Are you a big fan of medical shows? Do you make sure to DVR Grey’s Anatomy every Thursday? Of course you do. Humans seem to have a weird fascination with medical stuff. Some of the most popular television shows have taken place in hospitals and focus on the lives of medical staff. It might be that we are fascinated by the human body. Even though we spend our lives walking around in meat suits, there’s a lot we don’t know about our own bodies.
A lot of people tend to like puzzles and, trust us, there are a lot of medical mysteries in the world of medicine. Doctors are basically modern day Sherlock Holmeses. It’s not always possible for them to give a straight diagnosis. There isn’t always a concise test to diagnose a disease or condition. Sometimes, it takes a little bit of detective work. In some cases, as you’ll soon discover, it can take years to get answers. We’ve compiled a list of the strangest and most fascinating medical mysteries that really intrigued us.
We won’t lie, we’ve been feeling a little bit like hypochondriacs ever since hearing about these stories. Sometimes, the human body is seriously weird.
20. Brooke Greenberg – Unknown Syndrome
Brooke Greenberg weighs in at a mere 13 lbs and she also happens to be 8 years old. Both her mind and body have seemingly been locked in time. Her skeletal system resembles that of a newborn and she has yet to speak intelligibly. Doctors have called her condition ‘unknown syndrome’ because she’s the only person in the world with the condition. Imagine having a child with a condition that nobody else has. When doctors can’t explain the origin of a certain condition and seem to know nearly nothing about it, there’s no doubt that that’s alarming. Her parents refused to institutionalize her and kept her home to care for her. In 2013, Brooke died at the age of 20.
19. Karrie Aitken – Superior Semicircular Canal Dehiscence
Karrie Aitken’s symptoms began with bouts of dizziness. She also started to notice one of her ears feeling weird. Of course, a visit to the ER garnered a response of “oh it’s just a virus! Just get some rest!” The thing is, individuals tend to know their bodies pretty well. Karrie knew something was off. An ENT doctor noted that she had actually lost hearing in both ears. Tests came back negative for anything suspect. Months later, Karrie woke up to a startling discovery. She could hear her heartbeat loud and clear inside her left ear. It was a constant beating sound that plagued her nonstop. It was starting to drive her crazy. Finally a doctor put a name to what was happening to her: superior semicircular canal dehiscence. It’s basically a small hole in the ear canal that causes people to hear the internal sounds of their bodies. Um. No thanks.
18. Nick Metcalf – Achalasia
University students tend spend their time studying and sometimes eating mindlessly while highlighting textbooks like mad. But what happens when you lose your ability to swallow? You can’t drink coffee to help keep you awake and you can’t fuel your all nighters with grilled cheese sandwiches. Each time Nick Metcalf tried to eat, his food would find its way back up again and he’d feel as if he were choking. He lost weight, couldn’t keep food or liquids down and his life was turned upside down. A doctor diagnosed Nick with achalasia, a swallowing disorder. There’s no cure, but a surgery can fix the symptoms. After surgery, Nick is able to live a relatively normal life again but he needs to be careful not to eat too much at once.
17. Hazel Jones – Double Privates
You may have heard of Hazel Jones. She’s also known as the woman with two vaginas. Hazel has a condition called uterus didelphys. It means that she has two uterus and two separate cervical openings. She actually didn’t find out about her condition until she was 18 years old. Crazy! Her boyfriend noticed that things in the nether regions weren’t quite like anything he had seen before. We’re wondering how she never noticed. What woman hasn’t looked at her hooha before with a mirror? Apparently, Hazel! Fortunately, there’s nothing dangerous or life threatening about her condition. She’s definitely pretty unique, though.
16. Cotard’s Syndrome
Imagine waking up one day and actually believing with absolute certainty that you’re dead. But wait, it’s not the zombie apocalypse and you’re not really hungry for brains. So what the heck is going on? When Graham (identified only by his first name) woke up one morning thinking he was dead. The condition is called Cotard’s Syndrome. Before waking up feeling zombified, Graham had attempted to take his life via electrocution. The condition cropped back up eight months later. It’s thought that Cotard’s is somehow linked to severe depression. Graham essentially lost the ability to function. He didn’t eat and found most of life’s activities pointless since he figured he was already dead. Thankfully, he was able to deal with the syndrome with the help of therapy.
15. Shanyna Isom – Fingernail Skin
Shanyna Isom’s condition is probably one of the more horrifying medical mystery stories that we encountered. Our skin covers our entire body, it’s actually our largest organ. So hearing about people with skin diseases is always heartbreaking. Shanyna was on her way to a law degree when she had an allergic reaction to a medication she was taking. She was treated for various known skin conditions but nothing worked. Finally, doctors discovered that she was producing an abnormal amount of skin cells. Her skin wasn’t able to breathe thanks to the overgrowth of what apparently seemed to be human NAILS. Sadly, there is no cure, doctors can only hope to control the growths. Even worse, medical bills are piling up at a rapid rate. It’s a terribly sad case.
14. Ben McMahon – Learned A New Language In A Coma
Forget Rosetta Stone! Just find yourself in a coma after a near fatal car crash and voila! You’ll come out knowing a whole new language. That’s actually what happened to Ben McMahon. He was in a coma for a week after a car accident and woke up being able to fluently speak Mandarin. FYI he didn’t know the language before his coma. His English language skills took more time to recover. Doctors were baffled at the condition. The human brain is a mysterious thing. The doctors speculated that Ben’s wiring was somehow crossed when the accident occurred. We think it’s time to start investigation this further. Think of the communication possibilities!
13. Wim Hof – Doesn’t Feel Cold
Wouldn’t it be nice to always feel comfortable? Imagine never worrying about putting on layers when heading outside for a walk. Have you ever dreamed about never fighting over the thermostat with your partner again? Well, Wim Hof if living the dream. Doctors and scientists can’t really explain it but Hof is basically unable to feel the cold. The crazy thing is that while he can’t feel the cold, it also doesn’t seem to have too much of a physical effect on him either. Hof even climbed Mount Everest in freaking shorts. Hot himself attributes his prowess in the cold to a breathing technique that allows his to achieve a meditative state and slow his heart rate. We’ll stick to our warm sweaters and hot cocoa, thanks.
12. Rosemarie Dore – Foreign Accent Syndrome
It’s really really hard to convincingly fake a foreign accent. Even some of the best actors really suck at changing the way they speak for films. Rosemarie Dore didn’t need speech training to learn the accent she picked up. Dore suffered a stroke and soon after realized that she was speaking in a Newfie accent. She never visited Newfoundland and had no relatives there either. Super weird. Her condition has been dubbed ‘Foreign Accent Syndrome’. It’s quite rare and there are only a few cases that have been documented. It seems to be that brain damage causes the syndrome to develop but that’s the extent of our understanding. The brain remains a mystery wrapped in an enigma!
11. Rotated Heart
A man who crashed his motorcycle in Italy ended up with his heart rotated inside his body. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, his heart was rotated 90 degrees inside his chest cavity. And guess what? He managed to survive. The doctors were able to turn his heart back around to its intended position. Whew! It seems that the rotation of the heart did not cause permanent damage. Can you believe it? We almost can’t. We’re wondering how it must feel to have your heart thrown around inside your body. We can’t imagine it’s very pleasant.
10. Landon Jones – Never Hungry
We’re always hungry, so that’s why this medical mystery intrigued us so much. Landon Jones suddenly lost his appetite and desire for water one morning. Poof! Gone. He can still smell and taste food but he gives zero f*ks about it. He’s lost a ton of weight and his condition has deteriorated very quickly. He has to essentially be force fed and since he has zero appetite he needs reminders on when it’s time for food. It’s likely he will be outfitted with a feeding tube since his appetite does not seem to be returning anytime soon. This is one mystery of the medical world that has yet to be solved.
9. Susan Root – Musical Tinnitus
Guaranteed you have a song that’s been stuck in your head today. If you didn’t already, you might now that we mentioned it. Well, imagine having a song stuck in your head for more than a single day. Picture this, years of constant music playing in your ears. No. You haven’t forgotten to turn off the radio or pull out your headphones. Susan Root deals with constant ‘musical hallucinations’ which cause her to have songs stuck in her head for way more than just a day. It’s even worse when the rest of the world is silent. The songs just get louder. The condition is also known as ‘musical tinnitus’. Unfortunately for Susan, there’s no known cure and doctors have no idea what’s causing it to occur.
8. Missing Brain
Some people are born without body parts, and they can usually learn to manage quite well. They learn to live just like everyone else. No biggie. But what happens when you are born without a part of your brain, like the cerebellum? Scientists have studied the case of one particular woman who was born without this part of her brain. The crazy thing? She’s totally fine (for the most part). But did you know that the cerebellum controls a lot of what we do? It seems that in this person lacking a cerebellum, the rest of the brain compensated for the missing piece. These kinds of medical cases bring doctors and scientists closer to understanding the mysteries of the human brain.
7. Carol Maryman – Takayasu’s Arteritis
Nobody wants to get the flu. Many of us even get a flu shot every year to avoid the horrible yearly plague that brings with it chills, general malaise and snot. Carol Maryman started to get constant fevers everyday. When she went to bed, the fever would dissipate. Despite a little break in the nighttime, the fevers played a major role in interrupting her life. After numerous doctors visits, a mass was discovered on one of her ovaries. It turned out it was a non-invasive cancer that had not spread and was not the cause of her problems. She later found out that she had Takayasu’s Arteritis, a rare autoimmune disorder. Carol now takes medication to control her symptoms. Having a name for what’s happening to you is certainly half the battle.
6. Catherine Cutter – Eagle Syndrome
Part of Catherine Cutter’s job included lecturing to large groups of students. But one day, she noticed that her strong voice was no longer able to reach its previous volumes. Instead, she was left with a voice that was a bare whisper. She went through a bevy of tests, saw so many doctors and even got a few incorrect diagnoses. Finally, she was told that she might have Eagle Syndrome. With this particular syndrome, the styloid process (a bone that goes from the skull to the ear) causes pressure that affect surrounding structures, like nerves. Catherine underwent a painful surgery to correct the problem and has gotten her voice back! Kind of like the Little Mermaid, but without the mermaids and evil sea witch.
5. Sudoku Seizures
Wouldn’t it suck if something you liked to do gave you seizures every time you did it? That’s what happened to a German man who was super into Sudoku. He was really good at it too. Before his first seizure experience, he was stuck in an avalanche when skiing. He suffered from oxygen deprivation which no doubt had an effect on his brain. He suffered from seizures as well. They occurred in his left arm, whenever he would do Sudoku. Doctors explained that the seizures occurred because when doing Sudoku, he was using a damaged part of his brain. So, no more Sudoku. Bummer.
4. Brain Teeth
This is the stuff of nightmares. Doctors discovered that a young child in the United States had grown teeth in his brain. It seemed to be some sort of rare kind of tumor. The child survived and recovered but we bet he’ll be telling that story to scare his peers from now on and forever. So how did little baby teeth end up inside the kid’s brain? Doctors think that it’s possibly linked to his rapid head growth. The tumor found by the doctors is called a ‘craniopharyngioma’. It even sounds gross.
3. Black Wound
If ever your skin starts to turn black, head to the ER. We don’t recommend filling up the Emergency Room unless it’s vitally urgent. Essentially, don’t head there if you have a cold. There’s really nothing they can do for you. But, if your skin is turning a different color than usual, time to seek medical help. A teen in the Netherlands developed a wound on her arm that started out red. It later started to turn black. Uh oh. She saw a doctor and received a course of antibiotics but they did nothing to help. Her doctor eventually began to think that the black wound was a result of Cowpox, a virus that normally doesn’t need medical treatment. It seems that a kitten she had rescued had given her the virus.
2. Delusions Caused By Celiac Disease
Yes, there are some people who have a real problem with gluten. They suffer from Celiac disease and cannot digest gluten properly. There are also those who are just eating gluten-free because it’s become sort of a fad. But Celiac disease is real and it can have some pretty serious effects on people. Take the case of a woman who actually had delusions because of her gluten-heavy diet. She was even diagnosed with psychosis. The medication prescribed by doctors did nothing to help her symptoms. Doctors miraculously figured out that it was celiac disease that might be the culprit. When she started a gluten-free diet, she stopped having delusions. Whoa.
1. Michael Gale – Eternal Coughing
Having a cold really sucks. The worst part is usually the excessive coughing that ruins any kind of restful sleep you might get during the night. Imagine having a cough that just doesn’t go away. Michael Gale dealt with 15 months of chronic coughing before discovering what the heck was going on. He saw a bunch of doctors who wrongly diagnosed him. Finally, a doctor took a look at the medications Michael was taking. The doctor realized that his blood pressure meds could be causing the issue. The doctor simply switched the type of medication and Michael is cough-free. Sometimes it pays to be persistent!
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