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Hearing Problem in Right Ear
Wednesday, 28 February 2007

I was born and raised in New York City – in Queens to be exact. When I was about 7-8 years old, I noticed that I couldn’t hear very well in my right ear. Being the naive child that I was, I assumed that I was deaf in my right ear. I had been to several medical checkups over the years, and the doctors never told me anything about my right ear. I even took hearing tests, and somehow passed them! I learned to get used to the muffled hearing from my right ear. But I never liked it.

Some years later, when I was about 10-11, I realized that I could hear clearly from my right ear, but only after removing lots of earwax. It felt so good to have clear hearing! But, getting any water in my ear would weaken my hearing for days. This continued for several years. I habitually avoided getting water in my ears, and I got really frustrated when water did get in my ears and muffled my hearing. I assumed that my right eardrum was damaged somehow, because when I put objects in my ear to attempt to remove earwax, I felt a rough surface deep in my ear canal. It felt like a scab.

Well, I went to get another medical checkup. I must have been about 18-19 years old this time. When the doctor checked my right ear, he said that there was something in my ear! He actually examined me a little further, and said that it was a cotton swab stuck in my ear. I couldn’t believe it! He prepared me for the removal of the foreign object. The removal process was very painful. When it was over, I felt very dizzy and unbalanced. I could barely stand! But I had to see what had been in my ear for so long without my knowledge. When I saw the object, I couldn’t believe it. It was a black object about the size of the end of a cotton swab, with a shiny object stuck on the outside part. The blackness must have come from the years of old earwax, but what was the shiny object? Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was a BB - a BB gun bullet. At seeing that, I remembered an event from my distant past…

When I was about 6-7 years of age, I was at a cousin’s home for the holidays. I was playing with my cousin, and somehow we got our hands on some BBs. They probably belonged to my older cousin. Anyway, I ended up putting one of the BBs in my ear, thinking that it would roll back out. It didn’t. As a very imaginative child, I thought that the BB went into an opening in my ear, entering my body, and lodged itself behind my ear. I had a BB sized bump behind my ear that I never noticed before, so I “logically” assumed that it was the BB. In actuality, it was just stuck to the earwax covered cotton in my ear. I still have no memory of how or when the cotton got stuck in my ear, but it was obviously there before the BB was. After that, the hearing in my right ear was normal. Water no longer muffled my hearing for days. My hearing was finally crystal clear.

However, this series of events raises some serious questions about the medical care I received prior to the removal of the foreign object. Why did no doctors ever notice the object before? Could they have all been inexperienced, or incompetent? Or was it something more sinister – that the doctors knew exactly what was in my ear, but simply did nothing about it, and avoided treating me? Why would a doctor do that you ask? You see, when I was a child, I lived in extreme poverty. My mother was chronically on welfare, and Medicaid covered our health expenses. It has been said that the Medicaid program, especially the New York City Medicaid program, pays doctors paltry sums for their services. This gives doctors an incentive to give little or no treatment to their Medicaid patients. But I digress; this is all just speculation on my part. I am grateful to have clear hearing again.

I had never told my mother about putting the BB in my ear all those years ago. Later, after we got home, she told me that the BB in my ear was put there by aliens, to keep track of my whereabouts. I told her that she was crazy. She rebutted by telling me: “Notice how the doctor didn’t give it back to you!”

As though that would prove that she was telling the truth.

I did get a cool mental picture of how a BB sized alien tracking device might look, however. Part of me wanted to believe her, because she is my mother, but logic made that impossible. I could write more about my mother…

But that is another story.

 

This story is actually an account of events in my life. Strange, but true...

 
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