Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Diagnosis: Fishbone

Thanks to all the people who have been asking where I was. I haven't been on holiday, just taking a short break from blogging to concentrate on writing short stories as blogging has been dominating my life of late. Monday was such an eventful day however, I just couldn't resist writing about it.

We both had the day off, so decided to spend a day at the seaside in Whistable, Kent. We started the day with a lovely walk along the beach followed by a visit to Wheelers Oyster Bar where we sampled 1/2 dozen Whistable oysters followed by 1/2 dozen Scottish oysters. By the time we left, the rain had started to come down heavily, so we retreated into the nearest pub and read the papers over a pint. Feeling hungry again, we found a pub which did fish and chips. Our food arrived and I discarded a couple of bones towards the end. I sighed with satisfaction and contemplated my final mouthful of fish when I felt a bone stuck in the back of my throat. I leapt off my stool almost knocking a man over who was standing at the games machine behind me. I spent the next 15 minutes heaving and retching in the toilets trying to get the damn thing out of my throat, but it wasn't budging. We decided to find the nearest Boots and ask their advice. Mike eventually went to the counter on his own as I refused to go with him - I felt mortally embarrassed about saying that I had a fishbone stuck in my throat. The idea seemed comical and tantamount to saying "I slipped on a banana skin". I told him I'd wait nearby and he said "what do you want me to tell them, that my girlfriend is standing by the Rimmel?". It was a fair point and I started to laugh and then almost immediately ran outside and demanded that he go in by himself. I was hysterical and started crying.

They pointed us in the direction of the health clinic which was ten minutes away. We must have looked ridiculous walking down the street, me red-eyed, gulping water, Mike slapping my back. We arrived at the clinic and they saw me straight away. The nurse looked in my throat, said she couldn't see it, told me to eat some bread and sent me away. I was relieved to know I was out of danger. I slept most of the way home, exhausted from coughing. When we arrived home, I looked in the mirror and noticed the offending bone sticking out to the right of my tonsil. Panic struck and we decided to go the hospital to have it removed. I only had to wait half an hour and didn't even open the book I had sitting on my lap. The entertainment came in the form of a certain 'celebrity' with a busted nose who was waiting to be seen and it wasn't the first time his nose had got him into trouble. I was seen by a doctor who attempted to remove the bone with long tweezers. Just as he was about to grab it, I gagged and the bone was lost. I waited for him while he went to get a second opinion - I was thinking about getting home in time to watch my favourite Australian comedy, Kath and Kim. It wasn't to be. They told me I had to go to the ear, nose and throat hospital and this is where the real horror began.

We walked through the doors of the hospital and went to reception. The first thing I noticed was a 1960s style digital date/ clock on the wall. The furniture was hideously dated. We went up in a creaky lift, through dark corridors to Ward B where we were greeted by a very strange doctor. He had a maniacal look about him and when he spoke, he sounded like he had inhaled helium. As he examined my notes, I looked out of the corner of my eye to see an elderly person's 'tube' being emptied into a plastic cup. I tried to ignore the groans and ruffles of knees rubbing against starched sheets but I couldn't and it was making me feel more and more uncomfortable.

The doctor who was accompanied by a nurse escorted me in the staff lift to the next floor and Mike was told sternly to take the stairs. As I rode up in the creaky lift, I had images of the doors opening onto a deserted corridor and being escorted to an abandoned operating theatre and subjected to hours of horrific medical experiments. I was told to sit in a dentist type chair whilst I watched the doctor strap a ridiculously large circle shaped mirror to his head. His eye peered at me through a hole in the middle - he looked like a demented Cyclops. I opened my mouth and stuck my tongue out whilst he prodded it with an L-shaped metal instrument. I flinched from the pain but the doctor ignored it and continued to prod. The fishbone was nowhere to be seen. Puzzled as to the whereabouts of the bone, the doctor told me he would like to inspect more closely with a camera which would involve sticking a tube up my nose which - in his words - 'isn't very nice'. I felt sick and broke out in a cold sweat. I protested and told them that I'd really rather not. The doctor said that it would be a shame not too, seeing as I'd gone all that way. I couldn't help feeling that he wanted to do it for the sake of it. I was thinking that it couldn't have been that important if the nurse in the clinic had sent me home earlier on. He warned me that if the bone got stuck in my throat, it could cause an abscess. I was starting to consider it more seriously now, so I asked him what the camera felt like, to which he replied in the most ridiculous feminine voice, 'I don't know, I've never had it done'. That decided it for me if nothing else had. I'm sure a caveman would have had more people skills. I offered a compromise by saying that if I felt the slightest pain I would go back and have it done the next day. We left at 11.00 in the evening, the fishbone mystery unsolved and my nostrils still intact. Thankfully my throat has felt fine since.

This couldn't have happened at a worse time. I have exactly one month to go before visiting Lisbon, one of the seafood capitals of Europe. At the moment, the thought of sardines and baccalau makes me shiver and I don't think I ever want to see cod again. I did have food poisoning once from eating salmon and that didn't put me off for life, so hopefully I'll be over it soon. There is however, a valuable lesson to be learned out of all of this - if you get a fishbone stuck in your throat, don't bother going to hospital.