While it never hurts to have an open mind, there are certain professionals you really should listen to. These include, but are not limited to lawyers, plumbers, and, of course, doctors. The pages of history and countless interpersonal tales have all been told about the trials and tribulations of people who decided that they knew better than a medical professional.
But one netizen was curious to hear from people who decided to second guess doctors and, contrary to most cases, ended up not regretting it. From comical to tragic, people shared medical mishaps where they decided to trust their intuition and it ended up paying off. We got in touch with Dave deBronkart, activist, cancer patient, and author to learn more.
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I was 22 at the time and a first time mom to a 6 month old baby girl. I was doing my best but things were very tight to put it mildly. My periods had not been at all regular since giving birth so when I found myself very late I went to a walk in clinic to get tested. The Dr walked in with my results and informed me I was pregnant. I was beside myself with anxiety about the very idea of having another child at this point in my life and asked him “what are my options?” aka, please point me in the direction of help. His response was unexpected to say the least. “I have two girls and I love them dearly” and that was it. I stared at him blankly thinking in my panicked 22 year old mommy brained state “but, I’m not married to a doctor”….and then he left. I did manage to find the help I needed, despite my clearly pro-life Dr’s very unhelpful advice. To all that would choose to chastise my decision, don’t bother. I am staunchly pro-choice, and this experience only solidified it. What would have happened to me and my babies had I been forced to give birth to another baby is no life I would wish on any child or woman, especially if there is another option.
Image credits: Patricia Jones
After a motorcycle accident my doctor recommended the amputation of my right foot, claiming that I would never regain feeling in it, and it would be a bother for the rest of my life, I decided not to and see how it went, two years later, severe itching started, one year later, all feeling came back. 40 years later I’m still able to do everything, although it does still hurt a little when it’s starting to rain.
Image credits: Larry Green
Not me, but my husband. He was suffering from a bad earache, so he went to a local doctor. The doctor’s wife was his nurse. She in all seriousness told him the ear pain was being caused by evil spirits. It didn’t take him long to get out of there and find a different doctor. People are nuts.
Image credits: Brenda English
Bored Panda got in touch with Dave deBronkart, sometimes known as “e-Patient Dave,” an author, speaker, and participatory medicine and personal health data rights activist and he was kind enough to answer some of our questions. Despite it seemingly being common sense, we were curious to hear why he thought some people feel like they know better than a doctor.
“Because questioning authority is always a good idea. But questioning doesn’t make you right – anyone who has an idiot relative knows that. Good questions make you think – but if you disbelieve, you take responsibility. (Remember that you might be wrong, too.) Doctors aren’t perfect, and they’re overloaded with a million new articles a year and constant time pressure. But they’re trained on science, and science is good s**t: it’s why you can read this on a phone, fly on planes, and can get medicines that usually work. I think of a doctor’s visit as a talk with an expert friend, trying together to solve my problem,” Dave shared with us.
I had been feeling poorly and had a cough that wouldn’t go away. I visited several specialists trying to get a diagnosis. These included and internal medicine specialist, an oncologist, a hematologist and an ENT. After my exam the ENT explained that a cough irritates the throat and if I would just stop coughing I would stop coughing. And, for that bit of wisdom he needed medical school. Later I found I had non-hodgkins lymphoma, with the tumor located in the middle of my chest. This process took 11 months to get the diagnosis Ultimately chemo cured the cancer and the cough went away.
Image credits: Mike Gershowitz
Way back in the day, around 1995, I was 16 and had *really* low blood pressure. And I mean like 88/40. I was also about 20 pounds overweight. My genius of a doctor told me “You’re fat. No-one’s going to date you while you look like that.” I was beyond shocked. I’d had various doctors with obviously varying bedside manners over the years. This jack*ss took the cake. His brilliant solution to my weight issue and bp issue? Smoking. That’s right. In 1995, a doctor TOLD.ME.TO.SMOKE. So instead of losing 20 pounds and smoking, I got rid of about 180 pounds of idiot doctor.
Image credits: Michele Perkins
In the early 2000s I got an ingrown toenail. It bled every day and wasn’t healing on its own.
I went to the doctor and he told me “Do the Ooh-Ahh Method. The ‘Ooh’ is when you lift the nail, the ‘Aah’ is when the pain goes away. It’ll heal.”
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I did that. It didn’t heal. Doctor kept telling me to do that. I almost lost my toe, but 3.5 years later it finally stopped bleeding and healed.
For the record I didn’t have health insurance, so seeking more medical treatment wasn’t an option.
Image credits: Randy Boyd
Setting aside that the average person often can’t tell the difference between the sternum and the sebaceous glands, we were curious about thinking for one’s self, so we asked Dave if there were cases a person should perhaps disregard a doctor’s advice. “Certainly: when you’ve decided it’s not what you want. It’s always good to ask: Are there any other options? What are the risks? What if I do nothing?”
My wife was in a very bad car accident about 16 years ago. She was kept sedated in the ICU for 6 weeks, leg amputated, pins in her hip and pelvis, nerve damage in the other leg, infected de-gloving wound on her hip, etc. After stabilizing, she was transferred to the care of a hospital more to the liking of the insurance company. We met with the head of ortho there to find out the plan. We expected that he would talk about when to remove the pins since the well-respected doctor who put them in said they would come out when the new bone is strong enough due to the risk of infection.
Instead, this doctor said there was no reason to remove the metal. We should just relax, plan a trip to Tahiti and lie on the beach drinking Mai Tais. We left the office stunned and concluded that he didn’t expect her to live much longer no matter what they did.
Of course, the wound got infected, canceling a planned skin graft (that would likely have failed). We checked into the ER at the other hospital. They removed the metal and after many more surgeries, she’s alive and doing better than anyone expected.
Image credits: Joseph LaRocca
I had a knife stab in one side of my index finger and the tip was protruding through the other side. It was pulled out immediately and I knew it didn’t feel right so went to see a doctor.
I told him it was hurting and I was having trouble bending it. He said it looks fine and to keep it clean. I reminded him that it does not feel right and it was stabbed through. He asked me very condescendingly if I wanted a bandaid with a smirk on his face. He applied one and said there ya go then he walked out.
About an hour later I felt something sharp. The tendon had been sliced by the knife and snapped going down my finger and into my palm. It required an initial surgery to open my finger and hand to find, feed up to the other end and reattach it, then plenty of stitches. I then needed physio to make sure I kept fluid motion in my finger.
A few months later I needed a follow up surgery to remove scarring from where it was reattached so I could get better motion bending it. Then more stitches and more physio.
Thank you for the fu#%ing bandaid and the condescending smile.
Image credits: Randi-Short
At nine months pregnant, my water broke at home. I called my OB and was told to come in and see her. She examined me. She said I’m 4–5 cm dilated and to go home and have lunch, take a nap, and enjoy the afternoon. This was 4:30 p.m. ‘Are you sure? Shouldn’t I head to the hospital now? I feel I should go straight there,’ I asked. This being my second child, I felt uneasy with the advice. But, she’s the expert. She got defensive and said, ‘How dare you second guess me? I’ve delivered hundreds of babies!'” “I had no car. I took the bus home. By the time I got home an hour later, I was in active labor. Contractions were two minutes apart. Blinding pain. Panicked. Incredibly stressed and overwhelmed by the urgency for help. I got a ride to the hospital and almost delivered in the car. I had the baby within minutes of arriving shortly after 6 p.m. A huge and healthy 11-pound boy. I didn’t even have time to take my jacket or shoes off. My pants had to be cut open by a nurse.
Image credits: Michelle Lee
As tempting as it can feel to just be a maverick and believe that your intuition knows better the years of medical training, Dave has better advice. “Be an e-patient: empowered, engaged, equipped, enabled! The best way to get started is to know what they wrote on the computer about you after every doctor visit. In the US, it’s now Federal policy that they have to let you do that. And we’re not just talking about lab tests – today you can ask to see the “visit notes” or “progress notes.” It can remind you of who’s doing what next, and sometimes you might even find a mistake! If you do, report it in writing – they have to fix it,” he shared. Constructive, not combative.
Not me, but my husband. He was prepping for quadruple bypass surgery and the doctor’s notes included administering a pregnancy test. We had a good laugh about it and when the nurse came in, we pointed it out, laughing. She didnt find it humorous and said that if the doctor ordered it, she had to administer it. She was dead serious. I demanded she get the charge nurse and finally the test was removed from his file.
Image credits: Wendy Snyder Crabtree
For years, I had such head-splitting headaches that they limited me more and more in my activities. I gradually stopped going to noisy, bustling places, I avoided the outdoors when the sun was too harsh, or even worse when the sky was a bright milky white. That felt like stabbing my eyes with daggers. And then the smallest effort that would increase my heart beat started triggering migraines, too. I used to live in a pretty large house and had twins, so I was constantly going up and down the stairs, but it came to a point when I had to sit down after climbing a single flight of stairs. My husband was a neurologist, but he was at a loss what treatment to give me given the severity of my symptoms, so he got me an appointment with a neurologist at a university hospital. I told that doctor about my suffering and he said : suffering as much as you describe it doesn’t exist and you should take up sport. You’re stressed, you need to relax. And that was that. Thank you, doctor. Did you hear a word of what I said?
Image credits: Unanemo Manou
brought my newborn baby home with green slimy poop and in constant pain. After three days I called the pediatrician who was new to this country and did not speak English very well. He told me to feed him bananas. I said, “Doctor he’s three DAYS (not months) old. I can’t do that!” He insisted, “Ya, ya, feed him beenannas!” My mother-in-law who raised five children was there and asked what the doctor said, so I told her. I also told her I was not going to do that. I left to run an errand and when I came home my mother-in-law was feeding my three DAY old baby bananas. Thankfully he survived a young mother who didn’t know what she was doing, a mother-in-law who should have known better, and a pediatrician who did not understand English.
Image credits: Becky Spoon
Lastly, we wanted to know what is a common health-related misconception he has encountered. “These days the #1 mistake is to think that COVID is over. Be smart about this! I don’t mask up anymore unless I’m going to be in tight quarters breathing unknown air, like an airplane or bus. Airlines are no longer circulating fresh air the way they used to, so if someone on the plane is infected, their “exhaust” can be sent right back to your face.”
Dumb and condescending.
I am female, in my 20’s went to a urologist and he wanted a list of the medications I was on.
When I got to Testosterone cream ( I had been tested due to a very low sex drive and my level was found to be low) he insisted that I meant Estrogen cream.
I told him no it’s Testosterone. He told me to go home and get the bottle. Then call him and spell out to him what was written on it.
This medical doctor treated me like a child wanting me to waste both of our time doing this because he did not know that women’s bodies make a small amount of Testosterone and it is needed.
Get married! I had a skiing accident and had to go to a neurologist because I had landed pretty hard and messed up my neck and spine. After an examination, he remarked “what you need to do is get married”. What?? I had no idea how he thought that would help my problem, and of course, left and went to another doctor. Recently, I had to go to a neurologist again (Parkinson’s disease diagnosis) and made sure I walked right past this other neurologist’s office, remembering his stupid diagnosis.
Image credits: Barbara Meuleman
I was vomiting blood and had severe abdominal pain. I went to the ER at one of the NYU hospitals here in NYC. The young doctor (not sure if he’s a resident or real doctor) gave me an ultrasound when he said he would give me a CT scan. I was not given a blood test or any pain medication. I was there for more than five hours. I got sent home with some medication that he said would keep my food down. Of course, it did not, and I kept on vomiting. Two days later, I was in so much pain that I could not even sit straight. I got picked up by an ambulance, and the EMS told me to make sure I get a blood test and CAT scan. My appendix ruptured, and it was almost too late for me as the juices were all over my other organs.
Image credits: Jean Li
“That’s what hit me last winter: I got my second COVID case, and it left me with lasting damage. The pandemic is over, but COVID is NOT. Protect yourself.” Dave also suggests looking into having a good CO2 meter to determine air quality. You can find some of his writing about it here. And if you are interested to hear more about participatory medicine and personal health data rights, you can find his website here.
Me to Military Doctor: “Sir, I’ve been having really bad headaches and a stiff neck after my parachute malfunctioned and I hit my head pretty hard and lost consciousness.”
Military Doc: “Maybe get your boyfriend to give you a shoulder massage. Next!”
Image credits: Osla McKercher ·
I had 3 docs tell me that my deep red urine was just a bladder infection and it would go away. And we’re talking there was pee in my blood, not a little blood in my pee. Went to the third complaining I was tired, didnt want to eat and for some reason had a desire to eat dryer sheets and ice. Was sent home with another round of antibiotics. The FOURTH doctor had the right mind to look into it. By the time I hit him, I was 4 months into pissing blood and I needed a blood transfusion. WE also discovered a smaller deformed kidney with a cyst that burst in it. Almost bled to death, and let the preceding 3 docs know what sort of shit I thought they were. My advice to all, KEEP going and get a second, third, even fith opinions if need be to get yourself straight.
Image credits: Ellnine Webb
After three weeks of suffering from what I thought was the flu and taking OTC meds, I made my way to the doctor. He informed me all I had was a mild head cold. It felt a lot worse than that, and I told him so. His response was, ‘Nonsense. Go home, take a nice hot shower, climb into bed, have some chicken noodle soup, and keep taking the OTC meds.’ Within a week, my so-called head cold had turned into a nasty case of bronchitis. I was sick as a dog for six more weeks. By the time I saw another doctor, she said it was borderline pneumonia.
Image credits: Tempe Reynolds
I was once handed a bunch of samples of an allergy medication by a doctor, “To hold me over until the prescription be filled”.
I read the ingredients.
The filler ingredient in the medication was the same thing that had triggered the allergic reaction in the first place.
I asked him if I could maybe see another doctor, and when he became pissed and asked why, I told him.
He left the room for a bit; came back, apologized, promised to read ingredients for any future patients, and gave me a prescription for something else. Additionally, the new prescription stated that there could not be any generic substitutions by the insurance carrier.
I’m pretty sure he spent the time away calming down from being pissed, kicking himself, and looking up all the ingredients in the alternative medications and their generics.
Image credits: Terry Lambert
A young doctor actually told me that vaccines are just marketing.
I was flabbergasted.
I took my 4 year old to get checked because she apparently had a very mild case of the chickenpox. I needed to confirm so she had her school sick leave.
Both my daughter and son were vaccinated with the chickenpox vaccine, and although they still had the chickenpox, it was very very mild. Meaning that she had maybe maximum 10 spots on her, she didn’t itch and never felt sick at all. It only lasted a couple of days.
So I told the doctor that she is vaccinated so I just wanted to make sure it was the chickenpox. He looked at me shaking his head, and I have this confused face. That’s when he said it. “You know, I would just save my money and not spend on vaccines. They don’t need them. Just let them get sick so they can get antibodies”.
WTF?? I never visited that doctor ever again.
Image credits: Lucero Leza
When our son was about 6 months old, he stopped gaining weight. Eventually, our pediatrician referred us to a pediatric endocrinologist at a large teaching hospital. We were going there every week. Our son was growing taller but not gaining weight. I think we were stuck on 16 lbs 9 ounces. He was chubby when this started. The good news was he never looked or acted sick. After about two months of weekly visits, the doctor said he didn’t want to see us for 6 weeks.
I asked the doctor, “at what point does this become serious, ….. like… ICU serious?”
He answered, “ummmm, about 6 weeks.”
It was a Friday. We left the office, got on the elevator. That elevator door closed and I went ballistic… “ what kind of stupid f’ing plan is that??? Do nothing for 6 weeks and then put him in ICU!!! STUPID!!! That is BS….. we are not going to do nothing for 6 weeks then put him in ICU. We are going some place else Monday!!!”
That was the dumbest thing a doctor has ever recommended to me.
To finish the story, we left the hospital and went straight to our pediatrician. He had received the report from the pediatric endocrinologists. It concluded that our child wasn’t getting enough to eat. I asked, “what do you think about that Doc?”
He answered, “well…., this isn’t your first child…., your wife ran a daycare…., you are not some 16 year old novice… I think you know how to feed a baby.” (We were 37)
He set us up with a pediatric gastroenterologist Monday at the same teaching hospital. She saw us, wanted to have our son swallow a capsule on a string, with a knife inside, take a sample of intestine, knock him out and pull it back up. I stalled her off about 3 weeks, finally, she said, “we have GOT.. to get some weight… on this kid! Screw balanced diet… PUSH … the… calories!!! You take him home and feed him anything he will eat even if it is nothing but powdered donuts. PUSH!… the calories!”
By now, he is getting really skinny.. still getting taller, still not acting or looking like he feels sick. Took him home, sat him on the kitchen counter top, wife made him a glass of Nestles chocolate milk using whole milk. He chugged the whole glass… made him a second glass… he chugged it too. Right then and there, things started getting better.
Ultimate diagnosis was that he was allergic to all the formulas.
Today, he is 27, grew to 6’3” about 185. Made an engineer. Getting married in about 6 weeks.
After that episode, he was never chubby again. Up to 6 months old, he had stout legs, like a fullback. Afterwards, he was always thin.
Image credits: Hambone Harris
I took myself and the kids to an ear doctor because we all had ear infections. He took blood as well from me (I knew he was padding it for the insurance but I didn’t care). Well, a few days later, he calls to tell me I have sickle cell anemia and he had a great friend who could help. I told him politely that it wasn’t likely because I wasn’t of African or Mideastern descent. I offered to repeat the blood test. So what does this Bozo say? “You should have a talk with your mother about who your real father is.” I was stunned. Never mind he didn’t know my parents-but if my mom has my brother and me, it was proof she had sex twice in her life. Mom was not the huggy kissy sort—with anyone. And for this quack to suggest she cheated on my dad…
I went berserk. I told him my mother most definitely did not cheat on my dad. And wasn’t it possible that the lab result was wrong? “My lab reports are never wrong!” “Well, pal, you better accept the fact that your lab is wrong!” I hung up and immediately stopped payment on the check (in the old days, it took longer to clear checks). The secretary called to ask why and I repeated the conversation. I told her to sue me—I would love to repeat this story before a judge. The secretary told me to forget it and hung up. The upshot was that I went to another doctor and did another blood test (after he laughed for five minutes after this story). I didn’t have sickle cell anemia. I never said I couldn’t have it but that it was unlikely. A simple blood test to check should have been ordered. But to suggest such a shameful thing was so unprofessional.
Image credits: Helena Humbridge
I am a chronic pain patient, stemming from a series of accidents. I’ve had more surgeries and procedures on my mid and lower back than I care to recount. I see a pain specialist, and due to how quickly I build a tolerance (to everything, not only pain meds) combined with shifting insurance formularies, I have to bounce between different meds. Occasionally I try a new one; sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. After insurance changes forced a 4th change in 6 mo, I ended up in the ER with blinding headaches, vomiting blood. The ER doc told me just to stop taking the pain med, saying that if I have that much pain regularly, physical and mental detox should be easy. I just gaped at her, and asked if they could try to get someone from my pain clinic to second the recommendation, as I trust them implicitly. The heifer looked at me and said, “sooner or later you’re going to have to come to Jesus!” I opened the collar of my shirt, brought out my star of David and told her that if she could show me what office to go to have a consult with Jesus, I’d be more than happy to, but I thought I was in a hospital not a church, and that maybe she would have better luck as a televangelist than as a doctor. The assigned nurse was right outside the door, along with a few other random people, and they about exploded trying not to laugh. The nurse got the on-call at my pain doc on the phone and the head doc came to the ER at 4am on a weekend to oversee my care, he had me admitted for 3days to do a rapid detox and be monitored on a new med to ensure there were no repeat issues. But yeah, treating people wasn’t her job, because “Jesus Saves!”
Image credits: Adrianne Siddon
I complained to my family doctor of fatigue. He said I was a working mother and needed a vacation.
I complained of fatigue to another doctor. He said that my husband needed to take me to dinner.
I complained of irregular heartbeat, a heart rate of 40, fatigue, dreams of dying, shortness of breath, to another doctor. He ordered a Holter monitor. The holter monitor showed a heart rate of 36 and several different type of aberrant beats. Told me athletes have a low heart rates.
By now, my heart rate was too slow and irregular, my blood pressure was to low at 80/50, and my body temperature was below normal at 97.6 F. I was short of breath just walking to the bathroom.
I was only 30.
Had to see another doctor. He did a blood test which 3 other doctors and one Physician assistant couldn’t think to do. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Started on an extremely low dose of thyroid medication because my heart couldn’t take it (heart failure?) I lost 20 lbs in one month, not dieting and no exercise.
Image credits: Cosmic Dreameater
I ended up getting a minor second-degree burn on my hand. Just some blisters, nothing too big. However, they started looking red and angry, and I was worried about infection, so I went to the town’s urgent care. It’s a small town, with an old-school doctor who I learned needs a definite refresher in medicine. My burn wasn’t infected, but the doctor told me it would never heal unless I popped the blisters. He said that blisters won’t heal unless you pop them. Not only that, but he said to pop them, I should get a wash cloth and gently rub the blisters until they popped! I was dumbfounded.
Anyone knows you should NEVER pop blisters if you can help it. Popping a blister is not only incredibly painful, but opens you up to infection and often results in longer healing time and scarring. He was serious! I just smiled and nodded and left, telling myself I’d never return and let everyone know to not go there. By the way, my burn healed fine without popping the blisters. Just goes to show you that popping them was a bad idea!
Image credits: M. Mullen
Take Vitamin E.
I had horrific abdominal pain that I’d been trying to ignore for a while since I dislike seeing a doctor, but one morning I woke up around 3 am, with a raging fever and so much pain that I started to vomit from it. I finally agreed to see a doctor, but our normal doctor was out, so my husband took me to a gyno that was recommended by my SILs.
While waiting for my appointment, I vomited a few more times, then entered the office, doubled over in pain and sweating. The doctor pressed on my abdomen, did an ultrasound and said, “Yeah, your uterus is inflamed. It happens. You’re getting older, so this is normal.” (I was 35) He then prescribed Vitamin E.
Fast forward three days, my husband drags me to our regular doctor since I am curled up in pain and unable to move much at all anymore (he had to help me to the bathroom). Our GP immediately puts me on antibiotics, runs tests and then tells me that basically every system in my body was severely infected and if I’d waited one more day, I likely would have died. Getting old, my foot.
It took me six months to recover from the infection. I could barely walk for several months and fell ill at the shake of a hat.
Image credits: Genesis Davies
I have had chronic pain for almost four decades. I’ve been on a very minimal dose of OxyContin (10mg) for about 15 years. I’ve always had breakthrough pain episodes, but they’ve been increasing in frequency and intensity over the past three years, to where I’m having intense pain once or twice a week. I asked my gp, who has recently been put under supervision for his prescribing practices, for 1 or 2 mg of instant release medication to get past the 3–4 hours of intense pain once or twice a week. His solution? Even with all the information we all now know about opioids and their effects on pain sensitivities and addiction? Double up on the OxyContin every day, all week, each week. Yup, let’s take double the really bad stuff every day just in case you have 3–4 hours of intense pain once or twice a week.
Needless to say, we’ve parted ways on his moronic take on pain control. Found a great pain clinic that is focussed on first treating neuropathic pain with lidocaine and ketamine infusions, then tackling what’s left over. And a new gp.
We were planning my son’s first trip overseas. He went in to get a flu shot and a tetanus booster, as well as recommendations for how to avoid and treat jet lag and to stay healthy on our trip. My son was ten, and my daughter was eighteen, but still in high school. My daughter went first, and got her flu shot and a prescription for something to help her relax on the flight. (Severe anxiety and fear of flying is not a good combo when you are stuck in a metal tube above the ocean for 17 hours) The doctor was very good with her, and seemed to treat her like an adult. Awesome!
My son’s turn came up. At that time Ebola was the dread disease that was freaking everyone out, and my son mentioned his fear of contracting it. The doctor assured him that his chances of contracting Ebola was slim to nil, but he did need to get is booster for tetanus. Then he had the nerve to tell my son that he really didn’t have to have a flu shot, because “no one actually dies from the flu.”
Oh HELL NO! My great grandmother died from the flu. My son, the very same child ion that examining room, nearly died from RSV as an infant. Yes, I know RSV and influenza are different viruses. My point is that because RSV damaged his lungs as an infant, he is at high risk of complications from any respiratory virus or illness he contracts. That boy was getting his flu shot, and I did not appreciate this dude telling my son that he didn’t actually need it. As I launched into my tirade about how RSV nearly killed him and we would not be taking any stupid risks, thank you, he quickly backpedaled.
“Oh of course, of course. We will make sure he gets his flu shot today.”
Damn right he did.
The dumbest thing a doctor ever told me was “Don’t worry about it. Numbers aren’t everything.”
I have heart failure and had experienced signs of worsening HF was four months: I could only walk a half block at a time before I had to stop to catch my breath. I was physically weak and lightheaded.
My doctor hadn’t ordered an echocardiogram for me for 5 years. Other than readouts from my Implanted Cardiac Device, he had no idea how I was doing.
He finally ordered an echo at my request and it showed an Ejection Fraction of 13–17 percent. Normal EF is between 50 and 65 percent. I knew that I was in trouble.
But he patted me on the leg, literally, smiled and said numbers aren’t everything.
One year later, I was hospitalized for 17 days. In the three months between my hospitalization and my doctor’s diagnosis of “don’t worry about it”, I had to go to an emergency room four times. I had to call paramedics 6 times because I had passed out and was too weak to get myself off the floor. I was so bloated by fluid retention, which is a symptom of worsening heart failure, that I had to use a step ladder to get into my friend’s truck.
I finally became so bloated that I couldn’t bend my body enough to get into a cab. I had to call an ambulance to get to the hospital.
I was hospitalized for 17 days and lost 96 pounds during that time. I put on the equivalent of a small adult in fluid retention.
Needless to say, I dropped that doctor, left that medical plan and found a heart failure specialist.
That was 7 years ago and I have not been hospitalized since.
The lesson I learned: if you don’t trust your physician’s judgment, run, don’t walk, to find a doctor you can trust. Ideally, find a specialist in your most critical medical condition.
By the way, I reported him to the California Medical Board and Medicare. He is no longer at the Medical Group that treated me. But I bet he is still practicing medicine somewhere.
Use cornstarch for radiation burns from cancer radiation treatment. Geez. (It doesn’t help).
I used colloidal silver cream instead. It worked!!!!
As an aside, during the time of the radiation treatment, I developed very severe hot flashes. Never had them before. While waiting for my treatment I quietly asked another (older) female patient if she experienced the same. She said yes. There were two older male patients in the waiting room as well; they overheard our hot flash discussion. Both weighed in, saying they were having hot flashes too!
The radiation oncology doctor, Dr. Cornstarch, said having hot flashes during radiation treatment isn’t caused by the radiation. Hmmmm…. Despite four people saying otherwise?
The hot flashes ended when the radiation treatments were over.
Image credits: Eve Swan
My 5 year old son was vomiting at least once a week for a full month and had chronic diarrhea. He acted normally and was eating/ drinking fine and didn’t have a fever. The first week, I figured it was the flu/cold that everyone had. The second week, I called his pediatrician and asked to be seen.
The office told me to give it another week, BRAT* diet..yada yada. After three weeks, I called and insisted on being seen. They again told me to “wait it out,” I requested that they at least do a stool sample, because no child should have vomiting once a week for three weeks. The nurse refused and told me to give him Imodium for the diarrhea. I said, “Did you even bother to read his chart?!!” She replied that of course, that she had it in front of her. I told her flat out that she was either lying or the doctor kept horrible notes, because he was severely allergic to Imodium!! Hives, epi pen etc.
I hung up on her and promptly brought him to the ER. The doctor was horrified that they hadn’t even tested his stool, set me up with a gastroenterologist first thing in the morning. The gastro saw that he had lost several pounds over the three weeks and said that it was a classic sign of Crohn’s disease and was horrified the doctor let it go on so long. Luckily, he was just lactose intolerant, something that could have been figured out much quicker if he had just been seen.
*BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, toast
Image credits: Cindy Mcdonald
I wasn’t the patient, it was my dad.
We were on a ski trip in another country and my dad was snow boarding on his own as I had split up with him earlier in the day. None of us really know what actually happened, the theory was he caught an edge dropping into a run but he was then found by ski patrol who suspected a spinal injury. They took him down off the mountain into the urgent care clinic at the bottom of the hill. Now knowing they thought he had a spinal injury, nobody ever bothered to actually x-ray or even check his back. I have no idea why. They told him “go see a chiropractor in 3 days” and sent him away. He walked back to our accommodation, by chance I’d gotten back just before he came in. He was in shock and a ton of pain, but he essentially lay down and then couldn’t get back up. There wasn’t a whole lot I could do besides turning the heating on and giving him a drink. I didn’t get the full story at the time, just gathered he had a back injury from snowboarding but I do remember him saying to me “it’ll be fine in a few days when the swelling goes down.” We later got the full story about what he’d been told by the doctor and even though I was only 15 I remember thinking ‘they knew it was his back, potentially a spinal injury, why didn’t they at least x-ray it?’ It just seemed odd to me that he’d been sent back home in his condition, especially when I found out he’d been told to see a chiropractor.
3 Days later he still couldn’t get up and swelling hadn’t gone down. He was just lucky my mum used to work in home care so knew how to help him able to help him. However, he was still in lots of pain and unable to even turn over. My mum and I made the decision to call an ambulance so that he could get checked out. Back at the same urgent care unit, there was a competent doctor who agreed that his back needed an x-ray. He had broken the L4 vertebrae, he was just lucky that it had perfectly broken in half and hadn’t become displaced. Had the wrong move been made or the fracture worse than it was it could have easily become a spinal case. He ended up in the main hospital about 2 hours out for about 5 days, was on the verge of needing surgery and faced a long recovery period.
To this day I still don’t understand why they didn’t check his back at all when they thought he had a spinal injury. But yeah “just go see a chiropractor” it’ll be fine.
Image credits: Marinette Dupain-Cheng
When I was 14 I had to leave school because my stomach was hurting really bad. Both my parents were working but I called my Mom. She told me to go to the doctor’s office. When the old guy who was our family doctor saw me and heard my complaint about the pain in my stomach, without even touching me or taking my temperature he told me I was having my period and that is the cause of the pain. I was not having a period and I really did not know what to do but I went home and lay down on the couch. My Grandma came home from the store and took one look at me and took my temperature. It was really high. She heard the story of my trip to the doctor. Without further ado she put me in the car and drove me to the Emergency ward at the local hospital. She went in with me and quite loudly demanded I be seen at once. From there it was emergency surgery to remove my appendix! The surgeon told my Grandma that another hour or so my appendix would have burst. I refused to go to that doctor again even if he had been our doctor for donkey’s years. Good thing I did not really need a doctor for a long while after that.
Image credits: Gail Olive
When looking for an answer for some behavorial problems I was experiencing, I reached out to a PhD Psychologist for the first time. Of course getting resolution on any mental health issue takes some time. He would have me punch my fists into a pillow at his office. After a couple sessions, he recommended I go home, take a Louisville Slugger and beat a telephone pole every night, and that things would be just fine. This was 1982, and when I questioned these tactics I was told by him that this was the common thought process at the time, but even I knew that this wasn’t right, as it only built anger and resolved nothing. I got away from this quack quickly. Years later I lived in another state. I was reading my hometown online newspaper, and this provider’s name was in a headline. He had been arrested, tried and sentenced to jail for abusing three at risk clients. Two were of age, and one a minor. What a scumbag. Doing a quick google search, I find that he’s in an Iowa jail still at age 79.
I ran for a bus one day and felt a very sharp pain. The ligament that runs from the bottom of your foot by the inside of your ankle was damaged. After weeks of pain, my orthopedist set me up for several weeks of PT. I wasn’t able to do the exercises very well, but tried hard. After six weeks, I still felt the same. He scheduled me for surgery. When I woke up, the surgeon said the anterior tibial tendon had been a mess, and he was surprised to hear I’d been walking on it. I told him about the PT, and he blanched, saying I’d likely made it worse. It took 18 months, but I’m back!
I wasn’t the patient, my Mom was. It was last year. My Mom was 88 years old, with dementia. She had a massive stroke. She was in and out of responsiveness, the brain scan showed she would never “recover”. One doctor came in and told my sister and me that we needed to start talking about putting in a feeding tube. We looked at her and said “That’s not going to happen. Mom has always been pretty clear that if she was ever in this situation she didn’t want to be kept alive by artificial means, and in fact she has a living will stating all this”. The doctor said “Well, just so you know. If she doesn’t eat, she will basically starve to death, and that is a horrible, painful way to die”. My sister and I (and our other 3 sisters and my Dad) stuck to our guns and said we would go by Mom’s wishes. The next day the hospice team came in and talked to us. The doctor said she would not recommend a feeding tube, it would only cause Mom more discomfort and with her dementia she would basically fight it. The feeding tube would not give her a better quality of life. We went with Mom’s wishes. We had another week with her. The hospice team made sure she was given pain killers when we thought she needed them, and another drug to help with her agitation. She went peacefully after we had all had time to say good bye and she was given last rites by a priest. She went just the way she wanted.
I was in a car accident, it wasn’t horrible, but bad enough I went to the ER. My neck was in pain, I was in so much pain I had to hold up my head. Now, back then, I was a practicing massage therapist, I know a thing or two about whip lash. The doctor finally comes into the room and tells me, yup, I’ve injured my neck, go home and put heat on it. Nothing else, doesn’t acknowledge that I’m sitting there holding up my own head with my hands. He turns around to leave and I tell him I’m a massage therapist, can I go back to work? He says “Massage will be great for it, without even looking at me.” BTW, if you are ever in a car accident, don’t get a massage within the first 24 to 48 hours. Your body is in shock and doesn’t realize the extent of the injuries yet.
My husband was having a problem with his arm. He was having a lot of pain! The PA comes in and asks him about the problem. My husband explained what pain he was having with his arm — doing just every day things like getting dressed, etc. The PA walks up to him and jerks his arm back really fast. My husband screamed in pain. The PA says that it is no big deal. Just don’t move your arm. He tells him to go home and stop moving his arm. My husband had to go to another doctor and it turned out that he had a pinched nerve,
Image credits: Debra Braga
About three years ago, I was going through a little bout of depression. Nothing serious, just not quite feeling myself. (I wasn’t actually in for depression — just a regular annual check-up.) At the time, I was on Buspar, a mild antidepressant. I had agreed to see a resident physician, as my regular physician was on an extended leave of absence. Normally, if I am seeing a provider who doesn’t know me, I don’t come right out and tell them I’m a doctor (there’s no need for them to know that and I don’t want them to think I’m looking over their shoulder). My encounter with this resident was no exception.
The resident had took note of my PHQ-9 score, which indicated mild depression. He had taken the time to notice that and notice the antidepressant I was on, which could possibly be increased. Rather than increasing the dosage I was on, however, he recommended I try a different antidepressant and said he wanted to put me on Wellbutrin. The problem is, Wellbutrin is known to be very dangerous in people with epilepsy, which I’ve had for a long time and, although well-controlled in my case, is very clearly visible in my chart.
I had to come right out and have a teaching moment with this resident. Lucky for him I did that, or else he would have got a chiding from his attending.
Image credits: Paul Bolin
This is from a student doctor, who hopefully changed careers. I was at my gyno’s for my annual and he asked if a student doctor could be in the room. I agreed and after the part every woman dreads was over there was a consult discussing any concerns. He was called away for some other reason and she stayed in the room. So she asked me if I used protection. I replied that no I am married and we are trying for a 2nd child. She got all serious and gave me a 5 minute speech on STD’s and repeatedly said you must always use protection. Finally I stopped her and said I know you know how babies are made, how do you propose we get my husband’s sperm to my eggs then? Her reply: “Always use a condom!” and walked out of the room. I did not learn my lesson and agreed to another student doctor after I did finally get pregnant with my second child. I was 6 months along or so and this one could not find a heartbeat. She went very pale and quiet and ran out to get the doctor sure my baby was dead I guess. I knew better, my ribs had just been kicked.
You would think I had learned my lesson by now right? Well, I must be a slow learner. While I was in the hospital giving birth I needed an IV started. A student nurse was to do it. It was to go in the top part of my hand. I was having pretty bad labor pains, but after that IV was put in the pain in my wrist bone was much, much worse. I kept telling the nurses my wrist hurts, please check that IV. I was about to pull it out myself when an older nurse came in and I told her look this pain is worse than my contractions, something is wrong. She took it out and it was kinked up so badly, she asked who did this!?! I told her and she ran out of the room. It had hit my the knobby bottom part of my arm bone on the top of my wrist (sorry I didn’t go to med school, I don’t know the medical term) and she had just kept on pushing it in. She came in and apologized. I told her I would rather have the other nurses that wouldn’t listen to me apologize, but thanked her and said don’t ever do that to someone else.
I have learned my lesson. Other people can be guinea pigs. I have paid my dues to the betterment of future doctors and nurses. I just hope condom girl found a better suited profession. I forgot to mention my gynecologist specialized in fertility.
Years ago I was prescribed Celebrex for inflammation , and after I had it for a week taking the prescribed dose I was feeling ill and started vomiting blood, urinating blood and defecating blood. I argued that I had systematically removed all other medicines by process of deduction it was the Celebrex that was making me lose blood from all my orifices. He yelled and argued “that’s impossible!” Even though from imperial evidence by scientifically removing all other medicines he still argued with me . I had to take it was his order, or he would put in his report I refused treatment! I dropped him and went to another doctor much more focused on my injury, not pills. Today Celebrex has a major warning “May Cause I internal Bleeding and May Cause Death!” But 18 years ago it was pushed like crazy without the warning
I used to get pretty regular sinus infections when I lived in Seattle, but they were in my ethmoid sinuses, so they didn’t show up on an X-ray. I got them so often that I could just tell the difference and also knew the prescription necessary to stop the progression of a really awful illness. Because I changed jobs, I had new health care and got an appointment with a new doc. I was in my early thirties, and this was 35 years ago.
I explained my sinus history to the new doc, he listened, and then he looked at my hands. I was doing my nails then and had nail polish on. “You have nice nails” the doc said. “ I don’t think you’re sick..you’re just very high strung. “. He told me to go home and read a book..relax.
(As I joked to a friend later, he hadn’t seen high strung..yet.). I left that office, called my old doc and asked to see him as a private pay patient, got my prescription for antibiotics, and slowly got well.
And those sinus infections? I moved to a drier climate, and no one smokes in public (or the office) anymore.
It wasn’t me, but my dad. When I was a kid, he started having issues with his back. I can’t remember exactly the symptoms, but he was in pain. He went to the doctor. The doctor put a body cast on him., that looked sort of like a plaster vest. Why this was done, is not known as it goes against common sense. After a few hours at home, he told my mother he simply can’t breath as it was stopping his chest from expanding. She cut it off of him. Around three days later, he woke up in the morning paralyzed from the waist down. Turns out he had Giliam Barre syndrome. It could have killed him. He spent years trying to recover, and never really did, before dying from a heart attack. The doctor simply could not diagnose what was going on, and it cost my dad, dearly. The whole thing with the body cast was ridiculous.
My family has been doctoring all my life, unfortunately. Trying to think of a stupidest thing is really hard. I think I have one, though.
My wife has super painful conditions like a growing cyst in her spine that could result in quadriplegia and stuff like that. She got a sleep study done because she wasn’t sleeping well, and the study found that she was being woken up 23 times an hour by pain. The sleep doc recommended a pain management doc.
This pain management doc took one quick glance at what the sleep doc said and then said “No. I don’t believe you are in pain. I think you just have insomnia. I don’t believe these results. They are fake.” He then refused to do anything related to managing her pain. Does this dude think the sleep doc just lets her patients go in and write their own sleep study results?
EDIT: Sorry. My wife corrected me on a point. He did not recommend melatonin. He recommended injections, which she had tried at one point and it made things way way way way worse for a while. He provided nothing to actually help her sleep.
I had a “2nd year psych resident” (their words) recommend I “just go swimming” to combat my severe MDD, dissociative disorder and non-suicidal self injury disorder. I argued with his suggestion (which is like my neurologist suggesting “yoga and a hot bath” for my brain injury- also happened) and he agreed he only suggested it because that was an activity he liked doing.
Sounds tame, but this person argued with me for a solid five minutes during a psychiatric evaluation, and raised his voice about it. It was outrageous. The whole conversation made zero sense and when I (calmly) pointed this out, and that he was the one upset about me not wanting to swim (what????) he finally backed down. So unnecessary.
I am a single woman, living alone, and was at the time of this incident. I had severe tendinitis in both elbows. I went to an orthopedic doctor who gave me steroid injections in both elbows. Talk about pain! After two rounds of steroid injections, which only helped temporarily, he said the next thing to do would be to put casts on both of my arms to keep my elbows immobilized! I told him I lived alone, and there is no way I could have casts on both my arms and try to continue my life. I ended up going to physical therapy which resolved my tendinitis about 85%. It still flares up on occasion after 20 years. But living alone, working, with casts on both arms? I don’t think so.
I was sick, and having a bad flu and so I went to see a doctor. I explained that I started to feel ill shortly after some guy sneezed on me. The doctor replied with a serious face, why didn’t you “sneeze back on him?”. I wasn’t amused..
Aged about 2, my brother swallowed a small plastic figure. The Dr told my parents to feed him cottonwool sandwiches. It would wrap around the figure in his stomach, preventing damage to the stomach lining.
Aged about 15, my story concerns a nurse, but still a medical professional…
I had broken a bone in my foot, so was given crutches to get around.
Nurse: …and don’t go up and down any stairs.
Me: A lot of my lessons are up stairs!
Nurse: Then the school will just have to arrange it so they’re not.
I learned how to navigate stairs on crutches…
When I had my first knee replacement, the orthopedist told me, quite adamantly, to scrub the incision hard with a rough washcloth and put Betadine on it. Not knowing any better, I followed the instructions. I got an infection in the incision and cellulitis over most of my lower leg. It didn’t heal completely for about 3.5 months. My leg was so swollen I couldn’t get a pair of pants on. Every time I saw his P.A., she reinforced the instructions and asked me if I was really doing it, and at one point told me I should be scrubbing harder.
So time came for me to replace the other knee 8 months later. I went back to the same doc for a variety of reasons. Remember I didn’t know yet why I had such hard time healing the first time, and was sure I had done something wrong.
So after I got home from the second surgery, the hospital sent a nurse around to check on me. She told me No!! Don’t scrub it and don’t put Betadine on it. Betadine kills newly forming skin cells, and then you’re scrubbing them away.
Well, duh! That explained everything. I felt kind of dumb, but that was what the doc told me to do! I stopped with the scrubbing and Betadine and my knee healed up beautifully. At my follow- up visit, the P.A. asked me if I was following the protocol. I lied like a rug, and even went so far as to paint Betadine along the sides of the incision, but not on it.
You may wonder why I didn’t tell the doc and his P.A. to go stick their heads in a bucket of betadine and then scrub hard, but I just didn’t have it in me to fight with these otherwise nice people. Thats just the way I am, and my knees turned out great.
I’ve had bad digestive issues and pcos for about 11 years now. My digestive problems have been put down to ibs though I’m not convinced. Anyway before I was properly diagnosed I went to see my GP as I was getting allot of pain within my stomach daily and he basically told me the only other place he can refer me to is a psychologist! Oh yes! So basically all of it is in my head apparently! The only other specialist I had seen before that was a gastrointestinal doctor, but apparently after that there are no other options, let’s just say I may have lost my temper slightly and never went to him again.
Not me but my child.
She had her first seizure shortly before her 3rd birthday. She had been rushed by ambulance to the nearest hospital. We went through all the check in procedure and waiting.
Finally, a nurse came in and told me I needed to get my child to pee.
She’s out of her mind! My kid was feverish, with a temp. of 103.5°, and sleeping!
She came in with a catheter the size of a #2 pencil. I told her there is no way that’s going into my child.
The nurse did it anyway and, instantly, my baby woke up screaming in pain! I yelled at the nurse to get out because she was hurting my child!
The doctor came in with another nurse. I showed them the wrapper from the catheter she’d tried to use and then the cut marks from her shoving it into my little girl!
The doctor made the same nurse redo the cath with a smaller (infant/child) size. I protested the entire time as this woman did the cath! The doctor completely ignored my rants and wishes to have the more experienced nurse or the doctor do it!
I now drive my children to the children’s hospital 1 1/2 hours away for any major illness.
Official diagnosis from our pediatrician and children’s hospital was febrile seizure caused by an unidentifiable viral strain. The ER near us told me it was neurological and she needed meds! I knew better than that since I have friends who live with seizures without fever.
I won’t even go there for myself since then. Even if I’m deathly ill.
I was 8.5 months pregnant with my third child and knew when I was in labor. Went to the hospital and the said “nope, you go home and take a hot bath.” Called the dr 2 hours later. I AM in labor. No, just relax. Called again 2 hours later. Go to the hospital and they will give you something to relax you. I went to the hospital and the Dr *just* got there in time to deliver her!
It was at the first visit with a new doctor that I he’d been referred to by a friend. I had recently lost about 70Lbs via proper diet and exercise and was feeling better than I had in years. I mainly wanted to get checked out by the doctor to make sure that everything was ok and that I was no longer pre diabetic as my last dr had said. Prior to the appointment, they had run a standard blood test and I had already reviewed the results. Every one of my cholesterol levels were exactly in the middle of the upper and lower recommended limits. The Dr asks a bunch of questions about my family history and such and then asks if we had ever discussed me going on statins. I reminded him that this was my first appointment with him and questioned the need for statins given my most recent test results and that no one in my family had any health issues like high cholesterol. He then pulled out his phone and said he had an app that would show why I should take statins. He entered all of my info and test results. He said that according to the app, I had a .7% chance of having a coronary event in the next 5 years if I didn’t make any changes. He then proudly announced that he was turning on the statin switch and that according to the app, if I started taking statins, the odds of having a coronary event would go up to .8%. So I asked him again, why would I take the statins when it would increase my odds of having a coronary event. He mumbled some idiotic thing about the app must be wrong so I told him that I wanted to deal with a real doctor on my health needs and not some rote protocol on a phone.
Years ago, I fell ill while at an archaeological dig in Wyoming. My stomach was VERY unhappy, and I was running a fever. We suspected it was from drinking polluted water because the camp was using stream water for drinking and bathing despite there being cattle grazing nearby. (This was in the days before plastic water bottles).
So they took me to a doctor in Guernsey who gave me a quick exam, pronounced it a urinary tract infection, and ordered me to be admitted to the hospital in Lusk.
At the time, I was too young and too socialized by my parents to really stand up for myself and question people in authority, so I went along with it even though my urinary equipment felt fine.
When the hospital served me a full meal for dinner that night, however, I refused it and insisted on mild soups and breads. So the kitchen changed my menu while I was being treated. But the dumb doc never did change his diagnosis.
After getting an education at UC Berkeley in the 1960’s, I did get lots better at questioning authority when what the experts thought and what I observed didn’t match.
In my 20s, I got an extremely bad sunburn on my stomach. I’m talking giant blisters bad. After a day or so of being in excruciating pain and experiencing the giant blisters, I decided to go to the doctor. I was checked in and assessed; after a few hours, the doctor came in and looked at my burn as well. He then proceeded to recommend for my burn that I go home and rub some lotion on it…lotion!!!! Not only was there no way I could have rubbed anything on my skin without tearing the blisters apart, but lotion?! I told him that I had made a concoction of aloe juice, vitamin C, and lavender oil, and had been spraying that on the burn. He told me that was a way better plan and then left.
As a teenager, I had chronic anemia, and shortly after I got married as a young adult I went to my husband’s family doctor for a checkup. He also found that I was anemic, but instead of prescribing me iron or other appropriate medication, he told me to buy some liver, grind it up in a blender and drink it! I was stupid enough to try it. I wasn’t sure if he meant to do this with raw liver or cooked, so I tried first with raw liver. Liver is actually a very fibrous organ, and once I put chunks of it into the blender and tried to grind it up, the fibers wrapped around the blades and ground the blender to a halt. It was a mess to clean up. So I tried it with cooked liver. Grinding up cooked liver is much easier, but now it looked like curdled chocolate milk, that smelled like cooked liver. Yeah, I gave up on this idiotic idea after that.