insane.”
“Not What You Would Expect To See”
“A patient called 911 for an allergic reaction. This triggers a lights and sirens response from the ambulance. We walk in and it’s a little old lady dressed in her winter coat just finishing putting on her lipstick – not really what you expect to see. She explains to me and my partner that she had terrible nightmares and that’s clearly a sign that she’s allergic to Lasix. It’s not.
But she called 911, so we go through the motions and put her on the monitor. A fib. And she’s got no history of issues like this and is on no medication. We took her in, not lights and sirens, and gave a report.
Found out later that she told all the doctors that she was in for allergy to Lasix resulting in nightmares.”
She Could Have At Least Checked
“I was a fresh young first year university student, first time living away from my parents, and taking care of my own medical needs. Signed up with a new doctor and got a slew of basic blood work done for a general health checkup. One day, I got a phone call saying all is not well and I need to go in to speak to the doctor.
Turns out my liver function is raised. She asks how much I drink. Maybe one drink a couple of times a month, truthfully. She doesn’t believe me. The practice was on campus and all her patients were students. She tells me that she knows how much we students drink but I’m adamant I don’t drink that often. She tells me to cut down and sends me on my way without further investigation.
Fast-forward three years, and I change doctors again and get the same blood tests. Same result…elevated liver function. A quick check of my notes tells the doctor I’m on medication that can cause this and have been for years. Mystery solved. I continue to have elevated liver function some 11 years later with no noticeable effect.
No harm was done by not being believed by that first doctor but it annoys me that she never bothered to check my records for medication. Even worse, if it had been something else more serious she didn’t check it out or give me more tests to find out what it was, just presumed I was drinking myself to an early grave.”
“They Refused To Let Me Lie Down”
“My ex-boyfriend thought it would be cool to mess with me by calling 911 and saying I was suicidal. He told me he did it. I explained this to the paramedics, who didn’t believe me and forced me to go to the hospital to straighten it out there. There, they also didn’t believe me and committed me.
The morning before this happened, I went to the doctor because I had been sick a few days and wasn’t getting better. I was diagnosed with a bacterial sinus infection and prescribed an antibiotic. Due to being blindsided by this unnecessary hospital stay, I did not have the antibiotic on my person when committed.
I didn’t bother to ask for medicine since I believed I’d be out of there the same day once I talked to a psychiatrist, but I did lie down in my assigned bed to rest because I felt like trash. A nurse dragged me out of bed because when she told me I had to get up and I said no because I’m sick, she kept saying, ‘No, you’re not.’
I explained to multiple people that I had been diagnosed with a sinus infection and prescribed an antibiotic and needed rest. All of them said I was lying, and they refused to let me lie down outside the hours of 10 pm and 6:30 am for three days and two nights.
I guess no doctor in the facility was capable of discerning that persistent cough, frequent sneezing, and constant mucous dripping from a person’s nose were signs of illness.”
Asking A Friend For A Favor
“I have some medical training and am notorious for providing potential diagnoses to friends who have new symptoms+pre-existing conditions, and want to have suggestions for the doctor so the doctors don’t write it off as the pre-existing conditions.
I had a friend tell me, ‘I’m addicted to the smell of my own skin.’ They asked me if it was a symptom of their mental health disorder or a new disorder they should go get checked out for.
I repeatedly told them it’s not a thing. They kept whining.
I went to their house, smelled their SOAP. It smelled fantastic. I secretly replaced the soap in the bottles with one the same color.
Friend shut up about the skin-smelling addiction.
The friend literally just liked the smell of soap.”
“Nah, It’s Just Heartburn”
“I was 18, and every time I ate felt like food was stuck in my throat, I had what felt like heart attacks constantly. But the emergency room doctors said they were not heart attacks. I later learned they were esophageal spasms but no one thought to check that, if it’s not a heart attack must be heartburn kinda thinking. Those were the only symptoms, but they persisted for months. At 19, I finally went to a gastroenterologist and begged for them to check me out.
He was all like, ‘Nah, it’s just heartburn.’ So I went to another, I swore up and down something was wrong with me, and I thought it could be cancer. People didn’t believe me for a couple of reasons; there was very little family history of cancer, and I have extreme anxiety and panic attacks so they thought this was a bit of hysteria. In addition, the doctors blew me off because I was young.
Finally, one gave me an endocrinologist to shut me up. I have been in remission for seven years now. I also still live with Achalasia and Barrett’s and regurgitate food, and get heartburn every meal.”
The Allergy That Doesn’t Exist
“I have had multiple patients stating that they are allergic to adrenaline (epinephrine). The thing is, adrenaline is a hormone every one of us produces ourselves, so being allergic to adrenaline would basically mean that you couldn’t survive through childhood. Adrenaline is also the first line narcotic used to treat anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction). Adrenaline causes your heart rate to increase, raises blood pressure, and can make you feel a bit funny for a short period of time. So yeah, you probably could mix that with an allergic reaction, but is by no means dangerous unless you have for example a severe heart condition or if you inject it into the distal parts of your body (fingers, toes, earlobes, etc).
The same goes for hydrocortisone. People claim that they’re allergic to it, but it also is a hormone we produce (cortisol). And used to treat for example severe allergic reactions and inflammation.”
“We Can Go With That”
“I’m a urologist. One day, a patient came in with a ‘ruptured corpus carvernosum,’ also known as a fracture in the member. This usually happens during vigorous love-making with the woman on top. Not always that exact scenario, but the main idea is that there is quite a bit of force required to break a dong.
Anyway, his story was that the toilet seat lid fell down onto his member when he was peeing. Sure, dude, we can go with that.”
That Is Not How That Works
“My sister has been a doctor for several years now. We are both very unfortunate to have swamp people as family. They are not very bright. Well about four years ago, my father was fighting cancer, and losing the battle. One of my aunts flew into the metropolitan area where I live to help support us.
Later that evening around the dinner table, she asked where my fathers girlfriend was. I informed her that she had died of cancer a year previous. Her reaction was some over the top anger, yelling and cussing about how terrible it is that his girlfriend gave him her cancer.
I actually had to get my sister to drive 40 minutes to my house and explain to her that cancer is not transmitted from person to person, and it was in fact my fathers 42 years of chain-smoking that gave him cancer. It took quite some convincing.”
“Everyone Had The Same Story”
“During my emergency room rotation in medical school, I saw several people- male and female, adults, and kids- who came in with an object lodged in their rectum. It varied- vegetables, candles, flower vases, one time it was a toilet paper holder.
Every single one of those people had the same story; They were unclothed and fell on it.”