An embarrassed mum thought a piece of tape in her son’s ear was a brain eating worm.
Gemma Tyson ‘felt sick’ as she used tweezers to pull out a long, sticky mass that ‘just kept coming and coming’ from son Ashton Horsfield’s ear.
The at home operation had been carried out after the eight-year-old had complained of a mysterious itch.
Gemma carried out a frantic web search, leaving her convinced he had ‘worms that were eating his brain’.
She rushed her son to an emergency doctor appointment, where the ‘creature’ was taken for testing.
It was only after returning home and waiting to hear back on the test results, that Ashton revealed he’d stuffed a ball of micropore surgical tape into his ear a week earlier.
Despite being relieved her ‘living nightmare’ was over, 38-year-old Gemma insists her mischievous son was lucky the unlikely blockage didn’t lead to a serious infection.
The healthcare company director believes mums should be extra cautious during lockdown when kids are bored and more likely to play around with anything they find in the house.
Last week she shared her petrifying experience from November 2019 on Facebook accompanied by an unsettling snap of the shrivelled object in a bid to warn other parents to be vigilant of what their children put in their ears.
Gemma, from St George, Bristol, said: “Ashton’s always got something hurting, so he said about his itchy ear and when I first looked I thought it was a big chunk of wax.
“When I pulled it with the long tweezers it just kept coming and coming.
“I thought he had brain worms and the longer we sat there the more his brain was getting eaten.
“I felt sick, and I thought something might fly out at the end.
“It was like a nightmare or the horror films you watch. Ashton was more worried about my face than his.
“I tried to stay calm for him but inside I was panicking. I’m the sort of person who laughs even if things go wrong.”
Gemma tried to dissect the apparent creature but it wouldn’t come apart.
“It was like a dried worm, so I calle
d the doctors and we went straight away,” she continued.
“They didn’t know what the thing was either.
“When we got home he said ‘I wonder if it could be the tape’, so I just said ‘what’? He said he’d put some tape in and couldn’t get it out, so it might be that.
“The kids like to make things with tape, so he probably ripped a bit off, started playing with it and then put it in his ear, then it got all folded up into a ball. It still sounds disgusting now.
“I don’t know whether he’d forgotten or he was too embarrassed to say, but I was so embarrassed. I thought I’d just wasted everyone’s time.”
Gemma says she never heard from the doctors about the test they ran on the piece of masking tape.
She’s relieved to say Ashton, now 10, hasn’t tried to shove anything down his ear since, and her two other children, Blake Horsfield, eight, and Abigail Tyson, seven, haven’t either.
They live in Cheddar, Somerset with Ashton’s 35-year-old step-dad Brian Tyson who helped panicked Gemma cut apart the tapeworm.
The pair now regularly check their children’s ears and Gemma encourages other parents to do the same and make sure they have a suitable first aid kit to hand just in case.
She said: “If your kid’s got an itch in their ear then definitely have a look.
“People have had to have operations from things like that, so we were quite lucky.
“We just had a bog-standard first aid home kit, and it comes with the long thin tweezers.
“They’re worth having because normal tweezers wouldn’t have worked.”
The 38-year-old’s post charting the incident has gained more than 9,000 reactions on Facebook, and more than 4,000 replies showed many parents relate to the scare.
One member commented: “My son has had play doh, stickers paper and orange peel in his ear!”
Another admitted: “I put the little rubber from the end of a pencil in my ear as a child.
“Luckily the school nurse was able to get it out with tweezers.”
A third said: “A number of years ago, on looking at my (then) young son’s ear infection, he told me that it was where he stored his bogies.”
One added: “I’m being [more] worried the more I read lol! Kids, hey!”
Gemma added: “The reaction to the post shows how hard children are (to look after), and more so in lockdown because they’re bored and more likely to try these exciting things out.”