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A Chinese man who recently turned up at a hospital in Yunnan Province with a swollen eyelid and excruciating headache was shocked to learn that his condition was caused by several pieces of wood stuck in his brain.
The 41-year-old man, surnamed Zhou, told doctors that he first realized something was wrong about two months ago, when an old scan on his right eyelid became swollen and his occasional headaches started getting worse. Unable to deal with the pain, he finally went to the First People’s Hospital in Yunnan Province for treatment, where a computerized tomography scan revealed that he had several pieces of wood with a combined length of 11 cm stuck in his brain. Asked how on Earth he had ended up with so much would deep inside his skull, Zhou recalled an accident that had occurred half a decade prior.
Zhou told doctors that five years ago, while working in the woods in Mojiang County, he tripped and fell face first into a thick tree branch that pierced his right eyelid and entered his eye socket. He maintained his composure, pulling out the stuck branch with his bare hand and then stopping the bleeding. Because he didn’t experience any vision problems and, most importantly, because he lacked the money, he didn’t go to a hospital, instead letting the wound heal by itself.
The 41-year-old said that he occasionally experienced sharp pain and headaches after his accident, but never really thought much of it. However, it turns out the problem was much more serious than he originally thought, as the branch that pierced his eyelid penetrated deep into his brain and broke into several small pieces that remained there after he pulled it out. Luckily for him, those wood pieces didn’t hit any important blood vessels or nerves but they had migrated all the way to his cerebellum and had recently become infected, which caused the man’s headaches to worsen.
Doctors told Zhou that he needed emergency surgery, but he and his wife were reluctant to give their consent because they feared the operation could cause him to go blind, and because they didn’t have money for the treatment anyway. Understanding the situation, a professional medical team of neurosurgeons and ophthalmologists assured the couple that they would do everything in their power to solve the problem without causing any damage to Zhou’s brain, and devised a treatment plan that they could afford.
Fortunately for Zhou, the operation was a success. Doctors extracted several pieces of wood from his brain some of which were only 5mm away from vital points that, if affected, could have rendered him permanently disabled or even killed him instantly.