June 1, 2006
Waxing poetic about Ear Wax
While I contemplate other more serious topics for discussion, I thought I'd write about a rather unusual, partly painful, frustrating experience I had this week, for the second time in about five months.
I had to have a compacted accumulation of ear wax removed from both of my ears.
You have to understand...this is funny, but it's not. The procedure for removing the wax is certainly strange and funny. The inability to hear out of one ear for the days leading up to said procedure is frustrating.
Here are some facts:
Wax is produced naturally within the ear as a protective mechanism to keep dust particles and other foreign substances out. The ear canal and the ear drum and other mechanisms inside are very fragile.
Some people produce more wax than others. And the wax is supposed to naturally dissipate and/or come out of the ear on its own. But in many people, this doesn't always happen and it can accumulate.
The worst thing to do when it does accumulate -- DOH! -- is to stick things like cotton swabs inside the ear canal to remove wax. All that does is compact it further inside the ear, which is what happened to me.
By early in the week, I could not hear out of my right ear. I put mineral oil inside it to soften up the wax, but because I had compacted it with the cotton swabs (Q Tips), it would not come out.
When I got into my doctor, who I have been to before to clear them out, he laughed. He motioned to me to get up on the table/chair and brought out the giant syringe used to jet warm water inside the canals to dislodge the wax.
The water and the ugly dark brown compacted wax comes out and lands in a plastic container I'm holding next to my ear. Now, I'm literally free and clear and will be mindful of putting drops of mineral oil in my ear every couple of weeks henceforth.
This brings to mind two things: how we take things like seeing and hearing and speaking and touching so for granted until we can't do those things, and how debilitated we feel.
And secondly, I wonder how much wax has accumulated in more famous ears than mine, such as George W. Bush's and other world leaders.