The Bore-Worm

4:45 AM. I wake up with an odd feeling in my left ear. I roll over and rub it, and it begins to hurt.

To rustle and hurt.

To move and rustle and hurt.

I make fast tracks to the bathroom, grab a Q-tip, and attempt to remove whatever is in there. Five seconds later I’m in a ball on the floor in the bathroom screaming in pain, Matt is in the bathroom trying to figure out what is going on, and twenty minutes later, we’re in the emergency room and the moving and the pain haven’t stopped, though the agonizing “bore-worm digging its way into my brain” feeling has subsided.

Don’t try to imagine what I was imagining. Every horror movie on the planet had its birth in thoughts like mine. My blood pressure, spiked by pain and fear, was 184/120.

The nurse came in, looking into my ear, said, “You have something moving in there.”

The doctor came in and said, “We’re going to pour a liquid into your ear that will kill it.”

I’m envisioning that bees have colonized my brain, that some sort of mutant is nestled in there. The thing feels enormous. The pain every time the damned otoscope goes into my ear is indescribable (though I’d start with boiling oil and end with a red hot poker if I were going to try). And every time someone pokes around, it moves.

A different nurse comes in, pours lidocaine into the ear. He and Matt lean over me, interested to see what pops out.

What pops out is a fire ant. Very small fire ant.

Matt winks at me and says, “You pansy. I was expecting a Midas fly at the least.”

I laugh. A fire ant is a hell of a lot better than the missing colonies of honey bees taking root it my skull that it felt like.

I drain the fluid from my ear. The doctor comes back in, takes another look with the otoscope. “Sucker stung you right on the eardrum,” he notes with interest. “Wow.”

Wow. No joke.

So that’s what I did this morning. And how are you doing?

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34 responses to “The Bore-Worm”

  1. Holly Avatar

    Fortunately, my little ant adventure didn’t make the news.

  2. heather Avatar

    I was listening to NPR this morning and heard a little tidbit where Steve Inskeep mentioned that bees may be dying but other insects were doing fine. He went on to talk about the kid with the spiders in his ear and I half expected him to talk about you and your adventures with a fire ant. (He didn’t though, in case you were wondering.)

  3. LadyQ Avatar

    Ouch! Glad you’re okay. I hope fire ants aren’t found this far north *looks nervously around*

    (I thought it was a funny story and it made me laugh and wince at the same time)

  4. nancybond Avatar

    Eeewwww! Anything crawling around in there is gross! I hope your ear heals quickly. What a way to start the day.

  5. cherylp Avatar

    This must be a more common occurence than I knew. This happened to me—not a fire ant, but a freakin’ roach. I was just a kid, but believe me, I have no trouble remembering how that felt, and how scared I was. Luckily, my Dad is a genius. He poured something in my ear and drowned the thing. We were miles from an emergency room, and I would have been driven stark raving mad if I’d had to endure that all the way there. My wincing sympathy.

  6. MarFisk Avatar

    Ouch, Holly. Glad it turned out to be something simple. And I’m right there with you on the laughter. When I post my “canary stories” I always expect people to laugh at the ridiculous scrapes I get into. I mean, I survived or I wouldn’t be writing about it, right? Only they seem to focus on what a slim margin that survival was :).

    Happy you survived, and ten years from now this will be right up there with the horrifically funny tales that you share with your friends trying to top each other on what life has thrown your way :).


  7. Bettye Avatar

    I did laugh at your imaginings. I have to confess my imagination runs wild at times and comes up with stuff that is far scarier than whatever the reality. Nice to know I’m not the only drama queen out there. Also, glad to know fire ants in the ear aren’t as bad as some other places they can get.

  8. zette Avatar

    Gah. That sounds awful.

    Yeah, I think there’s going to be a run on earplugs….

  9. TimK Avatar

    I was hoping to make you laugh with that story. Guess I need to work on the ending a bit.

    I think the reason it wasn’t funny for me was that… It’s what my Dad calls “mixing the ridiculous with the sublime.” I was all geared up by this suspenseful story. I half-expected an alien slug to take over her brain and turn her into one of them.

    (I know it was a true story about you, but at the time, I didn’t know whether it was or wasn’t. It was just about a character, true or fiction.)

    Yeah. Work on the ending. ๐Ÿ™‚


  10. RayaPenName Avatar

    Of all the things to suffer through, I must say that is hands down the worst. Hope for the best.

  11. ejoy Avatar

    *looks around sheepishly*

    Actually, I did laugh when I read it, once I got to the part in the ER. I just thought it would be mean to admit it. I could see the nurse with the otoscope saying, “There’s something moving in there! *Insert Goofy laugh*” Since we’re laughing WITH you–LOL!

  12. Tech Avatar

    Good God. I’m sleeping in ear plugs from now on.

    I hope the pain goes completely away soon.

  13. Nicole Avatar

    Laugh? When Our Holly is in pain? Nope. Sorry.

    Though I will laugh at Matt’s comment, now that I know you’re okay.

  14. Holly Avatar

    Actually, once the little monster stopped stinging me and came out of my ear, I didn’t need anything for the pain. Unlike the moments when it was moving and stinging—that pain compared favorably to childbirth with no medication—the aftermath is a lot less awful than being bitten elsewhere by fire ants. My ear hurts a little now, but not enough to bother with Tylenol.

    Thanks for all of your concern. I was hoping to make you laugh with that story. Guess I need to work on the ending a bit.

  15. Ann Avatar

    Eeeeew and Ouch. I hope they gave you something for the pain.

  16. Angelique Avatar

    I would have totally freaked out, like need to be sedated freaked out. Just reading your post gave me goosebumps.

  17. Bettye Avatar

    Good Grief. In the ear yet! I’ll just bet it hurt when that little sucker bit you.
    I fight a constant battle with fire ants and have been nailed by them many times, though not in the ear. Not to be mean or anything, but I hope that is your unique experience with them. They HURT when they bite. I hope they gave you something for the itching you’ll have the next few days. That is almost as bad as the initial bite.
    Oh yeah, I am also glad you didn’t have a Grabboid larva or something boring its way into your brain.

  18. nienke Avatar

    Brings a whole new dimension to “your ears must have been burning.”
    Someone pretty powerful must have wanted you to know they were talking about you!
    Hope you’re feeling okay!

  19. TimK Avatar

    Pansy?! Holly, at first I thought this was some excellent piece of fiction. It was too seat gripping to be mere truth. Yikes!

    But I’m glad you’re alright. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  20. BookLover Avatar

    Ohh, Holly. I would have been jumping up and down screaming with you! Whew! I guess having my thyroid levels fall too low isn’t so bad after all…

    You deserve to be pampered and spoiled all day after a fright like that.

  21. ejoy Avatar

    I’m with Monica on this one. Two spiders and a fire ant? I’m thinking earplugs.

    How on earth did a fire ant get in your ear at 4 in the morning?

  22. TinaK Avatar

    Good lord Holly – what a way to start the morning. That totally sucks. Hope you feel better soon!

  23. Monica Avatar

    Yep, I just read too about boy who had two spiders pulled out of his ear, one alive, and now this.

    I’m buying earplugs for the family to sleep with, I swear.

  24. joelysue Avatar

    Oh, Holly, that sounds terribly painful! Is your hearing affected at all? I hope you heal quickly and painlessly!

  25. Zink Johnson Avatar
    Zink Johnson

    Oh, man… on the creepy-that-must-have hurt-like-Hades factor, that gets an 11.

    On the bright side, though, you may never have a worse morning.

    I *am* a tad confused as to why they didn’t give you some local anestisia for such severe pain, but I try not to question the American healthcare system for fear of losing whatever shards of sanity I still possess.

  26. Chassit Avatar

    What a coincidence, I had a leech burrow into my ear, and now it’s leaking me plans to take over the government…

    No really, that’s awful, Holly. I really feel I have no right to complain. I hope it heals quickly. Feel better.

  27. heatherwrites Avatar

    Oh, Holly. I’m so sorry. I can’t even begin to say I know how you feel. I hope they gave you something good for pain relief. Ouch. Ouch. (shiver)

  28. MerylF Avatar

    So will we be seeing a scene where bore-worms attack our intrepid heroes? Or is it all to painful?

    Of all the things to get into your ear, I can’t think of many worse than a fire ant, except maybe a scorpion.

    What a way to start the day.

  29. heather Avatar

    Wow and ouch. I can’t imagine how much that must have sucked.

  30. PolarBear Avatar

    That certainly tops the spider in the ear mentioned above. Ow. Ow. Ow. Leave it to Matt to lighten the tension.

    That sounds just so wrong. Ya’ know, I’ve never gotten a cat stuck in my ear. You might try sleeping with them instead. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I hope it works out better than it sounds. I’m imagining a week of misery at least while that heals.

  31. Aergonaut Avatar

    That reminds me of the kid who had two live spiders removed from his ear after complaining to his mom several times of popping that sounded like Rice Krispies in his ear. Link:,23599,21685997-2,00.html

    They were only walking on his eardrum. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be stung on your eardrum…

  32. MattScudder Avatar


  33. PJ Avatar

    Have you ever seen/heard Dana Gould the comedian? He does a bit about having a moth trapped in his ear. It’s pretty funny.

    It sounds as though you’re going to be okay. *whew* I’ve been fighting a fever myself – and trying to fix up a snippet for next Friday. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  34. shawna Avatar

    Eeeeew, yuck. *Shivers*

    I was terrified of earwigs as a child, convinced they were always going to try to get in my ears… I’m not much more comfortable with them now, to tell the truth.

    What is it with crawly things and ears this week anyways? A kid near me made CNN with a pairs of spiders in his…

    Now that I think about it, there’s a horror story for someone there…

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