Questionable medical advice leads to death of old lady who swallowed a fly

By ThinkReliability Staff

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly. This was presumably accidental, but whatever the reason, it happens. Then the old lady swallowed a spider. Again, it happens. And, if you were looking for a Darwin-ish way to catch live flies, this seems to make sense. However, at that point, whether due to increasing hysteria or bad medical advice (possibly from the internet?), the old lady then proceeded to swallow progressively larger and larger animals until it led to her untimely death.

After swallowing the spider which, according to an eyewitness, wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her, the old woman apparently felt that ingesting another animal that could catch the spider would be a good idea. So, she swallowed a bird. Now, this isn’t entirely illogical – birds do catch spiders. But the idea of ingesting a bird whole would give most of us pause. Even if it didn’t, there aren’t many types of birds that many people could easily swallow whole. Regardless, this is what the old lady did.

Continuing to move up the food chain, the logical choice of animal to catch a bird is a cat. Of course, many of us have cats as pets, and can’t imagine swallowing them, even for the purposes of catching a bird. But again, this is what the old lady did. Maybe the horror of what she had done finally got to her, because her next actions didn’t seem to answer to logic. Next, the old woman swallowed a dog. Although dogs chase cats, it’s unclear how often they “catch” them. A better choice to “catch” a cat would have probably been a cardboard box.

Then the old lady went for a goat. While goats are good for eating grass (and various other things), there’s no real evidence that goats have any desire to catch dogs. In fact, dogs are occasionally used for herding goats, so it’s unclear why the old lady would have turned to a goat next. But again, that’s what she did.

By then the delirium was apparently at an all-time high, because the old lady then swallowed a cow. It has been verified by veterinary experts that cows are not capable of catching ANYTHING, much less a goat (plus the dog and cat that are likely still running loose in there). After swallowing a cow, the old lady then gave one last ditch effort to finally wrangle all those animals she had swallowed and swallowed a horse. Beyond the obvious physical challenges involved in swallowing a horse (clearly involving an unhinged jaw and a very, very flexible throat), there are, again, moral considerations as well. But a horse does seem a better choice to wrangle a bunch of animals, although horses used for herding are generally controlled by a human rider . . from the outside. Sadly, eating a horse was too much, even for our very sturdy old lady, and that was the last thing she ever swallowed.

While the desire to catch animals already swallowed appears to be the main driving force behind the rather interesting last meal of the old lady, the question “why” is always close at hand. In particular, why did the old lady choose this particular line-up of animals? Because our best witness (the old lady) is speaking no more, we can only guess at what led to her decisions. I suspect that she came upon a nursery rhyme on the internet and confused it for advice. Which is why, any time you have a concern about something that somebody swallowed, it’s best to see or call a doctor, or poison control. (And if you swallow a fly, your stomach acid will make quick work of it, so no worries.)

Because of the risk of death involved, I propose that we place warning signs on all animals not meant to be consumed whole. The obstacles in implementing this solution are many, but when deaths of old ladies are at stake, one cannot be too safe.

To view the investigation of the old lady’s death, please click “Download PDF” above. Happy April Fools’ Day from ThinkReliability!