Here, Marlene Hobbins, 81, tells the story in her own words.
'￼Ouch,’ I cried, clutching the left side of my abdomen. I’d developed a sharp pain there and had no idea why.
I was given an X-ray after seeing my GP, but it didn’t show up anything unusual. So I was given an ultrasound.
I’d only just walked through the door back home when the doctor rang. ‘Call an ambulance and get to the hospital straight away,’ he said. ‘The ultrasound shows a foreign object in the lower part of your bowel.’
Whatever it was, it had to be removed right away. I was shocked. What on earth is it? I wondered. Had I swallowed something?
At the hospital, they ordered MRIs and the object was finally identified. It was a bread tag!
Somehow, the little U-shaped plastic tag from my bread bag had ended up inside me.
‘I can’t remember swallowing that!’ I cried, stunned. ‘That’s bizarre,’ said the doctor. ‘But it’s lodged in your bowel. That’s what’s causing your pain.’
Because I’d had bowel cancer a few years before, and a lot of scarring from that, the doctors decided to wait to see if the tag would pass out. But after a few days, it became clear it wasn’t going anywhere on its own.
‘We’re going to have to operate to remove it,’ the surgeon said.
The procedure would take four hours, and there was a high risk of infection. Terrified, I knew there was no choice. It couldn’t stay sticking into my bowel. And I was just grateful I’d finally be rid of the constant pain.
Waking up from surgery, I was told it had been a much bigger job than they thought. It had actually taken six hours because they had to cut a 10cm piece out of my bowel in order to get to the tag. Thankfully it was a success. Who knew a little bread tag could cause so much hassle? I thought.
Feeling poorly for quite a while after, I had several courses of antibiotics – but luckily I made a full recovery.
I’m so grateful I lived to tell the tale. And I make sure I throw away those plastic tags!
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