09 Nov 2023

Waxing lyrical

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By Alan Taman, client of Steven Hale Hearing 

You don’t notice it until it decides to stick around. Then it’s the great silencer.  Ear wax.

Not the kind of thing you’d discuss in every social circle, through as functions go this one doesn’t attract a great deal of taboo. Not that I’d recommend joyfully plucking escaping plugs of semi-hardened gloop from the side of your head in a restaurant or on the bus. I think even in the days when the upper saloon of buses resembled a carcinogenic smog (smoking was allowed) you might not be forgiven for that one. Begging for ‘or unbunging yer ears’ to be scrawled on the ‘Spitting strictly prohibited’ (yeuk) signs that assailed you on the way up to the fog. No, that would definitely not have passed for polite. Fortunately, for most people, most of their lives, the errant wax remains quietly functional, keeping the ears free from invaders and dirt.

Until it doesn’t. At some stage, usually around the time other bits of the body have decided that resisting gravity isn’t all it was cracked up to be anyway, it starts to hang around, and there’s a definite air of ageing to it. A lot of people simply don’t realise, their waxy former friend is now isolating them with truncated stillness. Even totally blocking the ear canal, a sort of waxy blockade. A hardened sitting tenant, defiant and deafening. Literally.

If you’re fortunate enough to have hearing aids fitted, you notice it more. If you’re fortunate enough to have good hearing aids fitted by a good audiologist (and I am), you notice it a lot. When it becomes a problem. Those around you start wondering why you’ve gone deaf again.

I’ve tried olive oil. Didn’t seem to help. The proprietary solutions that promise quick relief scared the bejeezers out of me. It’s the sound. Like a painless acid was busy dissolving your brain as it makes sounds I can only describe as Rice Krispies on demonic steroids. Clearly, I imagine too much. I can’t help wondering if it’s the hairy ears that have arrived with the passing years, or maybe my skin is drying out more so the wax is finding it harder to leave. Whatever the cause, every few months I start to notice the gradual ebbing back to the isolating silence that used to be the way before the hearing aids. It’s the wax.

You have to be thankful for modern technology. First, you get to see the wax, looking like a small boulder, lodged in place. Then it gets taken out. Which is an experience. Like sitting briefly in the windiest of tunnels with your hearing aids on full volume. The amount removed can be impressive. But what is better is the restoration of your hearing afterwards.

This isn’t widely regarded as part of keeping your wellbeing. You can’t get it on the NHS. But, believe me, once the waxy lodger decides to sit down and wait, your quality of life suffers. And the sense of relief and liberation once it’s left the building is immense. I’d recommend this eviction to anyone. I’m so glad I had my ear wax removed in Sutton Coldfield at Steven Hale Hearing.