Wednesday, 18 October 2006
The Mystery of the Painful Ear
Poor little Ethan... He was so happy last night when I fed him but this morning he was getting cranky and in the afternoon he was sleeping and bawling in 30-60 min intervals. Because of this Renata only managed to eat lunch at 5pm, and had noticed a few scratch marks on his left ear. She took a photo, emailed it to me and phoned. One three-party conference call with Dr Lim Ah Yeh, a few emails of the ear and Dad was flying back home (good to have fast bike) to check it out.
We had a closer look at home and I got in there with a flashlight. Things had worsened and peering into canal you can see from the picture above that poor Ethan's ear was a mess. It looked like an ear infection so we went to NUH where they have a children's A&E department. After a brief wait (they were very good) the medical officer scoped the ear amidst very loud protests that broke Mummy's heart. He then looked up with a puzzled expression and said, "I'm not sure if I'm seeing things...but I think there's a worm in your son's ear!"
The ENT specialist was called and in 15 min she came and took a look. Subsequent scopes by both MO and the specialist revealed no traces of the worm. Having a worm in one's ear, let alone the ear of a 2.5 week old baby is quite unheard of. Indeed Dr Lim Ah Yeh of Specialist Clinic said that in his 40+ years of practice he has pulled strange things like bees out of ears, but never a worm. Thus, the specialist said it was quite unlikely to be a worm. Instead, it was probably worm-like flakes of skin coming off due to a common ear infection of children. The MO not only looked embarrassed but even said that he was. After all, how silly he was to think there could have been a worm in a baby's ear...
Anyway the doctor said that they would flush his ear with antiobitics for the ear infection. If there was a worm this would also "drown the worm". If it were then to crawl out we were to kill it! Gasp... sounds like Aliens, but okay we'll do it and since we're at the hospital now let's do the first flushing here.
I held Ethan who had calmed down now that the nasty scope was no longer in his ear canal. We dropped 4 drops in his ear and 5 seconds later a WORM SWAM TO THE SURFACE! Even the doctors were amazed! "There's a worm! A worm! Quick, give me the forceps!" The worm wriggled in the pool of antiobiotic fluid as the precision forceps deftly plucked it out of Ethan's ear. Everyone gasped in amazement while Ethan now looked completely peaceful.
We don't know yet what type of worm it was or how it got there. The doctors quickly took digital photos of it (I should have asked them for a copy there and then!) and soon a few other doctors and nurses came to see the worm that crawled out of this baby boy's ear. It must also be added that they praised his bravery for even a grown man would have cried out of pain if a worm to crawl into his ear.
So we're back home now. All bedsheets, linens, clothing and car-set liners are soaking in antiseptic. Ethan has completely tired himself out and is sleeping. We'll be flushing his ear again soon, and watching in case more worms swim out. Tomorrow at 9am we'll be going into the hospital again where the ENT Clinic has the full equipment to do a detailed microscopic examination of his ear. We'll need to confirm there are no more worms, and hopefully find out where the worms came from.