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8 Strange Items Surgeons Have Removed From People's Bodies

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Our bodies have a number of naturally-occurring orifices, the purposes of which you’ve probably already discovered on your own. But sometimes—through misadventure, poor judgment, or sheer happenstance—these cavities can provide entry for foreign objects, whether inanimate or other living beings. Their extraction can prompt embarrassment and possibly an entry in a medical journal, like the guy who thought he had lung cancer but discovered it was a just a toy traffic cone that had lodged in his lung after he aspirated it by accident 40 years previously.

Traffic Cone Guy is but one example. Check out other instances of people who have had to have some awkward conversations with emergency room physicians.

1. A LIVE EEL // RECTUM

An eel swims in water, unaware it may one day find itself in a rectum

In January 2004, the medical journal Surgery published the details of a very eventful day at Kwong Wah Hospital in Hong Kong. A 50-year-old man had been admitted for stomach pains, and an x-ray showed the outline of a 20-inch eel, which the man admitted he had inserted into his rectum to relieve his constipation. It’s unknown how he thought the eel would have resolved his issue, but it certainly complicated matters. The eel was alive and found biting into his splenic flexure when he was opened up for surgery. A perforation in one of the walls of his rectum necessitated a colostomy. Notably, this was not the only case of a man presenting with rectal eel issues. In 2012, New Zealand's Auckland City Hospital confirmed that a man had been admitted for the same problem.

2. 40 POCKET KNIVES // STOMACH

A pocket knife appears unfolded

Pica is a term used to describe the need to eat the inedible: coins, metal parts, and other non-nutritious objects. Surgeons at Amritsar Corporate Hospital in India were able to experience this phenomenon first-hand in 2016, when a 42-year-old police officer was admitted for stomach pains. Gas? Taco Bell? Nothing so mundane. He had swallowed exactly 40 pocket knives, most seven inches in length. Some were folded shut, while others were open and causing internal bleeding. The man said he had swallowed them whole over the past two months. All were successfully removed from his stomach. He described his compulsion as an “impulse” but swore he would not repeat the practice.

3. A COCKROACH // EAR

A dead cockroach is ready to repulse anyone who stumbles across it

Hendrik Helmer of Darwin, Australia—one of the few patients brave enough to attach his name to this kind of story—told ABC Radio Darwin in 2014 that he awoke in the middle of the night with a sharp pain in his ear. Suspecting an insect had crawled in and “hoping it wasn’t a poisonous spider,” Helmer tried vacuuming the pest out of his canal before going to Royal Darwin Hospital. As a doctor poured olive oil in his ear to try and drive the creature out, Helmer reported his pain intensifying. Finally, the doctor used forceps and retrieved a cockroach measuring nearly one inch in length. Aside from some lingering issues with balance and jaw pain, Helmer was fine. (The cockroach was not. It had expired.)

4. A NAIL // BRAIN

A hammer is ready to hit a nail

The fateful day began like any other for Chicago resident Dante Autullo, who was busy remodeling his residence before being sidelined by headaches and nausea. As it turns out, he had accidentally shot himself in the head with a nail gun the day prior and failed to notice it, believing the nail had just missed his head. The spiked projectile was lodged in his brain for 36 hours before being removed, apparently without any ill effect.

5. A LEGO TIRE // NOSE

A LEGO toy tire

Someday, we’ll marvel at how we allowed children free access to their nostrils without equipping them with some kind of fine mesh safety guard. Until then, we’ll continue to come across stories like that of 6-year-old Salt Lake City boy Isaak Lasson, who rammed a LEGO vehicle tire up his nose at the age of three and began having chronic sinus problems. Upon questioning, Lasson would only admit he had “put some spaghetti up there” at one time. A pediatrician uncovered the tire, which was covered in fungus, and removed it. The theory was that Lasson had managed to fold the tire so it fit in his nostril.

6. A PEA PLANT // LUNG

A pea pod sprouts up

In 2010, a 75-year-old Cape Cod man named Ron Sveden was relieved to find out the chest discomfort he had been experiencing was not due to lung cancer as doctors suspected, but a pea plant attempting to grow in his lung. Sveden had apparently aspirated a pea seed, which began to spout. (It didn’t grow very much, as pea plants need sunlight.) After being treated, Sveden was served a meal in the hospital with a side of peas. "I laughed to myself and ate them," he told a Boston TV reporter.

7. A SODA BOTTLE // RECTUM

A collection of soda bottles

Every year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issues a very serious and professional list of things that have been found stuck up patients’ butts and other orifices, from peanut butter jars to remote controls. In 2009, the Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology detailed one such case, this one of a man who visited a local hospital after failing to retrieve a soda bottle he had inserted into his rectum. Initial attempts to retrieve it were unsuccessful, as mucus made the surface too slippery to grasp. Instead, doctors lightly sedated the man and asked him to bear down as though he were having a bowel movement. Once the bottle was partially out, they were able to grab it with forceps. The paper went on to note that broomsticks and axe handles had previously been reported in the literature; the patient was advised to seek counseling for his “perversion disorder” to “prevent recurrences.”

8. A PLASTIC WENDY’S FORK // LUNG

A Wendy's restaurant sign

Eating your food as though you were vying for sustenance in a pack of wolves can have consequences, but none more absurd than the North Carolina man who suffered from chronic coughing and fatigue for two years before doctors discovered he had a piece of a fast food fork stuck in his lung. John Manley, 50, sought medical attention in 2009 for the symptoms: a pulmonologist at Duke University who scoped Manley’s lung spotted a plastic part with the word “hamburgers” embossed on it, typical of Wendy's "old-fashioned hamburgers" slogan. The object was removed and Manley’s symptoms resolved.

All images courtesy of iStock.

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10 Biting Facts About Snapping Turtles
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Here in the Americas, lake monster legends are a dime a dozen. More than a few of them were probably inspired by these ancient-looking creatures. In honor of World Turtle Day, here are 10 things you might not have known about snapping turtles.

1. THE COMMON SNAPPING TURTLE IS NEW YORK'S OFFICIAL STATE REPTILE.

Elementary school students voted to appoint Chelydra serpentina in a 2006 statewide election. Weighing as much as 75 pounds in the wild (and 86 in captivity), this hefty omnivore’s natural range stretches from Saskatchewan to Florida.

2. ALLIGATOR SNAPPING TURTLES CAN BE LARGE. (VERY LARGE.)

An alligator snapping turtle
NorbertNagel, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Utterly dwarfing their more abundant cousin, alligator snappers (genus: Macrochelys) are the western hemisphere’s biggest freshwater turtles. The largest one on record, a longtime occupant of Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, weighed 249 pounds.  

A monstrous 403-pounder was reported in Kansas during the Great Depression, though this claim was never confirmed.  

3. COMMON SNAPPERS HAVE LONGER NECKS AND SPIKIER TAILS.

Alligator snappers also display proportionately bigger heads and noses plus a trio of tall ridges atop their shells. Geographically, alligator snapping turtles are somewhat restricted compared to their common relatives, and are limited mainly to the southeast and Great Plains.

4. BOTH VARIETIES AVOID CONTACT WITH PEOPLE.

If given the choice between fight and flight, snapping turtles almost always distance themselves from humans. The animals spend the bulk of their lives underwater, steering clear of nearby Homo sapiens. However, problems can arise on dry land, where the reptiles are especially vulnerable. Females haul themselves ashore during nesting season (late spring to early summer). In these delicate months, people tend to prod and handle them, making bites inevitable.

5. YOU REALLY DON'T WANT TO GET BITTEN BY ONE. 

Snapping turtle jaw strength—while nothing to sneeze at—is somewhat overrated. Common snapping turtles can clamp down with up to 656.81 newtons (N) of force, though typical bites register an average of 209 N. Their alligator-like cousins usually exert 158 N. You, on the other hand, can apply 1300 N between your second molars.

Still, power isn’t everything, and neither type of snapper could latch onto something with the crushing force of a crocodile’s mighty jaws. Yet their sharp beaks are well-designed for major-league shearing. An alligator snapping turtle’s beak is capable of slicing fingers clean off and (as the above video proves) obliterating pineapples.

Not impressed yet? Consider the following. It’s often said that an adult Macrochelys can bite a wooden broom handle in half. Intrigued by this claim, biologist Peter Pritchard decided to play MythBuster. In 1989, he prodded a 165-pound individual with a brand new broomstick. Chomp number one went deep, but didn’t quite break through the wood. The second bite, though, finished the job.

6. SCIENTISTS RECENTLY DISCOVERED THAT THERE ARE THREE SPECIES OF ALLIGATOR SNAPPING TURTLES.

A 2014 study trisected the Macrochelys genus. For over a century, naturalists thought that there was just a single species, Macrochelys temminckii. Closer analysis proved otherwise, as strong physical and genetic differences exist between various populations. The newly-christened M. suwanniensis and M. apalachicolae are named after their respective homes—namely, the Suwannee and Apalachicola rivers. Further west, good old M. temminckii swims through the Mobile and the Mississippi.

7. THANKS TO A 19TH CENTURY POLITICAL CARTOON, COMMON SNAPPING TURTLES ARE ALSO KNOWN AS "OGRABMES." 

Snapping turtle cartoon
Urban~commonswiki via Wiki Commons // CC BY PD-US

Drawn by Alexander Anderson, this piece skewers Thomas Jefferson’s signing of the unpopular Embargo Act. At the president’s command, we see a snapping turtle bite some poor merchant’s hind end. Agitated, the victim calls his attacker “ograbme”—“embargo” spelled backwards.

8. ALLIGATOR SNAPPERS ATTRACT FISH WITH AN ORAL LURE …

You can’t beat live bait. Anchored to the Macrochelys tongue is a pinkish, worm-like appendage that fish find irresistible. Preferring to let food come to them, alligator snappers open their mouths and lie in wait at the bottoms of rivers and lakes. Cue the lure. When this protrusion wriggles, hungry fish swim right into the gaping maw and themselves become meals.

9.  … AND THEY FREQUENTLY EAT OTHER TURTLES. 


Complex01, WikimediaCommons

Alligator snappers are anything but picky. Between fishy meals, aquatic plants also factor into their diet, as do frogs, snakes, snails, crayfish, and even relatively large mammals like raccoons and armadillos. Other shelled reptiles are fair game, too: In one Louisiana study, 79.82% of surveyed alligator snappers had turtle remains in their stomachs.

10. YOU SHOULD NEVER PICK A SNAPPER UP BY THE TAIL.

Ideally, you should leave the handling of these guys to trained professionals. But what if you see a big one crossing a busy road and feel like helping it out? Before doing anything else, take a few moments to identify the turtle. If it’s an alligator snapper, you’ll want to grasp the lip of the upper shell (or “carapace”) in two places: right behind the head and right above the tail.

Common snappers demand a bit more finesse (we wouldn’t want one to reach back and nip you with that long, serpentine neck). Slide both hands under the hind end of the shell, letting your turtle’s tail dangle between them. Afterwards, clamp down on the carapace with both thumbs.

Please note that lifting any turtle by the tail can permanently dislocate its vertebrae. Additionally, remember to move the reptile in the same direction that it’s already facing. Otherwise, your rescue will probably turn right back around and try to cross the road again later. 

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Tina Fey
Jenny Anderson, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions
Jenny Anderson, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Tina Fey has transformed modern comedy more than just about anyone else. From the main stage of Second City to the writer’s room of SNL to extremely fetch comedy blockbusters, Elizabeth Stamatina Fey has built a national stage with a dry, eye-popping sarcasm and political satire where no one is safe. She has a slew of Emmys, Golden Globes, SAG, PGA, and WGA awards to prove it—plus a recent Tony nomination (her first). But, more importantly, she’s the closest thing we have to a national comic laureate.

Here are 10 facts about a fantastically blorft American icon.

1. SHE DID A BOOK REPORT ON COMEDY WHEN SHE WAS 11.

Fey got a very early start in comedy, watching a lot of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart, and Norman Lear shows as a kid. Her father and mother sneaked her in to see Young Frankenstein and would let her stay up late to watch The Honeymooners. So it’s no surprise that she chose comedy as the subject of a middle school project. The only book she could get her hands on was Joe Franklin’s Encyclopedia of Comedians, but at least she made a friend. "I remember me and one other girl in my 8th grade class got to do an independent study because we finished the regular material early, and she chose to do hers on communism, and I chose to do mine on comedy," Fey told The A.V. Club. "We kept bumping into each other at the card catalog."

2. THE SCAR ON HER FACE CAME FROM A BIZARRE ATTACK THAT OCCURRED WHEN SHE WAS A CHILD.

Fey’s facial scar had been recognizable but unexplained for years until a profile in Vanity Fair revealed that the mark on her left cheek came from being slashed by a strange man when she was five years old. “She just thought somebody marked her with a pen,” her husband Jeff Richmond said. Fey wrote in Bossypants that it happened in an alleyway behind her Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, home when she was in kindergarten.

3. HER FIRST TV APPEARANCE WAS IN A BANK COMMERCIAL.

Saturday Night Live hired Fey as a writer in 1997. In 1995 she had the slightly more glamorous job of pitching Mutual Savings Bank with a radical floral applique vest and a handful of puns on the word “Hi.” In a bit of life imitating art, just as Liz Lemon’s 1-900-OKFACE commercial was unearthed and mocked on 30 Rock, the internet discovered Fey’s stint awkwardly cheering on high interest rates a few years ago and had a lot to say about her '90s hair.

4. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO BE NAMED HEAD WRITER OF SNL.

Four years after that commercial and two after she joined Saturday Night Live’s writing staff, Fey earned a promotion to head writer. Up until that point, the head writers were named Michael, Herb, Bob, Jim, Steve. You get the picture. She acted as head writer for six seasons until moving on to write and executive produce 30 Rock. Since her departure, two more women (Paula Pell and Sara Schneider) have been head writers for the iconic show.

5. SHE’S THE YOUNGEST MARK TWAIN PRIZE WINNER.

Established in 1998, the Kennedy Center’s hilarious honor has mostly been awarded to funny people in the twilight of their careers. Richard Pryor was the first recipient, and comedians who made their marks decades prior like Lily Tomlin, Whoopi Goldberg, and George Carlin followed. Fey earned the award in 2010 when she was 40 years old, and the age of her successors (Carol Burnett, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, David Letterman ...) signals that she may hold the title of youngest recipient for some time.

6. SHE WROTE SATIRE FOR HER HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER.

Fey was an outstanding student who was involved in choir, drama, and tennis, and co-edited the school’s newspaper, The Acorn. She also wrote a satirical column addressing “school policy and teachers” under the pun-tastic pseudonym “The Colonel.” Fey also recalled getting in trouble because she tried to make a pun on the phrase “annals of history.” Cheeky.

7. SHE MADE HER RAP DEBUT WITH CHILDISH GAMBINO ON "REAL ESTATE."

Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino) first gained notice as a member of Derrick Comedy in college, and Fey hired him at the age of 23 to write for 30 Rock. Before jumping from that show to Community, Glover put out his first mixtape under his stage name. After releasing his debut album, Camp, in 2011, Gambino dropped a sixth mixtape called Royalty that featured Fey rapping on a song called “Real Estate.” “My president is black, and my Prius is blue!"

8. SHE VOICED PRINCESSES IN A BELOVED PINBALL GAME.

Between the bank commercial and Saturday Night Live, Fey has an intriguing credit on her resume: the arcade pinball machine “Medieval Madness.” Most of the game’s Arthurian dialogue was written by Second City members Scott Adsit (Pete Hornberger on 30 Rock) and Kevin Dorff, who pulled in fellow Second City castmate Fey to voice for an “Opera Singer” princess, Cockney-speaking princesses, and a character with a southern drawl. (You can hear some of the outtakes here.)

9. SHE USED MEAN GIRLS TO PUSH BACK AGAINST STEREOTYPES OF WOMEN IN MATH.

Tina Fey and Lindsay Lohan in 'Mean Girls' (2004)
Paramount Home Entertainment

There’s a ton of interesting trivia about Mean Girls, Fey’s first foray into feature film screenwriting. She bid on the rights to Rosalind Wiseman’s book that inspired the movie without realizing it didn’t have a plot. She initially wrote a large part for herself but kept whittling it down to focus on the teenagers, and her first draft was “for sure R-rated.” Fey also chose to play a math teacher to fight prejudice. “It was an attempt on my part to counteract the stereotype that girls can’t do math. Even though I did not understand a word I was saying.” Fey used a friend’s calculus teacher boyfriend’s lesson plans in the script.

10. SHE SET UP A SCHOLARSHIP IN HER FATHER’S NAME TO HELP VETERANS.

Fey’s father Donald was a Korean War veteran who also studied journalism at Temple University. When he died in 2015, Fey and her brother Peter founded a memorial scholarship in his name that seeks to aid veterans who want to study journalism at Temple.

"He was really inspiring," Fey said. "A lot of kids grow up with dreams of doing those things and their parents are fearful and want them to get a law degree and have things to fall back on, but he and our mom always encouraged us to pursue whatever truly interested us." Fey also supports Autism Speaks, Mercy Corps, Love Our Children USA, and other charities.

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