SANDY — A Sandy man found a surprise visitor recently after having surgery to relieve sinus pain.
Rhett Lewis, a filmmaker who runs Atomic City with his brother, dealt with sinus problems for six years without knowing what was wrong. He said he couldn't smell or taste, so he decided to get surgery. He was supposed to irrigate his nose morning and night, he said.
One morning while he was irrigating his nose, something came out and got caught on the sink drain.
"I thought, ‘That doesn't look like blood,' " he said. "So I looked closer and it had like the pincers of an earwig, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!' "
He said he called for his wife and 3-year-old daughter.
"My wife and daughter came in, and my daughter's gagging and my wife's like, ‘No, no, no, no, no!' " he said.
Lewis said he has never seen earwigs anywhere near his house and didn't know what to make of the insect. He went back to his doctor and asked him to check for anything else that might have been making a home in his nose.
"He's like, ‘I was just in there two weeks ago, I promise there's no like crop of earwigs,' " Lewis said. "He said it must have just crawled up in there and died."
He said his doctor called nurses and other doctors into the room to show them what Lewis had found. Although a centuries-old myth says earwigs can crawl into people's ears and burrow into their brains, experts say earwigs generally leave humans alone. In three decades of practice, Lewis' doctor had never seen such a case.
"He said the only other time he ever saw anything come out of someone's sinuses were maggots, but he was practicing on a dead body," Lewis said.
Lewis said he has the earwig in a Ziploc bag pinned to his bedroom wall.
"I always had sinus problems. I was always inflamed. I'd always joke, ‘There's always something living up there,' so when that thing came out i was like, ‘No. Freaking. Way.' " he said. "I always tell people now that if they ever have sinus problems, it's probably because they have an earwig in their nose."