Doctors Share The Most Outrageous Self-Diagnosis They’ve Ever Heard From A Patient
If you’re not a medically trained professional, it’s easy to throw all logic out the window as soon as you feel like something is not quite right with your body. Maybe you have an earache, your stomach hurts, or you’ve noticed a rash appear overnight. Whatever your symptoms, you’ve likely consulted the internet before your doctor. The result? Anxiety and confidence over the fact that you almost definitely have cancer or some sort of rare disease. According to these doctors, people do this all the time. Here are some of the most outrageous self-diagnoses they’ve ever heard from patients.
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#1 I Don’t Remember Where
I work in physical therapy and once had a guy with dementia say, “I know I’m in pain… but I just can’t remember where.” I felt bad for laughing about it later but I had never heard anything like that.
#2 It’s Pericarditis
Paramedic here. I walked in the door to a young male with chest pain. As I walked up to him and introduced myself, he said, “I have pericarditis.” I felt like telling him, “I’m not sure how you would know if you did, but we’ll run some tests and see what we have.” I put an ECG on him and took him to the hospital for more tests. We found out the final diagnosis by the hospital staff was, surprise surprise, pericarditis. So there you have it, the patient was right. I still have absolutely no idea how this kid knew that.
#3 She Was Confident
I had a patient a few weeks ago who was in her late 80s come in worried about having an STD. She went on to tell me that she hadn’t been with anyone romantically since her husband died. In 1994. I am an allergist.
#4 Chicken Wing Baby
I had a patient come in once due to weight gain that she thought was due to being pregnant. It made sense, except she’d taken more than half a dozen pregnancy tests and they were all negative. She was convinced she was pregnant though and wanted me to check. I told her okay, I’ll do a blood test since we can detect pregnancy earlier with that, and she refused. She said that she just wanted to pee on the stick in front of me and have me read it. So I say sure, and lo and behold, it’s negative. With a little more questioning, it turned out she’d been eating literally nothing but chicken wings for weeks. When I asked her why in the world she would do that, she replied that she just really liked chicken wings.
ER doctor here. I had a patient insist she had a fever once and when I pointed out that our thermometer did not record a fever she told me, “I’m not sure if they taught you this in medical school but when Asians get a fever their temperature doesn’t go up.”
#6 Gas Baby
I work in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. One night, we were called to labor and delivery for a preterm delivery. The patient called 911 because her stomach hurt alot and she thought she was dying. At the hospital ER, it was confirmed she was pregnant and in labor. The whole time we were there, she kept saying she was dying and why wouldn’t we help her.
The OB told her she was in labor and to push each time she felt pain. She kept yelling, “It’s just gas! I’ve had gas for a while, but it won’t come out because I’m dying!” Fast-forward to the baby coming out. The OB handed the baby to the nurse, who then showed the patient her baby. She said, “That’s not mine! I have gas!” The nurse placed the baby on her chest and said, “Well, here’s your gas. It’s a boy!”
Pharmacist here. I’ve had more than one patient run to me screaming that they looked up their rash on WebMd and must have Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Actual diagnosis: contact dermatitis from laundry soap.
#8 Neural Instability
Vet student here. I’ve had some dude with a super aggressive dog diagnose the poor thing with “neural instability” (causing his aggression) from an online consultation with a homeopathic shaman. He then came into the clinic with instructions from the shaman that he wanted the vet to carry out (including rubbing the dog all over with a $200 “healing stone”), despite the fact that the vet had obviously the more reasonable explanation. He didn’t want to believe leaving a dog in the backyard without much human/animal interaction for most of its life could cause aggression. Go figure.
#9 Kittens in Chest
A psychotic patient tried to convince me he had “kittens playing inside his chest.” Not so much. The atrial fibrillation and palpitations were real, though.
#10 Wires and Fibers
ER and family practice mid-level here. Had someone come in one day saying they had wires and fibers under their skin, including a little ziplock bag of (you guessed it) wires and fibers that they had pulled out, he said with a needle. Now, this is Morgellon’s, a well-known psychological entity, but to see it so blatantly like you read about in the textbooks just blew me away. He actually believed it. Very unsettling.
#11 Unwashed Blue Jeans
I am not a doctor. I once had a middle school band student who had to miss a rehearsal because she had bruises all over her legs. The doctor’s diagnosis? Unwashed blue jeans.
Seizures from a parasite. He was actually psychotic and was self-treating what he thought was a parasite infestation by drinking household cleaning agents. When he started seizing afterwards, this reconfirmed his parasite diagnosis in his mind, so he drank more.
#13 Fake Pregnancy
A lady I nursed had an ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen that gives it a hard swollen look) and she convinced all the ladies in her ward bay that she was pregnant. She would walk around rubbing her ‘bump’.
#14 Bad Decay
Dentist here. I had a 27-year-old patient come in with mother. The mother was on disability. The kid had large amounts of decay on every single tooth in his mouth. He absolutely would not even listen to having his teeth pulled and dentures placed (it was a public health office so most are uninsured). Really, he should have most if not all of them pulled.
He agreed to do a mock-up treatment plan which came out to roughly $4,500 (that’s with the sliding fee discount of 50% for the lowest financial level). They agreed to pay. The mom plunked $800 cash down for root canal to start off. I ask what happened for his teeth to get that bad. The stupidest answer I’ve had yet: “A dentist before told me to mix dollar store mouthwash with peroxide and rinse with it. It absolutely wrecked my teeth afterwards.” The mother agreed and swore that the same thing happened to her husband. The older brother also got all of his teeth pulled.
#15 Not Cancer
Last week, I was thoroughly convinced I had cancer in my neck and shoulder because I felt two hard masses. I just knew it had to be cancer. The doc looked at it and then said, “The damage has been done. You just need to let it heal.” and I was of course confused. I had apparently damaged my muscle and it had formed two pinto beans sized knots.
#16 Doctor Can’t Get It
I went to urgent care one night after several days of severe abdominal pain. The doctor insisted that it was appendicitis, despite my insistence that I do not, in fact, HAVE an appendix. He was thoroughly confused when he couldn’t find the appendix with the ultrasound. Cue looking for my gallbladder, thinking gallstones. Swing and a miss. I’m missing my appendix because they took it out along with my gallbladder at five years old due to gallstones.
#17 Big Eater
My favorite was a lady who insisted that she had Cushing’s Disease (what people mean when they say have a “glandular” issue”). It’s obvious that she didn’t. It’s rare and there are some classic signs that normal obese people don’t have. So I went through an exercise where we discuss all the food that she ate during a typical day. We hit roughly 3,000 calories before finishing what she typically eats for lunch. The conversation never goes well from there. There is nothing that I can prescribe for denial.
I had a woman once that was convinced that someone was trying to steal her Klonopin, so she ate all 45 of them. We tried to get her to drink AC so that we hopefully didn’t have to lavage them out. She fought us over that because now we were the ones who were trying to steal them from her. That was on an ER rotation in paramedic school.
“I have sinusitis which turned into meningitis that I’m treating with oregano.”
#20 Heart Attack
A woman SWORE she was having a heart attack, despite not having any symptoms at all. We did the EKG and full workup, which unsurprisingly came out completely normal. She insisted so we transported her anyway. The ER apparently ran all their tests and discharged her when they were clear. Three hours later, guess who called. She was still convinced she was having an MI, and wanted to be transported to another hospital. She was politely told to leave. We found out later that she calls once a week or so.
#21 Easy Diagnosis
My wife is a veterinary nurse. Someone brought their dog in because of small growths in two lines along the dog’s belly. The dog was diagnosed with nipples.
#22 Only a Three
A guy came into my old ER one day with a nail in his hand from an accidental discharge of a nail gun. The nurse checked him in and asked him to rate his pain on a scale of one to 10. He replied that it was only about a three. We all look at him like he was nuts because our pain is at a five and we’re just looking at him. So, the triage nurse rolled her eyes and asked him how it could only be a three.
He responded by saying that one morning he was cooking his girlfriend breakfast and he wasn’t wearing any pants. He said that when he bumped the pan and the hot bacon grease spilled onto his nether regions, that was certainly a 10 out of 10. So, to him, a nail in the hand only rated a three.
#23 Chicken Bones
“I popped a pimple on his side and chicken bones fell out.” That’s what an uneducated lady with her small dog featuring a gnarly granulated abscess on the side of his lower abdomen said. The kicker? She wasn’t lying. The hernia present allowed chicken bones to perforate through small intestine directly into subcutaneous space.
#24 Just a Respiratory Infection
Once, I had a patient come in who was convinced he had colon cancer. He was just constipated. I had an overweight young woman come in saying that she was pregnant and the baby’s foot was protruding out of her nether regions. She wasn’t pregnant at all. An older gentleman came in complaining of headaches. During his history, he became agitated and kept insisting that the government had been experimenting on him by dusting his house, food, water, etc. with anthrax. He was quite certain that there was anthrax in his brain because he could “see it in the back of his throat.” Turns out he just had an upper respiratory infection. So… same thing I guess.
#25 Chocolate Mole
Someone had booked an emergency appointment to have a mole inspected because “it had shown up overnight and was cancer.” About five seconds into the exam, I wiped the “mole” off using my finger. It was chocolate melted onto her skin.
#26 Heart Attack
The patient told me she knew it wasn’t a heart attack this time. It felt different than the last 19 times she came to the ER (which weren’t heart attacks). She was half right. It wasn’t the same as the other times. She died. Heart attack. Refused transport to a cardiac center.
#27 Chapped Lips
As a resident, I had one patient wait in the ER waiting room for eight hours for painful lips. Diagnosis: chapped lips. Prescribed chapstick. Another patient waited the same amount of time in the ED waiting room at the county hell hole hospital. The reason: mosquito bite. One stupid mosquito bite. He said he was a hemophiliac and was afraid he would bleed to death.
#28 Artistic Children
I’m a pediatric therapist. It’s astounding the number of families I’ve worked with that believe their autistic child has been diagnosed “artistic.”
#29 Hepatitis C
But during my pain management rotation, I had a patient tell me that he had hepatitis C. And when I asked how he got it and when he was diagnosed, he told me a doctor on 4chan diagnosed him a few months back after his friend told him he got cancer from too much Internet usage. It took me all the power of God not to bust out laughing. But then he continued to go on how he’s helped his friends out with medical advice though 4chan and how he doesn’t trust WebMD or Google for medical advice. Because they’re owned by “the man” and only good at making people believe they have “hypochondriasis.” So long story short, he didn’t get the Oxycodone he was hoping to get from this consultation and made a giant fuss how we’re only making his hepatitis C worse by not giving him meds.
#30 Collapsed Lung
I once went to the hospital because I thought I had a collapsed lung. Turns out I was just super hung over and my ribs hurt from throwing up all night. Very embarrassing and expensive.
At the psych hospital, we had a difficult patient: violent, making wild accusations, completely psychotic. During the treatment team meeting at the psych hospital, when we were working out her treatment plan when she suddenly started screaming that she’d gone blind, that she couldn’t see, and if we cared anything about her we’d help her. This time, she had a point, though. The lens of her eyeglasses had fallen out and landed in the breast pocket of her shirt.
#32 I Think You Mean Labrum
Physiotherapist here. I had someone come into the clinic and ask to buy exercise bands to do rehab for his shoulder but didn’t want to come in for an assessment first because he already knew what was wrong. When I asked him, he told me that he “tore his labia.” I didn’t correct him (he meant labrum).
My sister keeps diagnosing me with endometriosis and polycystic ovaries and another one I can’t remember. She gets furious with me for not going to the doctor because I “don’t care about my health” and I’m sticking my head in the sand, etc. My only symptom is irregular periods and normal cramps and fatigue while on my period.
But apparently, cramps aren’t normal and neither is wanting to eat chocolate and take a nap. It’s gotten to the point where I literally cannot say a single word about my health in any way, shape, or form without her saying something. And no, she’s not a doctor. She does have endometriosis and polycystic ovaries though, which apparently qualifies her to diagnose me.
#34 Took Too Long
Vet student here. We once had a couple who waited about 12 hours after their four-week-old kitten fell off the balcony because they thought the kitten was tired and needed rest. It sadly took them too long and we couldn’t help the poor cat anymore.
#35 Produces Too Much Electricity
My elderly friend is the queen of self-diagnosis. She tells the doctors her prognosis and rarely follows through with their treatment for her actual issues. My personal favorite is that she produces too much electricity. Because of this, she has issues with anything electrical.
Namely computers, cash registers, pin pads, and my personal favorite, gas pumps. She is afraid she will blow up the pump so I fill her car’s tank for her. In reality, she is confused by technology and never wears her glasses. She was recently put on Vitamin D pills because she rarely goes outside. Her house is basically a black box inside. I’m afraid to find her wrapped in foil one day.
#36 Neck Pain
#37 It’s Just Gingivitis
Dentist here. I had a patient come into my office once absolutely certain that he only had gingivitis and needed a normal cleaning. This was all because he had Googled his symptoms and believed he could get a normal clean and go back home and do oil pulling after, which would somehow miraculously heal his gums.
He would not allow me to take X-rays or deep clean his teeth, which he needed because plaque was formed well below his gums. He even told me his gums were bleeding from just smiling, moving his mouth, etc. He insisted on just a regular clean and then accused me of trying to make money off him when I basically put my foot down and said I wouldn’t be working on his mouth unless he allowed me to do my job properly. I was glad when he decided to walk out and never come back!
#38 Allergic to Ice
“I’m allergic to ice.”
#39 I’m Fine
Kinda opposite to what everyone is saying, but I once saw a guy with a foot that looked like death (probably untreated diabetic). He only went to the ER because his sons dragged him. He literally had his foot inside a plastic bag because of the smell. He insisted he was fine and to be let go. The amount of horribly sick patients that think they’re “just fine” is too high!
#40 Breeder’s Always Right
“My breeder said my dog can only get two rabies shots in his entire life or he will die.”
#41 It’s My Gallbladder
The doctor I worked with walked into the room after the nurse was finished and this lady immediately told him she had a problem with her gallbladder. She started listing off all the symptoms she had, which read like a textbook’s description of gallbladder pain. Finally, he asked her to point to where she felt the pain, and she confidently pointed to her left-upper abdomen and said: “Right here!” The gallbladder is on the right side. Her husband thought it was hilarious.
#42 Black Lung
I live in coal country. Heard this story from a friend. Younger comes in thinking he has black lung. They do all the usual tests. Everything is totally normal. They ask him how long he worked on the mines. He said “Just one day.” Needless to say, he did not have black lung.
#43 Ovarian Cancer
I heard of a man who had googled his symptoms (mainly stomach pain) and told the doctor he had ovarian cancer.
My mom took my sister and me to the doctor when we were kids because we had weird bumps all over the back of our tongues. We were diagnosed with tastebuds.
#45 Something’s Wrong
This mom would bring her kid in every few days with a new ailment. It wasn’t a case of new parent paranoia either, the mother would get angry and irate when the doctors told her that her baby was perfectly healthy. I think CPS eventually got involved.