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    Medical Darwin Awards - 2009

    I have often heard that one out of four people are weird or bizarre. If you think of your three closest friends, and they seem “okay”, then it must be you. I am not so sure. For over three decades, I have been in a primary care medical practice, either in family practice, urgent care, or pediatrics. Primary care often means “first encounter”. It also means that the provider has a unique opportunity to see human behavior at it’s weirdest. You will never know what is behind door number two.

    Picking out the weirdest medical stories of the year was a challenging project, since many health stories are so bizarre, no one really is supposed to talk about them (health information privacy), but we do. These stories were extracted from various news agencies. The first three are dedicated to senior citizens; the last two are from my own practice.

    When you gotta go, ya gotta go

    Veteran marathoner Jerry Johncock, 81, was four-fifths through the Twin Cities Marathon in October when he was overtaken by a medical problem common to men of his age: urinary blockage. As he stopped to discuss his plight with officials, noting that he would have to quit the race to get to a hospital before his bladder burst, a spectator overheard the conversation and offered him the use of a “spare” catheter he had in his car. Johncock repaired to a rest room, administered the catheter, and returned to finish the race. [St. Paul Pioneer Press, 10-7-09]

    Jerry is one tough cookie: Running a marathon at 81, and tough enough to catherize himself through that swollen prostate. Over the years, I have seen patients peeing in the sink or the waste can. I have had patients pull little dogs out of big purses and allow them to pee on a stack of paper exam gowns on the exam room floor. Working in pediatrics, you quickly learn the kids pee anywhere and anytime, including when you are examining them. I have always wondered about distance runners or long bike races. How do they pee? The secret was recently revealed to me by a colleague’s husband who is a professional bike racer. If the gotta go, they just whip it out to the side and let if fly. Usually a sympathetic team mate will steady the bike and block the view, hoping to have the favor returned at some point. So, now you know why aerial cameras suddenly pan out when watching a group of bikes riding suspiciously close together. It adds a whole new meaning to the term “whizzing by”.

    Oxygen Tank Bandit Strikes Again

    (Nov. 3) — An oxygen mask not only helps you breathe, it’s a pretty good disguise, at least for one bank robber.The FBI is looking for a 60- to 70-year-old man who has robbed at least four banks in Southern California, in and around Rancho Sante Fe. In each heist, surveillance cameras show him carrying what authorities believe is a small oxygen tank with plastic tubing that runs up to the suspect’s nose.

    It was bound to happen. Millions of elderly people are living off of Social Security in a time of inflation; dealing with the rising cost of food, medical care, and pharmaceuticals; their meager savings eaten up by financial institutions. It was only a matter of time before the elderly start robbing banks. It’s enough to take your breath away – To Air is Human.

    Somali man, 112, Marries 17-year-old

    (Oct. 29) – A Somali man who claims to be 112 years old has married for the sixth time, and he hopes to have children with his 17-year-old bride.

    Hundreds of people attended the wedding this week in the town of Guriceel in central Somalia, according to reports Thursday by the BBC as well as in The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian newspapers.

    “Today God helped me realize my dream,” groom Ahmed Muhamed Dore said, according to The Guardian.
    The bride, Safia Abdulleh, did not comment, but her family said she was “happy with her new husband” — even though he is nearly a century her senior.

    BBC reporter Mohammed Olad Hassan, who is based in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, said Dore told him he was born in 1897 and he has a traditional birth certificate, written on a goat skin by his father.

    Dore has 13 children by his five previous wives. His oldest son is 80. Three of his wives have died, but the remaining two consented to the new wedding, as did the bride’s parents and the groom’s children.

    Altogether, Dore has 114 children and grandchildren.

    But he said he hopes to have more children with his new wife, who is young enough to be his great-great-granddaughter.

    Have any of those pirated vessels off the coast of Somalia lost a large shipment of Viagra?

    What’s it like to lay an egg?

    I reported this in my All Ears Blog in January, and think about it often when I collect eggs from my chickens. He was about twelve years old; home-schooled and perhaps a bit bored, or at least experimental. He was seen in our clinic for constipation. It had been days since he had a BM; and by the time I saw him, it had been nearly a week. He was very uncomfortable, as you might imagine. During my examination to determine the extent of his stool impaction, I found a foreign body in his rectum. I couldn’t quite identify it by touch, or by direct visualization using an anoscope, but it was plastic and smooth. He denied doing anything (of course), but states something may have entered the back door when he fell in the shower (Happens all of the time. Not!)

    I couldn’t remove it in the office; the ER and the gastroenterologist couldn’t do under sedation, so it was off to the operating room, where both halves of a plastic Easter egg were removed along with several feet of his damaged colon. He did fine after his diversion colostomy.

    The moral messages of this story: Curious kids will do anything, and lie about it. People can’t and shouldn’t lay eggs. Home-schooled kids need to be carefully monitored and kept busy.

    Mystery Disease or Mental Disturbance – Morgellons

    Posted on August 25, 2009 by Bizarre Medical News

    I have seen a lot of bizarre human behavior in my career, but I have never seen this one. I have had some methamphetamine “tweakers” come in claiming they have bugs under their skin, and more than one patient, initially felt to be psychotic, with a live bug in their ear, but when it comes to Morgellons, I am still waiting to see it. Hold on! I think I see one. No, sorry….just belly button lint.

    A patient presents with sores and itching all over their bodies. This can be dozens of medical conditions, but when they hand you a bunch of various color fibers that they claim came out of your skin, you turn and open the door…just in case. There are numerous cases reported in the literature, but to date, no one has found a logical medical explanation for this very odd condition. Theories range from worms and parasites, to plant fibers and even, alien abductions.

    Unless I actually saw this happen, I would be at the top of the doubter’s list; but for the bizarre factor, this has got to top my list.


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