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A few months back I started having problems with my ears, but as I live out in the desert, going down town is quite a hassle, so I kept putting off a visit to the specialist to have them checked. When I was talking to one of my neighbors about it she told me about a clinic that is within a reasonable distance and seems to be a good one at that. So I called, made an appointment and went for the check-up to see what was wrong with my ears.

I first noticed that my ears were sort of blocked, like I have cotton wool in them, but from the inside. At that time I had just lost my Mom and everything was going wrong with me. But weeks later I thought it best to check and that was when I went to that clinic.

The clinic was quite clean, the furniture new but not in very good taste, and there were three young people sitting behind a counter receiving the patients. Two of them were talking on the telephone so I went to the third, a very heavily made-up young lady who looked up reluctantly when I addressed her. She made me feel that I was encroaching on her time. Really? Aren’t you here to do a job, which is to see to what I want to tell you or answer whatever questions I have? I ignored her attitude and told her that I had an appointment with the ENT Specialist, gave her my name and paid for the consultation. She pointed with her chin to the chairs and said, “Take a seat”. I ignored her and went and sat at the other end of the room.

Ten minutes later a tall, bald young man came out of the inner sanctum and talked with the receptionist, she pointed at me with her chin – so it was her general attitude with everybody – and he came to me and introduced himself as the ENT Specialist and asked me to step into his office.

Office is too grand a word for the little cubbyhole he took me to. There was the smallest desk I had ever seen for an adult, the patient’s chair was stuck to the front of the desk and that was it. This was a big man and he filled the space completely. Anyway he took out a few sheets of paper stapled together and said he would like to take down my medical history. Fine, all well and good. I guess this was what a professional should do. After all my ears nose and throat are all attached to the rest of me, so presumably anything wrong with any part of me might affect the part he is specialized in.

I have a very long medical history, and when I tried to skim though it he would stop me and ask for details. I can tell you that he had his ears bent and probably had cramp in his writing hand by the time I was finished with my medical history. But still I thought that he was being thorough and that this would give me a better chance of a good diagnosis and treatment.

It took over an hour to get done with the medical history and once done, all written up and documented, the Specialist asked me what was wrong. I told him about the problem I was having with my ears, so he came round and got out what looked like torture tools and started examining my ears and my nose then my throat, all the time hemming and hawing but saying nothing.

He finally went back to his miniscule desk and started writing furiously in his papers. I waited patiently for the diagnosis and the treatment. He finally finished writing and put down the pen gravely and looked at me. My heart sank. What?

He cleared his throat and said “I cannot see anything wrong”. He was so sad saying that I thought he was hiding some devastating news from me. As it was my ears that were the problem I thought I had not heard him right. I asked “Did you say there was nothing wrong that you could see? Did I hear that right?” He nodded and said “Yes” again in that very sad tone.

“But my ears are blocked and quite often I hear people’s voices over the telephone as though they are talking from within a tin room with all sorts of noise.”

Again he nodded gravely. Then said “You still have this heartburn you were telling me about?” I was taken aback. What has my heartburn to do with my ears? I answered tentatively “Yes ..?” He cleared his throat and said that this was called acid reflux and prescribed some medication for it. I gaped.

“What about my ears?” I asked rather puzzled. He looked slightly pained, sighed and said “Lets try some nose and ear drops for a week and see what happens”. Huh? We are now starting a process of elimination? What sort of diagnosis and treatment is that? I was quite incensed, why did he waste over an hour taking down my medical history just to come up with a guess? So I asked “Don’t you want me to have any sort of tests run to pin point the problem?” and he replied “After you take this medication for a week if there is no improvement we will see what we need to do” That was not at all reassuring.

He started shuffling his papers indicating that the consultation has ended so I stood up, as he did, we shook hands and as I was stepping out of the cubbyhole he reminded me of the name of the medication for my acid reflux. I nodded. It was something that had been prescribed to me previously but which I had forgotten about.

On the way out I made the appointment for the follow-up visit next week, and thank God it was with one of the two boys who were busy on the phone when I came in. He was very courteous and polite.

After a week of religiously following the doctor’s orders with the ear and nose drops, absolutely no progress whatsoever. But I must say the medication for my acid reflux was great. So now I am thinking of going to consult a digestive tract specialist, maybe he can cure my ears.

12 Oct. 2014