Illness severity can range from the common cold to some of the most deadly cancers and diseases of all time. But, how do we know what is actually going on in our bodies? How do we know if the headache we have is just a headache, and not simply the first sign of impending doom. That’s just it, we don’t. We are lucky to live in a day and age where science and medicine are so advanced we can catch on pretty quickly, but sometimes we’re just unlucky.
Take a gander at these 12 people whose lives changed in an instant due to “intuition”.
1. Aunt Flo
Oh, I was a 30yo male having my first visit from Aunt Flo. That was about the time I realized that whatever it was, was not IBS and a lettuce allergy.
But being the asshole that I am, I went for a colonoscopy and didn’t really recall the details on the day, but the next day I was in the office, and received a call from the senior pathologist at the hospital.
Now I don’t know how it works in other countries but in the US, the medical system has TWO speeds.
Normally you go to the doctor and they’ll say oh yes, we have an appointment available, how’s 6 months from now at 4pm.
When the shit has hit the fan so that 1:30pm call with the Sr. Pathologist and Oncologist, it’s different when they say can you be here by 3:00pm? I did not appreciate that on the first go around.
So again, me being the asshole , just within shooting distance and up to my eyeballs in my Ph.D and my day-job. I get a call from the aforementioned oncologist and pathology folks, and I insisted that they give me the diagnosis over the phone, saying “oh no,I can’t possibly come in this week…I’m swamped”…
My oncologist was not amused, and kind of snapped, he’s like “Ok Mr. markth_wi, I’m sitting here looking at your scans and path report with Dr. Surgeon and the head of Pathology, and it’s quite likely you’ve got 6-10 weeks left.”
Me still being a massive ass and still not quite understanding how fucked I was, said “I’m sorry I’ve got 6 weeks till what?!”.
My oncologist (who was clearly just mildly infuriated) goes “I’m not sure how to say this but you might be terminal and we’re not sure we can actually do anything for you.” (at which point it sinks in), and after a long pause on my part, he goes…. “So I’ll see you at 3 at the surgeon’s office…”.
Some years after the fact I found what is one of my favorite video’s on youtube, and while it’s funny, it’s spot on – in terms of how I reacted, by an act of providence, the movie even got the number of weeks right.
2. That escalated quickly
About a month ago I woke up in the middle of the night with the worst headache. I ran to the bathroom to get sick, and that made it even worse. I couldn’t even lie still in bed, I just writhed around in pain. This was a Saturday morning.
The headache stayed all day Saturday, all day Sunday, all day Monday. Monday afternoon I finally went to the doctor. He gave me IV fluids, and a couple of steroid shots. I felt better, and went home.
I had just recently had an unrelated surgery, and I had spent a week vomiting just about everything I ate or drank from the anesthesia. I thought the headaches were from me being dehydrated from all this.
Tuesday morning the headache came right back. I went to the doctor, and he ordered a CT scan of my head. There was a “growth”. He didn’t know what it was, so he made me an appointment in a different hospital with a neurosurgeon.
The next day I had my appointment, they did an MRI, and planned surgery. The next day (Thursday) I had surgery to remove as much as they could of the tumor, and send it in for biopsy.
Biopsy results were not good. I have grade 4 Glioblastoma. It’s about the worst kind of brain cancer possible.
3. A lot to take on
First time I started itching my legs like crazy. At the end of the day my socks would be red with blood. My doctor said it was dry skin and to moisturize. Next it was a pain in my chest when doing dips, so I stopped doing those. Then it hurt bench pressing, but not that bad. Next was a loss of appetite and just generally feeling shitty. One particularly shitty day I went back to the doctor and told him I was feeling shitty. Once I said chest pain suddenly it wasn’t just dry skin. I noticed that it had been a year to the day since I first saw him. The next day my mom and sister found me at University and got me to a surgeon that afternoon. The next few months were doctors appointments, chemo, and radiation for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Second time a year later I felt a hard lump underneath my armpit. Got in to see the oncologist right away, biopsied, and came back as Hodgkin’s again.
Third time I felt a hard lump at the base of my neck. Hodgkin’s again.
Fourth time was several years later, and I saw a red dot on my shirt. Thought it was a spot of spaghetti sauce since that’s what I had for lunch. The next day I saw an identical spot. Went into the bathroom and was able to squeeze a drop of blood from my nipple. That got me a quick appointment with my hematologist, who got me a quick appointment with a breast surgeon. None of the diagnostic stuff worked, seeing as how I am a man, so they basically said it was a mastectomy or nothing. If it was something, the treatment would be a mastectomy anyways, so I had it taken out. That turned out to be DCIS, which is like pre-breast cancer.
Fifth time I was having a dental cleaning and mentioned a pain in my cheek. The dentist said it looked like a really bad canker. At my next hematologist appointment when she asked “is there anything else?” I mentioned it. She had a quick look and booked me an appointment for an ENT. He took a quick look and said “so it might be cancer” and I had a biopsy in the time it took for him and his team to get ready. That was squami cell carcinoma. I was stage 1, but because of my medical history I got the stage 4 treatment. Fortunately the lymph nodes they removed didn’t show anything, so hopefully that’s all behind me now.
Leukemia survivor here.
The terrifying thing is how ordinary the symptoms were. I didn’t feel sick. I was a little tired. I had a weird rash on my legs. My lips were chapped and bleeding, which I blamed on the dry winter air.
What got me to seek medical attention was when my roommate found a large bruise on the back of my arm where I was sure I hadn’t injured myself. She talked me into seeing a doctor. I was afraid I was going to get laughed out of the doctor’s office for seeking medical attention for a rash and a bruise.
My roommate probably saved my life. Leukemia is a very fast growing cancer and even a week’s delay would have lowered my survival odds.
The bruise, the rash, and the chapped bloody lips were all from internal bleeding. The cancer cells had crowded out the platelets (the cells responsible for clotting blood). My blood was so thin that I was bleeding internally, and would have been in serious danger if I’d gotten a substantial cut. My immune system was non-existent, for the same reason–the cancer cells had crowded out the healthy immune system cells. I am lucky to be alive.
5. Side effects
started bleeding a tiny bit every day… Doctor thought it was a side-effect from the birth-control shot I got, so we agreed I should wait and see if it would stop after 3 months. Then I started feeling pain when I had sex and after a while I also started bleeding during sex. Went for a check-up at the doctor, who couldn’t find anything wrong with my lady-parts, so she sent me to a gynecologist just to be on the safe side.
First thing gynecologist says is something along the lines of “I see you never got a cervical screening, that’s not very smart of you”
I am aware of that, which I tell her, and she repeats herself several times while I’m there. She starts examining me and tells me there’s a polyp in my uterus and something on my cervix, so she takes some samples of the tissue and tells me I will need to have the polyp removed at the hospital.
Four days later, she calls me and tells me the polyp in my uterus was a harmless one, but the changes on my cervix is cancer.
From then on it all happened so damn fast, and here I am almost four months later – the only lady-parts left is my ovaries and most of my vagina. I say most of it, because they actually removed a few centimeters during the surgery.
They also removed some lymph nodes close to the uterus during the surgery and tested them – one of them had a tiny bit of cancer cells, so I had to have chemo and radiation too.
From now on, I’m making sure all my female friends and relatives knows how important those screening tests are… The media tells us almost daily to be aware of breastcancer, but I honestly didn’t know how important it is to also be aware of whats going on with the lady-parts.
Felt a lump. Ignored it for a little since it didnt really hurt. When jogging it started to hurt. Went to doctor. They did an ultrasound.
7. Serious tone
My knee was always sore. It didn’t hurt, just a dull ache. I thought I might’ve injured it playing sports, so I decided to schedule an appointment with an orthopedist to get checked out. He takes an x-ray, sees what he calls a “calcium deposit” on the film and sends me home.
The next day I’m at work and he calls me there after getting my work number from my parents. He tells me that he scheduled an appointment for me at the local hospital for the next day. I had just started back to school so I told him I’d rather wait but he told me in a serious tone that I needed to go. I went to the hospital and found the Dr. I needed to see in Orthopedic Oncology. That’s when I knew it was much more serious than I thought.
Turned out I had a rare tumor called chondromyxoid fibroma. I had to have an allograft done to excise it but it was successful and thankfully I have not had any complications since.
My menstrual cramps started to feel like a sharp pain instead of a dull aching pain.
I am 3 years cervical cancer free. Those surgeries were terrible… get your vaccine! I felt like my fallopian tubes were trying to punch the doctor.
9. Made excuses
I had Non-hodgkins lymphoma. The first thing I think I noticed was that I started feeling more tired than usual, it got to the point where I’d fall asleep on my way home from work. I’d wake up in the night gasping for breath because it felt like there was something crushing my chest. Around 1 week later I found an odd lump in my neck, just above the collar bone. Then my appetite went really weird, the thought of eating anything that wasn’t pasta, pizza, or chips made me feel physically sick.
It wasn’t until about two weeks after the neck lump appeared I actually saw a doctor, who ordered a CT scan which showed a 12x8x5 mass in my mediastinum.
It seems a bit strange looking back now that I didn’t join the dots, especially as I had classic b symptoms of weight loss and night sweats. I guess I just kind of made excuses for each new symptom. Luckily it was caught in time and I am just past one year post chemo!
10. Just fine
My best friend started having pretty back and chest pains. Also was generally unwell for about a month but the symptoms were like that of the flu or something. Every time she went to the doctors she was told she was fine, it was just growing pains etc, as she was 11 at the time. It wasn’t until she fainted in school one time and her mum demanded blood tests at the doctors that she was diagnosed with leukaemia.
11. Cough Cough
November of last year I developed a cough that wouldn’t stop. I coughed up blood after Thanksgiving, so I decided it was time to see a doctor. Was diagnosed with pneumonia, given meds. Didn’t work. Eventually was sent to a pulmonologist who diagnosed with me with fungal pneumonia, given meds, and didn’t help. Sent to a pathologist who said I probably had cancer, and scheduled a biopsy.
By this point it’s March and I’m so weak I have to use a cane to walk. Walking the 50 ft to my bathroom makes me so winded I feel like I have ran a marathon. I throw up any food an hour after eating it and I can hardly breathe, because my ribs are broken from coughing and sleeping is nearly impossible because it feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest.
After coming home from the surgery pre-examination. The hospital calls sometime that night and tells me they have an emergency room set up for me and that I need to come in immediately because my body is in pretty bad shape. I decline saying i’ll be fine until the surgery in 2 days. The doctors say this is foolish and I will not survive over the weekend.
That night I couldn’t sleep because breathing was impossible laying down. Sooo.. I went to the hospital. My body was septic and I was really close to dieing. Spent 2 weeks in the hospital, where I was eventually diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkins Lymphoma.
Underwent chemo and finished that on Halloween of this year. I am 10 days away from knowing if it worked.
My friend started having increasingly bad back pain. Upper mid back. Hurt so bad he was having problems sleeping.
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