Concerned Doctors Share The Most Dangerous DIY Treatments They’ve Ever Seen A Patient Attempt
Homeopathic and naturopathic remedies are getting trendier and trendier these days. Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook are full of “how-tos” and “DIYs” specifically for healing the body oneself. While some of the methods are valid, others are downright irresponsible. If you have a gaping wound, please don’t fill it up with moss. See a doctor.
Social media can cause even further damage by broadcasting when trust is broken between patients and their doctors. A simple venting session on social media can lead people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do (out of suspicion.) Religious beliefs can perpetuate these feelings as well.
Some of it can be cultural too. We grow up under certain traditions and remedies our mothers use on us and then pass down to us, but common sense should warn us on where to draw the line.
As you’ll read in these stores compiled by Reddit, some people clearly don’t have any. Please note that some of these stories are quite graphic and may contain sensitive materials.
#25 I Like To Think I’m “One” With Nature
Had a patient come into the ER with a makeshift bandage on his shin. He had fallen on rocks while hiking and left a three inch long, half inch deep gash in his leg. I go to pull the bandage off and as I’m peeling it away I notice the skin is completely black and there are dark chunks of fungus falling out of the wound. It looked necrotic-like it had been left alone for a week.
I look at this guy like he’s crazy as he tells me the wound is only a few hours old. He’s pretty proud as he explains that he created a makeshift poultice by chewing up leaves and moss, mixing it with river mud and stuffing it into his leg. That’s what all the black mossy stuff was.
#24 Dude, Your Foot Is Rotten. Don’t You Smell That?
I’m a Firefighter and EMT. We got a call this winter for someone having a seizure. We get there and it’s a dude sitting on his porch with some friends. I forget the actual chain of events but someone says we need to look at his foot.
He takes his shoe off and his foot is rotting away. The smell was horrifying. Turns out his heater broke during a cold snap 2 weeks before, he fell asleep and apparently his foot got frostbite. Thank god he lived around the corner from the hospital because even with all the windows open the smell was overwhelming.
#23 Just Put’A Windex On It
Finally, something I can add to! When I was in med 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 really stopped up with her nasally voice and her history and exam were consistent with a run of the mill viral upper respiratory infection.
I begin educating her on symptomatic management and the following exchange ensues: Patient: “Do you think it might be the flu?” Me: “It’s possible but unlikely; it’s really 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 guess, I just wish it didn’t burn so much.” Me: “…what do you mean, ‘it burns’?” Patient: “You know, when I spray it up my nose it burns so bad.”
Yep. My patient thought that since Lysol kills influenza the best way to nip it in the bud was to flush her sinuses with it like a saline spray. 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.
When the label on Lysol says “not for internal use”, they mean it.
#22 Hardcore? Or Idiot?
A guy put white bread soaked in milk on an armpit abscess to draw out infection. He needed an I&D and a couple weeks of IV antibiotics by the time he got to us.
Then there was the guy who crashed his motorbike, scraped his leg to kibbles and bits and then decided the best course of action was to self-cauterize it on his tailpipe.
#21 Because I’m A Thug…
Dental student here.
We had a patient who declined a much-needed cleaning saying he could do it just as well at home with a scalpel. Didn’t brush his teeth but every few weeks he would go at the accumulated plaque and tartar with a scalpel.
The same patient also insisted we do a procedure without local anesthetic. He was an amateur boxer and was “building up his pain tolerance.”
He also told us he smoked all day and only drank Coca-Cola. We could tell.
#20 Throw Some Sugar On It
So sugar can be used to help heal certain types of wounds. A patient I saw had missed an appointment with part of their care team where they get their bandage changed. I noticed what appeared to be oozing around the edges of the bandage. Asked my patient about it, offered to change it for them (we didn’t typically do that in our clinic), they said yes. I go get fresh bandages and what not, take the old one off and it’s just sticky and stringy (picture the slo-mo shots of caramel being pulled apart) and it smelled.
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 used maple syrup.
#19 I’m Pretty Sure This Is Child Abuse
My grandpa thought a “leg discrepancy was causing my back pain, which was causing spasms.” He put several pieces of cardboard in my shoes to try to even out my legs which were already even.
(He also thinks black beans cure everything.)
My dad thought those pesky spasms were due to a pinched nerve, so he would take me to the chiropractor to get my neck cracked when it happened.
Seizures, people. They were seizures.
#18 You Might’ve Gone Too Deep Buddy
When I worked in the ER, my colleague had to see a guy with an ear problem. He had something stuck in his ear and had been trying to get it out. This wasn’t a new thing, he’d been trying for some time.
Turned out, he had completely removed his tympanic membrane, and the “bits” that were stuck in his ear and that he was trying to pick out with cotton buds and hair clips, were his ossicles.
#17 No Problem, I’ll Just Cut It Open Myself
We had a guy come in with an abscess on his right thumb. When I asked him what happened to his hand, he told me about his recent deep sea fishing trip and was given the responsibility of cutting the fish with an open wound in his hand. A sliver of fish got in there and became infected as it healed, so this guy gets the bright idea of doing a little DIY wound drainage by grabbing his pocket knife and cutting it open, leading to a greater infection.
#16 People Seriously Use Duct Tape For Everything
This happened when I was still a med student doing a rotation in the ED. A patient comes in and is pretty vague about his actual complaint, something about head pain but he looks just fine sitting waiting to be seen. When I finally get to see him and ask him what actually happened, he removes the hat he was wearing and a chunk of skin about the size of my hand literally flaps off of his skull.
This guy managed to basically scalp himself, and apparently, it had been like that for 3 days. According to him, it was caused by falling in his bathroom and hitting his head on the toilet. He had been previously duct taping it down or using the hat to hold the skin on, but it wasn’t sticking well and that’s when his wife convinced him to come to the hospital.
#15 Jesus Approves Of Hospitals You Know
A neighbor came over to borrow a chainsaw. I noticed he had a thick bandage around his arm and asked him what happened? He said he fell out of a tree last week and cut his arm. I asked if he got stitches and he said he just wrapped it and his family is praying over it. About 4 days later I saw his wife and she said he was really sick and may have the flu? Come to find out he had septicemia and was dying. He died a week later of kidney failure and sepsis.
#14 There’s Naturopathic Treatment And Then There’s Denial
I am not a medical professional, but my father in law had severe skin cancer. He basically had an open sore on his back for several years that bled and bled. We never knew about it until one day we saw a pancake-sized crater through his shirt. Went to the hospital finally and they basically said he has cancer throughout his whole body at this point.
His response was he thought it was a cut that wouldn’t heal and put gauze and Neosporin on it.
#13 Got Staples?
Not me, but my boss (mother of the child I care for) is a nurse practitioner. I asked her what the worst thing she had witnessed was. She continued on to tell me the story of a man who had stapled his scrotal sac together and onto his body after “slipping with the razor.” He had it that way for days, metal holding his poor parts in place, infected and gross as you would expect before he came to a professional. He later admitted his ex attempted to castrate him. He and his parts lived.
#12 “There’s A Bird Inside Of Me!”
When I was an Internal Medicine resident I came across a very nice 50-year-old Dominican lady, she was well mannered but one could tell she was not the sharpest tool in the shed. As I was prepping her chart for our first visit, I noticed that she’d been seen by every single digestive disease MD in our hospital system. Not only that, she’d had EVERY SINGLE PROCEDURE IN THE BOOK. Ranging from endoscopies up both holes and culminating in an exploratory laparotomy.
All of this because for years she had one single complaint, she reported severe gnawing pain in her stomach. At this point, I should mention that she was Spanish speaking only. Not only that she had a very heavy Dominican accent, and I was the first Hispanic doctor to ever see her. My first language is Spanish and even I had difficulty understanding her. So she comes in and after exchanging some first-time pleasantries I politely ask her how she’s doing. Sure enough, although she was smiling and said she felt well she pointed at her belly and said “it” was biting again, and asked for the cream to kill “it”.
At this point, I was intrigued. Her medication list only mentioned a cream used for herpes breakthroughs. The previous fellow only mentioned in his note that in every single visit she only asked for the cream and nothing else. When I asked what she meant by the biting and what she intended to do with the cream, she very calmly tells me she intended to stick the cream up her behind in order to kill the bird living inside her.
After delving more deeply into her story, it turns out she didn’t have a medical condition. Ever since she was a little girl, she believed that after eating whole quail egg, the bird had spawned inside her and gnawed away in her insides whenever she was very hungry. After a short visit to psych, she was diagnosed with a somatic type delusional disorder. No amount of medication or psychotherapy will cure her, but she is still a fully functional mother of two who pays her taxes and has two part-time jobs. I reached out to every digestive disease doctor in our hospital system once more to make sure she never receives an inappropriate invasive intervention. I’ve been following her now for three years and she’s happy as one can be, considering she has a bird living inside her…
#11 All Of The Worst In One
Had a dude try and pull out a rotted tooth with pliers. Had a kid drug test, so to “cleanse” his system he drank a jar of pickle juice and then busted open a bunch of niacin pills. Had a patient with festering leg wounds that wrapped them with tampons and duct tape. (First time I saw maggots in a wound.)
Had a patient stuff raw bacon in their nose to stop a bleed. (But it actually kind of worked??!) Waaaay to many people with big pus collections under their skin that get tipsy and stab them with broken glass or something else sharp. Stop watching YouTube.
#10 When Hippie Goes Wrong
A patient was told by her doc that she had low magnesium and should consider supplements. Not uncommon. Instead of getting Mg supplements, she ate an entire tub of “naturopathic volcanic ash” and completely destroyed her electrolyte imbalance and ended up in ICU. We admitted her as a pharmaceutical overdose so Poison Control automatically follows up with you. It was hard to explain to them.
Think of a tub of protein powder, but volcanic ash. Her husband brought it in for the poison control report. You were supposed to mix a scoop in water for the health benefits. She ate the whole tub and had a seizure and wrecked her kidneys. The activated charcoal/volcanic ash vomit that was all over her when she came from the emergency room was hard to clean up.
#9 Dogs Are Therapeutic, Just Maybe Not This Therapeutic
An old lady told me the rain hurt her arthritis. That’s reasonable.
She also swore that dog spit had healing properties so she let her dogs lick her feet when she felt it coming on. She then wanted to show me a video of said dogs licking said feet.
I swiftly and politely declined.
#8 That’s Not What That’s For!
I had a guy come in for coughing and shortness of breath. His lungs sounded terrible. Got a chest x-ray that looked horrible, so I did a CT scan. The radiologist called it the worst case of necrotizing pneumonia he’d ever seen. Dude had a 15% functional lung tissue left. The patient then mentioned things had been worse after he started using a new “breath freshener” spray.
He whipped out one of those BluntEffects concentrated air freshener bottles, supposed to cover up a skunky smell. Labeled “Not For Internal Use”. Apparently, he had been using it like binaca spray and had already gone through 3 bottles.
#7 That Poor Child!
I work in the ER at a trauma center. This guy comes in with his little girl and says that she was bit in the face by the family German shepherd. I immediately take her back assuming that I need to control bleeding. What I encounter is a little girl with a laceration going all the way from over her left eye crossing her nose and mouth. It is not bleeding whatsoever and it seems to have an odd looking substance inside. So I obviously ask the dad what she got inside it.
He responds very proudly with, “Ah yes, I packed the wound with tobacco from my cigarettes and super glue.” Poor girl.
#6 But, Suzanne Somers Did It!
I work in oncology pharmacy. I had a patient die of totally treatable breast cancer because they decided to treat it with mistletoe instead of chemo. All because Suzanne Somers did. Yeah. The Thighmaster lady. Don’t take medical advice from the Thighmaster lady.
#5 Humans Are A Little Different Than Cows
Infections of the skin of the external ear canal are common and treatable. Hard to get to though. A dairy farmer (who didn’t have time to see us) got a long rubber tube that he used for something to do with his cows, fed it into his ear canal, then poured cow antibiotics down the tube. He came in when it didn’t work. Seeing a doctor in the United Kingdom is free…
#4 Hold The Lemons
Paramedic here. Once had to explain to a family that putting lemon juice in the eyes of an unconscious patient isn’t an approved treatment method.
And no, it didn’t work. (It was an interesting moment when I had to explain why his eyes hurt.)
#3 Home-Made Bloodletting Machine
There was a guy who had a rare condition that required bloodletting, but he didn’t have the money to afford the treatment as often as he would need it. Like any rational human being, he decided to build an apparatus at home using a shop vac, Mason jars, an IV needle and surgical tubing.
So he had no issues for a few weeks, just set the vacuum to pull the blood through the tubing via the needle and drain into the Mason jars. No big deal. One day he isn’t paying attention and sets the vac to “blow” instead of “pull.” Dude switched it off after a few seconds, but he still had a massive air embolism. He’s very lucky he didn’t die, he ‘just had a major stroke.
#2 This Is A First
A fifty-year-old man swallowed a chicken bone while eating and it got stuck in his throat (upper esophagus). Unable to take it out with his fingers or by coughing, he got a fish hook with a line and tried to rescue the bone with it.
He ended in an emergency room with both the bone and the hook in his esophagus.
#1 Operation “Save The Peen”
In nursing school, while I was on clinical rotation in urology, there was a man who ended up having his man parts removed. It turned out he had an infection brewing for quite a while and thought the best course of action was placing a sock over it in hope that it would heal. He was generally confused and upset as to why this didn’t work to heal the issue.