by Clark Wilson
A man's encounter with a nuisance we've all faced.
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Walter stood at the bathroom sink, mouth gaping, staring into the mirror trying to find the meddlesome hair stuck in the back of his throat. Turning on the cold water, Walter filled a glass, and drank it down in one gulp. He waited a minute to see if the annoying scratching and tickling had abated. He swallowed and yes, it was still there. Mouth dropping open, he tried to look deeper into his throat, but the only thing he could see was the little thingy hanging down that no one ever seems to know the name for. He began to hack, trying to force the hair up. Damn funny Walter thought to have a hair in your throat, when you didn't have a single one on your head. A few minutes of hacking and spitting had earned him no results, then he heard his wife Agnes's voice calling to him.
Are you alright Walter? Are you sick?
No dear, I just have a hair caught in my throat.
Well drink some water and come to bed.
Walter looked doubtfully in the mirror, picked up his toothbrush, and began brushing his teeth. After rinsing his mouth, he drank another glass of water and headed to bed.
Did that help Walter?
I don't know yet, but I don't think so.
Walter laid there a couple of minutes, staring up at the ceiling, swallowed, and sure enough, the accursed hair was still there tickling away at his throat. He began clearing his throat and coughing, when he heard Agnes roll over towards him.
Really Walter, if you're going to do that all night, would you at least go sleep in the guest room?
Yes dear, sorry.
Walter got up, grabbed his robe, and headed to the hall bathroom. Once inside, he filled a cup with water, and began gargling with it. He gargled for about a minute, spit the water into the sink, and stood waiting to test the results. Once again, the hair still remained. Walter repeated the process numerous times over the next hour, until finally exhausted, he gave up and headed to the guest room to try and sleep. Walter laid there tossing and turning, coughing and clearing his throat, yet the hair still remained, wavering in the back of his throat. At 7:00 a.m. Walter finally got up and headed to the master bedroom to get dressed for work. Agnes was already awake and dressed, and was now making the bed.
Did you sleep alright Walter, your eyes are all bloodshot and puffy?
No Agnes, I didn't sleep a wink. This damned hair in my throat kept me up all night.
Agnes looked at him worriedly.
Maybe eating will help. You get dressed while I go start breakfast.
Agnes left the room heading downstairs, while Walter dressed for the day. Having dressed, he went into the bathroom and tried gargling once more. A few wasted attempts resulted in nothing, so exasperated, Walter headed down to breakfast. Agnes had eggs, bacon, and toast waiting, and when Walter entered the little kitchen, poured him a cup of coffee. She sat the coffee beside his plate, poured herself a cup, and sat down next to Walter. Walter began eating without much enthusiasm, swallowing each bite, as though he were trying to swallow a lump of coal.
Perhaps you should see Dr. Highsmith dear.
Walter looked at her doubtfully.
For a hair in my throat? That would be silly.
He might have something he can give you Walter. Something to wash it down or bring it up.
I'm sure it will eventually go down.
Walter finished his breakfast and went upstairs to brush his teeth. After a few more attempts at gargling, Walter sighed, and slump shouldered, went downstairs to kiss Agnes goodbye.
Is it gone Walter?
No dear, it's still there.
Go see Dr. Highsmith will you?
Yes Agnes, if it doesn't go away by lunchtime, I will.
Walter kissed Agnes and left for work. After arriving at work, Walter spent much of the next 5 hours making trips to the bathroom to hack, spit, and gargle. At 1:30 p.m., after no improvement and his throat getting sore, Walter told his boss he wasn't feeling well, left and drove to Dr. Highsmith's office. Walter waited in the reception area, drinking water from the fountain, until the nurse called him to come back. He followed the nurse to a room, after having checked his height and weight. She pointed him to the examination table, and while she checked his vitals, Walter continually kept clearing his throat.
What are we seeing you for today, Mr. Jacobs?
My throat. There is something in my throat.
The nurse made a few notations in Walter's chart.
The doctor will be in shortly Mr. Jacobs.
With that the nurse left Walter alone. He waited about 10 minutes. The scratching in his throat was becoming unbearable. He got up and walked to the sink in the room, turned on the water, and stuck his mouth to the faucet letting the water run into his throat. Dr. Highsmith opened the door, stood watching Walter a moment, then stepped in, closing the door behind him.. Walter stood from the sink, shut the water off, then turned to face Dr. Highsmith, water dribbling down his chin.
Walter? Are you okay?
No Dr. Highsmith. I'm not.
Walter began telling Dr. Highsmith about the hair caught in his throat, his night of no sleep, and his day thus far. Dr. Highsmith nodded and began a thorough examination of Walter. After examining Walter, he made notes in his chart.
Walter, I can't find anything wrong with you. You have some slight redness in your throat, but other than that, I can't see anything, and I would say that is from all the throat clearing and gargling.
Walter looked at Dr. Highsmith with panic in his eyes.
But doctor, I'm telling you I can feel it in there. It is driving me crazy.
Walter, I'm not saying there isn't anything there. I'm only saying I can't see anything obvious. I can set you up with an appointment to scope your esophagus, but I really think it will go away in a couple of days, if not before. You could try swallowing a spoonful of peanut butter or honey. It might coat your throat and get whatever is in there to go down. Give it a couple of days. I'm sure it will go away.
Okay doctor, I'll try it.
You call me Walter if you don't see some improvement, and I'll set up that scope for you.
Walter left the office, headed to the supermarket, and purchased a jar of peanut butter and a bottle of honey. He returned home with his purchases, and entering the kitchen, sat his bag on the table and went to the drawer for a spoon. Agnes wasn't home, so Walter sat down at the table, opened both containers, and began spooning peanut butter into his mouth. After each spoon of peanut butter, Walter picked up the bottle of honey, and squirted some in his mouth. 30 minutes later, Walter sat at the table looking at the two empty containers, and trying to swallow the last of the peanut butter and honey. A wave of nausea came over Walter. He shoved away from the table and went running to the bathroom. Sitting on the floor in front of the toilet, Walter leaned over and vomited forcefully until nothing else would come up. Unrolling toilet paper, he wiped his mouth, dropped it in the bowl, and pushed down on the handle flushing the toilet. Walter got up going to the sink to splash water on his face and rinse out his mouth. He pulled a towel from the rack, dried his face, then looked at his reflection in the mirror. At the corner of his mouth, Walter could see a dark hair, hanging from his lip. He reached up with his fingers, grasped the hair, and pulled. Panic washed over Walter, as pulling, he could feel the hair sliding up his throat and across his tongue. Walter pulled and pulled, and yet the hair continued to come out of his throat, now reaching all the way to the bowl of the sink. Shock setting in, Walter pulled more frantically at the hair. The more he pulled, the more of it came out. My god thought Walter, it is piling up in the sink. Walter stared in disbelief at the pile of hair. The very act of pulling was tiring Walter, but then he felt something odd happen. Suddenly, the hair stopped coming and a lump rose in his throat. His windpipe closed as suddenly as a door slamming shut, and he began gasping for air. Scared and on the brink of hysteria from being unable to breathe, Walter gave a forceful tug, felt the lump rise slightly higher, then stood in dismay staring at himself, as the hair snapped, and the end went back into his throat. Walters eyes began to bulge, as he searched his mouth for the end of the hair. He grabbed a glass filling it with water, and tried washing the hair back down, but the water only pooled in the top of his throat and mouth. Clutching his throat, Walter fell to the floor, unable to breathe. When Agnes found Walter, he was quite dead. It looked as though he had tried to claw his own throat open.