Top 10 Medical Mysteries Of 2015: Unforgettable Favorites For Our Readers

Throughout the year, Medical Daily has titillated our readers with scientific tales that drew gasps of surprise from our reporters followed most times by cries of fear from our readers. We offer you our “Top 10 List” of the most astounding examples of circumstances science did not adequately explain. To see any of the original articles, simply click on the links below:

The Unusual Story of A Polio-Like Illness

In January, Medical Daily’s Lecia Bushak first brought attention to what she describes as “a strange new sickness recently named acute flaccid myelitis.” By December, Ed Cara, another Medical Daily reporter, updated this with his account of the “120 verified cases of acute flaccid myelitis in 34 states from August 2014 to June 2015, with sporadic reports continuing to trickle in.” As Cara explained, an analysis of 59 cases revealed the median age of patients was 9 years. Nearly all these patients experienced signs of a respiratory or gastrointestinal illness before their muscle weakness, however, 30 would progress to bowel problems caused by neurological damage, 21 would develop strange physical sensations (such as prickly skin), and 20 would eventually require a ventilator. Two older adults died from the mysterious illness. 

“Though they found some encouraging evidence for a possible origin — a bug that normally causes respiratory illness called enterovirus D68 — the researchers cautioned that we’re still largely in the dark when it comes to understanding the condition,” wrote Cara.

Read more here and here. 

The Unusual Story of ‘The Dress’

Who can forget this nugget of news lite? You must remember February’s Internet Meme commonly referred to as “the Dress.” A viral social media photo compelled millions, literally millions of people around the globe, to enter the debate.

“Some saw the party dress as black and blue, while others vehemently argued that it was in fact white and gold,” wrote Medical Daily’s Dana Dovey. In her article, Dovey not only explains the controversy but also the science behind it. The phenomenon known as color constancy means your brain interprets the outside world relative to your setting. Despite this handy explanation, many remain unconvinced to this day and still fight for their color interpretation of "the dress." (Obviously, it's white and gold.) Read her article here.

The Dress The Dress Public Domain

The Unusual Story of a Bizarre Addiction

Dovey recounts another sad tale, that of a 27-year-old mother of two who is addicted to… air freshener?

Evelyn's habit developed accidentally when freshener from an automatic dispenser accidentally sprayed the rim of her glass. Evelyn liked the flavor and from then on she has been drinking fresh linen flavored air freshener daily. As Dovey explains, this addiction escalated following the death of Evelyn's mother. At the time of Medical Daily's publication of this story, the addicted mother was consuming 20 bottles a week.

Despite being told her habit is killing her, Evelyn continues swallowing the toxic ingredients, which she enjoys either straight from the bottle or sprayed on ice. Read about this woman and her taste for aerosol freshener here.

The Unusual Story of a Teenager Waking During Brain Surgery

A teenage girl in Poland shocked her doctors mid-surgery by doing something rather extraordinary under the circumstances. According to Medical Daily’s Lizette Borreli, Iga Jasica, 19, woke up mid-procedure and started to talk with her doctors at Central Clinical Hospital in Katowice, Poland. 

“Neurosurgeons removed the top part of her skull and were in the process of taking out parts of the cancerous tumor when she suddenly woke up,” wrote Borreli. 

Though Jasica has long forgotten most of her conversation, her doctors say she spoke about cats, which she loves, and how she was missing Christmas because of the operation. Despite waking from anesthesia while her brain was exposed, neurosurgeon Dawid Larysz says Jasica didn’t feel a thing and was never in danger. The surgery team believes the operation caused neurons to trigger, which induced Jasica to regain consciousness and the ability to speak. However, others say another, more simple explanation exists — the anesthetic may have been improperly administered, noted Borreli.

Learn more by clicking here.
Iga Jasica Iga Jasica Twitter

The Unusual Story of Four Siblings Losing Their Ability to Walk

Medical Daily’s Ali Venosa brings us the story of four siblings all battling the same “mystery illness” slowly robbing them of their ability to walk. Though Tziporah, Rivka, Tzvi, and Racheli Herzfeld all started out as healthy children, each began to struggle with their motor abilities over time. Stumbling, then falling, the condition of each of the Herzfeld kids progressed in the direction of paralysis. One pediatric neurologist diagnosed the eldest child with Charcot-Marie Tooth Disease (CMT), a group of hereditary disorders characterized by muscle weakness, foot deformities, and loss of balance.

“Tests to confirm this diagnosis have all come back inconclusive, and have only contributed to the family’s debt,” wrote Venosa. Though geneticists have tried the most complex type of genome sequencing, no concrete explanation has been delivered... so far. Read more here.

The Unusual Story of a 7-inch Car Turning Signal ‘Implant’

Reporter Dana Dovey spins the happy tale of a used car salesman who unknowingly lived 51 years with a curious object implanted in his arm: a turning signal from his 1963 Thunderbird.

In 1963, a 24-year-old Art Lampitt became involved in a car accident that nearly cost him his life. In fact, he was reported dead by his local radio station. However, his doctors fixed him by removing glass shards from his arms and by setting a full body cast to help his body repair a severely broken hip and five broken ribs. During those painful eight weeks of healing, he even required a tracheotomy. Perhaps all the drama caused his doctors to overlook the turning signal embedded in his left forearm.

When his arm began to hurt, doctors knew something needed to be done and a 45-minute procedure unearthed what looked like… well, why not read for yourself how Dovey describes it, here.

car turning signal car turning signal Courtesy of USA Today

The Unusual Story of Identical Triplets

Three healthy baby boys were born to a 30-year-old mother at “one in a million” odds, Medical Daily’s Samantha Olson reports. Cade, Ian, and Milo Kinsey, born healthy at 32 weeks, came about naturally and not as a result of fertility treatments.

Their 29-year-old father, Jase Kinsey, explained his father was a multiple so he figured a another multiple birth might skip a generation and land in his paternal lap. However, as Olson explains, his father had nothing to do with this triplicate birth. Being born as identical triplets means their mother Jody’s egg, after being fertilized, spontaneously divided into three parts. Though this could have led to complications, miraculously, the Kinsey babies all turned out healthy. 

The family, including a big brother, look forward to the expected future pranks of the three wonder babies. Read Olson's account here.

rare-triples-born-healthy Cade, Ian, and Milo Kinsey Facebook

The Unusual Story of a Sleep Drug Causing a Painful Erection

What happened when a United States veteran simply wanted relief from his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? Medical Daily’s Justin Caba explains how Edward Stalling ended up with a painful erection lasting weeks after his doctors at Atlanta VA Medical Center prescribed Trazodone to treat insomnia caused by his PTSD.

Though it is an antidepressant often prescribed to treat insomnia, depression, and anxiety, Trazodone is also known to produce a highly uncommon side effect — occurring in just one out of every 10,000 to 20,000 users — of prolonged erection. As Caba explains this was no laughing matter but a painful condition requiring hospitalization that nevertheless drew much unwanted attention and comments from doctors and nurses.

Sadly, following his 10 days in the hospital, Stalling finally left the institution with a nonfunctioning sex organ and trouble urinating. He and his attorney Jonathan Johnson plan on suing the hospital for damages. Read about it here.

The Unusual Story of a Taxi Driver With a Knife in his Skull

Following a bar fight in Brazil, a drunk man who was stabbed three times in his chest, throat, and shoulder drove himself to a nearby hospital. However, as Liz Borreli explains, Juacelo Nunes de Oliveira, 39, was not your average walk-in patient. Though de Oliveira clearly felt the pain of some wounds, he did not know that he also had a 12-inch knife protruding from his skull.

Dr. Gilberto Albuquerque, general surgeon and hospital director, explained the shock and drinking may have helped de Oliveira block out awareness of the knife. Hearing about the knife, the motorcycle taxi driver claims he did not see the stabbing by the four men, yet he also did not faint or lose consciousness at any point following the attack.

“The risky hospital procedure to remove the knife took two-and-a-half hours to complete,” wrote Borreli, adding de Oliveira luckily found himself walking out of the hospital five days later. To understand how this might be possible, read here.

knife Knife X-Ray Courtesy of YouTube/CNN

The Unusual Story of a Child Who Lost His Pulse

A Pennsylvania mother lived every parent’s worst nightmare when her 22-month-old son went missing just outside their home. Reporter Justin Caba brings us the remarkable story of Rose Martin and her wandering son, Gardell. When a neighbor found Gardell face down in a creek, “her entire world was flipped upside down,” wrote Caba.

Unresponsive and lacking a pulse, Gardell was rushed to Geisinger Medical Center, where doctors performed nearly two hours of non-stop CPR on the boy. Miraculously, Gardell not only survived but he shows evidence of seemingly little neurological damage as a result. The doctors say this is due to professional ability while Martin says the low temperatures of the water worked in the boy’s favor by preserving his organs and his brain. Want to learn more? Click here.

A Tall Tale: The Competitor Who Completed A Rubik's Cube While Blindfolded

Best to end on a light note: In conclusion, Medical Daily offers you this amusing story, which is not quite a medical mystery even if it appears that way at first.

Rubik’s Cubes with their six sides and six colors are notoriously hard to complete, observes reporter and editor Anthony Rivas. Yet one contestant in a Cube competition was able to finish the puzzle in just over 40 seconds. While the speed itself probably amazes you, what’s even more remarkable is the young man accomplished his daring feat while blindfolded.

According to Rivas, the competitor did not use photographic memory (also called eidetic memory) to complete the puzzle. Instead, he relied on a technique known as 3OP, which is an alternate visual memorizing strategy based on numbers. To learn more about how the contestant solved the Cube, read here.

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