6 Medical Conditions That’ll Give You Endless Nightmares
Be honest: Are you the type of person who accidentally (or "accidentally") surfs Web MD for waaaay too long while worrying away about your current or impending health crises? If so, all we have to say is, turn back now. Sure, all the information in this article is completely factual, and we guess there is a chance you might be suffering from all these sneaky, singularly cruel conditions and won't realize it for years ... but still. Might wanna sit this one out, champ.
Still here? Oh boy. Let's get started.
Don't Change Your Contact Lenses Often? You Could Have Amoebas Growing In Your Eye
Proper eye hygiene is not something that gets taught in health class, but given the number of eyeballs reading this sentence through the filmy membrane of soft contact lenses right now (as many as 30 million pairs in the U.S.), it probably should be. Failing to throw out old contacts and replace them with new ones as often as we should puts us at risk for a number of horrifying complications: ulcers, infections, and about $175 million in U.S. healthcare costs every year.
Oh, and you could have a motherfucking parasite living inside your eye, eating your cornea. We'll pause now as some of you run to the nearest pharmacy.
If your eye is the Death Star, this bug is Luke.
When corneal scrapings are the recommended course of action for those who are suspected of having a condition, you know we're in nightmare territory right out of the gate. The symptoms are basically pink-eye times a thousand: red, itchy inflammation and a lot of pain. The culprit is the humble acanthamoeba, a very common parasite that can be found in dirt and water pretty much everywhere. Acanthamoeba isn't choosy about what it eats -- if left untreated, it just keeps on chomping until you're permanently blind. So hey, upside: Once it gets bad enough that you'd actually see the gross little fuckers, at least you won't see them for long, you know?
Oh, thanks for the arrow, ABC. No way we would have noticed this otherwise.
In the case of 18-year-old Ashley Hyde from Florida, who nearly went blind when the parasitic amoeba latched onto her contact lens and started to eat her, the phrase "They had to drill into my eye" completes this, er, vision of horror for us. Change your freaking contacts, people.
Your Organs Could Be the Wrong Way Around (And You'd Never Know)
If you've ever had the misfortune to need a medical operation, you know that there are a couple of things that you don't want to hear as the anesthetic takes effect, chiefly, "What the unholy fuck is that thing?" Well, we've got a new one for you: "Where the hell are all their organs?"
Enter situs inversus, a medical condition that flip-reverses the positions of your major internal organs. On the positive side, it's a rare condition that only afflicts 1 in every 10,000 ... but, philosophically speaking, how rare is rare when you could easily go your entire life without knowing that you have it?
If you say things like "fire cold" or "me am hate Superman," please consult your doctor immediately.
That's the problem with situs inversus: The lack of medical symptoms means that it can only be diagnosed at the worst possible moment, i.e., when your doctors have their hands deep inside you, desperately pawing for your organs inside your gaping torso as if someone stapled $100 bills onto them, all in the name of confusing fun. And when it shows up on X-rays, doctors -- by their own admission -- treat it as an accident by the X-ray technicians.
How many innocent hospital workers have been fired over a fuck-up Mother Nature made?
This condition also makes organ transplants incredibly dangerous (a fact that Hitman fans already know). In cases where someone with situs inversus needs a donor organ, you can't just take a regular organ and insert it upside down -- that'd be like losing a left hand and having the doctor sew on a right hand but upside down. They need a donor organ from a fellow sufferer and, well, have you been listening to anything we've said? You can't get people to donate their magical organs when they think that they're stuck with the basic models, y'know.
The vast majority of situs inversus patients also suffer from heart conditions as a result of the strain that their heart is placed under, while a quarter suffer from primary ciliary dyskinesia -- a defect in the lining of the airways and reproductive organs that causes (respectively, duh) chronic respiratory tract infections and infertility. There's also a nasty subtype of situs inversus called situs amiguus, which causes your organs to throw off the shackles of logic and plant themselves anywhere they like inside your cavity ... but we'll spare you the photos of that one.
Here's an extreme case of goodboyus inversus instead.
Fatal Familial Insomnia Kills Your Ability To Sleep (And Then You)
"Fatal familial insomnia" sounds like a horror game for the Super Nintendo, but it's not that, and neither is it a psychological disorder. It's more of a 12- to 18-month descent into hell ending with an imaginary Brad Pitt in tight leather pants holding a gun to your head (if you're lucky). It's a prion disease, like mad cow disease, except that it targets the walnut-like thalamus we all have in the center of our skulls, regulating our autonomic functions. That means that the first things to go are sleep, sexual potency, and the ability to reliably use the bathroom.
Believe it or not, that's not the worst part. The worst part is that there's no cure. It's always fatal.
"Oh, hey, you weren't using these, were you?" -your asshole brain
The reason sleep becomes impossible with FFI is that your body is incapable of shutting down properly, as if someone had installed Windows 8 in your brain. Normally, our body's blood pressure drops as it prepares itself for rest -- but without the guidance of a fully functional thalamus, pressure stays high, and alertness is constant and inescapable. So on top of being unable to rest, you get the complete, uninterrupted awareness that you're unable to rest.
As the disease progresses, the symptoms become indistinguishable from a satanic curse: They include personality changes, uncontrollable tremors, and waking REM cycles that cause the victim to mime their day-to-day activities without being aware of it. It's pretty much what the guy in Fight Club had, down to the part where you turn into a dick. In the end, the thalamus of the victim ("patient" is not a strong enough word for this) ends up looking like a worm-eaten sponge.
It's about as useful, too.
Although it is mercifully very rare, FFI makes up for that in pure insidiousness. Symptoms don't tend to show up until you're in your 40s or 50s -- the gene takes that long to mutate. For most of you, that means that even if you don't have symptoms now and your parents claim to sleep like babies, FFI could be waiting for you in the future with a briefcase full of soap.
The Human Version Of Mad Cow Disease Might Be Biding Its Time Inside Your Body
Again, if you heard the term "prion" bandied around in a movie, you'd assume that it was some type of technobabble used to justify how someone got their superpowers. Well, we guess that's accurate, as long as you consider "brain shrinkage" and "death within a year" superhero-worthy abilities. Hope you do, because there might be some of these prions inside you right now!
They also make you morph into a mannequin, apparently.
Prions are basically supervillains themselves: Smooth, seductive, and deadly, these corrupted protein molecules lodge themselves in your brainstem and convince every other working protein molecule to die. The end result isn't pretty. You lose all motor function, brain function, and your general pep, because do you really think it would be kind enough to take you suddenly in your sleep? And yeah, you could have one of the worst prion diseases right now and you wouldn't even know it. Say hello to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD to its friends.
Kidding, this fucker has no friends.
The human equivalent of mad cow disease, CJD was responsible for the deaths of 177 people in the U.K. in the '90s after a batch of infected beef was unwittingly doled out to consumers. In total, 200+ cases were recorded worldwide between 1996 and 2011, including minor outbreaks in places like France, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and, oh shit, the United States. Most victims die within a year of contracting the disease, and since your brain stops working properly, you don't even get to use that year to flip off everyone who has wronged you.
However, the latest results of a study conducted in the U.K. suggest that as many as 1 in 2,000 people are carrying the abnormal proteins responsible for CJD ... with no ill effect. This isn't good news. It could be that those people have a genotype that renders the disease harmless, or maybe it just takes longer to incubate in their bodies, or some other explanation. We straight up have no fucking clue. Millions of people could have a ticking time bomb inside them, and science won't know for sure until it starts going off. (We'd start flipping off our enemies, just in case.)
Antibiotic-Resistant Diseases Are About to Fuck Us All
Medicine has always been about the quick-fix solution. Feeling ill? It's clearly your bodily fluids acting up, so we'll remove some. Queasy? Here's some leeches, go nuts. Depressed? That's nothing a good tickle in the nether regions won't solve. Sick? Swallow these antibiotics and run along. Frankly, it's insulting that we got kicked out of medical school. This shit is easy.
"Take two of these and call me in the morning ... to tell me what they do. I have no idea."
Except, not. It turns out that our excitement to treat every ache and ailment with antibiotics is coming back to bite us in the ass in the form of antibiotic-resistant superbugs -- which include tuberculosis, gonorrhea, shigella, and MRSA. Menaces we thought we had under control are coming back stronger than ever and all at the same time, like Spider-Man villains. Our collective pill habit has caused a public health crisis that kills approximately 700,000 people annually.
The question of how something we created for good could turn into our next apocalypse can be explained, well, the same way that most of our apocalypses come about: because we don't know what the hell we're doing. When antibiotics are prescribed, it's mostly because patients ask for them specifically in the belief that they're a cure-all wonder drug (they're not) or because it saves doctors from having to do the actual work of figuring out what's wrong. The point is that, in both cases, better and safer treatments are available, but we're not using them. And so we get rid of the easy-to-kill bacteria ... allowing the tough-as-shit strands to take over their turf.
This is something that's always occurred, but because there are now so many people taking so many antibiotics, it's getting worse and worse. We may never wind up creating a real-life Jurassic Park, but we don't need to. We tried to control nature, and although it worked out for a while, it's now going to hell. If the human race survives this, we're going to have to cast Jeff Goldblum as cocky soothsayer Alexander Fleming in the inevitable movie adaptation (assuming there's anyone left to shoot it).
You Could Have a Stone Baby In Your Womb For 50 Years Without Knowing It
It turns out that the miracle of pregnancy can turn into a Cronenberg-esque horror show. Wait, let us rephrase that. Pregnancy is a Cronenberg-esque horror show, but it can turn into something even worse. Three words: mummified rock fetuses.
Not to be confused with the Danish metal band of the same name.
See, when a woman becomes pregnant, the egg doesn't always set up shop where it's supposed to. This is called an ectopic pregnancy, and it usually ends up happening in the fallopian tubes, which connect the warm baby-making oven that is the uterus to the egg-filled ovaries. A lithopedion, which is the more bearable term for "calcified fetus," which is the polite term for "stone baby," is usually the end result of a pregnancy that forms somewhere in the abdomen instead of inside the uterus. Hence that X-ray above.
Any kind of ectopic pregnancy is life-threatening and may leave the woman unable to conceive again ... but that's not the horrifying part here. That would be the fact that a woman who has begun to carry a fetus somewhere less noticeable than a fallopian tube might lose the baby without knowing she was ever pregnant, like the elderly lady found to be carrying a 4-pound 50-year-old lithopedion in 2013. If the decaying fetus is too large to absorb back into the body and there isn't any way to eject it, it starts to mummify as the mother's body surrounds it in a calcified shell that protects her from the rotting process it would otherwise undergo. In other words, this atrocity is nature acting nice.
Stone babies are so rare that there are only 300-400 recorded cases of it. But who knows: You might be case 401 already and not know it until 2066.
When they aren't dishing out puns and vigilante justice, Marina and Adam can be found on Twitter. Adam also has a Facebook page!
Also check out 5 Insane Things Science Just Found Out About The Human Body and The 7 Most Baffling Things Ever Discovered In A Human Body.
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