Don’t read if you’re squeamish
Wednesday February 25th 2009, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Life

red amaryllis

Here’s the picture of Jasmin’s first gift of six. More pics later.  I’m throwing in one of the latest amaryllis to open up because it was a day that needed the distraction of pretty flowers.

One of the side effects of wearing hearing aids is it seems like the ears are always trying to flush these foreign objects out, so the wax tends to really build up. Which, when you’re deaf enough already, is a problem.  I’ve had the left ear plugged up for awhile, and I was astonished and delighted at the astuteness of one doctor (I think he was a resident), while I was at Stanford, who told a fellow surgeon to speak closer to my right side, that I could hear better there. I had told nobody, and here he’d figured it out! Good for him–that level of attentiveness on his part will serve him well as he goes forward.

My family practitioner has been off every time I’ve called for an appointment, but with Stitches so close, and given how noisy the packed convention center always is, I didn’t want to put it off any longer.  Today I simply went with whoever was available, thinking, it’s just earwax, I mean, c’mon.

The nurse I got had clearly only ever been given the most basic instructions. She didn’t prep the ear with softener and wait and then rinse, she simply took her squeegee bottle and proceeded to try to carve Mount Rushmore out of the inside of my face.  Not realizing that when the patient is in that much pain, you’re not doing it right.  I made her stop after I suddenly had what must have been blood going clear down my eustachian tube.

Well! Look! The wax is all gone now, sure, we can stop!

The doctor came in after the nurse left, was horrified when she looked, and gave me Cipro drops and told me emphatically to come back if that didn’t do the job. At home, I crashed and slept for hours.

I can’t wear that hearing aid till things heal up somewhat.  Friday, though, I will, regardless.

I’ve been debating endlessly with myself whether I should mention the episode to my own doctor, not wanting to scold someone who didn’t know her job better but definitely wanting her to know better how to do it for the sake of the next patient.  Who, I assure you, will not be me.

43 Comments so far
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Yeah, I would mention it. Anyone that uncaring and unfeeling shouldn’t be doing the job.

This is a funny out of real life. Happened this morning to me. I had a call from my cardiologist’s office. Receptionist: “The doctor would like to see you.” Don: “I can send him a photograph.” Receptionist: “Nice try.”

Comment by Don Meyer 02.25.09 @ 9:39 pm

I think she cared, I think she just simply didn’t know what else she could or should be doing better. But I love your answer to the receptionist and her quick-on-the-uptake response!

Comment by AlisonH 02.25.09 @ 9:42 pm

But she needs to learn how to do it! I hope it feels better soon.

Comment by Lisa Hughes 02.25.09 @ 9:51 pm

I would definitely mention it to your doctor, not in a scolding manner but more in an opportunity for the nurse to learn. If none of her patients ever speak up, how will she learn to do it better?

Be well,

Comment by MaxJerz 02.25.09 @ 10:20 pm

The next person she does that to won’t be nearly as nice as you are. Think if it this way, you are doing her a favor by bring it to the attention of the dr.

Comment by Sonya 02.25.09 @ 10:28 pm

When you know better, you do better. Sorry your ears had to provide the on-the-job training.

Comment by LynnM 02.26.09 @ 12:07 am

Oh you were abused your poor ear eak!!!
Jasmin’s socks are lovely and I feel the same way you do I love them but dont like knitting on tiny needles.I have knit a pair for my friend lizet and a pair for my hubby and a pair for myself.But I like quicker Darcy

Comment by Darcy 02.26.09 @ 12:32 am

I would definitely mention it. Your experience shows that she need to be taught how to do things properly, as obviously no one has shown her. Being a hearing aid wearer myself, my heart goes out to you.

Comment by Joanne 02.26.09 @ 1:15 am

You should definitely say something. The next patient may never know to appreciate what you have done but will certainly be spared the trauma. Good gracious…you’ve been through so much that they should have imported the best medical person for you, even if it “just ear wax”.

Comment by Joansie 02.26.09 @ 1:56 am

As a former nurse I can def say that we werent trained in the art of Ear Wax removal. It was just one of many skills we had to learn on the fly once we graduated and went to work. I would speak to her supervisor or the DR (your choice) so that they know she needs help/training in that area and will be able to offer her what she needs. I hope all is well with your ear soon 🙂

How is Richard doing?

Comment by Danielle from SW MO 02.26.09 @ 5:03 am

Oh goodness, Alison…you’ve been through so much! I had to have blood drawn once and two nurses worked together to do it – I don’t know why – but, neither appeared to know how…and after trying both arms and then, my R. hand, they finally got the job done – but, blamed their lack of success (skill) all on me…I walked out on shaky legs and said I’d never go back there! Maybe they weren’t nurses – never thought of that. 🙂 But I know it is not fun to be the guinea pig…which is why I’ve never gotten my hair done at a beauty school. 🙂 I hope you’re feeling better and recover soon…maybe you could just put your aids in when you get there and take them out in the car before leaving – only wear them as short a time as possible until you fully heal…so sorry this happened to you. And, I loved Don’s idea for being seen by the physician – I’ll have to remember that. 🙂
Best wishes,

Comment by Abby 02.26.09 @ 6:25 am

Yikes! I hope that heals up quickly! And yes, I agree with others that you should mention it to someone in charge. They need to show this woman how to do the job properly. I agree that she probably didn’t want to hurt you on purpose. Nurse practitioners, by and large, are usually pretty good. That’s why I never mind getting one of them if my doc is too busy. They are thorough, and more likely to give me what I need in terms of prescriptions. My GYN nurse is so fabulous, I may never see a doctor ever again for anything having to do with that region of myself. (Unless I find myself needing various parts removed someday.)

If this nurse is a good one, she’ll want to correct her mistake. Speaking up will get her started in that direction. Hopefully, whomever talks to her about it will be nice, and help her along.

Comment by Paula 02.26.09 @ 6:46 am

Oh, and I got your note last night — glad to hear Richard is feeling better. Hope the stone is over and done with very soon!

Comment by Paula 02.26.09 @ 6:47 am

Oh, good Lord. Not another trauma! I do agree with the others, though. Perhaps she just needs a lesson in how to do this properly, so she doesn’t cause pain. Or more experience. I know when my late husband was getting chemo, he would dread getting a new young nurse. He liked looking at them, but hated having them stick his arms! They always missed his vein (which was on the verge of collapse at that point anyway), and then would just keep trying, which caused more pain. Finally a more experienced nurse would come over and put the needle in his other arm, quietly and “seamlessly”. Experience is everything.

Prayers as always!

Comment by Pegi 02.26.09 @ 7:04 am

I am so sorry you had to endure that. I would definitely mention it.

Comment by TripletMom 02.26.09 @ 7:05 am

Alison, of course you have to tell somebody. Because how else will she find out how to do it right? You might also mention what you said at the very beginning, “The nurse I got had clearly only ever been given the most basic instructions.” She should know more about how to handle this routine problem in people who wear hearing aids. Sorry this happened to you, on top of everything else you’ve “enjoyed” in 2009.

Comment by Elizabeth 02.26.09 @ 7:08 am

Oh, yuck. I just had both of ears cleaned out because the doctor couldn’t see the eardrums to see if I had an infection (I did.) The nurse definitely used drops first and let them sit in there to help soften everything up. It still hurt, but only, I think, because of the infections. Usually, it doesn’t bother me if it’s done gently.

I tend to have to have it done every five years or so…the easiest time I had was when I was at college; in the university health center, they used a water pik! I don’t know why more doctor’s haven’t caught on to the idea, but it’s the only place I’ve ever had it done with one and that was 30 years ago.

Comment by Jan 02.26.09 @ 7:37 am

I think you should definitely speak up. What if that had been your very first experience with getting your ears cleared? Not knowing things could be different you would have been so traumatized you would have avoided ever having it done again!

Comment by Marlene 02.26.09 @ 7:53 am

So glad Richard is better. And, truly – the Ear Wax Incident should be noted in your medical record. Especially since they prescribed a high-test antibiotic BECAUSE of the incident. So your PCP should have the information. But you need to tell them and you need to have them note that you don’t see this particular person for procedures again. A professional office will train her in the appropriate techniques. Have fun at Stitches!!

Comment by Debra 02.26.09 @ 7:54 am

I would mention it. But then, I stopped seeing a doctor because I was upset with the lack of professionalism on the part of the office staff & one of the nurses. I even wrote a letter explaining my concerns and what prompted me to leave. I never heard back, which confirmed to me that I’d made the right choice. Oh, don’t ask, either, I’ll just get upset all over again.

I’m sorry about your ear! My kids have such disgusting ears, I don’t know where it all comes from. They don’t have the excuse of a hearing aid!

Comment by amy 02.26.09 @ 7:55 am

A lot of procedures that nurses do cause pain for the patient, so a pain response from you wasn’t an alarm signal for her. This nurse probably does not know that there is a better way. Have a word with your doctor.

Comment by Barbara-Kay 02.26.09 @ 8:30 am

Two years I worked at a job at a family practitioner’s office. I discovered that they don’t pay them enough to keep the good ones. Too bad ’cause it’s the patients that bear the brunt of such a circumstance.

Comment by Toni Smoky-Mountains 02.26.09 @ 8:31 am


Comment by Sherry in Idaho 02.26.09 @ 8:41 am

I would mention it. She should have noticed you squirming in pain. And, think of all the other people who may have experienced something similar. I had this discussion with a co-worker. She tripped and fell, and landed badly on one arm. Went to Urgent Care, where the Dr ignored what Nedra was telling her. The dr only looked at her shoulder. Never checked her elbow or wrist. I pointed out, if you know it’s a problem, why wouldn’t you mention it, to prevent someone else from going through the same thing?

Hope your ears heal soon!!!!

Comment by Serena 02.26.09 @ 8:56 am

As I’ve said before, when I post early up I like returning to see the other comments. Abby cracked me up because I DID go to a beauty school once. For a perm! The results were so bad my mother cried but at least hair grows and bad treatment doesn’t require antibiotics. Amy’s comment reminded me of something I read in a different context (maybe airlines) “Don’t hire people and train them to be nice, hire nice people.” Same applies to professionalism. Leopards can’t change their spots but a caring nurse certainly can learn more efficient ways to improve their technique, like simply watching a skilled person perform the task more easily. Alison, is there someone there who has done the job so well you can request them and perhaps suggest they offer to demonstrate their method? I can’t believe I’ve become so interested in the subject of ear wax. It’s a slow day.

Comment by LynnM 02.26.09 @ 9:03 am

By mentioning it to your doctor, you help make her a better nurse. If YOU were doing something in a way that hurt rather than helped a patient, I think you would want to know.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 02.26.09 @ 9:41 am

I’m sorry to hear that. I’d mention it, she needs to hear (no pun intended) that her method was NOT correct.

Comment by Alicia 02.26.09 @ 9:45 am

Oh man sweetie that is horrible. Next time call your audiologist and see if the ENT they are affiliated with can get you in. They have the little vacuum thing that takes care of it in about 2 seconds. No digging. No blood. No dingbat nurses.

And yes you need to mention it to your doctor so she doesn’t do it to someone else.

Comment by Tiny Tyrant 02.26.09 @ 9:47 am

I’m so sorry you had to endure that. I’ve had a similar experience with my ears and know how uncomfortable it can be. If it were me, I would mention it to the dr; they can’t “fix” the issue unless they know about it, and besides, your medical team knows that you don’t unnecessarily go about getting med professionals in “trouble”. 🙂
See you at Stitches! (can’t wait!!!)

Comment by Kelli 02.26.09 @ 10:40 am

Ouch! I’m not one to ever seek to get anyone’s head to roll, but I think I’d certainly mention it to the doctor in order to save someone else going through similar anguish.

Comment by Renna 02.26.09 @ 10:42 am

Yes, you should mention it. It’s absolutely necessary that the nurse learn a better way to do this–because what if she damaged someone’s ear forever? That would be horrible. I am so sorry to hear that you have another ouchy after all you’ve been through. Gosh. Hope it heals quickly! 🙂

Comment by Joanne 02.26.09 @ 11:09 am

Mention it. I happen to think a GOOD ear cleaning is a bit of an art, and clearly, that nurse needs some tips, gentle practice, etc.

Comment by Channon 02.26.09 @ 11:42 am

Oh Alison… *hug*

Comment by mary seabrook 02.26.09 @ 11:42 am

About the doctor who recognized that one ear was better than the other–please never hesitate to smile, point, and say, “Other ear please. I can hear you better.” Some of us are directionally challenged (right? left?) which is why you point.

Comment by LauraN 02.26.09 @ 12:26 pm

Ugh, awful! I definitely vote with a quick call to the doctor — make sure they understand that you’re ‘not trying to get anyone in trouble’ but that you don’t want anyone to go through that again.

Nurses should be able to do the procedures they need to do or they should ask for help. Having had a really crap nurse last time Lucy had to go in for a sick child visit, I feel very strongly about this point just now.

Comment by Kristine 02.26.09 @ 1:01 pm

Mention it. Not for disciplinary purposes, but for training.

And exactly what is it with you and medical these days? Have you saved up or something? Clumping the events maybe? Hopefully, you’re now in the clear for… oh, 10 years or so.

Comment by Lene 02.26.09 @ 1:08 pm

Oh Alison, you didn’t need another thing. Yes you tell your doctor and you say why, that it is so it doesn’t happen to anyone else. It isn’t good enough that you are now suffering. Hopefully it will heal quickly.

Comment by Vicki 02.26.09 @ 1:19 pm

Heck yes I’d mention it! The doctor needs to know about this.

Comment by Eileen 02.26.09 @ 1:47 pm

I am so sorry about your medical personnel!!!

I do have to tell you though how much I adore your flowers, I tried to grow one, one little amaryllis this year and while it sent up lovely long green stalks not a single bud, I did not buy it in a reputable place, I will know better next time!!!

Hope your ear heals quickly!!!

Comment by grace 02.26.09 @ 1:49 pm

That sounds like the ear cleaning from heck. I have actually syringed my ears myself. Put a drop of olive oil in your ear every night for a week or so (it’s okay, it won’t hurt you ear mold.I asked the audiologist. I’m assuming you wear behind the ear models like me) after a week or so, I got an oral medicine syringe(ie not a needle on it!!!) of 5-10ml and a mug. hopped into the shower, filled the mug with comfortably warm water, sucked some into the syringe and did my ear. The trick is to point the syringe at the back of your head so the water swirls in and around and out. Worked like a charm. You should have seen the wax I got out! No wonder I couldn’t hear anything…..

Comment by Carol 02.26.09 @ 6:01 pm

I missed this last night because I got home late from work and then had to tend to my daughter. I am sorry you had to go through this; I would not have been able to stand it for that long.
Now I’ll go read today’s post.

Comment by karin 02.26.09 @ 6:11 pm

I know I’m the eleventy billionth person to say this, but, please tell your doctor what happened. The only way that nurse’s skills will improve is if someone retrains her and that will only happen when someone realizes she needs it. I’m so sorry that that experience had to happen to you on top of everything else. Enjoy Stitches anyway!!

Comment by Shirley 02.27.09 @ 5:18 pm

I would most certainly say something to your dr. and the one for whom this nurse works. It’s apparent that she’s so burned out she doesn’t take into consideration the comfort or safety of her patient! She could have blown out your whole eardrum or caused much worse problems. When I had my first hip replaced the nurse on evening duty was in a hurry to get me back in bed so she grabbed my leg, the one with the new hip, and pushed it into the bed. I can’t begin to explain the pain I felt. You can believe I made sure my dr. knew what happened! I think sometimes when a caregiver has been working for so long in his or her given profession they become immune to the pain of others. Hopefully you are recovering

Comment by Jody M 03.01.09 @ 4:22 pm

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