A late night snack turned into a medical emergency for a Fort Lauderdale man when he accidentally consumed approximately one and a half cups of cement mix. 43-year-old Randy Turlington entered his brother’s kitchen with an appetite, and fixed himself what he thought was a bowl of cereal to quell it. The cement was in its original package, which happened to be brightly-coloured, and the under-literate Turlington mistook it for food.
“I thought it was odd that the bag was so heavy, but the word “cement” looked to me like “cereal” since I guess the first few letters are the same and the words are similar in shape,” Turlington explained. “I read the words “dry mix” and figured, you know, cereal comes dry and gets mixed with milk. This sorta makes sense.”
Unbeknownst to Turlington, his brother Doug, a contractor, had left the cement sack on the kitchen counter to bring to a job the following morning. Before Doug could discover the freshly-opened sack, however, he was awoken by Randy complaining of stomach pain and asking for a ride to the hospital. Neither realized what the problem was until Doug, upon returning home later in the morning from dropping off his brother, found that his cement had been broken into. Remembering that Randy mentioned some “awful cereal” over the course of the drive, Doug investigated and discovered there was no cereal in the house. Putting two and two together he phoned the hospital and informed the staff that his brother had likely ingested a serving of cement mix with milk.
“It didn’t taste real good but I was pretty hungry,” said Turlington when asked how he could get so far through a bowl of cement without realizing it wasn’t food. “My niece just started one of those vegan gluten diets, so I thought the taste and the gritty texture had something to do with that. The whole time I thought I was eating something healthy, but maybe hadn’t cooked it right. I thought maybe this is some kind of cream of wheat, but didn’t feel like heating it up.”
As soon as they received Doug’s call, staff at Fort Lauderdale Hospital took an x-ray of Turlington and confirmed there was indeed a significant mineral build-up showing up in his intestines.
“It appeared in the x-ray very clearly,” said Dr. Stephen Lieberman, who oversaw Turlington’s care for the bulk of his hospital stay. “The cement had compacted into a mass in the lower intestine. We prepared to operate but when we took a second x-ray to see if it moved, we saw that it had. It seemed to be moving along down, albeit slowly, so we decided to wait. Luckily the patient was able to pass the mass and only suffered abdominal pain. Let’s just say it’s a good thing he didn’t have seconds.”
“It was like giving birth,” reported Turlington. “When that sucker crowned I was screaming, and the nurse was there telling me to breathe just like in the TV.”
Although Turlington avoided the added expense of surgery, his 52-hour stay in the hospital spent waiting for the cement to pass racked up a bill to the tune of $33,500. To help cover his medical expense, Turlington decided to try auctioning off the now fully-solidified (and thoroughly washed) cement stool, which looks sort of like a lumpy grey banana now that it is set.
“It’s an incredibly unique piece,” says Cheryl Van Horne, a Miami-based art collector. “The shape has such a natural allure, and the surface texture is so familiar yet foreign. It’s really an incredible object.”
The shit brick will be up for auction at Fort Lauderdale’s Curiosities auction house on May 27th. Among the bidders will be Charles Smitherman of the Florida Department of Education, who plans on putting the stool on display to promote literacy.
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