Thanks to the Internet, a brand new phenomena has emerged of people who try to treat their own medical problems, like medical school is just a formality. As if WebMD didn’t already convince everyone they have cancer, now YouTube has convinced people to try dumb medical self treatments that even the renegades on House wouldn’t try. These stories, all of people who wound up in the emergency room after self-treatments went bad, are definitely cringe worthy.
These patients who tried to self-medicate by drinking bleach, using bug spray in their orifices, or even attempting surgery on themselves deserve a place in medical textbooks everywhere as examples of self-care no-nos. Medical professionals, who sometimes acknowledge that crazy medical techniques can work, still do not possess the patience for your nail polish remover remedies. Thankfully – for you – they still managed to share these tales on Reddit, tales that might as well be Grey’s Anatomy episodes for how outlandish they are.
Drinking Bleach Will Probably Start, Not Stop, Food Poisoning
“I used to work at a lab in a hospital in a rural town. I got a stool 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, for example, some kind of body fluid and labeled it as urine. 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.”
Bug Spray Works Best When Not In An Ear Canal
From an anonymous Redditor:
“As an EMT – Basic student 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 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.”
Combs And A Toothbrush Stuck Where The Sun Doesn’t Shine
“Med student. A guy came in to the emergency department with two combs and a toothbrush in his butt. He had stuck the toothbrush up there for pleasure, but lost it. He tried to fish it out with a comb, but lost that, and tried again with a second comb, and lost that as well.
The kicker: he was there because he had gotten in a car crash. He wasn’t there to get the stuff out of his butt. He volunteered the information after we asked if there was anything else we needed to know.”
Convinced Lemon Juice Counteracted The Sugar
“Not an RN, but my diabetic grandpa used to eat all the bread/sugar he wanted, and then eat lemondrops after everything. According to him, the real lemon juice acid would counteract the sugar he had just eaten. He was convinced. The nurses disagreed and fought with him for years, but eventually gave in and let him do what he wanted because he was 97 and the food made him happy.”
She Cut Out Her Own Abscess
“We are a needle exchange/harm reduction station at at the clinic I work at. We have IV drug users come in pretty frequently to get their abscesses cleaned out and dressed properly. So one patient comes in wanting to get her abscess cleaned out like many other patients before her. We take her back to a procedure room and get everything ready to start. She has an ace bandage covering up this spot on her arm so of course we are thinking it’s fine because that’s better than just letting it be open to the air. She proceeds take off said bandage and exposes not only a huge abscess but a four inch length of vein sticking out of her arm that is rotting away and drying up. We are like, ‘Uh what’s going on here?’ and she says she took it out of her abscess and left it out because it made injecting heroin easier. So basically she ran her own IV with a vein she cut out of her abscess. We then called the ambulance.”
Lemon Juice As A Fever Cure
“911 dispatch here. I heard the story second hand, but some kid had a crazy high fever and wouldn’t stop crying. The paramedics get on scene, and the 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 its eyes for the last 20 minutes. No siree.”
You Can’t ‘Squeeze Out’ Cancer
“A 60-year-old woman self diagnosed herself with leg cancer and decided to treat it herself by periodically ‘squeezing the cancer out’ of a centimeter wide hole in her leg.
Yeah, that was a pretty stupid one.”
Ingesting Raw Meat Is Never A Good Treatment
“A patient comes in to the emergency department with an abscess. He tells us he knew he had an infection, and so ate a pound-and-a-half of raw steak to get the antibiotics that were given to the cow.”
Bleach Is For Cleaning, Not Your Cervix
“I had a patient come to the ER complaining of severe pain and swelling ‘all down there.’ On physical examination we noted a really remarkable amount of swelling, and both the internal and external tissues were extremely red and irritated. She was so swollen she couldn’t even pee until we put a catheter in. The physician did a pelvic exam and found blisters on her cervix.
We asked when the symptoms started. She said, ‘Well it was itching tonight. I thought I had a yeast infection, so I poured a cup of bleach up in there to kill it. But then after a while it kind of started to hurt.’ Yeah, I bet it did.”
Two Men Invented Their Own ED Cures
“I worked overnights in a Midwestern ER and I have seen two men try to treat their erectile dysfunction on their own.
One man used caulk in his urethra and then it dried and cracked like pencil lead and only the 1/4 inch at the tip came out, he had another three inches or so all broken into pieces that required surgery to get out.
The other man used a clipped off piece of coat-hanger to try to keep himself erect during sex and that also had to be surgically removed.
Dudes. Ask for Viagra.”
Self-Dentistry Gone Wrong
“Dentist reporting in:
I had a guy who had tried to pry his own tooth out with a screwdriver. It did not go well.”
Biting The Sun To Cure Tonsillitis
“GP here. The most outrageous thing I’ve heard was from a boy who was something like 20-22-years-old. Very poor, illiterate family. The boy had a bad case of tonsillitis 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.”
You Don’t Ever Want To Do This With A Curling Iron
“ER Tech here:
A man came in with his wife because he had been bleeding from his bum. He thought that the best way was to self-anesthetize with alcohol, lubricate the area, and cauterize with a curling iron…
He actually got it a fair way up before he pulled it out, judging by how much of his rectum turned into KFC. We had to remove about a foot of GI tract due to burnt, scarred tissue. The worst part was that didn’t even stop the bleeding, which originated farther up the GI tract than the iron would ever reach.
There is also the story about a champagne bottle popping off inside someone, but that’s another story.”
Tried To Soothe The Pain With Honey And Vodka
“One of my patients had put Nair on his anus and left it on overnight. As one would think, when he woke up he had burns that looked like a pressure ulcer. Instead of coming to the ED right away he decide he would soothe the pain with honey. When that didn’t work he tried to remove the honey using vodka.
Teaching his roommate how to do those dressing changes was the most awkward experience I have ever had professionally.”
Kids, Cobra Venom Won’t Save You
“I’m a triage RN. I had a patient call concerning back pain. I was going about my normal assessment and asked if he had taken anything for the pain, to which he replies ‘Cobra Venom.’
Turns out, he had read about Cobroxin, a topical treatment for pain made from cobra venom, and decided it would be more effective to simply let a cobra bite him. I have no idea how he got hold of a cobra.”
She Poured Whiskey Down Her Child’s Throat
From an anonymous Redditor:
“I work in a hospital lab. A couple years ago, I worked night shift and would routinely get called up to the Emergency Room to draw blood. I get the call, go up there, and find a two year-old boy, completely unresponsive and a mother screaming frantically and hopping around. I draw the blood, go down to the lab, and start my tests. I found an ethanol level of 350 mg/dl (Blood Alcohol Level of 0.35, possibly fatal even for an adult).
I call it up to the doc and they bring in Social Services and whoever else to question the mom. Apparently, she found her son in the garage with a bottle of antifreeze and he was acting kinda weird, so she figured he was drinking it. She went online and saw that the cure for ethylene glycol poisoning is ethanol. So she went to the liquor cabinet and started pouring straight whiskey down the poor kid’s throat! Then, of course, he passed out and she decided maybe they should go to the hospital. Kid lived.”
Had Nail Polish – And Remover – In Her Eyes
“Paramedic here. I got called to a house about 11:30 one night for a ‘girl with finger nail polish in her eyes.’ Got there and the scene is crazy, people screaming and throwing things around. We immediately notice the mother holding down a younger girl and about to pour something in her eyes.
Nail. Polish. Remover.”
He Tried To Perform His Own Abdominal Surgery
“I saw this patient last year. He had a long history of abdominal pain that was quite non-specific, and his previous work ups were negative. He was convinced that he had intestinal parasites that caused the pain (which as an aside, he believed that he got them after an ‘encounter’ with a woman he met on the Internet).
So despite having seen several physicians and gastroenterologists, and numerous investigations including gastroscopy and colonoscopy, no diagnostic source for the pain was found. But he was undeterred from believing it was intestinal parasites.
So he develops a plan in which he orders surgical instruments and local anesthetic online. Watches YouTube to figure out how to perform a laparotomy (to get into his abdomen). And so after his preparations, he performs a self-surgery using a video camera to watch himself, and manages to get into his abdominal cavity. He had trouble completing his self-surgery and called an ambulance.”
She Had Her Child Put Her Hip Back Into Place
From an anonymous Redditor:
“Orthopedic Nurse here.
When someone breaks their hip the typical presentation is a shortened and externally (sometimes internally) rotated leg. I had a lady that thought her hip had simply popped out and had her kid pull on her leg to try and pop it back in. That didn’t work, but regardless, she didn’t believe anything serious was wrong at the time. She waited three months before coming to the hospital. She only came in after she couldn’t feel her foot anymore and her leg was swelling up from a deep vein thrombosis.”
Mom Put Coca-Cola In His IV Tube
“Nurse here. A mom was caring for her son who had a G-tube most of his life. (A feeding tube that goes into his belly) Sometimes when it would get clogged she would put Coke into it to dissolve the clog, a common practice with G-tubes. At one point he child went home on IV antibiotics. The IV goes into the blood stream as opposed to the stomach. At home he IV got clogged. So the mom tried injecting Coke into it in order to dissolve the clog. Luckily it did no work. Coke into the blood could probably have killed the child. In the mom’s defense, I guess all tubes look the same to her.”
Treated An Abscess With Bleach Soaked Socks
“Nurse here: had a man decide to self treat an abscess in his stomach by stuffing it with Clorox bleach soaked socks. Yup yup. Needles to say after four months it was pretty disgusting. Needed treatment for MRSA, surgery, and packing for the wound, and finally closure.”
Attempted To Cure An Earache With A Bobby Pin
“I’m a nursing student and one of my patients had an earache, so he decided to hold his daughter’s bobby pin to a candle for roughly five minutes and then shoved it in the ear that hurt. He is now deaf in that ear and was on fall precautions since he couldn’t walk straight. As a bonus, I was able to listen to every episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that was on that day wherever I was on the floor because the TV was on the loudest volume possible.”
A Pencil In The Eye
“Here is one that my friend who was a EMT told me.
‘He and his partner got called out for a impalement injury to a child’s eye while running with a pencil. The mother removed the pencil before they arrived. The mother was riding in the back. That’s when the paramedic said to the mother. “Next time something gets impaled, don’t remove it. It’s dangerous!” Without skipping a beat the mom goes “Oops, I didn’t know that.” Then she proceeds to quickly and calmly shove the pencil back in. Apparently it was an eventful evening.'”
He Used Keyboard Cleaning Air As An Inhaler
“Nurse here. We had a younger patient who had run out of their inhaler and didn’t want to tell their mom (after meeting her I could see why, she was just angry at the world) so he took keyboard cleaner Can-o-Air and tipped it upside down and inhaled. Turning it upside down releases the chemicals in an icy cold spray and it immediately caused this kid to go into a severe asthma attack and caused cold burns to the back of his throat. ”
Self-Resuscitation Wasn’t Necessary
“A favorite tale of an EMT friend of mine. They received a call out for a possible cardiac arrest at a local resort. When they arrived at the room, the door was closed but they could hear muffled rhythmic sounds from within. They knocked on the door and got something back like, ‘Co- co- come in in in.’ When they entered they found an older gentleman laying on the floor, shirt off, giving himself chest compressions. They asked him to stop so that they could check him out. He looked at the EMTs like they were crazy, and refused saying, ‘I- I- I’ll di- di- die.’
Apparently his physician had told him he was developing some heart issues. This led the patient to periodically check his pulse for irregularities. When he couldn’t find a pulse he naturally assumed that his heart had stopped beating and he’d better get busy with some resuscitation.
It took them quite a while to convince the poor guy that had his heart actually stopped functioning he would not be able to self resuscitate. He kept banging on his chest over the entire discussion, getting angrier and angrier that the EMTs wouldn’t just take over and do their job.”
Gave Melted Sugar For A Bleeding Stomach
“My first night as an intern, this old man came in the ER with his daughter complaining of fainting while at home. He was just feeling dizzy now so the resident admits the patient, and since he is not cooperative we start taking history from his daughter. While we are interviewing her the patient starts vomiting some brownish material (it looks like clotted blood which is usually seen in a bleeding stomach ulcer). So we ask the daughter about it and she says: ‘Oh no! This is just melted sugar that I gave him an hour ago.’ Turns out she heat some sugar until it started melting and fed it to the poor guy. So we spend an hour convincing the lady that this can be a gastrointestinal bleeding and we have to do so-and-so, and she is not convinced.
Meanwhile the patient went into cardiopulmonary arrest and died. Turns out it was a GI bleeding, exacerbated by pouring hot sugar in the patient’s mouth. God, people are idiots sometimes.”
Toothpaste And Rock Salt For A Burn
“I am an EMT who works in the ER. We once had a patient who spilled hot grease all over his arms after a small fryer accident. This happened to take place at the patient’s in-laws who happened to be Chinese. Apparently there is an old wives tale in China that says to treat burns with a layer of toothpaste and rock salt. Not wanting to offend his in-laws he goes along with this do it yourself treatment. I think I spent about three hours that evening picking rock salt out of second degree burns and then cleaning out all of the, now dried, toothpaste.”