I was doing my emergency medicine training in New Orleans. The nurse called me to see a teenage girl who was screaming hysterically, for no apparent reason. She was unable to talk but just cried uncontrollably.
When I was finally able to get her to relax a bit, she pointed to her ear. I looked inside and was horrified to see a cockroach that had crawled in and was unable to back out. As it tried to get out, it banged repeatedly against her eardrum, causing a terribly creepy pain.
Fortunately, there is a thin “alligator” forceps that works great to reach in the ear and grab a wayward bug. If you do it right, you can pull it out, alive and intact, very much to the horror of the patient and the satisfaction of the doctor.
Over the years, I have removed many ear bugs. One cockroach was so small it was actually running around in circles in there and we washed it out with warm water.
One night, a 42-year-old man came in complaining of having a bug in his ear. I peeked in and could see some insect body parts so the diagnosis was confirmed. I used the alligator forceps to deftly reach in, grab the bug and pull it out. As it came out of the ear canal, clasped tightly in my forceps, something else came out of the ear and ran down the man’s neck, shoulder and arm. It had just gotten to his hand by the time I reflexively slapped a spider, killing it and knocking it onto the floor.
The only thing I could figure was the spider had caught the insect and pulled it into the ear canal as a nice place to have his lunch, which I interrupted.
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