Doctors Describe Their Craziest 'I Don't Think This Is Important, But' Patient Experiences

Some of us dread going to the doctor's office, but keeping up with your checkups is important. You wouldn't want to have a sudden health emergency would you? (Keeping up with appointments is kind of difficult to do in a nation where so many people are uninsured, but that's a topic for another article...)

Ask a doctor, ask any doctor, and they're bound to have a story about a patient who came in for a routine checkup, not thinking that their symptoms were in any way important.

We heard some of these stories after Redditor Cuteregister1827 asked the online community,

"Doctors of Reddit, what was your worst, 'I don't think this is important, but—' patient?"

"Intercepted a young woman..."

"Intercepted a young woman who was just hit by a car. Her boyfriend was standing with her freaking out. I do a basic physical exam and get a history, and make her comfortable as we wait for the ambulance to arrive."

"Once the ambulance arrives they ask for the same information, except this time the boyfriend mentions he was the one who was actually hit by the car and was shielding his girlfriend's body. The entire car's windshield was cracked by the impact of his back. He was just freaking out and worried about her, and was in shock and hadn't begun to feel any pain yet."


Wow, imagine seeing that first-hand. Ouch!

"We continued talking..."

"Had a patient come into the ER with some sort of spider/bug bite on her hand that had progressed to a red line running up her arm. She stated she put Benadryl cream on and it was very itchy."

"We continued talking and I asked if she had any allergies…”yes, Benadryl.” I thought good lord wtf and I’m sure it was reflected on my face."

"We washed the Benadryl cream off her arm and miraculously it stopped itching."


So this is the person that makes it necessary for medication commercials to say "do not take this medication if you are allergic to this medication."

"I didn't."

"I had a headache, and a few hours later noticed that my irises were different sizes. I went reluctantly to the emergency room. Minutes after presenting myself I had neurologists looking at me and I was rushed to get scanned. The artery about an inch and a half below my brain had torn. The doctors were basically just waiting for me to have a stroke."

"I didn’t. Somehow."



You are the definition of lucky, truly.

"Was told by their pediatrician..."

"Emergency radiologist here. I see plenty of people presenting with understated symptoms that turn out to be mind blowing advanced disease. The saddest one was probably the 4 year old boy who presented with a rigid abdomen for a few months."

"Was told by their pediatrician it was constipation months ago but his parents never followed up when it didn't resolve. When I imaged his abdomen I found his entire liver was replaced with a mass consistent with hepatoblastoma."

"I asked the parents why they waited so long to work it up. They said they were satisfied with the diagnosis of constipation. That one left a mark on my soul."


They weren't concerned that he was constipated for months?! This is so sad.

"Went in for a recurring pain..."

"I'm the patient. Went in for a recurring pain in my throat. Quadruple bypass a week later."


And here you are! Glad to see you're still with us.

"I went to examine him..."

"Doctor here."

"I had one a few months ago sent into the hospital by his primary care doctor with 'shoulder pain'. He said he felt absolutely fine, just a really uncomfortable right shoulder pain that hadn't gone away for a couple of weeks. He maybe felt a bit more tired than usual and oh, come to think of it, had lost quite a bit of weight recently and none of his clothes fit him any more."

"I went to examine him and had what we describe in the profession as a "heartsink" moment. He was jaundiced, and his abdomen was absolutely solid in the right upper zone from a huge, craggy liver."

"Get him in the CT scanner and he is just fulllll of cancer. Everywhere. Couldn't even work out which was the primary."

"The shoulder pain is what we call "referred pain" and is commonly caused by diaphragmatic irritation, in this case from all the liver masses pushing against it."

"Bless him. I think about him a lot."


Wow! This is simultaneously a relief but also oh so scary, for both the doctor and the especially the patient.

"Everyone at my company..."

"Everyone at my company knows the story of the patient who came in for genetic counseling, went through their whole family history with the counselor, and then concluded with, "Oh yeah, I was adopted as a baby and don't know who my birth parents are, does that matter?""


"14-year-old cancer survivor..."

"14-year-old cancer survivor comes in for his routine post-chemo screening echocardiogram. His heart was barely moving. I don't remember the EF, probably in the low teens. We sat him and mom told for some bad news, put EMLA on his arm for a PICC and walked him to the cardiac ICU."

"A few months later he has a heart transplant. Kids, man. They can look great on the outside when compensated. Then you look at the images and just get nauseous for them. Scariest thing about pediatrics and #1 reason why kids need kid doctors."


Always good to stress this. Heartbreaking otherwise.

"Man came in A&E for some laceration wounds after a fall, noticed he had a putrid nasty dead toe. On further questioning, he admitted that the toe had been like this for some time, but it didn't worry him because it didn't hurt. He was admited for an amputation and possibly sepsis."


Let's be clear: That is terrifying and some people have an insane pain tolerance.

"I was an internal medicine resident..."

"I was an internal medicine resident who had a patient come to my clinic for “persistent flu.""

"I had never seen her before, and she was a healthy appearing woman in her 60s. About a month before seeing me, she was seen by her PCP with persistent coughing, and otherwise had no shortness of breath or other infectious symptoms. Just a dry cough."

"She got tested for flu and was negative, but got tamiflu just incase it was a false negative. She had a chest X-ray which was normal. She came to me a month later because her cough persisted despite completing her therapy."

"Everything sounded great. Heart, lungs, everything. To be honest I don’t usually do this, but something in my gut told me to feel for lymph nodes. I felt around and found something above her left clavicle. It was hard, round, and she was completely unaware of it."

"I told her it was probably a reactive lymph node, but just in case, I wanted to get an ultrasound. This cascaded into her getting a biopsy, which showed squamous cell lung cancer. A CT scan showed stage IV lung cancer, not seen on her chest X-ray. All diagnosed because of a lymph node that almost by chance I was lucky enough to find by being thorough."

"I checked her chart about a year ago, and she was doing well. She got therapy and was in remission after a very long road and many obstacles. I’ll never forget her or her case."


That's seriously impressive. Sometimes it's just that extra bit of effort that pays off.

You never know when what feels like a routine doctor's visit can turn into a sudden health scare! Be honest with your doctor. You'll thank yourself later.

Have stories of your own to share? Feel free to tell us more in the comments below.

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