Most of us don't like going to the doctor. There's so much poking and prodding, and sometimes the treatment can hurt as much as the symptoms that brought you there in the first place. So it can be tempting to try to "cure" your ailments yourself. But some people take it to an extreme.
When asked, "Medical professionals of Reddit, what is the craziest DIY treatment you've seen a patient attempt?" doctors, dentists and other health care workers chimed in with some pretty amazing (and incredibly cringe-worthy) stories. Here's a sampling of some of their less horrible tales. You really have to read the whole thread for the best stories, but brace yourself. It can get gross.
Gas pains and brain surgery
Two of the most gasp-inducing items involved common gas and a serious head wound. Both stories earned dozens of comments.
Sometimes, apparently, it's not enough to just take Tums.
"Adult patient had gas and poked a hole in his belly button with basically a knitting needle to release it," writes okaycitizen. "Edit: it didn't work, he actually came in for the ensuing infection in his belly button."
Redditors were very grossed out by this story, with many pointing out that there are loads of over-the-counter products that are made specifically for this purpose and that don't involve sharp objects.
Focused a little higher up on the body, Do_my_cat_daddy tells a story that happened while doing a rotation in the emergency department as a med student.
"Patient comes in and is pretty vague about his actual complaint, something about head pain but he looks just fine sitting waiting to be seen," the Redditor writes.
"When I finally get to see him and ask him what actually happened, he removes the hat he was wearing and a chunk of skin about the size of my hand literally flaps off of his skull. This guy managed to basically scalp himself, and apparently it had been like that for 3 days. According to him it was caused by falling in his bathroom and hitting his head on the toilet. He had been previously duct taping it down or using the hat to hold the skin on, but it wasn't sticking well and that's when his wife convinced him to come to the hospital."
Toothaches are the worst. But if you don't have pain and you're just dealing with a chipped tooth, maybe a little home cosmetic work wouldn't be so bad.
"I work in dental and years ago had a patient attempt to super glue her front tooth back on after it broke in half," says 12awr. "She screwed up and ended up gluing the chunk to her upper lip."
Jumpinalake had another tooth story. "I had a dental patient with a dead front tooth that had turned black so she painted it with white nail polish daily."
And one more, from dental student jbertsch.
"One guy came into the emergency clinic with teeth half rotted off from decay and told me he has been putting gummy bears in the holes to make it less sharp on his tongue."
People get serious points for creativity.
Throw away the ear swabs
There's a reason doctors say don't put anything in your ear smaller than your elbow. This one from frankiesausagefinger should come with a bit of a warning. It's gross.
"When I worked in ER my colleague had to see a guy with an ear problem. He had something stuck in his ear and had been trying to get it out. This wasn't a new thing, he'd been trying for some time," the Redditor writes.
"Turned out, he had completely removed his tympanic membrane, and the 'bits' that were stuck in his ear and that he was trying to pick out with cotton buds and hair clips were his ossicles."
Ossicles, FYI, are the tiny bones inside the ears. Yes, he was trying to remove bones that definitely should stay right where they are.
In the ER
Doctors in the emergency department think they've seen it all; well, until they haven't. So many of the stories on the Reddit thread are from people who ended up looking for emergency help after their DIY attempts didn't quite pan out.
"I work in the ER at a trauma center. This guy comes in with his little girl and says that she was bit in the face by the family German shepherd," writes C10sutton. "I immediately take her back assuming that I need to control bleeding. What I encounter is a little girl with a laceration going all the way from over her left eye crossing her nose and mouth. It is not bleeding whatsoever and it seems to have a odd looking substance inside. So I obviously ask the dad what she got inside it."
The man responded proudly, "Ah yes, I packed the wound with tobacco from my cigarettes and super glue.“
Makeshift solutions can be so ... interesting.
That's what coffeearts found when a patient came in to the ER with a makeshift bandage on his shin.
"He had fallen on rocks while hiking and left a three inch long, half inch deep gash in his leg. I go to pull the bandage off and as I’m peeling it away I notice the skin is completely black and there’s dark chunks of fungus falling out of the wound. It looked necrotic, like it had been left alone for a week," the Redditor explains.
"I look at this guy like he’s crazy as he tells me the wound is only a few hours old. He’s pretty proud as he explains that he created a makeshift poultice by chewing up leaves and moss, mixing it with river mud and stuffing it into his leg. That’s what all the black mossy stuff was. Hint. Don’t do this."
A very innovative, albeit unsuccessful, solution.
And aren't staples at home just like staples at the hospital?
Aeon-lakes tells of a man who accidentally sliced open his leg at his workplace. "He obviously figured that as surgeons use staples to close wounds, he'd cut out the trip to hospital and DIY. With an ordinary desk stapler. Arrived in ED with a pus filled wound with the odd discoloured staple hanging off it some days later."
People really get creative at home before they give in and realize maybe they need professional help.
Cassaffousth tells the story of a 50-year-old man who got a chicken bone stuck in his throat while he was eating. "Unable to take it out with his fingers or coughing, he got a fisher hook with a line and tried to rescue the bone with it," the Redditor writes. "He ended in an emergency department with both the bone and the hook in his esophagus."
Now we know what doctors talk about over drinks. (And we don't want to be there for the next round.)