A Bug in the Ear

“Put a bug in someone’s ear”

  • To tell someone something that suggests what they should do
  • A traumatic experience that left a lasting mark on me

I am about to share something that I would deem utterly improbable if I hadn’t personally experienced it. I was in Dallas for an event and was walking in the hotel lobby towards the door when I felt something buzz into my ear. Since this was an unusual sensation, I immediately put my finger to my ear to feel what had just entered it. It turns out that it was a fly. How do I know that, you ask? Because I could hear it buzzing like an Apache helicopter next to my eardrum.

For anyone who has been lucky enough never to experience this, let me explain it to you. The whole process seems to happen in slow motion and unfolds in the following sequence*:

You feel something small and energetic zip into your earlobe
You pause, wondering what it could possibly be
You then begin to panic because you realize you have A LIVING CREATURE IN YOUR EAR
You do everything short of sticking a needle into your eye to extract it
You realize that you’ve pushed it further into your ear
You then tell your perplexed boss that you need to excuse yourself
You run to your hotel room, fill a tub with water, and then submerge yourself as a means of drowning the fly
You see that the fly has not left your ear but has, in fact, died in there
You hop on Google to read articles about people dying from flies that inhabited their ears
You spend the rest of the evening thinking about whether or not to revise your will in light of your impending doom

*This sequence is typical of a borderline hysteric person who a) is incredibly dramatic b) tends to assume that the worst medical scenarios will occur. 

Following what I’ve dubbed “eargate,” I somehow went on living my life. Yes, I did occasionally wonder when encephalitis would begin to rear its ugly head, but overall, I approached the end of my days with the serenity of someone hoping to have an inspiring biography written after his passing.

Finally, an entire month after the incident, I received the closure that I craved (i.e., not death). I was experiencing pain in my ear one day at work and decided that it would probably be a good idea to see a doctor about the issue. So I called my family doctor and scheduled an appointment for the following day.

In the hours that led up to the appointment, my mind flickered between thoughts of how organized my funeral would be and whether or not I could schedule a meeting with a potential biographer before my untimely death.

The appointment arrived before I knew it, and I soon discovered my fate. In a shocking turn of events, I was being overly dramatic about the entire situation. The nurse did see the intact fly nestled near my eardrum, but she informed me that it would just take a few minutes of flushing my ear to rid myself of the pest.

After flushing the unwanted tenant out of my ear, she looked inside and announced that my ear was perfectly healthy and (per my worried question) that there was no sign of encephalitis.

I left the doctor’s office feeling relieved that I was no longer standing at death’s door but also shocked by the notion that I had a dead fly hanging out in my ear for the past month. This whole experience was bizarre from the moment it happened, but it taught me a few valuable lessons. And being the altruistic person that I am, I will leave you with them:

  1. When a fly lands in your ear, calmly wait a moment for it to work its way out
  2. If the bug dies in your ear, don’t Google potential diseases that could occur as a result of its presence
  3. Visit the doctor sooner rather than later to get the little bugger flushed out

If you follow those suggestions, you will most likely avoid the overreaction that I experienced.

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