How many of us have had various nightmares or experienced anxiety at the thought of an insect or spider crawling into our ears before trying to burrow into our brains? It’s a surprisingly common thought, irrational it may be, that most of us try to ignore by reminding ourselves that things like that don’t actually happen.
Well… that last part isn’t strictly true.
Just ask Katie Holley who woke up last month with a strange feeling inside her ear. Innocently enough she decided to do some probing with a cotton swab, only to find that it left her ear with two little brown sticks lodged in the fibre. And that’s when she realised she was looking at two insect legs. Speaking to SELF magazine, Katie recaps what must have been a pretty horrifying moment:
“Moments later, I came to the realisation that they were legs. LEGS. Legs that could only belong to an adventurous palmetto bug exploring my ear canal.
"I started to hyperventilate, and my husband searched furiously for his glasses and joined me in the bathroom.
"He looked into my ear and confirmed that there was a roach trying to burrow its way to my brain. (OK, I know the ear canal isn't a hop, skip, and a jump away from the brain, but that’s immediately where my mind went.)”
Katie was then taken to hospital after it became clear specialists were gonna be needed. That’s when she received even worse news from the doctors – the cockroach was still alive, it was also pretty active and was “thrashing” around in her ear canal.
“Feeling a roach in the throes of death, lodged in a very sensitive part of your body, is unlike anything I can adequately explain,” added Katie.
The doctor then removed three parts of a cockroach and told Katie he thought he’d gotten the entire insect out.
He had done no such thing.
The pain persisted and Katie returned to her doctor who then removed another six pieces of cockroach from her ear canal. And then referred Katie to an ENT specialist because it turned out there was still more to go.
“He didn't say much, but he did confirm there was still 'something in there.’
“Using a tool that looked like very large scissors, he extracted THE ENTIRE HEAD, UPPER TORSO, MORE LIMBS AND AN ANTENNAE.”
The worst part is without a doubt that the same specialist also explained to Katie that this was a common problem, and she was the second person he’d seen that day with insect parts stuck in their ear.