The Thing Is with Steve Canavan

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Pronged attack could have left me a goner

If I’m being honest, Tuesday didn’t pan out as I’d hoped. Everything was going pretty well until lunchtime.

I’d done a spot of gardening (by that I mean I’d put the green bin out); had my morning swim (I did 18 lengths, even managing the last two without armbands); and written the third chapter of my brilliant Scandinavian noir thriller novel The Swedish Undertaker (to be released in hardback in September, once I’ve found a publisher who doesn’t respond to my letters with the words ‘please don’t bother us again’).

But then all went wrong.

In the work canteen, I ordered a jacket potato, with beans and cheese if you really must know, and was tucking in when, as I swallowed, I experienced an odd feeling.

This was followed by a strange sensation at the back of my throat and as I sat with furrowed brow wondering what it was, I glanced at the plastic fork I was using and noticed one of the prongs was missing.

I’d accidentally eaten it.

I’m not one to panic so I threw my potato to one side, sprinted to the nearest computer, and googled ‘can swallowing plastic cutlery kill you?’

The first result was an article from an American newspaper with the headline, ‘Swallowed Fork Shard Punctured Man’s Organs’.

Eyes wide with horror and checking to see if I still had a pulse, I read on: “David Edmiston unintentionally swallowed a piece of a plastic fork while eating lunch. The fragment punctured his colon, intestine and other organs and he was hospitalized for two weeks – 11 days of which was spent in the intensive care unit. The shard of plastic caused stroke-like symptoms.”

I raised my arms above my head, smiled, and successfully sang the chorus of Simon and Garfunkel’s Homeward Bound – so I hadn’t had a stroke, but I was experiencing slight stomach pain and came to the conclusion the fork had already punctured my stomach lining and I was suffering irreversible internal bleeding.

I sought advice from a colleaguewholooked at me quizzically as if studying a complicated algebra equation and said: “You swallowed your own fork?”

“I obviously didn’t do it intentionally,” I hollered, slightly manically. “It was an accident. Clearly I don’t deliberately go around eating plastic forks – I prefer a more balanced diet.”

My colleague was no help so I did what any grown man would do in this situation and rang my mother.

This seemed sensible as my mum keeps a medical encyclopedia on her bedside table and considers herself the world’s leading authority on all ailments.

She rings the local GPs not to book an a appointment but to advise them.

I told her what had happened. She reacted as if I’d informed her a small group of masked men were holed up outside her house with semi-automatic rifles and were about to forcibly enter her property.

“Oh my god,” she screamed down the phone, voice quivering.

“This is serious Steven,” she said, with emphasis on the word serious. “You must go to the hospital immediately – if this pierces your intestine you will not live to see the end of the day.”

I rang 111, the NHS helpline, and told them I was awfully sorry to bother them but I’d just swallowed a plastic fork.

I’d hoped the woman on the line – Bethany, lived in the Rhondda Valley (I know because we got chatting) – would tell me I was fine, but instead she advised that I present myself at my local A&E within the hour.

This panicked me. Clearly I was facing a race against time to stay alive.

I informed my boss I had to leave immediately.

And as I headed towards the door, another colleague shouted, ‘how long will you be gone – a forknight?’ Hilarious.

To cut a long story short – because you’ve things to do and there’s only so much we can fit on this page – I spent five hours at the hospital and had two X-rays, the second of which revealed something in my throat that resembled the missing bit of the fork.

The consultant, a tall man with just a little too much hair sprouting from his ears, told me: “It should pass through the system naturally, though it might smart a bit at the other end mind.”

I have spent the last two days living in fear and grimacing every time I perch on the toilet, but thus far nothing of interest has emerged.

But if there’s no column next week, you know why...

Weather news a beastly waste of time

All this hyping up of the current weather conditions is getting on my wick.

Even the BBC, that bastion of quality reporting, is banging on about how the whole country is set to freeze over as temperatures of minus 140 degrees celcius – or something like that – hit the UK.

If I hear one more news reporter utter the phrase ‘Beast from the East’, which is, as I’m sure you’re aware, what this weather front has been dubbed, then I may well attack the television with a chainsaw.

Basically what we’re experiencing is what in the old days used to be labelled a spot of inclement weather.

Essentially there’s a bit of snow and it’s a bit on the cold side, as it generally is when it snows.

In this modern age of Twitter and social media, though, that’s not exciting or sexy enough.

So they have to give the whole thing a stupid name – which is where Beast from the East comes in – to make us click on websites or watch news reports.

The Red Cross, meanwhile, are urging us to “knock on someone’s door to check they have everything they need – it can make a huge difference”.

I did this to my next door neighbour Edna and she went ballistic because Ihad interrupted the closing moments of The Chase.

I know the weather’s bad, and I know it is all very serious stuff.

But we perhaps don’t need to be reminded of it by over-excited newsreaders at every waking hour of the day.

Roll on spring.