Get Real Life

Dr. Mom and The Alligator Forceps

On Saturday morning, April 10, 2020, several of our younger boys ages 9, 10 and 11 came running out of their room yelling, “Mom, Bob has a bean in his ear! He put a bean in his ear!” Five year old Bob came trailing after them, crying and a bit shakey holding a cupped hand to his ear. He was clearly in pain based on his short bursts of crying. I grabbed my cell phone off the counter and flipped the flash light on to peer into his ear. There, lodged deep inside, was a small red bean wedged perfectly in his narrow ear canal. I had no idea what to do and when a child is crying in pain it tends to scramble my thinking. All the thoughts came through my mind. “What should I do? Can I get the bean out with tweezers? What if I can’t.” My brain was trying to tell me that this was not worth stressing out over but the urgent cares are all closed and the crying in the background made it hard to think straight. “ Do people go to ER’s for this? I don’t want to go to the ER right now.  Would they even let me come in with him? Is this event an emergency? I hate that I don’t know what to do.”  Thoughts flew through my mind a mile a minute. So while I tried to gather my thoughts, I prayed for Bob that this bean would come out and that there would be no problems.

Thankfully my husband was home. Having a nurse in the family is handy, but he wasn’t quite sure what we should do. In our area, all doctor offices and urgent cares had been ordered to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. Doctors were conducting office visits via Facetime and people were urged to stay at home for all but the most serious emergencies. I knew for certain that no remote doctor visits were going to solve this problem. 

Mike & I decided to gather any tools that might be useful to try to remove the bean. So we gathered various assorted tweezers and a very thin dental irrigator and water. After several attempts to grab the bean with tweezers, it was clear it was wedged too far in and too tightly. Any attempts to remove it were painful. Next I tried to slip the thin wire dental irrigator behind the been to flush it with water. No luck. Nothing happened. Bob just cried more. This was not working.

We have been teaching Julia, age 2, to pray for people when they are in pain or need healing. So we went to go find Julia so she could pray over Bob. At the time she had just had a bath, so she only wore a diaper as she ran around the house. After asking her to pray, Julia put her dimply hands on Bob’s head and said in a small sweet voice… “All pain go now.” 

A few minutes later, Bob put his head on a warm heating pad and promptly fell asleep.

Meanwhile, I decided to try and reach my uncle Tom who is doctor. After sending him a text for advice, I also made a quick call to the Children’s Hospital nurse’s line while I waited for him to call me.  I explained the situation and they redirected my call over to the Akron Childrens ER where I spoke to Nurse Ratchet. I told her the situation and asked her what she thought my options were. In a nasally voice, she replied “Well, the first thing you need to do is call your doctor. I really can’t tell you what to do…” “Ok; I replied, “But can you tell me if this is the sort of thing you usually handle in the ER or is this something that they handle in a doctor’s office?” (Nine kids and this is the first and hopefully last one to put something in their ear.” 

“Well” said Nurse Ratchet with a slight rasp through her nose,” I really can’t tell you what to do. You can bring him down here into all this craziness if you want.”

“Ok then, thank you for your time”


Thankfully Uncle Tom called me back a few minutes later and was much more helpful than the nurse. He informed me about a few handy doctor tools that are not available in the drug stores. The one that seemed most interesting and probably the most helpful for the bean was allligator forceps to remove things from the ear. He assured me that this  bean in the ear was not an emergency despite what Dr. Google and my active imagination said.

So off to Amazon I went hoping that I could get some delivered in a couple days. Initially I had no such luck and started to panic. It was April 10 and every pair of alligator forceps said they could not be delivered until May 2 due to prioritized shipments for essential items. Three weeks…would Bob be o.k. with a bean in the ear for 3 weeks? This felt essential to me! A bean in the ear for 3 weeks could not be healthy! Thankfully, after a bit of searching, I found one pair of rainbow metal alligator forceps that could arrive in 4 days. Despite Google’s warning that beans should be removed immediately and could swell or cause infection, we were going to have to wait 4 days and just believe he would be fine. 

As I tried to figure out what to do, Bob took his nap. When he woke up, he kind of bounced up and hopped off the couch. All  the pain was gone! Praise the Lord!. Over the next several days, I would continue to check on the bean. The pain never returned and Bob didn’t have any discomfort either. 

On Tuesday evening, one of the kids realized that a small manila padded envelope had arrived with the mail. The alligator forceps had arrived early! Minutes after the package arrived, we were ready for extraction. The little tool looked something like a cross between scissors and pliers with a bend in the handle. I called for Bob to come so we could get that bean out. My poor kids, I do not tune in to anxiety well. But as soon as Bob saw the tool, he started shrieking at the top of his lungs and sobbing.  Despite our assurances that this would not hurt, he did not calm down. Mike held Bobs head still and in a completely anti climatic moment, the little forceps took 2 seconds to grab the red bean glistening with earwax. Bob was still whimpering when the bean was out… and it changed to a nervous laugh of relief. I should have grabbed a camera to snap a picture of the moment of victory but it didn’t happen. Instead I just thanked the Lord…for the nurse that lives in my house, a praying little girl, a doctor uncle to talk me through and Amazon’s quick delivery.

In hindsight, the bean drama showed me that when I encounter a situation with a lot of unknowns, that is when I feel a disproportionate amount of stress. It was easy to slip into fear and it seemed more significant (at least initially) than it should have.  Unknowns are around the corner every day of our lives. Life is like shifting sand sometimes and without an anchor, even the stable ground can move from beneath my feet. I love the verse, “Those who trust in the Lord will not be disappointed.” I Peter 2:6. It has become an easy baseline for me to remember to gauge if I am trusting or if I’m fearing…and has helped me move from fear to trust many many times.