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A 76- year-old British woman sent to a GI specialist because of weight loss and diarrhea. She was diagnosed with severe diverticulitis, a condition that's common in older people in which small pouches bulge out from the colon. But when doctors did a scanning test of her belly they noticed something strange: "A linear foreign body in the stomach."

When asked about it, the woman remembered accidentally swallowing a black felt-tip pen 25 years earlier. According to her gastroenterologist Dr. Oliver Waters, she was standing on her stairs using an uncapped pen to poke a spot on her tonsils. She was also holding a hand mirror to guide the pen to the exact spot. Somehow, while doing this, she lost her balance and stumbled. The fall managed to push the pen down her throat. It glided down her gullet and found a home in her tummy.

She told her husband and her doctor what had happened, but they were skeptical of the story. X-rays done at the time were normal and found no trace of the pen. Flash forward to the present, to a different doctor and even better stomach-scanning technology to investigate the case of the missing marker. More than two decades later a scan hit pay dirt: The pen.

Although the woman's current digestive problems had nothing to do with the marker she had unintentionally downed, doctors decided to remove it anyway. After bathing in stomach acid for a two-and-a-half decades, the pen was corroded and the plastic was flaky, but, amazingly, the pen still had usable ink and could write!


TOM: Her new nickname is 'Sharpie'!


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X-ray of pen in stomach
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Actual pen with ink that still worked



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