Sunday, April 27, 2008

101 Things removed from the Human Body - Efficient Health Service Edition

Apologies are in order, dear reader, for leaving your breath bated for these past twenty three days, and I assure you that I will be revising my cliff-hanger policy over the coming weeks! Anyway, allow me to plunge back into the epic narrative that was started three weeks ago...

Possibly sensing that her clumsiest son was in trouble, my mother rang. Before I had a chance to answer the obligatory inquiry as to my well being, she was attempting to lure me home with the promise of delicious pabulum.

“Umm – I don’t think I’ll be back on time. I managed to get a piece of cotton wool stuck in my head a few hours ago.”

“Cotton wool?”, she echoed back at me.

“Yeah – I was cleaning my ears and –“

“How many times have I told you not to put anything smaller than your elbow in there?”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been told that by anyone. Ever. In all my 21 years.”

“I’m sure you just weren’t listening. What are you going to do?”

“Well, I have a note to go to the hospital, but the nurse at the medical centre said I could try and flush it out first with something called ‘Cerumol’, from the chemist, or the shower-head.”

I began to fear that I should be a little more economical with my syllables, in case the jaw motions would coax the fluff deeper into my skull, so I ended the conversation whilst my mother was warning me how awful the queues would be at the hospital. One quick trip to the pharmacy later, and I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my Cerumol drops.

My rationale for using the kitchen for my base of operations was quite extensive. For starters, there was an ample supply of kitchen paper, should I need it, and secondly, if I somehow flood my brain-chamber, one of my housemates will hopefully find my carcass on time and give it a tap on the head. It wasn’t until after the process that I became aware that Cerumol drops are a DIY ear-enema kit, and probably not the kind of thing I should be doing at our breakfast table.

The instructions said to use five drops, “with the head inclined”. Can I trust that? Five drops? Is that for an average sized man? I’m certainly not an average sized man... But maybe my ears are average. I think I remember being told my ears were quite small for my head. But didn’t the girl who told me that have a boyfriend with giant ears? I don’t think I can take her opinion too seriously... Eventually, I decided to load up as much into the dropper as I could, and squeeze it all in.

I sat there in the kitchen for a few moments, head turned in a similar vein to that of a confused mongrel, focusing only on the pool of liquid gently swirling around in my ear, like some kind of badly blocked toilet, passing the time by thinking of the analogies I could overload my inevitable blog entry with. Eventually, I decided to try spilling the contents out and see if the fluff came with it. I turned so my left ear was facing the ground, and used a kitchen towel to catch anything that came out. At the least, I was expecting a little bit of liquid, but nothing seemed to come out, and the only difference I felt was a greasy feeling from the oily drops. It occurred to me that all I had obtained in the last five minutes was to lube up my ear.

I tried the Cerumol drops a few more times, but didn’t seem to benefit much from the endeavour. The box’s warning that the process “may cause a harmless tingling sensation” proved quite misleading, as I was hit with a rather vicious earache. Desperate to alleviate the discomfort, and as a last-ditch effort to spare myself an ignominious hospital visit, I used the shower head to try and flush out the fugitive fluff. After douching myself for some moments and failing to sense anything falling victim to gravity other than tepid water, I resigned myself to spending the rest of my evening in the hospital.

I’m sure that my esteemed readers are aware of my whinesome proclivities; if something is an encumbrance, I’ll report it as such. Brace yourself for the head-exploding moment here; going to the hospital was actually a little fun.

I approached the Regional Hospital’s Accident & Emergency desk in a rather sheepish fashion, knowing that my stupidity would take limited resources away from somebody with a hole in their head, or a scrotum pop-riveted to a piece of aluminium. Despite the UL nurse’s predictions that I’d have difficulty redeeming the note (something about them not being a ‘real’ medical centre), and warning that I might have to pay the A&E fee, the woman at the desk didn’t even mention that I had been referred to the hospital in the city [which closed at 5pm that evening – which is a bizarre issue to consider for another day]. After a quick glance around the crowded waiting area full of rather settled-looking people, I decided that blurting out “it’ll only take a minute to get it sorted” was a worthwhile addendum on our interaction.

I had just started up a game on my Nintendo DS when my name was called. I made sure that there wasn’t another Se├ín O’Sullivan stirring into action, and approached the young female nurse who had beckoned me. She took me into a room with some supplies and sat me down in the corner. I told her what was wrong.

“Don’t you know not to put anything smaller than your elbow in there?”

“It’s such an arbitrary measurement! If I got it in metric, maybe I’d be able to abide by it!”

She seemed to enjoy the stupidity of my glib remark, and began looking into my head with the othoscope as I held my tongue from asking her how many other ears it had been in that day.

She stopped, frowned, and began again.

“There’s nothing in there” she said, visibly confused.

I told her that I might have got it out earlier when I went playing with the eardrops, but she wanted a second opinion. She came back a minute later with two others in blue scrubs. The amount of patients to medical personnel in the room was 3:1. I felt like quite the waste of taxes, so I began to make my discomfort felt in the only way I know how:

“What the hell is this? Everybody just comes in to laugh at the guy who pokes things into his head?”

The male nurse that had just walked in chuckled and motioned towards the other new woman,

“I’m here to laugh – she’s just getting supplies.”

I became quite enamoured with this guy over the next five minutes, despite the fact that he smelt like cigarettes (his second disqualification from being a potential girlfriend), mostly because he mocked me and reported back on what he saw within my ear, unlike the other two visitors to my head-cavity that day.

“You’ve a lot of scarring in here.”


“Either you scratch the hell out of your ears, or you’ve had surgery.”

Up to that point, I had completely forgotten about the insertion of gromits into my ears years ago, so I told him that they were probably the reason. Again, he aided my shoddy memory:

“If it’s just gromits, you must’ve had ‘em put in a second time”

Holy balls! He was right! I wanted him to examine my entire body and see what other secrets from my forgotten childhood he could unearth. He poked around in my ear again and again, making sure that my ear-canal was free of anything that didn’t belong, admitting that it was making him “paranoid”. Eventually he decided he was going to take me outside to the general “people-fixing area” [for the life of me, I cannot think of what the area beyond the waiting room with beds & curtains, (which isn’t a ward) is called], and syringe my ear. The nurse who was previously dealing with me chimed in, “If that doesn’t work, you can always just blow into the other ear, and that should fix it!”

As I lay on the bed, surrounded by people looking near death who didn’t seem to be getting the first class service I was, I watched my wise-cracking hero fill up a container with water, constantly adjusting both the hot and cold taps, and testing the temperature every few seconds with his finger.

“Very scientific process you’ve got there”, I teased.

“Any more of that and I’ll make you wear the dunce cap!”

He pulled the curtain around me.

“Uh oh. Is this going to get bloody?”

“Generally you syringe an ear when there’s a big build up of wax. People come in thinking they’re deaf because they have so much, and we flush it out. It’s pretty gross."

With that, he began dousing my ear. The water was colder than I expected, and the entire process was watched by another person in scrubs who seemed thoroughly fascinated by the whole thing and asked questions about what to aim the stream of water at, and what temperature the water needed to be.

The little cardboard bucket he made me hold was conspicuously empty when he finished the process, which seemed to surprise him somewhat:

“Huh. Guess there was no wax there at all.”

I was pretty pleased with myself for having such a squeaky clean ear, seemingly forgetting about the 45 minutes I had just spent pouring various liquids into my skull. He told me I was good to go, and I almost wanted to shake his hand.

My hospital experience lasted no more than 30 minutes, and it was surprisingly enjoyable. Every person I encountered was in good humour and seemed interested in not only what they were doing, but also whom they were doing it to, and I left quite impressed with the efficiency I had witnessed.

I regret that it took over a month for me to write this down, as I know that I’ve forgotten about some of the Scrubs-worthy banter I had with the staff of the Regional, and I’m sure that the bits I do recall aren’t even the highlights. The moral of the story is; if you have a moderately entertaining story that no is no longer entertaining halfway through, you shouldn’t bother putting the first half on your blog, because then people will expect the second half to be as interesting. But they’ll probably read 1800 words of it anyway, because they have nothing better to do.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Ah sul you're some eejit:) and yes you do have very small ears.