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IF Oxford Science Festival oxkxbu
Knowledge, Perspectives

Columns: 

The Accidental Texan

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Flag of Texas

Many Saturdays ago, after a decent night of drinking and watching the musical Xanadu, I was startled awake by the feeling of something crawling into my right ear. That’s not a pleasant sensation, waking up from a beer-induced slumber to the sound and feeling of tiny, crunchy leglets navigating your interior. Bad enough, I thought. But then, when it got in good and deep, it began biting my eardrum, which hurt worse than the Xanadu roller skate disco music I’d subjected myself to earlier in the evening.

I’m an ICU nurse and over the years I’ve learned to remain calm in intense or even scary situations. Well, I didn’t really pull that off here. I shot out of bed naked, screaming, “GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT!” while jumping up and down on one leg crying. This was obviously one of the finer moments of my life.

There’s only one thing worse than being bitten repeatedly on the eardrum, and that’s also hearing it. Chewchewchewchew. It would stop momentarily then start again, sending me jumping, crying and trying to scream it out of my ear.

In my rational state, I decided the only thing I could do was to drive to my hospital for help. In between the crawling/chewing/ screaming/jumping, I pulled on some clothes, got into the car, and tore off – blowing through every red light – daring any cop to pull me over and try to figure why I was screaming so. There was actually a moment on the road when I thought, ‘Well, at least I’ll get a good story out of this.’ Right after that thought, before I made the final turn to the hospital, I felt that thing crawl out of my ear.

I turned around and drove home steering with my knee so I could keep my hands over my ears. When I got home I tore all the sheets and pillows off the bed and took off my clothes. I drank a large glass of wine, stuffed ear plugs into both sides and went to sleep like it was just another Saturday night. It was all just bizarre enough that the next morning I wondered if perhaps I’d dreamed it. Nope – the pain in my ear proved it was real.

I called a friend and told her about it and she said, “Why didn’t you just pour rubbing alcohol into your ear? It would have crawled right out.” She said it like everyone knows this. Like anyone in a state of complete panic and terror would walk into the bathroom, open the cabinet, and just handle the situation. Well, thanks a lot, friend, but I wasn’t really scraping great thoughts together at 1am on a drunken Saturday night with perhaps a Texas Longhorn bug assaulting the inside of my head. Sleep well, dear Oxonians.

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