Mr. Montessori, Year Two
Port Chaos

She's Lump, Part Two


Remember the ear lump? The ear lump that made me the novelty-freak-show hit of the dermatologist office? Yes, that one. 

My dermatologist referred me to a plastic surgeon. That appointment was this morning. After spending an hour in the waiting room (covetously eyeballing the tummy tuck and neck lift brochures), then another half hour in the doctor's office...the plastic surgeon spent 10 minutes examining the lump before saying, basically: Yeah, there is no way in FUCK I am touching that.

So while my dermatologist was right that the lump probably formed in utero — like when I was just a wee, oversharing zygote — removing it is actually a super-complicated, involved thing. I need an Ear, Nose & Throat surgeon because the malformation likely goes very deep and is very close to very important facial nerves. (In some cases, he said, they actually wrap around the nerves.) If those nerves get damaged in any way during the surgery, I'll have facial paralysis and look like I had a stroke.

Um. Okay.

But forgoing the surgery is not really an option either, because at the rate it's been growing, the lump itself will eventually put pressure on the nerves and cause damage or paralysis ANYWAY.


The good news is that it's "definitely not cancer." It's just a stupid mass of pain-in-the-ass bullshit that will now keep me awake at night for non-fatal reasons. 


Anyway. I am now waiting for a surgeon recommendation. (He wants to confer with my dermatologist first, you know, because Weird Ear Lump is Just That Weird.) Just wanted to keep y'all up-to-date about my fascinatingly unusual malformed head, UGH




Ugh, what a pain. Bad Ear Lump! Hooray for it not being cancer, though?

Jen L

Sorry you're going through this. Take care, girl!


i think it is high time that we see a photograph of said freak ear lump. why do all of those doctors get to have all the fun?


I think you should make the lump it's own website and it should have it's own Instagram feed.


I too have an odd lump on my head, have had it for years. MD says it is a cyst that they could remove but the smell would knock all of us on our asses. Couple that with the a righteous bald scar spot that would accompany a removal and I've opted to let it grow in peace. Best of luck with yours, I hope that you are able to get it taken care of.

P.S. Lump is now on repeat in my head. Awesome.


This totally reminds me if that episode of Friends where Ross had a weird skin tag/mole/lump on his rear and doctors were calling their friends to check it out and take pics.


You, along with my best friend, get the award for most bizarre medical things happening to you.

Free the Lump!


Lump needs its own twitter.

Pics pics!!!

Sarah L.

maybe ear lump throws off your balance n that's y you have so many er..ahem... mishaps?


Aww man, not cool!


My two year old son was born with this same kind of thing. At first they told us it was an ear tag that was just extra skin from when his ear formed in utero and was a cosmetic thing and we could choose whether or not we wanted to have it removed. Then at like his 3 month checkup his doctor noticed this little dimple on his clavicle and told us it was a brachial cleft cyst and was related to the lump by his ear. Like you said, something to do with the sinuses, etc. So they told us we should probably have the lump removed along with the cyst to avoid problems later in life where the sinuses get blocked and the cyst or the lump could become enlarged or infected. And on top of the he also had a blocked tear duct that was not clearing up on its own and even the eye doctor trying to unblock it with a giant fucking needle didn't work. So he also had to get a stent put in one of his eyes. They were able to do all three things in one surgery but it was so nerve racking. Having to put your six month old in a surgical gown and watch as the put him to sleep is not something I would ever want to go through again. But he was totally fine. It was outpatient and he was home later that day. I guess I just wanted to let you know that it is kinda rare but with the proper surgeon you should be just fine. Good luck!


My husband had a mysterious lump/cyst right on his jawline. He had it removed. Had he known he would end up with a 4 inch poorly stitched incision that left a nasty scar and it also changed the shape of his jaw. We are still debating suing, although I am sure we have probably already passed some sort of statute of limitations to do so. {took me forevertothink of that term. you know how hard it is to look up a word with a definition you can't really think of?}
reason for said named scar is that "it went deep and had tendrils that needed to be removed, mumblemumble pretentious ahole doctory speaky downy.
I tell you this seriously, not to scare you, but to let you know what apparently awesome doctors you have. The potential of them possibly having to go digging to get this thing removed wasn't even brought up as a possible issue. If my husband had know he was going to end up with the scar he had he would have left it alone. As he said, the lump was a lot less embarassing than the scar is.
Needless to say, when one showed up behind his ear, he has left it alone. Our luck he would come out without an ear or worse.
Doctors in our area almost all suck.


I had sinus surgery last year and can highly recommend Dr. Michael Arenstein. He's with Montgomery Otolaryngology in Gaithersburg and Silver Spring. Just in case he'd come up among your options.


Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn, ear lump. You petty.


My brother is a FANTASTIC plastic surgeon in Richmond. Imma email you his contact info. I know Richmond isn't in Maryland but he's really talented and will take good care of your face.


Forgot to say that he is double-board certified in ENT and facial plastics.


Aw hell...might as well give him a plug here.


Lumps are INSIDIOUS EVIL, I say.

My kid was born with a lump -- dermoid cyst on his skull, right in between his nose and his eye. At first it was too small to notice. It got larger and by four months was big enough that I was concerned. For a few more months various doctors told me it was just a clogged tear duct and there was nothing to worry about typical baby problem etcetera etcetera you crazy first-time mom.

Then when I was FINALLY able to get in to see a pediatric ENT who specialized in babies three months later (thanks, sucky health insurance), the nurses took one look at him and did That Thing where and go totally silent and silently leave the room to get the doctor and then the doctor did That Even Worse Thing where he examines your kid and doesn't say anything and goes to get another doctor and then they finally got the courage to speak to me and told me it was a cyst and it was growing out of control and eating his bone and could damage his eye or his optic nerve or block his nasal passages and oh also by the way it could be growing into his brain and they might have to do brain surgery too and and and AAAAAH!

Yeah, that was fun. But it went fine -- just fine. Though I still wonder a little what anesthesia as an infant might have done to worsen his sensory / motor issues (there are some studies that point to that as an issue), he's definitely a smart and healthy kid. And there's no face paralysis involved, and his scar is nearly invisible (though I've told him to tell anyone who notices that he got it from Voldemort).

Facial surgeons for the most part are very good at what they do. It sounds like you will be in good hands. I hope everything goes perfectly.


I had a foot lump like that. His name was lumpy. He was giant and gross and was messing with my cute shoes. So, bye lumpy! Hello hideous scar.

I have the feeling ear lump will be cool and not leave a scar. I love the idea of saying Voldemort gave it to you though. :)

Amy M

Several years ago, I had emergency surgery to remove a lymph node on my neck that became infected. It was antibiotic resistant and grew from the size of gumball to the size of a large grapefruit in less than a week. (I also won a week in the hospital attached to IV antibiotics)I was referred to an ENT, not only because of the nerve issue, but also because of the somewhat important artery in the neck. I did have some nerve damage after, but no paralysis. Basically the area between the top of my neck and the underside of my chin lost sensation. My ENT described the nerves as a chicken foot. The way they spay out, it is almost impossible to avoid cutting some. Good news is that they did eventually regenerate. By five years post surgery, I have all feeling back.

Beta Dad

Why won't they just come out and tell you that it's your partially formed conjoined twin? It's not like you won't figure it out sooner or later.

Capitol Hill Barbie

Hi! I'm sorry to hear about your ear lump! My husband is an ENT, and called that the plastics guy would refer you away after that first post. Have you had a CT yet? He also trained in the DC area and usually recommends the Feldman group in Maryland. You may want a head and neck surgeon if there is real facial nerve involvement though, Georgetown has several good ones.


Um, I also would like to see pictures the lump. Please? For those of us who are shamefully fascinated by such phenomena?

Leigh Ann

You need Dr Mc Steamy Mark Sloan! He's a board certified plastic surgeon AND an ENT. I'm sure they could write you into the Grey's Anatomy script this season.


I highly recommend my favorite ENT, Thomas Winkler, whose office is in Friendship Heights. He's kinda dreamy and super nice. I had sinus surgery a few years back and he was so great through the whole process.

Call Me Jo

Duuude. Lump, why ya gotta be that way? Amy, I think you'll be better off dumping that lump - he just doesn't treat you right. As always, ending a relationship is hard. I hope you and your face can make a clean break from this malformed freak. In the meantime, think happy (read paralysis free) thoughts.

Sue W.

I had a "thang" as I called it come up in my ear a few years ago. All Dr's I asked said it was a cyst and don't worry about it. Finally went to a Dermo and found out it was melanoma. They got it and all of the cancer cells and they had to take a piece of skin from behind my ear to close up the hole. Glad to know yours isn't cancer and hopefully you can get someone to remove it before it causes permanent damage.

And in a completely unrelated news.

Did you hear, just announced today, that Legoland Florida is expanding to include a Star Wars area. To be completed Nov 2012. I've attached a link for your viewing pleasure since I know you've got a few Lego AND Star Wars fans that live at your house!


I can totally relate on the level of overall oddity you're experiencing right now - last year my husband went for a routine dental check-up and got a call from the dentist a couple of days later to inform him that she'd found an abnormality on the edges of his x-ray. Long story short, my husband has what closely resembles a fucking bird skeleton in his cheeks. Like air pockets, in his bones. Totally weird and not life-threatening. He's been told that he will likely be in a science journal as no one has ever documented something like this before. Nutso. I hope your ENT surgeon shows you some confidence and takes care of the weirdness. :)


When my grandfather was in his forties, he had to have surgery to remove a growth from the base of his spine. It turns out that he was supposed to have been twins, and the lump contained hair, bone, and teeth. We all thought it was cool as hell, but Grandma was not impressed. "I always knew he had someone's head up his ass; I just assumed it was his own, " she sniffed.


I can vouch for Dr. Bridges, (double certified ENT & plastic surgeon) mentioned in the post above. I'm not his sister:), but I am a patient of his & I think he's great. Richmond is not too far from the Md/NOVA area for you & the lump to travel.


Pics or it didn't happen!


I think there should be an exclusive club for everybody who has ever had a horrifying lump story. My lump was at the base of my spine and I am very envious of TallulahEulallie's grandpa because mine was not a lost twin, just a gross lump that caused me to pass out whenever I whacked it accidentally. Still, I think our lump club should involve cocktails and oversharing of lump related stories.

Laura in Michigan

I think you can sort of combine the "tale of the deodorants and various bathroom bottles" with "the lump on Amy's ear" to make a wonderfully melodramatic soap opera of sorts. It will go viral, I promise....


Oh man, these comments are the best/grossest. I hope you can get Lumpy all squared away. I got to have surgery with both a plastic surgeon and an ENT (yay, melanoma!) & one skin transplant and a 10 inch scar later (all on my face/neck), I can say that scar massage goes a LONG way, in case you were scared by all the scar stories. It's only been about a year, but they are pretty much unnoticeable now. Good luck!


As a nursing student I also request pics!


As a nursing student I also request pics!


Yikes, that is scary.

Just to let you know you're not alone in your freakishness, I've developed a small lump at the top of my collar bone (where it meets the shoulder). My doc said it is just a benign tumor, likely triggered by hormonal changes from pregnancy (yay! yet another permanent bodily change from the miracle of life!). She said I could have a plastic surgeon remove it, but "In these cases, they almost always grow back." So... for now, I live with the lump. Fun times!


Talluah, FTW. Also-best comment thread. You're in a great area for this, doctors abound. Get appts and pics and get it done!


Dude. That sucks.


Hang in there. I had a second sinus surgery last year and highly recommend Dr. Mahat as an ENT surgeon. Not sure if he has any experience with your issue but might be worth a call:
Dr. V. Patrick Mahat, 3301 New Mexico Ave Nw Ste 310
Washington, DC 20016
(202) 363-2363


Yikes! Sorry the super-cool lump is not so much super-cool as super-evil! Hope the ENT surgeon can take care of it!

Emily B

I had an ear lump too! After several years with it gradually getting bigger I finally went this last November to a plastic surgeon to have it removed. He had me do an MRI first to see if the facial nerves were involved. Luckily mine were not. I had the surgery a week later as an outpatient. Recovery was easy and my surgeon did a great job so I only have a small scar right in front of my ear that no one even notices. Much better than having a lump that everyone noticed!


My daughter (2.5) has a little taggy thing in front of her ear. We call it her antenna to the mothership. We have not yet decided whether or not to get it removed, because basically they said it would go deep and blah blah and then I got dizzy and had to sit down. So I will be watching to see what you do with bated breath.

Kate L.

I'll be thinking of you, but I'm sure you'll be fine. You're beautiful with or without moving facial muscles, even though it definitely won't come to that.


Lumps are so weird. Here's my lump story in case you wanted to know: Three months after having my last baby I noticed a weird lump in my abdomen. At first it only hurt if I pressed on it, and I thought, "Meh, maybe ovarian cyst" (which run in the family) and I ignored it for a while. Then it hurt, well, any old time. Finally went to my OBGYN, still thinking it was an ovarian cyst. She poked and prodded and said, no, not near the ovaries, and she wanted a CAT scan done, especially since it was growing.

I remember driving home and finally bursting into tears, because up until then I was half-convinced I was just being a hypochondriac and they would laugh at me and send me home with Tylenol or something. But when the doctors get serious, then you get scared. I hope you find a good doc to take care of you.

Oh, my lump was nothing, as it turned out. Mysterious sterile abscess, nobody knows where it came from, but it wasn't even in the abdominal cavity, but in my skin. GROSS. But benign.


My brain sometimes gets phrases stuck on a loop. Usually it's something totally random and unrelated to anything whatsoever. But today it is now, "my lump, my lump, my lovely facial lump!" in an awful Fergie voice.


Awesome, so I have had 2 of those special awesome cysts. The better story of the 2 is commonly called jeep's disease. Basically, a dermoid cyst in the cavity near your tail bone. OMG, how freakin embarassing THAT was. You would think the face/scar/whatever would be bad, but if you have a cyst near your ASS? horrendous.


Oh, I have a lump like this... maybe. I try not to bring up my brain tumor in general but since we're on the subject :) It's benign and slow growing and I had it for a long time and was wrapped around those same nerves... except from on the inside I guess? I had to have brain surgery. They removed part of it when I was 23. My neurosurgeon decided that since it's so slow growing that he'd rather leave a small part of it in there than risk facial paralysis at 23. They did treat it with radiation though post op and it's been stable since.

Which is all to say are you a candidate for gamma knife? Did anybody refer to anything like that? I wasn't because the lump was too big but you might be. It was so big that it was causing all kinds of nonsense, balance issues, migraines, I lost my hearing on that side. But now I'm all fine!

I feel like I might be over sharing, sorry :)


I too must tell my lump story! I had a growth in my rib cage which, yes, seems to have started when I was pregant with my older child. I became aware of it,had all kinds of terrifying diagnostic moments, and it was finally established that it was *probably* totally benign, something called a schwannomma, but on the other hand it was a very atypical location for a schwannoma so they couldn't be sure until after the surgery. So, long story shortish, I got pregnant accidentally-on-purpose, had to wait until I gave birth to child no. 2 to have surgery, had the surgery (they had to take out a bit of rib too leaving a nice divot and scar in my cleavage area), they confirmed it was all benign, the end. Lumps, huh? They suck ... except I'm so f***ing grateful it was indeed benign and not cancer, thank you God.


That sounds very scary. Good luck and I hope you'll be fine!

Interesting to know that everyone is so lumpy and that there is a place called Friendship Heights. It sounds magical.


Just wanted to reiterate that there are ENTs who are also facial plastic surgeons. Find one who is familiar with your type of lump!


Just a thought: ask your doctor about the option of navigated surgery on this thing. Depending on where it is, navigated surgery (like GPS for the body) can help ensure that no important nerves or structures or damaged in the process of getting it out. It may not be necessary, but it's worth asking.

And try not to freak yourself out :-) You're going to be fine.


After reading all these stories, I'm beginning to have lump-envy.

Also, yes with the pictures!

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