READ EXCERPT: 'Medical Mysteries,' by Ann Reynolds and Kenneth Wapner

medical mystery

Did you know that some people are born with their internal organs backward? Or that a particular form of paralysis can be set off by eating pizza? From the files of ABC's "Primetime" show "Medical Mysteries" comes "Medical Mysteries: From the Bizarre to the Deadly ... The Cases That Have Baffled Doctors," by Ann Reynolds and Kenneth Wapner, a collection that examines real-life medical oddities that will shock and amaze you.

The collection puts readers in the examination room as doctors uncover and try to cure the most bizarre of conditions. From the musician who can hear everything inside his body -- even his eyeballs moving back and forth in their sockets -- to the woman who gets seasick -- on land -- this book is sure to take readers to the front lines of the medical fringe, where absolutely anything is possible.

VIDEO: New book takes you inside ABCs most compelling, bizarre medical mysteries.
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Read an excerpt of the book below.

Introduction

You See, I Was Supposed to Be A Doctor

Both my parents were physicians, and when I was little, most of the grown-ups I met had "Dr." in front of their names. I absorbed what seemed to be the obvious life lesson: when you grew up, you could be a doctor...or a patient. I knew which one to choose.

But somehow, in spite of being pre-med in college (yes, I even took Organic Chemistry), I ended up in television news. When ABC News decided to do a series on unusual medical conditions, it felt like redemption -- another chance to dip my toe into medicine.

Remember the commercial that said, "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV"? That was the intriguing proposition that faced our producing team: without having to get medical degrees, we could try to understand some of the field's greatest puzzles. We could find people with unusual, extraordinary, bewildering medical conditions and tell their stories. And I was that most dangerous of creatures: a civilian with ten cents' worth of medical knowledge, mostly gleaned from my parents' dinner table conversations.

My mother was an anesthesiologist, so her hospital day was done before my father's (internal medicine, specializing in liver disease). Dad would come home from the hospital as we set the table, take off his white medical coat and stethoscope, and we'd sit down to dinner. After a bit of family conversation, the daily game of "What's That Diagnosis?" would begin.

"We had a woman, sixty-three, admitted today with diffuse abdominal pain and delusions," Dad would offer. "Something infectious, I think," my mom would reply, tossing the salad. "Any foreign travel? Did you test for parasites?"

They would bounce possible diagnoses back and forth, my mother always saying, "It's bound to be something more ordinary than that!" My father always held out for the rarer, more interesting condition.

My brother and I ate and occasionally contributed questions. (It's now very, very difficult to gross me out while I eat -- I've heard it all.)

The process of narrowing down -- taking the tiny clues from the patient's symptoms, genetics, the test results and scans, and finding out what was wrong and how to fix it -- was something of a family sport. With the ABC News Medical Mysteries series, I got the chance to revisit the dinner table of my childhood and peek, once again, into the way doctors think and diseases work.

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