Pet Please #84: When a Real Doctor Confirms Your Self-Diagnosis

Let me start off by saying that earwax, albeit gross, is a good thing. Your body produces earwax to prevent bad stuff from ruining your inner ear–the wax flushes out the bad stuff. Like little spiders that crawl into your ears at night to lay eggs.

We’re all on the same page, right? Earwax = good.

Let’s continue.

For about a month now, my left ear hasn’t been working all that well. I could hear out of it, but it always felt like I had just gotten out of the ocean, except less liquidy. It felt like the ocean had found its way into my ear and congealed.

I woke up every morning hoping it would be better, but it never changed. Same thing every day. It didn’t hurt, and my balance–my main concern when it comes to my ears (WAY more so than actual hearing)–was fine.

So of course I didn’t go see a doctor. That’s what adults do, right? You put up with something until (a) it hurts or (b) you can’t breathe. Then you go see a doctor.

ear diagramAfter all, I had already diagnosed myself: I was convinced that I had a mass of earwax in my ear. I figured it would eventually fall out. My solution was to sleep on my left side to let gravity do the work for me.

But last week I decided that I didn’t want to sleep exclusively on my left side for the rest of my life. So I scheduled an appointment with an ENT.

You know that thing when you put off going to a doctor for too long, and on the day of your appointment you actually feel pretty good? And you’re worried that the doctor will look at you like you’re wasting their time? That was my primary concern today. Not that I had an incurable ear disease. Not that I had spider eggs in my ear. But rather that I had nothing wrong with me and I’d waste the doctor’s time.

This entry easily could have been a Greatest Fear entry. That’s how strong that concern is to me.

But the pet please of being told by a real doctor that you have something wrong with you and that thing is what you thought it was FAR outweighs that fear. Which is exactly what happened today.

And it gets better. By that I mean it gets grosser, but also better.

When you have too much earwax in your ear, an ENT will tell you to hold really still while he inserts a metal instrument inside your ear and gently scrapes the inside of your ear. It’s terrifying, and it’s loud in a soft way because only you can hear it, but it also feels amazing. Because you know that the doctor is removing stuff from inside your body that shouldn’t be there, and you’re moments away from being healthy. It’s the easiest cure ever.

With one final scrape, I can suddenly hear again. In fact, I’m convinced that I can hear better than before. I can hear a piece of lint catch on my shirt. I can hear a cricket chirping a mile away. I can hear Meat Loaf participating in a devil’s threesome in Albuquerque.

So I do what any sane person would do–I look down to see how much earwax the doctor pulled out of my ear. I wasn’t expecting much. As clogged as my ear was, the inside of any ear is pretty small, so it can’t hold that much wax.

Oh, but it can. The doctor removed enough wax from my ear to fill the cap of a 2-liter soda. No joke. I almost asked to take a photo of it, but I figured the doctor had better things to do than let me take photos of earwax.

I’ve been thinking about that earwax all day. It’s been in my ear for a month, and now it’s sitting in a trash can at the doctor’s office. Honestly, I would do it all over again if I could have that much earwax removed from my body.

Especially if I get the diagnosis right.

10 thoughts on “Pet Please #84: When a Real Doctor Confirms Your Self-Diagnosis”

  1. I personally think earwax removal is the most satisfying part of my profession. You dig for treasure, find treasure, and receive compensation/praise for the treasure. *Brushes off shoulder* Just a typical day in the clinic, no big deal.

  2. Love this! Absolutely understand the satisfaction of your hunch being right but also earwax fascinates me, almost to the point of grossness. I know I shouldn’t clean my ears but the satisfaction of, as Erin says, finding treasures, is too much to forgo. So glad you got to see it, even if a photo didn’t happen.

    • Oh Emma, I hope for your sake that your ears someday get really clogged and you need to go to the ENT. It’s amazing.

  3. I’m fascinated (as I am with most things that have to do with the human boy), but I also had to stop eating my cereal.

    So, cool but gross. And no more Quaker Oat Squares with Cinnamon for me.

  4. These two sentences particularly cracked me up!

    “I almost asked to take a photo of it, but I figured the doctor had better things to do than let me take photos of earwax.”

    “I’ve been thinking about that earwax all day. It’s been in my ear for a month, and now it’s sitting in a trash can at the doctor’s office.”

    • Colleen–I’m STILL thinking about that earwax. Just sitting there on a piece of paper, looking up at me with those little earwax eyes. I’ll miss the little guy.

  5. Reading this post, I was mildly disgusted at the thought of seeing a huge glob of earwax, but also a little curious about what might be dwelling inside my own ears. Fortunately, mine haven’t given me any trouble that would necessitate a visit to the doctor, but I’ll admit that I am a little envious about your being able to see all that gunk removed and discover your hunch was correct.


Leave a Reply

Discover more from

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading