Thursday, April 03, 2008

101 Things removed from the Human Body – Sully Edition

Dear reader, for eons now, you have regarded me as a paragon of intellectuality, a fountain of inspiration in a world overrun with stupidity, an oasis of smart in the desert of dumb known as life. Allow me to subvert this somewhat.

My most recent misadventure followed a long and surprisingly pleasant shower in my somewhat austere college accommodation. My post-shower tradition dictated that I clean my ears with the generic-brand cotton buds that I bought in Aldi. I’ve never been one to pay too much heed to the ‘keep out of ear canal’ warning that these goods carry, figuring that if I’m careful enough, my cotton bud will remain intact. I’ve done it for years, and never had any problems whatsoever. Until that fateful day, of course.

The surge of panic that went through my head when I saw a bare blue stick in my hand is hard to explain. Imagine getting your hand stuck in a jar, or a fat woman jumping on top of you while you’re eleven years old and swimming in a crappy pool at a cheap resort in Gran Canaria and you’ll know what I mean. Of course, my first reaction was to blindly plunge my fingers into my ear to try and fish it out, which I realised was utterly futile once I realised how small a hole I was poking at. I tried taking pictures of my ear using my webcam, but I couldn’t see anything, so that was also a waste of precious time.

Knowing that time was of the essence I charged off towards the medical centre on campus, foregoing any attempts to tidy up the messy hair that sat on my head and face, hesitating only to decide that I should leave the iPod behind for this walk. I pounded my way through the building, hurling open doors with remarkable aplomb and bounding up the stairs three at a time to the medical office. As I approached the hatch to inform them of my malady, I tried to steady my heavy breathing. I loomed in front of the hatch, watching two old biddies chatting quietly and waited. This might be an emergency I thought to myself, so I made with the polite cough. One of the biddies approached.


“Um... Hi. I –uhh, got the cotton off a cotton bud stuck in my ear, and I can’t get it out”


“The cotton... Off a cotton bud. I was cleaning my ears just now and the cotton didn’t come out when I removed the stick. I was hoping to have it looked at.”

“You know not to put anything smaller than your elbow in there, right?”

“Yeah – I know... Could I maybe get someone here to try and remove it?”

She told me to come back at 3:15. 3:15! That was over three hours away! Was this not some kind of emergency? By now I was late for my lecture, and since I had yet to collapse, decided to wander in.

Concentrating on the lecture was difficult. Could I feel it rattling around inside my head? I felt a pressure on my jawbone – had the fluff somehow wandered down and got stuck in my skull? As the lecturer began to warble on about globalisation and linguistic phenomena, I began to daydream. I had daydreams in which I blew my nose, and a little bit of fluff landed in my tissue. Or daydreamed about a painful urination culminating in the explosive ejection of a wet piece of cotton from my penis like a bullet from a rifle. Or sneezing and watching a piece of lint playfully float out of my ear. By the time I got to the tickly sensation during a bowel movement daydream, the lecture had ended.

I met my friends outside the room and told them what happened.

“You know not to put anything smaller than your elbow in there, right?”

“Of course I know!”

One of the (rightly) unsympathetic bastards asked me why I didn’t just yank it out with a tweezers, at which stage I invited him to have a look for the offending piece of fluff. After gazing into the dark hole in my head for a second, he agreed that some specialised hardware would be necessary.

I went back to the medical centre at 3:15 and had barely settled in the waiting room before my name was called. The middle aged woman asked what the problem was:

“The problem is – I’m an idiot. I managed to get a piece of a cotton bud stuck in my ear”

“You know not to put anything smaller than your elbow in there, right?”

“Yes, I know – and I’ve heard that phrase about twenty times already!”

The fluff in my brain must have been causing me to slur my words or something, because she asked a question I never thought I’d ever have to field:

“You’re not from Cork, are you?”

“Why? Is this the kind of behaviour you’d expect from a Corkman? Do they generally come in here after sticking things into their heads that don’t belong?”

The banter continued as she used the othoscope (the ear-proby thing with a light) to investigate the vast recesses of my brain.

“I can see it now. You have a foreign body in your ear.”

The stout nurse lavished sympathy upon me as I sat there making stupid self-deprecating remarks. She told me that there was a tool specifically used for such purposes, but lamented the UL medical centre’s lack of of such equipment. On that note, she asked me to “hang on a tick” and wandered off, returning with an implement in her hand.

“Oh great! You found it then?”

“No - I brought this in to show you the basic structure of the tool. Y’see – it’s like this, but it has an extra grip thing here that you can use to hook the foreign body and pull it out safely.”

What the hell? Did she think that the power of our combined imagination would make the tool appear? I decided it would be best for all concerned to keep things moving forward:

“Fascinating. Um. Maybe we could try something to get this thing out of my head?”

She told me she’d try and get the fluff with a forceps, then left the room for a moment to beckon another nurse to her side, so that one could hold the light while the other used the tool. Like a father and son tinkering with a car engine. She returned a moment later, out of breath from the exertion of wandering into the next room.

“She’ll be here in a minute – she’s busy in the other room.”

To alleviate any awkwardness that would come from making conversation with me, she continued looking into my ear, all the while muttering things like “that’s well in there” and “we’ll be doing well to get that out.” She told me that if I left it in, my ear would dry out and my head would explode (okay – I admit, I don’t recall the specifics of the conversation), and I needed to get this sucker out within 24 hours or something bad would happen.

As we waited for the other nurse, I decided to use the opportunity to brainstorm some alternate ‘exit strategies’. I suggested flushing it out by using a syringe full of water;

“Oh no – we can’t do that! I might shatter your eardrum”

“Okay. How about we get another cotton bud, put some glue on it, shove that into my ear canal, and see if it picks up the other one?”
“You’re just being a smart-arse now”, she helpfully pointed out.

The other nurse waddled in through the door at this very utterance, asking

“Does this smart-arse know not to put anything larger than-”

“Yes, yes – the elbow I know! I’ve heard it enough today that I’ll never forget, don’t worry!”

Now that the nursing dream-team had assembled, we could begin with the forcepsing. I felt the cold tool dredging along the inside of my ear, and the failed attempts at grabbing the fluff felt like hairs being plucked from deep within my skull. Eventually, they gave up. The nurse looked up at me, and gravely uttered:

“You’ll have to go to the hospital, I’m afraid.”

The blood curdling scream I emitted echoed out into the halls as the narrator chimed in:



Sully said...

Sorry about the abrupt ending there folks - rather than prune back on the wordiness, I thought it best to make this tale a two-parter!

Got a problem with that? Leave me a comment!

Nancy said...

Ewwww Sully that's a gross blog

Sully said...

If you thought that this was gross, you're not going to like part two...

Mega said...

I can't wait for part 2, by the way were you unable to hear out the ear or was it only half blocked?
Also water irrigation is actually the best way to remove something soft like that, obviously the nurse never syringed an ear before, the stream of water (approx 500cc of irrigation fluid) is simply directed along the wall of the ear canal and around the object thereby flushing it out.
To burst your eardrum she would have to go quite far along the ear canal, much further than is required for a simple irrigation.