A 35-year-old man was recently shocked to learn that the nose piercings he had lost one night five years ago had wound up in one of his lungs.
A few weeks ago, Joey Lykins, a piercing enthusiast from Cincinnati, woke up in the middle of the night with a terrible cough. It felt like something was blocking his airways and he coughed until his back started to hurt.
He felt like he couldn’t breathe and began to suspect that he had pneumonia or some other serious respiratory condition. Lykins went to the hospital for an examination the next day, and the X-ray revealed something unusual in the upper lobe of his left lung.
The doctor showed him the scan and the small, twisted object left him flabbergasted. It was something that he had lost years before and that he never would have expected to find in his lung…
“The doctor came in and showed me the X-ray picture and said, ‘Does this look familiar?’’” Joey Lykins recalled. “I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me! I’ve been looking for that.’ I didn’t know what was going on, but I never would have thought that’s what it was.”
You see, one morning, about five years ago, Joey woke up and noticed that he didn’t have his septum ring anymore. He had had the piercing for about four years at that point, but he had never lost it. This time, it was like it had just disappeared. He looked everywhere for it, but in the end, he just gave up and got another septum ring.
At one point, Lykins thought that he might have accidentally swallowed the ring, but he never imagined he could have inhaled it. But it turns out he did. The 35-year-old figures that the nose piercing fell off while he slept, traveled down his windpipe, and got stuck in his left lung.
“I don’t know if it could have caused damage, but it was wrapped up in scar tissue, so it didn’t look like it was going anywhere,”, Lykins, who has 12 other piercings, said.
After identifying the foreign object, doctors scheduled Joey for emergency surgery and they performed a bronchoscopy to retrieve the piercing.