5 Creepy Diseases You Won't Believe Are Medically Possible
There's a reason most horror stories involve physical mayhem: The idea of something messing with our body is disturbing enough to have a genre all its own. Still, all the Re-Animators and Human Centipedes out there are nothing. The greatest horror writer is nature itself, and it has made certain that reality offers us far more interesting body-mangling ailments than a thousand inventive dark wizard curses.
You Can Grow Hair Out Of Your Eyeballs
We apologize in advance for the image we're about to show you. Please make sure that there are no sharp or spoon-like objects nearby you that could use to, say, spontaneously gouge at anything eyeball-shaped in your face as you recoil in horror.
Ready? Good. Behold:
OK, that's it. No more eyes for anybody.
Holy tap-dancing shit on a stick! It's one thing to have a growth bigger than your pupil hanging around on your eyeball, but it's something else to see it sprouting hair. How is that even possible, and how hasn't that poor person burned the entire world in retaliation?
"I will as soon as I can get this damn lash out of my eye!"
That ... fucking ... thing is a limbal dermoid. They are congenital tumors that form on the limbus part of the cornea. They can cause vision deficiencies such as astigmatism and amblyopia, but they're benign in the sense that they're not cancerous. On the other hand, they're very very malignant in the "your eyeball may grow a mullet" department.
Limbal dermoids are rare, but they're out there -- it's estimated that the average eye doctor encounters one or two cases during their career. The particular horror above was removed from the eye of a 19-year-old dude. The tumor was present from birth and slowly grew with its host -- from a cute baby tumor to the awkward, pimpled tumor-teen that stole its first kiss under the bleachers and awkwardly started experimenting with facial hair like its peers.
Yes, of course there are peers.
However, that kid was comparatively lucky, considering all the other things that his tumorous eye passenger could have started cultivating. Turns out, all sorts of disturbing tissues may bloom from limbal dermoids: They've been known to develop cartilage or even sweat glands on the eye.
Yes, hair and sweat glands, right there on your eyeball. Say what you want about nature, but you can't blame it for lack of originality: Even the most vicious horror movie witch would never think to curse you by turning your eye into an armpit.
Uner Tan Syndrome Makes You Walk On All Fours
You're a grizzled horror-survivor type, the Ash of your own personal Evil Dead universe. Tired after a hard week of demon slaying, you retreat to the backwoods of Turkey to collect yourself and have a much-needed vacation. And then, on your very first day there, you wander the seaside and see these people rapidly advancing:
What the shit? Have you wandered onto a reverse Island Of Dr. Moreau, where scientists are turning men into animals instead of the other way around? Nope -- the mad scientist here is mother nature. These people suffer from the super-rare Uner Tan syndrome, which affects five of the 19 siblings in a family living near Iskenderun, with a couple other isolated cases in the same region. Researchers originally thought their unique prowl comes from a genetic glitch causing reverse evolution; however, later studies have reproachfully pointed out that evolution doesn't work like that. Besides, their walk is a lot closer to cats than primates ... which technically isn't any better, since it basically makes them the living equivalent of the creepy-ass manimal glitches from Red Dead Redemption. Here, have some video footage:
And now you have seven days to show someone else, suckers!
It's profoundly unsettling to see an otherwise regular person amble around on all fours, back arched like a predatory feline ready to pounce. The siblings seem eerily comfortable in the awkward, back-breaking positions their mode of transport requires, even maneuvering stairs with ease. Oh, and they can't (or won't) properly converse with their bipedal peers, instead relying on minimal vocabulary and preferring to communicate with each other in a language they made up. You know, in case you wanted to add to the general "first 10 minutes of a horror movie" feel of the situation.
But this isn't a horror movie; it's real life, and they are just human beings with a genetic defect. Specifically, the ailment is caused by CAMRQ, a suite of brain defects that messes up cognitive abilities and the sense of balance. They are literally unable to move on two limbs, so they're forced to do the next best thing and adopt a lateral gait that they apparently find more comfortable than the primate-style "hand from one side, foot from the other" diagonal walk.
"At least we don't need some candy-ass tail to keep our balance."
Like all the best terror curses, the condition appears to be incurable. There's a silver lining, though: Analyzing it has led to some insights on protein function that could prove useful for treating other neurological illnesses, such as dementia or Alzheimer's. Still, we imagine this would be little consolation if you woke up tomorrow to find that you're only able to propel yourself around like a house cat, unable to truly communicate with anyone but your own kin, and there's nothing anyone can do to help you.
Fish Odor Syndrome Can Fill A Building With Your Stench
Let's be clear right at the top: This isn't just "really bad body odor" -- that's not a horror movie; that's a ride on the subway. No, we're talking about a sudden and mysterious dark, fishy stench that is so persistent that it can fill a freaking auditorium, and no deodorant or perfume can mask it. It's trimethylaminuria, aka fish odor syndrome.
The disorder arises from faulty metabolic processes that lead to an overaccumulation of trimethylamine, a substance that, well, reeks of bad fish. Normally, your body has no trouble metabolizing TMA into less smelly compounds, but a dysfunctional gene can cause the process to fail, so the chemical starts oozing from your skin with all the subtlety of gas station tikka masala. One sufferer called a plumber to investigate the weird smell in her bathroom and complained about the constant stench at her workplace, only to have it explained to her that she was the unwitting bog-monster all along.
Like the shittiest Shyamalan twist of all time.
But at least she could smell it; another victim had to leave her teaching job due to the stench and the constant snickering and teasing it inspired. She was unable to smell it herself (you know how your nose adjusts to smells over time; it's the reason all of your friends' houses have a distinct smell and you think yours doesn't), so she had no way of knowing when it was out of control ... until she saw how everyone reacted when she walked in the room.
Fish odor syndrome affects an estimated one in 40,000 people. It can be genetic or caused by liver and kidney problems. It can lie dormant until adulthood, but in case you're dying to know, doctors can now check you for certain markers. If you're one of the unlucky few, the only way to keep the overbearing odor in some semblance of control is by carefully watching your diet to avoid foods rich in TMA. But, really, that's the scariest part; we're all just one tiny glitch away from a fate like this. Our bodies are walking waste-elimination machines, with thousands of processes running day and night trying to keep it under control. But if even one of them goes awry, suddenly you're the living embodiment of a backed-up sewer line.
Situational Syncope Can Make You Black Out At The Sight Of Seinfeld
Characters passing out is a common storytelling trope that generally results in missing time and waking up in strange, new places. It's usually terrifying for the character and tends to mark a major turning point in the story (maybe you were the killer all along!). Apart from hearing heavy footsteps behind you right after having sex in a horror movie, it's one of the worst things that can happen in a fictional universe.
So of course there are people who have to deal with this every day. It's called situational syncope: a spontaneous loss of consciousness and recovery triggered by some of the most bizarrely specific shit imaginable.
It's similar to vasovagal syncope (fainting when your nervous system malfunctions because of a physical or emotional shock, causing your heart to temporarily pump less blood to your brain), but the fainting trigger can be virtually anything, based on various intricacies of outside forces, your blood pressure, and general physical health. If these conditions are just right (or, rather, wrong), you could risk passing out every time you cough. Or exercise. Or swallow something. Or urinate, or poop.
"I get five-ply now so I can use it as a pillow."
Really think about those; as anyone who has ever attended college can attest, a human being can only handle waking up in a suspicious puddle on the bathroom floor two to three times a week. With situational syncope, you can potentially experience this wonderful moment several times a day, every single day.
And then there is the variation known as recurrent laughter-induced syncope, which is exactly what it sounds like. One case involved an otherwise healthy dude who was struck unconscious by extremely funny jokes. Another, older man suffers from an absurdly specific version of the ailment known as Seinfeld Syncope. His brain's randomized knock-you-the-fuck-out function is triggered by the antics of Jason Alexander as George Costanza. The man found this out when an eyeful of Seinfeld caused him to actually drop face first into his plate of food, where he probably would have suffocated if it wasn't for his wife.
She had to. He's sponge-worthy.
Think about that: You're home alone, idly watching TV while wolfing away a Hungry Man when boom! Chandler cracks a joke, and you're in for a slapstick-themed demise that'll have grizzled homicide detectives filling the walls of their garage with news clippings and theories as they're slowly driven insane by your locked-room death mystery.
Constant Deja Vu Turns Your Life Into A Terrifying Time Loop
In any movie where the protagonist is lost in the woods (or in a maze, or some alien-infested tunnels) there's always this moment of dread when they look down and see their own footprints from earlier and say, "We've been here before." Now imagine living with the feeling of going in circles all day, every day. No matter what you do, the moment you do it, you feel this jarring sense that you've done the exact thing you're doing and that you're living in a goddamned time loop. It's kind of like Groundhog Day, only without the gift of knowing what's coming -- only after you experience the thing do you say, "Yep, I now remember doing this exact same thing."
If you're anything like us, your next question should be: "How did I die, and precisely how do I move on from this Purgatory I've been sentenced to?" But for one 23-year-old Brit, the half-assed Shyamalan script described above is harsh, confusing reality. He's otherwise healthy and displays no neurological difficulties but has a constant sense of deja vu. Researchers think it may somehow be due to anxiety, and it has certainly made his existence pretty damn anxious. Deja vu, as you experience it, is just a momentary glitch where your brain tells you that something you've just seen is actually being fed to you by your long-term memory. It feels weird for five seconds and then you move on. This guy can't.
Oh, and this has been going on since freaking 2007, gradually causing him to drop out of university and thoroughly wrecking his life. He has even had a "deja vu of a deja vu" experience -- he tried to get his hair cut, only to deja vu hard about the barber shop, and then Inception that shit into a double deja vu experience ("I remember doing this before, and feeling like I had done it before").
The condition is rare, to the point of being almost unheard of ... for now. Since the man's story came out in early 2015, other people with similar symptoms have started coming forward. Until slowly all of us will realize that we're all living our lives over and over, in a repeating cycle of circular time, with no escape.
Ready for more reasons to never leave the house? Check out the boner-inducing spider in The 6 Deadliest Creatures (That Can Fit In Your Shoe). Or if you need more reasons not to trust your own body, read 5 Mind-Blowing Ways Your Senses Lie To You Every Day.
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