Doctors Break Down The Weirdest Disease Symptoms They've Ever Heard Of
There's a really wonderful and unnerving Todd Haynes film called Safe, from the mid-1990s. It stars Julianne Moore as a housewife who develops multiple chemical sensitivity, also known as idiopathic environmental intolerances, which is an unrecognized and controversial diagnosis.
Moore goes through the film in a state of perpetual confusion as she continues to experience symptoms she is convinced are real but that doctors believe are entirely psychosomatic. It's a frightening and claustrophobic experience and one that I highly recommend if you're in the mood for a film that will make you want to shower for eighteen hours straight.
But there are plenty of diseases we can account for––that's even worse, isn't it? After Redditor who-8-my-pasta asked the online community, "Doctors of Reddit, what are the weirdest symptoms of a disease that you know of?" medical professionals shared their observations.
"It is very serious..."
BCKD Deficiency (branched-chain ketoacid dehydrogenase deficiency) but better known as Maple Syrup Urine Disease is as it sounds. People, usually newborns, have pee that smells like maple syrup. It is very serious and can easily be fatal and not every hospital automatically tests for it at birth.
"It's seen with some psychological disorders..."
There's something called pica, which is when people develop a strong appetite for things with no nutrition (ice, dirt, hair, etc). It's seen with some psychological disorders, but also more common stuff like iron deficiency anemia and pregnancy.
"We thought it was a pulled muscle..."
I'm not a doctor but a paramedic and I once had a patient who had butt cheek pain and turns out, she had an abdominal aortic aneurysm that burst and she died shortly after she got to the ER. Confirmed with the ER doc.. butt cheek pain IS a symptom of a AAA. She was just so uncomfortable and unable to sit. We thought it was a pulled muscle... guess we were wrong.
Weirdest symptom I've ever seen.
"So your body..."
Auto-brewery syndrome is a rare condition that occurs when yeast in the gut produces excessive quantities of ethanol, which can cause symptoms similar to those of being drunk. So your body gets itself drunk.
Can you imagine a disease that makes you feel drunk all the time? (People might joke about how "fun" that might be, but it would absolutely impair your ability to live an independent life.
And maple syrup? We're still not over that...
"Ask them ANY question..."
Korsakoff's syndrome - severe deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B1) which causes the patient to persistently confabulate (make things up). Ask them ANY question and they'll just make up an answer.
"It doesn't happen..."
Gustatory sweating (Frey syndrome), which is a classic complication of parotid gland surgery is a phenomenon where the nerves to the spit gland are severed intraoperatively which then heal over time but they don't heal the correct way and instead innervate sweat glands on the face. So when the patient eats, they start sweating from their face instead of salivating from the parotid. It doesn't happen nearly as often as it used to and there are a few decent ways to treat it.
"I love it..."
I love it when I find egophony. When a patient has pleural effusion (fluid outside the lung in the pleural space) it changes sound waves as they travel through. So while listening over the fluid with a stethoscope you ask the patient to repeat " e, e, e, e" and you hear "a, a, a,". It's really cool.
What in the world have we been reading thus far? The world is indeed full of medical marvels.
I also hope to never start sweating from my face.
"People with this syndrome..."
Anton Syndrome, where you are completely cortically blind but don't know it. People with this syndrome will just make stuff up if you ask them how many fingers you're holding up, etc., In reality, they can't see anything.
My best/strangest diagnosis was when I was a fourth-year medical student back in 2006. I was doing a rotation in general surgery. The surgeon was very serious and a Harvard grad.
One morning he tells me to go examine a patient and tell him what he has. I assumed the surgeon already knew the diagnosis. I did the full 300 point med student physical exam and spent hours with this 25-year-old kid. This kid had been in the hospital multiple times with life-threatening gastrointestinal bleeding and severe anemia. There were many strange things about him. He had nystagmus in his eyes and the color of his eyes was off. He described himself as an albino and his skin looked abnormally light though he had dark pigmented spots on his skin.
I got online with all of his symptoms/exam findings and basically typed them into Google. I found a page that almost described what he had but was off. It had a differential diagnosis section of other things to consider. I went down this list (probably 7 conditions) and one of them was completely spot on. It is called Hermansky Pudlak syndrome. Incidence 1 in 500k to 1 in 1 million people. I had never even learned about it in medical school.
The next morning I brought the surgeon some literature. There are some tests to confirm and it was eventually confirmed by the Mayo Clinic. Even the experienced hematologist missed it. I was the only one to get a completely outstanding evaluation for my surgery rotation.
That was fascinating.
We truly live in an incredible world of medical mysteries. What else is out there and how will the medical lexicon change? It's wild to think about.
Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.
When love is on the rocks and there's no salvaging a relationship, it's better for a couple to call it splits.
Sometimes the reason for a breakup is obvious.
Other times, it's more complicated.
But the people involved going their separate ways is better than staying in an unhealthy relationship.
Curious to hear from ex-lovers who've been there, Redditor Lishasquarepant asked:
"What caused your last break-up?"
These Redditors found they and their significant other were no longer on the same page.
"Simply, we grew apart."
"Same, I feel like Michael Scott everytime I try to start another relationship. 'No question about it, I am ready to get hurt again.'"
"Same. We loved each other like siblings, not spouses... Ugh! Lovely man though who now has a fab girlfriend. We are good friends and much happier apart."
"Same. And it f'king sucks, but that’s life. It’s been a year and I still hate every second that she’s not in my life, but at the same time I know she’s happier now than she would’ve been if we stayed together."
Having no communication is the worst part.
"He slowly got distant. I believe he lost interest and didn't dare be honest with me about that."
The Late Blame Game
"I had that happen as well, but then he pinned it on me being distant and not affectionate enough."
"My guy, if you pull your hand away every time I try to hold it, I'm gonna stop trying to hold it. And if I ask if something's up and you repeatedly tell me everything is fine, I'm going to believe you. Don't wait till I'm at my worst moment and then reveal you had issues with me for 3 months and break up with me for it being 'my fault.'"
"Everything Is Fine"
"Oh man, the asking repeatedly and getting a 'nothing' reminds me of a story."
"My friend used to ask her ex this every time he was unusually quiet. He’d always say he was fine, then at one point, told her to stop asking because it was making him feel weird."
"So she did."
"Six months later he initiated a divorce because she didn’t care about his feelings anymore."
"Like…don’t ask for sh*t then get pissy when you get what you want."
And then there are those who were not invested in the relationship for a long time.
The Struggle Is Real
"He seemed to struggle with the concept of not f'king random people."
Leaving The Problem
"He moved to his country because he missed his family. So he only sent a WhatsApp message saying he was going to stay there. I would have preferred a call at least to break up a marriage."
"Something similar happened to my cousin. He married her in the US, they had a baby together.. a few years go by, he misses home, goes back to visit.. His family had an arranged marriage ready for him 🤦🏻♀️ He ended up with a new wife and new baby. Hasn’t came back."
A Foreign Custom
"It just seems so surreal that a grown a** adult with a wife and baby would leave his family behind for an arranged marriage. I'll never fathom the mentality."
"I wasn't having sex near as often as she was."
Breaking up is hard to do.
But a good thing to remember is that love can be found again and the new relationship can be even better than the previous one.
And that's something that can't be recognized until you look back in retrospect.
We all have to kiss a few toads.
Everyone looks back on their high school experience differently.
Some wish they could relive it all over again, while others are more than happy to put it all behind them and seldom, if ever, look back on it.
Of course, no matter if they look back on high school with pleasure or disdain, everyone has a few memories of their classmates.
Particularly the one who always seemed to be getting into trouble.
Constantly landing themselves in detention and, in more severe cases, landing themself in trouble with the authorities.
Some of these students thankfully grew out of their bullying days and have grown and learned to treat others with respect and kindness. Others were not so lucky, and still found themselves getting into trouble long after their school days were over.
"Who was the worst student in your high school, & what did they do that was so bad?
The Beginning Of The End...
"There was a kid who walked up to the pencil sharpener and set the substitute teacher's hair on fire from behind her with a cigarette lighter and then claimed sparks had flown out of the light switch."
"He's in prison for other stuff now."- isfrying
Lucky The Room Was Empty...
"I knew a lot of sh*tty people back in school, but I think the guys who dropped a whole desk out of a third-story window onto some kid qualify as the worst, purely because I think that qualifies as an attempted murder."- WixedEcho
Doesn't Exactly Scream True Love...
"The boy that put a pipe bomb into another kid's locker because he talked to the girl the original boy liked."
"He went to a juvenile program and then disappeared."- dreamermom2
The Demon Student Of High School...
"A girl at my school took the ashes of her recently deceased grandfather."
"Baked it into cookies and handed the cookies out amongst her classmates."
"Nine students had eaten them before she revealed the urn and told them what she did."- FiddlerofSticks
What A Waste, So Close To The End...
"He put LSD in a teacher's drink and they tripped."
"12th grade, he got arrested as he should have."- Amy_OZ
How Did He Even Get The Job?
"Not me, but my daughter and her female friends in 9th grade."
"There was a boy who was disturbed who was making threats to the girls in his classes."
"The girls told me he had photos of dead animals he'd killed."
"Anyway, for whatever reason, my daughter felt like telling me about it for the first time well into the school year, like in November or so."
"I had no idea this was going on until then."
"I called the teacher first, who was a man, and he was afraid of this kid."
"Teacher said to call the principal and gave me his number."
"Principal said, and I quote: 'Lady I have 1200 students to deal with on a daily basis'."
"'I can't be worried about whether your daughter is safe at school'."
"Which was the wrong thing to say, bc it obviously pissed me off."
"He said that he put this kid and my daughter alone in a room and told them to essentially kiss and make up."
"Called the superintendent next, who was incredibly bowled over by the incompetence of the principal."
"He told me to call the police."
"Which was too late because I had already taken my daughter and 3 of her friends to the police to make reports and file for a restraining order."
"The next day the principal called to apologize, from the phone in the superintendent's office."
"The kid was removed from the classes with all of these girls, which was next to impossible."
"And less than a week was removed from the school."
"I think my daughter said that he's in prison now."- floridianreader
Some People Can Turn Their Lives Around
"Not the worst student but craziest thing to happen was freshman year this kid got caught using a keylogger to steal teacher's gradebook logins to sell grade changes."
"He was also stealing credit card info."
"Ran into him a few years ago and he actually graduated Harvard and is in real estate now."- AbortionCrow
Bad Decisions Have Consequences
Bullied other kids mercilessly."
"Stole cigarettes & alcohol from shops, to sell to other kids for cash he'd use to buy weed."
"A few years after high school him and 2 of his closest mates were hooning in their sh*tbox on the highway, playing Chicken."
"It was night time and they had their lights turned off, and they were driving on the wrong side of the road with the intent to make other people flinch & dodge before they had to."
"Other driver didn't even know they were there & just drove a straight path."
"So because of that the other driver obviously didn't dodge or deviate, forcing them to flinch and they dodged off the side of a road, right into a huge Gum Tree."
"All 3 killed instantly 140+kmph impact on a hardwood tree."
"Small rural area so the whole town grieved over the 'tragic loss of 3 young lives' but single kid who grew up around them knew better than to call it a tragedy."
"Glad the other driver didn't see them & suffer their fate."
"Gladder that they're gone."- Pharya
Some People Simply Never Learn From Their Mistakes
"One of the rich families kid was just 100% incapable of driving safely at all."
"We're talking at the age of 16 has already totaled 3 cars."
"His parents kept giving him new ones, not cheap ones either, Acura RSX, VW Golf, Subaru WRX."
"The VW and Acura he did nothing but crash them into trees while he had his DRIVING PERMIT - not even a license."
"The First WRX he had a passenger in it and decided to hit another tree."
"Passenger broke his neck but was fine."
"3 months later, parents got him his second WRX."
"Was doing 70+ in a 45 back road with a 2 girls in the car."
"Swerved to avoid a truck pulling into a road, clipped the back corner, spun the car sideways and got T-boned by a box truck/Uhaul."
"It was sad but I'm more outraged at his sh*tty parents."- Saturn_5_speed
One never knows the kind of person your classmates are going to grow up to be.
Though sometimes, you can't help but appreciate that you were right about your instincts to avoid certain people.
Who among us hasn't seen things that made us think we were still asleep?
Sometimes those scary movie moments are a reality.
Once in a while, Michael Myers IS in the shadows.
There are so many unexplainable happenings that leave our nerves wrecked.
As I type this, I swear I can hear moving in the bushes outside.
I'm not in the mood to be terrorized before bed.
Redditor TractorLoving wanted to hear about the things many of us have seen that left us shaken and a bit scared, so they asked:
"What's the most creepy thing you've ever witnessed?"
I've lost track of the number of things that have creeped me out in life.
I barely leave the house.
From the bushes...the lion king disney GIFGiphy
"When I was about 12 I was sleeping on my trampoline with a friend and we heard the bushes move behind us, we flashed our flashlight to the bushes and a mountain lion was laying there stalking us, I have never run so fast in my life."
"Finding my dad dead in his recliner. I swear I heard his voice when the coroner came for his body."
"My granddad knocked over my great-grandma's ashes in his car accidentally, and to this day swears he heard her laugh, loud and clear as if she was standing next to him. She had a hugely wicked sense of humor and would have found this (and my very stressed granddad carefully collecting her ashes back into the container before my grandma saw) very funny."
From the Sea
"When I was serving my time as an engineer in the merchant navy we used to have to clean out what is called 'sea chests;' they're basically big filters for seawater that we would pump in to use as coolant and if the pumps were on when we were dockside we'd find all sorts of things like bottles, fish, crabs etc."
"One day we opened up the chest, pulled out the filter, and immediately saw this gold shiny thing which turned out to be a Rolex watch. Usually, we'd just dump out the filter but with the mitigating circumstances, we went through it thoroughly and found a piece of a shirt with cufflink still attached and last but not least a nicely rotted finger."
"The police ended up closing off the dock and dredging it but never found anything on the end." ~ MarkyBhoy101
TerrifiedWatching I See You GIF by TravisGiphy
"This guy followed me home. Said he saw me there often and named a few local spots I go to sometimes as places he sees me. It’s been about a year. Never saw him again. I was terrified for a little while for sure."
Stay vigilant out there kids.
People are watching and some of us don't notice.
Back Up CreepScared Homer Simpson GIF by reactionseditorGiphy
"I was in a restaurant years ago on lunch break. At the time I was a very thin 25-year-old woman. There was this big creepy guy sitting there who would NOT stop staring at me from the moment I walked in the door."
"I mean just open face staring without blinking for the entire 15 minutes I was eating several seats away. I asked for a box and left early to get away from him. As I walked out he said, 'You shouldn't be out alone. Someone's going to grab you and steal you away." 100% convinced creepazoid had someone locked up in his basement."
'Youth in need'
"Was working in a restaurant. Nice place. That night we held a charity dinner for a 'youth in need' type of house. The guy representing the house, a worker there, was such a nice and kind man. Every teen there was only saying nice things about him. A good soul, that was giving everything he could for these teens."
"At one point they gave a big check to the charity. I must guess an amount they rarely received. Well under the excitement, that poor man had a cardiac arrest. Dropped there on the stage, cheque in hand. He couldn't be brought back. He died. Seeing this was already bad enough, but the kids everywhere in the restaurant screaming and crying for hours after... haunting."
Inside the House
"One random night in middle school I woke up and had the odd feeling that something or someone was present in the house and coming towards my room. I was scared so I closed my eyes to pretend to be asleep. I could faintly hear something come into my room and it felt like someone was standing over me, looking to make sure I was asleep. I laid on my back, eyes shut, until the feeling passed, and ended up falling asleep. I woke up in the morning to find out that our house was robbed."
There in lies the rub...
"Well dressed 50 something business dude on a quiet Chicago L train reading a Wall Street Journal. Pretty woman with long curly hair dozing in the seat in front of him, her hair dangling behind the seat. The guy is rubbing and playing with her hair while reading his paper so I figure she's his wife or girlfriend who just wanted some space to nap."
"He is now intently rubbing and fondling her hair and not reading anymore. Suddenly she snaps awake and pulls in her hair like a bug was in it or something. She gets off at the next stop, he continues reading. They didn't know each other at all."
Why do people feel the need to overshare?
People really need to discuss boundaries.
If someone were to ask us which book we either hated or could not finish, we all have an answer to that question.
There are some books that simply do not work for us, while others stick with us forever.
Redditor Fair_Swing_6461 asked:
"What is the most challenging book you've ever read and why?"
"I have been an avid reader for many years. Thick and difficult books usually don't daunt me. 'Ulysses' by James Joyce has me beat, though. I just can't take the rambling about nothing at all and gave up 200 pages in."
"'Finnegans Wake' by James Joyce: hold my pftjschute."
"'Finnegans Wake' is very similar to this for me. I tried to read both 'Ulysses' and 'Finnegans Wake' and never got too far with either, even though they fascinated me."
"'Finnegans Wake' is so much more difficult to understand than 'Ulysses,' in my opinion. 'Ulysses' is like a waking man’s stream of consciousness while 'Finnegans' is almost in a weird dream-like stream of consciousness that hits different readers in different ways. 'Ulysses' is Joyce playing with style/prose while 'FW' is him playing with language."
"'Infinite Jest' by David Foster Wallace."
"Every page has footnotes that are required to understand the story. All 1,000 of them."
House of Leaves
"I'm reminded of 'House of Leaves' by Mark Z. Danielewski, where the footnotes are the story."
"'The Silmarillion' by J. R. R. Tolkien."
"It's like the Old Testament of Middle Earth. I couldn't do it."
"'Being Mortal' by Atul Gawande."
"My Dad read it to prepare himself for his death from cancer. He gave it to me and said he hopes it brings me the comfort of his demise as it brought him."
"I can't get past chapter three. I cry each time I try to finish it. Ugly uncontrollable despair cry."
"It is a great book, it has helped me a lot. The author has some important insights into mortality. But six years on, I am still not there yet."
"'Les Miserables' by Victor Hugo, in French. I was a second-year French language student."
"I came here to say 'Les Miserables' in English. The plot, more plot, 50+ pages of the history of Paris's sewers, more plot, more plot, more extremely long history."
"I enjoy history but don't interject an extensive detailing of it in the middle of a story."
"'Blood Meridian' by Cormac McCarthy. Judge Holden is one of the most disgusting yet intriguing characters in fiction I have ever read."
Reading Comprehension Who?
"I've read a bunch of Thomas Pynchon and Dostoevsky cover to cover and forget everything that happened in them."
"I find it very hard to reconstruct the words on the page into a movie in my brain. I might as well be reading a bunch of numbers. Pretty much all fictional books are challenging for me."
"'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov. It's an infamous book that has been historically misinterpreted, romanticized, and weaponized as a love story, when it's really the account of the sexual abuse and manipulation of a 12-year-old girl, written from the perspective of the abuser trying to convince the reader of his innocence."
"Some scenes are gut-wrenching when you actually read between the lines and keep in mind who is telling the story. It's the ultimate 'unreliable narrator.'"
Intruder in the Dust
"Anything by William Faulkner. Specifically 'Intruder in the Dust,' because that is the one I actually read. It was a requirement for one of my college classes. It was awful."
"He doesn’t use punctuation. Sometimes a 'sentence' can go on for pages at a time."
"'The Sound and the Fury' did me in. I had to read it for my last year of high school at a time when you couldn’t look up summaries and whatnot."
"It was just an uninterrupted stream of consciousness with barely any punctuation or flow. The definition of word vomit. I felt the mental equivalent of motion sick when I read it, and thinking back on it I can vividly recall these feelings, even several years later."
"'Quantum Ontology: A Guide to the Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics' by Peter J. Lewis."
"The book focuses on the three dominant interpretations of Quantum mechanics from a viewpoint of metaphysical ontology (the philosophy of what exists and what is real)."
"I have read many popular books on Quantum physics both in English and in Dutch. I can say I understand 70% of what is written in those books. This book sparked my interest very much when I came across it."
"I did not understand any of it. I could not finish the second chapter as I had no idea what the h**l this guy was talking about. It grounded my smug a** for a while."
"'Moby Dick' by Herman Melville. Just chapter after chapter describing whales and the whaling process. This might have captured the imagination in the 1850s, but when you’ve been watching Attenborough documentaries since childhood, explaining how big a whale is becomes tedious."
"I think people approach it wrong. It’s not a book about an exciting adventure, although it does have that, it’s a book about being bored at sea and reminiscing on life. I hate when people say you should only read the plot chapters. The point of the book is finding meaning in the dull things around you, and the writing is beautiful."
"This is a strange choice because it's a classic, but I struggled with 'David Copperfield,' because of the writing style, by the author, Charles Dickens, who wrote these long, drawn-out sentences, and it got to the point, as I was reading, where I would just start to count, in my mind, how many punctuation marks there were, in each sentence."
While we could take this conversation as sad, seeing as how there are books out there that some people do not like, it's better to take it as a reminder that not every book is going to be for us, and we have every right to put that book down and pick one up that we'll love instead.