A Truly Egg-ceptional Procedure
Mrs. Ching came into our office one day with her pet chicken named Louise. Although there are veterinarians trained to service chicken farms, it’s not often that we examine chickens at our office. Mrs. Ching feared that something was wrong with Louise. She shared the yard with three other hens and they all regularly produced eggs for the Ching family to eat.
“Dr. Kaya, I’m worried about Louise. She stopped producing eggs about three months ago. The other hens are older than Louise and still lay about five eggs a week. Sure, we miss her eggs at breakfast, but we’re more concerned about her health. Is she OK?”
“Well, Mrs. Ching, Louise is only 2 years old. She should still be laying eggs since some hens lay till their 10th birthday. Let’s first start with a physical exam to see if anything’s wrong with her.”
The exam revealed nothing out of the ordinary. Louise was a healthy, happy chicken. After sharing this fact with Mrs. Ching, I got permission to X-ray Louise to look for any internal abnormalities. What we found proved very interesting – and challenging.
“Mrs. Ching,” I announced, “Louise seems to have an egg stuck in her reproductive tract. We usually call this condition egg-bound, and often-times it’s because of an abnormally large egg. In Louise’s case, the egg appears to be smaller than normal. It’s probably been there for all these months and slowly shrank with time. It caused her to stop laying eggs.”
“Doc, can you take it out?” inquired Mrs. Ching.
“It will require surgery, which is risky, but I think we can remove the egg.”
Surgery on birds can be difficult, and since a chicken is not a common surgical patient, the risks are high. Fortunately everything went well and Louise made a quick recovery. After the surgery I presented Mrs. Ching with the egg.
“Wow, Doc, the egg is so small and black,” commented Mrs. Ching.
“Yeah,” I agreed “It sort of looks like the Chinese delicacy known as the 1,000-year-old egg.”
With that comment, Mrs. Ching’s eyes opened wide. “Doc, do you think we could eat it?”
With a composed face, I replied, “Might I remind you about where the egg’s been for the past three months: a couple of inches from Louise’s anus. I suggest you show it to the family, then throw it away. Despite the temptation, do not ingest the egg.”
Mrs. Ching laughed. “Don’t worry, Doc. I was just kidding.”
Or was she? Years later as I enjoy the various food shows on TV, I can just imagine Louise’s egg being a delicacy in some remote village on the other side of the world.
Would I consider eating Louise’s rotten egg? I guess if you offered me $1 million I would. Yes, it was gross, black and smelled funny, but so do a lot of things we eat. On the wild side, it just might be considered a savory morsel.