My almost 11 hours in ER

Short background: swallowed a fishbone, careless of me, and it got stuck. Painful to swallow, not budging, so after an hour I went to ER.

Checked in around 6:20 pm. 9:05 pm was taken back to room #3. 11:10 pm, taken to Xray. 11:25 pm returned to room #3. 11:45 pm finally saw the doctor, who informed me that they were sending me to have a CT scan with contrast, which meant an IV for the contrast solution. Midnight-12:30 am underwent torture of having an IV inserted in my poor tiny veins. Stuck 5 times total before they got it right, the first four times a lot of grinding around trying to get that big ol’ needle in someplace, until they mercifully decided a smaller needle would do.

At this point my track of time got a little looser. Around 1:00 am I went to have the CT scan, back maybe 20 minutes later. Then another long wait, maybe a couple of hours. ER was pretty busy. Doctor came and said she was going to try to use some kind of scope with light and camera to pull out the bone with an alligator forceps More long waiting before she came back. The scope was wide and flat, with a 90 degree bend at the end. First she sprayed anesthetic down my throat a couple of times and then tried with the scope, trying to pull the back of my tongue forward so she could see and retrieve the bone, but every time it triggered my gag reflex, so after three tries she gave up and went to call the ENT on call. All this took a while, I don’t know how long.

A few minutes later I realized the pain was almost gone, and I could swallow with nothing more than a slight sore throat irritation. Apparently what the doctor did with that scope joggled the bone loose and it went down. We were finally released at a few minutes past 5:00 am.

Everyone was very nice the whole time and apologized for the delays. There were times I felt punchy from just sitting there, so that it took a minute for me to come back to normal when someone came in. I don’t have any real complaints though. It was a nice new facility. I dread finding out how much of this Medicare and my insurance don’t cover.

I’m glad you’re okay. I have tiny veins too. Always inform the medical team beforehand, and they might decide to go with the kiddie needles first. Sometimes it helps.

Thanks. I did do that, I always do that, sometimes it helps, sometimes you get the stubborn and insecure ones who say “I don’t know, I’m pretty good, let’s take a look” as if I don’t have my own lifetime of experience to draw on and as if I care about their poor damaged fragile egos so much that I’m willing to endure the pain when there’s an actual alternative.

I think having an IV put in is different from drawing blood, the needle felt bigger. After the first person tried three times with the big needle, they sent in the A team who, after trying one more time with the big needle, got permission to use a smaller needle to access a decent vein I have in my hand. The A team was also younger, more careful (in every sense, she cared about not causing unnecessary pain), and more relaxed and relaxing.

Man oh man. My veins can be challenging. I have no issues with being stuck with needles, being a lifelong diabetic.

Like you say some needle wielders get all hurt and stuff if you mention it. I have learned to say ‘No’ after the first screw up. And stand my ground.
Usually if I’m well hydrated it fares better.
If I know beforehand I’ll need an IV or blood draw, I try to be well hydrated.

OP, I’m glad you got your fish-bone managed.
11 hours, though, whew!!

The OP’s experience mirrors my own bone mishap approximately 50 years ago.

I was about 14 at the time. I was enjoying some Kentucky Fried Chicken one evening (a rare treat) when I got a bit careless and swallowed a small bone. At first I tried sipping some water then a small piece of bread. No dice. The bone was stuck and a bit painful so off we went to the brand new emergency room nearby.

The ER had only been in operation for a week and nobody knew where everything was stored so they winged it. The doctor held a flashlight in his teeth and tried to see it. No dice. He then asked for some curved forceps to see if he could grab it. However, they couldn’t find the curved kind so were going to use the straight alligator kind.

I started gagging on the forceps and getting agitated so they decided to numb my throat with some spray anesthetic. As soon as my throat went numb I felt the bone come loose and go down. They didn’t believe me, said I couldn’t feel it because of the anesthetic. I was pretty sure it was gone and didn’t want those awful forceps anywhere near me.

Finally they sent me to radiology for an X-ray. They wanted me to swallow a barium-soaked cotton ball and see if some threads would catch on the bone making it visible. Impossible! (At this time in my life I couldn’t even swallow pills so there was no way that cotton ball was going down.) So there I am gagging on a barium cotton ball, trying to poke it down with my fingers. I could see my skull and bony fingers on the screen! So after 20 minutes of that they let me go home, still not believing that the bone was gone.

Went home and had no more trouble with it. Now I eat KFC very carefully.

Glad you’re good.

Yeah I had my first real fish bone experience a few months ago. Thought nothing of devouring fish and the occasional tiny bone until then. But like you what experienced, a small one somehow got stuck in my tonsil. I was fortunate that I was able to somehow dislodge it, but oddly enough, I still had the sensation that it was there for another day or two. Probably an abrasion.

I’m a lot more careful now. If there are bones, I avoid it.

FWIW, IV contrast, going into the blood, goes pretty much everywhere, so the trick is to give it fast, and time the image just right, hence the quest for a largish IV. I’d lay off croutons and tequila shooters for a spell, if I was you. Hope you feel better.

When I was 6 I had a run in with a perch bone up in Canada - ended up in the ER having it removed, but for years afterwards the only way I would eat fish was if it were carefully mashed, any possible bone removed, then butter and lemon added. I still prefer to only eat fish at home rather than out, because I will carefully go over each fillet with tweezers removing every single bone before cooking. At least I don’t mash it anymore =)

Yep, i’ve always been super careful eating fish with little bones. My mom used to buy frozen perch and cook it for dinner on regular rotation. I liked perch but it had a million tiny bones in it. And between me and two kids i’m well familiar with how trips to emergency are 90% waiting around and 10% actual doing stuff.

What happens to a bone that finally gets swallowed, I wonder— it doesn’t cause any further issues, down the line? I’m guessing stomach acid probably takes care of it.