I’ve had friends and family with diseases like cancer, lupus, bipolar, and diabetes, but I’ve never known anyone with a disease I could laugh at. They say laughter is the best medicine; that’s good news for the sufferers of these diseases.
1) Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD)
To answer your question, yes, your pee does smell like maple syrup. Other symptoms include lethargy, coma, avoiding food, and mental retardation. If left untreated, this disease can kill you and would make for an embarrassing obituary.
This disease is a metabolism disorder that makes the body incapable of breaking down particular proteins. Studies conducted since 1979 (Georgia) show that MSUD affects approximately 1 in every 120,000 live births and occurs in all ethnic groups worldwide. It’s genetic, so if your pee that smells like it could be poured over waffles, get to the hospital—stat!
2) Exploding Head Syndrome
I’m sure many of you get the same mental image I do when reading the name of this disease. It’s actually not that funny of a disease, but I couldn’t resist that name. Well, it’s kinda funny … the sufferer of Exploding Head Syndrome experiences a sudden loud noise in his head, either right before falling asleep or in the middle of sleep. It’s like an explosion (or cymbal crash) in your brain, but there’s no pain involved and no one else hears it (that’s got to be a lonely feeling).
A report by a British physician in 1988 might be the first description of exploding head syndrome. The good news is that doctors emphasize its benign nature—yeah, it’s traumatizing and can feel like a stroke, but it won’t really hurt you. Don’t get too stressed out—anxiety might trigger it, as can extreme fatigue. Also, women get it more than men.
3) Jumping Frenchmen of Maine Disorder
This oddly named disease occurs due to a genetic mutation that prevents “exciting” signals in the nervous system from being regulated. It was first discovered in 1878 in a French-Canadian lumberjack population in the Moosehead Lake area of Maine.
A person with this disorder will startle easily and have an exaggerated response to the stimulus; for example, the person might “jump,” cry out, flail his limbs, twitch, or convulse. Another bonus to this disorder is that the patient has an automatic reflex to obey any order as soon as it’s delivered. If you told a sufferer to hit his brother, he would do so without hesitation. Additionally, he will verbally repeat the command over and over again while wailing on his brother … must hit brother, must hit brother, must hit brother …
One theory about the cause of this disorder is that it was a result of inbreeding. So, like, stop doing your sister. Jeez.
4) Fatal Familial Insomnia (Die Because I Can’t Sleep Disease)
The main symptom of this disease is the inability to sleep, though we’re not talking about a few sleepless nights. This is a complete inability to sleep that results in death. Other symptoms are loss of coordination, high blood pressure, excessive sweating, and coma. The disease does not show symptoms until patients are middle-aged. The best part is that your mind never deteriorates, so you’re perfectly aware of the fact that you’re dying until that coma kicks in. Good times!
FFI is one of a handful of prion-mediated diseases; prions are proteinaceous infectious particles lacking nucleic acid. Prions break all the rules regarding biological life forms and set up camp in the brain, causing holes to form, which speeds up dementia and death. Another prion-mediated disease is Mad Cow. But don’t worry, FFI has occurred in only twenty-eight families worldwide.
5) Koro Syndrome (Shrinking Penis Syndrome)
Koro is just your garden-variety genital retraction syndrome, i.e. the pathological fear that your genitals are shrinking into the body. Literally, it means that a guy fears his unit will be sucked into his body, resulting in death. There are no documented cases of actual penis shrinkage, though some sufferers hurt themselves frantically trying to stretch the penis. Treatment is informing patients that penile retraction is impossible.
GRS is similar to a panic attack, with sexual elaborations. In a culture with high sexual anxiety, a man could panic at the normal shrinkage due to cold or anxiety. Just don’t live anywhere but in the Western Hemisphere; it mostly occurs in Asia and Africa. Also, avoid witchcraft, sexual relations with prostitutes, masturbation, and food poisoning—I know it’s hard, but use some self control.
6) ABCD Disease (Easy As 1-2-3)
ABCD Syndrome is the acronym for albinism, black lock, cell migration disorder of the neurocytes of the gut, and sensorineural deafness. In other words, a person with this disease is a deaf albino with a lock of black hair who suffers from intestinal abnormalities—that’s quite the combination. Does it make anyone else think of Marilyn Manson?
ABCD Disease is extremely rare; there are only about 200,000 cases in the U.S. Just try not to be born to a parent who has a homozygous nonsense mutation in exon 3 (R201X) of the EDNRB gene … oh, and gargle with salt water.
They say that people have a higher likelihood of beating a serious disease if they laugh, so go ahead and get it out—you never know when you might be stricken with Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. (Yes, it’s real, look it up!)