A Bug in my Ear—Literally, not Figuratively!
I was half-dozing in my own bed after an early morning bathroom visit when an innocent roll from my side to my back caused all hell to break loose. My first thought as I felt a helicopter take off in my head was that it’s a nightmare and/or flashback from the traumatic helicopter ride after the accident and that it will stop when I wake up.
My second thought was damnit, I am awake! And the sounds and pain of the helicopter were only increasing.
There must be a bug in my ear.
No, it can’t be.
A freaking bug!!
This can NOT be happening.
The pain and disorientation of wings and legs moving madly in my left ear canal consumed me. I was in so much pain, that I don’t even remember exactly what I did or said. I know I sat down, stood up, walked around and moved my head from one side to the other. I tried to lean to my left side and be still long enough to allow whatever beast was in my ear to crawl out.
Apparently it had other plans… because it only dug deeper.
At first, Jerry didn’t know what to do with me. But thankfully along with being a duct tape man, Jerry is also the king of peroxide and he had recently heard of a guy who got a bug in his ear while on a motorcycle and dumping peroxide in the ear had caused the bug to back out.
So within a minute or so, he was standing over me armed and ready.
I lay back down in bed hardly able to keep still from the explosion happening in my head. Peroxide was dumped… some flowed down my neck and shoulder and some into my ear.
It fizzed and crackled like peroxide does and though I thought it would be impossible for the pain to increase, for a few
hours seconds, the explosion intensified. Shoot me now!
Then it slowed down slightly and as I lay still for a second, Jerry dumped more in. Again there was an initial burst of torture, then things calmed down. I was grateful for the relief and I tried not to think about the fact that there was a bug dying in my ear. (shudder)
Jerry promptly said that we have to go to an ER. While I love the medical world, I’ve seen enough of it, so I suggested he use tweezers and try to remove it. He was concerned about damaging my ear. After examining my ear with a bright flashlight, the point was mute, the bug was so far in that he couldn’t even see it!
It was not even 6am yet, so the ER was our only choice.
It’s sad how well I know how to dress and pack for hospital visits, all jewelry comes off, sports bra with no metal, comfortable sweatpants/shirt, a sweatshirt, phone cord and a book. I moved cautiously because while things had settled down in my ear and I only felt dull pain and pressure, my concern was what if the helicopter starts up again.
At the ER, we were seen right away and while insurance, signature and all that jazz was being done, the receptionist begins telling us about various ear and bug related issues she has seen on medical mystery shows. (Excuse me, did you miss the patient etiquete classes?!)
After being escorted to a room, we waited almost two hours for the doctor to come in. Other than the dull pressure, a sharp pain would occasionally radiate from my ear down the side of my neck, and I tried not to think about the dead bug in my ear. During this time, housekeeping came in to empty the trash and she too proceeded to share ear-related horror stories with us. (Yes, I will be putting a few suggestions on the survey form)
The demeanor of the calm and collected physician assistant put me more at ease when she came in. With her light, she could see a bug deep in my ear channel next to my tympanic membrane (the eardrum). After a few numbing ear drops, the surgical tweezers appeared. She couldn’t get it with them, so the next procedure involved water in a syringe to flush it out. When she explained that most people get dizzy, nauseous and many vomit, I knew I was in trouble.
Water against an eardrum is torture and should be outlawed along with water boarding.
Water in my ear was every bit as intense as the earlier bug torture had been, plus now I had added disconcerting and painful side affects! Even 5 minutes after she finished I was still dizzy and nauseous, but since I hadn’t eaten anything yet, no vomiting.
She added more numbing drops and gave me a 5-minute break because she came back to attempt again. Jerry was concerned that water was pushing the bug in farther and asked if she had a small vacuum she could use to suck it out instead. She didn’t, plus she said that irrigation was their standard procedure and only specialists use suction.
After three attempts of irrigation, she concluded that it wasn’t working and I had to see a specialist. The one they usually get patients into right away was short-staffed and double-booked all day, but they would see me first thing the following morning.
I burst into tears!
There was no way I was having a dead bug in my ear for over 24 hours.
Jerry calmed me down and we finished with the discharge.
After the walk to the car, my mind was clear enough to think of other options. And before we left the parking lot, I was on Google. I found ear specialists about 25 minutes away called Otolaryngology Physicians of Lancaster. Though I didn’t know what the name meant, it impressed me, plus their location was easy to get to. A phone call to them proved priceless. They had a cancellation in about 13 minutes which I convinced her to hold for me.
Poor Jerry hates speeding and passing aggressively, so I debated if we should switch drivers, because I could get us there at least 5 minutes faster. But I doubted if that was wise and with some ‘gentle’ encouragement from me, he set new records for himself.
Though we arrived 10 minutes past the appointment time I was soon filling out paperwork. Filling out my medical history on two short lines is always a joke, so I ignored most of it, because I wanted to finish fast and all I cared about at that moment was my damn ear.
Though I was still uncomfortable and concerned about what would happen, from the first moment I walked it, I liked the place. Everyone was friendly, knowledgeable and at the top of their game. After a short wait, I was called back by a nurse and Dr. Dorf arrived soon.
I was impressed by his kindness and concern and Jerry was impressed that the first thing he did was pull out a small vacuum. But by this point my ear was so irritated, that I could hardly sit still as he put it in my ear and when he put the suction on the bug, it pushed it against my eardrum and fireworks exploded in my ear and my head.
Then he tried a tweezers also, to get an idea how tight the bug was in there. Again, I couldn’t handle the pain. Between the tears, I began apologizing… but he quickly assured me none of this was my fault. (when will I learn not to apologize for things out of my control!).
And then he said the sweetest words in the world…
we’re going to put you to sleep to do this.
Then I remembered that when we arrived, I noticed they shared a building with the Surgery Center of Lancaster. My impression of the place rose to near heaven status… they have anesthetists who have magical potions that provide peace. Hallelujah!
Thankfully I had not eaten or drank anything other than water that morning and within an hour I walked across the hall and was in the prep room for surgery at noon. Amazing place!
As I lay there waiting… I could NOT believe I was again prepping for surgery and for what…
a freakin’ bug in my ear!
Then the IV nurse arrived and I groaned. In my joy to be put to sleep, I totally forgot an IV would be involved. The veins in my hands and arms have had so many IVs that they now put out a force feed whenever a needle comes near them. Even the best nurses have a hard time finding a vein that will take a needle. This nurse was good, but the first two attempts only involved pain and no inserted needles. While the third time also involved pain, thankfully she found a vein that worked.
Dr. Dorf arrival was comforting as he gave me info about his plans. He figured it would only take a few minutes after I was out to remove the bugger.
Then another star of the day arrived! A nurse, Dusty, who brought happy juice to insert into my IV to help me relax until I get anesthesia. Peace was on its way!
Obviously by this time, with being in a gown and having to give info about prior surgeries, most of them knew some of my accident story, but with being in discomfort, I wasn’t saying much. Jerry says soon after I got the relaxing meds, I talked non-stop, giving them all the details of it. I have no memory of this, so I’m glad I didn’t start spilling secrets.
I vaguely remember being wheeled into the OR and transferring to another table, but then it was lights out. Waking up in recovery was easy peasy. I wasn’t nauseous and was only slightly groggy for a short time. I had some pressure in my ear and felt like there was water in it that I wanted to shake out, but no severe pain. I was served the signature recovery room drink and entree, ginger ale and crackers.
The procedure had gone well, but I was disappointed to hear that the bugger made a small tear in my eardrum, which explains the excruciating pain whenever they tried any procedure.
I was discharged with numbing and antibiotic ear drops. After a stop at Panera for soup, we came home. I was exhausted, plus I knew my body needed the rest, so I slept for hours.
Around ten hours after the surgery, my ear felt almost back to normal. Over that time, I had some small painless popping sounds in my ear and the feeling of water being in it decreased. I’m not supposed to get any water in my ear before my followup in a week. That visit will also include a hearing test to determine if any damage has been done to my hearing.
So any answers to what the name of this
bitch bug is?
What are the chances of something people always talk about as one of the freakiest things that could happen, actually happening to me??
I never want to feel that again and I hope none of you ever feel it either!
THE MORNING AFTER UPDATE: My ear feels good and it seems like my hearing wasn’t affected (or at least not enough to notice) I’ve been performing all kinds of tests on myself with phone calls, music, etc. and I think I can hear as well with it as with the other one :)
So what freaky stories do you have or know?