The Anonymous Widower

How To Remove A Fish Bone

I was reading Melanie Reid’s column in The Times yesterday, which was all about waiting for an operation, when I remembered an incident with a fish bone.

C had breast cancer a few years before she died and a couple of days before she was due to have her operation, we went to have a fish supper in a restaurant in Cambridge.

Unfortunately, I got a bone stuck across my throat and we ended up in Addenbrooke’s Hospital.  They repeatedly tried to remove the bone, but after a couple of hours, it was decided that it would be best if I came back in the morning and they gave me a general anaesthetic to get it out.

So I duly arrived in the morning and I was admitted to a ward to wait.  They said it wouldn’t be long.

But I waited and waited and the staff nurse was getting fed up with having one of her beds blocked by a fish bone. Apparently, there had been a whole series of serious emergencies and they’d run out of operating theatres.

Eventually about four in the afternoon, the staff nurse got so fed up, she forcibly recruited a very junior doctor, to remove the bone, in the way that Dr. Finlay would have used. That is by means of pure medical dexterity.

The first two attempts were complete failures, mainly because I wasn’t calm enough.  So partly in jest, I suggested they got a pretty nurse to hold my hand. So they volunteered this Spanish nurse to hold my hand.

It worked and a couple of minutes later the bone had been removed from my throat and the staff nurse got her bed back.

If there is a moral to this story, it is that so much of the old skills we use for all sorts of actions in all professions are being lost and not handed down through the generations.

March 23, 2014 - Posted by | Health |


  1. I agree, the nerves in my neck were untrapped by a skilled more mature physio using manual traction. The young girl I had seen had tied me into a machine of medieval torture, and it had caused more pain and done nothing.

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | March 26, 2014 | Reply

    • I have just been reading the obituary of Jack Kinzler in The Times, who has just died at 94. He was NASA’s Mr Fixit and got them out of trouble several times using old-fashioned engineering skills. I doubt he’d have got a job there today, as he hadn’t any appropriate qualifications.

      Comment by AnonW | March 26, 2014 | Reply

  2. Give me old engineering any day. I know you don’t drive, but I do, and last night I had a flat tyre! And of course modern cars have no spare, mine doesn’t even have one of those silly little temporary spare things. So it was all a palaver, a very late night for me after a long day which had started early, then a journey though heavy traffic with Neil to get me to the branch of Kwik Fit which the RAC man had managed to get the tyre up enough for me to drive to – doubt it was even a 1000 yes from where I had found the flat!!! With a spare wheel, RAC would have come and put it on, I would have come home and in my own time dropped the other one off to be repaired whilst I went about my daily business.

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | March 26, 2014 | Reply

    • I do worry about some of these spare-free cars. As far as I’m concerned it’s another reason not to own a car! If say you needed one to perhaps go on holiday, then hire one and then if you get a puncture then you phone them and they sort it.

      Comment by AnonW | March 26, 2014 | Reply

  3. Mine is a lease car, I don’t own it, and I did ring RAC, which is part of package and they did everything excellently, very quickly, ditto Kwik Fit who have the tyre repair contract. But it is all so much more complex than popping the spare on. When I replace this care, I will see if I can have a spare. As it happened, I was in a town, and there was a Kwik Fit around the corner. Last week a friend found a flat when he went out to his car in the morning, and it wasn’t drivable, he had to wait for a mobile service to come out and replace it. Part of today I was out in the deep countryside, many miles from anywhere, I really would have been in a pickle if I had a puncture. Even the mobile signal wasn’t great!

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | March 27, 2014 | Reply

    • II think I read somewhere that soon no new cars will have a spare.

      If buses break down, they send a red van with a man!

      Comment by AnonW | March 27, 2014 | Reply

  4. You are right, none will, but I gather it is possible to actually buy one.

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | March 27, 2014 | Reply

  5. A lot of cars now don’t have a place for a spare!

    Here’s an article from Which!

    Comment by AnonW | March 27, 2014 | Reply

  6. Mine has something which they call a “double boot” and one would fit in that

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | March 27, 2014 | Reply

  7. […] or sole on the bone. I’ve also got form about getting bones stuck in my throat, as this post […]

    Pingback by Food Tasting At Leon « The Anonymous Widower | September 13, 2014 | Reply

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