This is Katie Holley and she has a story that’s going to make your ears feel itchy for weeks.
It all started on April 14 when Holley, who had just bought a new home in Melbourne, Florida, woke up at 1:45 a.m. with a strange, cold feeling in her left ear.
I put my finger in my ear and didn’t feel anything, thinking I would feel something wet,” she told BuzzFeed News. Strangely, it felt like she had an ice chip lodged in her ear.
Disoriented and confused, she went to the bathroom to inspect her ear with a Q-tip. When she pulled it out it had two little black lines on it. Legs.
“I knew right away what it was,” said Holley, who originally told her story in Self.
“Once I realized that it had to have been a bug I quickly had a meltdown.”
Her husband got a flashlight and confirmed the hunch. It was a palmetto bug — a type of cockroach common in Florida, where they live. And it was in there really good.
“I don’t think I answered him — I was just making noise. I wasn’t crying or weeping or screaming — I was just making a noise,” said Holley.
And so was the bug. She could feel and hear the bug moving around.
“It wasn’t necessarily painful — it was like when you plug your ears really hard and you hear that hum sound in your head. It was like that but continuously in the left side of my head,” she said.
To add insult to injury, they’d had their home sprayed for the cockroaches just a week prior.
Her husband tried to get it out but only got a couple more legs. That’s when they decided it was time to go to the emergency room.
When she got to the hospital, she was seen right away by a doctor, who used lidocaine to both numb her ear and kill the bug.
“For two minutes I felt the roach thrashing around in my ear, dying. It was awful,” she said.
The doctor got tweezers and started extracting the bug in little bits.
“He kept showing me the pieces, which I didn’t want to see.”
Finally, the doctor said it was done. But, unfortunately for Holley, it really wasn’t.
Nine days later, Holley was still having problems. Her ear drops wouldn’t go into her ear, she was having trouble hearing, and she could hear strange crackling sounds.
A trip to her family doctor confirmed the horrible truth — there was still some bug in there. Dead, nine-day-old bug.
As Holley wept, her doctor went to work trying to get the remaining pieces out, rubbing Holley’s back for comfort as she went. The doctor got six more pieces out before realizing she couldn’t get it all, so she sent Holley to an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
At the ENT, Holley lay on her side and the doctor “pulled out these enormous scissors.”
“I think it took him three times then something very large came out my ear and through my ear hole,” she said. “I didn’t even see what he pulled out, but I could feel how huge it was.”
Then he showed her. It was the head and upper torso of the roach, giant antennae and all.
“I was just out of my mind,” said Holley.
Although she’s disappointed the ER doctor didn’t do a thorough job, she’s more mentally than physically scarred.
“It’s traumatizing but at the end of the day this happens to people more often than you’d think,” she said. “That doesn’t make me feel better, but at least I’m not alone.”
She now sleeps with cotton balls in her ears.
In case you’re not horrified enough, bugs crawling into ears is actually more common than you’d think, especially in the tropics, according to National Geographic. Unwelcome orifice-invading bugs do create an infection risk — not to mention the psychological trauma — so if you ever find yourself in such a situation, it’s best to go to the emergency room.