Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Harriet The Tear Duct Slug

I have a really disgusting story to share. Common sense tells me to never ever speak of it to anyone. But I decided to share it on the off chance that there might be one other person in the universe who has had a similar experience and is feeling like a lonely freak about it.

Obviously you will want to stop ready now if you have a delicate constitution. Whatever that is.

A few months ago I got a blocked tear duct in my right eye. I pretty much diagnosed myself, thanks to Dr. Google, and in the process I learned a lot about how our tear ducts work and are connected to other stuff in our face.

I always thought our tears came from the tiny holes on the inside corners of our upper and lower eye lids. I've thought that for 48 years. I was wrong...for 48 years.

The little holes we see on our eyelids are not where the tears originate, they are the drain holes for our tears. The tears originate from tiny glads that are located under our upper eyelids. I swear it. This video proves it:

So after diagnosing and educating myself, I also researched ways to eliminate blocked tear ducts. They are quite painful and can become infected. Warm compresses and gentle massaging seemed to be the way to go. I tried this for several days and was unable to make it go away so I ended up at the eye doctor. She gave me some antibiotic drops to stave off infection and some steroid drops to shrink the swelling then asked me to come back in a week.

Shortly after I left the eye doctor's office, I felt something in the back of my throat and assumed it was a sinus thing or post nasal drip since I'm no stranger to either one. Whatever it was worked its way into my throat and out of my mouth where I spit it into a tissue. Those who suffer with chronic sinus problems can relate to how common this is for us.

But this time it was different. I looked at what I had spit into the tissue and was horrified. It looked exactly like a chewed up stick of Juicy Fruit gum...about an inch long, gray and rubbery. I swear I thought I had coughed up a piece of my brain.

I didn't ever want to see anything so disturbing again so I threw it away then went back to Dr. Google to find out if it was possible for chunks of grey matter to break loose and slide down your throat.

I learned that it was unlikely that my brain had broken into pieces but I also learned that whatever it was is not something that happens very often because I only found 2 other references to similar experiences on the whole internet. I deduced that the chunk I had spit out was the infection or whatever that was blocking my tear duct. It was the exact same shape as the little sac that runs alongside your nose and carries your tears into your nose and throat. Basically, I coughed up my infection. This was confirmed when I felt around my eye and nose and there was no longer any swelling or pain and I didn't even need to use the drops the doctor gave me.

Disgusting, right? On my follow up visit I told my eye doctor what happened and I told her my theory that I had hawked up an infection loogie. She sort of smiled, nodded and patted the top of my head. Figuratively of course.

I wrote that off as one of those inexplicable things that our bodies do sometimes and I only told a couple of people about it because ... well ... eww.

My right eye started watering excessively about a week ago and I thought it was allergies because evidently I had blocked the traumatic tear duct infection from my mind. Then a couple of days ago the pain and swelling showed up and triggered my memory. I immediately went after it with the warm compresses and gentle massaging. Or screaming hot compresses and rubbing as hard as I could to make it go away so I wouldn't have to relive the chunky nightmare from last time.

Yesterday was the worst of it and I decided if it wasn't better by today I would go to the eye doctor. When I woke up this morning I immediately felt the corner of my eye and the side of my nose and discovered there was no longer any swelling or pain. Thank you Jesus! I laid in bed for a while, reading email and Facebook notifications as is my usual routine, then I felt a tickle in the back of my throat. I swallowed and felt something long, thin and solid work its way into my mouth.

I bolted from the bed to spit it out before I puked and sure enough it was a gray rubbery chunk just like the last time.

I don't know why my tear ducts get blocked and I don't know if the blockage is from an infection or a foreign body or just one of those things that happens. But I am certain that the weird thing I've coughed up each time is the blockage.

So the moral of this story is...don't panic if you puke up a chunk of something that looks like your brain and instantly cures a tear duct problem you were having.

When this happened the first time I told Jayson about it but he never saw the evidence. Since I wasn't nearly as freaked out this time, I felt like I needed to share with him the mystery that is the human body so I texted him a picture of the yucky chunk:
JAYSON: Thank you for sharing your slug with me. Have you named it yet?

ME: Harriet The Tear Duct Slug.

JAYSON: Make sure you use it in a collage, or maybe as an earring.
Not gonna happen but he knows me well.


Margarita Larriva said...

Omg, years ago when I was still in high school I had the mother of all sinus infections and used warm compresses to ease the pain per the doctor. Later I felt that same tickle in my throat and coughed up what looked like a piece of a rubber garden hose! I almost never tell that story though because I'm afraid of just how weird it sounds. I hope you are feeling much better Shannon!

Shannon Green said...

I'm feeling perfectly fine now, thanks Margie! But yes, I'm sure that whatever you coughed up is very similar to what I coughed up. And I bet a lot more people have had the same experience but like us they really don't want to talk about it!

Rita said...

I have chronic sinus issues and every so often have small rubbery pieces about the size of a baby pea or smaller that come down the back of my throat. I told an ear/nose/throat specialist about them and he more or less didn't believe me. Nope. Not something you tell people very often--ROFL!

Sylvia said...

Thanks for making me chuckle!

Shannon Green said...

Thanks for reading, Sylvia! Rita, don't worry about it. I TOTALLY believe you!!

donnaj said...

just start saving them in a baby food jar..then when it is full you can sell the jar to the people on that curiosities show.

ktorrisi2000 said...
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ktorrisi2000 said...

yeah, coughed up a mass full of red streaks. thought I had coughed up a piece of my throat.

missyleighm said...

This same exact thing happened to me!

Nina said...

I just found your blog and have read a few posts. Thank you for my morning chuckle!
I've never had this issue with my eyes, however something resembling a cross between a small rock and a corn kernel came out of my head. My sister is a nurse, so I sent her a picture of it. I guess most of those in the medical profession are used to just patting us on the head and sending us on our way!
That was her reaction, with maybe a roll of the eyes.
Hope your eyes are clear now! Thanks again for the chuckle!

Susan Leslie said...

I can't believe I haven't visited your blog before, because I'm sure I've wondered if you had one. My bad.

Very informative post -- lol

Dana Weaver Moore said...

You're so clever! I'm glad I found you.

sandra said...

So glad I read this. I have had this happen about 4 times in my adult life. My eye/ear throat doctor said he had no
ideal what it could be and he too, looked as if he did not believe me.

starkey1981 said...

My husband has had cornea transplants and after many years of using all sorts of steroid drops, drops for contacts, allergy drops, etc. etc. he has permanently blocked tear ducts. So . . . . his eyes water (like ours all do) and tears drain all over his face as if he is crying. He had a specialist his eye doctor sent him to actually shove an implement down into 'said duct' and try to unplug it. That didn't work. So they did a surgery to try to open them and put in a type of stent or something similar. Didn't work either. Then he found out THAT specialist was about to retire and he was literally one of his LAST surgeries!!! I wondered when I saw him that day of the out patient surgery!

So, his eye doctor sent him to another 'specialist' who told him they would basically cut a hole through the side of his nose bone and then form a tube from tissue that would then make another way his eyes would 'drain' into his nasal cavity. He went in and had both sides done a different times and then also put a temp tube in to hold this open and to let the tissue 'grow around it'. Geeeze!!! THAT didn't work either. So they went back and put in these permanent tubes called a Jones tube. He still 'tears' and they overflow onto his face but at least SOME of the tears make their way into the opening. He now puts saline into his eyes and can 'suck' it down the hole into the place where your slug ended up. It's the way he 'keeps them clean'!! UGH!!! He can also 'blow air the other way by holding one nostril closed. All WAAAAY gross, but is now 'our' reality. I say 'ours' because after almost 34 years of marriage I'm not going anywhere.

I laugh to think that the last doctor told him he had a 98% success rate for all his surgeries so we figured that my husbands procedures alone took him down to probably 90% for that year.

I remember telling him the last time we were there (and he broke the news that my husband would have to wear those last 'glass Jones tubes' forEVer) that I bet he wished he had never met us!!!

Be glad all you had was 2 infections and hawked up your slug. And be SURE to stay on top of those infections because you never know when the drains actually can close up . . . permanently. It happened to my husband somewhere along the way!

PS And I have one eye that 'drips' when I get into certain air conditioned buildings, like the grocery store. And of course out in really cold weather. Glad we moved from KY to SC 2 years ago!

(My apologies for the length of the comment. It's actually a very serious situation and I wanted you to know how lucky you were!)

mrsvirgomama said...

This just happened to me! Gross it is.

Brooke Hayden said...

Just found this because of course I'm searching to find out wth has just happened to me today. Same thing except gray with lil blue dots. I'm wondering if I'm blocking my tear ducts with my face wash (biore) same lil tiny blue dots hmmmmm but now my eye feels back to normal.

Unknown said...
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Kara Riepenhoff said...

This happened to me today!! The exact same that you described. I saved it lol

Kaskas said...

Me too! It's happened to me 3 times now! So gross. Glad to not feel alone. Does anyone know what's actually causing this?

megan! said...

Exactly the same experience. Weepy teary eye for a few days. Blocked tear duct. Warm wet compress. Giant gray slug.
Thanks for saving my sanity! Your style of writing is wonderful. I will check back :) :)

Unknown said...

If it happens again please post a picture of it

Unknown said...

This has happened to me once a year in the last 3 years! Glad to know I'm not the only one!!

Unknown said...

This has happened to me once a year in the last 3 years! Glad to know I'm not the only one!!

Josieb said...

Omg just happened to me! Im so glad you write this post