Baby vs. Ocean
Stupid Girl Does a Stupid Thing, Part One

She's Lump

I had a dermatologist appointment this morning — my super-exciting annual mole check. Sexy, right?  Sorry to shatter any fantasies about what my hot, droopy mother-of-three body might look like in person, because seriously: I am covered in weird-ass moles.

The good news is that none of my weird-ass moles are dangerously weird. They are all perfectly normal-weird. Hooray!

(Though I still requested a quick liquid-nitrogen blast to the face for a normal-but-crazy-annoying sun spot I developed on my cheek during pregnancy. I go back in a month for another one, or possibly a follow-up with a laser. What a wonderful time to be alive! Nitrogen blasts at your convenience! Prescription-strength lasers! Botulism shots on a walk-in basis!)

But then, there's my ear. My ear is apparently very, very weird.

For about as long as I can remember, I've had a small lump in front of my right ear. It's under the skin, perfectly round, and not particularly hard OR soft. It never hurt or anything, it was just...well, weird. I remember going to a doctor about it when I was very young, but don't really remember what the diagnosis was. Extra cartilage? A benign cyst?

No idea, and my mom doesn't remember either. Something of the "mumble mumble fine harmless as long as it doesn't change or get bigger mumble" variety. 

Welp. Fine. Until it changed and got bigger.

I think it started when I was pregnant with Ike, then continued after he was born, but now it's a LUMP. An annoying, visible lump. It's super itchy and freaks me out when I touch it, because it manages to be both solid and immovable while also...squishy and fluid-filled. 

(OH HI WERE YOU EATING? I'm sorry, maybe I should have just let everybody Google around for pictures of my bizarre skin condition. Because THAT always goes so well.)

Thanks to Google, I'd managed to diagnose myself with a variety of Things, ranging from benign and no-big-deal to OH MY GOD YOUR BRAIN IS FILLING WITH CANCER THIS VERY SECOND. 

I wasn't sure the dermatologist was the best place to take the lump, but I had the appointment set up already and figured I could get a recommendation for an ENT or whatever kind of doctor they felt would be the appropriate medical destination for the lump.

(Lump. Lump! It's starting to not even feel like a real word the more I type it.)

Turns out, the dermatologist knew exactly what it was, and it was NONE of the things I'd researched on Google. It's basically a rogue, malformed sinus that I've had since birth, since I was an embryo. "Like, it happens when the cells are still splitting," she explained, not without a slight hint of OMFG THIS IS SO COOL excitement. 

The next thing I knew, I was the show-and-tell exhibit of the entire practice. Two physician's assistants came in to ooh and ahh over the lump. Medical references were pulled out and passed around. An official multi-word diagnosis was announced to me (and then promptly forgotten). Usually, this sort of thing is accompanied by a small extra hole for draining, but I don't have that, so that's why the lump is getting bigger and more uncomfortable.

So basically, the lump is full of face-juice and probably boogers. Great. Just...great. 

But that still didn't mean my disgusting aural mucus blob wasn't HOT SHIT at the dermatologist's office. My doctor pulled in another dermatologist to look at it, a much older gentleman I've never seen at the practice before.

My doctor introduced him to me. "He invented ACCUTANE," she added proudly.

So. Okay. How does one respond to that? I mean, if you were normal and not at all a failure at basic human interaction (aka me)? You came in for a mole check and suddenly the inventor of Accutane is standing three feet away from you and would like to see the weird thing you've got going on with your ear. 

I think I stammered out something about it being nice to meet him and like, wow and shit, I've seen your medication advertised on the teevee, hurrr durrrr, and then apologized for the lump really being kind of boring looking. It's just skin, you know? No blood or oozing or tiny fetus in fetu teeth sticking out of it, or anything cool like that.

The doctors hmm'd and ahhh'd over the lump and I was given several cards for several local plastic surgeons who could determine whether it should be drained or surgically removed, and then the older doctor asked if he could take a picture.

 "Oh...kay?" I said. 

And that's how I ended up getting a photo of my weird-ass ear lump taken by the Inventor of Accutane this morning for future medical posterity, or perhaps his personal scrapbook of weird-ass dermatological shit. I didn't ask.




So last year (March?) I was admitted to a large teaching hospital because...wait for of my ears turned bright red and swelled up to three times its normal size and exuded enough heat to warm a small village. Skin infection! Brain infection! They have no idea!

After two days in the hospital they finally admitted that if the chairs of Infectious Disease, Allergy, Dermatology and Internal Medicine didn't know what it was, I could go home. It hasn't happened since but I'm always on HIGH ALERT.


Ahhhh, it's like the episode of Friends when Ross has the rash all the doctors are amazed by! "Maybe they'll name it after you!"

But seriously, good luck with the ear lump.


LOL! Of course that would happen to you, having some rare dermatological oddity that made you an instant celebrity for the doctors in that office. But also, ew.


If I met the inventor of Accutane I would be torn between using a rusty razor blade to peel several layers of skin off of his face/lips (since that is EXACTLY what being on Accutane is like) and kissing him on the mouth for curing my horrible acne when I was 16.

How you are right now not poking your lump with a needle to see if you can pop it yourself is beyond me. Are you not human?


Wow! You're famous now!


Well, at least it wasn't on your lady parts. Not that I would know anything about having a room full of strangers gawk at some weirdness on my lady parts. No, not me.

Beta Dad

Life limps along at subsonic speeds...


I have an extra sinus in my nose. Yours is totally cooler.


Am I the only one who is dying to see the picture?!?! TEASE.


Ah yes, fun at the dermatologist. I get to go twice a year because I have lots of angry moles and it is always an adventure. Sometimes an embarrassing one.


All that, and then no picture?! Tease!!!

Brigid Keely

I have one of those in front of each ear. One of them got horribly infected when I was in 1st grade and I was passed around to several doctors and ultimately it was removed. I still have the scar. I remain On High Alert regarding the other one (IT COULD GO AT ANY MOMENT) but I really only see grossness from it if I'm coming down with something. It's got the proper opening/pore/downspout so I've never REALLY had problems with it. OH SKIN. OH HUMAN BODIES.


I had a lump develop on my jawline the year I turned 21--also known as "The Last Summer I'll Get To Spend Touring the Country With Other Insane Kids In A Drum Corps", so I went to the doctor with no little trepidation. I attempted to convince the nurse (and myself) that the lump was because I had cut my gum/cheek on a tortilla chip and it was infected (um, wha?) but then the doctor came in. After a quick exam, he was positively giddy with it turned out, I had the mumps. (A mump?) He told me "I was just thinking the other day that I hadn't seen a case of the mumps in 30 years, and here you are! How cool!" I then became the sideshow freak of the building, as doctors and nurses filed in--some from other offices--to look at Mumpy the Clown.
Try making that phone call: "yeah, I'm going to miss rehearsal for about a week...yeah, I've got the mumps. Yes, they still exist. No, I'm not making this up. No, I don't want to get cut from the team! AAAaahhhhh! Don't hang up!"
Good times.


I read this very wrong at first and thought you said it WAS an embryo. Like Dwight Schrute destroying his twin or something.


Bullshit. Your ear has been Instagrammed by the Accutane man. OMG You're going to see your ear floating around Facebook and Twitter and the GoogleliesbecauseIknowIhaveafuckingbleedinganeurysm interwebs without a face attached and you'll be all, naw, interwebs, that shit ain't right, that there's MY ear, at least assign my name to the weird ear nonfetus, damn.


I just thought you would like to know that when you google image rogue,malformed sinus pictures of baby ike at the beach come up.


I'm filing this away for an Advice Smackdown question! I'm curious to see how your treatments go, because I also got a crazy face sunspot during my last pregnancy. I really hate going to the dermatologist, but I would totally make an exception if you're seeing results!


Can I just tell you I would be SO tempted to squeeze that thing if it were in my house? I can't leave anything alone...


All that an no picture! Come on, lady, share a quick pic!

Amy in StL

Ooo, I'm with Kailee! Let us know how the susnspot treatment turns out. I've been on bcp for more than 20 years and just last year developed a little weird brown patch to the left of my left eye. I'm wondering if they can laser that puppy off.

Also, ewww.... You have snot in your cheek!


Well! I always knew you were cool, but an extra sinus that ends in front of your ear? That is just Star Trek worthy! Amy = my new hero.


As if in a parallel universe I imagine the inventor of Accutane is posting that picture and his own hilarious story about how he met a woman with a sinus lump in her ear. You were famous before, but this is a completely new level - Specialist Doctor famous. *bows in respect*

Yet another Amy

Branchial cleft cyst? Cool. Had one removed a decade ago after it grew to the size of a baseball.


Rogue sinus? Awesome!

I have my own lump--a misplaced lymph node in my neck that swells ominously when I'm sick (my mother used it as her barometer for whether or not I had to go to school: I only got to stay home if the lump was suitably inflamed).

When my friend's son found something similar, she theorized that these lumps are marks of genius. So...beware removing what may be a Lump of Genius! (What if it's the source of all your power? Like Spiderman's radioactive spider bite?!?)


ok I have a strange 'hole' thing above my ear that fills with fluid and drains often and I always assumed it was some strange scar from when I had chicken pox as a kid but now you tell me it is a new sinus passage on the side of my HEAD! HOLY COW!


And now you're making me laugh, because I was the star patient at my eye doctor many years ago, when I managed to scratch my corona due to sand blowing in the wind. He was so excited by this, and I so dismal about wearing glasses to prom, that he struck a deal — I could wear my contacts to prom (Four hours only! Pinky swear!) if I let him FILM MY EYE for posterity. Weirdest thing I've ever done at the doctor's...


Er, "cornea." Spelling is not my forte, I guess.


I second Kailee!! I also have a big brown spot from pregnancy/sun damage. Keep us posted!!!


This ranks right up there with finding out it's not uncommon to have a third nipple that looks like a little mole... AND LACTATES.


My son was born with ear tags that sound kinda similar. Apparently there is an embryonic line running just in front of the ear. These form when there is was a cell division problem at week 6 of gestation. With his, you can't just remove the skin part b/c there is cartilage underneath even with small ones (thus the hard yet soft feeling). If you want to have fun with worry, they are sometimes (pretty rare from what i understand) associated with ureter malformations because the ureters (tubes going from kidney to bladder) were forming at the same time.


My daughter has one of those weird sinus things. So does my husband. No signs of lumps in either of them, but I'm always checking...


Well, I read your tweet as something else, so finding out that it was by your ear was way better...


I would be torn between being extremely grossed out with the news and with trying to see if I could pop it.

Suzy Q

So, its name is Lump? Not even Lumpella?


You make me laugh. Please turn this post into a illustrated children's book called "Amy's Lumpy Ear Lump".


This story cracked me up. It also reminded me of my most horrifying memory as a 15 teen year old girl.

I contracted some crazy-ass airborne version of mono, combined with strep throat, during the summer before I entered my sophomore year of high school. I was all clogged up and gross, felt like I was breathing through a straw, yadda yadda, ended up in the hospital. When I checked into the ER, I was immediately surrounded by a ton of nurses and doctors in triage. They were all "ooohing" and "ahhhing" over my gigantic tonsils and the bulging lymph nodes in my neck. Apparently they were of astronomical proportions and real sight to be seen because they kept sending in doctor after doctor to look at them. I thought this was completely comical until they sent in a photographer with a release form. He wanted to take a picture of my grossly swollen neck for a medical text book! So uh, yeah, there I was lying up in a hospital bed, barely able to breathe or speak, "posing" for this photographer with my giant lymph nodes. Every 15 year old girl's dream, right?


Pics or it didn't happen!


Did you at least get a copy of the picture? Post it! Quite an entertaining story - and the follow up comments from the peanut gallery are awesome too! Almost makes me wish I had an ear lump and/or extra downspout too!


Preauricular sinus?

Says occurrence is <1% in this country, and most common in front of the right ear for females. So you're almost normal! For the 1%.

... "may arise from a defect in the development of the first branchial arch during the sixth week of gestation... when the six auditory hillocks of His were not fused completely while the child was developing"

OMG doesn't that sound like a location in a Tolkien book??

shin ae

Ooo, I like to think he has a scrapbook.

The thought of an extra sinus is horrifying to me since the ones I already have are such a disaster. But, um, WELL DONE.


I am absurdly excited that you met a famous scientist/doctor. All doctors are nerds for this kind of stuff. I guarantee that you made his day with your cool medical specialness. Everyone in that office probably went home to tell their family, or at least that's what I'd do : )


I thought for sure there would be a picture at the end! You left me no choice but to go to Google images, and now I pray that the picture I have in my head is nothing close to what you have!! Thank you, Google images.


Preauricular sinus! I have one too, but with the little hole. Stuff drains out when you press on it. It's hott.


Your life is way more interesting than mine.


Ah, yes, the medical geek-out. I had my heart-defect-repair scar photographed when I was 20, by a social worker, no less. Also he asked me all sorts of questions to figure out if I was psychologically scarred by my scar. Erm, no? I never thought about it, thanks for mentioning that I should have been self-conscious all these years?

Oh, and the calling in of medical students/interns to gawk at, er, *other* idiosyncracies...I have nothing in common with @Julie upthread, nothing at all.


The "Oh Hi, were you eating?" part of this post made the laugh so hard!

Katie R

I don't have the pleasure of claiming a rogue sinus but I do come from a family with funky eyes. There's a genetic eye disorder passed down through my dad's side of the family that can cause blindness in men but women are just carriers. My eye doc can see the discoloration in the back of my eyes but it really doesn't mean anything. The first time I went in and he took photos for my chart he took one look at them and said "I'm going to add these to my file of weird ones!" So glad my eyes could make his day!

Christy S.

I got pinkeye last March and went to the Urgent Care. My left eye and the entire left side of my face was so swollen that I looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The nurse called in doctor after doctor to look at me, not in a "what condition is this" kind of way but in a "look at the circus freak in Room 3" kind of way, so I completely understand how you feel.


I laughed so hard that I might have an extra sinus now. I read the post out loud to my husband and he laughed out loud. Normally medical stuff I do for work completely freaks him out. Glad to have found your blog today. Thx.

Suzy Q

This would make an awesome Lifetime movie. "Lumpelina: The Lumpening of Amy Storch," a heartfelt story of the origin and life of a lovely lady lump, starring Amy Smart.


*prods lump under right ear*

So THAT'S what it is.

I went to the doctor about it when I was small and it was the same thing, as long as it stays the same you don't need to worry. So I almost completely forgot about it until I read this. Freaky.

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