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Friday, January 20, 2017

Surfer's Ear Surgery, SurfEars Promo

I surfed in southern Cali for seventeen years.  As years progressed, I would hear something up against my ear, figuring I'd unhinged something from spending my childhood pinching my nostrils when I sneezed.

 My family and I took a trip to Nicaragua and my ear sealed up on the plane, rendering it useless for the entire trip.  Then, water got in leading to an annoying week of attempting to clear my ear by popping it, using drops, shaking my head vigorously, etc.  I had to wait until I got to the States before I could get drops that eventually helped. This doctor diagnosed me with surfer's ear.

We moved to Colorado one month after returning from Nica and I didn't think too much about my ears for a while.  My wife became pregnant and I realized we would burn through our insurance deductible with fetal scans/labor/birth charges and I decided I would get my ears done since it would be relatively inexpensive given the timing (I also got a vasectomy, but that is a story for a different web site).

I went to an ear specialist and he said my left ear was 99% blocked and my right ear was 95% blocked and surgeries were medically necessary.  On the day of my scheduled surgery, I was assigned a nurse-in-training who had never put in an IV and had to do it twice leaving me with a hematoma in one hand. The equipment needed to monitor my facial nerves (an aggressive movement could have left my face paralyzed on one side) didn't show up.  Surgery was postponed until the next day and I crawled out of my butt-bearing gown and back into my clothes.

The next day my surgery went smoothly.  I had to have the outside of my ear slit open for complete access to the inside (some surgeons even cut through where the back of the ear connects to the head and swing pin it against the cheekbone!)The surgeon used a combination chip-and-high speed drill method to attack the growth for more than two hours. He pulled out a massive ear wax ball that had gotten trapped between my inner ear and the exostoses (medical term for the bony growths in ear known as surfer's ear).  This was the crackling I'd hear at yawning and sometimes post-duckdive.

I had pretty bad pain in the affected area as you can imagine.  I had crippling nausea for 48 hours.  The worst part by far was the tinnitus which would affect me at all times.  It sometimes got so loud it felt like someone was shrieking in my ear.  A side effect of this was me becoming depressed thinking my hearing would never come back (this is one of the risks of surgery; the high speed drill is very loud and the packing they put in the ear causes something called conductive hearing loss).  My bout of depression intensified with each passing day until I found a source online saying that it would probably take four to six weeks until my hearing came back (if at all, the pessimist in me thought).

The packing became extremely itchy in the triple-digit temperatures and that was maddening.  Imagine having an itch inside your head which you can't scratch for more than two weeks! 

Fifteen days after surgery, I went to the park with my family and was sitting on a bench when I heard the most beautiful sound.  It was a jogger approaching from my left side!  I had regained stereo audio!

At the request of my wife, I waited until nearly a month after our baby was born to operate on the second ear, this time at a different hospital.  Recovery went better this time around, namely because I had faith my hearing would return.  This time it took nineteen days, so I had creeping doubts around day seventeen.   

All in all, the surgeries cost me more than $5000 and would have cost me about NINE times that without insurance.  I went through physical and emotional pain, missed work, and dealt with unnecessary medical risks of losing my hearing and all of the possible pitfalls of general anesthesia.

Please, please, PLEASE get yourself a pair of SurfEars.  They prevent the cold water intrusion and keep surfer's ear at bay.  The tiny expense and inconvenience of this product is further dwarfed by the brutal consequences of surgery.  You will be hating life if Surfer's Ear becomes a reality for you, and it does to some extent for everyone who surfs in cold water without adequate protection.

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