One patient, in particular, required an hour cerumen management appointment. This patient truly reinforced how important this additional skill can be for us as professionals. This patient was almost completely unable to hear, they relied on lip-reading even while you spoke loudly in their face. They were clearly becoming extremely isolated and were suffering from the negative physical/mental damages of such isolation. Their caregiver was at their wit’s end, being extraordinarily frustrated and overall exhausted trying to communicate. As such, communication was becoming daunting and the patient, as well as their caregiver, were desperate for a solution.
They came to see us to evaluate hearing but after looking in their ears it was clear that cerumen was an issue. They were completely occluded and impacted as I had never seen before. It took some effort but the more removed the wax the more change I could see. As soon as I approached closer to the eardrum on the first ear, there was an immediate change in the patient’s demeanor along with that of the caregiver.
For starters, he was able to hear me and communicate with me! His caregiver was ecstatic and he was beginning to open up more. After making it through to the second eardrum we were able to converse semi-normally (he clearly still had a hearing loss, most likely moderate-moderately severe) and his caregiver was beyond appreciative of what we managed. When they later returned for his hearing test he clearly had so much more light and life in him. He was communicating and laughing along with the conversation and his caregiver reported that everything was so much better at home after the cleaning.
It is not terribly often we get to see our actions have an immediate and profound impact on someone’s life so I know I will always cherish the appreciation and joy they had after the appointment and can only hope I am able to do the same for others. Thank you to Ryan Phillips, our 4th year Au.D Doctoral intern, for sharing!