Chapter 19- “You Swallowed a toothbrush?!?!” (Christmas part3)

This story is so ridiculously dramatic that I had to make it a Christmas trilogy. But let me assure you that it’s not the least bit exaggerated.

It’s Just. That. Stupid.

Back on the sunny beaches of Sanya, I got up one day to brush my teeth.

The toothbrush I brought was one of those cheapy hotel ones. I collect them because of the mini-toothpaste inside, which means A-okay for carry-on!

Like these.
Like these.

When I opened the package, I noticed this one was especially cheap looking. I didn’t think much about it, but as I brushed my teeth, I can feel the bristles falling off. Ew. I was disgusted and tried to spit them out. Unfortunately in the process, I think I swallowed a bristle or two.

For the rest of the day, I tried to ignore the feeling that plastic bristles were jabbing me in the throat. Every once in a while, I tried hawking it out like old Chinese men, but didn’t work. People around me thought I was possessed.

FYI, I’m also kind of a hypochondriac. I was convinced that I had the SARS, the bird flu and once I found out that HPV can remain dormant for years, and be transferable even in a monogamous relationship, I vowed to never have sex again. J was not happy about this.

So while others frolicked in the sun, I was fabricating gruesome and dire scenarios in my head. I pictured a massive hemorrhage inside my lungs.

Knowing that I have a penchant for the crazy, I turned to Lukas. He is always logical one, I needed him to say something rational and reassuring.

“My cousin once had a fish bone stuck in her wind pipe.” He said “She got to surgery late and almost DIED!”

I immediately passed out.

When I came to, my coworkers were hovering over me.

“She’s awake!” Lucy was there too “Give her some water!”

“What happened?” asked John, looking seriously concerned.

I explained the toothbrush story, and once finished, I felt faint again. Then I threw up in the sand.

John said he would take me to a hospital, and Lucy volunteered herself (and Lukas) because she can speak Chinese.

Lucy asked for the nearest hospital and so we went as John half carried me.

After waiting half an hour, I was told it’s almost closing time.

I could tell the doctor was in a rush to leave, so told my story quickly and he examined me.

“Where does it hurt?” He asked as I pointed to the bottom of my neck.

“We don’t have the equipment to examine that far. You’re gonna have to go to another hospital.”

Fuck me.

So then we took a cab to a hospital across town, during rush hour.

Have you ever been to a Chinese hospital before? I’ll spare you the details, but imagine the hassle of registering, finding the right department, and waiting in a North American hospital. Times that number by 150. Then you get a regular Chinese hospital. This particular Sanya hospital however, is that number times 50, divided by 2.5, add another ¾ then do a logarithm of….

I think  you get the point.

Thank God for Lucy! The poor girl had to run around the entire hospital, up and down, getting all the paperwork done.

I had nothing but a beach dress on, and was shaking violently from the A/C. John saw this and gave me his only shirt. For the rest of the night, he had to walk around half-naked.

Up til now, I considered Lukas to be my closest friends out of all these people. We hung out often along with Helen and always had so much fun. We called us The 3 Musketeers.

Which is why I was surprised by Lukas’ lack of concern. While his girlfriend was holding my hand and comforting me, he was playing on his Iphone. Every time I asked to him for anything, such as water, he just looked annoyed. The lack of empathy sent a shiver down my already cold spine.

After waiting what felt like a gazillion year, it was finally my turn, only to be told that the ENT(Eyes Nose Throat) specialist was on vacation.

Fuck me in the face!

“Why didn’t someone tell me earlier?” I was on the verge of tears. “ I could be dead in a few hours! Do you want me to die here??? Do you???”

Luckily screaming like a madwoman gets you the attention you need. Another doctor overheard and promised he’ll take a look at me in a second.

As I calmed down, I decided to call my parents.

I asked to borrow Lukas phone. He gave it to me reluctantly.

“Hi mom” I said as tears streamed down my face. “I just wanted to tell you… That in case something happens to me tonight…that I lo…”

“Why you talking crazy? Calm yourself and tell me what happened!” My mom yelled on the other end.

I proceeded to tell her everything.

My dad was now listening on speaker, and he’s a even paranoid than I am.

“You swallowed a TOOTHBRUSH?!?!?!” He screamed.

“No, no, toothbrush BRISTLE” I explained.

But he was too rattled to listen anymore, and all I could hear on the other end was “OMG, OMG, OMG! Call my sister- in-law! She’s a doctor! She can fly there!!!”

Needless to say, the “Kathy swallowed a toothbrush” story was told hereafter at every Chinese New Year, Mid autumn fest and every other holidays where families eat.

Finally, the nice doctor came to see me. Again, nothing he could do because the equipment needed was locked up by the doctor on vacation.

He referred me to yet another hospital.

You know those hospitals you see in horror movies? This third one was exactly like that.

It was extremely run down and filled with half dead patients on stretchers.

As we walked down dingy hall ways, Lucy screamed out “Omg is that blood?!?!?!”

It was either blood or poop, but either way, we ran like hell.

I told them “Let’s just leave! I don’t care if I die anymore! Just lemme dieeeeee!” I can be a bit overdramatic sometime.

John said “Let’s just try this one last time. Then we can give up.”

After some coaxing I decided to stay. Lucy had to run around again, registering, paying, etc. Before this, she was just Luka’s girlfriend to me. Now I felt bad for never taking the time to get to know her.

Once again China surprised me, because it was at this third-tier hospital that I got the help I needed.

The doctor gave me a whole bunch of tests, throat exam, X-rays, MRI, Ultrasound, I dunno.

I asked him “Am I gonna die?”

He laughed. “If it’s actually stuck in the windpipe, you would have choked to be death already!”

That was the most reassuring thing I’ve heard all day.

John started to crack jokes as we waited for the test results. I was starting to feel better already as Lucy snapped pictures of a him half-naked next to the blood stained walls.

When we finally got home. I found a brand new Crest toothbrush on my pillow(The fancy kind with tongue cleaner!) The note said “Merry Christmas. From Allison”


I took them all out to lunch the next day as a thank you. I said “Get whatever your heart desires coz it’s on me! I swallowed a toothbrush and LIVED! Nothing can ever keep me down again!”

The moral of the story is, I can be insane sometimes. But with the support of a few good friends, I can live to laugh about it later. And believe me, there was plenty of laughter the next day…and next month…and at every single staff meetings since….


7 thoughts on “Chapter 19- “You Swallowed a toothbrush?!?!” (Christmas part3)

  1. How did u get the bristle out. same happend to me a week ago and i haven been to docs yet but having cough and wheezing. pls advise. thanks


    1. The doctor put some cotton thingy down my throat to try and fish it out. But I think it was absorbed already. Because it was very tiny, I think it wasn’t a big deal. See a doctor though. Maybe yours is stuck somewhere.


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