OK, so I admit it. I should have known better. There is no excuse. Every medical student knows that the smallest thing you should stick in your ear is your elbow. But I was proud. I thought I knew what I was doing. I had done it before and crazed with the flush of success I did it again. I syringed my own ear.
Let me explain myself. It first happened back in December. Newly arrived in
So when last week I awoke unable to hear out of said ear unless, bizarrely, pulling firmly down on my right ear lobe I felt I knew the drill. After a couple of patient encounters in which the limitations of the ear-lobe-pulling technique were demonstrated (tricky with a stethoscope) I nipped home and spent some time flushing it out. The results were, I admit disappointing. There were no acoustic revelations. The following morning the impediment was slightly worse. The day after that I awoke aware that the ear was discharging and olfactory investigation revealed it to be offensive.
That evening several of us (the doctors) went of to the tourist seaside town for
I dragged myself over to the lodge reception the following morning. We spent some time on the phone. All the pharmacies were closed for the public holiday. The local GP claimed to have no antibiotics and did not want to see me. The receptionist, moved by my tears, suggested I walk down the road to where the only other GP in town worked. Perhaps he could help.
The reception room held four other people – one white and the other black. The door leading from the reception room opened. Standing in it was the GP, a stocky Afrikaaner in his early 60s, clad in shorts with long socks and sandels. “Next!”
I gestured to the others in the room. They gestured back to me. I said “But you were first.” They shook their heads and indicated I should go. Apartheid would appear to be slow to die in the minds of some. “Well if they want to be so polite that is their right.” said the exasperated GP
In his office I described my problem. He grabbed antibiotics and ear drops off the shelf announcing that he saw a lot of this (the divers apparently). He was more interested in talking about Hlabisa (“You must learn surgery. Here you will see real medicine!”).
“You must come to
I walked out clutching my antibiotics 2 minutes later (“no charge in the profession”) and gulped down the first dose. I am, you will be relieved to hear, now cured. Won’t be syringing my own ears in a hurry again.