• The Street Issue
    The Street Issue
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    I Swallowed My Toothbrush

    When you swallow your toothbrush, your life doesn’t flash before your eyes. Instead, you think to yourself, “Jesus fucking Christ, I swallowed my toothbrush, what the fuck do I do now?” And there’s really not much you can do; your throat muscles start contracting, and it gets pulled down like any other piece of food. You can attempt to make yourself throw up, but once that sweet, hard piece of plastic has reached the point of no return, there’s really no getting it out of your throat.

    Let me back up. How the fuck did I swallow my toothbrush? I’ve been a heavy drinker for a long time. I work a blue-collar job, my dad drank, the friends I grew up with all drink heavily. I’m sorry to admit it but it’s part of my culture. And while most of the people I was close to growing up were potheads and dabbled in meth, I get drug tested for my job, so I can’t do anything that the government deems ‘illegal’. So alcohol is my drug of choice.

    One day after getting super smashed, I decided to go to an Indian food buffet. By the time I got home, I was feeling really sick. I wanted to vomit. I stood by the can for a minute, without result. I hopped in the shower and, looking at the soap rack, I saw my toothbrush. I pushed it down my throat and I started to heave, but after a couple thrusts my fingers slipped and the toothbrush became lodged between the back of my throat and the top of my mouth at a 45 degree angle. My heart started beating faster. I tried reaching into the back of my throat to grab the brush. But as my adenine kicked in and I became panicked, my muscles contracted and pulled the toothbrush down even further. The movement of my muscles slowed, and I could feel each inch of plastic slowly slide down my throat and into my stomach. The plastic felt cold and alien inside my stomach. It was as if my body knew that it was taking in something it wasn’t supposed to.

    I got out of the shower quickly and, not knowing what else to do, I looked to the internet. I could breathe just fine – it just felt like I had something strange in my stomach. I looked up: “What happens when you swallow your toothbrush?” The first thing that came up: “You probably die.” My heart sank. I called my girlfriend and she said, “You should probably go the hospital.” I agreed and headed toward the nearest Kaiser Hospital.

    Once I got to the hospital, I told them that I swallowed some plastic. They told me to take a number, have a seat and wait for my turn. I only waited a couple of minutes before I was called to the back room, but not before I’d gone to the bathroom to once again try to induce vomit up of the toothbrush to no avail.

    The hospital staff led me into the first room of the facility. The nurse was of course incredibly hot, which only added to my embarrassment. “I swallowed my toothbrush,” I said to her. As I explained my entire story in great detail, the nurse just looked at me like she was thinking, “This white boy is crazy.” Jesus Christ. Eventually, she left and a doctor came in. I told the same story to him. “Do you do this a lot?” he asked, to which I responded, “Fuck no.”

    They took me to another room, where I waited for 30 minutes. At this point, the adrenaline had been running through me for about an hour and I was starting to feel extremely unpleasant. Another doctor came to take an x-ray of my stomach. Sadly, toothbrushes aren’t made out of metal, and they couldn’t find anything. “Are you sure you swallowed anything?” they asked. I sighed. The doctors thought I was crazy.

    While sitting in my third waiting room I started feeling really sick to my stomach. I worried that my body was starting to break down the plastic. After another 30 minutes, two doctors came up to me. They asked me the same series of questions in front of all the other people in the waiting room. What happened? Why did I swallow my toothbrush? Did I do this a lot? Am I sure that I swallowed something? After I answered all of these questions, I turned to one of the doctors and said to him, “Look man, I just want to make sure that I’m not going to die.” He looked at me and grinned. “You’re probably not going to die,” he said with a shrug. I called him a piece of shit and looked away.

    Taking pity on me, the other doctor took me aside to another room and told me to relax for a second. He came back with an ultrasound, lubed up my stomach and started looking for the toothbrush. People walking by our room looked inside as if they were thinking, “Why the fuck is this doctor looking for a baby inside this dude?” After looking for about five minutes, the doctor was still unable to find anything. This was good, he explained to me; he wanted to make sure that the toothbrush wasn’t lodged in my intestine and blocking shit from getting out my butt. I asked the doctor how the toothbrush was going to get out of me besides surgery (which would be very dangerous and could cause infection). “Oh, it will come out,” he said, smiling as if he was looking forward to being there when it finally happened. I pictured this awkward scrawny dude handing me a shit-covered toothbrush with a towel: “Congratulations, it’s a toothbrush!”

    I walked to my car and left the hospital to await the day sometime in the future when I would pop out my toothbrush. But before I could get out, the machine took my parking ticket. I couldn’t believe it – I was stuck inside the parking garage. I started imagining going back into the hospital and telling them that the machine ate my ticket. “Is there anything that this guy won’t eat?” they’d say. I paid a parking agent, got out and went home.

    Over the next several months, I checked in with the hospital only once. I talked to a nurse on the phone, and she was actually much more hopeful and reassuring than any of the doctors I had talked to, who only laughed in my face and didn’t believe a word I said. She told me plainly that the toothbrush was going to work its way through my intestines before finally coming out my ass. I might experience discomfort as the toothbrush took its long journey through my guts, and if the pain got too unbearable, I should come into the hospital so they could cut me open. Looking forward to finally shitting out my new-found plastic baby, I anticipated each and every shit over the first couple of weeks with glee. However, I didn’t find anything and by the end of the first month, I figured that the toothbrush had already passed through my system. After about three months had passed, I didn’t even think about it anymore.

    Then one day at work, I started to feel really sick. I could barely move and I had an intense pain in my stomach. Being that I had gotten really drunk the night before and also ate this really weird bacon jerky crap I bought at the liquor store, I figured that I was only having heartburn. By nighttime the pain was so bad that I started to throw up green bile. I called my girlfriend who convinced me to go to the hospital, and she was nice enough to come along for the ride. At the hospital I told the doctor I thought I was having heartburn. My girlfriend gave me a look which screamed, “Tell her about the fucking toothbrush!” I launched into, “Oh yeah, like three months ago I swallowed a toothbrush.” My doctor’s jaw dropped, and she replied, “Hmm… why didn’t you tell me that first?” After talking for a while, I was sent home, with the direction to come back if the pain again got too bad, in which case they would have to cut open my stomach and take the toothbrush out.

    A few days later, I was hanging out with one of my roommates and I bummed a cigarette off him. After smoking for a couple of minutes, I had a sharp feeling in my butt that I had to take a shit. Being that smoking usually does this too me, I thought nothing of it. Rushing to the bathroom, I quickly relieved myself. Looking down inside the bowl, I saw my bowel movement but nothing that looked like a toothbrush. Disappointed, I sent my feces to a watery grave only to see the toothbrush slowly appear, a vision both captivating and startling, like in Indian Jones and the Last Crusade when Harrison Ford poured Holy Grail water on Sean Connery’s gunshot wound and it instantly healed. Not knowing whether to put it in a frame or throw it away, I opted for the latter and picked it up with some toilet paper and tossed it in the trash outside.

    You probably shouldn’t use a toothbrush to throw up. If you do, you might swallow it. If you swallow it, you’ll either have to have surgery, which may result in infection and death, or you’ll simply shit it out. Either way, I suggest you spare yourself the hassle.

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