Tiddlywink Stuck up Woman's Nose for 37 Years Found After COVID Test

A woman in New Zealand is breathing a lot easier following the removal of a small plastic disc used in the game Tiddlywinks which had been lodged in her nose for nearly four decades.

Mary McCarthy always wondered why she would frequently have a pain on the right side of her nose but managed to put it to the back of her mind as she went about her life.

However, after she had a nasal swab test for the coronavirus last October, things got a lot more uncomfortable.

The 45-year-old from Christchurch, in New Zealand's South Island, told Kiwi news outlet Stuff that her nose would be constantly leaking. "I was just in a lot of pain."

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The doctors she asked for help told her that it was probably due to a chronic sinus condition. She told Stuff she had "quite a lot going on in my life, so I pushed it into the background."

But it started to become unbearable and she was forced to go to the emergency department at Christchurch Hospital, where "luckily the nurse and doctor believed it was more than sinus pain."

"They asked me if I had ever put anything up my nose," she said, a question which spurred her to cast her mind back to her childhood.

She recalled how at the age of eight, like many children, she loved to play Tiddlywinks. The game invented in the U.K. and patented in 1888, sees players try to propel small discs, called "winks" into a pot, using another disc called a "squidger."

A doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope is shown in this illustrative image. A woman in New Zealand found she had a plastic disc from a game of Tiddlywinks lodged in her nose for nearly four decades. Getty

She remembered how while playing with her siblings, they improvised the game a little by putting one piece up each nostril and blowing them out.

"One time I accidentally inhaled one instead of blowing it out," she said, "I remember being terrified at the time, thinking 'where it has gone'."

She soon forgot about the incident, although she said she always had problems breathing through her nose "but never gave it much thought."

Medical staff discovered the reason why after a CT scan revealed an object in her upper nose.

Too big to remove while conscious, the object was taken out during an operation where it was pushed through her nose and out her mouth.

It turned out that the COVID test had shifted the disc and caused an infection.

"When I woke I said, 'what was it?' And they said it was the laugh of the hospital—a tiddlywink and it hadn't even lost its color," the hospital kitchen worker told Stuff.

"There was calcification around it and that was probably why my nose had grown a bit crooked."