After an exhausting late night shoveling during Monday's nor'easter, Bradford Gauthier of Worcester, Massachusetts, learned a lesson he won't soon forget.
"We have a 6-month-old baby, so we don't watch TV at night in the room, so I always end up wearing my AirPods and just watching Netflix or whatever," said Gauthier.
But when he woke up Tuesday to head back out to shovel some more, he said something just didn't seem right.
"I went to go take a drink of water, and the water just filled up my esophagus," Gauthier said. "I literally had to lean over and let it drain out."
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And coincidentally – or maybe not – he couldn't find one of his AirPods.
"That's one of my routine things -- can't find the AirPod, hit the 'Find My AirPod' feature on my phone," said Gauthier.
As luck would have it, the battery was dead.
"I think I probably would have had a heart attack if I had hit that button and the sound came out of my throat," he said.
Gauthier and his family suspected they knew where the missing AirPod was, but when they rushed to a nearby RediMed, the doctor couldn't believe it, either.
"She said, 'Alright, we'll have an X-ray,' you know, as a precautionary measure, and lo and behold, she came back in the room, and the look on her face was priceless," Gauthier said, laughing.
Somehow, in the middle of the night, this sleepless dad had swallowed one of his AirPods.
"It was in this orientation and just sitting right there," he said, holding his AirPod up to his chest.
Gauthier immediately underwent an endoscopy in Auburn, and doctors successfully and safely retrieved his long-lost ear bud.
"This is the actual one that I ingested," he said while examining it.
Amazingly, he says the audio still works, but the microphone's a bit glitchy now.
"I think I'm going to either have to look up a YouTube video on how to take it apart and fix it myself, or replace the mic, or just pick up a new one," Gauthier said.
He says he hopes this can be a lesson to others to not fall asleep with AirPods in, of they could end up with a similar problem.