The perils of toast

An account of the extraction of a foreign body from the rectumA cautionary tale from the Medical Facts and Observations, published in 1795:

On Tuesday, the 25th of March last, a French gentleman was sent to me by an Apothecary in this neighbourhood, complaining of a pungent, hot, and irritating sensation in the rectum ; which was considerably augmented during every evacuation per anum. These painful symptoms had commenced on the preceding Sunday, and continued to increase in so alarming manner, that, upon the day following, he was induced to examine with his finger, whether or any foreign substance, or other cause of his uneasiness, could be discovered in the intestine. He had the good fortune to feel something in the rectum, which he thought was unnatural, and could not remove it; and therefore he applied the next day for chirurgical assistance.

This ‘French gentleman’ went to see Dr William Blair at his consulting rooms at Marylebone.

Having submitted the patient to a proper examination, I readily perceived an hard body confined in the interior membrane of the interline. With the help of a pair of forceps, I extracted two portions of a brittle black substance; which, on careful inspection, appeared to be bread toasted nearly to a cinder: the two pieces, which were whole before the extraction was attempted, might be together about an inch in length, half an inch in width, and one third of an inch in diameter.

For once there was no mystery involved; all was quickly explained.

The patient remembered to have swallowed something with considerable difficulty two days before, while partaking of some soup; which was probably the same morsel of bread that distressed him upon this occasion.

The doctor suggests that there is a lesson to be learned.  One, alas, that we have failed to heed.

Does it not appear from this case, that bread when toasted is less fit for digestion than some persons would have us believe; and that it affords but little nourishment compared with that which is moderately baked?

Electric toaster
You won’t be needing this

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