Every so often, a new medical condition comes along that suddenly becomes the talk of the town. It’s non-deadly, harmless to others and, best of all, just so damn quirky. Celebrities love it. Your co-worker who loves pointing out how unique they are suddenly gets it. You know the drill.
But what happens when you really catch some oddball disease, or develop a weird condition? Turns out it’s not all fun and games. Wake up tomorrow with any of the following, and you may just find your life effectively over.
It sounds like the title of a new wave album. But fear of music is a very real and little understood condition, with the power to ruin your life. Sufferers don’t just hate music. Any combination of sounds can cause them to experience unbearable agony.
The most common reaction is a long-lasting tinnitus, brought on by just a brief exposure to noise. This is still at the survivable end of the scale. Those down at the other end can find themselves suffering stabbing pains that continue without interruption for days. One case covered in Vice detailed a former concert singer who couldn’t expose herself to more than fifteen minutes of sound a day. That’s any sound. Music, people talking, passing traffic, children laughing, bluebirds singing…no matter what it was, if it exceeded the fifteen minute mark, it left her a human wreck. Even opening the window for five minutes a day almost destroyed her.
The most unlucky suffer from audiogenic seizure disorder. For these patients, hearing any sound at a certain frequency can cause them to have fits and immediately lose consciousness. For one woman, it was the low rumble produced by passing trucks. For one man, it was anything above 20dB – an impossibly quiet sound.
9. Persistent Genital Arousal Syndrome
Imagine that you suddenly gained the ability to have repeated multiple orgasms. We don’t just mean three or four. We mean over 100 in a single day. You’d think you’d won the lottery, right?
Try telling that to Dale Decker. A 37-year-old dad with Persistent Genital Arousal Syndrome, Dale is basically trapped in a hideous form of Purgatory. Since slipping a disk in 2012, his penis has become so sensitive that he triggers an average of 100 orgasms every single day. And he has absolutely no control over where or when they happen. To give you some idea of just how horrible this is, Dale has memories of kneeling beside his dad’s casket in front of all his grieving relatives and suffering through nine orgasms. He can’t spend any time with his kids, and simply going outside is liable to get him beaten up by strangers horrified to see the actions caused by his condition.
Don’t be fooled by the serious sounding name. Trimethylaminuria is a condition that will get you absolutely no sympathy from anyone, for the simple reason that they’ll all be running away as fast as they can. See, Trimethylaminuria causes you to smell. Not just of B.O., but of fish. Very strong, very dead, very rotting fish.
It’s a condition that utterly ruins sufferers’ lives. No matter what they eat, no matter how regularly they bathe, no matter what pills they take, they stink of fish. Since very, very few of the general population work full-time as fishmongers, this can make going into work a nightmare. People with Trimethylaminuria report being bullied by colleagues and strangers alike, and most become incredibly socially withdrawn. The end result is often depression, extreme social anxiety, and even suicide. Oh, and did we mention there’s no cure? And that it can develop at seemingly any time in a person’s life? That’s right. Just because you don’t have it now doesn’t mean you won’t in the future.
7. Jargon Aphasia
Remember how, when you were a kid, you used to sometimes make up fake words? Remember how cute everyone thought it was? Well, turns out fake words stop being adorable the moment you progress beyond age five. Adult sufferers of Jargon Aphasia are forced to constantly speak in gibberish all the time.
The condition comes in different forms. Sometimes, sufferers simply substitute random babble for a common word they’ve forgotten. Other times, entire sentences dissolve into mush. If you’ve ever been stuck in a foreign country, trying desperately to get people to understand you, you’ll know not being understood is horrible. Well, now imagine that’s your life, all the time, with the added bonus that you’ll never learn the language. Oh, and you can’t simply write it down, because your brain messes with written language, too. Well, that’s Jargon Aphasia.
Since you won’t use the same word for the same thing twice, people can’t learn your made-up language to help you, either. In one study, a patient called an owl everything from a Baybeeay to a Veeches, and a hippo everything from a Beeap to a Six Twenty (which sounds like cop slang for an escaped hippopotamus).
6. Primary Sex Headaches
It’s the oldest cliché in the big book of unhappy marriages. You hop into bed for your bi-annual ‘date night,’ only for your partner to say they’ve got a headache and would rather go to sleep. Cue bitter accusations about how unattractive you now find each other. But there’s another possibility in this scenario. Your partner may be suffering from primary sex headaches.
For sufferers, these are a total pain in the derrière. In their scariest form, they come on suddenly and painfully the second you orgasm. In others, they start faintly the moment you start feeling aroused, then brew up into a gigantic storm the closer you get to climaxing. In one case in India, they only affected the sufferer when he was watching adult videos. Scientists don’t really know what causes them, but they estimate 1% of the population will suffer from them at some point in their lives. Now imagine if you were unfortunate enough to suffer from both this, and Persistent Genital Arousal Syndrome. Yikes.
5. Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome
Nothing that has both the words ‘syndrome’ and ‘vomiting’ in its name can possibly be good. Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) is no exception. Occurring mainly in children, but affecting people of all ages, it’s characterized by intense, protracted periods of vomiting that can last for days.
Like cluster headaches, CVS will suddenly appear out of nowhere to make your life hell before vanishing mysteriously again. Then, just as you’re getting better, it’ll reappear and cause havoc to your digestive tract. Cycles between periods of vomiting can last anywhere from several months to just a few days; meaning it’s perfectly possible for sufferers to spend as much of their lives barfing as they do feeling normal. And that’s before we get on to the mental effects. The shame of constantly puking in public places can make some people’s lives hell. It can feel embarrassing, and humiliating. Perhaps worst of all, doctors still don’t really know what causes it.
4. Cold Urticaria
Do you have one of those friends who hates the cold? Not as in, ‘they come from California and don’t understand it’s not always 86 degrees everywhere on Earth,’ but as in they can’t stand being in even the slightest draft. Well, it might be more complicated than them being a total wimp. They might have Cold Urticaria.
An allergic reaction to cold temperatures, Cold Urticaria can be as mild or as deadly as any allergy. For some sufferers, all it means is spending the winter indoors or risking a faint rash. For others, it’s like the apocalypse. A draft of cold air can lead to hives, intense itching, fainting, or even systemic shock. In extreme cases, the blood pressure can plummet, the throat can close up, and the body can simply shut down and die. HP Lovecraft reportedly suffered from something similar, although his symptoms stopped at fainting. For those affected, it can make living in cooler climes (or anywhere north of Spain/Texas) a seasonal nightmare.
3. HSN Type 1
In Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, one of the primary antagonists is a giant of a man unable to feel any pain. Combined with a muscle-hardening disease, his body essentially becomes an unstoppable killing machine. Incredibly, his condition isn’t made up. HSN Type 1 is very real, although it only affects a handful of people. But it won’t turn you into a supervillain. Instead, it’s more likely to make you accidentally die a slow and nasty death.
Sufferers can get to the point where they can’t feel a thing in their limbs, even though they can move them. So when their body desperately starts sending pain signals, they don’t even notice. The result is frequent fractures, broken bones, and other horrific injuries that go untreated for months. In extreme cases, this can lead to hideous infections or even necrosis (a nice way of saying the flesh attached to your living body dies), gangrene or amputation.
To function normally, people with HSN basically need someone watching them 24/7 to tell them if they’ve damaged something. Rather than being an evil villain, Larsson’s character would have been a deeply damaged man.
Most of us have a ‘type’ we respond to, whether it’s brunettes in cop uniforms or shirtless firemen. Well, imagine having your favorite fantasy constantly running through your head 24/7. Now also imagine that you’re forced to act it out at every available opportunity. Welcome to Paraphilia.
It’s a hugely-embarrassing condition, and one that often sees sufferers classified as sex offenders. This is especially true when the fantasy involves something society would consider deeply wrong. While sexually assaulting every brunette cop or hunky fireman you bump into would doubtless result in you being arrested and/or beaten up, it gets even worse if the target for your lust is kids or animals. Sufferers essentially can’t function in the real world unless their fetish is so specific they can predict where and when they might encounter it and avoid those places like the plague (like living far inland and avoiding sushi if they’re into fish). The alternative is to never leave the house and hope you can somehow get a job writing list-based articles from home (ahem).
1. Pathological Generosity
Everyone likes a generous soul. That’s why soulless rich people frequently splurge so much on champagne for everyone around them: it’s the only way they’ll attract something like friends. But what if the guy who’s doing all the spending can’t help himself? What if he’s going to keep on buying you stuff until he’s broke and then literally offer you the shirt off his back? Well, then he might just be suffering from Pathological Generosity.
This condition is so rare that it’s only been observed a handful of times. In one case, a Brazilian man who suffered a stroke was suddenly overcome with a compulsion to buy presents for strangers. He wound up spending so much money that his wife had to take control of his finances to stop him from driving them into bankruptcy. Left to his own devices, the man would have gone deeply into debt, just to keep giving gifts to people he’d never met before. It may not be the most socially alienating on this list, but it would almost certainly gift you the worst credit rating in the entire history of man.
Morris suffers from pathological list-writing syndrome, a condition that has nearly cost him his long-suffering girlfriend. You can read more of his words at Urban Ghosts.