CBS news reported this week that a German man had a pencil removed from his head. The pencil had been stuck in the nostril of this 24 year old man for 15 years. He reported that he remembered falling badly as a child.
Every parent cringes with me at the mental image of a child with pencils stuck up his nose, pretending he is a walrus, or some other sort of animal, falls down.
The article goes on to share some other oddities of writing utensils being lodged in peoples’ bodies for years. My favorite was the 76 year old woman who had a felt tip pen removed from her stomach. It had apparently been there for at least 25 years.
When the doctors removed it, the pen still wrote. That the pen wrote is amazing. I can never seem to find a felt tip pen that works; they are always dried up and useless. I see now I have been looking in the wrong spots. I should be looking in the stomachs of grandmothers, rather than the pen cup on the desk.
As I read these stories, I sneered and tried to imagine how people could do such dumb things, I congratulated myself on never having a pen lodged in my nose for fifteen years.
Then I remembered a story from my youth. It was my birthday; I was turning 10. All of the neighborhood boys thought it was cool to pick long stems of grass and chew them.
I cannot imagine why we thought chewing grass was cool and eating vegetables was gross, but we did.
This glorious mid-August afternoon, I was riding my bicycle, chewing grass, and pretending I was a cowboy in the great wild west. As I rounded the corner, I fell off my bike.
I suffered a few scrapes, but nothing was broken.
As the day slipped into evening, I had this scratchy throat that I couldn’t shake. Nothing helped; drinking didn’t help, birthday cake didn’t help, ice-cream didn’t help.
After the last birthday guest had left, I told my mother that something was wrong. My throat felt scratchy, almost like there was a sliver in it.
She shook her head, “A sliver? How would you get a sliver in your throat?” She took a flash light and peered down my throat. She stepped back, eyes wide and called my father. “He has a sliver in his throat!”
Dad calmly said, “No, he can’t have a sliver in his throat.” But just to verify, he looked. He laughed, “He does have a sliver in his throat.”
I had to explain about chewing grass and riding my bike.
Mom and Dad shook their heads. Then it was off to the emergency room. There the nurses and doctors viewed my mothers diagnosis of a sliver in my throat with bemused looks that quickly turned to wide-eyed looks of surprise when they peered into my throat and saw that little sliver of grass lodged there.
After a parade of doctors and nurses stopped by to see the crazy boy with the sliver in his throat, a doctor reached in with a long pair of tweezers and removed it.
I no longer ride my bike and chew long pieces of grass at the same time, but I do like vegetables.