5 Medical Urban Legends (That Actually Came True)

Even if it's been a while since you enjoyed a lazy weekday morning watching All My Children, Guiding Light, or Donde esta Elisa? you're probably still familiar with old soap opera cliches. There's always some far-fetched medical drama, like a once dead lover ends up being totally alive, somebody turns out to be their own twin, or a character falls into a coma despite absolutely nothing else being wrong with their body. Maybe the main character gets diagnosed with a fictional disease like Wolf AIDS or Pocket Cancer. Regardless, no matter how crazy the soap opera medical drama might be, none of them compare to the real world plotlines these folks experienced ...

#5. A Dead Woman Woke Up Right Before Her Organs Were Harvested

Dmitriy Shironosov/iStock/Getty

In 2009, 41-year-old Colleen Burns was not exactly feeling like bottled sunshine and, like most Americans, had crazily unrestricted access to dangerous "prescription" medicine. We shall leave the world's saddest math problem up to you, dear reader.

But as bad as things were, they could always get worse: At some point after Burns' pill overdose, she was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital in Syracuse, New York, and declared brain dead. Once given the news, her family agreed to honor Burns' wish to have her organs donated. Well, at least some good could come out of this tragedy.

Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images
Everyone always goes for organ donation. Nobody ever picks the human marionette option.

So what if Burns didn't pass the "Are you sure you're brain dead and not just really lazy" test? So what if, when a nurse scraped the bottom of Burns' foot, Burns' toes curled downward? And so what if Burns' nostrils flared in the hours before she was scheduled to be gutted? Plenty of living corpses we know move around and vaguely react to stimuli; that's how we got both The Walking Dead and The Kardashians.

Despite two huge indications that Colleen Burns wasn't actually brain dead, a nurse dosed her with a sedative (which is odd, because you shouldn't need to sedate a brain-dead person), wheeled her into the operating room, placed her on the operating table, and prepped her for the surgery that would rid her of her pesky life-sustaining organs. It was about that moment that Burns opened her eyes. We sincerely hope she had the presence of mind to point at the nurse and mutter some sinister-sounding gibberish. You just don't get good curse opportunities every day, you know?

SHSPhotography/iStock/Getty Images
At least curse him with a swarm of taint-devouring crotch-weasels.

Luckily, the doctors were feeling generous and decided not to go through with harvesting the living woman's organs. Burns eventually left under her own power, the hospital was fined a total of $22,000 by the state for this occurrence, and her doctors were promptly awarded the prestigious Holy Fuck, We Can't Believe You Almost Harvested the Organs Out of a Living Woman award.

It's shaped like a Tony.

Jemal Countess/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Both shows also have the same amount of viewers.

#4. The Runny Nose That Was Actually Leaking Brain Fluid

Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Joe Nagy spent over a year wiping snot on his sleeve before he finally decided to get his leaky honker checked out by a doctor. He probably expected to leave the office with an extra strong antibiotic and some hand sanitizer. Things didn't quite pan out that way.

Nagy's doctor tested what everyone thought was snot and discovered, well ... the subheading kind of gave it away, didn't it? It was brain fluid. Nagy had a hole in the membrane surrounding his brain, and clear brain juice was leaking out through his nose. And it had been leaking for years. He was like a walking zombie keg, already conveniently tapped.

ABC News
You don't even want to know how you're supposed to pump it.

As if the news that his brain was seeping out through his face wasn't horrifying enough, Nagy soon developed a raging case of meningitis, which probably had something to do with the fact that his brain protector had a hole in it. It wasn't until his meningitis cleared up that the doctor could patch the hole.

By sticking a needle up his nose and gluing it shut.

ABC News
If you're really in a pinch, a penny stuck in some J-B Weld works, too.

That's right: They fix open brain wounds the same way you fixed that broken Hummel figurine of the naked kid fishing.

#3. The Man Who Lived With a Pencil in His Head

Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

If you woke up tomorrow with a headache, you'd probably chalk it up to stress, or a hangover, or maybe that regional amateur head-butting contest you entered on a lark. But if you wake up with a headache and impaired vision in one eye, it's time to put on your best Schwarzenegger voice and start telling everybody it's "not a tumah." Which was exactly what we presume this 24-year-old Afghanistan man was thinking when his headaches turned into blinding internal face punches.

It turns out doctors take impaired vision slightly more seriously than we do, so they ordered a brain scan right away. They didn't find cancer or a weird lesion in the guy's noggin. Nope. They found a pencil. This pencil:

AFP: University Clinc RWTH Aachen via ABC
For our American readers, 7 centimeters is equal to way too fucking long to be stuck in your head and not know it inches.

It was lodged in the man's sinus all the way up to his pharynx and had somehow damaged his eye socket. After doing an obligatory spit take, someone had the sense to ask the man, "Hey, you're not missing a pencil, are you?"

He was not.

Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Getty/Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images
Like so many of us, he was secretly grateful that they had not asked to X-ray his lower colon.

The man couldn't remember anything that might account for the pencil being lodged in his mug. However, he did recall taking a rough spill as a child and getting nosebleeds for a bit afterward. But, haha, that was 15 years ago! Surely this isn't ... the same ... oh God.

The man successfully underwent perhaps the first ever pencilectomy and made a full recovery, although his vision is still blurred in one eye. The pencil went on to marry its high school sweetheart, Arthur Gum. They had three beautiful children and enjoyed taking cruises together. Or else it got thrown away in a hospital garbage can. We don't know. We're not fucking pencil biographers.

Todd Taulman/iStock/Getty Images
Who has the time when there are quills to be written about?

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