Ten days ago, on a beautiful Sunday morning, I took a long walk to Central London from Battersea and back (roughly 20 km), listening to music all along the way.
One of my favourite acts is the French electronic trio Bon Entendeur. Here's one of their most popular tracks, which was particularly adapted to the gorgeous weather, Le Temps Est Bon.
I came back home in the early afternoon. I took a quick shower and, as I usually do, I used cotton buds to clean my ears. I felt some resistance in the right one and insisted a bit to clean the little flakes.
After a while, I had the impression I had some water left in my right ear, as I had already experienced two years earlier after jumping into a swimming pool in the south of France (how I miss that pool...). I found a cleaning spray and gave it a try for 2 days. It didn't solve the issue. I tried facial steam baths (they say it helps decongest the ear), it didn't really help. I started feeling some bad pain in the ear. So I went to the local pharmacy and I was given another spray, Ear Calm. But the pain got stronger. I needed proper medication!
Never settle for a phone diagnosis if you've got an ear problem
So last week (7 days ago, 4 days after the incident) I had a phone appointment with my GP practice.
Due to the current Covid situation, all NHS appointments are first scheduled over the phone before a potential face-to-face meeting. I explained to the doctor what I felt and she diagnosed an otitis externa. She prescribed a stronger spray with antibiotics. I started my cure on the same day. I should have demanded a face-to-face consultation.
But things didn't get better, I could still feel a strong pain which gave me a few sleepless nights and bad headaches. I cautiously inserted my little finger inside my ear and could feel something blocking the ear canal. There it was, a nasty earwax buildup! What I needed was earwax removal. It was so simple! I had probably pushed the earwax buildup further down into the ear canal with my cotton bud.
So I scheduled another phone call appointment with the medical practice, with the intention to ask for a face-to-face diagnosis and, ideally, some syringing to remove the earwax and restore my hearing, voilà!
Another GP took my call and asked me to complete the treatment before a face-to-face appointment, scheduled next Tuesday. I felt relieved and started feeling better (even if there was still something impairing my hearing).
Earwax removal in Battersea
I was doing some research about local SEO, mostly focused on "landscape services in Minnesota" (that's where the web's rabbit maze brought me). I came across the services offered by a very smart guy, Matt Wacek, who's quite active on Youtube (Matt, you'll appreciate my dofollow backlink from a DR 27 site).
And for some unknown reason, let's call it serendipity, I started to research earwax removal in Battersea, just to see what was on offer near me. Earwax removal seems to be a pretty competitive industry. There were 4 or 5 companies advertising at the top of Google organic SERP. My attention was attracted by the one located in Victoria, not too far from where I live: Hearology. Nice brand.
It was possible to book a same-day appointment so I jumped on the opportunity.
£80 for both ears, the price of a one-hour Swedish massage to restore my hearing and enjoy James Sayer's concert on Saturday night. It wasn't free, but worth giving it a try!
"Earwax" removed in Victoria
I put on my best mask and took the 170 bus to Victoria. There I was welcomed by a nice audiology expert who first examined my left ear. Spick and span, no problem whatsoever. Time to dig into my right ear and apply some powerful microsuction to extract that nasty wax...
Well, said the expert, you don't have much earwax in your right ear but I can see a "foreign body" in the ear canal.
Well, could you please take it out Sir?
Yes, this shouldn't be painful...
And here it was, in 2 seconds, straight from my right ear, fully intact.
I had pushed with a cotton bud a silicone ear bud down into my ear canal, not noticing what it was. WTF...
There was still some redness in the ear. I was invited to continue my spray treatment and I will, of course, show my ear to the GP on Tuesday and tell her this surreal story.
What if my SEO research had not prompted me to book an appointment with Hearology in Victoria? Well, things could have turned even nastier, with some additional infection.
1° avoid using cotton buds, they can push cerumen and... ear buds into your ear canal.
2° always ask for a face-to-face diagnosis if you feel something strange in your ear. It might not be an insect or an ear bud, but it's worth checking to avoid spraying antibiotics on a foreign body.
3° don't use cheap in-ear headphones, buy a nice pair of old school (wireless) on-ear headphones. I've just found one by Skull Candy for £25, they will replace the in-ear with the missing ear bud.
I feel much better, ready for James's concert! (we'll have a podcast together very soon, stay tuned).
And as we say in French: À bon entendeur, Salut !