“If you had come to see me in September . . .” the doctor trails off. Probably because he has already mentioned this bit about three times during the appointment. Hopefully not because I look like I’m going to cry. I open my eyes wide in attentiveness, willing the tears to stay put.
I’m wondering if I should have employed my “everybody lies” strategy when I described my symptoms to this ear, nose and throat specialist, but know that would have been stupid. Why bother making a second trip to the quick clinic and why bother accepting a referral to an ENT if I wasn’t going to come clean about my problem?
My problem is that my ear is still buzzing. I had experienced a slight improvement from the noise distortion after that first trip to the quick clinic in December. A quick power wash, er, irrigation of my ear had removed excess wax. Having endured wax removal as a kid, I knew that I’m just genetically predisposed to it. My right ear and hearing seemed to improve. I just chalked up the residual hum to the damn head cold that I just couldn’t seem to shake.
Peter, however, noticed that I still wasn’t feeling 100% as I began my vacation during winter shutdown. I was asking him to repeat himself more frequently. He insisted that I go back to the doctor the day after Christmas.
So I did, even though the weather was horrible. The clinic is only two blocks from our house. It took longer to scrape the snow off the car than it did to drive there. I ought to know because I went twice. When I arrived shortly after the clinic open, there wasn’t a spare seat in the waiting room and two people were waiting to check in (damn my manners-I held the door open for them!).
Having waited in the comfort of my own home, I returned that afternoon hoping the doctor would see an ear infection, prescribe an antibiotic and finally help me to clear up whatever was blocking my ear and causing that constant buzz.
That was not to be.
The doctor could find no sign of infection in my outer ear, nose or throat. I was referred to a specialist since the problem seemed to be with my inner ear.
That’s why I had to take the morning off work to drive over to the next town for my appointment. That’s why I gave an honest account of my ear troubles, including fessing up about when I first started having problems.
That’s why the doctor was now chastising me about delaying my care. Because he was explaining that my delay could result in the slight problem of an infection to turn into permanent damage to my inner ear. That if the infection had been treated right away, I probably would not have been experiencing the buzz in my ear.
The ENT was concerned because the only way to diagnose inner ear problems are through a hearing test. And the test results surprised him. He had been expecting some minor loss in the higher frequencies due to a possible infection. This is a problem that he has successfully treated with steroids in the past. Of course, most people haven’t waited four months for treatment . . .
However, he was surprised by the signficant loss in the lower frequencies. While he is still treating me with steroids, he said there is another possible cause: Meniere’s Disease.
The doctor didn’t have to tell me what that is. My mom has it. In fact, over break, she worried aloud that maybe that’s why I had.
“Oh, that’s not it,” I reassured her. “I’m not having those dizzy spells like you.”
And I thought I was being honest with the specialist when I said I wasn’t having dizziness. I mean, surely the light-headedness I felt a few times last week were just due to my head cold.
So, in addition to steroids, I now get to take a water pill every day and reduce the sodium in my diet. In two weeks’ time, we’ll see what, if any, effect this treatment has.
Hopefully, the truth will set me free. From this buzz.
What’s the buzz?
Tell me what’s a-happening.
Why should you want to know?
Don’t you mind about the future?
Don’t you try to think ahead?
Save tomorrow for tomorrow;
Think about today instead.
“What’s the Buzz?” from Jesus Christ Superstar