Everyone has a bad habit they’d like to break, but what if you were addicted to something seriously harmful, like digging in your ear with giant scissors?
You call in the experts, of course. The “Ear Digger” episode of TLC’s popular freaky-habit show, “My Strange Addiction”, featured a young woman who couldn’t stop digging in her ears with sharp, pointy objects. Our own Dr. Kalpana DeDasquale of St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat was called in to give her some much-needed help! The air date for the episode was February 17th, 2012.
When 32-year-old Jamie, a resident of Jacksonville, FL, was a young girl, a flower became lodged in her ear canal. The flower was removed, but Jamie was convinced that there was still something foreign deep inside her ear.
Over the next 23 years, her ear-digging habit became a full-blown addiction that alienated her friends, forced her fiancé to postpone the wedding, and left her at risk of going completely deaf.
Jamie used a plethora of scary-looking tools to accomplish her gruesome task, from bobby pins to different-sized scissors to a tiny scalpel. Her ears have repeatedly swollen themselves shut, she’s punctured her ear drum, and she’s had multiple ear infections and regular bleeding.
How Dr. DePasquale was able to help Jamie
Jamie knew she had to stop this dangerous compulsion, but it wasn’t until her fiancé postponed their wedding that she decided to seek medical help at St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat.
At SAENT, Dr. Kalpana listened to Jamie describe her addiction, then used a otoscope to check out the damage done to Jamie’s ear canals. She showed Jamie the results of her digging, a location in the inner ear that had “clearly been picked at” and various areas of swelling, though Dr. Kalpana was surprised to find that the ear drums were intact.
At the end of the examination, Dr. Kalpana sat Jamie down and gave her a sobering warning. “I am worried that you will have progressive hearing loss, perforate your ear drums, perhaps even require surgery,” she told a concerned-looking Jamie. “I do suggest that you see a psychologist so that they can help the emotional side of this.”
Thankfully, Jamie took Dr. Kaplana’s warning to heart and went to a therapist, who diagnosed her with “impulse control disorder,” a condition characterized by impulsive actions that achieve a small, short term gain (such as an adrenaline rush) but at the expense of a huge, long-term loss.
The therapy sessions and her visit to St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat helped Jamie to finally stop her ear digging, and the episode left her alive and well, working on her relationship with her fiancé and freed from her dangerous addiction.
This strange addiction seems extreme to most, but inner-ear disorders and discomfort is not uncommon. If you feel pain or discomfort in your ears or sinuses, make sure you give us a call to schedule a visit with Dr. DePasquale by calling (904) 461-6060 today.