Katie Holley from Florida has penned an incredibly detailed account of how she woke up to a cockroach in her ear, and the nine days it took for the last bits of it to be removed.
Strap yourselves in, because this story is exactly as terrifying as it sounds.
“Last month, in the middle of the night, I woke up startled,” she wrote in an essay for the website SELF.
“It felt like someone had placed a chip of ice in my left earhole – but it was something way worse.”
She figured it was an insect after a preliminary poking with a cotton swab revealed two bug legs. Then, her husband had a look and announced it was definitely a cockroach, also known as a palmetto bug.
After Holley’s husband was only able to pull out two legs off the still-alive cockroach, they made the wise decision to head to the emergency room.
The ER doctor gave Holley some Lidocaine to numb the area and kill the insect, and then pulled out several bits, thinking that was all of it.
“As the doctor administered the Lidocaine, the roach began to… react,” she explains.
“Feeling a roach in the throes of death, lodged in a very sensitive part of your body, is unlike anything I can adequately explain.”
Unfortunately, the ER doctor did not get the whole bug. Still with a weird sensation in her ear, nine days later Holley went to her local physician, who removed six more pieces of the roach’s carcass.
Just to confirm there really were no pieces left, the physician booked in an emergency ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist visit.
“Once I got situated in the fancy chair in his office later that day, the ENT placed some sort of microscope beside my ear. He didn’t say much, but he did confirm there was still ‘something in there’.”
According to Holley the ENT then extracted the whole head, upper torso, extra limbs and the antennae. She had carried that stuff in her ear for more than a week.
“He also told me that he extracted bugs from peoples’ ears at least once a month – and I was the second person that day who needed it,” Holley wrote.
The ENT isn’t the only one to admit that this happens much more than any of us would like to think.
“It’s actually not an uncommon phenomenon to have a cockroach in the ear,” entomologist Coby Schal of North Carolina State University told National Geographic early last year.
“The nose is more unusual.”
In fact, bugs such as cockroaches and ants regularly end up in ears looking for food.
“Roaches are searching for food everywhere,” Schal said. “And earwax might be appealing to them.”
We know it’s not much of a consolation, but if it makes you feel any better, at least you’re not eating eight spiders a year while sleeping.
You can read Holley’s entire amazing story on SELF, and yes, there are pictures.