The only thing worse than biting into a bone shard when you’re halfway through a fish sandwich is swallowing that bone, and the only thing worse than that is when you convince yourself that it’s caught in your throat. Fortunately, for everyone who’s downing the last Filet-O-Fish of the Lenten season, even if it feels like a tiny bone splinter is 100-percent stuck in your esophagus, that’s probably— probably—not the case.
In an article published in the Emergency Medical Journal, two Welsh doctors wrote that almost 80 percent of patients who sought treatment after swallowing a fish bone didn’t have any foreign fish parts in their throats at all, and that the horrible feeling of BONESOPHAGUS often resolves itself “spontaneously.”
If you’re convinced that you have swallowed a bone (and you aren’t choking and can actually breathe and shit) you can try to dislodge it by downing a tablespoon of olive oil, by eating a bite of a peanut butter sandwich, or by taking a couple of big gulps of soda. What you definitely shouldn’t do is stick a large spoon down your throat, because there’s apparently a chance that you’ll swallow that, too.
According to UK’s The Daily Mail, a 25-year-old Chinese woman identified only as Lili thought that she could feel a fish bone somewhere in her throat, and decided to try to knock it loose with a 5-inch long metal spoon. Because Lili’s afternoon sucked, she accidentally swallowed the spoon, and spent the next four days convincing herself that it would “too much trouble” to go to the hospital, mostly because it happened at the beginning of the annual Qingming Festival.
When she finally went to the Shenzhen Nanshan Hospital, she was X-rayed and had an endoscopy, and eventually she underwent a ten-minute de-spooning procedure. “As the spoon was in a somewhat horizontal position, we carefully adjusted it before pulling it out vertically,” Dr. Sun Tingji said. Other than some swelling in her small intestine, Lili didn’t have any lingering complications, and she was discharged shortly afterward.
In October 2017, a twentysomething man known as “Mr. Zhang” swallowed an eight-inch-long spoon on a dare, and he was presumably fine with having a metal utensil stuck somewhere between his mouth and his asshole. He didn’t think about it again for a year, until he was punched in the chest and started to have some pain and difficulty breathing. (Your life is the weirdest flex, Mr. Zhang.)
He went to a local hospital, where he underwent a tricky two-hour surgery to remove the spoon. “I was very surprised. I have never encountered a similar patient,” Dr. Yu Xiwu, the head of the hospital’s Department of Otolaryngology said in a statement.
And before that, a 27-year-old Chinese woman went to her own local ER after she supposedly swallowed a six-inch-long spoon “while eating noodles.” Like Lili, she was also de-spooned using an endoscope, but her doctors would very much like her to quit her bullshit.
“First of all, you wouldn’t use a spoon to eat noodles,” Yin Jian, the deputy director of the hospital’s gastroenterology department said at the time. “This spoon was longer than a normal spoon and not easy to swallow either. We guess there might be another story behind what happened, but she wouldn’t say much.”
Comparatively speaking, a fish bone doesn’t seem so bad.