For most of her life, hospital kitchen worker Mary McCarthy often had a pain on the right side of her nose.
Last year after an extremely painful Covid-19 test, her nasal problems deteriorated.
The reason became obvious on Thursday when a surgeon at Christchurch Hospital extracted a yellow tiddlywinks piece 37 years after it was lodged in her upper nose as a child.
The surgeon also removed calcified material that had grown around the counter.
Mary McCarthy had an operation on her nose to remove a tiddlywink.
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Tiddlywinks, which was developed in England in the 1860s, is played with sets of small discs called winks. Players use a squidger to shoot a wink into flight and into a pot for points.
McCarthy, 45, an Addington resident, was recovering on Friday and, although still in pain and very nasal, was breathing through her right nostril for the first time in eight months and seeing the funny side of her ripsnorter of a story.
She said she remembered playing tiddlywinks with her seven brothers and sisters and as an 8-year-old took the game on a tangent by putting one piece up each nostril and blowing them out to see how they would go.
McCarthy is breathing easier after the removal of a tiddlywink from her upper nose.
One time I accidentally inhaled one instead of blowing it out, and I was a bit too scared to tell my mother, so I didnt. I remember being terrified at the time, thinking where it has gone.
Not one to complain, she put the accident at the back of her mind and carried on with life.
I always had difficulties breathing through my nose over the years but never gave it much thought.
But last year the problem took a turn for the worse.
The tiddlywink that caused McCarthys pain and breathing difficulties.
After a Covid-19 nasal swab test in October she was in pain for days afterwards, and then started developing serious sinus problems.
My nose would be leaking constantly and I was just in a lot of pain.
She went to several general practitioners who put the pain down to a chronic sinus condition.
I had a quite a lot going on in my life, so I pushed it into the background.
McCarthy, pictured when she was 8 years old.
McCarthys 22-year-old son, Michael, is severely autistic and non-verbal and lives with her.
She decided to go private and had booked an appointment to see an ear, nose and throat specialist in August.
But she needed help sooner. On Wednesday she finished work in a lot of pain and went to Christchurch Hospitals emergency department.
Luckily the nurse and doctor believed it was more than sinus pain. They asked me if I had ever put anything up my nose and I told them about the tiddlywink, sort of laughing it off.
A CT scan revealed an object in her upper nose, although it did not look like a tiddlywink. The doctor tried to remove it while she was awake, but it was too big and too painful.
In the operation the object was pushed through her nose and extracted through her mouth. The Covid test had dislodged 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 hadnt even lost its colour. There was calcification around it and that was probably why my nose had grown a bit crooked.
McCarthy said she was looking forward to a life of easier breathing and a straighter nose.