a moth in your ear

July 20, 2006

A Moth in your ear
I’ve heard of a flea in your ear (and several times had one) but a moth, that’s a different story. It started when I was in the middle of catching moths up on Doi Angkhang. It had been a successful evening and the moths were buzzing round my head like it was the only star in the universe. Suddenly I felt something swoop inside my ear. Straight away my ear was blocked and I felt a furious beating of wings inside. Putting two and two together I quickly figured that the unseens presence was probably that of one of the millions of insects swarming round my head and most likely, judging from it’s probable size and the fact that it had not stung me, a moth. Aborting the moth catching I returned to the resort and tried a variety of tools in an attempt to extract it, including a cotton bud, a toothpick, toothbrush, a pen and in desperation a screwdriver. I was hoping that if I couldn’t get it out at least I might be able to kill or stun it so that it stopped moving. All to no avail. The furious beating continued unabated. Realising it was going to be a difficult night’s sleep, i drained the remaining two thirds of a bottle of Mekhong and, amid deams of airplane sized flies divebombing me managed to sleep reasonably well. I woke in the morning and lay still. Perhaps the whole thing had been a dream. Then I moved my head towards the clock and immediately the painful whooshing of wings began again. I managed to stick to my early morning programme of listening to birds using the remaining good ear and after breakfast got directions to the nearest health centre, just acorss the road form the resort. I should have taken warning from the horde ofHondas outside the centre as I found myself in a large room in the middle of a tribal gathering of all the Mong, Musur, Akha, and .. peoples from the surrounding hills and valleys. All wielding a wailing infant. I managed to explain my predicament at the reception desk and asked if there was a nurse in attendance. There was, but I would have to wait for all the assembled progeny to be immunised before she could see me. Being rather anxious to get back to Chiang Mai before night I decided to push on to Chiang Dao. It was a thrilling ride through spectacular scenery but all the while the slightest movement of my head was greeted with a vigorous attempt by the imprisoned moth to extract itself from my inner ear. i imagined the no doubt already unsavoury contents of this organ would be considerably enhanced by whatever deposits the moth was going to cause. The pain was not excruciating but it was the suddenness and the unexpectedness of it that was most annoying. I went straight to the smart modern hospital in Chiang Dao and noticed several groups of nurses outside buying somtam and noodles, all stunningly pretty and dressed in immaculate white uniforms. Although I was a bit apprehensive about the pain they might cause when excavating the contents of my eay I was also sneakingly looking forward to the experience. The hopital itself seemed deserted apart from an elderly lady with a mop. The main reception area was like a Welsh pub on a Sunday afternoon so I briskly made my way to the Accident and Emergency Centre. In the AEC there reigned a deathly calm, a good sign you might think that the surrounding roads had temporarily suspended their carnage but of little help to me as there was now no sign of nurses, doctors or otherwise medically knowledgeable people who might help me. Catching sight of the mop lady I asked her the rather obvious question weere there any staff around. No, she said implying of course not how could I ask such a stupid question ‘it’s lunch time’. ‘When will they be back?’ ‘Oh, in an hour-about’. Great, I thought. I could have limbs and other vital organs severed in a road accident or, along with a party of friends I could have been hacked to within centimeters of my life by an axe wielding maniac but I would still have to wait while the medical staff finished their som tam. While respecting their obviously keen sense of priorities, I decided to take my custom elsewhere and drove down the stretch of building site that is the main road to Mae Rim. My new companion continued with his sporadic activity (I hope no feminist will be offended by my hasty asssignment of sexuality to the intruder. It might have been more exciting to imagine my body had been penetrated by a female but this thought did not occur to me at the time.) As i drove on i began to get used to my fluttering acquaintance, I got to know the kind of head movements that would excite him so i tried to keep my as still as possible and murmur soothing words which would hopefully reassure my uninvited guest in what might prove to be his last hours. i imagined I would quite miss his companionship if he finally regained his freedom. I don’t suppose he realised that the more he flapped the deeper he was digging himself into my orifice, such is the inexorable pull of liberty. I told him he wouldn’t have long to wait as I was sure there would be a clinic in Mae Rim and I wondered if I could keep him, hopefully as a pet, when he finally emerged. As luck would have it there was a clinic with a doctor (who had presumably managed to finish his lunch) and I was soon ushered into his presence where I explained my problem again. The doctor peered into my ear with his torch. Then he went to get a more powerful torch. Then he went to look for a different pair of glasses. Then he made his announcement: ‘there’s nothing in there.’ I told him i stil felt the wings beating. There’s no insect in there he said just congealed blood or as he added in English crotty brud. To prove his point he inserted his torch again. Magically, the beating of wings stopped and my ear was cleared. I thanked him (and paid him) and went on my way. My ear seemed in perfect condition. i guess I will never know the truth of the matter.

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2 Responses to “a moth in your ear”

  1. fowler f.white Says:

    I was in general practice for decades and for one of those I did emergency medicine full time. Several times I had to remove moths from ears and they were always dull white and there would be a collection of very tiny pearly eggs remaining that had to be syringed out. Now Googling “ear moths” turns up a zillion references but the few I opened did not support my suspicion that their going into an animal’s ear (yes, like ours) was an intentional parasitic thing. And if that were more than a casual accident, then how did the name ear get attached to them?

  2. Tia Says:

    When I was 12 yrs old, a moth got stuck in my ear. Me and my parents tried everything to get it out, I even tried to kill it with water so that it would stop fluttering in my ear, but it fluttered more so I just left it. I slept one night with it in my ear, because I didn’t know how else to get rid of it. So the next morning I woke up with it still alive in my ear, I then had the bright idea to suck it out with a vaccum, with my sisters help it came right out still alive, but couldn’t fly!:)


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