I know there are more important news stories out there; stories about the U.S.-North Korea summit and the ongoing Michael Cohen saga, stories about rising sea level and the escalating Iran-Israel crisis. I'm well aware of those; really, truly I am. But there's one report I can't seem to shake off.
Did you hear about the cockroach that crawled inside a Florida woman's ear while she slept?
I can't write those words without a shudder and grimace. Yuck. Double yuck.
I should be used to such gross stories, shouldn't I? After all, I'm a Florida girl, familiar with palmetto bugs the size of a 747. In fact, my home sweet home of Miami-Dade ranks No. 3 in the country when it comes to roaches, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Housing Survey. (Yes, the government keeps track of these things.) Still, coming in after New Orleans and Houston gives me scant comfort.
Just as I draw no solace from the fact that most roach species do not actually carry disease. Or that they're older than dirt. Or that a zoo in western Japan has sponsored cockroach-petting sessions and five-lane cockroach races to rehabilitate the insect's much maligned reputation.
I don't care about any of that. My revulsion is steadfast, incontrovertible. Roach traps are placed strategically around my house and garage, and if I were ever charged with roachacide in the Tribunal of Bugs, I'd gladly and proudly confess. I've killed hundreds of roaches in my time, by any means possible, and I bear no remorse or desire to reform.
I've stomped on them. Sprayed them. Impaled them. Crushed them. Drowned them.
Did I mention I hate roaches? I loathe them. I detest them. Even their babies deserve annihilation. I don't care if they're American, German or one of those hissers from Madagascar. They're repulsive regardless of shape or size.
A roach in my ear, however, is beyond my worst nightmare; an Alfred Hitchcock horror film gone live. The poor woman in question, one Katie Holley, woke up in the middle of the night feeling something in her left ear. In the bathroom, she inserted a cotton swab and "felt something move," she wrote in a SELF column. She also found two brown legs stuck to the swab when she pulled it out. Seconds later, her husband confirmed there indeed was a roach wriggling around in her ear canal.
Right about then I would've needed a sedative: the big-pellet kind they use for humongous African wildlife. I admit to this readily because any family member who has lived more than a nanosecond in my house has seen me go ballistic when I spot a roach scurry across a room or crawl up a wall. And if I espy one that flies? I transform into a howling dervish.
Not Holley. She went to the emergency room, even as she felt the roach burrowing deeper, an experience she described as "psychologically tortuous." The ER doctor killed the roach and removed three pieces of the bug – but that wasn't the end of it. It took Holley two more doctor visits, four flushings of the ear, and the expertise of an ear, nose and throat specialist to dislodge the entire head, upper torso, remaining legs and an atennae.
Now here's the scary part: The doctor told her she was the second patient he had treated that day with a bug in the ear. And he meant that literally, not figuratively.
Please read that fact again. The second bug removed in one day by a single doctor. Extrapolate and you know where my thoughts are headed. This, of course, can mean only one thing: We're not safe from creepy-crawlies even in our own beds.
Now if this isn't enough to give you nightmares, you're a stronger person that I am, for sure.
(Ana Veciana-Suarez writes about family and social issues. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website anavecianasuarez.com. Follow @AnaVeciana.)