It happened to me: medical oddities

Sometimes we get little medical quirks that don’t really mean much; but they can be perplexing at times.

At three different times in my life, my internal thermostat has gone wildly haywire for a few hours. It happens, on average, about once every ten years.

When it happens, I get tremendously cold, and I absolutely CANNOT get warm, no matter what I do. It’s a strange experience to put on a sweater, a winter coat, and crawl into bed with two doubled blankets over that, and still be shivering. The last time it happened, I was not at home, and no prospect of getting home any time soon. My car at the time did have a good heater, however. I was driving, so after a while I pulled over, and just sat with the heater on full blast. It got to the point where I was quite literally shivering hard and simultaneously sweating! I know that sounds like something out of Ripley’s, but that’s what happened.

After about 2-3 hours, roughly, the situation corrects itself, and I can go on like normal.

Does anybody else have any medical oddities they would like to share?

Twice I’ve experienced that thing called “scintillating scotoma”, which I’m told is a kind of migraine. A pulsating, splintering half-circle of light appears near your center of vision and slowly expands to the outside, then vanishes. Takes about 15-20 minutes, and then you feel a bit disoriented and tired. They weren’t painful.

I don’t know how “odd” it is though, because I’ve seen several people here post about having them, too.

Shivering is also a reaction to an infection. I have had a few urinary infections that I did not treat quickly enough and I ended up in shiver fits.

Next time it happens, get yourself to a doctor.

The one time this happened to me I had pneumonia.

I had a whiplash like injury when I was hit by tires falling of a warehouse shelf. And apparently I tore the anterior scalene muscle on my right side.

Unfortunately the nerve and subclavian artery going to the arm route just under the anterior scalene and above the medium scalene muscle. As my injury slowly healed the inflammation compressed the nerve and artery.

Now an anatomy bit… the carotid artery branches off the subclavian just before the subclavian runs between these scalene muscles. And just after that the vertebral artery branches off. One carotid and one vertebral on each side feed blood to the brain. But the two carotids and two vertebrals join up in the brain to make the Circle of Willis.

Now, turns out that if you compress the subclavian artery hard enough as it passes the scalene muscles it pinches off blood flow forcing all arterial flow up to the brain and into the Circle of Willis. And with a lack of arterial flow up the vertebral artery on that side the blood flow reverses and flows out of the Circle of Willis and down the vertebral artery and onward to the arm. This subclavian steal is what kept my arm from dying from lack of blood flow.

Occasionally the left side of my face goes numb. It lasts several days. I have asked many doctors about it. No one has ever answered with more than a ‘hmmmm’.

When I was having chemo, I never got the nausea I was promised, but I did have a reaction the oncologist said she had never seen: The first bite I took whenever I ate “bit me back”. I’d get a pain in my teeth that started gradually, peaked after 2-3 seconds then faded away. It only happened once per meal unless I waited more than 5-6 minutes between bites. I also occasionally felt hungry and not hungry at the same time.

I have oddities so bizarre I rarely tell anyone about them.

I can taste some words. And sometimes when I feel strongly about something, I get a tingle inside my nose.

All words, that could be terrible.

You know this is a thing right? I don’t know specifically about taste & words, but there are a wide variety of manifestations.

I don’t know if the reality of it is not fun in the form you have, but I always imagined it would be really cool to see colors when you hear music.

Oh, I get it now.

You have synesthesia! “60 Minutes” did a piece about it a few years ago, and got more than 4,000 responses from people who said they were the same way; most of them hadn’t told other people about it because they didn’t know other people experienced this or that it had a name. It’s probably caused by incomplete synapse pruning in early childhood.

Not a complete oddity, but I’ve only read about it:

A few years back I was reading a book or something along those lines (IOW, not doing much) and I noticed what appeared to by a little red bump on my skin. It itched like mad (I assumed it was a bug bite) and after about a half hour of scratching it, I finally got up and put some cortisone or benedryl on it. A few minutes later, another one on my neck and this continued until I finally told myself 'stop scratching".
Happened a few times a week, I didn’t think much of it.

Not having any idea that it was related, I started noticing that any time I got any kind of a scratch, it turned into a big welt. So, if I scratched an itch on my neck, someone would probably say ‘what happened to you? Get mauled by one of your dogs?’. Even just scratching my arm or leg or torso would leave a huge red mark.
The oddest thing though is that that giant red mark would itch, which would make me scratch it more and if I did that I’d break out in hives. Not a lot, mind you, but a handful of them around that area, but always a bunch more in other random spots on my body.

Fast forward a few months, I was getting some allergy shots and happened to see the doc in a hallway and said ‘watch this’ and ran my fingernail along my arm. As usual, giant welt and I mentioned to him that I’d break out in hives if I kept doing it. He took a quick look and said ‘dermatographia’.
And that’s exactly what it is. No ‘cure’ for it, in some people it stops happening after a few months/years, so far, not for me.
The only thing I can really do is take antihistimes to keep it somewhat under control and I’ve gotten really good at not scratching any exposed skin (ie neck, face etc) when I’m in public.
This is a good example of what happens if I get scratched. It’s not me, but a good picture. Just something like reaching in to a box and catching a staple or even scratching an itch results in this.

This, also not me, is what happens when I’m not concerned or not thinking about it and scratch one area for a while.

And, yes, I can write on my skin. My penmanship is awful and the antihistamines help, but I can do it.

This is also called a migraine aura. I get them and so did my mom. Hers looked like a tiny diamond which, in about 15 minutes, expanded to fill her entire range of vision. Mine starts out as a tiny circle. As it grows it becomes a 3-D sphere, with little facets of pale green and gold. Many people get these.

My wife experiences these as well. They encompass so much vision she has to refrain from driving for a while. They begin slowly and with enough notice there’s plenty of time to get off the road.

A couple of oddities for me; I often joke I was born with “some assembly required”.

The first. (mildly TMI).

While a youngster, some of my alimentary canal needed moved, rerouted, etc. in order to work. It resulted in a lifelong version of bad IBS, very short warning time, and an inability to tell which event (#1 or #2) is imminent. I can live around it, but aging has made it worse, and is limiting my travel options now. There’s a reason I travel exclusively by RV. Being stuck in a TSA line, or forced to stay in my airline seat at the “wrong time” could be a disaster.

The second.
In my twenties, I was knocked unconscious by a blow to the head (work accident). I woke up with almost no sense of smell. I can detect industrial smells pretty well (gas, cleaning solvents, etc.) but only strong food smells (spices, onions, BBQ). Subtle fragrances are under the radar, and in some cases I request a “smellcheck” from the wife before venturing out to ensure I’m not accidently offending folks.

A few years ago an incompetent f*#kwad of a dentist extracted my tooth and punched a hole through the roof of my mouth and into the ancillary sinus cavity.

Whatever I drank, and a few things I ate, got sucked into my sinus and came out my nose. I went back to home twice, he denied doing anything wrong and called me a crybaby. I went to the ER twice: once for intense sinus headache pain, next for the stinking river of dark green infection pouring out of my mouth and nose.

In short: hospitalization, sinus surgery, then oral surgery, weeks of feeling awful.

I had this too! I could give myself hives just by scratching a place. I did grow out if it though. It was actually a fun bar trick at times. But sometime I’d get uncontrollably itchy out of the blue and it was horrible.

Not all words, thankfully.

Lexical-gustatory synesthesia is the name of what I have, I think.

I had chicken pox four times.

On two occasions, I have had no pain from something which really should have hurt.

The first time was when I accidentally stabbed my arm on a railing; it punched a hole over 1cm deep and wide in my arm. It felt like a scratch from a blackberry thorn that I only felt for a few seconds (I was reaching over the railing to pick a blackberry, so that was what I thought happened). It didn’t hurt then, but I got stitches anyway, because it’s not the done thing to go round with a gaping hole in your arm. Didn’t hurt when the local anaesthetic wore off, or the following day. I literally couldn’t feel it.

Second time was when I had a microdiscectomy (removing part of a herniated disc which was causing severe sciatica). Woke up with a morphine drip attached, with a button to press when I needed it. No pain. The nurses wouldn’t take the drip out, because it was going to be absolute agony, and I’d need it later. They kept coming and asking for my pain rating and when I said ‘zero’ they checked the morphine level, saw I really wasn’t using it, and looked very confused. It was over 24 hours (of them pretty much going ‘Any moment now it’s going to be agony!’) before they finally agreed that I apparently didn’t need it, and took the drip out. A friend who had the same surgery rated the day after as the most painful day of his life. The worst I got was a sort of mild discomfort, like a bruise which has mostly gone but still aches a bit if you poke it.