back to article Is this cough cancer, doc? No: it's a case of Playmobil on the lung

The British Medical Journal has revealed a mistaken diagnosis of cancer was caused by Playmobil. A quartet of medico-boffins from the Departments of Respiratory Medicine at Wythenshawe and Royal Preston Hospital explain this malaise in a British Medical Journal case note titled “An airway traffic jam: a plastic traffic cone …

  1. David 132 Silver badge
    Pint

    Oh, Lester, your presence is missed.

    If ever a story needed a Playmobil reenactment...

    Pint, in memoriam--->

    PS: I managed to shove the wheel off a Matchbox car up my nostril at the tender age of 4 or thereabouts. I still have a vivid memory of going to Alder Hey hospital to have it removed, and the doc holding said wheel in tweezers in front of my eyes - but to this day I swear there was nothing on the tweezers. Wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that it was all a cruel con and the wheel is still there. It would explain a lot.

    1. S4qFBxkFFg

      Re: Oh, Lester, your presence is missed.

      "I managed to shove the wheel off a Matchbox car up my nostril at the tender age of 4 or thereabouts."

      Same age, same sort of thing, but in my case it was a polystyrene bean bag ball.

      A few decades later, and as far as I know, it's still there - the doctor didn't seem too concerned, saying it probably fell out without me noticing (possible, but I doubt it, in my idiocy I managed to get it quite deep up there).

      I live in hope that one day, an epic sneeze will produce a lump of polystyrene-cored snot horror and propel me into a new life of genius, like Homer Simpson minus the crayon stuck in his brain.

    2. DJ Smiley

      Re: Oh, Lester, your presence is missed.

      I stuck either a piece of lego (is what my Mum says it was) or Popeye's head (which is what I remember it being), from a kinder-egg up my nostril, and had to go to hospital to have it removed.

      Funny how we remember these things.

      1. Dave 32
        Pint

        Re: Oh, Lester, your presence is missed.

        Which is why Kinder eggs are banned in the USA. :-(

        They're available in Canada, though, but don't even think about trying to smuggle them across the border.

        Dave

        P.S. You can bring beer across the border, but make sure you declare it. Otherwise, the Customs guys can confiscate it and stick you with a huge fine. Oh, and if you do want to try smuggling it, make sure it's premium beer. ;-)

        1. ukgnome

          @Dave

          Kinder Eggs are banned in the states due to a 1930s law banning candy with non-food objects inside.

          However they do have kinder eggs (sort of) called Kinder Joy. The chocolate and the toy are separate to get around the law.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
            Trollface

            Re: @Dave

            If you can't have non-food objects inside your candy, how come you're allowed to buy Hersheys?

            1. horse of a different color

              Re: @Dave

              Having lived in the US for a while, I concur. Hersheys is the Devil's vomit.

              1. CrazyOldCatMan

                Re: @Dave

                Hersheys is the Devil's vomit.

                Spookily, I seem to remember that Hersheys does have in it some of the compounds that you would find in vomit.

                Can't be bothered to use $SEARCH_ENGINE to find it now though.

                1. Teknogrot

                  Re: @Dave

                  It doesn't count if the vomit is your own, after you ate Hersheys.

            2. Steve the Cynic

              Re: @Dave

              I think the law actually bans all kinds of thing with non-food inside food, so the answer to the question relies on what part of the outside of a Hershey bar is food. I mean, presumably it's 100% non-food, so there isn't any food on the outside for the non-food to be inside.

              And the law also, in this case, probably takes a ... broad ... interpretation of what constitutes "food". Hershey bars might *taste* like they are made of concrete and/or lethal poisons, but they *aren't* concrete and/or lethal poisons. Every one of the molecules in a Hershey bar is allowed to be contained in food. It's just that there isn't any actual food along with them.

              Hmm. I think I'm repeating myself, but I might just be saying the same thing in different words.

          2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: 1930s law banning candy with non-food objects inside.

            Ok, not candy, but fruit with stones inside should technically be banned. Some stones in fruit are lethal if cracked open and consumed.

            1. DV Henkel-Wallace

              Re: 1930s law banning candy with non-food objects inside.

              Yes, but new-age nutjobs can buy a packet of apricot pits (a packet of 60 includes the handy notice in small print: "do not eat more than five per day").

              An insane country -- love working here, but the quality of life is, umm, better than India.

  2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Proof...

    ...that traffic con[e in]gestion is bad for the lungs.

  3. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    ...bronchogenic...

    This explains why he was so hoarse.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: ...bronchogenic...

      ...but his condition is now "stable".

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: ...bronchogenic...

        I guess the cone was his mane problem...

        1. Hero Protagonist

          Re: ...bronchogenic...

          It would behoof you all to rein in the horse puns

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: ...bronchogenic...

            "It would behoof you all to rein in the horse puns"

            No point in shutting the door now - they are falling like cats and dogs.

            1. David 132 Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: ...bronchogenic...

              No point in shutting the door now - they are falling like cats and dogs.

              In related news, two cargo aircraft carrying Japanese car parts collided earlier - witnesses say it's now raining Datsun cogs.

              Sorry.

              7-year-old me will get my coat.

              1. CrazyOldCatMan

                Re: ...bronchogenic...

                witnesses say it's now raining Datsun cogs.

                Same witness that reported on the pride of the US space Navy that went too close to the sun and broke up? All they found was one star-mangled spanner..

  4. ukgnome

    True Story

    My fat younger brother inhaled a smaller traffic cone from my (toy) range rover police car. For fifteen years his breath was a horrible mix of shit and more shit. One day he sneezed, his nose erupted with blood and this small calcified traffic cone shot out. His breath still honks and he's still fat, but at least I now have a full set of cones for the coppers. (actually I don't, I am 44 and this happened when I was younger)

    1. Not also known as SC
      Angel

      Re: True Story

      Do I detect a bit of sibling rivalry here?

      1. ukgnome

        Re: True Story

        Not at all - He's a car showroom manager - read into that what you will.

        1. Not also known as SC

          Re: True Story

          Totally justified then :-)

    2. hoola Silver badge

      Re: True Story

      That was an awesome Corgi car, it had I think 6 or 8 cones, 3 signs, opening doors and rear. I had a collection of police vehicles, the Rang Rover, a Land Rover, 2 minis and I think a Ford Escort that may have had working headlights or flasher.

      Surprisingly, a few weeks ago I found the box of cars, looking a bit sadder than I remember in the loft, traffic cones included.

  5. choleric

    This is why

    you shouldn't play with Playmobil.

    Lego is the superior toy - the sharp edges on most blocks would cause far more trauma to a young child's lungs and require removal far more swiftly.

    Won't someone think of the children?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: This is why

      That's a good point. Small children should be given more sharp objects to play with.

      It's for their own good.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: This is why

        And they should play with them on their cone

    2. davidp231

      Re: This is why

      Don't forget the trauma to people who walk around barefoot...

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: This is why

      So the answer is Stickle Bricks.

      Perhaps ones made of metal, with extra-sharp ends. A proper educational toy!

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: This is why

        Perhaps ones made of metal, with extra-sharp ends. A proper educational toy!

        Funny how things develop here. We started with Playmobil, passed Lego and have finally arrived at caltrops for kids :)

        1. CrazyOldCatMan

          Re: This is why

          have finally arrived at caltrops for kids :)

          I remember, as a youngster, throwing one of Mum's crotchet-hooks at an annoying older brother. Trouble is, I'd selected one of the very fine ones and thrown it hard enough for it to stick in..

          I still think that he was a wimp for running around shouting at me to pull it out (quite naturally, as the smaller sibling, I'd thrown it at his back. My career as an assassin^W extreme troubleshooter started young..)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is why

        "Perhaps ones made of metal, with extra-sharp ends. A proper educational toy!"

        Glue a couple of old Intel x86 CPUs together.

      3. VinceH
        Trollface

        Re: This is why

        "Perhaps ones made of metal, with extra-sharp ends. A proper educational toy!"

        Meh. Just buy them a nice set of knives and be done with it.

  6. wolfetone Silver badge

    Moral of the story

    Inhaling Playmobil is worse for you than cigarettes?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "[...] and he's been spluttering ever since [...]"

    Apparently it produced no problems with breathing until about a year ago.

  8. drand
    Coat

    Playmobil or id didn't happen

    Oh...

  9. Simon Harris
    Coat

    First reported case of...

    conic obstructive pulmonary disease?

    Mine's the one with the stethoscope in the pocket.

    1. gregthecanuck
      Happy

      Re: First reported case of...

      Congratulations Mr. Harris.... you win LOL of the day!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Inhaling traffic cones can be bad for your health

    Let that be a warning to you

  11. Named coward

    felt poorly for a year, coughed up some very nasty stuff and so visited a respiratory clinic.

    He felt poorly and coughed up nasty stuff for a whole year before visiting a clinic?

    1. Buzzword

      Re: felt poorly for a year, coughed up some very nasty stuff and so visited a respiratory clinic.

      Are you not familiar with the NHS?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: felt poorly for a year, coughed up some very nasty stuff and so visited a respiratory clinic.

      He felt poorly and coughed up nasty stuff for a whole year before visiting a clinic?

      Well, he was a smoker, so was probably afraid they'd tell him it was the Big "C"

      [for cone, of course]

  12. Andy the ex-Brit

    I'm the same age as this patient, and I know I inhaled a small piece of Lego around the same year. Hopefully I don't become the topic of a similar paper one day.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      I'm the same age as this patient, and I know I inhaled a small piece of Lego around the same year.

      Maybe it was something about the year because in 1977 (I think) I accidentally swallowed a 5p (shilling) piece that I was supposed to be handing over as subs for Boys' Brigade.

      For some reason I was x-rayed at one hospital, but driven across town to a different hospital to have the thing removed. The x-ray showed it was not very far down, and the surgeon confidently told my parents it would be a matter of no more than an hour to get it out.

      Four hours later, my parents getting extremely agitated, it turned out that the journey had shaken the coin down. From what I gather, once they couldn't find it in the place shown on the picture, they basically had to feel for it gently, using longer and longer endoscopic type tools. It was reasonably well wedged; if it hadn't been they would probably have left it to make its exit naturally...

      M.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A small button battery went missing from a neighbour's kid's toy. He was suspected of swallowing it and rushed to A&E. An x-ray showed no sign of it - so a false alarm.

        My thought was that it would have worked its way through him. His mother is a nurse and told me that such batteries can get lodged - and the electrolysis then destroys flesh. A serious problem.

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          An x-ray showed no sign of it - so a false alarm.

          Presumably he was discharged.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan

          such batteries can get lodged - and the electrolysis then destroys flesh

          I'd also be pretty concerned with the toxic chemicals used in such batteries. Minor things like mercury..

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "Minor things like mercury.."

            IIRC button cells nowadays are usually marked as 0% Mercury and the cases are robust. The electrolysis burns through the walls of the oesophagus or guts.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I was waiting for the punch line where they removed five pennies, instead of the five pence coin.

        Anon Y. Mous

        1. hplasm
          Coat

          @Anon Y. Mous

          Still waiting-

          no change yet!

          1. Korev Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: @Anon Y. Mous

            Did the penny drop?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now that we're in this area...

    I once swallowed the metal end of a tape measure when I was three...

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Now that we're in this area...

      Must be awkward with the rest of it stuck outside?

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Now that we're in this area...

        Must be awkward with the rest of it stuck outside?

        Reel inconvenient, but on the plus side he's the only person in the world with 4 feet between his shoes.

  14. Mystic Megabyte

    Hg

    My sister once bit the end off a mercury filled thermometer, ISTR a bit of a panic as my parents got her to spit out bits of broken glass etc. It doesn't seemed to have harmed her, she recently retired from her job.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hg

      My sister bit the school dentist, which earned her hero status at her school.

      Not so much with the dentist, especially since she didn't let go that quickly :).

    2. JamesPond
      Joke

      Re: Hg

      "t doesn't seemed to have harmed her, she recently retired from her job."

      at the age of 21 due to chronic memory loss, poor visual spacial skills, attention deficit disorder and muscle weakness.

      1. Dave 32
        Coat

        Re: Hg

        I once crushed a Mercury-based thermometer in my mouth, too. However, it happened in a doctor's office. The doctor rammed the thermometer in my mouth just as I sneezed. Glass and bits of Mercury went all over the place (my mouth, the table, the office, him, etc.).

        Metallic Mercury isn't all that toxic. Heck, drinking a bit of it used to be a folk-remedy for an upset stomach! Now, other Mercury compounds, such as Dimethyl Mercury, can be exceedingly toxic.

        Anyway, it doesn't seem to have hurt me. Or, maybe that explains why I'm a cryptographer now?

        Dave

        P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the pocket full of Mercury-based thermometers. Have to have something to snack on, don't I?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hg

      I always felt nervous having one of those stuck under my tongue and being told to close my mouth. Nowadays you can buy cheap contactless gadgets that read the temperature of whatever surface you point them at.

      One day the office nurse commented that the vending machine was producing cups of coffee that seemed dangerously hot. She dunked one of her body temperature thermometers in my cup - and the thermometer immediately disintegrated.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hg

        One day the office nurse commented that the vending machine was producing cups of coffee that seemed dangerously hot. She dunked one of her body temperature thermometers in my cup - and the thermometer immediately disintegrated.

        With all those dangerously hot beverages around, no wonder you have an office nurse!

        Are the biscuits covered with glass shards, too?

      2. Simon Harris

        Re: Hg - coffee that seemed dangerously hot

        Not quite as dramatic as the thermometer, but the coffee vending machine outside the lecture theatre when I was at university dispensed coffee hot enough to melt* the stirrers intended to go with them.

        There was less attention paid to the lecturer, and more to constructing plastic stirrer sculptures.

        * ok, maybe not actually melt, but considerably soften.

  15. Seanie Ryan

    same here

    i once swallowed a tall tale.....

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: same here

      I have had this running through my heading reading the comments here :-)

  16. hatti

    Fantastic Voyage

    I think it would have been much more fun sending in a crack team of shrink rayed Playmobil figures to retrieve said cone rather like in that old film Fantastic Voyage. They could have been kitted out with jumpsuits, backpacks, ropes, saws, lasers and hard hats to complete the job. I'd pay money to watch that.

  17. Mike Rodgers

    It never ceases to amaze me

    At what the body can withstand and adapt to - and at the same time just how little it can take to kill you. SMH

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