Tears for Ears
Today I had planned to write a post about the process of getting fitted for a hearing aid. My “bad” ear is finally healthy enough that my doctor said I can try a hearing aid. My appointment with the audiologist was only supposed to be an hour long. I told my boss I’d be in to work a little late, no big deal. I should know by now that anything I anticipate being a “quick, easy appointment” is almost guaranteed to end up a fiasco.
All was well for the first hour – really. I tried on a hearing aid, we adjusted some settings and I discovered what it is like to hear in stereo (trippy!!). The only issue was that the little earpiece was just a bit too big, so we decided to have a custom piece made. I’ve had earplugs made before so I just assumed this was a similar technique, a simple ear-molding process. I know, I know… I ought to know better.
The audiologist squeezed a syringe full of silicone into my ear. I couldn’t see how much she put in until she walked away. It seemed like a lot, but whatever. She knows what she’s doing, right?
As the silicone cured, we discussed what color ear piece I’d like, and filled out some paper work. Then came the fun part. My ear is somewhat sensitive, thanks to having three major surgeries – one less than 6 months ago. So I expected that it’d be a little uncomfortable having the mold pulled out. However, this mold was not coming out. The woman pulled on my poor ear, and twisted it and grumbled at the difficulty level of this removal. She tried again. I began to squirm and say “ow!” a few times. Then it got ugly. She pulled and twisted some more. I dropped an F-bomb or two. Finally I pushed her away and said,
“Let me do it.”
I twisted the damn thing until the outer part broke off. Now I was left with a silicone plug stuck in my ear canal. But it felt a little better to have gotten part of it off at least. My doctor, of course, wasn’t there because he was in surgery. Luckily the Physician’s Assistant was and she made some attempts to pull the piece out, but by then I was really upset. I tried my best to control it but before long I was losing my cool.
It’s true. I lose my cool sometimes. As I lay there flinching every time she tried to yank the thing out (there was a little string attached), I could feel the sobs climbing their way up from deep inside, and I’m sucking air in and out like a toddler who has just thrown a tantrum.
“If you’d just relax, I could get it out!”
I squeeze my tear-filled eyes and will myself to relax, to stop tensing my shoulders and turning my head away. But how do you make yourself stop having reflexes? I want to freak out. Every time she pulls on the string it feels like she’s pulling something out of my inner ear. I’m convinced that the silicone has filled my mastoid cavity and every time she pulls it, the skin graft is being ripped off. I can’t control myself. Why do they not have tranquilizers in here?
We take a break so I can remove my sweater and blow my nose. The P.A. leaves the room for a few minutes. The audiologist, who has stood shyly in the corner this whole time tries to excuse herself for this mistake. She says she didn’t know I had a mastoid cavity, or she wouldn’t have put the silicone in it. (Seriously!?)
The P.A. comes back in and tells me she’s spoken to the doctor. I guess she had him paged. He’s going to come into the office after surgery and he will remove it then. So I can come back at 2pm and it will all be good! Somehow I fail to find any relief in this proposition. I’m already an hour later for work than I expected, and now you want me to come back later? Also, I can’t stop crying.
I leave the office in a barely composed state. Down in the parking garage I let myself cry like a maniac for a few minutes and then I drive home. screaming and crying the entire way. Even as I am behaving this way, I know it’s ridiculous. This silicone-stuck-in-my-ear moment is just that – a moment. Yeah, it sucks, but is it going to alter the course of my entire life? Probably not. It certainly altered the course of my day though. I have to take the rest of the day off, so I miss an entire day of work, and not for anything fun. I lament that this kind of crap *always* happens to me! Why me? Waaa! Boo hoo! Woe is me!
So now it is nearing the time in which I must return to the doctor and get this POS ripped out of my ear. I’d hoped I might be able to do it myself but so far no luck. Stay tuned – I will post an update of the torturous events that transpire later today.
– 3 hours later –
I can now report that I lived through the removal process. It wasn’t pretty and I may have let slip some more rude language, but the stupid thing is out of my ear now. Earlier, the P.A. told me that it’s a common occurrence that people who’ve had mastoidectomies don’t like to have anyone touch their ears except for their doctor. I thought this was a weird thing to say, but I have to admit, there seems to be some truth to it. I was more relaxed having him work on it. I trust him and I know he knows what he’s doing, or at least he pretends he does.
It seems that today I was the talk of the ENT office. All eyes were on me as I came in, and then once the doctor arrived and we went into the exam room, we were accompanied by TWO assistants and the audiologist. I don’t know if they had plans of physically restraining me or what, but it was pretty crowded in there. It reminded me of my days of being a specimen for medical students whenever I’d stay overnight at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
There’s a story for another time.