Today, while out visiting with family over a meal while here in Taiwan, I witnessed a remarkable homegrown treatment of a ubiquitous, cross-cultural culinary emergency – fish bone in the throat!! It played out right in front of me and I was absolutely floored at the calm and almost nonchalant way my aunt took care of it.
We were at lunch which was, amazingly, an 8 course meal including battered cod (see photo above!) We were chatting away happily and enjoying ourselves when suddenly a piercing high pitched cry let out. I looked up to see my 9 year old second cousin crying and screaming that there was a fish bone in her throat. She was gagging and crying. My 70 year old aunt (the child’s grandma) – in typical Chinese style – berated her for crying and making a racket, but simultaneously fed her a mouthful of noodles all the while saying, “Keep swallowing, keep swallowing!” Genius! With a few gags and forced swallows, voila! Problem solved. No more tears and no more throat pain.
My aunt went on to explain that she learned this as a young girl herself from her mother. She further clarified that noodles work best as opposed to bread or rice because the noodles can wrap itself around the fish bone and pull the fish bone down as it is swallowed whereas bread cannot. Fantastic!
Perhaps the next time a patient presents to the ED with this complaint, I should call the cafeteria instead of endoscopy 😀