Every once in a while when I'm really tired, I use a set of earplugs (like the ones pictured above) to help me sleep since its hard for me to get back to sleep if I'm woken up. So a few nights ago I plopped in the earplugs and had a great night's sleep. When I woke up, I pulled the plug out of my left ear and reached in for the one in the right ear and it wasn't there. I thought that was a bit odd since I couldn't find it in, by or under the bed, and even more odd that the ear was ringing and buzzing and I couldn't hear very well out of it. I realized that somehow the earplug had embedded itself completely into my ear during the night.
Have you ever actually tried to look inside your own ear in a mirror? It's impossible. I had to get one of Jeni's portable mirrors and hold it up at just the right angle to the main mirror to even see the end of the plug. I'm sure it was quite a scene - holding up a small mirror in one hand and reaching into the ear with the other. I tried to grab the plug, poke it, prod it etc. with my fingers but no luck as it was in too deep. I could barely even get my fingertip on it. I started getting a little nervous and pictured what would happen if I went to the Emergency Room:
Nurse: What brings you in today?
Ro: I.... I've lost hearing in my right ear.
Nurse: When did this happen?
Ro: Um... When I woke up. I must have had some trauma to it during the night.
Nurse: Let me take a look (as she looks into my ear).
Ro: I.... I think my earplug might still be in there.
Nurse: (Laughing hysterically) Dr. Jones, Dr. Hamilton- you've got to come and see this. Bring your camera!
Ro: I think I'll go home now.
I determined I would have to operate on myself. I decided to forego the anasthesia, grabbed my scalpel (a pair of small red scissors), put on my scrubs and I was ready. Gently I poked into my ear with one of the blades and tried to move it around in such a way as to create some leverage between the blade and the earplug, just like I knew House would if he were there. It took about 10 minutes but it worked! The earplug came out completely enlarged, not scrunched at all, something you'd normally only read about in medical textbooks but I got to experience first hand.
In the future, I'm either going to invest in a nicer pair of sanitary scissors and a smaller portable mirror, or buy earplugs that have the string attached for easy removal.