There are some patients who are as sweet as pie, and some who are utterly stupid.
Here are some of the weirdest and dumbest ways people have tried to treat their injuries…
Remember, don’t try this at home.
1. My ear is bugging me.
I responded to a man who called 911 complaining of a insect crawling up his ear. Upon arrival we ask what ear the bug crawled into, he says his right ear, but keeps complaining about burning coming from his left ear. We noticed his wife standing next to him holding a bottle of insect spray, upon further questioning we come to find out she had actually sprayed insecticide into his left ear thinking it would “flush” the insect out of his right ear. I had to explain to her that our ear canals are separated by our brain.
2. Have a Tums cocktail.
I used to work in a lab in a hospital in a rural town. I got a sample from the ER 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, for example.
I called the patient’s nurse and asked what the deal was with the patient and if it was really stool they sent up. The nurse I talked to said the patient thought he’d eaten bad pork and to prevent food poisoning, drank a concoction of bleach, rubbing alcohol, vodka, ibuprofen and some Tums.
3. Your lemon fresh.
I’m a 911 dispatch. One time this kid had a crazy high fever and wouldn’t stop crying. Paramedics get on scene… and mom is squeezing a lemon while rubbing it all over the baby’s forehead because it’s “supposed to keep the fever down”. Mom was completely at a loss as to why the baby wouldn’t stop crying either. It couldn’t possibly be the lemon juice you’ve essentially been squeezing into it’s eyes for the last 20 minutes. No siree.
4. Whoops, that’s definitely not supposed to be in there.
I have a buddy that is a medic in the United States Navy. One time when I caught him on leave he proceeded to tell me the craziest story I’ve ever heard.
He told me of how a young (late teens early 20’s) woman came in complaining of severe stomach pain. He was expecting to diagnose her with menstrual cramps or something else rudimentary and gave her basic pain meds etc. She came back less than a week later, complaining that the pain had only increased. He decided to send her for an X-ray to get it checked out and he could not believe what the results showed.
It appeared like roots of some sort were twisting and turning inside her abdomen, and proceeding to wrap around her spine.
Apparently, as a form of do-it-yourself birth control, this young lady had followed her mothers instructions and cut the end off a potato and had well, put it inside herself. In a damp, moist environment, it began to thrive, as well as partially rot. I cannot even imagine what her gyno must have said.
5. Do you have any idea what’s in your mouth?
Ophthalmologist here – I’ve had a patient who would rewet her contact lenses when they felt dry by putting them in her mouth. Ended up with a central corneal ulcer requiring a transplant.
6. That worked?
Had a frequent flyer patient who had psoriasis so bad that he literally had huge scales all over his legs. One day he gets admitted and the scales are gone. He tells me he took a brillo pad (steel wool) and scraped them all off. Surprisingly it works with no adverse effects and he’s still scale free a year later.
Still shouldn’t try doing that though.
7. Don’t read the label…
The nurse didn’t keep up with the insulin and gave a tad bit too much, decreasing the pt’s blood sugar. Ok, this is fixable. I walk in to see another nurse pouring Splenda down this lady’s mouth.
She has snoring restorations and the Splenda is just being inhaled into her lungs. It also isn’t doing anything for this poor lady because it isn’t sugar.
After give this lady some D50 (IV sugar water) she came to, but felt like she couldn’t get enough air.
She ended up being treated for a few days for pneumonia.
I swear, some people get their medical licenses from the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.
8. Solar powered healing
The most outrageous thing I’ve heard was from a boy who was something like 20-22 years old from a very strange family. The boy had a bad case of tonsilitis and refused to take any meds because all he needed to do was “bite the sun.”
Basically at noon he had to look up to the sun, open his mouth as wide as possible and “bite” the sun several times so it would “burn” his tonsils and cure him over the course of a couple weeks. When that wouldn’t work, plan B was to do the same at night but only under a full moon.
9. Grandma had the best recipes
An 8 year old tripped on the cord of a deep fryer, spilling hot grease on his shoulder and arm. His grandma slathered him in butter to “cool him off” and “draw the heat out”. When my medic partner and I entered the house and started assessing the boy, I was saddened and hungry at the same time. The poor kid smelled absolutely delicious. No cannibal.
10. The sound of silence
I had a patient treating her lung cancer with a “sonic emitter”. Her argument was that sound waves can shatter glass, so lung cancer wouldn’t stand a chance.
11. The worst vacation ever
I’m a pharmacist so I get a lot of interesting questions… but one of the worst was when I was interning my first year of school. A couple came up with 2 kids, once of which was < 1 year old. The baby had a cold and a cough and they wanted to know what they could give him so their family trip to six flags wasn’t ruined.
I had to explain that there are no products for cough and cold for children under 4. The best they could do would be some tylenol for any pain or fever and fluids/rest, maybe a humidifier. Definitely would NOT be ideal to be bringing the poor little guy to six flags. They scoffed and kept pushing me to recommend a product. Nope, sorry. Had the pharmacist working corroborate what I was saying. They still didn’t care, and off to the cough and cold section they went… sigh. We tried.