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Sidelined by Sea Bass

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It’s date night, and tonight, that entails dinner and a chance for my boyfriend and I to sharpen our rusty salsa skills. We’re at a new Spanish restaurant that has live band salsa later in the evening. After some deliberating, we settle on the sea bass. My boyfriend takes a bite and seems to like it. “Pass the bass.” He scoots the fish cross-table and I dig in. “Ah!” Sweet slippery sea bass, I swallowed a bone. “Watch out,” I say and pass it back, worrying that instead of rehearsing our cross-body leads, that I’d be the involuntary lead in a bare-handed fishing expedition in el hospital. My dad swallowed a fish bone a few years ago and the doctor had to stick his whole hand down his throat to fish it out.

And then, my boyfriend starts coughing. “Oh no. You too? Are you OK? I told you to watch out.” “Maybe we should order some milk. I’ve heard that milk can help it go down.” “It can’t hurt.” After swigging some milk, we considered the outcome. Nope, the milk didn’t do our bodies much good. Still, we were comfortable enough to dance with the hope that our digestive systems would power up and push the bony mass down.

The next day, as I’m shopping for bridesmaid dresses for my friend, I get a few messages from my boyfriend. The fish bone has been bothering him and he’s at the hospital, would I meet him there? I head over. We wait. We wait some more. He sees the doctor. “What seems to be the problem?” “We wait again. “So, we can’t see the bone on the X-ray, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not there. A fish bone would usually be too small to show up anyhow. We would like you to come back on Monday to see an ENT.”

Back at my apartment, my boyfriend decides that I should call my dad for equal parts humor and advice. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Did they take it out?” “He went to the hospital and they told him that the ENT wasn’t in and that he’d have to come back on Monday.” “That’s ridiculous. You know, hospitals are required by law to have all specialists on call at all times. Tell him to call the hospital, ask for the doctor on call and tell them that he has to be seen, or else I’ll call if you give me his date of birth, time he saw the doctor, and name of the doctor.” “Don’t worry dad, he’ll call.” “They said they would have to charge him again to be readmitted, he’d have to wait again, and he’d have to get a CAT Scan before the ENT would even see him.”

On Monday, he saw an ENT. The bone was gone, but he had some pretty nasty scratches on his esophagus. He’s all right now, but post-sea bass situation, I wondered how to avoid another fish fiasco. I went fishing for answers on the web. The consensus seemed to be to try swallowing a few small pieces of bread if you can’t find the bone to pick out. If the bread trick isn’t a winner, see a doctor. Bonne chance dodging those pesky bones and bon appetit!

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