While you may think ambulance workers are mature professionals who have seen and heard everything, every now and then a call pops up on our screen that makes our eyes water. One such call appeared the other day. A four year old boy had somehow managed to get a Triple A battery wedged irretrievably in his foreskin. (Point of note: the FRED system automatically dispatched a fast response car, thinking the “Triple A” bit referred to an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. Not so clever, FRED…) This, of course, led to much confusion and speculation as to how the battery found itself in the offending region in the first place and the position it must be in for it to be so irrevocably wedged. No firm conclusions were reached.

The conversation progressed to other foreign objects in genitalia we’d taken calls about in the past. Vibrators, household objects, chillies, razor blades… they’ve all been misappropriated at some point, but the trump story came from a paramedic who now works at HQ. Back when he was on the road, he received a call to a psychiatric patient, who, according to the call taker, was hallucinating and believed she had roots protruding from her vagina. Well, when he arrived, the patient showed him the offending areas, and there, clear as day, were the roots. It transpired that his patient had put no less than FOUR potatoes up “there” several days ago (new potatoes, I hope, not King Edwards) and, as any gardener will know, potatoes thrive in a warm, damp environment. The potatoes had sprouted. I do not envy the poor member of A+E staff who had to dig them out.

Published Nov 18, 2008 - 26 Comments and counting

26 Comments on “Foreign Bodies”
  1. Corrvin Says:

    As far as explaining the young man’s predicament, do the following: Put on a nice sweater (er, jumper, for y’all across the pond). Now put a short pencil, about 5″ long, in your hand, as if to write. Hang onto it, then pull your hand back into the sleeve, using your other hand to pull the cuff over your fist.

    At this point, you have a predicament approximating the proportions of the patient’s glans penis (your fist), foreskin (your sleeve/cuff), and battery (the pencil). You’ll find that you can’t get the cuff back down without some stretching, which is quite easy in a knitted fabric, even if it’s bound off tightly. However, the opening of the foreskin can be quite constricted in some cases (it usually eases off with puberty, or can be corrected) and that plus the embarrassment/trauma of the issue might force an ambulance call.

    Speaking of embarrassment, I almost can’t believe I’m posting this with my name on it. Hello, future employers! Don’t be shocked, I’m like this on the job too!

  2. Matt Hopkins Says:

    Love the bit about FRED categorising it as an aneurysm! I wonder what inspires all these people to put such strange things in their genitalia?!


  3. Anthony Says:

    My cousin, a wild life force lost while still in her 20s, was studying to be a dentist at UCH (I believe – this recollection goes back to 1980) and spent some time in casualty (again, please forgive if this is the incorrect term). Well anyway, the doctors had a chart behind a door on that ward which had marks from zero to five stars for the most unusual foreign object found lodged in a personal space.

    Fruit and veg were commonplace, although – aprocryphal this one – a special merit award was granted to the doctor who commented, upon inspecting a well tenanted anal orchard: “Mmm, I see you have your lunch with you.”

    My cousin recounted gleefully that the only maximum score recorded during her time there was a bust of Napoleon.

  4. Asha Says:

    Four potatoes for several days? That psychiatric patient is never going to have incontinence issues.

  5. Paul Lazar Says:

    Wooohoooo anyone want the baked potato I’ve bought in for my lunch! I’m not really feeling like it anymore for some reason ;)

  6. Chapati Says:


  7. Me Says:

    Knew a theatre nurse very well who was in theatre when a gentleman had a jam jar removed from his rear end… My question was what flavour was the jam?!

  8. Crazy Nurse Says:

    My housemate works in cas, as do several other friends I qualified with. They can relate loads of tales of adults losing various items in various orifices. Hoovers have many many uses, apparently(!) but the best they have related to me was the chap who managed to get a pint glass wedged in his anus – without cracking it!!

  9. Karin RN Says:

    OMG, the stories I hear from emergency room staff or paramedic staff are so crazy.

  10. Flora Gardens Says:

    At a slight tangent (battery-related only) I was delighted to receive a call on the MDT a few weeks ago to an MH unit at a certain hospital in West London -”PATIENT STATES HAS SWALLOWED AA BATTERY AS HE WANTS TO BE THE DURACELL BUNNY”

    Unfortunately it was the patient calling so we never got to actually see if he went on, and on, and on…..

  11. Clint Says:

    And this is the reason the NHS is in crisis, surely anyone with any experience knows you only dig out the potatoes you need and you bank up the rest in their beds until you need them too. That way you can be assured of a supply of fresh veg all winter.

  12. John Haythorne Says:

    Crazy nurse – ‘Hoovers have many many uses’
    The one I heard from A&E staff was about a gentleman who obtained some pleasure from the suction provided by a small hand-held vacuum cleaner (Hoover Dustette) – right up to the moment he found out the rotating fan was only 5 inches from the nozzle.

  13. Piper Says:

    Don’t give my 4 year old son ideas……..

  14. Jake Says:

    Corrvin, that was perhaps more detail than we really needed. My eyes were watering enough as it was!

  15. Emma Says:

    You have been given an award!


  16. Sam Says:


  17. loulou Says:

    I think you’ll find the patient was 6 years old. I know because I was sat near the call taker whilst they were taking the call. I was thinking… now a toddler I could see doing something odd like that (I’ve had plenty of calls where toodlers have stuck stuff inside their ears, noses etc) but a 6 year old boy and his foreskin!?

  18. Ailbhe Says:

    I live in dread of the day one of my kids gets something stuck in their vagina. It’s difficult enough to explain to the four-year-old that she mustn’t get it dirty in case she gets ill; the two-year-old is still at the stage of saying “Look, ma hole!”

    I imagine the fascination of a foreskin takes some time to wear off. Like about 65 years.

  19. Matt Dinnery Says:

    I have heard of a story involving a young male and his girlfriend experimenting at home with a vibrator. The male decided he would like his girlfriend to try using it in his anus.

    Somehow, by creating suction it was assumed, the vibrator ended up in the anus beyond the reach of the girlfriend (still switched on).

    They ended up in A&E where the girlfriend chose to disappear before his parents arrived!

  20. Helena Says:

    Congratulations on getting into the Guardian’s weekend section today . . . I’d never come across this before, but I’ve found it really enjoyable :)

  21. Steve Says:

    Bizarre – I’ve had a sprouting potato in vagina – Old nan with dementia suffered prolapsed womb and used a potato to push it back up there, then promptly forgot about it. An old timer on my station has a story of a similar event dating back to his old QAM Miller days.

  22. HotToast Says:

    Tip top work on being the Guardian. I was really pleased to see your name.

  23. Stonehead Says:

    An ex-GF was an A&E nurse with a plethora of tales about the weird and wonderful things found in people.

    One of the ones that stands out was the tale of a morbidly obese man who was brought in after an accident. As the team were removing his clothing, they noticed he was extremely dirty and hadn’t changed many of his underclothes for some time.

    As they removed layer after layer of clothing, they noticed a strange bulge or crease running up his belly and initially thought it was an injury. However, when they removed his last, filthy vest they discovered a long, white stalk, about six inches long, emerging from the centre of his belly.

    Examination revealed the man’s navel was filled with crud, and a seed of some sort had become embedded in it. It had germinated, taken root and was busy growing up his body in a search for sunlight.

    My ex said that fortunately they had a student nurse working with them that day and she was given the job of cleaning the patient’s navel out…

  24. Katie Says:

    I was so proud of myself for not grimacing during any of that until i came to the last post. Thanks Stonehead that is a totally gross image that I didn’t need in my mind.

  25. e cigarette Says:

    How the heck does a 4-year-old manage to wrap his foreskin around a AAA battery? I know that this particular battery is not so thick, but he would have had to experience some kind of pain when stretching out the skin. As for the woman with potatoes in her you-know-what… wow, just wow.

  26. Polprav Says:

    Hello from Russia)

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