This past year saw no shortage of bizarre medical stories that shook our preconceived notion of science and medicine. From men turning green to dieting fads that included parasites, the health care community had its hands filled with medical quandaries that were beyond out of the ordinary and required extensive research to solve. To help you navigate through the most bizarre medical stories of 2013, we at Medical Daily have compiled a short list of this year’s strangest stories that you will have to read to believe:
1. Man Has 134-Pound Scrotum Removed Surgically
In April 2013, Wesley Warren Jr. had his 134-pound scrotum removed via surgery after awaking one night with an incredible pain between his legs. Doctors eventually diagnosed Wesley with lymphedema, a condition that causes blockage or damage to the body’s lymphatic drainage system. Lymphedema can affect multiple areas of the body, in Wesley’s case his scrotum, and usually occurs in people who have had lymph nodes removed during cancer treatment. Even walking became a problem for Wesley who was unable to hold a job and, subsequently, afford the proper treatment.
Wesley’s luck changed after a trip to the Howard Stern Show, where he was asked to make an appearance and explain his unusual condition. The shock jock’s listeners were so concerned for Wesley’s future that the donations began pouring in, and pretty soon he was on his way to a life-changing procedure he desperately needed. However, the money collected through email@example.com wasn’t necessary. Surgeons at University of California, Irvine’s Center for Reconstructive Urology agreed to perform the operation free of charge. Following a 13-hour procedure in which director of the UC-Irvine center, Dr. Joel Gleman whom Wesley calls his “lifesaver,” removed over 160 lbs. of fluid and tissue, the man who admitted to feeling like a “freak” on occasion was on his way to a normal life.
2. Chinese Man’s Skin Turns Green After Eating Too Many Snails
China’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) confirmed a highly unconventional case involving a man whose skin turned a vibrant green after he ate too many river snails. He Yong, 24, suffered from pain in his abdomen for two months before doctors at Guizhou Aerospace Hospital revealed that liver flukes he ingested by eating snails from a nearby river were the source of his unusual condition.
Thanks to the CCDC, Yong fully recovered from his run in with the parasites after around four 0.5-inch long flukes were extracted from his body. It was a valuable lesson for Yong who now knows to cook his snails before eating them. "Usually I like to eat fried river snails, especially in the past few months, where I've been eating one plate every night," Yong told Guiyang Evening News. "I was scared of my own reflection, I looked like the Incredible Hulk."
3. Iowa Woman Ingests Parasite As Part Of The Tapeworm Diet
There were plenty of diet trends that kept weightwatchers busy in 2013 but none as repulsive as the tapeworm diet. A woman in Iowa decided she would cut out a healthy diet and consistent exercise on her way to an ideal weight by eating a tapeworm she had purchased over the internet. Doctors who treated the unidentified woman were perplexed to the point that they required assistance from the Iowa Department of Public Health.
“Ingesting tapeworms is extremely risky and can cause a wide range of undesirable side effects, including rare deaths,” wrote department Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, as reported by the Des Moines Register. “Those desiring to lose weight are advised to stick with proven weight loss methods — consuming fewer calories and increasing physical activity.”
4. Texas Man Can Get Drunk Without Alcohol
While Auto-Brewery Syndrome may seem like an easy way to get a buzz on without spending too much money, for a man in Texas getting “drunk out of the blue” started to become a real problem. Gastroenterologists Dr. Barbara Cordell and Dr. Justin McCarthy decided to take on the case after doctors wrote off the man as a closet alcoholic. The 61-year-old former home brewer was monitored for a period of 24 hours under hospital supervision. After only consuming a meal rich in carbohydrates, a blood test still revealed a 0.12 blood alcohol content.
Cordell and McCarthy finally pinpointed what was causing the man to become drunk without alcohol as gut fermentation syndrome or auto-brewery syndrome. This condition, rarely seen in medicine, occurs after the buildup of a certain type of yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Ethanol was produced when starch and sugar fermented within the man’s stomach. A low-carbohydrate diet and antifungal treatments alleviated the man’s symptoms, allowing him to, once again, drive without fear of prosecution.
5. Woman Claims She Grew A Penis And Facial Hair After Taking Steroids
Candice Armstrong, 28, was constantly dissatisfied with her own body image and decided on a more drastic solution when dieting and exercise failed to resolve her poor self-image. Following her regimen of anabolic steroids, Candice started to experience the physical changes she was looking for along with some she wasn’t expecting. The drug trenbolone had effectively deepened her voice, caused her to grow facial hair, and led to a swelling of her clitoris that resembled a penis.
Although Candice admits to being mistaken for a man on certain occasions and is subject to constant ridicule, she has put on a brave face to try and make the best out of her situation. “I've always wanted to do a bit of drag! If I get called a tranny and a faggot when I walk out on the street anyway, I think why not make something of it!” Armstrong explained to Jodie Marsh during the filming of her TLC documentary Jodie Marsh On… Steroids. “You could argue that when I wanted big arms and broad shoulders, a bigger back and small hips, that that was a masculine look but I didn't consciously decide I want to change from a woman into a man.”
6. Florida Man Wakes Up With Amnesia Speaking Only Swedish
Doctors at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, Fla., didn’t know what to make of a man who woke up with amnesia, only able to speak Swedish earlier this year. Even though his driver’s license and other documents listed his name as Michael Boatwright, a U.S. Navy veteran, the man insisted he could only speak Swedish and that his name was in fact Johan Ek. When doctors tracked Boatwright’s family down four months later, things didn’t exactly clear up after it was discovered the man was estranged from relatives who said he was known for disappearing.
A team of psychiatrists finally settled on transient global amnesia coupled with a “fugue state” that was most likely brought on by a traumatic life event. People diagnosed with transient global amnesia usually experience sudden memory loss caused by a stroke or epilepsy. Boatwright forgetting his family and even his own identity is a common symptom of a dissociative fugue. Someone in a “fugue state” will tend to wander off and make up new identities following a traumatic life event.
After spending two weeks at Roy’s Desert Resource Center, Boatwright was discharged from hospital care and flown to Sweden, where it was discovered the man had spent ample time in the past 20 years. He even rekindled an old flame with Swedish local Ewa Epsling, whom he dated during one stay back in the 1980s.