OK, Napsters, I was on the fence about blogging this but it could be considered a public service announcement. Thanks to Notorious s.t.u. who convinced me to turn it into a post.
For the past few months I’ve been reconciling myself to the fact that my sense of hearing is fading. Stands to reason as I’m getting older, and have been attending arena concerts for a good portion of my life. Then in the last few weeks I’ve been noticing pressure in my head. Maybe it’s just allergy season and some resulting sinus pressure? I’m sure if I take a decongestant and an antihistamine, I’ll be fine.
Now I digress briefly to a short parable about the behavior of the frog when you put him in a cooking pot of cold water and slowly turn up the heat. No frogs were harmed in the making of this post, but the story asserts that if you heat the water slowly to boiling the frog will placidly cook to death. Conversely, if you tried to put the frog into a pot of water already boiling, he would struggle mightily to avoid death by boiling.
So it turns out that the reason I can’t hear and have this growing pressure in my head is due to “cerumen impaction,” which is medical jargon for “large, unsightly plugs of ear wax filling your ear canal.” Since I try to keep it classy over here I’ll let that be enough of a word picture for you, but you can Google some images (on an empty stomach, please) if you’re a visual person. Not to put too fine a point on it: I was the frog sitting (and suffering) in growing silence as the wax “simmered” into the solidity of those “potatoes” my mother warned me about when I was five.
The kind otolaryngologist (the medical specialist of boogers and ear wax) who removed these scary blobs reassured me that cerumen impaction has nothing to do with insufficient hygiene or lazy health habits. Ear wax is our friend. It keeps water and other gunk away from our delicate ear drums, but depending on the size and shape of your inner ears it can also be a magnet for more ear wax. The answer to ear wax is NOT the Q-tip! Again, the old adage “don’t put anything in your ear except your elbow” is still a good rule.
So I shall risk the embarrassment of the blogging community by sharing my story, and to remind everybody that no matter your age, do not accept a decrease in your hearing as normal. Have a doctor take a peek in there whenever you visit. Don’t do anything as ill-advised as attempting to remove stubborn ear wax yourself, and it bears repeating, do not put ANYTHING sharp or pointy into your ears.