KOCHI: For sexagenarian M S Mathai, hailing from Pathanapuram in Kollam, the year 1988 was his annus horribilis. It was the time when a fish bone got lodged in his tongue.
However, Mathai had to endure the agony and the discomfort caused by the fish bone for another 30 years before the surgeons at the VPS Lakeshore Hospital here successfully removed it.
“I was undergoing severe trauma for the last 30 years. I am greatly relieved now,” he said.
According to Mathai, who works as a coordinator at a vehicle showroom in Abu Dhabi in the UAE,”The tongue swelled up soon after the incident. Though I consulted a doctor there, he put me on a course of antibiotics and the swelling subsided soon afterwards”.
“However, later on, the tongue swelled up often. I consulted several doctors and all of them advised me to take antibiotics. But it gave me only temporary relief,” said Mathai.
He said whenever the tongue developed swelling it was very difficult to eat or drink.
Mathai again developed swelling and pain in February this year when he came home on leave. An MRI scan of the tongue done on the advice of a local doctor found conditions similar to those afflicted with tongue cancer.
Following this, he visited the VPS’ Oncology Department. The fish bone was removed by a team headed by Dr Shawn T Joseph, Consultant, Head and Neck Surgical Oncology. Mathai was discharged a day after the fish bone was removed.
Dr Shawn said the patient had approached him believing the pain and the swelling were indicative of cancer.
“As the scanning report indicated possible signs of cancer, we decided to perform a biopsy and he was given medicine for a few days. The swelling reduced within a few days and the biopsy ruled out cancer,” he said.
“ The patient said a fish bone had got lodged in his tongue 30 years ago. So we decided to perform a surgery mainly to prevent infection and it was interesting to find the fish bone,” he said.
“If the bone remained there, there was indeed the chance of developing cancer due to the resulting chronic trauma,” he added.