Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to Drain Your Cauliflowering Ear

I wrote this as a comment on a friend's blog (Stephanie aka Jiujitsunista writes You Want Me to Put My Head Where?!) and thought it might be helpful reference.

I used insulin needles. I went to Walgreens at the pharmacy counter and asked for the tiniest gauge needles they had; a sack of 10 syringes with super-teeny needles was like $2.50.

I also bought a box of alcohol pads that happened to have anesthetic in there too. (No harm in being a pain-weenie.)

I carefuly wiped all around the inside and outside of my ear and let the pad sit for a minute or so on the place where the fluid was filled up, so the novacaine could soak in if it was going to. (As it turns out, it doesn't numb your ear, at least not that I could feel. But the needle prick isn't all that painful either.)

Depending where the fluid pocket is, you'll need to play around with where to stick the needle. Pull all your hair back and use bobby pins so you have a very clear view and do this in front of your bathroom mirror. Take all the protective caps off the syringe, needle-end and plunger-end. Work the plunger in and out a little bit so it doesn't stick, and I left the plunger out about .5cc so there was some airspace the fluid could flow into.

You'll want to put the needle in all the way, and have the tip of the needle in the middle of the deepest part of the fluid. The hardest part is actually penetrating your skin (the top layer is tough!) Sometimes, just getting into the ear is enough to get the blood/fluid draining. Sometimes, you need to get the needle in and then pull the plunger back bit by bit.

If nothing at all comes into the chamber when you pull the plunger a bit, you may need to change the angle of the needle relative to the pocket of fluid, or maybe pull the needle out a tiny bit to get less deeply into the pocket, or ick, you may need to change where you pierce the skin entirely.

Sad to say, you'll get a good feel for that particular pocket over the next day or two, and you'll find a place and angle that reliably works. That one "stick site" will become sore but the feeling of relief and the lack of vegetableness of your ear will be worth it.

FYI-- sometimes, the fluid is bloody (even really dark red) and sometimes it's clear-yellow serum. Usually, it starts out with a droplet of blood- then a bunch of serum- then the tail end of that draw will be blood, which actually looks pretty cool as it swirls into the serum. Sorry, I guess I'm twisted.

Make sure you use an alcohol pad to pinch against the stick site again, and hold it tightly for a minute or so to stop any residual bleeding. Also make sure you bend the needle back (pressing it against the floor or a hard nonscratch surface) and then re-cap it so no one can reuse it.

Here's a video of Mike Swick draining his ear-- the relevant part starts around 2:00.


Lynntropy said...

Dangit, I totally wanna drain your ear. ;) We could have rock-scissors-paper'd for it.
btw, you are sick.

Georgette said...

LOL--- I know, I know.

But my ear's fine now. I have a little invisible, but palpable, cauli on each one, just to prove I am woman hear me rawr.

Steve said...

I've been pretty lucky with the cauliflower. My right ear is a little cauli'd up, but doesn't look bad unless you compare it directly to my left.

Caleb did a piece on cauliflower on the fightworks podcast, episode 114. Worth a listen.

BJJ Tips said...

The first time I got cauliflower ear, I wasn't sure what it was --- and neither did the doctor. He wanted to give me antibiotics because he thought it was an infection.

He then referred me to a plastic surgeon, of all people. The plastic surgeon didn't know what it was either. He suggested that I stop all activity for a few weeks to see if the swelling goes down.

He asked me what I was doing again to cause the "condition." I happened to have the Royler and Renzo Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu book with me and he and his nurse flipped through it.... looking at me like, "WHY THE F WOULD YOU DO THIS?"

Yes, I finally tried draining my ear, but unfortunately, by then, it was pretty much too late.

BJJ CailĂ­n said...

I go to an dermatologist or ENT and have it lanced - i.e. cut open. It hurts more than a needle but drains everything out (they numb it so it doesn't hurt while they do it, but it hurts after - because someone just sliced your ear like a steak). The problem with the little insulin needles is the needle itself is too small, and usually there is more than one pocket of fluid so you have to stick multiple times and still don't always get all of it.

Jiujitsunista said...

Thanks Georgette!

Now, I am off to the store to get some needles! lol

Jason said...

Excellent post. I don't have one and I don't want a cauliflower ear. I will remember this post if I ever see signs of it.

Georgette said...

@Jen-- yeah, I have had to stick my ears in several places a few times, but I prefer to keep my skin as intact as possible. I fear that slicing the ear open, which is the medically more proper technique (and which can also resolve fully hardened cauli ears), would keep me off the mats while it healed.

Anonymous said...

I'm not happy about my left its beginning I also went to a doctor who gave me antiobotics then I went to many chemists who wouldn't sell me needles ... I explained what for but still refused :(
Went to another doctor who was too scared to draw out the blood so he refered me to emergency hospital went there the doctor said ice it :( there is swelling
And I don't want it getting worse I finally got needles from a friend but I'm too scared doing it myself
Where do u go to get it done professionally ??????

Georgette said...

From your use of the term "chemist" it appears you're writing from the UK, I would guess?

You can go to an ear-nose-throat specialist doctor, who will anesthetize your ear, cut it open, scoop it out and stitch it shut. This will keep you out of training for a few days to weeks.

I would suggest telling a chemist you need some insulin syringes, that you're on holiday and left your extras at home, and of course don't have a prescription with you. If that doesn't work, call around to local MMA gyms or wrestling clubs and see if someone there can drain it for you.

In the future, why don't you buy some insulin syringes off the internet and have them handy. Here's a suggestion: