I’m sitting in a chair at the ear, nose, and throat place. The doctor is sliding a tiny camera up my nose. On the screen in front of me is the inside of my nose. In high definition. We travel through the forest of nose hair, into the wetlands, back, back, back.
“I’m going to go a little farther this time, and look down to your throat.”
I was watching the screen, but I closed my eyes when I saw my own throat from the inside. I went in for sinus issues, and two nasal endoscopies (camera up your nose), one allergy test (stab you with things you’re allergic to), and one hearing test later, I came out with mo’ problems and less money.
“You have a deviated septum. You can get surgery, and it will help you breathe.”
“Probably about fifteen thousand dollars”
“I’ll think about it.” (Breathing: overrated.)
“I have been periodically losing hearing in my left ear.”
“You probably have some wax in there. Angela, grab the terrifying-sounding instruments, turn on the machines, call the hottest nurse in the building and get her in here, STAT! This guy has a weird thing! No, not Rachel! Get Brittany! SHE’S A MODEL!”
Oh no, no, no, I’ll just live with the problem! I’LL JUST LIVE WITH IT!!!
I’d love to go to a hospital when I’m healthy, and feeling great, and just got a haircut, then talk to the hilariously gorgeous model-nurses these places employ. I’ve visited people in the hospital: these women are nowhere.
Me: Hi, I’m the sensitive guy who cares about his family, are you—
Nurse, chiefing a cig indoors, sounds and looks like the woman from Monsters Inc, who says “Mike Wazowski”: —Yeaaah I’m all there is honey.
Later at the hospital:
Me: Hi, Um, I don’t feel so good… *Throws up in pockets*
Nurse, literally emerges from woodwork: Oh no! I just got back from winning the Gisele Bundchen lookalike contest! Let me help you!
The doctor looked in my ear.
“Yep, that’s what’s going on. Do you use Q-tips?”
“Good. Do you wear ear plugs?”
“Do you use earbuds?”
“That’ll do it.”
The doctor opened a horror drawer and sifted through tiny medieval metal torture picks, unable to find the right one.
“Brittany, where’s the X900?”
“Here it is.”
She pulled out a chainsaw and cut my head off.*
*what I wanted to happen.
It was terrible. It was so terrible. If you’re squeamish, you should have stopped reading a while ago. But here’s a disclaimer. Stop reading.
He went in with one of these metal picks and started digging. Have you ever gone too far with a Q-tip? And you’re like “OW! oopsies! hehe.” This was a billion times worse. It was murder in comparison. He’s diggin’, he’s diggin’, he throws a vacuum in my ear, sucking stuff out, he shows me a brick of my own earwax the size of a toddler. It’s terrible. It’s so bad. The hot nurse is right there the whole time. She’s helping him dispose of the gunk. I’m juuuuuust sweating, bathing in the shame of being a human. My eyes are closed, watering. (I’m crying.)
He goes for the other ear, and after a full calendar year he finishes, and says, “Are you okay?”
“Because sometimes people faint.”
“I’m alright.” *Please faint, please faint, please faint* “What about earbuds then? Should I stop wearing them?”
He grinned and said, “Well, you gotta do what you gotta do.”
I have to do what I have to do. Doctor’s orders.
Next was a hearing test. A different doctor took me down the hall, sat me down in a room, and took her place behind a machine. She had a small bin of unused rainbow-colored earbud things, and right next to that bin, she had a small bin of used earbud things. At one point, she bumped the used bin, which spilled some USED EARBUD COVERS into the CLEAN BIN. Imagine bumping a bin of Skittles into a bin of Skittles and then trying to pick out the newcomers. She carefully picked out a few earbuds, which had to be for show. If my energy hadn’t been spent on not dying when my ears were plundered, I would have protested.
Then she stuffed earbuds into my ears, which is strange because of what the doctor had just told me about earbuds, and when she pulled the right earbud out, it was covered in blood.
He got my brain! HE GOT MY BRAAAAAAIN!
“Oops, looks like the doctor caught the inside of your ear. I’ll get a piece of cotton.” He caught the inside of my ear?? And it’s pouring out blood?! 911! Call 911! Nothing says, “Everything is fine! NOTHING IS WRONG WITH ME” like a bloody cotton ball protruding from your ear. “That guy has about forty-five minutes left, then it’s curtains.”
Later that day, I’m with a group of admissions counselors. My friend says, when everyone has left, “You’re bleeding from your ear…and I wasn’t sure if I should tell you.”
“I’m so glad you did!”
I told him the story. He has had his ears done too (that’s what I’m going to call this—getting your ears done), which made me feel better. I’m not the only one! Telling someone that your ear is bleeding is not like telling them about a nosebleed.
“You’ve got a little nosebleed, wanted to let you know.”
“You’re…BLEEDING FROM YOUR EAR! Are you about to die?! I’LL TELL YOUR MOM YOU LOVE HERRRRR!!!” The only other time I’ve seen people bleed from their ears is in movies when they’ve just jumped off a building and died on impact, or been hit by a tank shell and also died from that.
I went to a college fair that night, and three times I had to power-walk to the bathroom to make sure that I didn’t bleed on anyone. Most people, after having this experience, would say, “Maybe I won’t grab a beer with colleagues tonight.” I said, “I should probably grab a beer with colleagues tonight.” So I did, and strangely enough, the problem didn’t solve itself. I took three bathroom breaks, saying things like “Ha, my bladder, right?! when really I meant, “Ha, MY BRAIN IS TRYING TO ESCAPE!!!”
If you’ve never had your ears done, try it. It’s not that bad! LOL. When I walked out of the doctor’s place, I could hear everything. I was like Matt Murdock, the Daredevil. A guy started talking, and I turned to respond, only to realize that he was nine blocks away, talking to his dog. Actually, it was his dog talking to him. I can now hear animals.
Bart Tocci (’11) lives in Boston where he writes essays, performs at open mics, and threatens to start taco restaurants. He’s been told that he looks like the kind of guy who stands up for what’s right. And who goes to the store before the party. Read more here: barttocci.wordpress.com