When we got home, I tried removing it myself. It's hard to see and even harder to grab. We tried warm baby oil, we tried warm water - it wasn't budging and it was starting to traumatize the kid. I was never good at those puzzles where you see a tiny part of something really close up and you have to guess that it's a bunch of pencil erasers or a llama or whatever. This was the same deal - I'm looking through a hole the size of a drinking straw and conjecturing what the object on the other side of it is. My kid *says* that it's a seashell, but what the hell does she know?
It's been in there for who knows how long, but now that I know about it, it's intolerable. I want it out THIS VERY SECOND. As long as I'm not poking at it, it doesn't bother the kid at all. Her hearing isn't any worse than it ever was, she isn't in pain, her head doesn't rattle like a maraca when she nods, but still, I can't stand knowing that this *thing* is in my kid's head. It's like a tiny sword of Damacles. The only way to deal with my impatience was to make a joke out of it. For the entire weekend we constantly refered to the bug in her ear, asking her what he was saying to her, asking if he was making her do this or that. Good sport that she is she totally played along.
I was terrified it was a bug. A seashell is one thing. That's an amusing anecdote that you tell your other adult friends. It says "Gosh, kids do the darndest things, don't they?" But if it's a bug, suddenly you're one of those parents who appears on Jerry Springer because their kid has been committing heinous crimes and the parents are too uninvolved, too self-absorbed or too stupid to know what's going on with their own kid. It calls into question my ideas of hygeine, my housekeeping skills, my parenting ability. I was utterly convinced that not only was it a bug, but once it was found out that it was a bug, everyone who's ever known me would flee from me as though I had the plague.
Except that it wasn't a bug. It really was a seashell.
As you can see, it's about a centimeter and a quarter long, and it was pointy-side in. The ear, nose and throat guy who finally removed it did so after manipulating it with two different forceps, then he stuck the doctor equivalent of a bent coat hanger in her ear (kids - don't try this at home! he *is* a professional!) and it came right out.
What you can't see is that it has a tiny hole drilled into it, as though it had been on a necklace or earring. My theory is that the kid went to sleep wearing some kind of jewelry with this shell on it, it came loose and over the course of the night, screwed itself into her ear.
She has exhorted us not to tell anyone, but I think that it's just so that she can tell them herself.