College Drop-Out Spends 11 Years in Bed Due to Mysterious Illness, Invents a Surgery to Cure Himself

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Doug Lindsay was forced to drop out of college at 21 years old due to a mysterious condition that doctors were unable to solve for the next 11 years — until he invented his own cure.

Doug spent the years of his illness mostly confined to a hospital bed at home in St. Louis, Missouri. His symptoms included weakness, dizziness, and a racing heartbeat. He couldn’t stand for more than a few minutes at a time.

Doctors were stumped; no treatments seemed to help. The condition was hereditary, however. Doug’s mom suffered from the same thing, as did his aunt.

While at school, Doug had picked up a 2200-page endocrinology textbook, hoping to use it to figure out his mother’s condition. From it, he determined that his illness stemmed from his adrenal glands.


During his many years of bedridden life, he continued to immerse himself in medical research and old medical textbooks. He also consulted with specialists from endocrinology, neurology, internal medicine, and other specialties.

This work eventually led Doug to experiment with a new drug for his condition, which allowed him to be active for short periods of time around the house. In 2006, he came up with a diagnosis: bilateral adrenal medullary hyperplasia. In other words, his adrenal glands were producing too much adrenaline.

This discovery led Doug to invent a surgery to cure the problem, without ever even having obtained a college degree. After finally convincing a surgeon to try his new operation (pioneering a surgery is not at all simple), in 2010 and 2012, he underwent surgeries to remove the medullas from his adrenal glands, curbing his adrenaline production.

Doug still has to take medication for his condition — but he has his life back. He now works as a medical consultant and serves as an inspiration to chronic illness sufferers around the world.


“I couldn’t be an assistant manager at Trader Joe’s. I don’t have the physical ability for that,” Doug said. “But I can travel and give speeches and go for walks. And I can try to change the world.”