Earwax is kind of cool, especially after just reading about it on Wikipedia. Why did I read about earwax? Today I went to the otolaryngologist. No one ever says I have an otolarynogologist appointment in English. We usually just say ENT (“ears, nose and throat”) doctor. But in Spain, they actually use the full term “otorrinolaringólogo” or otorrino for short. As a matter of fact, on my way to the doctor’s office this afternoon, I realized that I had completely forgotten my doctor’s name. That meant that I would have to ask at the Hospital’s reception desk for the otorrinosaurus or whatever it’s called. I couldn’t remember the name for the life of me, and even if I could, I knew there would be no way in the world that I would be able to pronounce “otorrinolaringólogo”.
Luckily when I entered the hospital, there were signs indicating the various specialties, and there I saw that magically inarticulable word! I could easily find my way. Then when the doctor asked what he could do for me, I wanted to tell him my story.
As a matter of fact, I like to tell a little story first that kind of explains (or justifies) my situation before a doctor examines me. No, it’s not what you are thinking. I didn’t have a dildo embarrassingly wedged into my ear canal. But, I do like to also tell a little personal story whenever I go to stores to buy something. (I believe this awkward habit is something I probably got from my mother). For example, if I am buying shoes, I like to explain why it is that I am looking for new shoes. I like to lay out all of the facts right there on the table — the whole Freudian psychoanalytical egocentric vain tale that has led me to first contemplate, then deliberate, premeditate and finally do an overt act in furtherance of purchasing a new pair of shoes.
Anyways, back to my ears. So I tried to explain to the doctor why I had come to see him. But, the doctor had a file on me (you’d think he’d signed the Patriot Act himself), and answered for me himself. The problem? Excessive earwax build-up. Actually, I had gone to see him a few years back, and remembered instantaneously exactly what I liked and disliked about him.
I liked the fact that he was very quick and efficient. He made you feel comfortable and the procedure didn’t hurt. He treated you like you were old pals. But . . . there was a but. He didn’t let me get a word in. I wanted to tell my story. I wanted him to know that I didn’t feel like I had a problem, but that I wanted him to do the whole earwax removal procedure anyways.
This time, though, I was fast and got in a few sentences before he could cut me off by acting all simpático. I told him flat out, “look I am going to the beach soon, and I often have the problem that if I have too much wax build up, when I go swimming I get water in may ears, can’t get it out, and end up with an ear infection.”
But that was just the introduction to the story, he had already stuck something up my nose, looked into my mouth, and was looking in my left ear. He told me that there was no problem, no wax build up, and there was a perfect left ear drum. I should have rejoiced in having a perfect ear drum, but I had wanted him to remove some major balls of earwax.
I wanted to tell my story. Sure it wasn’t a great one, and I certainly don’t understand why people always want to be heard, but I guess I am just one of those people. And it all happened a few years back. I believe it was the summer of 2006. I was in Greece and went swimming. I got the whole water in the ears thing, jumped up and down on one foot, played constantly with my ears. I took cold medicine, hoping that it would open up my sinuses and clear out my ears. But, I ended up with an ear infection. The best part was that I got the ear infection right when I returned to Madrid from Greece and was leaving for DC the next day. As you know, flying with an ear infection is a total nightmare.
When I got to DC, I found an ENT and he examined my ears. Because the earwax build up was so impacted and packed in there, he couldn’t remove it. I had to take ear drops three times a day for twp weeks (and antibiotics) and return for a second visit before he could start the lobotomy. So I went back and the doc dedicated about 30 minutes to each ear. It was pretty intense. When the doctor finally finished, he told that he was amazed that I could hear anything at all the past couple of years. I told him I hadn’t really be listening that much lately, so I didn’t even notice.
Then, I got home. I suddenly began noticing that everything sounded a hell of a lot louder. And I mean unbearably louder. I had to go to the bathroom, and the sound of myself urinating was excruciating. It was like that sound of someone breaking glass over and over again. I had to cover my ears, and almost destroyed the wallpaper. When I walked through the house, I could hear the sound of my feet against the rug. Everything was loud, clear, and annoying. I even grew paranoid. If I hadn’t noticed these subtle sounds before, were people hearing all of what I had previously believed to have been “silent-but-deadlies”? Maybe they were louder than they were deadly. Then after about 48 hours, my ears adjusted again.
And that’s really all I wanted to tell the Spanish otorrino. I wanted him to understand that I wasn’t such a bad guy. I just wanted to enjoy swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. The doctor then interrupted my inner monologue and told me that my right ear did in fact have a significant build up. I was excited. It wasn’t all a waste!
He stuck his little pitch ax in my ear and started digging stuff out. He explained that my right ear had some sort of particular inner shape with something like a small pocket where wax could accumulate and did not always wash out through the normal process. So there is an explanation after all! I ain’t some dirty old unkempt cornfed countrified peckerneck.
When he finished, he showed the extracted earwax, and it was plentiful. It was orange. Orange like the color of FON. And it was a really beautiful orange. Before I could comment, the doc had already shook my hand and guided me out of the office. Total visit – 7 minutes. I walked home humming Nina Simone’s “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” with the obvious substitutions.