It all started with Gizmodo’s eBay Strangeness Score Generator, a program designed to measure the madness behind an auctioned item (post length, and overuse of CAPS, weighed heavily into the algorithms).
One item that got very high strangeness marks was an auction labeled thusly:
“PLEASE HELP!WHAT’S GROWING ON MY HEAD!! MYSTERY AUCTION”
I checked on a the item a few times — a man was selling four blurry pictures of a golfball-sized growth, partially obscured by hair, between the occiput and the left mastoid. His plan was to sell enough $1 copies of the photos to get a diagnosis and pay for whatever intervention would be necessary (he had scheduled a doctor’s visit for some point in August).
Despite thousands of visitors and several dozen buyers, the auction was closed down over the weekend.
It’s probably for the best. No reputable physician would make a diagnosis based on some out-of-focus jpegs and a history IN ALL CAPS. Still, we hope whatever the guy had is benign (and yes, we’re keeping our irresponsible speculations to ourselves).
We’re not sure if online auctions have been used for this purpose before, though some sleuthing turned up an instance of an eBay medical fundraiser, earlier this year. In that case, the patient’s family
successfully treated a brain tumor by selling bumper stickers.
So, the take home message from today: patients with masses in their head are not shy about going online.
Maybe in the future, surgeons can bid or “name their price” to operate on some of the rarer ailments. Until then, it’s mostly a strange, sad sideshow.