Sixth grade boys can be lively, challenging, wonderful creatures. The one who ran through the health office door that morning was such a student. He was all arms and legs, quite tall for his age—what we would call “lanky.” Normally, this young man wore a huge smile, but that morning he bounded up to my desk and with serious concern and announced, “Nurse Flemr, I’ve lost the hearing in my right ear.”
Hank answered my questions, “Yes, it just started this morning . . . yea, it was very sudden . . .no pain.” I asked him to have a seat in the exam area and I joined him there with my otoscope. He looked up at the instrument, covered his ear and asked, “You goin’ look in there? Will it hurt?” I reassured him it would be painless.
He removed his hand so I might peer into his ear. The scope’s light reflected off a bright chartreuse object down in the canal. It appeared round, smooth, and definitely non-organic! I asked Hank if he had put something in his ear. He adamantly replied, “Oh, no! I would NEVER do that, nurse!”
I retrieved a blunt-nosed forceps and gently reached into the ear. When I pulled out the good-sized neon plastic pop bead—the kind we used to make bracelets and necklaces in the 1950’s—wide-eyed Hank exclaimed,”Oh, my gosh! How did that ever get in there?” He did a good job of appearing to be seeing the object for the first time!
As I went to the sink, washed the bead, and handed it to Hank, I talked a bit about the danger of putting things into the ear canal. He quickly interrupted me, “Oh! You know what? I think I know how it got there! I was sleeping on my left side last night and it must have just fallen right in there when my sister walked by.”
So imaginative, wasn’t he?