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Individuals with Pica can’t help themselves. Despite the name of the disease, it has nothing to do with Pokémon GO. Rather, those afflicted cannot stop themselves from eating random objects. Sometimes it is hair. Other times it is sand. For one unfortunate man in northwestern India, his inanimate object of choice was knives. And he was very hungry.
The city of Amritsar, in the state of Punjab, hasn’t had its police chief for the last two weeks. Jarnail Singh went in for a routine medical checkup and casually mentioned that he’d been having stomach pains. His doctor conducted an ultrasound and saw something. Believing that the law enforcement officers had a tumor, he proceeded to submit the patient to an endoscopy. To the physician’s horror, what he saw was a number of metallic objects.
When questioned by his doctor, Singh admitted that he had been eating knives for the last two months. When asked why, the police chief replied that ‘they tasted good.’ Some knives he swallowed open, others in a folded position. The doctor diagnosed his patient with Pica right away after that statement, but was more concerned with finding a capable surgeon to remove the blades. The director of The Corporate Hospital in Amritsar, Dr. Jatinder Malhotra, opted to perform the delicate procedure. Before opening up the patient, he ordered a full abdominal CT scan, which revealed over three dozen knives that had not yet reached the stomach.
With the assistance of three other surgeons, Dr. Malhotra successfully removed 40 knife blades from Singh’s body. The five hour operation, described as the most gruesome of Malhotra’s career, saved the police chief’s life. His recovery will take a week, after which he will step down from his position. When asked why he was leaving the police force, Singh said he no longer believed he could protect the city’s residents when he could not even protect himself from himself. In the meantime, he is under constant psychiatric supervision. Although Singh swore off knives, his doctors advised that if he ever wants more iron in his diet, he should try spinach, rather than cutting utensils.