This past December, 2006, a British radiologist, and the executive director of the Sword Swallowers Association International published a fascinating surveywhich evaluated, “information on the practices and associated ill-effects of sword swallowing.”
The respondent sword swallowers typically required extended daily practice for months or years to appropriately desensitize their gag reflex,
…sometimes by repeatedly putting fingers down the throat, but other objects are used including spoons, paint brushes, knitting needles, and plastic tubes before the swallower commonly progresses to a bent wire coat hanger. The performer must then learn to align a sword with the upper esophageal sphincter with the neck hyper-extended.
Not surprisingly, such “desensitization” training does not spare sword swallowers from the predictable hazards of their chosen profession, including serious morbidities — perforations of the pharynx or esophagus and associated neck abscess or aspiration, pneumothorax, pleurisy, pericarditis, and intestinal bleeding, ranging from melena (frankly bloody stools), to blood-transfusion-requiring hematemesis (vomiting blood)-and even death.
Mere på The American Thinker