Burning the Candle in My Ear

Baby Daddy wants it noted, from the start, he was against this endeavour. But it wasn’t him who had reached the point of desperation, now was it? He wasn’t the one who couldn’t sleep. He wasn’t the one going crazy. Maybe I should start at the beginning.

Vincent Van Gogh ~1889

For several months, I’ve had fluid in my right ear. It was not infected, just building up and causing quite a bit of discomfort: something to do with allergies and plane rides and a whole host of medical speak I didn’t really pay attention to. Also, it’s hard to absorb much information when there is stabbing pain shooting from your ear down your neck. Doc looked in my ear and said, “Yeah, I bet that hurts.” He went on to tell me the story of how years ago, before antibiotics were as readily available as they are today, when a child’s ear would get particularly infected, protocol was to use an ice pick-like instrument and rupture the ear drum to drain the infection. (THIS sunk in and made quite an impression.) He asked if I wanted that procedure or some steroids. I took option B, chief.  Maybe I should have taken option A. I reached the point earlier this week, it seemed like the only way to relief.

ear candles

Two rounds of steroids and one round of antibiotics later, my right ear is STILL not quite right. It feels like I got water from swimming in my ear. When I bend over I can hear it moving around. When I try to sleep, it sounds like a little rat is inside my pillow… scratching… scratching… scratching. It is impossible to sleep when that’s all you can hear and think about. About 2:30am, the really insane thoughts creep in: What if the sound isn’t in my ear? what if there is a rat in my pillow? or my wall? What if we have rodents in this house and I didn’t know it and they attack Monkey Boy?! Monkey Boy will have permanent scars to his face from the rat chewing and it will be all. my. fault. Because I didn’t do anything about the rats because I thought it was my stupid ear. That’s when I remembered, years ago, I saw ear candles at a pharmacy. It seemed like rather primitive medicine to me at the time. But once something messes with the sacred sleep, there’s really nothing off the table to make it right again.

Michael Jackson burned ~ 1984

Baby Daddy kept asking if I got the candles on the same aisle as the leeches. But he was also tired of hearing me fuss about it, so he agreed to help me in my quest. And by agreed, I mean he sighed a lot and finally relented when he realized I could set my head on fire. He kept referring to the Michael Jackson Pepsi incident.

James Hetfield of Metallica

I asked him why I couldn’t be compared to the James Hetfield Metallica burn incident instead. He said ear candles were insulting to one of the world’s greatest bands and we would not sully their name with my antics. Fine.

Ear candles look dirty. Baby Daddy took one glance and asked me exactly where I intended to put that. I told him to shut up and handed him the directions. He asked if they were in Old English, since no one under 168 would ever possibly use these. The first thing on the paper in ALL CAPS and bold lettering: ** DO NOT USE EAR CANDLES ALONE** Baby Daddy looked at me, “Sure, this is safe.”

I looked exactly like this, except not smiling, at my kitchen table, and with a Stars & Stripes plate

I cut a hole in a paper plate as directed. We only had seasonal paper plates, so Star & Stripes it was. I pushed the candle through the hole I cut in the plate. It had the look of the candles you get at the Christmas Eve service with the paper at the bottom to keep the hot wax off of your hand, except a Fourth of July plate and stuck in the side of my face.

As soon as he lit the ear candle, he sounded genuinely scared. “Um, dear, that’s really on fire.” I assured him it was fine. Since I couldn’t see it, I figured why not lie to both of us. We let the candle burn as directed. It made a sizzling sound, but that’s it. Nothing to it. You’re supposed to cut the cone open and see the results of your ear wax being sucked from your ear. There was some wax in there, but I’m pretty sure that was just from the candle itself.

The results: the rat scratching stopped for the night but my hair smelled like a campfire. Not sure how much good it really did. It felt clogged again the next day. I was kinda thinking this really didn’t do me much good. I checked with my good friend Google and realized, perhaps I should have done that BEFORE I stuck a candle in my ear:

Edzard Ernst, the professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter and co-author of the book Trick or Treatment, published a review article in 2004 in the Journal of Laryngology and Otology entitled: “Ear candles: a triumph of ignorance over science”. He concluded; “Ear candling is one of those CAM modalities that clearly does more harm than good…..it’s mechanism of action is first implausible and second, demonstrably wrong..in my view, therefore, it should be banned (1)”.

1. The Journal of Laryngology and Otology. “Ear candles: a triumph of ignorance over science”. Ernst, E. (2004) 118: pp 1-2.

Fine, science, you win. I will call the doctor and have him prescribe ANOTHER round of steroids. But this time I better get some ripped muscles out of the deal. *sigh*



Filed under The view from here

7 responses to “Burning the Candle in My Ear

  1. Seriously, I was having an ear ache right after my wife and I got married and she went and got some of those candles for me to try, she had used them before and was telling me how effective they were so I gave them a try. It completely ended my ear ache and I have not had one since. I also googled them and saw the same study you did but decided to try them anyway, they actually worked for me. They are kind of archaic tho..

  2. Glenna James

    The three times I had this problem the membrane in my ear ruptured. That was painful, but then it was over. You might want to let the doctor lance it.

  3. Oh no!! I have always wondered about thosE!

  4. Tommy

    Not that you’d listen to this old man, but I actually had the ear procedure with Dr. H and it was totally painless. BTW, Mamaw has used the candles before and claimed success???

  5. I was always curious to see if this worked. Thank you for the write up about it.

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