We all know the stories. Anyone with a friend who works in Casualty has heard tell of luckless members of the public admitted to hospital with a curious internal complaint. Over the years, it seems that giggling doctors have been asked to extract all manner of domestic apparatus from the nether regions of the sexually adventurous.
The legend of a Hollywood star offering his gerbil a temporary home while its Habitrail was being rinsed may be apocryphal, but there are countless other well-documented examples of people sticking household items where they don't belong. To hear our scrubs-wearing friends tell it, the emergency room is full of careless unfortunates with half a table lamp sticking out of their clacker, protesting to anyone who'll listen: "I was just dusting the pelmets and slipped off the window sill." Still doesn't explain why the other half of the lamp was smeared in enough lube to help a killer whale slip effortlessly through a porthole.
However, a recent case in New Zealand confirms that, every once in a while, someone is telling the truth about their anal mishap. Truck driver Steven McCormack was standing on the plate between his cab and the semi-trailer when he slipped and fell. Unfortunately, he landed on the brass nipple attached to the compressed air reservoir that powers his truck's brakes.
As the nipple pierced his arse cheek, it released a sudden burst of air, compressed to 100 pounds per square inch. That's enough to inflate an airbed in a couple of seconds, and it rushed straight into the unlucky driver's body.
"The only way for the air to escape was the usual way gas passed from the body."
Remember that scene at the end of Live And Let Die, when Roger Moore fired a shark gun pellet into Yaphet Kotto? Villainous Dr Kananga filled with air and floated to the ceiling of his underground lair before popping like a gobful of Bazooka Joe. Even as a child I laughed at the ridiculousness of the scene, but it turns out that maybe Mr Big's demise wasn't quite so preposterous.
Smiling, despite the painful after-effects of his experience, McCormack told reporters "I felt the air rush into my body and I felt like it was going to explode from my foot. I was blowing up like a football... it felt like I had the bends - like in diving. I had no choice but just to lay there, blowing up like a balloon."
Rather than tying a brightly-coloured ribbon around his ankle, Steven's quick-thinking colleagues released the pressurised container's safety valve to stop the flow of air. Although the brass nipple was still embedded in the poor guy's buttock, his co-workers were able to lift his expanded mass back onto the truck's plate. They placed him in the recovery position and found ice in a water cooler to relieve the swelling. Although their intervention saved his life, it still took a doctor to extract the nipple so that he could be rushed to hospital.
According to the reports, Steven "said his skin felt "like a pork roast" - crackling on the outside but soft underneath". All these years, I've been scoring, drying and salting my pork to get the right degree of crackle. Turns out, I just needed a bicycle pump.
The good news is that, several days after his ordeal, Steven has almost returned to his normal shape. And apart from the occasional child trying to rub him on a sweater to make their hair stand on end, he's made a full recovery: "The only way for the air to escape was the usual way gas passed from the body." So next time you let one slip in the office, just tell people you're deflating. It's a scientific fact.
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