An ear-y tale

Among life’s little annoyances is wax buildup in ears. Why do our ears even have wax? Does it serve a purpose, other than to be bothersome and clog up your ear canals and just generally be kind of gross?

I asked the internet and this is what it said (answer is courtesy of

Earwax has several important jobs. First, it protects and moisturizes the skin of [sic] ear canal, preventing dry, itchy ears. Second, it contains special chemicals that fight off infections that could hurt the skin inside the ear canal. Finally, it acts as a shield between the outside world and the eardrum. When dust, dirt, and other things enter your ear, the earwax traps them so they can’t travel any further.

Apparently earwax will magically fall out of your ears without any action on your part. The same site says this explicitly:

If you want to get rid of earwax, here’s what you need to do: nothing!

I can do nothing quite well, so I am set. My doctor confirmed the same today (that no action is needed against wax, not that I generally excel at doing nothing) when I had both ears squirted repeatedly with a syringe of warm water to remove approximately two kilograms of embedded wax.

Before this squirting occurred, I spent 11 (!) nights putting drops of extra virgin olive oil in each ear before going to bed. Putting oil in your ears is as much fun as it sounds like. It generally didn’t dribble out, but laying on my side and waiting for the oil to settle/soak in for ten minutes night after night was not an experience I am eager to repeat. Much like ear wax itself, it was annoying and kind of yucky.

Speaking of, when the deed was done, I took a photo of the results floating in the container that I had to hold up to my ears to catch the water. It is kind of appalling to think that stuff was inside my body. Just thinking about it makes me not want to eat for the next week. Or year.

I thought about posting the photo here, perhaps behind a spoiler tag, but it’s just too vile. It will be my own special (?) memory. Maybe I’ll add some googly eyes to the container one day and then post it. For now, no one gets to see and everyone should be grateful.

Here’s to my ears not immediately clogging up again in a month’s time.

An ear-ie feeling

Today I went to the doctor because my efforts to remove wax from my left ear failed, though I did manage to loosen whatever was in there (wax, actually) enough to make it even more annoying than before.

My doctor recalled the old days of the giant metal syringe, which I remember being used on me once as a child. The fact that I vividly recall this is a testament to how awful an experience it was to have water hosed into my ear via a giant metal syringe.

The procedure today was done using a much smaller tube-like device that does the same thing (shoot warm water into the ear) but in a gentler manner. The procedure required four steps to complete: hose the ear, use a plastic picker thing to hook what was jostled loose (it sounds gross and trust me, it was), then the same two steps repeated.

The two chunks of wax were not insignificant in size. The doctor noted the skin inside the ear looked irritated due to these mini-boulders being lodged in there for the better part of a year.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I have nightmares tonight with the two balls of wax appearing as evil twins to torment me.

And while I can’t say I can hear better out of the left ear now, it definitely feels better.

Stupid wax.

An earful

On June 12th I attended the Miss WESA competition at Celebrities. Being a drag show in a gay club you might imagine that there was loud dance music playing. You would be correct.

I have not been to a club of any sort in quite awhile so the experience left me a bit dazed, though I enjoyed the show. During the competition I was on the dance floor with several guys from the Vancity team. To our left several people would whistle every time someone came onto the stage or did something — anything, it seemed. Their whistles were of a high-pitched, squealing variety that would make dogs bark then go insane. I flinched every time. My left ear felt like it was being stabbed. I did not like this.

The next day my ears were ringing, which did not surprise nor even bother me. A few days passed, the ringing stopped and all was well. Or was it? Dun dun dun!

The answer is no, all was not well, alas. A week after the show I could hear a distinct ringing in the left ear that matched my heartbeat. It’s one of those sounds that once you hear it, once you notice it, it becomes very difficult to ignore. I tried and failed.

I went to the clinic and the doctor explained that the ear became irritated and fluid had built up. The artery near the eardrum was pulsing against the fluid, hence the ringing. He prescribed an aggressive steam treatment to clear the nasal passages and get it to ‘pop’. He recommended tea (I have tea!), hot showers (every day), a vaporizer (do not have) and maybe even a towel over the head with a steaming pot of water underneath (sure, why not?)

I tried all of these things except the vaporizer. Keeping your head under a towel while steam wafts into your face is not exactly an unpleasant experience but it is a rather damp one. I don’t recommend it.

Alas, after over a week of this I noticed no change and under doctor’s orders returned to the clinic for a reassessment. The second doctor said there was no fluid in the ear, so perhaps I misunderstood the first doctor. He theorized that there was inflammation or blockage in the nasal area and prescribed a nasal spray I am to use for a week. Two shots in each nostril twice a day. I started this treatment today and I offer two observations:

1. This better work!
2. Shooting a liquid up your nose is grossbuckets.

Next time I’m wearing earplugs.