A Northwest Territories man was just scratching what he thought was an annoying old itch earlier this week when it turned out to be a knife blade that had been buried in his flesh for almost three years.
"I jumped in a cab and went straight to emergency," said Billy McNeely, 32.
It all goes back to an April, 2010, birthday party in Mr. McNeely's hometown of Fort Good Hope, NWT. Mr. McNeely said a fight broke out between himself and another man over an arm-wrestling contest that ended up with Mr. McNeely being stabbed five times.
"They stitched me up and bandaged me up," Mr. McNeely said. "They never took X-rays."
Ever since, Mr. McNeely has had a lump in his back where the knife went in. Doctors and nurses told him nerves had been damaged in the stabbing.
But the old wound never stopped nagging.
"I always had back pains. There was always a burning feeling with it."
The injury was constantly itchy and irritated. It set off metal detectors. That was explained away as a metal fragment that had lodged in his bone.
On Monday, while Mr. McNeely and his girlfriend were asleep in bed, the pain came back.
"I sat up, I tried to rub it and scratch it the way I always did, and then the tip of my nail caught a piece of something solid, something sharp," he said. "My girlfriend got up and she started playing around with it and she manoeuvred my back in a certain way and the tip of a blade poked out of my skin."
Doctors dug out a blade measuring about seven centimetres long.
"I've got it in my pocket right now," he said.
Mr. McNeely said he's recovering well and doesn't seem to have suffered any permanent damage, despite the physical work he does as a carpenter.
But he's not happy with the way he was treated by the Northwest Territories' health system. He said he explained his problems numerous times to doctors and nurses, but nobody ever thought to get to the bottom of his complaint.
"I walked around for close to three years with this thing in my back," he said. "They brushed me off."
Mr. McNeely said he's considering a lawsuit against the health centre in Fort Good Hope, where he originally went after he was stabbed.