The Body Bizarre

We couldn’t resist reprinting this post from the WebMD Expert Blog. You’ll wish more than ever that you’d chosen a career in medicine … or not. Enjoy!

The Body Bizarre: Weird & Unexpected Human Quirks:  Stories from behind the examining room door, as told by Rod Moser, PA, a primary care physician assistant with more than 35 years of clinical experience.

Unless you are a medical provider, you can’t imagine what goes on behind those exam room doors. In the waiting room, we tend to glance over at others, wondering what they have or what’s going on inside. Over the last four decades, I had a front row seat for the strange and unexpected — sweaty palms, unusual hair growth, man boobs — you name it. The human body never fails to surprise or amuse me.

A Nasal Diamond Mine

An innocent-looking man once brought in a jar of reddish, gem-like crystals — a long-time collection he claimed came out of his nose. There were hundreds of them, looking like pieces of broken glass. He had used his waiting time to line up a dozen or so on the exam table; in order of decreasing size, of course. Having five kids and devoting a large part of my career to pediatrics, I had seen and removed my share of nasal foreign bodies — beans, beads, toys, rocks, marbles and even a tiny Baby Jesus statue — but this was my first nasal diamond mine. He swore he wasn’t putting them in there; they were spontaneously forming overnight. I still have no idea what this man was pulling out of his nose on a daily basis. The HMO would not analyze these nasal crystals; the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist refused to take him seriously. As far as I know, this man is still collecting his gems.

Twice the Woman?

A woman came in for her annual pap smear and wanted a pregnancy test. Before I examined her, she told me that she thinks she has two vaginas. It was daytime, so I couldn’t see if it was a full moon or not. I don’t roll my eyes, but if I did, they would have been rolling by that unexpected statement. She probably didn’t see my jaw drop, but for the first time in my life, I confirmed her two vagina suspicion. There were two, alright, accompanied by two individual cervixes, and one large, pregnant uterus. The obstetrician didn’t believe me when I called him, and still didn’t believe me after he actually examined her. With the patient’s permission, I went to the next visit with her to set him straight. As I pointed out the second vagina to him, I saw his jaw drop just a little. Seven months later, this unusual patient delivered a baby boy from one of them. (The baby only had one penis.)

A Surprise for the Tooth Fairy

A man complained that he was spitting out rotten teeth, even though the number of teeth that he had remained surprisingly stable. He brought one in to show me. It was a hard, whitish clunk of calcium — most likely a tonsillith, also known as a tonsil stone. Some people have holes or crypts in their tonsils where food and other debris can be trapped. Over time, most of these stones fall out on their own as we eat, but some will calcify and become very hard. When they dislodge, many people, like this puzzled man, thought it was a tooth. Had he tried to put in under his pillow, the Tooth Fairy would have surely stiffed him.

As a seasoned clinician, you learn to show a poker face when faced by these weird or unexpected quirks. You knowingly nod, express genuine concern, share their puzzlement and vow to thoroughly investigate.

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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