You know that song that goes "I know an old lady, she swallowed a fly, but I don't know why, she swallowed the fly"? Well, it was the next line that was worrying me after I had lunch on Monday.

I had a lovely home-made salad with lettuce, raw broccoli, gherkins, beetroot, sprouts. cheese and tuna.

I grabbed a plastic fork out of my desk drawer and went down to the kitchen looking forward to eating it.

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As I swallowed the second mouthful I felt something very hard in my throat and thought it must have been a chunk of gherkin I hadn't chewed properly. Then it really hurt and I was thinking whatever it was needed to come up but it was too late I could feel this painful thing travelling down my throat. I had to drink water to make it move faster as it really hurt.

Then I looked at my fork. A prong was missing — I frantically searched my salad — no prong.

I had swallowed a prong. There was plastic inside me — plastic with a very nasty sharp point. Oh my goodness was I going to meet the same fate as the old lady who swallowed a fly?

Others in the kitchen were making all kinds of "helpful suggestions".

"Ohhh I do hope it doesn't puncture anything in there. It's quite sharp". I knew that because my throat was jolly sore.

I was actually really worried - after all we know how bad plastic is for the environment so what the heck was it going to do to my tender insides?

I did what any right-minded person would do — no I didn't Google it — not straight away anyway.

I rang my doctor. As I was looking for the phone number another colleague quipped: "You might have to go under the knife for a fork."

It got even better. "You could be the next "F.A.W.C" poster girl".

Anyway, I rang Carlyle Medical Centre where my doctor is based and the receptionist didn't laugh at me at all.

In fact she listened to my sorry tale very carefully, then found a nurse for me to talk to.
The nurse said she didn't think I was in any danger but that she would have a word to the doctor and phone me back which she did in minutes.

"There's really not much we can do. We can't really go in and look for it. It's highly unlikely it will do any damage and will just work it's way through your digestive system. If you have any pain come and see us."

Well, I was slightly reassured but, of course, my imagination was off on a rollercoaster ride through my insides. What if it pierced this or that or got stuck there — oh dear that could be rather painful.

The very thought of this bit of plastic floating around inside me was making me feel ill. I was sure i could feel a twinge here or was it there.

Then I hit Mr Google with "what do you do if you swallow a piece of plastic fork".

I had to laugh when I got this response from one site: "Many people seem to search on the Internet 'What can happen if you swallow a piece of plastic fork?', so this seems to be a rather common concern " and "There are not many reported cases of adults visiting the emergency department after swallowing a piece of plastic from a fork".

That made me feel slightly better.

This entire saga made me even more aware of what happens when plastic ends up in our oceans. Our marine life have no doctors to turn to when they swallow mouthfuls of our waste.

Linda Hall is assistant editor of Hawke's Bay Today.