It doesn’t matter if the sun’s in the sky or there’s snow on the ground, the Tovell family loves a good barbecue.
“We do it almost year-round,” Tara Tovell said. “As long as it’s not a blizzard outside, we’ll barbecue.”
But that passion for smoked meat hit a speedbump last week after one of their meals left 10-year-old Brady Tovell in a children’s hospital — and it wasn’t for food poisoning.
Brady unknowingly swallowed a small piece of wire from the brush used to clean the barbecue. He started vomiting Friday night, and when Gatorade and other fluids didn’t do the trick, Tara took took him to a nearby hospital for blood work, a urine sample and an X-ray.
“There was a lot of inflammation and fluid in his abdomen,” Tara said. “That coupled with severe pain and the location of the pain, they thought it was appendicitis.”
Brady was then rushed to Halifax’s IWK Health Centre from Fall River for additional examination. He was stable, but would require surgery the following morning.
Tara was told by the doctors there was only a five per cent chance that Brady would come out of the surgery with a healthy appendix.
And as it turns out, Brady defied the odds.
“The appendix was completely healthy,” said Tara. “There was no irritation, it wasn’t red at all, so they started at that point to just further explore a little bit.”
“They explored the bowel, and that’s when they saw the bristle sticking out.”
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For the worried mother, a stray piece of wire was the last thing that crossed the family’s minds.
“We just thought that he had the flu,” Tara said. “He didn’t really have a high fever so we thought maybe he had got a bug.
“Never in a million years did we think it was a barbecue bristle.”
Though it’s infrequent for patients to come into the hospital with wires lodged inside them, when they do, it’s difficult to determine the problem.
“A lot of people come in with abdominal pain and throat pain, and they themselves don’t really remember ingesting a wire brush,” said Dr. Darrell Chiasson, an emergency room physician in Halifax.
“They’re often missed on the initial diagnosis.”
The Tovell family generally doesn’t use wired brushes to clean their barbecue, but Tara says they were forced to because they’re moving between houses.
“Hindsight 20/20, we should have probably replaced the brush. But you just don’t even think about it.”
Tara shared Brady’s experience on her Facebook page. Never did she think it would receive the acknowledgement that it did.
“It was at 14,000 shares, there were 3,000 comments, 6,000 likes on it, and I have been reached out to people from all over the world, as far as Australia,” says Tara.
“For me, I guess just wanted to bring some kind of positive for the horrible experience that he had to endure. If it saved one other person from having to go through this, then it would be worth it.”
In the meantime, you won’t be finding wired barbecue brushes at the Tovell’s next family event.
“I threw it in the trash right away,” Tovell chuckled. “We’re going to try to be a little more organic when we’re cooking.”