A Wrestling Mom Tussles with Cauliflower Ear
For teenage boys on the wrestling team, engorged ears are badges of honor identifying them as fearless fighters. For a mom, they’re almost too grotesque to bear.
Photos by Ben McNutt
“I’m getting it! I’m getting the ear!”
Weldon stood in front of the bathroom mirror one morning before school in what could only be described as glee.
I was mortified. I inspected it and promised I would look it up online and see how to proceed as soon as I got to my office at the university. My oldest son’s ear was puffy, enlarged, crimson-swollen with blood. Mid-season of his junior year at the Chicago suburban high school on varsity and his fourth year of wrestling, he was getting it. I called Coach Mike Powell, the head varsity wrestling coach, sure that this would excuse my son from practice and upcoming matches for some time if not forever.
“It’s not a big deal,” Powell said.
I knew what the ear meant. His coaches all had the ear. Usually, the pair, like Powell. Misshapen and noticeably non-symmetrical, no two cauliflower ears manifested the same way. Some were outright horrific, elfin, pointed and enlarged — years after the trauma. Forever.
Were athletes who play…