Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wax on, wax off

For the past five days I haven’t been able to hear out of my right ear.

Yesterday, I had enough. I went to go see Dr. Bobby, a sweet man with less hair than someone his age should have. He was reliable though. He even cured Ben when we thought he had malaria. After all, Dr. Bobby did receive his M.D. from Hungary, which is printed in big block letters on all of his medical stationery and business cards.

I told Dr. Bobby that I hadn’t been able to hear out of my ear in days, that I just got over a cold, and subsequently had migraine-like headaches and jolts of pain that ran through my jaw.

His diagnosis: rest, drink warm liquids, anti-biotics, soniwax (ear drops to loosen up any wax in my ear), and some sort of deluxe pain killer.

We bought my new medication and headed home. Ben dropped the Soniwax in my ear. I tried to use a Q-tip to scoop out the wax, but only once or twice did a smidgen of wax appear on the cotton bud.

“Wax is not the problem,” I said matter-of-factly. “My ears are clean as a whistle.”

The next day, my ear felt worse. During the elevator ride up to the 12th floor, my ears and head felt like they were ballooning. All of my co-workers declared that I must go to a hospital. Get a second opinion, they said. “An ENT!,” “an ENT,” they chanted.

One-and-a-half hours later (and after a call to Dr. Bobby who recommended I take a different type of anti-biotic—whose advice I decided to ignore) I found myself in the dentist-like armchair of an ENT. I looked on the silver tray in the room and there was someone’s blood, snot-like substance, and other “used” tools sitting in the tray. I glanced at Ben, and mouthed “LOOK AT THE TRAY.” He tried to hide his horror and shrugged.

Dr. Tripathy was all business. However, I found his jiggly cheeks, bureaucrat mustache, and sweater vest (which tried to hide his American stomach) quite endearing. . He looked in my ear, and declared there was no bacterial infection, but there was a wax buildup. “Nonsense!,” I thought. He pulled out a metal, tubular vacuum-like utensil and asked if he could clean out my ears. I thought I’d play along. “Okay, but this better not hurt.”

After twenty or so seconds of vacuuming, he pulled the utensil out of my ear. A dirty brown colored--tinged every so slightly with burnt red--piece of wax, the size of a large corn kernel, was resting on the tip of the utensil.

“WOW!!!” the doctor, Ben and I said in unison. This machine was incredible.

“Now the other ear!,” demanded Ben, curious as much as I was.

A similar sized piece of wax came out. Unbelievable.

I could hear better already.

As I walked out of the office (depleted of 1,400 rupees—about $35 dollars), I couldn’t stop smiling.

“Ben, you have to get this procedure. It’s just amazing,” I said. "I feel ten pounds lighter."

“No way,” he said.

“Then we are so buying one of those machines.”


ashahid said...

i had the same problem and thought i was going deaf last year. They blasted the wax balls with water injections. maybe its genetic.

Leslie said...

Or, you could do what Aaron did, and have the coat hanger procedure in the park! Can't remember how much it set him back, but I do remember how we all gasped when he told us about it!