We think of professional athletes as invincible with their skill, stamina and speed, but they too can succumb to mystery illnesses.
Such is the case for an 18-year-old professional athlete that is lucky to still be alive after a seemingly innocent accident.
The toothpick severed an artery, causing serious issues for the athlete.
The toothpick, which was 3 inches long, was most likely in a sandwich that he ate, but it wasn’t until later that the man would understand what caused his condition.
While the toothpick made its way through his digestive system with ease, it wreaked havoc once it hit his intestinal wall.
It poked through his intestines and severed an artery, causing an infection and creating an uncertain mystery for doctors.
As the athlete was traveling with his team, he felt some pain on the right side of his stomach. He started to vomit and had diarrhea.
He then went to the ER at a nearby hospital, where he underwent a round of blood tests and a CT scan.
The results of the tests were negative, leaving doctors baffled as to what was causing the man’s condition.
After five hours, the athlete was released, and his health problems seemed to subside for two weeks aside from occasional nausea.
But while on another road trip with his team, he had a fever of over 103 degrees. There was also blood in his stool, which was a major concern.
Back to the ER he went, but still, no one could understand what was causing his condition.
His team internist sent the athlete home to New England, where he had a colonoscopy at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
While there, his fever went up again and the pain intensified. There was more blood in his stool, and he was sent straight to the ER for help.
The athlete was displaying signs of sepsis. This is a life-threatening response of the body to bacteria, leaving the man with a fever of 104 degrees as well as unstable breathing and confusion.
Doctors were finally able to perform the colonoscopy, where they finally discovered the toothpick.
As doctors removed it from his artery located inside his intestine, blood began to pour out, and the athlete was in immediate danger of dying.
He was rushed to the operating room, where doctors removed 1.2 inches of the artery that was affected by the toothpick.
A vein from the man’s thigh was used to replace the artery. The athlete underwent three operations and finally woke up in complete shock.
“It was a big adjustment,” Dr. Fabian J. Scheid told The New York Times. “His big concern was his ability to do sports.”
The athlete was finally able to leave the hospital a week after his surgery. Doctors credit his quick recovery to his athletic abilities.
Just seven months later, the professional athlete was back in the game after undergoing physical therapy.
The athlete did remember having some issues eating a sandwich that most likely had the toothpick in it prior to getting sick.
While this is a scary thought, Scheid told The Times that the chance of this happening to others is low.
“It’s important to put these things in perspective,” he told the news outlet.
The lesson here is to be aware of what you are putting in your mouth, so you don’t succumb to a mystery illness that could put you at risk of health issues or even death – even if it is as seemingly harmless as a toothpick.
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