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 ...
A Dead Woman Woke Up Right Before Her Organs Were Harvested
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.
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?
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.
Both shows also have the same amount of viewers.
The Runny Nose That Was Actually Leaking Brain Fluid
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.
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.
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.
The Man Who Lived With a Pencil in His Head
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:
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.
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.
Who has the time when there are quills to be written about?
The Corpse Who Had a Baby (Then Came Back to Life)
Erica Nigrelli, a high school teacher, was three weeks away from delivering her baby when something went terribly wrong. Nigrelli had been walking around with undiagnosed hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is kind of an inverse Grinch disease, causing her heart muscle to be extra thick. No, it doesn't make you more giving; it kills you with heart attacks. And so it did. One day, in the middle of class, Nigrelli's heart gave out on her.
At first, Nigrelli's symptoms seemed like normal late pregnancy illness. She just felt faint, maybe a little tingly and blotchy -- none of which is completely unheard of when you're weeks away from firing a new human out of your genitals. Just to be safe, Nigrelli lumbered over to another classroom to alert a teacher, then passed out, seized up, and started frothing at the mouth. It just so happened that her husband worked down the hall as well, so three different adults attempted CPR while calling 911.
By the time Nigrelli made it to the hospital, her pulse was gone, but there was still another life on the line. Doctors performed a C-section right away. Welcome to the world, baby! Your mom is dead. Avenge her, we guess?
"Hey, your dad didn't happen to make any deals with the devil to boost his acting career, did he?"
Then something amazing happened: Doctors were astonished when Nigrelli's heart suddenly began to beat again. She was placed into a medically induced coma for five days, but made a complete recovery. Medical professionals are currently checking her for highlanderism, but otherwise report that she is in good health.
The Case of the Curious Stomach Pain
You, dear reader, are a 66-year-old bearded man, standing roughly 4.5 feet tall and rocking between your legs what is sadly but accurately referred to as a micropenis.
We are sorry, but that's just what life is for you now.
Everything's coming up [your name]!
You were also raised as an orphan and, because the universe has decided it's not quite done screwing around with you yet, you have a serious case of bloating and abdominal pain completely unrelated to the previous night's Skittles and Schlitz blitz. As if your life story didn't already sound like a goddamn gypsy curse, the doctor tells you that the discomfort you are experiencing is because of an ovarian cyst.
Perhaps this word does not mean what you think it means.
That's the exact news this unfortunate elderly Chinese man received. After further tests were done, leading doctors agreed with Steven Tyler's initial assessment and concluded that this dude, indeed, was technically a lady. The condition is called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which is fancy medical-speak for "seriously ambiguous genitalia." While this is a rare disorder on its own (only about 1 in 14,000 unlucky bastards/bastardinas currently have it worldwide), doctors also found that the patient had Turner's syndrome. Women afflicted with Turner's syndrome are short in stature and have ovarian conditions that render them incapable of fertility. Only six other possibly gender-confused people in history have been diagnosed with both CAH and Turner's syndrome. We will leave it to the comment section to cruelly speculate about their identities.
Along with the removal of the ovarian cyst, doctors removed an atrophic uterus and fallopian tubes, because the patient wants to continue to recognize himself as a man. He is reportedly taking testosterone replacement treatments for the hormone imbalance and 6,200 ccs of bright red Corvette for the micropenis.
Related Reading: Feeling the least bit ill? Read about the five kinds of people you meet in any hospital. If you end up staying the night there, you might even get to meet a horrifying android stalker. She'll stare at you until you feel better! And if you still feel like hospitals aren't murderous nightmares, read about all the ways they can kill you.