51 Patients That Made Doctors Wonder How They Survived This Long

Excuse me, doctor. I have a quick question. I haven’t eaten vegetables in 17 years, sleep 4 hours each night, don’t take any vitamins and drink about 8 ounces of water a day. Why in the world am I feeling fatigued all the time?

Medical school is extremely challenging for a reason, and doctors would never expect the average person to know all of the ins and outs of the human body. But everyone should at least know how to take care of themselves (or know when to go to the hospital), right? 

Doctors on Reddit have recently been sharing ridiculous things they’ve seen patients do, so we’ve gathered some of their most facepalm-worthy stories below. Enjoy reading through, and be sure to upvote the ones that have convinced you to stop putting off your next check-up!


Had a patient with recurrent infected leg ulcers. Reason: rather than clean and dress them as instructed, she was letting her dog "lick them clean".

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My mother tried treating a diabetic who was convinced she was allergic to water, so she’d only drink coca cola. I’ll never forget that one….

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My mom once had a patient who was an old lady who was rushed to the E.R. after ingesting bug spray. After they managed to get her to a stable condition and had her admitted to a ward a few days later Mom asked her why she did that.

Her response? "I accidentally swallowed a cockroach so I swallowed the bug spray to kill the cockroach.".

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Me, a dentist, to my patient: “Please, do not superglue your tooth back in your mouth again.”

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I once had a 50-something lady in the ER complaining of difficulty using her left hand. Turned out that it wasn’t new, rather something that had been an issue all her life.

She was right handed.

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Not a doctor but former army medic. We were doing a month long training mission in a desert, I forget which one, and I had a soldier come to me complaining of eye pain. He had left his one a day contacts in for about 3 weeks.

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My paramedic gf at the time told me of a person who would call out the ambulance frequently. She was a germaphobe and would swallow razor-blades frozen into icecubes to somehow destroy the germs inside her.

Thankfully the stomach acid often blunted the blades, but still….

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I had a lady with heart failure who was in the hospital almost monthly with heart failure exacerbations. We told her time and again to limit salt and water intake. And she’d go home and drink pickle juice.

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My patient who crawled under his truck and “leg pressed” his engine back into place two weeks after his total hip arthroplasty. Came into clinic complaining of pain….

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I’m friends with a nutritionist at a hospital. One of the stories that stuck with me was a mid 30s construction worker just collapsed one day. His coworkers called an ambulance and he rushed to the hospital right? Well they discover he’s nutrient deficient like in everything. So my friend is called in and she’s asking him about his diet…” well I don’t like eating breakfast, and I don’t like eating then going back to work so I don’t eat lunch and then I get home and the wife has to make dinner so I start drinking beer and by the time dinner is ready I don’t wanna eat. Just have some more beer and go to bed.” The dude was living off of nothing but beer. He couldn’t remember the last time he actually ate something.

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I used to be a medical scribe in a pediatric office. A mom came in complaining that her daughter was turning black, obviously we were concerned what kind of infection or abuse was this child experiencing? The kid was tanning, she was running around and playing in the sun and was tanning.

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One of my favorite stories from my brother who works as security for a hospital..a woman arrived with her “emotional support” mini horse to visit a family member. She didn’t understand why they wouldn’t allow her and the horse up to the room and my brother was called to escort her out. While technically not a patient the lack of common sense is hilariously baffling.

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My mom was an ER nurse for 30 years, so I have endless stories of idiots like this. One gem was a dude who came in because his legs weren't working. When asked if he had previous issues, he said no.

He was super loopy, so she grilled him a bit and it turned out he was zonked out of his mind on pain pills and had been for 24 hours a day for more than a week because he'd hurt his leg at work.

Turns out he'd broken his leg at work and started taking pain pills to compensate. He took so many the pain was totally gone, so he felt cured and spent a solid week walking around on his broken leg until the bone turned into crumbles and shredded the tendon. He didn't realize there was an issue until the bone started pushing out of his leg and the pain was too much for the handfuls of pills to counteract.

Dude wound up losing his leg due to infection and internal bleeding. During his week long journey on painkiller he also punctured both eardrums with qtips while cleaning his ears. Developed awful and infected hemorrhoids from pushing too hard and wiping too hard. Broke three teeth from clenching his teeth - he was also taking speed to counteract being sleepy from the pain killers. And he had slammed his hand in his car door and broke two fingers.

So they got him all fixed up but he developed an opiate addiction. My mom said he'd come in once a week begging for pills and try to steal stuff from the hospital. Then he wrecked his car on purpose, killing a college girl in the process, just to get pain killers.

He wound up in prison for 15 years because when the cops searched his car the trunk was full to the brim of stolen guns he'd been selling to random people on the street to buy pills.

Yes, this was in Florida.


NICU nurse. Had a family with premature triplets that ended up growing, getting very healthy, and all three went home! Definitely a success story.

A few weeks later all three are back in the hospital. We were shocked. Turns out mom brought triplet A into the hospital for dehydration and fever. They ran an electrolyte panel and the different electrolytes were so off that it could’ve been deadly. Baby was immediately admitted and started on IV fluids and medications.

We sent the kids home on a premature baby formula that provides some extra calories to help them grow (Mom did pump/breastfeed, just not enough for triplets, understandably.) Mom stopped using the formula immediately and bought some weird raw goat or sheep milk product from Europe (unsure on precise details) because it’s not even sold in the US. Yeah, uh, your premature triplets either need breast milk or baby formula. They literally cannot handle or process whatever it was she gave them. She was shocked. Had to bring in the other two for testing and they were just as messed up. All three spent several days in the hospital on IVs with many medications to stabilize them so their heart and kidneys wouldn’t fail.

This goes for all infants, btw. Please don’t feed them ANYTHING but baby formula or breast milk for the first 6 months. Please. ??‍♀️.


My best friend is in his residency right now and he had a patient that had a wound in his face that was festering so bad there were maggots living in it. He didn’t think it was important enough to be seen until they started falling into his cereal.

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EMT here. Got called out for a “hand laceration with severe bleeding” so naturally we urgently drive to the callers house.

We arrive to find this young, around 18yr old female holding her hand and wincing in pain. Confused at the lack of blood I ask her to point to her wound & she points to a cut no bigger than 1cm. She states that her family doesn’t own bandages & she didn’t want to get an infection by going to the pharmacy to buy them.

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Not a doctor, but A classmate of mine at uni for engineering gave himself scurvy by only eating chicken tenders daily.

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Maybe not surprised he lived that long, but definitely lacking in common sense.

I was seeing a ~40-50 year old patient in a Pain Clinic I was working in at the time. I did a full review of systems, and he ends up saying that outside of pain, his main complaint was that he can’t sleep … because he pees over 20 times a day, at least 10 of which are overnight. Alarm bells go off. I’m immediately wondering about things like undiagnosed diabetes, but I had checked his recent labs and they were all fine, no other symptoms, etc. While I’m wondering wtf is going on, I ask about his caffeine intake and he says he’s drinking maybe 30-35 cups of tea per day. Mystery solved! The worst thing was he had started doing it not because he was thirsty, but because he kept hearing people saying that being hydrated is important. ?‍♀️.

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This was back when I was a med student but I had a man come to the ED for acute abdominal pain of unknown etiology. It came on very suddenly only a few hours ago. No new meds, no significant pmh. While reviewing general history I asked about diet. He said he’s had good appetite lately and that earlier in the day he caught and ate a squirrel. Mystery solved.

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A guy came in with a badly inflamed wound (was initially a small scratch). Chief complaint was pain. I asked them if they took any pain relievers already, they mentioned they took Ibuprofen and Celecoxib, to no avail. Surprised as to how these had no effect whatsoever, I asked him how often he drank them.

Patient: "Drank?"

Turns out, he opened the capsules and applied the powder inside directly on the wound.

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I have so many stories as a semi-doctor (dentist), but a striking case just a few weeks ago was a 40-something fellow who wondered why all of his teeth suddenly started to hurt all of the time. 

We talk a bit. Coincidentally, he mentions, his acid reflux has been acting up a little but, meh, that wasn't a big concern for him. (PS:  "a little bit" to him meant walking around for hours at night to settle his stomach if he ate dinner too late.) 

Turns out this dude had started drinking 6 liters of seltzer water a day to try and lose weight. 


Um, yeah buddy, your GI tract is basically acid bubbles at this point! Your teeth are melting and your stomach is frothing over! Give your body a break and have some regular water from time to time! .

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I'm an optometrist in the U.S. and have a couple of memorable ones.

I had an argument with one patient who insisted that there were great healing benefits to using urine eye drops. When asked about how she got these urine eye drops, she admitted to taking them directly from the toilet and putting them straight into her eyes. My pleas for her to consider the risk of developing bacterial keratitis fell on deaf ears. Still dreading the day that one returns to clinic with an infection.

And if I had a nickel for every time a patient came to me ~6 months after taking a severe blow to the eye and losing vision, only to find that they had a total retinal detachment that they thought they could just "walk off" instead of seeking care, I would have two nickels, which isn't a lot, but it's weird that it happened twice in the three years I've been practicing.

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A diabetic patient had heard that honey could be used on wounds to great benefit (true). He assumed that pancake syrup would also be beneficial for the wound healing process (false). Patient proceeded to treat his poorly-healing foot ulcers by diligently applying wet dressings smeared with pancake syrup twice daily.


Not a doctor, but I worked in the ER doing bedside registration for several years.

Had a groom come in on his wedding night with a broken leg. He got drunk at his own reception, climbed up a wooden bridge and jumped off on a dare. He did not have suicidal ideation. He just didn’t think he would get hurt.


Pt waited to be seen at a level 1 trauma center ER for over 6 hours. Went to go see him around 3 am. Complaint was chronic upset stomach and heart burn. At 3 am in the ER, he had a freshly opened Mountain Dew and a big bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos.


Not a dr. A nurse.

My patient, who had just had 2 toes amputated due to uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetes, "my blood sugar is only high when Im in hospital"

Me: "do you check it at home?"

Patient: "No".

Me: "so how do you know?"

Pt: "it just doesn't feel high."



I'm a lawyer but I had a consultation with a potential client who was in a car accident and believed she lost her brain. Literally thought her brain was no longer in her head.

I also had a postal worker who wanted to sue the post office because he was exposed to "potentially toxic chemicals from a leaking package." When I asked him to describe it, he said it looked and smelled like honey. I asked what the package looked like. He said it was a can that said, "honey.".


Medical social worker here. I had a patient who discovered a full prescription that someone dropped in the Walmart parking lot. As he enjoyed taking d***s, he swallowed an entire bottle of blood pressure medication and wound up passing out in the middle of crossing the street and almost got crushed to death. I talked to him about how maybe that wasn't the brightest idea, he said he just wondered what they would do and I could tell that he'd do it again. He probably went right back to the Walmart hoping to score again.


Oh boy.

Guy thought marijuana cured everything, had itchy ears, maybe eczema? Stuffed weed in his ears. Went two weeks with this. Got irritated and infected. Had to pull it all out and sterilize it. I just…what?

Dude with diabetes thought freezing his soda into a popsicle made it an ‘icicle’ without the sugar. That day we discussed what ice is.

Dude with diabetes taped his foot back on after it rotted off. Got septic. Maggots were involved.

Guy electrocutes his penis regularly for his herpes. This was done with a 9V battery. He shocks himself for his other health problems too.

Guy doesn’t like water, doesn’t bathe. Also doesn’t leave his house because he doesn’t like people but likes church. Local church tried to help him but he smelled so bad they told him he couldn’t come back. He doesn’t like toilets so he just goes on himself. Shits outside. Somehow married and divorced x3???

“I’m dizzy all the time” lady drinks a 12 pack in a sitting on the regular and gets dizzy after. She is surprised to learn she may be drunk.

Guy calls an ambulance, pulls a gun on the ambulance. Still goes to hospital.

Guy pulls gun on the home health nurses to rob them when they come to do their home health nursing job with him. At his home.

Comes to hospital because his soup tastes ‘not good’. Stays for a week because he needs special diapers sent from a special manufacturer shipped to his house. Is upset that we don’t have HBO or better soup.

Lady screamed at me in the ER because she didn’t believe that the MRI I was showing her belonged to her. Her name was on it. You could see her body shape on the scout image. She then denied having the MRI at all, still wearing the MRI wristband the techs gave her.

During COVID there were many people that denied that they were sick right up until we had to intubate them. They were coughing, hacking, and struggling to breathe, even on BiPAP. Still said that _I_ was the one responsible for making them sick. They all invariably died of multiorgan failure after lingering on the vent for two-four weeks.

Guy comes in with gonorrhea. From an orgy. Right in the middle of 2020 lockdown. He was shocked that I was shocked. “But I wore a mask!” Me: “But no condom???”

There’s many more, unfortunately.


I took care of a guy who was a religious nut. To the point where I was questioning, is this schizophrenia-religious or just really really religious. Turned out to be the latter, surprisingly.

The 60 something year old guy had attempted to imitate Jesus’s 40 day fast.

I am not sure how far he had gotten, but by the time he got to the hospital he needed a feeding tube and could barely move his limbs from how weak he had gotten.

I was finally able to discharge him to a physical therapy rehab at the end of his hospitalization. As I left his room for the final time, I wished him luck at rehab.

He responded with “I don’t believe in luck, I only believe in the lords blessings.”

Me: … right.


A guy has parkinson's disease. He's very stable on his feet and doesn't fall when he takes his meds.

He doesn't take his meds.

He's back in hospital every 2nd week for falls ... Because he doesn't take his meds.

Why doesn't he take his meds? He doesn't believe he's got parkinson's disease.

He shakes like a leaf and is so rigid he can hardly move off the meds.

Still doesn't believe it.

Also got a cirrhotic patient who gets encephalopathic at the drop of a hat who doesn't like taking lactulose.

And a type 1 diabetic who came in with diabetic ketoacidosis

Got told to take his insulin

Self discharged as soon as he could walk, without a script for insulin

Back the next day, in dka again.

I think he was early 20s.


Not a doctor, medical assistant at an osteo/ortho joint practice. In Deep South. We got lots of stories.

My favorite is the Salt Ladies. One thought you were supposed to soak in *smelling* salts to relieve inflammation and pain, so she'd crack one open in a bucket and soak her ankle. The other didn't realize you had to *dissolve* Epsom salt in water to use them and just rubbed them on her skin like she was cleansing her chakras.


I'm and RN in cardiology and was in a patients room after the doctor popped in and briefly mentioned a low salt diet, as the patient was holding on to lots of fluid. After that, the doctor left and the patient was on a phone call with someone (i was just straightening up and making the bed, etc.) and the patient was outlining everything the doctor said, stating "I don't even add salt to any of my food, so this is no problem." I thought this was good for them! So as I finished up and was walking out, they stopped and asked if I could pick up their order of wingstop garlic wings they had doordashed to the lobby. It was stunning but also sad that the education around nutrition has failed the US and these people genuinely don't know these things so badly that it's hurting their health to the extent that it is.


Dialysis patient on fluid restriction comes in with severe volume overload. When asked how much water he drinks, he insists he’s only drinking 8 ounces a day. The nurse pressed him a little more and he admitted to drinking a gallon of milk a day (exceeding his 64 ounces of fluids a day). He didn’t realize milk counted as fluid.


Not a doctor, but heres the stupidest thing a doctor told me once.

I'm a microbiology lab technician in the hospital lab. And a DOCTOR - full fledged, board certified - asked me why I couldn't just put the petri plates in the microwave so it grows faster to know what bacteria and antibiotics to use.



Not a doctor, but worked at a urological clinic for 3ish months.

One story I heard was a guy (late 30s early 40s) that came in on referral because his s*****m had an inflamed rash, mostly on the back of the s*****m and on his perineum.

He’s tried creams and oral medications and even trying different soaps and detergents, and nothing helps.

Doctor exams him and is unsure but notices a bit of a smell but being around butts and balls all day doesn’t think anything of it (nose blind), and asks the guy to go ahead and get off the table and get dressed and noticed that this guy had left a skid mark on the butcher paper that’s laid over the bench.

Turns out, this guy wasn’t washing his a*s nor really wiping, and it was causing the feces to basically be worked forward as he walked leading to what was essentially chronic diaper rash.


As a pediatrician, lots of things every day. But also I have so much empathy because when it comes to your kids, of course you're going to worry and logic goes out the window. Lots of ED visits for "fever" of 99F that improved with Tylenol, and the family waits 3 hours for me to see their healthy kid. It more makes me sad they spent their time that way! And that they were so stressed during that time! ):

More egregious examples are the naturopath parents - not even anti Vaxxers, but the ones who's kids have horrific chronic illness such as IBD or lupus and refuse to give them "western medicine". It's enraging, their children suffer, are in pain, and in many cases have had irreversible damage because their parents want them to drink baking soda instead of receiving life saving medications for their systemic illnesses.

Jehovah's witnesses irk me in a similar way - especially when their babies have serious congenital anomalies and they refuse the lifesaving surgery initially unless it's "bloodless", which is an entire other illogical conversation to have anyway.


Worked in a physical rehab hospital and would witness this conversation between the doctor and a newly admitted patient:

"Do you know what caused your stroke?"

"Well, the hospital told me it was because I have high blood pressure, but I don't anymore. The high blood pressure medication cured it and so I stopped taking it."

"Didn't your primary care tell you that you had to keep taking your medication?!"

"Yeah, but you know how doctors are. They get kickbacks from the d**g companies for keeping us on s**t we don't need."

"Got news for you. High blood pressure caused your stroke. You're lucky you didn't die. You are now back on your medication and if you go off it again, you will die. Here's the report of your blood pressure when you were admitted to the hospital."

"Damn that is high. It was never that high before!"

"It got that high because you stopped taking your medication. That's one of the side effects of stopping it cold turkey. DON'T DO IT AGAIN!"

Some would get the message. A couple would say they were never going off their meds again because "My spouse will kill me." A few would come back even more debilitated from another stroke because they did it again. Others, we'd hear they had another stroke and died.


Guy comes into ER with abdominal pain. While working him up, we are getting some history.

-just released from prison a few days ago.

-Living in moms house with mold growing openly on walls and ceiling.

-Walking through kitchen, spotted some amber liquid in a plastic cup on top of the fridge. Tossed it back. Swallowed it. It was pine sol.

-CT comes back, has intussuseption of small intestine.

-While waiting for surgery consult, i’m looking at his foot. Small amount of blood on sock. Hole noted in sock, huh. Remove sock, find GSW. “Oh, yeah, I was walking around twirling a gun and shot myself in the foot”. Nonchalant-like.


I had a patient come to me in emotional distress. He was afraid because he’d found a box of dirty, used syringes on the street and used them to shoot up. He didn’t know what he had contracted.

I gave him reassurance, told him we would figure out what to do no matter what the test results were. And remarkably, he came back negative for everything. It was such a relief.

On the same visit when I gave him his results, I recommended that he get a tetanus shot. He looked me in the eye and refused “because vaccines are dangerous and kill people.”

It was hard to remain professional at that moment.


Not a doctor, but I had a patient who decided welding with an oxygen cannula was a good idea. It was not. He had burns throughout his nasal cavity.


“I got a 12 pack of tacos for dinner. After 5 or 6 tacos, my stomach started to hurt. By 9 I was feeling nauseated. When I finished an 12, the pain was so bad I thought I should get it checked out.”

37y/o man in the ER at 2300.


Patient came in to have their denture repaired. I asked to see it, they said they didn’t have it? Where is it? They said “no one told me to bring it in”. Uhh do you also not bring your car to the mechanic?


Where do start....

Diabetic patient who said their doctor told them that their blood sugar needs to be around 250 (like hell the doctor said that).

Guy with IBS constipation with bouts of explosive diarrhea did not understand why eating fast food for every meal was bad... There's lettuce and tomato on burgers and potatoes are a vegetable. Would not change his diet and then got mad his IBS wasn't getting better.

Lotion bathing... Not actually showering or bathing but "bathing" by putting on lotion every day. Also didn't understand why we didn't recommend he stand in a stagnant lake in the middle of summer to soak his leg wounds. Same patient also refused to wash his hands. He also got blacklisted from all 4 hospital systems in the area for indecent exposure and verbally threatening staff. He could be seen in the ED but that's it.

Another patient said his doctor told him he couldn't shower or bathe.... Said doctor came in and told him to shower and/or take a bath.... Patient still wasn't sure.

Milk made lactose intolerance symptoms better for a bit.....

Patent was sure their child was having an allergic reaction to Benadryl when, in fact, the child was crying because they were woken up by said parent at 3 am who wanted to watch TV at a loud volume and got super cranky (as I would). I gave the Benadryl at midnight.

Last one had osteomyelitis (bone infection) in a toe and needed it amputated. Went for a second opinion (which is OK) and got told the same thing but then wanted to know what his naturopath thought. Decided to use a "healing mat" (not sure what they're called) and ended up needing emergency surgery and lost his entire leg below the knee.


Worked in a hospital’s Obstetrical Unit as a social worker. A woman came in, having had no prenatal care, and gave birth prematurely to a baby that was addicted to opiates, so the baby was kept in the NICU.

The mother would leave the unit for smoke breaks throughout the day, but failed to return to the unit on the 2nd or 3rd day. She just…didn’t come back.

Cleaning staff found her gear (spoon and lighter) when they were cleaning out her room.

Baby was apprehended by child protection services.

A couple months later, the mother reappeared on the unit, and asked for her baby.


Not a doctor but a as a nurse for 5 yrs now, I remember I had a patient come in complaining of a rash, and it turned out they'd been applying a topical steroid cream meant for their dog. When I asked why, they said they figured it was all the same. It was definitely a facepalm moment.


As a paramedic I received a call for difficulty breathing. Arrived on scene to find 52 year old female sitting in her living room. She told me she could only breath through one side of her nose when she woke up this morning. It is now 6:00am. She could breathe out of both sides just fine when she went to bed last night. She demanded to be transported to the ER to find out why this one side is not working right.


Had a patient come to the ER via an ambulance. Got checked in and she asked how long the wait was for her nonsensical issue, the nurse told her 30+min wait. This women called another ambulance to take her to the other hospital 20 min away that had a shorter wait time. I was blown away. Not only at the audacity but, also that the other ambulance agreed to take her. It became an office joke. Who’s driving to lunch? Take an ambulance?


Not a doctor, but knew a guy whose diet was so terrible he got scurvy. Didn't even think that was possible these days.


A farmer went into the dentist with some pain. His plaque build up made his teeth one monolithic block like Scooby Doo cartoon teeth - no gaps! As part of the procedure which included extraction, his teeth were cleaned. He returned the next day in a terrible rage, "fix my teeth, what did you do!?"

There was some confusion thinking the issue was that he wanted his teeth put back in - but no! He wanted his gaps filled back in. After some yelling and crying on his part, the dentist told him the plaque would build back up in a few years of not brushing.


I had a patient who had no disabilities, and no debilitating heart or lung disease. She lived in a 3 story house but only used the ground floor because she didn’t want to climb the stairs. She slept in the living room because she didn’t feel like ambulating to the bedroom. She said she hadn’t climbed a flight of stairs in “at least 15 years” because “she didn’t want to” and she used a scooter wherever she went out because “why would I walk when I don’t technically have to.”

She literally avoided anything that required physical exertion, and it was purely out of laziness. I’ve never met another patient like that.