She lived with cockroach in her ear for nine days

Ms Katie Holley said a cockroach had crawled into her ear while she was sleeping. She does not have any permanent ear damage.
Ms Katie Holley said a cockroach had crawled into her ear while she was sleeping. She does not have any permanent ear damage.PHOTO: COURTESY OF KATIE HOLLEY

FLORIDA • For nine days in April, 29-year-old sales and marketing manager Katie Holley lived with a cockroach in her ear.

Cockroaches have been a nuisance in her household since she and her husband, Jordan, bought their first home last year, she wrote in a piece published on April 30 in Self magazine.

The pests thrive in warm and damp places, and that includes Florida, where the young couple live and where flying cockroaches called palmetto bugs are most common.

The couple got an exterminator to spray their house but the sense of relief was only temporary.

At around 1.45am on April 14, Ms Holley woke up startled.

"It felt like someone had placed a chip of ice in my left earhole - but it was something way worse," she wrote in Self magazine.

"I could feel my ear was not right. I grabbed a cotton swab and gently inserted it into my ear to see what was up and I felt something move.

"When I pulled the cotton swab out, there were two dark brown, skinny pieces stuck to the tip. Moments later, I came to the realisation that they were legs. LEGS. Legs that could belong only to an adventurous palmetto bug exploring my ear canal."

Her husband rushed to the bathroom, grabbed a flashlight and confirmed that it was a roach.

The young couple drove to the emergency room (ER).

A nurse injected the bug with the anaesthetic Lidocaine to kill it. Ms Holley said she felt the roach move, twitching and wriggling farther into her ear, trying to avoid death. Two minutes later, it stopped moving.

It took the doctor about 20 seconds to pull out chunks of the dead roach. Ms Holley left the hospital nearly two hours later with a prescription for antibiotics and ear drops, relieved that it was all over.

She and her husband vowed to never let the experience happen again, stopping by a Walmart store to buy earplugs.

Nine days passed, but Ms Holley's ear still did not feel normal.

She went to her physician and got her ear flushed four times. Using an otoscope, her doctor and a physician assistant peeked inside, and there it was: another leg.

The doctor pulled out six pieces of the roach's remains - but feared there was still more left.

Ms Holley went to an ear, nose and throat specialist, who extracted a head, a torso, limbs and long antennae of what looked like a fully grown palmetto bug.

"I was furious. I was really disappointed with the ER for not having seen that, for letting me believe it was all out," Ms Holley told The Washington Post last Saturday.

"They said this is something that happens often. I was told there's no need to see anyone or a specialist."

Luckily for her, palmetto bugs generally do not bite, and if they do, their bites are not harmful. Ms Holley said she did not have any permanent damage or infection.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2018, with the headline 'She lived with cockroach in her ear for nine days'. Print Edition | Subscribe