Boyfriend's Surprise Gift Challenges GF's Biggest Fear, Wants Advice How To Shut It Down
If you had a chance to conquer your biggest fear, but on someone else's terms, would you take it? Here we have the story of a boyfriend buying a skydiving adventure for his girlfriend, who has a crippling fear of heights and doesn't want to go. The gift was supposed to be a surprise, and OP, the girlfriend, doesn't want to go. What should she do?
Below is nayahs's predicament, and Reddit's advice on how to handle it.
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
Okay, I really need help here.
My birthday is in two days and my boyfriend of six months, Alex*, has been talking about his surprise present for a while. He's really excited and can't wait to give it to me. He knows I love animals, so I thought he'd take me to the zoo or something like that. I'm not a big birthday person, so I just wanted something small and thoughtful.
Today my best friend Sara*, who is also friends with Alex, let it slip that she thinks his present is a really bad idea. I asked her why, since I didn't know what it was, and she asked tentatively if I was afraid of heights.
I have a phobia of heights. I have ever since I was a child. When I am in open spaces with fear of falling I have anxiety attacks and cry. When I tried cliff jumping (off an objectively small cliff) I cried and had to be carried back down. I can't even climb trees. I've been like this since I was a child. Alex knows this, but I haven't talked about it to him in very much depth, just in passing, and he thinks it's sort of cute and that he wants to help me get over it. I don't think he realizes how bad my fear is.
I don't know what to do. I know he's spent lots of money, especially as a student, on getting this present. I think it be an amazing present for someone else other than me. The thought of it is making me sweat. Please help.
TL;DR: My boyfriend has decided to surprise me with my worst fear.
*Not their real names.
EDIT: Holy sh*t, thank you guys for all your advice. My birthday is tomorrow. I will be posting an update.
There are better ways to conquer fear.Giphy
Yikes, OP. Ok first I would see if you could get Sara to convey to him just how crippling your fear is. If he isn't going to listen to her... Idk, it really sucks but you might have to tell him you know. Phrase like you know he doesn't get how truly afraid you are and that it's sweet that he wants to help you get past it, but this is not the way to go about it. See if he can get his money back, otherwise suggest he takes one of his friends who can cover half the cost so it's not as bad for him. I'm really sorry OP, I hope this gets figured out! And happy birthday!
This probably wasn't the best gift idea - tell him.Giphy
If my husband surprised me with skydiving my response would be "Hey, take someone else and have fun!" I sure as hell wouldn't go.
I'm not even afraid of heights, as in, I'll climb a mountain or look off a cliff or look off the edge of a tall building, but I sure as hell don't want to be plummeting to the ground from an airplane.
I don't know why he knew you were afraid of heights and his idea of helping you get over it AND his idea of an appropriate GIFT to you is skydiving. He could have helped you get over it in a different way by say taking you to the grand canyon to look over the cliffs or something but he also didn't have to make it out like it's a present to you if he KNOWS it's something you wouldn't like.
This post reminds me of the woman who planned a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend who had extreme social anxiety. Like oh hey surprise, I got you something I knew you would hate.
Stupid and inconsiderate.
Even though the relationship is new - you don't have to go.Giphy
Tell him the truth... and don't go. Don't be ashamed of or apologize for your phobia. If you had a crippling peanut allergy no one would expect you to go to the peanut-butter factory tour. As someone with a fear of heights, you certainly have a free pass to not go frickin' skydiving when climbing up a tree alone makes you break down. Your boyfriend should have known that there was a good chance someone wouldn't randomly be willing to go skydiving, phobia or not.
If he wants to give you help getting over your phobia, it should be with a trained therapist. Jumping out of the plane could give you PTSD or something don't do it.
Give him a chance to either invite someone else or get his money back.Giphy
The amount of money one spent on an unwelcome gift doesn't mean that the recipient has to accept it. Your BF may have bought a $50000 live rhinoceros on a leash, and tried to give that to you as a pet. Would you have to accept because he paid so much for this thoughtful present? Especially that you told him that you like animals, so it makes it your fault somehow, lol.
Talk to him, that you know what the present is and can't accept. Don't wait till the last moment, give him a chance to ask a friend to skydive instead.
Skydiving is probably not the best way to conquer your fear.Giphy
This is like helping you overcome a fear of dogs by covering you in gravy and locking you in a closet with a pack of half-starved wolves.
One person offered a script.Giphy
Here's a script: "Honey, thank you so much for the wonderful thought, but I can't accept the gift. I have an actual phobia of heights - not a mild fear, not a discomfort thing. Phobia. Going on this excursion would ruin my birthday and possibly our relationship - I'd be so embarrassed to have a panic attack right then after you'd gone to all this trouble! So let's you and me do something else instead and you can take [insert his best friend's name] skydiving instead."
Let him know his idea is not going to help you overcome your fear.
I'm like you, very afraid of heights. Sky diving is on my "never going to try that list." If that changes, great, but I wouldn't bend on that for someone else.
Your bf knows of your fear and still got you these tickets on some misguided notion that he's helping you. He obviously doesn't know how to help someone get over a phobia. Not to mention that you never asked him to help you with this. He's just forcing this on you.
If I were you I'd say "thanks for the tickets but I'm not going. Invite someone else or sell the ticket, but I will not be using it." I personally wouldn't feel bad about saying that and would be very disappointed in him for giving such a selfish, thoughtless gift. He could have bought you something you would enjoy and have a good time with and instead he literally bought you your greatest fear. Thanks bf :/
It seems like the gift is more for the boyfriend.Giphy
Boyfriend is about to learn a very expensive lesson about giving gifts that are more about HIM than about the person they're intended for. It seems he's got this whole plan of "curing" you of your fear and being a big fucking hero. Notice how you magically not being scared of heights afterward is actually the second-most significant thing in his fantasy?
His gift is selfish and stupid. The amount of money isn't the issue, and if he DARES try to guilt trip you with that, go fucking nuclear. It is neither his right or responsibility to "fix" you, and he doesn't have the power to do it even if you wanted to let him. The only person who can mitigate your fears and anxieties is you.
I would get ahead of this and tell him you found out, so you don't have to go through the embarrassing ritual of gift presentation. Personally, I'd be pissed and offended at his selfishness and presumption. I have phobias of my own and I've had to work really hard at times in my life to enforce boundaries around them - not to preserve them, but to keep the responsibility for managing them on myself... and to avoid gaining a father-figure who thinks I'm some broken dolly who needs sorting out.
Be careful telling people a surprise present is okay.Giphy
Lesson learnt OP, right? If you don't say what you want people might surprise you with your worst fear.
His reaction to declining the gift will be a sign.Giphy
I wouldn't condemn the BF just yet. I think his reaction to her refusing to do it will be more telling. He just may not understand phobias nor the extent of her phobia.
And if he truly cares, he'll make it up to you.Giphy
OP, this isn't a fair response.
You spoke to him about it in passing, he has no idea how bad your phobia is and I really truly believe he does want to help you get over it.
Is getting over it out of the question? Imagine you were able to go and just conquer that fear? You would be unstoppable. Is it something you would reconsider?
If not, wait until he gives you the gift. Be appreciative but also really tell him about your phobia (if it is out of the question) and tell him to go with one of his friends instead.
He'll make it up to you, I promise.
This is a reasonable assessment.Giphy
I would argue the real TL;DR here is "My boyfriend got himself a present for my birthday."
Part of the issue is that the relationship is new.Giphy
Most people give gifts that they'd love to receive themselves. It's an unconscious sort of blind spot: they think, "I'd really love this, so they will too!"
It takes a while of being together before these little things get sorted out. I wouldn't be able to skydive either, so that's hardly an unusual reaction. I think most people would be at least a little terrified of participating in most of the extreme sports.
I would talk to your man ASAP and tell him you know what his surprise gift is and you aren't on board, so that if he can get his money back or plan to go with his brother or best friend or something, he still has time to change plans.
Then I would very gently and kindly make a list for him of things that ARE on your bucket list that you'd really enjoy if he surprised you with it on a special day. It could be anything from "make me breakfast in bed" to "a day at the spa" to "coupons redeemable for specific chores I can use at any time" to "gift card to my favorite store". Just list any and everything that you'd really actually like. That way he can pick something and it'll still be a surprise but it won't be something terrifying.
Hopefully he can get a refund.Giphy
Tell him straight up. Just say that Sara told you about it because she knew how scared you are of heights and wanted to help avoid this problem. She really should have just told your BF, though. Why didn't she tell him how bad your phobia is? If she did and your BF ignored her then this is all on him.
Tell him sooner rather than later in case there are time limits related to getting refunds.
In the grand scheme of things though, it's not that big of a deal.Giphy
Well if you are both otherwise reasonable, it shouldn't be a huge deal. Be honest. Tell him the truth. Then tell him you'd be 110% fine if he took his best friend instead if he can't get his money back or really wants to go himself.
That's a risky gift and if he gets upset, I'd run away from the relationship entirely. my gut tells me the gift is more for him than for you though...
Reddit user newlymoneyedrapper asked: 'What is the worst excuse you've heard from someone who cheated?'
When it comes to the dating scene, we all know there are going to be rough moments, from awkward dates to being ghosted to heart-shattering breakups. But the thing everyone hopes will never happen is to be cheated on.
After all, if someone has the intention or inclination to cheat, why would they choose to date at all?
Already cringing at the thought, Redditor newlymoneyedrapper asked:
"What is the worst excuse you've heard from someone who cheated?"
Not 'Meant' for Monogamy
"When they get caught, they try to play the 'humans aren't meant to be monogamous' card."
"I'm like, 'If you don't believe in monogamy, why did you even marry in the first place only to cheat later? You could join a free love hippies commune at any time. But that's not what you did...'"
Coming Out as Polyamorous
"I know a girl that cheated, and when she was inevitably caught, said she was 'coming out' as polyamorous."
"She was dead serious and fully expected our support and everything."
"The difference between polyamory and cheating is informed mutual consent among all parties."
"It's not a sexual orientation, you can't just 'come out' as polyamorous. It's something your partner(s) have to know about and (willingly, not coerced) agree to. Otherwise, you're cheating and making excuses for your s**tty behavior."
"Lmao (laughing my a** off), get out of here. Actual poly people would know how important communication is beforehand."
"I would have laughed in her stupid, cheating face."
So, Grief Is An Aphrodisiac Now?
"She said, 'It was the anniversary of my cousin's death and I wasn't in my right mind. You know how upset I was. Blaming me is classic victim blaming. You should be COMFORTING me!'"
"This was AFTER I offered to stay with her for the night but she said she wanted to be alone."
"I wish I could say I immediately left her, but it took two months and a second cheating incident. That time she said she was upset over a bad grade (seriously)."
"I walked away. And I blocked her. The bizarre part is how she kept trying to contact me for four years after that. She even confronted me in the parking lot on my first day of work, begging me to take her back. Why f**k around so indiscriminately if you want to be with someone?"
"Anyway, I stopped trying to figure her out long ago."
"It was my first relationship (age 15 to 18), and I was a naive fool."
"I'm not jaded now, but I know a h**l of a lot better."
"I am sure her cousin would have been very proud of her using his death as an excuse to cheat and then call herself the victim."
Everyone Hates Mercury Retrograde
"My ex was very into astrology. She cheated and later blamed the great American eclipse of August 2017."
"SORRY I KEYED YOUR CAR, LOL (LAUGHING OUT LOUD). I'M SUCH AN ASPARAGUS."
"I think you mean the MOON is in GATORADE."
So Sweet of them
"'I didn’t even enjoy it, because I was thinking about you the whole time, and I felt terrible.”
Those Undeniable Needs
"He said, 'You were at the hospital for two weeks. A man has needs."
"My girlfriend had a contagious skin infection for several months, and the post-infection management was even longer. We put off sex for about a whole year, and not once did thoughts of cheating occur to me."
"I’m sorry you had to endure that. Not all men are like him."
Growing the Family, and the Relationship
"They said, 'My wife was pregnant, so I wasn't getting any.'"
"If I remember correctly, pregnancy is the time or one of the times when women are cheated on the most."
"This breaks my heart."
At Least It Didn't "Matter"
"They said, 'It’s not like it meant anything.' Oh good, glad we cleared that up."
"Yet you threw our relationship away over it. So what I'm hearing is I mean less than nothing to you."
"He really said, 'I’m just on Tinder to confirm that there’s nothing better out there. It helps me appreciate you more.'"
Getting a Jump on Things
"My previous partner told me that he cheated because he insisted that he 'thought I was going to break up with him anyways,' so he started seeing other women."
"I believe this was just another one of his manipulation tactics to put the blame on ME for his actions. To this day, I cannot fathom the mental gymnastics he had to do to justify his decisions... Lol (laughing out loud)."
"I wonder if he's familiar with the term 'self-fulfilling prophecy'?"
"Well, he is now."
Cheat or Be Cheated On
"My last boyfriend said he cheated because he thought I had already cheated. But I did not cheat on him."
"He felt like an a**face when he realized I didn't... But he lowkey still thinks I did."
For the Sake of the Relationship
"My college roommate would cheat on his girlfriend a few times a semester, and then feel awful about it and realize how much he loved his girlfriend."
"He started to rationalize that 'you need to cheat to stay faithful.'"
Opportunities to Cheat
"Oh, this thread reminds me of my ex, who was just a complete s**tbag."
"He didn't cheat, but he nearly did, and he told me about it and said 'Hey, I was really drunk and still didn't cheat, everyone around was so so proud of me and said I must really like you. They all thought I did amazing for not cheating on you even though I had a proper chance to do it, so I thought I'd tell you about it.'"
"I just raised my eyebrow at him. I remember that I did hang up on him a few times and told him that it wasn't massively impressive when he was being a d**k. He was very abusive so I couldn't safely leave him, though. If it was safe to do so, I would've dumped his a** right there and then."
"I know he's on Reddit so he'll likely see this, and good riddance because he's a complete t**t. If you see this, you know who you are, and I think you can go to h**l for what you did to me."
All About the Rush
"The answer is because cheaters get off on cheating. It gives them a thrill that a 'normal' relationship can't give them."
"This is why I say cheaters will always cheat, because they crave the excitement of it."
"They don't give a s**t about monogamy or non-monogamy; they just find it fun to cheat. They also enjoy chasing after other people who are in relationships because it's more fun for them to chase after someone who's already taken rather than to find someone who's not."
"In other words, they're sociopaths who get off on causing misery to satisfy their own selfish desires."
It's clear why these Redditors thought these were the worst explanations for cheating.
Not only do some of them not make sense, but they're a total dismissal of the cheater's accountability in the relationship.
While realizing that a partner you loved was cheating is already bad enough, it seems that receiving a terrible, ingenuine reason for the act would only serve to make it worse.
Think about the last time you were sick; the ritual of checking WebMD, thinking you have a life-threatening illness, then finding out it was a harmless rash that was causing you all that stress. Regardless of the symptoms, we’ve all been there—but what of the unlucky few who actually did have some sort of ill-fated, isolated illness?
A Bad Bridge to Crossred and white massage chairPhoto by Atikah Akhtar on Unsplash
In dental school, I had an emergency patient come in complaining of sore gums. Upon examination, I found a massive calculus bridge (google it for pictures) behind her lower front teeth. She only had about 3 remaining lower teeth, but they were all connected with a whitish brown mineral deposit that was about the size of a golf ball. She had never had her teeth cleaned and she was probably 55 years old or so.
I basically performed an emergency cleaning. She could speak so much better afterward. Of course, I had to play it off like it was normal, but in my years of practice, I still haven’t seen a case that bad again. Get your teeth cleaned people. Even if you can’t afford every 6 months, once a year, or every other year is a heck of a lot better than never.
An elderly lady came into my practice asking if there was anything she could be given to help her sleep, as the Irish terrorists in the flat below were keeping her awake at night. She was reassured that terrorists were not planning to blow her up, or Cannock (a small inconsequential town in the West Midlands) for that matter.
On the second visit, she insisted that they were going to blow something up soon and expressed paranoid thoughts. A full mental health review was conducted by the GP and the community psychiatrist. She came up clean. That's when we contacted the police, a couple of days later the flat below our patient was raided and found to be full of explosive equipment and real IRA members.
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
Just a Nibble
When I was on peds ID, we had a young girl come in with a rash on the bottom of her feet. She was also having headaches and joint pains. We spent close to an hour interviewing the girl and her mother. Her history was essentially negative. Finally, as a last-ditch effort, I pulled out the weird questions you ask in med school.
I asked if they had any unusual pets, as we had already ruled out normal pets. They said actually they did just return a pet rat for biting her. They thought that this wasn't really relevant. Bam! Rat bite fever.
I'm not sure if this counts as a rare diagnosis but it was a neat one. This fellow was at dinner with his wife and some friends when "all of a sudden" he slumped forward into his entree and went unconscious. I saw him as a hospitalist in the IMCU. Despite being unconscious, his labs and vitals were all stable and he appears to be adequately protecting his airway.
The wife was initially understandably distraught and not able to offer the best of histories, but as the patient gradually began to wake up, I was able to put together a few facts. The patient had pancreatic insufficiency and thus needed to take six pills with pancreatic enzymes before each meal. He also had a prescription for Ambien. They were both white pills...you can figure out the rest. He recovered fully without any long-term effects.
I diagnosed a patient with acute intermittent porphyria. He had a history of psychiatric admissions with depressive symptoms associated with nausea (though not much in the way of pain). I saw him as a medicine consult for the psychiatry service and ordered urine porphyrins just for completeness as it apparently had never been tested before. Lo and behold, they come back positive.
There is this old adage in medical school, "When you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras." Which while perhaps relevant to a medical student, is actually the opposite for what is needed from a skilled practitioner. The common stuff is easy...practically reflexive. In our case, a better adage would be, "When you hear hoofbeats don't just assume it’s another horse." Too often physicians just hear the hoofbeats and ignore the black stripes.
A Staple Food Sourceman in blue dress shirt sitting on yellow chairPhoto by Mark Williams on Unsplash
I worked as a mental health tech to get through undergrad. A 15-year-old female in the adolescent ward claims to have swallowed a staple. Eh, but whatever, as I’m taking her down to x-ray, I tell her about the dime I swallowed when I was a kid. It happens. Well, turns out she underestimated the number of staples by around a hundred.
Every printout given by the therapists had been a swallowed staple. She had gotten staples from the other kids. The x-ray of her abdomen looked as if it were a weird staple-y snow globe. And yet, somehow, she was back to trying to take psych ward staples a week later. Never did figure out how they removed them all.
Baby born without a nose and with non-functioning eyes. Diagnosed with Bosma Syndrome. It was kind of crazy, I saw the baby a few months later and it was doing fine. Children with Bosma Syndrome grow up without any cognitive disabilities, it's very interesting.
I am an anesthesiologist now, but was a doctor in charge of a small rural hospital in India about 20 years ago. An elderly lady was brought to the hospital by an irate husband who felt she was faking an illness. She would lie in a room all day with doors and windows shut and complained of a headache. She refused to do housework or look after the kids. Other doctors who had seen her before me had treated her for pain with no improvement.
I examined the patient; who complained of severe headaches and just wanted to lie down and refused to open her eyes. I admitted her to the hospital and performed CSF tap (A needle into the lumbar spine to get a sample of fluid surrounding the spinal cord). As expected, it was tinged yellow (Cerebro-spinal fluid should be clear). These days we have CT scans to diagnose sub-arachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding around the brain); but it was a difficult diagnosis once upon a time.
One in a Million
The morning report was a good one today. We had a 59-year-old male come in with lower leg swelling. Within 3 days he becomes confused, febrile, and stiff. We put him in the ICU, thinking he had meningitis and got some CSF cultures and started antibiotics. Two days later, the cultures were still negative and he wasn't improving.
His wife then says this whole event seems similar to her husband’s (the patient’s) mom. She had Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease and passed from it. It's a 1 in a million (literally) diagnosis and our tests are still coming back for it. Really rare case most doctors will never see.
The Living Dead
I had a lady come into the ER listed as “Multiple Medical Problems”. This usually means diabetes and the issues stemming from it, or maybe bleeding issues from another disease or maybe odd blood tests results at a clinic. I hadn’t seen the patient yet, but the doctor came to the nurse’s station asking who had room 15. I jumped up and followed him into the room.
I walked in and saw what I thought was a corpse. Then the patient’s eye swiveled over to look at me. She truly looked like one of the people they found in a concentration camp. I could see every bone, and her body was twisted in a decorticate position with her jaw locked open. Then the smell hit me: rotting flesh and body fluids. I struggled to keep a neutral face and not gag.
I tried to place a blood pressure cuff on her arm and her skin just started flaking off in my hands. I gagged. The doctor started removing her clothes to examine her. Her feet were black to the ankles. Her hip bones were poking through her skin and were black. The skin around her ribs was worn away to oozing muscle fibers.
Her calves were incredibly swollen and the skin was splitting like ripped pants. I removed her Depends, and there was excrement coating her entire genital area. Then the doctor went to remove a large bandage on her lower back. Her entire sacrum was exposed and the bones were BLACK! The skin around it was a black liquified mass.
It smelled like nothing I’ve ever smelled. I can’t even describe it. The doctor told her family I would clean up her ulcers and wounds in preparation for surgery (liar, no surgeon would operate on her). I had no idea how to clean dead bone tissue and liquified skin (they don’t cover that in nursing school). When I went to clean her sacral area, all the liquified skin separated and oozed all over the bed. I really struggled to keep myself together.
Afterward, I needed a moment in the supply closet to cry it out for a second. I had no idea the human body could break down so much without dying. I still think about that woman sometimes, and what led to her living like that. It still breaks my heart. My guess is that she had some sort of traumatic brain issue or a stroke.
Family members were taking care of her, and I think they were treating her absolutely horribly. I think as her skin deteriorated, she developed terrible pressure ulcers that never healed. The swelling was probably due to starvation and a lack of protein in her diet. I’ve had nightmares about her face since then. Once, I dreamed she crawled into bed with me.
I freaked the heck out and ran into the hallway. My toddler walked out after me, rubbing his eyes, asking why I ran away.
Catching Zebraszebra standing on wheat fieldPhoto by Jeff Griffith on Unsplash
My first rotation as a medical student was psychiatry. I was really nervous, and made a flashcard for each psych condition and a list of diagnoses to consider. One of the patients being discussed on rounds was psychotic (think: KGB is after me!) but was otherwise put together. He was really into doing art and was very, very religious.
I looked at my flashcard for psychosis and casually mentioned that we should consider temporal lobe epilepsy, which presents with religiosity and exaggerated artistic ability. An EEG showed that he had it. I've caught a few zebras since, but that was my favorite.
A six-month-old baby was not getting bigger and dropping off the growth charts. The baby wouldn’t move and cried all day long. I couldn’t figure it out. I was making preparations to transfer the baby to the university hospital for admission. One of the clinic nurses commented that the baby's cry sounded like a cat. Ding, a bell went off in my head.
Cri du chat syndrome or cats cry syndrome. Very rare. I looked it up on UpToDate and the baby had a high probability of having it. I referred her to genetics and they confirmed it. The attending called me and marveled at my clinical skills. I chuckled and told him the nurse diagnosed it. Good news, the baby had a small deletion of the 5p chromosome and managed to stay somewhat healthy and functional.
We had a young fellow come in who worked as a landscaper. He showed up in the ER with severe GI distress. The diagnosis was almost entirely from history. Apparently, he forgot to bring lunch so decided to munch on some "wild carrots" he found while he was out working. I Google "wild carrot dosing" and quickly figured out the diagnosis (this was in the this was Northeast USA by the way). I will give you a hint...a certain Greek philosopher also had an affinity for the substance...it was hemlock. AKA: Not good for you.
He recovered fine, though he did get a night in the ICU for observation.
The Worse of Two Evils
We had a good case a few years ago. An otherwise healthy, 40-year-old migrant worker from Central America started coughing up blood intermittently. Everything suggested tuberculosis: History (they were from an area with lots of TB), chest x-ray looked like tuberculosis, illness script looked like tuberculosis...but his tests for it (sputum/quant gold) were all negative.
I decided to test his urine on a whim to rule out pulmonary-renal pathologies. Ding, ding, ding! Blood. Lots of blood. The patient never noticed it, and his kidney function was superb, so this was a tricky diagnosis. Turns out he had granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegner's). Kind of a sad story, because TB is largely curable, but with Wegner's he'll be on chemo for a very long time with this disease. I'm glad we caught it before irrevocable damage to his organs, though.
A Bad Prognosis
As a third-year medical student, I had a patient come in with four years of worsening balance issues and garbled speech. She had gotten a crazy work up at an outside hospital system with every sort of imaging possible, biopsies of random sites, and a number of very expensive tests. She was at our university hospital for the first time.
When I first entered the room, I reached out to shake her hand, and from her wheelchair she had to raise her head at me because she couldn't look up with her eyes. This was the first red flag. I also asked her if she had the sensation where one of her limbs would move without her controlling it, and she said yes, suggesting something called Alien Limb Phenomenon.
I diagnosed her with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy with features of Corticobasal Degeneration, a very rare disease on the spectrum of Parkinson's plus syndromes, and my supervisors agreed. Unfortunately, it was a bad prognosis, but the family was consoled by the fact that at least they had a name for what was happening.
Hard to Missperson in blue denim jeans lying on bedPhoto by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
A woman came in with severe opiate withdrawal and some shortness of breath. Because she was so insistent about how miserable she was, everyone sort of wrote her off as drug-seeking. The morning I rounded on her, I decided to do a thorough physical exam. Lo and behold, she has a hard non-mobile clavicular lymph node...it was so big that it was impossible to miss if you just did the exam.
Immediately we got a chest x-ray and then a CT scan. There was a perihilar mass. After a biopsy, we learned it was small cell carcinoma (lung cancer).
A Hard Revelation
I was visiting a friend’s house when I was introduced to his dad who had no medical issues. He was a hard-working farmer, but looked a bit too thin. Something told me there was something not quite right, and so I asked him if I could examine him. I promptly discovered hard lymph nodes in several areas. Further investigations revealed he had disseminated cancer. He kicked the bucket less than a year later.
The Meat of the Issue
A patient came in with an itchy rash that would not go away for weeks, and a new swelling of the mouth and tongue. She had "hives" all over her body and the only thing that had helped was repeated steroids. She was a mid 40s female who worked with dogs, so we assumed that she had a new allergy to pet dandruff, fragrance in a shampoo, flea medicine, or something along those lines. We discharged her home with an appointment for the dermatologist to do a biopsy of the lesions. But that wasn't the last we'd see of her.
Later that day, she turns back up in the Emergency Department with swollen lips, increased rash, and trouble breathing. She started having these problems 15 minutes after eating a roast beef sandwich. Someone on the team remembered that she works with dogs and asked if she'd had any recent tick bites. Sure enough, she had been bitten by a tick a few weeks ago and identified a picture of a Lone Star Tick.
Turns out she had developed an allergy to red meat after a bite from that tick. This allergy is called an alpha-galactosidase allergy, and is a reaction to a carbohydrate carried on the outside of cells (think like the carbohydrates on red blood cells for ABO blood type) by all other mammals except humans and monkeys.
The tick had bitten one of these and kept some of the protein in its digestive system, and then after biting her, her body developed antibodies to the carbohydrate, causing her to have a new allergy to meat.
Ordered an abdominal ultrasound on a refugee from Iraq via Syria, expecting to find gallstones because she felt full easily after eating and was having pain in her right upper quadrant. Instead of gallstones, there were two, 7 cm cysts in her liver. Hydatid cysts from a tapeworm.
More Than Meets the Eye
As a fourth year during my rotations, I noticed my patient had a vertical subluxation of her crystalline lens during a dilated eye examination. The part of the eye that develops a cataract later on in life was shifted significantly up. She had severe myopia and astigmatism (-14.00 - 5.00 x 180 OU), and her 6'1" tall body along with disfigured teeth led me to believe she had Marfan's Syndrome.
She had never heard of it, never seen a cardiologist, etc. A few lab tests confirmed. She can live a normal life; she just needs some meds and education. She had very long fingers that jumped out at me and braces on her teeth. As an optometrist, I focus on glasses and contacts, but I see (no pun intended) and treat an unbelievable number of systemic diseases that manifest in the eye or retina.
My Old Motherwoman wearing eyeglassesPhoto by Todd Cravens on Unsplash
One of my favorites is when we had an 85-year-old man in for cellulitis or something, and everyone was documenting he was confused—in part because he kept talking about his mother; his mother was going to be so worried, he had to be discharged to take care of his mother etc. He became agitated and was actually getting ready to be dosed with Haldol because he was insistent he was going to leave to take care of his mother.
Note, the standard is to play along, tell the patient something like "Oh, we already called your mom, she knows you're here" that sort of thing, but he wasn't buying it. Finally, the nurse asks him if we can call his son to make sure the patient's mother is being taken care of (really, just to placate the patient), and the patient agrees. We call the son, the nurse explains the situation, and the son informs us that the patient's mother is indeed alive at the age of 101, but that he is staying in his father's house assisting in her care.
Poor patient was legitimately worried about his mom, and we all thought his infection (or just old age) was causing him to be confused!
On a Hunch
ED referred a guy to me who had a platelet count of 2. The guy looked bloody sick with abdominal pain, petechial rash, feverish, diaphoretic, and he was a bit confused and drowsy too. I talked to my boss who said to give him prednisolone and he'd see him tomorrow, but I was convinced this guy had a really rare condition called TTP (Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura) and so I called the major hospital in my area and sent him to their ICU for a procedure called plasma exchange.
I ordered a test called ADAMTS13 to prove the condition, and still have a paper copy of the result (he had none of this chemical) because it's the best diagnosis I've ever made, it helped save his life!
Menkes kinky hair syndrome. I was called to see a 3-month-old boy with hard-to-control seizures. His most remarkable exam finding was his hair: he had been born with a full head of black hair (he was Hispanic), but at the time I saw him, the first 3-5 mm of each hair shaft was nearly white, with an abrupt color change, still black on the tips. The hair was a giveaway for this disorder, almost no need for confirmatory testing, but the admitting team had already ordered whole exome sequencing.
This was not a fun and exciting diagnosis to make, more a sinking feeling upon discovery of the hair (neurodegenerative disorder due to a defect in copper metabolism that is irreversible once symptoms appear), but it was interesting to see at that transitional stage. I had only seen older boys with Menkes before, once the hair was already pale and brittle all over. Usually the hair has changed long before the diagnosis is made.
Ignoring the Issue
I'm an anesthesiologist. This happened when I was a resident. It changed me for life. We had a 29-year-old male in for finger surgery. We had an uneventful induction maintained on Sevoflurane. Within 20 minutes we started to have rising ETco2. I called my attending after trying to hyperventilate the patient (She was a young Harvard trained peds anesthesiologist).
She comes in and asks me what I think is going on. I tell her things seem strange. She tells me to chill. Five minutes later, the ETco2 is over 100 and I'm freaking out! I call her and tell her this is MALIGNANT HYPERTHERMIA (easily fatal reaction to certain anesthetics caused by congenital aberrant sarcoplasmic reticulum receptors).
She says that I'm being ridiculous when I tell her I'm afraid this is the real deal. My pages get ignored by her. The patient’s temperature starts to rise. I'm bugging out and call the board runner (supervising Anesthesiologist for all the operating rooms). He's old. He knows me well and trusts me. Comes in, looks at the monitor—and his face went white.
Needless to say, we save the patient after many dozens of vials of Dantrolene. Six months later I'm made to do an M&M and the young Harvard attending insinuates I did something wrong in front of the department. Most of the rest of them come to my aide. She leaves the job shortly thereafter. I will soon be at her fellowship.
I didn't diagnose it, but I have a patient with primary Ciliary Dyskinesia with Situs Inversus, aka Kartagener syndrome. The cilia in the body don't move well, and this mainly affects the respiratory cilia/lungs, although it also causes infertility, related to the cilia inside the fallopian tubes and the sperm tails not working well.
Situs Inversus is when the organs inside the thorax are mirror images of normal, the heart is on the right side instead of the left, etc. I was looking over this patient's old medical records and one of the radiology reads of a chest x-ray said, "There has been interval development of dextrocardia. Since this is physiologically impossible, the film has been flipped."
Probably the original film the radiologist had been comparing to had been incorrectly flipped to look "normal," maybe by someone who assumed there had been an error. Another chest x-ray report just read: "The film has been flipped" and then went onto the rest of the interpretation.
A Quick Diagnosisperson holding baby feetPhoto by Omar Lopez on Unsplash
I once saw a child with mosaic trisomy 8. It was a complete mystery why he had speech apraxia, and the geneticist I was working with took one look at his feet, saw that they had super deep creases lengthwise, and ordered a karyotype with mosaic trisomy 8 in mind. Sure enough, he was right. I was amazed how spot-on he was predicting that.
Caught in Her Throat
Primary doctor here. Had a two-year-old refugee child (whose parents couldn't communicate well) who swallowed a button battery and it was stuck in her throat. For clarity, I didn't know it was a button battery, but something just didn't feel right, so I sent her to the ED. If she had gone perhaps one more day, she might not have made it—it had already destroyed a good amount of tissue in her esophagus and was apparently somewhat close to perforating.
I feel like it would have been very easy to just say she had a sore throat from an illness, particularly with the language barrier. I'm glad that something felt weird to me—she didn't look that bad, but was just holding herself and breathing weirdly.
Rare and Terrible
Wolman Disease. A genetic disease that affects about 1/200,000 kids, terrible outcome. It leads to calcification of the adrenal glands, which is how I picked it up on a chest x-ray on-call (I'm a radiologist). The kid had failure to thrive and a big spleen so I brought it up. He got further testing which confirmed the diagnosis.
Bottom line, don't forget to look at the adrenals or ribs on peds x-rays!
Probably Stiff Person Syndrome. Technically it was paraneoplastic antibodies causing a case of mild stiff person-like syndrome, but it was basically a lady who had glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies which caused her to be really stiff. How'd I figure it out? Well, she was really stiff and it was very odd. I was out of ideas and literally googled "stiff person" and got the result of a disease I'd probably heard mentioned in passing in med school but is so rare you forget about it: Stiff Person Syndrome.
Yes, it's real. I thought it was a joke at first—but it's all too real. Ordered the test, it was positive. Later, after more research, I learned that you can have similar antibodies and symptoms with paraneoplastic syndromes, so I did a scan, and found a lung tumor. Boom. SPS is really rare. Paraneoplastic syndromes are less rare. She was somewhere in the middle.
I made a clinical diagnosis of fairly early-stage necrotizing fasciitis (the infamous flesh-eating bacteria) in West Africa which was pretty cool... The patient was a young adult male who was writhing and screaming in agony as he was carried in. He spoke a tribal dialect and I spoke ugly French, so it was basically impossible to get any information out of him or the friends who brought him in.
I laid him on the table and did a rapid trauma assessment. When I stripped off his shirt, I saw a small patch (maybe 4" x 6") of blackened tissue below his left nipple along the side of his ribs. It looked like a chemical burn to me at first glance. I realized that some of the skin had torn off the area when I removed his shirt, and when I touched the lesion to examine it, I could feel the skin separating from the tissue below it.
The technical term is "desquamating." It had a horrible odor like spoiled meat/rotting garbage mixed with 100 degree west African heat and 100% humidity. Putrid. His temperature was over 40C (104+ F) and his O2 saturation was terrible. The rotting garbage smell indicated anaerobic bacteria, the skin peeling off indicated connective/soft tissue involvement, and the disproportionate pain (relative to the size of the lesion) is a hallmark of necrotizing fasciitis.
I ran back to my room and grabbed the Oxford Handbook of Tropical Medicine (highly recommend if you work over there in medicine) to double-check because I had never seen a case of flesh-eating bacteria in person before and didn't want to screw up the diagnosis and move things in a different direction if I was wrong. Sure enough, everything matched up and the chief of medicine stopped by to confirm the diagnosis. He basically said, "Oh yeah we see these fairly frequently, people get a cut or a bug bite and then rub dung or dirt into it and the infection takes hold."
The craziest part was the outcome. In the United States, patients with necrotizing fasciitis in one limb frequently die or suffer amputations of both arms and both legs—even in the best ICUs. Here we were in the middle of West Africa at a remote bush hospital and this guy has it on his chest, which pretty much wrecks the standard aggressive surgical approach since you can't exactly amputate the chest.
We loaded him up with high dose IV ampicillin a few times a day and his wife forced him to eat multiple bowls of porridge...miraculously he made a full recovery and left smiling 10 days later. I'm convinced it was the porridge.
Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleevepruning topless babyPhoto by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
I diagnosed a little girl at birth who had Ectopia Cordis. It's a birth defect where the heart is located outside of the chest or thorax (yet it's still underneath the skin). It only happens to about 5-7 per one million live births. Warning, if you plan to search up "Ectopia Cordis," the images available may not be for the faint of heart.
Say No to Drugs
Today I took care of a man who believed he had been bitten on the abdomen by a baby rattlesnake that had fallen out of his ceiling vent, crawled up his abdomen under his skin, up his throat, and was currently coiled and rattling in his brain. Diagnosis: methamphetamines. Just say no.
Against All Odds
Five years ago, I spent six months working in a small rural Zambian hospital in the medical ward as part of a volunteer/outreach program. I have done mostly family medicine, and some surgery in my early days, but decided to mix life up a bit. The hospital was typical third world—a few basic medications, rudimentary clinical tools, a small lab on site which was usually broken.
No resuscitation tools whatsoever. HIV, TB and malaria were rife—it would not be uncommon to encounter a loss per day despite our best efforts. On one of my first days there an unconscious person was carried in by a mob of locals. I could smell him before I saw him. He had been in a house fire and his skin was cooked—completely black around his chest, face, and over his legs.
He was still breathing on his own and maintaining his airway but we had no doubt he had inhaled a lot of smoke. With no way to intubate or provide oxygen we merely had to hope that he didn’t swell up and close off and deal with the rest of the burns while he was unconscious. Two colleagues who worked in the hospital came over urgently.
We all kept our cool externally and got the nurses to translate to the man’s family that we were going to do everything we could to get him better. In reality, all three of us knew his chances at survival were in the single-digit percentages. We decided that due to the extent of his burns we were going to have to do an escharotomy (cutting the burned skin to prevent it contracting and stopping him from breathing).
Turns out I had the most surgical experience so despite having never done one before I gave it a go, hoping for the best. We got an IV into a neck vein and got fluids going. The local nurses dressed his burns. We gave him whatever pain relief we had. He was unconscious for a couple of days but eventually came to.
Each day we were expecting his kidneys to pack up but to our surprise, gradually he got better. He was with us for just over four months recovering. He came out severely scarred but he had beaten the odds and survived.
A Rare Talent
I've diagnosed anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis in a patient that was thought to be withdrawing from an unknown illicit substance. Then, not two months later I had another patient with the same disease. I was talking to a neurologist recently and he thought it was a condition that is far more common than we thought it was, but still a pretty good catch for an internist.
I've caught a few conditions that were rarer, but it's nice to talk about one that's treatable.
Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.
I'm PhD, not MD. The weirdest to me was a bloodstream bacterial infection that looked sensitive to antibiotics in the clinical lab, but the patient could not be cured. We got samples of the bacteria and turns out it was "tolerant" to antibiotics in a biofilm (heart valves) but not sensitive in the clinical sense. Opened my mind as a microbiologist to how insanely adaptive bacteria can be, and how they're more a population than individual cells. The most interesting paper I ever published, and unexpected.
Subtle Symptomsman reading papers in front of computerPhoto by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Not super rare but sort of diagnosed/missed Myasthenia gravis. I was an intern in the emergency department. A woman presents with the classic vague symptoms of fatigue and weakness. Notably, her father had very recently passed. Full blood panel was normal, her examination was almost completely normal but I did find she had proximal weakness (her upper arm strength and thigh strength were poor but her hand and feet and shins etc. were normal).
I presented to my superior and we decided to send her home because we couldn't diagnose her with anything and we can't admit someone to hospital for fatigue. She was upset that we couldn't help her. After she left, I couldn't shake this terrible feeling. I asked my superior, what about Myasthenia Gravis? Well, too late now, besides the testing takes weeks.
She represented a week later (I didn’t see her). She was admitted this time and seen by a physician. More tests were ordered and eventually she was diagnosed and treated for Myasthenia Gravis. I saw her 6 months later and she remembered me, she was doing much better and wasn't upset that we missed the diagnosis.
It can be very hard to diagnose some things because of how non-specific the symptoms are. In this case I had a feeling she had a real disease especially with her proximal weakness but there wasn't much we could do about it.
I'm not sure if I count because I'm a veterinarian, but I saw trigeminal neuritis in a dog. Basically, the dog can't move his lower jaw, but it's not stiff or painful or anything, it just hangs slightly open. It looks like the dog has just received some unbelievable news, basically. It goes away on its own in 2-4 weeks, but the dog can't eat or drink very well, so you have to syringe feed them, do elevated food bowls, etc.
Benadryl to the Rescue
I had a patient transferred to our hospital for a STEMI (major heart attack). When they arrived, I noticed they looked a bit red and asked them, other than the chest pain, what symptoms they were having. The person said that they had been having a rash for a few days as well as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Those symptoms go along with a condition called scombroid poisoning which you get from eating old, dark meat fish (tuna, mackerel, etc.).
I asked the person if they had recently been eating fish and sure enough, they had been eating salmon for the past few days. Assuming they had it, I treated them with Benadryl which fixed the rash, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. They were taken by the cardiology service to get a cardiac catheterization (how you find clogged blood vessels in the heart) for the heart attack and the results came back normal (no vessel occlusion).
Best I could tell, the condition stressed their body and made them tachycardic/hypotensive which made their heart work harder. The increased demand on the heart + an already weak heart led to the heart attack. Also, was pretty awesome to see the EKG go from showing a clear heart attack to normal after being treated with Benadryl!
I'm a nurse and I work in a pediatric ER. A young woman brought her baby in to be seen for vomiting. I ask her to put the baby on the scale. While on the scale I notice a strong odor of bug spray so I asked about it. Her response made my blood run cold. Mom: "A roach crawled into her mouth so I sprayed a little Raid in there." She said it in a matter of fact tone, like it was no big deal.
Queue up calls to the police, CPS and a 1:1 sitter for the child and the mom. When all was said and done the baby was fine and turned over to her grandmother so no worries there. I have no idea what happened to the mother. I don't believe she was intending to hurt the child. I think she was just completely ignorant.
We had a case a couple of years ago that still gives me chills whenever I think about it. A younger girl goes to her family doctor in a small town outside of the bigger city where I live. She had persistent headaches, which just started a few days prior. No past medical history of anything similar or really at all about her that stood out as relevant.
Unable to diagnose or treat her headaches (which were rapidly growing more severe), she was sent to our hospital (X state's Childrens' Hospital) for evaluation. We ran her through the typical gauntlet of testing for common causes, CBC/CMB/CT/MRI etc. still with no clue. Nothing came up on blood cultures either. At this point she was in the PICU rapidly deteriorating, with high fevers and periodic losses of consciousness.
After eliminating all the horses, we had to start looking for zebras...and quick. We collected a CSF sample for culture thinking it might be one of the rarer forms of bacterial meningitis. While this was cooking (cultures usually take at least a few days) we tried again to get any other possible info from her parents...that's when we learned the whole story.
For the first time, they mentioned that they had visited a local waterpark a week or two before the girl’s symptoms started...and this was in the middle of summer. For any Peds doctor, or especially ID doctors in the room, those words made their hearts sink. Sure enough, the cultures came back, positive for Naegleria Fowleri, the pathogen responsible for Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM). Which up until that point, I don't think there was a documented case of a patient being diagnosed with PAM who survived.
It’s the incurable brain-eating amoeba that lives in warm stagnant water and can enter through the cribriform plate at the top of the nose if the patient gets water up there...which happens all the time at waterparks. Anyway, long story short, we basically cook up a (very non-FDA-approved) drug cocktail as a sort of Hail-Mary attempt at fighting this infection, as nothing else in any other case had ever worked.
In addition to this, we basically stick her in a Mr. Freeze chamber, lowering her body temp to below what N. Fowleri can usually survive. Unfortunately, most people can't survive it either. But for some reason, (though in an induced coma the whole time) she steadily improved. When we took her out of the deep freeze and allowed her to wake up, it was incredible...
She was alive with no apparent neuro/cognitive deficits, and the new cultures showed no growth of N. Fowleri. It's not too hard to figure out where this occurred, as it may still be the only successfully treated case in the US.
Like Flipping a Switchman in white dress shirt wearing black framed eyeglassesPhoto by Usman Yousaf on Unsplash
I can't remember all the details though so bare with me. I'm at a big tertiary hospital, and had an elderly veteran brought to us one day after being found unconscious in a park. He had alcohol in his system and a quick look at his records showed that this was an ongoing problem with him. He was a sweet old man who was very grateful for our help, up until day 3 of his hospitalization. That's when things took a dark turn.
He developed pneumonia-like symptoms and became somnolent for a few days. Then, out of nowhere, he became very inappropriate—he begins grabbing the nurses and repositioning them, touching himself, and constantly licking his lips in a disgusting manner when anyone even looked at him. He went from a sweet old man to a deviant almost overnight. We even had to wrap his hands up in bandages to stop him from touching himself and others. Oddly though, he hit on anyone and everyone (women and men) except for me. I guess I wasn't his type.
We ended up diagnosing him with Kluver-Bucy syndrome, caused by HSV encephalitis (herpes). Symptoms include hypersexuality and hyperorality. It's pretty rare and I haven't seen it since, but as you might imagine, it left a lasting impression on me. He improved with treatment though, and was incredibly embarrassed after finding out what he had done.
When I was an intern, we had a 22-year-old man with persistent abdominal pain, all studies negative. His symptoms were unexplained. His mother was constantly at his bedside, and his medical history, which was extensive according to his mom, included multiple hospital stays with no definitive diagnosis. I noticed that he would frequently take ill after meals, which his mother brought from outside the hospital.
It eventually became clear that he was a victim of Munchausen by proxy. His mother was making him ill. I'd had a patient with Munchausen's when I was in medical school (she was injecting her own waste into her IV), so I was particularly tuned in. Both cases were very sad.
As we get older, our tastes in a variety of things change as we are exposed to new things.
But sometimes, nostalgia brings us back to appreciating what we once let go.
For instance in terms of fashion, what we initially thought made us look cool and flashy may no longer serve us in our wisened years.
The retro appeal of, say, stone-washed jeans, may be trending and inspire us to reclaim the look.
But there are other things in life besides trends that also stick with us whether we like it or not, and those stubborn instances is a huge bummer.
Curious to hear more examples of things people really haven't moved on from, Redditor LeRuseRenard asked:
"What's something you were told you would grow out of but never did?"
Let's get physical.
"Had a guy at the office that was late-60s with acne. I asked him about it when we got closer. I hit him with all the typical sh*t; do you use a face cleanser, moisturizer, shower regularly, change your sheets/pillowcases. He said he used to do that and realized that it never goes away except for when he's stress free. I just said 'ahhhh, f'k.' Then I got out of the Air Force and holy d*ck balls, he was right. Low/no stress is such clear skin that I now use acne as my gauge for stepping back from work and that it's time for a vacation."
"I'm a guy who topped out at 5' 5.5" (that point five was important to me for some reason). Now that I'm into my 7th decade, life and gravity seem to have beaten me down to 5'4". Maybe 5'4.5" on a good day with a full moon providing slight relief from gravity."
"At 15, I was told the pain in my joints was from 'growing pains' when X-rays didn't show anything - nope, I had already stopped growing taller at 10, and the pain was a genetic soft tissue disorder that took until my mid-20s to properly diagnose and manage."
Just because we enjoyed these as kids doesn't mean they stayed in our toy boxes.
"Video games and metal music."
I’m a toddler mom. We jammed out to Sabaton and Delain driving home from Kid Activity yesterday."
Once A Gamer...
"I game more than my kids. I'm a mom, mid 50's with no plan to stop. It's been a great year with Jedi Survivor and Zelda. I'm looking forward to the new Spider-Man one too."
"Cartoons have somehow been always associated to children by some people. Which has lead to some really funny situations, such as seeing parents with their no more than 10 year old children going to the movies to watch... South Park. Boy, did they leave fast..."
"Fantasy novels. Some of them are written for adults."
"Came here to see if anyone mentioned this. If you love them–you love them for life! My frustration is that 'adult' usually means twenty-something, occasionally 30. I’m 50…and there just aren’t a lot of lead characters to relate to anymore."
There are inclinations and behavioral traits that don't just disappear with age as these Redditors have discovered.
Deeper Than Shyness
"My aversion to most social events."
"Yeah. Somehow, even as a kid, I knew that puberty wasn't going to make me enjoy these events more."
"Social anxiety, it only got worse."
Stigma Of Being An Introvert
"The best thing about 'growing up' is realizing that some people, lots of people, don't do well at big social events and there's nothing wrong with that."
"It's okay to not go, or to say hello and leave after 1/2 hour. Forcing yourself to stay for hours because others are having fun and you don't want to leave early is pointless. Let them have fun. Say goodbye to the host, or better yet, tell then beforehand that you'll be leaving early. I used to stay hours longer than I wanted to because I didn't know about the Irish Exit."
"And btw, don't try to explain it to someone who doesn't get it. If they're pushy about it, ask for respect and don't defend yourself. There's nothing wrong with you. Or me."
"Now figuring out how to decline a damn wedding invite. Ugh"
It's Not Just For Kids
"My parents literally think I’ve outgrown ADHD because 'adults can’t have it' 💀"
"Oh damn. When really ur just coping and constantly on the cusp of things falling apart."
What Are U Waiting 4?
"Does anyone really outgrow procrastination? You can conquer it with a lot of work and effort but you don't naturally outgrow it."
My love for Disney as a kid was never a phase.
My passion for the classic Disney animated films and Disneyland took root when I was 2. Since then, I've worked for the company in various roles from theme parks to Broadway, further cementing my appreciation for that Disney magic.
You might say I have the Peter Pan syndrome and never grew up.
Being an extrovert/closeted introvert at a young age, going to Disneyland was my escape from reality and where I really came to life.
That feeling is just something you can never grow out of, nurturing that notion of being young at heart.
So you can imagine my anguish when I discovered my mom threw out my vintage Disney records when I was in middle school thinking I'd outgrow them.
That was painful.
We may have many fond memories of childhood that center around food.
A favorite meal, a special celebration dinner, simple comfort foods, baked goods enjoyed with grandparents or holiday feasts.
But not everyone is blessed with culinary talents. And some cooking impaired are responsible for feeding children.
For those kids, memories of meals might be more trauma than beloved tradition.
Reddit user zZoZo- asked:
"What meal traumatized you as a kid?"
"My grandma’s asparagus, it traumatized my dad more as it was the only way he had had asparagus until he met my mum."
"We would go out and harvest fresh asparagus when I was a kid, and my mum would grill it, sauté it, or make a salad."
"My grandma only made it for me once. Well my grandma would put it in a pressure cooker on a steam tray and cook it at pressure for 3 minutes."
"It would come out just holding itself together, she would slide it onto the plate, put slices of hard boiled egg on top, salt, and pepper. It was hot mush in a stringy tube with cold egg and no real seasoning or flavor left."
"Just a miserable symphony of textures that would stick in your mouth and teeth."
"My grandma knew I hated cantaloupe but my sister loved it, so so when we would visit my grandma when we were kids she made me eat a piece of cantaloupe for every piece my sister ate."
"To this day I do not know why."
"I f'king hate cantaloupe."
"My father would put raw liver in a juicer and make liver pancakes, no bacon no onion."
"Your father seems like the type to have…secrets."
"I’m wondering if fava beans and Chianti were involved."
"Mom had a habit of clearing the fridge of leftovers by tossing everything in a pot and serving it for dinner. Ugh."
"The most...ahem...memorable combination was: some old spaghetti sauce (not a bad start...) some baked beans (kinda weird, but okay...) some leftover tuna-noodle casserole (getting weirder...) some peas (gotta have a vegetable) and, I kid you not, the leftover cherry Jell-O (why, Mom? Why the Jell-O???)."
"I still have NO IDEA why it all had to go in a single pot."
"I was forced to eat a mayonnaise sandwich at a sleepover once."
"It was so disgusting, and I wasn't allowed to leave the table until I was done."
Bribery or Extortion?
"Not traumatized, just salty. Mom took my brother and me to a restaurant with another one of her mom friends and her kids, that mom was really into making kids try new foods."
"She made me eat a stupid octopus or squid tentacle or something to get dessert, whereas my brother held out until all he had to try was some basically normal piece of cheese."
"Clearly I didn’t know how to be stubborn."
"My mom found some 'hidden veggie' article that called for zucchini in brownies. Two bites in, something tasted off."
"I looked in the brownie and saw the green fibers of vegetable and my mom gleefully told me the secret ingredient. I protested and complained and refused the brownies and she said I wouldn’t even notice."
"Mother, if I wouldn’t notice, then why did I almost immediately notice?"
"Took a long time for me to trust her desserts after that."
"F'k those 'hidden food' recipes. Just learn to cook zucchini in an appetizing way and let me eat the zucchini for dinner and a normal brownie for dessert."
Salads That Aren't Salads
"Oh God, this 'salad' my mom would make that was literally just frozen peas and cheese chunks coated in mayonnaise. I couldn't even be near it without gagging.
"Whenever she'd make it I'd start crying and hide under the bed (I was around 5 or 6). Thank Christ she eventually stopped making it."
"I still hate mayo. To this day even the smell of it makes me physically sick."
"With my grandma it was green Jello, grapes, celery, walnuts, shredded cabbage and carrots in a Jello mold."
"When she unmolded it, she would fill the center with Miracle Whip and sprinkle it with paprika."
"Most disgusting side dish ever."
"Meatloaf. My mom would force me to sit at the table and eat a bland meatloaf with no seasoning whatsoever."
"My grandmother's cooking in general is always bland. Salt and pepper. That's it."
"So when I moved out with my boyfriend. It was a kick to the face cause he actually uses spices and seasoning."
"Love the woman, but damn. And I get it. She lived on a farm with 11 brothers and sisters. So taste wasn't really the point of eating."
"At least she uses salt. My MIL doesn't even use that!"
"That's disturbingly common in some regions - especially the Midwest.
"I have family who deliberately don't add any salt as they're cooking, and then offer guests a salt shaker (which they, themselves don't use)."
"Holidays are agony. And the worst part is that I'm not sure if everybody is suffering in silence with me, or if they've all somehow been indoctrinated and just don't even want the salt."
"I went to a wedding as a kid where they served oysters but not fresh ones. They were from a jar and then put back into shells."
Anyway I put it in my mouth and I wanted to spit it out, but my dad gave me one of those looks (death stares) so I had to swallow the snot like thing."
"I love seafood but have never been able to eat a fresh oyster since."
Not Finger Lickin' Good
"Cow's tongue. I was 8 or 9. I sat at the table until 9 pm, refused to eat it, just sitting there crying as quiet as I could."
"I didn't want to get in more trouble."
"Finally my mother gave up and I got a cheese sandwich and sent to bed."
"I will never, never eat another mammal's tongue. Just typing that out made me gag."
"I was around 6 at the time. My dad used to season and roast baby potatoes. For some reason as a kid, I just couldn't stomach them."
"They made me want to throw up. After a few of them I would run to the toilet."
"One time, I thought I was clever by hiding them under the cushions of my seat. I got away with it for a few weeks."
"Until my mother was obsessively cleaning because she couldn't get rid of the smell of compost from the dining room."
"Eventually she lifted the cushion to see a heap of mouldy squashed potatoes."
"That day for dinner, my dad made an extra portion just for me. Apparently when I saw the plate I went pale."
Don't Name Dinner
"It's not at all fun to name and raise a chicken only for it to be served for lunch."
My Mother was not a good cook because she hated to cook.
She could reheat things from a can or make something from a box, but she had a tendency to add canned peas or cut up hot dogs.
Luckily I loved cooking and took over all family cooking duties as a child.
My only food trauma was a dish my Sister made: Polynesian liver. Yes, it was liver baked with pineapple rings.
None of us could eat more than one bite.
Do you have food trauma? Share your story in the comments.