I am not a hater of doctors. On the contrary, I really like them. I think they bring a wonderful gift to humanity and anybody who is about the business of trying to make people well is ok in my book.
They are not all created equal, however, and I really wish there was a way to pick out the really good ones just by looking at their name and their credentials. No such luck.
One of my daughters has sported a significant hearing loss in one of her ears for most of her life. When she was 4, she had an x-ray that showed her inner ear bones were slightly overlapping. Since that x-ray, we have seen 3 ENT's. They all told me (based on the x-ray) that they would need to do pretty major surgery to open up her ear canal and file the bones down. However, they said, the bones may grow apart on their own at some point or the surgery may not correct the hearing loss.
A major surgery that involves opening up my daughter's head for something that may or may not work or may correct itself eventually seemed like a pretty drastic step to take.
So, we have waited. For 9 years.
Now, I don't mean to imply that she can't hear at all. She can. But, she often needs to be seated at the front of the class in school, she often needs to ask others to repeat themselves; and I'm sure her dance teachers have, on more than one occassion, wondered why she completely ignores them if they try to talk to her from across the studio. It has been a very big frustration to her and I have questioned whether or not I should just give the surgery a go more than once.
Anyway, yesterday we met with ENT #4. Imagine my surprise when didn't even ask about the existence of any x-rays and simply pulled out an instrument that looked like a tuning fork. He smacked it against his own leg to make it vibrate and then held it up to her good ear. She immediately pulled her head back from the high pitched tone. Then, he held it to the other ear, she didn't move. "Can you hear that?" he asked. "Not really." she said. He turned it around and touched it behind her ear. Once it made contact with her head she immediately said, "Oh, I can hear it now."
He turned to me and said, "Pretty simple, Mom. She has a bunch of fluid in her left ear, probably because her eustachian tube is immature and it needs to be drained. My staff will set up the appointment for you at the hospital, it takes about 5 minutes. Any questions?"
I was dumbfounded. He was so matter of fact. Why didn't those other ENT's have a tuning fork? I was wondering. Don't they know about that trick? Has my daughter really dealt with this for NINE YEARS and a simple 5 minute procedure will fix it?
I was ecstatic and furious at the same time.
Today, I am mostly ecstatic. In less than a month, this problem that has plagued her most of her life will be history. And I will always remember why they call it a "practice."