Fish A bone you should definitely pick
Oh, how we Bangalis love our fish. We love it so much that if a bone gets stuck in your throat, or if accidentally ingest it, everyone laughs it off and tells you to swallow a ball of rice. You can’t tell me that this hasn’t happened to you. As it turns out, a fish bone is no trivial or laughing matter.
Last month, I got a bone stuck at the back of my mouth- just out of reach but above the oesophagus. Naturally, remedies started arriving from all over the country. My uncles, aunts and grandparents started telling me to do pretty much everything ranging from swallowing warm water with lime to chewing bread to homeopathy. And I did all of them. The homeopathy dosage was supposed to soften the bone… in about a week.
You’ve probably heard about the magic of homeopathy. It will work- could take a year- but it’ll work. No, don’t listen to those medical doctors, it’s a conspiracy to eradicate homeopathy.
Yeah, I’ve heard it all. I would believe the conspiracy theory, but I learn from experience. The homeopathy didn’t do anything. Tasted like super glue, felt like alcohol and left a bad taste in my mouth. Why is it that we absolutely refuse to go to hospitals?
So finally, on the fourth day, I put my foot down. I went online to WebMD, and read about the risks of letting a fish bone sit. There are a LOT of risks. Swallowing a fish bone can lead to perforation of organs and internal bleeding. Letting a fish bone stay in your throat fora week is like not brushing your teeth for a week. It allows for the build-up of dangerous bacteria and cause infections, and may even call for a major surgery if it becomes imbedded in your tonsils.
So my parents got mad at me for making such a big deal out of a simple fish bone. Everybody has fish bones stuck in their throats, right? The difference was, mine was stuck in the back of my mouth. Even if I swallowed an entire cake, it wouldn’t touch the bone as it was nowhere near the oesophagus. Furthermore, only a tiny bit of the bone was sticking out. You wouldn’t even know it was there unless you touched it. I didn’t even feel any pain from it, which is also why no one took it seriously.
The bone got stuck at lunch on Friday. On Tuesday night, we went to the doctor after I insisted over and over again. It took the doctor (a very kind and patient man I must say) fifteen minutes to finally locate the tiny head of the bone and pull it out. It was almost half an inch long. A bone that long was making a puncture in my mouth. And surprise, surprise- there was an inflammation. The doctor said that if it was kept that way much longer, I would definitely have had a bacterial infection.
You may be wondering what the point of this story is. The point is, just because we face something every day, and it’s a common event, doesn’t make it any less dangerous. There are many reports of swallowed fish bones causing intestinal and rectal perforations, because very strong bones may not get digested well. They may require major or minor surgery and cause a lot of pain.
But this by no means is an excuse to stop eating fish. If something has the potential to be dangerous doesn’t mean it always is, either. Just take care when taking fish, make sure that large bones have been picked and out of the way before you eat. And should a bone get stuck, don’t panic- it can probably be taken care of by simple home remedies.
Most fish bones do pass through the body without any problem. So relax, shake off that fear of fish you got from reading this piece, and enjoy our nation’s favourite dish.