OPINION

The weird things that people have had stuck in their bodies

One of the strangest things ever pulled from the human body during surgery is a tiny pea plant that had started growing inside a man's lung. He'd been eating peas when one went down the wrong pipe, so to speak.

Turns out the lovely warm, moist environment in the lung is quite a good place for peas to germinate.

Why do I know this? Well, you can blame it on the pandemic.

See, last week I was reading a story of an Australian astrophysicist, which started with him trying to build a necklace device that would help people stop touching their faces. The story ended up with him in hospital having four neodymium magnets removed from his nostrils (perhaps there is a reason why some physicists are theoretical, rather than experimental?).

The whole thing got me thinking: what weird things have people had stuck up their noses, or in other parts of the body? And down the rabbit hole of strange medical journals I went.

Of course, things being stuck up noses is not that uncommon. Kids are champions at this. Are you even a parent if you haven't had to remove at least one bead, coin, grape, Lego piece or other assorted junk from your child's nose? One toddler took this to extremes though, jamming a chopstick up his nose and into his brain. It was removed, and he was fine - and maybe even learnt a lesson about putting foreign objects into facial orifices.

Noses aren't the only places that medical professionals have had to remove odd things from. As well as the pea plant, other interesting lung removals include a plastic fork, a tiny tree and a small fish.

All things that had somehow, inadvertently, been breathed in. Then there's the variable smorgasbord of items removed from the stomach after being swallowed - either accidently or on purpose (there's even a collection of these in a museum in Philadelphia). Coins, magnets and small toys are among the tamest, while knives and other cutlery, pens and toothbrushes are slightly more interesting (and probably painful) finds.

And I would need a whole other column to write about all the objects that have been inserted, for various reasons, into the other end of the digestive tract...

So no matter how frustrating you might be finding working and living in isolation, remember it could be worse. You could have magnets up your nose, or peas growing in your lungs.

Dr Mary McMillan is a lecturer at the School of Science and Technology, University of New England

This story The weird things that people have had stuck in their bodies first appeared on The Canberra Times.