BODIES contain a lot of things, and the stomach can sometimes be a warehouse for a doctor's scalpel, house keys, pens, padlocks, cigarette butts, safety pins, toy soldiers, wire mesh, beaded crucifixes, chains, balls of hair and dentures.
Prax Sanchez of Colorado Springs, USA, was oblivious of an object in his sinus cavity for 30 years, until he coughed and a nail popped out of his nose, New York's The Daily News reported in April 2009.
Elsewhere, Margaret Daalman checked into hospital complaining of tummy ache only for an X-ray examination to reveal 78 distinct pieces of cutlery and dozens of forks and spoons, the Daily Mail wrote on October 29 2009.
In the case of Gladys Koech, doctors at Kapsabet District Hospital found needles nestled on, among other body parts, the chest, pelvis and back. Gladys hardly enjoyed her Christmas last year after she fell gravely ill on December 24. "I'm all sore," she complained.
Her left thigh had swollen, and the mother of seven couldn't walk around her Kaporus village. An X-Ray was in order. And that was when needles inside her left thigh and pelvis were discovered.
Doctors couldn't figure out how the needles entered her body, but one speculated that it could have been the effort of traditional healers turning to rudimentary acupuncture, seeing as it were that Gladys had a mental health problem.
Kapsabet District Hospital did not have enough facilities to remove all the needles and referred Gladys to Tenwek Hospital for specialised treatment.
There have been other bizarre cases of strange things in bodies. Like the sad case of Hellen Njeri who, in 2009, was found with foetus remnants in her stomach. The doctor had forgotten to remove it during evacuation.
Not so for Mau Mau fighter General China (Waruhiu Itote) who had a bullet lodged in his chin for the better part of 40 years until his death in 1993.
While Gladys' case was bizarre, it was not, by any means, a first:
The Museum of Swallowed Things
Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, USA, is home to the Chevalier Jackson Foreign Body Collection... and it is a very popular attraction. It contains drawers hosting thousands of items that were swallowed or inhaled and were removed by Dr Chevalier Jackson, a laryngologist.
Author Mary Cappello examined the collection and decided to write a book: Swallow: Foreign Bodies, their Ingestion, Inspiration and the Curious Doctor who Extracted Them. Capello explains the baffling human fascination with swallowing non-nutritive things.
It can be accidental, like when a child swallows a button, rubber or magnet. Or deliberate, like American prisoners who purposely swallow bedsprings and batteries in order to breathe fresh air on their way to the hospital.
It can also be caused by a mental disorder called pica, a condition that creates the compulsive disorder of eating non-food items such as dirt, plastic or stones.
Pica is common among pregnant women and small children, more so those challenged developmentwise.
Pica, notes Capello, can stem from cultural tradition, acquired taste or neurological mechanisms such as iron deficiency or chemical imbalance. The condition is common among the mentally challenged and has been linked to maternal deprivation, poverty, parental neglect, pregnancy and a disorganised family structure.
In some cases, pica happens to bipolar individuals with the attendant risks, such as malnutrition, anaemia, constipation, intestinal blockages and parasites, mercury poisoning as well as kidney or liver damage.
You can't pea serious!
In June 2010, the BBC reported that doctors at Cape Cod Hospital, US, had removed a one-and-a-half-inch pea plant growing in a patient's lungs.
Seventy five-year old Ron Sveden, a former teacher, had gone to hospital complaining of breathing problems only for a lung biopsy to conclude that, while eating peas, one went into Ron's windpipe, lodged onto his lungs and began germinating.
"It took two minutes for it to sink in and I thought it was funny. I giggled," Ron, who thought he had lung cancer, told ABC News. The doctors had a green sense of humour and included peas in his recovery diet.
But Ron was not the first one to have a secret garden. A year earlier, Russian Artyom Sidorkin from Urals City had complained of intense chest pains, besides coughing up blood. He, too, suspected he had cancer.
Instead of finding a tumour, doctors cut the lung tissue and found green needles. In disbelief, the medics at the Udmurtian Cancer Centre removed a five centimetre fir branch. "It was very painful," Sidorkin told
MailOnline, "But, to be honest, I did not feel any foreign object inside me."
The blood was from the needles pricking the capillaries, doctors said, adding that Sidorkin, like Ron after him, had inhaled a small bud that sprouted inside his 28-year-old lung.
"I thought I was hallucinating," Dr Vladimir Kamashev told MailOnline. "I asked my assistant to have a look: "Come and see, we've got a fir tree here."
He nodded in shock. "I blinked three times as I was sure I was seeing things."
Biologists refuted a green plant could grow inside a human body. "A seed needs light, water and certain temperatures to germinate," they argued.
I will eat my hair
In June 2009, doctors in Vadodara, India, operated on a 13-year-old and removed one kilogramme of hair that was 50 centimetres long from her stomach. Chandan Bariya of Sankariya village had been admitted to hospital complaining of abdominal pain, doctors told India's Daily News&Analysis. She had a lump inside her stomach and doctors decided to operate. Bariya was suffering from a rare psychological disorder called Rapunzel (or trichobezoar) syndrome in which a child eats hair.
Brush and swallow
Andreea Vlad from Falticeni, eastern Romania, swallowed her seven-inch toothbrush, she said, after falling while brushing her teeth. Turned out the 16-year-old had no bruises or cuts on her throat. Her friends were questioned and divulged that Vlad had been watching blue movies and was imitating the women in the flick with her toothbrush when she swallowed it that November of 2006, wrote The Bulletin.
Doctors, who said she was lucky as no organs were damaged, had to operate on her as the toothbrush could not come out naturally.
Difficulties In the lavatory
Allison Johnson was an alcoholic burglar who underwent 30 operations to remove strange things in his stomach. In 1992, four forks were found in his stomach. It so happened that Johnson would be released from jail, enter an expensive restaurant and order like a Pasha.
Unable to pay, Johnson would ask the owner to call the police. In the meantime, he ate the cutlery. "He finds it hard to eat and obviously has difficulty going to the lavatory," his lawyer told The Telegraph at the time.
Got you nailed
Prax Sanchez of Colorado Springs, USA, had been oblivious of an object in his sinus cavity for 30 years. Then one day he coughed and a nail popped out his nose.
The 72-year-old was leaving a doctor's office after an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to diagnose an ear problem when the one-inch nail which he "never even knew was there", as he told the Daily News that
April in 2009, fell.
Doctors said the nail was probably dislodged by the powerful magnet in the MRI machine and the cough (which clocks in at about 96 kph) just pushed it out.– Online.