Quit Pulling My Tongue


Somebody else’s tongue

4:20 p.m: (panicking… thinking) “If they pull any harder on my tongue, I’m going to throw up! Please let go. Please let go. Pleeeeeeaaaaazzzzzz let go.”

4:05 p.m.: “I see it! For this, we have to go into my torture chamber.”

12:15 p.m.: “I’ll have the fish and chips.”


“. . . be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”” 1 Peter 5:5, NKJV.

God knows how to keep me in my place. It all started at a nice lunch with my friend and coworker, Erich. I had fish and chips. During lunch, I felt a small something in the back of my throat. Yep, it was a fish bone. I tried coughing. Clearing my throat. Hacking. Every time I swallowed I could tell there was a fish bone stuck back there. Can you say UNCOMFORTABLE?

I tried drinking. Swallowing. Eating more food to shove it down. I told Erich, “I’ve got a fish bone stuck in the back of my throat!” He, having the spiritual gift of mercy, laughed.

We finished eating, and went on our way. I went back to the office, and did stuff. The bone was still there. I especially felt it when I swallowed. I told Margi, and she exhibited her mercy the same way Erich did his. But she also went on to suggest, “Call Dr Bergstrom. He’s an Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor.”

“Hello, my name is Bill and I have a fish bone stuck in the back of my throat, and ummm… I was wondering if the doctor could look at me because I really don’t want to spend the next six hours sitting in an E.R. and I’ve been at his nephew’s birthday party even though he really doesn’t know me so can I please come in even though I don’t have an appointment?”

“Hold on……………………………………………………………….. Okay, the doctor will see you.”

By 4:05 I was in his office chair. He was looking down my throat. “I can see it. For this we have to go into my torture chamber.” He smiled. I smiled. On the outside.

He was actually very, very nice and professional. It was a moment of doctor levity. He told me that most of the time he gets this call at 2:00 in the morning. People try to tough it out and then give up.

Humility: knowing that you give up before the next guy.

We went into the torture chamber, and here’s what happened:

They sprayed something in my throat to numb it. They sprayed something up my nostrils to open the sinuses. “We’ll go in that way.” My body shuddered involuntarily. Other people come into the room. The doctor starts shoving a thingy up my nose. I feel it turn south and start heading toward my throat. “Oh… those are connected.” “Yes they are.” This is not a pleasant feeling.

“Stick out your tongue.” A nice lady wraps gauze around my tongue. My eyes grow wide. “Whatdd dat tor?” I ask. “So I can hold it.” My eyes close.

Albert Einstein

God, am I not your servant? Have I not dedicated my life to you? Am I not an ambassador of the King of kings and Lord of lords… a royal child of Almighty God? An exalted preacher of the gospel? A spiritual V.I.P.? Why, God, why?

“Let’s roll!” says Dr Bergstrom, or something to that effect. Translation: Pull his tongue so hard that his navel puckers.

One lady, who I’m sure is very nice under normal circumstances, pulls out my gauze-wrapped tongue. If you ever have to pull on a tongue, gauze works great. The doctor has this thing up and down my nostrils. It’s a light AND camera. Oh joy. “I’m going in!” He reaches in with long curved forceps. Can’t grab it. Can’t grab it. Can’t grab it.

The back of my throat begins filling with saliva. My GAG REFLEX is triggered. I’m going to wretch. I’m going to wretch. Mind over matter. Relax. Don’t wretch. I am determined to be cool. Water flows out of my eyes. I’m about to gag, so I say so.

“Ahhd dowhdddd dooo aaaaaaaaaannnnggg” I say.

Everybody lets go. I swallow. Immediate relief. “My gag reflex was…” “Ready? You’re doing great.”

Pull tongue again. Stick in forceps again. Relax. Just breathe.

Finally, “I got it.”

Glory, glory Hallelujah! Glory, glory Hallelujah! Glory, glory Hallelujah! His truth is marching on!

Dog tongue

Forceps out. Nose thingy yanked out. Gauze off. Tongue retracted. Spit swallowed. Immediate relief.

“Wanna keep it?” “Sure! I’ll show it to my wife.” It’s about 1 inch long, the diameter of a stiff bristle from a hair brush. Whitish gray. The doctor showed me a throat chart. “It was in here” he says pointing at a pocket that God, in his sense of humor, just for this day, created in the back of the human throat.

Throat anatomy

To Dr Bergstrom and staff: Thank you. You guys are great. Kind. Professional. Fantastic offices. Thank you for squeezing me in. You’re my official ENT doctor in town.

To the unnamed restaurant: You’re still one of my favorites in town. I’m not gonna have the fish and chips for a while.

To God: very funny.

Grace: God keeping you in your place. From God’s perspective, we’re all high maintenance.


8 thoughts on “Quit Pulling My Tongue

  1. Bill,

    More stories like this and you could contact the networks! A new version of Seinfeld.


  2. I don’t think you need the spiritual gift of mercy to laugh your way through this story. Nice. We’ll stick with ribs for a while. At least then I’d believe you if you claim a bone is stuck in your throat.

  3. I currently have a fish bone in my throat, but have no means of transportation, was wondering if you can suggest another way to extract it.


  4. I think that I will never look down the throat of a big largemouth without now having a little more compassion as I carefully dislodge the jig or spinnerbait.
    Could it be easier to go through the nose?

  5. You crack me up. Of course I had total sympathy too. I almost choked to death (I’m positive) the other day and Frank had to do the hymlich or whatever on me. What inner brat is it that makes us laugh at other people pain & suffering? Cheers!

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