One of the worst things you could possibly do in life is google symptoms and self-diagnose. Even worse than that, is then taking what you’ve ‘discovered’ and try to tell your doctors that you know more than them cause you looked it up on the internet.
The patients in the following stories did just that…and a bit more.
For more stories, you can find the original thread at the end of the article.
A related story from my friend, a Gynecologic Oncologist.
Basically a woman had early uterine cancer, but refused surgery. She wanted to explore alternative treatments like coffee enemas and meditation. She somehow managed to get an audience with the Dalai Lama who told her to go back to western treatment.
I am a personal support worker and work with extremely aggressive special needs clients. One client was a minor and had some of the most severe self abuse and aggression issues I’ve seen.
His psychiatrist and specialists prescribed anti psychotics and he settled right down, and was so happy.
His parents took him off them. Cold turkey and put him on homeopathic crap.
He put 3 staff in the hospital. I had a huge bald patch where he ripped handfuls of my hair out. He kicked me in the chest. I was pregnant.
Child protection took it to court. They won the right to put him back on antipsychotics.
It was horrible. That poor kid didn’t deserve all the issues from cold turkey withdrawal. He was a great kid when he was medicated properly.
I am a dental student. One patient in particular is pathological liar. During one visit, he claimed to have gone to medical school. The next visit he said he was in the dental Army. The last visit was he had a doctorate.
This patient will say things like “Hey Doc, do you need me to move my head mesial or distal?” ‘No. I need you to move your head right.’
“Hey Doc, are these cavities being cause by the anaerobic pathology microbes?” ‘No. They are cause by you eating snacks all day and not brushing your teeth.’
Im an operating room nurse and I had an oral surgery patient who had a self reported history of over 250 various surgical procedures, a list of 20 some allergies, tons of reported health issues. Plus she had a pre-teen son who supposedly had dozens of health issues as well.
She refused to remove her glasses during induction, started screaming and crying about claustrophobia when we put the mask on her face. She even insisted on taking a stuffed animal to the operating room.
Anyway, getting to the point. She was having oral surgery because she insisted that the last time she went to the dentist they told her not to brush her teeth for at least a year. So she hadnt brushed her teeth in like a year and a half.
That was one for the books…
This was an over 80-year-old patient who was declining with multiple diagnoses and about 3 decubitus ulcers. The daughter was adamant that her father be kept on his strict “paleo” diet because that would “supercharge” his healing. She had a stack of diet books. He simply wasn’t getting enough nutrition to heal the ulcers. He didn’t like the diet at all by the way.
At some point you kind of have to stop being polite and just tell patients and family members bluntly that you don’t have time for their crap, recommend what you think will work best and let them do what they want.
I was a veterinary technician. I have so many stories I can tell about pet owners claiming they know better then me as the vet…my response, ‘why did you come then?’
Or the infamous “I need you to get this” script.
‘It’s 50 dollars and will fix the issue your dog is having.1
“But can’t you give the dog a shot or something cheaper?”
Meanwhile, the owner is driving a 60,000 dollar car, holding a 500 hundred dollar bag, wearing 300 dollar sunglasses but they cant be bothered to help their dog. Then you have the people who love their pets and have no money to get that 50 dollar medicine. This is the major reason I stopped being a vet tech.
This one happened to my ex father in law, and it’s funny, but it’s not.
He was a surgeon (very gentle, soft spoken guy) and came out to tell them the biopsy results, to which they responded “Praise Jesus, it’s malignant.”
He then had to explain that ‘malignant’ meant bad.
Emergency Room Registered Nurse (not a physician) but you may find this interesting.
A young adult male presents with multiple abscesses on various parts of his body. States he injected his boyfriend’s semen into himself trying to get pregnant. He tells one of the armoured personnel carriers that he should have gone with his original plan and tried on his dog first. The physician clears him. Hes admits to the floor and gets intravenous antibiotics.
We once had a patient come in with an odd constellation of symptoms, she was a 23-24 year old poorly educated female. No obvious causes turned up with the first couple of examinations. The third time around she finally confessed that shed been taking her mother-in-laws anti-tuberculosis therapy medication.
The reason for this was that her husband often nagged her that her breasts werent big enough. Shed accompanied her MIL to the government hospital a few times and seen that the ward was called the chest ward. She associated chest with breasts and thought that the pills would make her breasts bigger, because they were from the chest ward. Luckily, no long term damage was done to her from the pills.
This next is by a family acquaintance who always ‘Google docs’ himself and always cross questions me about his medicines at family gatherings. He diagnosed himself with hypothyroidism and started taking Levothyroxine for it, without consulting any doctors. His aim was to bring his serum thyroid stimulating hormones exactly in the middle of the normal range. Let me clarify: his TSH was normal, but above the mathematical midpoint in the normal range. Shake my head.
An uncle would regularly uses metronidazole for colds and coughs, and expectorants and cough suppressants interchangeably for whatever cough he has.
His logic was that all antibiotics are antibiotics and should work the same, and that applies to cough syrups, too.
A patients mother who finally gave in and brought their 22-year-old severely repressed schizophrenic son in. The poor kid had been deteriorating for a long while and the mother had been forcing him to ‘eat well and pray regularly’ because that ‘should fix everything.’
The boy was now too strong for her to control and had sort of devolved into a religious fanatic but was severely unstable. Hed often jump off the balcony and chase girls passing on the street because women wearing jeans was not part of Indian culture. That was one of the saddest cases Ive ever been on.
A guy brought his wife to the emergency room. Her leg had a 7 centimeter by 7 centimeter wound (diabetic ulcer) with greenish yellow pus and what looked like a few maggots. Now I took one look at her and referred her to the surgery department for admission. But her husband was adamant on his wife’s kidney disease.
“But Doc, it’s just a wound, you gotta fix her kidney first Doc, I read online that diabetes can cause kidney failure and you gotta do something for that.”
I spent an hour convincing him that his wife would probably die before the kidney damage sat in by sepsis from the clearly infected wound.
I took care of a child that got measles. The mother and father was strongly anti-vaccination but were yelling at me, “how can modern medicine not have a treatment for measles.” At which point I told her there was a preventive method but you didn’t use it. She asked me what it was to which I replied. “vaccinate your child.”
She said, “You’re just one of them pharma lobbyists, aren’t you?”
Yes. I am a pharma lobbyist who wants to kill children.
This happened during my paediatric internship period. One day I was in charge of the general ward. I was in charge of basic things, I’d look after the kids, solve small complaints (coughs, breathlessness etc) and evaluate new admissions.
Now where I work, interns are supposed to draw blood from children for tests. So I went about my job and there is this one little tyke who’s a bit too active and jumps around when he sees the needle.
The mother gives me a vile look and says,
“you lot are just puncturing my child for your education.”
At which point the kid just screams even harder. Yes, I’m studying a blood draw at 2 in the morning by waking up a kid. That’s what she thought.
It took a fair amount of convincing her otherwise.
A lady comes screaming into the emergency room. She’s all dressed up and so are her 2 grown daughters. All of them screaming hysterically that their mother is going to die. I go by them and nearly get tackled by the son-in-law (husband of one of the daughters).
“Save her, she’s having an embolism.”
Shaken, I examine the lady, asked her where she was coming from (a wedding, that explained the dress). She apparently had a bit too much potatoes. A shot of pantoprazole later, her embolism is gone. She had a bad case of fart embolisms.
One thing I will never forget is how I learned never to be mad at a patient.
Now this was when I began as an intern. A patient had intestinal obstruction. We inserted a nasal feeding tube as the patient could not have anything per orally before the surgery. The problem was that they would always come and complain to me about how I didn’t stick it in properly (you have to stick the end protruding out of the nose to the nasal bridge). After 2-3 such episodes where I reluctantly tried again and again, they complained that the tube is out of the nose, and lo and behold it is out.
It’s very uncomfortable, most patients try and pull the nasal tube out. I replaced it like 4 times. Poor guy was fed up by then.
Finally, on the morning of the surgery, his wife comes and asks me,
“Doc, can you just remove that tube so that I can give him some coffee?”
Now I got totally mad. I was working a 72 hour shift, so I scolded her by saying that if she or he didn’t want the surgery then I couldn’t do anything and it would be nice if they gave me some peace.
She didn’t say anything.
Then the patient, 50-years-old with no other complications, died on the table.
I couldn’t face her.
The moral being, doctors know more things than patients. But it’s not always wise to bite their heads off. I could have convinced her it was impossible to remove the tube before surgery in a calm way.
Since then I’ve tried to be a better speaker to patients.
I had a young woman with recurring urinary track infections that began after a recent partner and with no sexually transmitted diseases. I went through the standard questions trying to figure out what could be causing them and eventually found out she had been lubricating with jelly. Not KY jelly.
The mixup had literally been a joke on house. It took me some effort to keep a straight face, but we eventually resolved the problem and she stopped getting UTIs.