Ever been to the doctor's office, described an ailment, only to be laughed at? - "That's not real," the doctor says. "Now, tell me what's really wrong here."
Even worse, ever stumped a doctor with a supposed ailment? - "That's... How can... I've never heard of that?"
Doctors are only helpful if they either know what they are talking about or are remotely willing to understand and help their patients. Therefore, the people recounting these stories were, unfortunately, placed in the care of the most useless doctors on the face of the earth and took to Reddit to share the tales.
Content has been edited for clarity.
“I Tried To explain That I Did Want To Eat, It Was Just Impossible”
“For months, I had trouble eating and was losing weight which, as an already skinny guy, was a problem. During this time, any time I ate, it felt like the food was catching in my throat and I eventually had to throw it back up. This lead to me being sent through multiple doctors who all took blood samples, and then sent me to a psychiatrist to treat me for bulimia or other eating disorders.
So, for months, I slowly starved while I tried to explain to doctors that I did in fact want to eat, it was just impossible for me. Finally, they sent me to do a Barium swallow just to prove to me I’m perfectly capable of eating.
That is where they finally found out I had a very severe case of the rare disorder Achalasia. This is a disorder where the muscles in your lower esophagus spasm uncontrollably making it difficult to swallow. It’s also a very rare disorder that is exceptionally rare in people under 20 (I was 15).
Eventually, after a few more weeks on a liquid diet, I had a surgery to resolve the issue and I was able to eat again. However, it was a very annoying and painful process to get to that point.”
“I Could Seriously Not See”
“When I was in about the third grade, I was adamant that I needed glasses. It was hard to see but when I went to the doctor, they assumed I wanted glasses because all the smart girls in school had them (partially true, but I could seriously not see).
Fast forward a few years and I was 15 trying to get my learner’s permit for driver’s ed. They told me I couldn’t start driving until I saw a doctor about my eyes. I scheduled an appointment and they told me I had a fairly severe case of refractive amblyopia. That means that I’m blind in my left eye to all but colors and very vague shapes. The eye doctor told me if I had caught it before I was ten, I could have participated in therapy to reverse the damage to my eyes and the optic nerves.
But since I hadn’t, it’s irreversible. No surgery, no corrective lenses, that’s just my lot in life. I didn’t have any trouble in school like kids with undiagnosed vision problems do. My eyes track correctly and there’s no physical indicator I cannot see, so no one ever thought anything of my complaints, so eventually I just stopped complaining. I now have zero depth perception and it can’t be fixed.”
“I’d Played ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ A Lot That Year”
“I was 16 and had these really terrible, stabbing pains in my stomach, along with nausea and vomiting and a slight fever. Acute appendicitis, right? Well, here’s the issue: the pain went away. And then a few weeks later it would come back. And then it would go away again. And then it would come back. I remember once lying on the bathroom floor, curled into the fetal position and brokenly sobbing as I dry heaved, begging my mother to either take me to the hospital or kill me.
Well, here’s the issue: I’d played ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ a lot that year. I had just been diagnosed with depression and they were playing musical medications with me, so my system was completely out of whack and in every direction. On top of that, I had an undiagnosed vitamin deficiency AND a lot of anxiety AND insomnia. So basically, I couldn’t sleep and I was tired all the time. I felt like garbage from the constantly changing pills (and also, you know, the severe mental illness). There were times I honestly wanted to die.
The last thing I wanted to do in that state was wake up at 5:30 am and go be in a crowded building full of too many sounds and be talked at for eight hours and pretend like I didn’t want to crawl out of my own skin. But my parents ‘don’t believe in mental illness’ and so, thought that I was just being a typical lazy teenager who didn’t want to go to school. So, when I started getting these pains and throwing up, in their mind I was just upping the ante and trying to gain sympathy from them. My mom, a former nurse, diagnosed me with gas pains and told me to stop being dramatic.
I finally nagged and annoyed her into taking me to the doctor, but since she was stuck on the idea that it was gas pains, she took me to a gastro. She told the gastro that I had gas pains and was being dramatic. The gastro believed her, no matter how much I tried to tell her about my symptoms or the severity of them. She said I probably had IBS (which is true, but irrelevant in this situation) and to just cut foods that gave me gas out of my diet and that should fix me. Suffice to say, that didn’t work. She took me to a few other doctors, but all of them listened to her gas pains theory and ignored me.
Mom finally figured out that there was something actually wrong with me when I voluntarily skipped out on doing something that I was really looking forward to because of how badly I felt, and took me to my GP. The GP tore her approximately three new buttholes for being a former registered nurse and NOT taking someone with appendicitis symptoms straight to the emergency room and sent me off to the hospital to get whichever scan makes you drink the liquid. Halfway through the scan, I told the tech that I was gonna hurl. She told me that I couldn’t, there was nothing in my stomach, and to just hold it in. I told her that she could either bring me something to puke in or she could clean the floor, but I was gonna hurl. She brought me a container, hurl I did, and I hope she learned a lesson about listening to patients that day.
Anyway, fast forward 12 hours (which included me scaring the heck out of an ultrasound tech – as in, she literally screamed – because she didn’t know what this weird organ was in my body and it surprised her), and I was told that I had a massive ovarian cyst (‘grapefruit-sized’ and ‘softball-sized’ were both used) that was causing torsion of the ovary. The surgeon came in and made this big show about how she was going to do her best to save the ovary and how I will ‘still be a woman’ if it had to be removed and it shouldn’t effect my fertility too much, blah blah blah. I have known that I’m not going to ever naturally have children since I was about 7, so I told her that I wasn’t concerned about that and to please just get it out of me.
She proceeded to talk to my mother, over my head, and totally ignore me. Surgery was a success. I woke up and almost puked on a nurse. I had a minor cancer scare and, within a month, everything was back to normal. I’ve now started to get the same sorts of pain, to the point where I went to the ER because I thought it might be appendicitis again, but several ultrasounds have shown no signs of any cysts or any other suspicious activity. I’ve been to three doctors who agree that it’s either endometriosis or the exceedingly rare and potentially fake chronic appendicitis. Though, given how much pain I was in with my last period, I’m going to say endometriosis is a likely candidate.
If nothing else is gotten from this story, please take this: doctors, listen to your patients, especially the young ones. They know what’s going on in their bodies and they can tell you what’s happening the best. Don’t believe anyone else over them.”
“He Rolled His Eyes And Told Me, ‘It’s Called The Flu'”
“I have an inflammatory skin condition that leaves me with constant, painful boils and abscess. Every few years, I have one that gets infected and I have to go to the ER to get it lanced. It’s painfully and psychologically traumatic every time.
Maybe four years ago, I’d had a fever for a week, which is always a sign that the infection has gotten out of control and I needed IV antibiotics. I went to the ER and explained the situation to the triage nurse, and of course, my fever finally broke as soon as I spoke to her. But fine, she admitted me and I waited.
My name was called and I explained the situation to the doctor. He rolled his eyes and told me, ‘It’s called the flu. But fine, let’s take some blood. Oh, the nurse mentioned you had something with your skin, let me see.’
I uncomfortably pulled down my pants and showed the doctor my skin. He proceeded to tell me to stop shaving (I very clearly cannot and do not shave) because those were just ingrown hairs. I very politely told him that no, actually, I have this skin condition called hidradenitis suppurativa, those are boils, and I need a particularly bad one lanced. He proceeded to again, roll his eyes and tell me I was wrong, belittle me, etc. I walked out. I later got my IV antibiotics from my dermatologist who was horrified.
Thanks for almost killing me with sepsis, you ignorant, misogynistic doctor!”
“I’m Never Letting A Doctor Tell Me It’s ‘Just A Panic Attack’ Ever Again”
“When I was a kid, I noticed that every time I ran, it felt like I had a swarm of bees in my chest. I just dismissed it as me being a weak kid since I was so skinny and lanky with little muscle mass. At age 20, I started to randomly lose consciousness and my heart would beat really fast. I was diagnosed with POTS at 21 then Ehlers-Danlos syndrome at 25 but the episodes of fainting and tachycardia kept on getting worse. I went from cardiologist to cardiologist insisting that they were missing something and that something was up with my heart.
At first, they kept on blaming it on the POTS, but I was receiving treatment for it and the episodes of sudden tachycardia wouldn’t stop. I was calling the ambulance constantly and when they would do the EKG, it always came out normal. They started to tell me I was having severe panic attacks. The thing is that I would get them in bed when I was asleep and they would awaken me out of a deep sleep. It felt like a swarm of bees moving faster and faster in my chest. My lips would turn blue, I’d lose all the color in my face, and I would just be drenched in sweat. The heat in my chest felt like I was being burned from the inside out.
So, this went on for seven years and I just gave up on living. I didn’t even bother going to the doctor anymore because it was ‘just panic attacks.’ Then, I went back to the doctor who diagnosed me with Ehlers-Danlos and told him I hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in years because the ‘nocturnal panic attacks’ kept on waking me up and making me look like The Walking Dead. My family members endearingly started calling me ‘Ghost Baby’ because of my pale appearance.
He eventually sent me to another cardiologist and I wasn’t even that hopeful until my sister started going through my old medical records and found a Holter monitor test result from 2010 that showed I had something called ‘paroxysmal tachycardia.’ I didn’t think anything of it because I have POTS, so yeah I have tachycardia as expected, right? I was told this test was normal and I didn’t include it in the records I brought to all my future cardiologists.
So, we gave the new cardiologist the results from seven years ago and he asked me if I was getting awakened by my tachycardia and I said yes. He immediately ordered another tilt-table test which I failed in six minutes. Then, he did something that no previous cardiologist did in the past and ordered an electrophysiology study. I was like, ‘Yeah, whatever, get it over with so you can tell me the test is normal and that it’s just panic attacks.’
They prepped me for the catheterization lab and then the reality of what was about to happen set in and I freaked out, so they had to hold me down while sedating me. I forgot to mention that the test was being done on Friday the 13th and I’m superstitious as heck. They knocked me out and I was expecting to just waltz out of there in a couple of hours and go on with my day moping about how I had another normal test. Oh boy was I wrong.
I woke up three hours later being rolled out of the lab with my throat hurting super bad from being intubated and a bunch of people looking over me, smiling, and saying, ‘We found the problem!’ Apparently, my heart was all kinds of messed up and I actually had AV Nodal Reentrant Tachycardia which was making my heart beat to 240 bpm. I was born with it. The ‘swarm of bees’ in my chest was my heart beating so fast it didn’t have time to fill, which is why my lips kept turning blue and my face was pale. It also was causing me to completely lose consciousness.
I received a radiofrequency heart ablation and then proceeded to develop four blood clots in the spots where they put the catheters in and was kept in the hospital for six days, four of which were the ICU. It was both the luckiest and unluckiest day of my life. I’m never letting a doctor tell me it’s ‘just a panic attack’ ever again. I will lose my mind.”
“I Begged The Nurse To Let Him See Me Again”
“I was having serious back pain so I went to the ER at, like, midnight after being fed up for months. They told me my gallbladder needed to be removed but it wasn’t urgent, so I could have it done that week or in two weeks. I wanted it over with, but I had to defend my Master’s thesis two days later, so I said I’d just live with the pain and put it off. So I defended my thesis with my back still killing me.
That weekend, the pain got worse, but I said I’d wait. As I was teaching on Monday morning (I was a TA), the pain all of a sudden got close to excruciating. By some coincidence, I had a scheduled check-up that day so I called in pain and asked if I could come in early. They said sure and I rushed to the hospital. The doctor saw me and I told him my pain was a 10. I could barely drive and I felt like a 1,000 knives were stabbing me from the inside, but he refused to take me seriously.
He told me he wouldn’t admit me to the hospital since hospitals are full of germs. Instead, he’d move up my surgery date to the next day. He told me to go around and get stuff done for it, drive home, and come back in the morning. I stubbornly did the things they needed, bloodwork, etc. I was near dying the whole time, but no one would listen to me.
I finished the list of tasks and couldn’t take it anymore. I ran back up to the doctor’s office in tears from the pain. I begged the nurse to let him see me again. He saw me again but still didn’t believe me. My tears of utter pain (and I was a young healthy male) weren’t enough for him, but eventually, he decided they’d see if I could be admitted. But something went wrong, I don’t know where. I told the nurse I needed to be rushed to the ER, and the doctor then supported that decision instead.
This poor older lady wheeled me down to the ER because, at that point, I couldn’t really walk. She waited with me for half an hour as they found me space on a gurney in a hallway. She was my guardian angel that day and I later sent her flowers. The ER nurse pumped me with morphine. It didn’t do anything, so he pumped me with Dilaudid. That stopped most of the pain except the pain in the gallbladder itself.
After seven hours, I was admitted to the hospital. I lived off that painkiller like an addict all night. I had my surgery as scheduled the next day. I later found out my gallbladder had ruptured and was eating at my liver. I was at risk of going septic. My doctor admitted in a haughty way that he did not know it ruptured. It was truly an ordeal I would like to never repeat and I still thank that nurse for being the only person who actually listened to me.”
It Took 300 Pages Of Documentation For Her Doctor To Understand Her Problem
“I had always been the chubby girl since high school. About four years ago, I find out I have Lupus. I went to my rheumatologist who looked at me for a few minutes and said, ‘Your knees… where are your knees?’ I thought to myself, What, have you not seen fat people’s knees before? I left, but her comment haunted me.
Then, one night last year, I started googling fat people knees and the word ‘lipedema’ came up. I immediately started crying. These were my people. I finally felt like I found my truth. Lipedema is a fat disorder where your body doesn’t store fat correctly. Therefore, no diet or exercise will remove the fat because the body doesn’t recognize it correctly. It starts during puberty and increases during other hormonal times. Its other name is ‘painful fat syndrome,’ which explains why sometimes even a blanket on my lap hurt. It also explained explains why 1,200-calorie diets never worked and gastric bypass didn’t work.
But still, my doctors didn’t believe me. I had to sit one down with over 300 pages of documentation before he understood. Very few doctors have heard of it and even less treat it. I had to drive two hours to a lymphatic specialist. He looked at me and immediately diagnosed me with Lipedema. Since then, I have had two very large liposuctions to remove the diseased tissue. I will have to wear compression garments to prevent regrowth, but at least I know what is wrong with me now.”
When The First Test Didn’t Get Doctor’s Assumed Results, He Tried The Same Test Again
“Back in the second semester of my first year of university, I started to notice something was… off. I was having bad stomach aches. My hair and skin went super dry, I randomly gained 10-15 lbs (which at 5’2” was quite noticeable), and I was exhausted all the time. I could get 10-plus hours of sleep and wake up out-of-my-mind tired. Finally, when it got to the point that my friend in calculus had to wake me up from nodding off literally six times over the course of one 50 minute lecture, I decided I’d had enough. I got him to help drag me over to our campus clinic and got on the list to see a doctor.
A couple hours later, I was in an office, explaining everything to the nurse and then again to the doctor. He asked me a few basic questions about my lifestyle, when my last period was, etc, and said that they’d do a blood test and see me back in a couple days. They took my blood and he told me it came back normal, but he wanted to do it again. So back I went to the clinic to get poked.
Yet again, the results came back ‘normal.’ Lather, rinse and repeat for a third time. Now, through all of that, I was still experiencing all the same symptoms and was in no way, shape, or form the functioning human being I previously was. It had been a month and a half, and I was tired of being poked and told everything was fine. What does this guy want to do, of course? Run A FOURTH BLOOD TEST.
I lost it. I asked him, ‘Do you think it will show anything different?’
He replied, ‘If it’s what I think it is, it might.’
I said, ‘I’m done with might, I’d like to know what the next step is in regard to diagnostic options.’
His solution? An abdominal ultrasound. OK, at least it was moving somewhere away from what had gotten us nowhere, but I was curious. What was he looking for?
It turned out that rude doctor had decided that as a first year, newly legal, and single female living on her own, the only solution was that I had gone crazy with my promiscuous ways and MUST have gotten pregnant. Despite the fact that I was on birth control and had had three blood tests done with negative results, he was convinced that I was early enough that the hormone levels hadn’t built up enough to be detected in my blood.
Luckily, I live in Canada (yay universal healthcare!), but still. I ended up getting the ultrasound anyway, partly to prove him wrong and partly just in case anything else showed up that this idiot would’ve otherwise not tested for and, sure enough, guess who wasn’t pregnant? Everything else looked normal, too, so I gave up and didn’t go back.
A week or two later, I had a four day weekend and flew back to my home province. My mom took one look at me and drove me straight to my childhood family doctor’s office. By the time I was ready to fly back for school four days later, I had been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s that had become severe due to being allowed to go unchecked, had a treatment plan in place, and finally felt for the first time in months like I wasn’t crazy.
How did they diagnose this, you ask? A simple blood test. Turns out it’s amazing the amount of information you get back when you aren’t only checking the box for pregnancy tests to be run.”
“She Just Believes She Can’t Move”
“When I was 14, I woke up paralyzed. I was screaming my head off, freaking out. My parents took me to ER a few hours later when they realized I wasn’t faking it.
Doctors put me in a mental ward, saying, ‘There’s no physical reason she can’t move, so she just believes she can’t move.’
They finally did an MRI. I have epilepsy. It was a seizure type called Todd’s Paralysis, where you have a seizure in your sleep and your brain and body lose connection for a period of time.”
“They Don’t Believe How Bad It Is Until They See It For Themselves”
“When I was a child, my pediatrician knew and had proof of part of my medical conditions. Specifically, rotoscoliosis, which manifests as deformed ribs crushing my left lung (it doesn’t fully expand). She chose to not tell me or my family. Eventually, my mom started to really think something was wrong because I always complained about my back hurting.
She ended up making an appointment with a different pediatrician and he took x-rays. When we met with him after the x-ray’s, he told us that he couldn’t do anything because it was out of his experience. He explained it the best he could but sent us an immediate referral to someone else. We met with the new doctor, showed him the previous x-rays, and he literally laughed at us.
He said there was NO way they were right because I wouldn’t be alive or at the very least not walking. He was so sure we were wrong he ordered his own tests, an MRI. Once we did that, he personally called us, not his nurse or receptionist, to apologize. He was in disbelief that I had so much going on and was still walking around like a normal kid.
Unfortunately by the time, it was all found out my rotoscoliosis had gone past the point of help. That happened when I was 8-9 and I’m now 23 years old. To this day, it doesn’t matter what I tell the doctors. They don’t believe how bad it is until they see it for themselves. I went to the ER recently and they did chest x-rays. I tried to tell them beforehand my medical condition so they wouldn’t freak out. They dismissed me, then as I was standing there after they took the first one, I heard them saying, ‘Oh my God, did you see this? Look at her spine.’ The doctor in ER said, ‘Well, your x-rays look fine other than some, uh, bad scoliosis,’ and then awkwardly laughed because he realized he should have listened to me beforehand.”