Really bad experience with ENT doctor

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sinagua
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12 Feb 2008, 1:43 pm

Our son's left ear canal is very narrow and sometimes gets compacted with wax and he loses hearing in that ear. Our pediatrician referred us to an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor to have the wax removed.

It was AWFUL.

After waiting for an hour in a packed waiting room full of squirming, crying, even screaming children, we were ushered into an exam room, where the screaming was more muffled. My son had been so good, he sat on my lap in that waiting room for the full hour, hardly said a word the entire time. But I think he was scared, and that hour wait just gave him more time to get scared. The doctor finally came in and was very casual about everything, which is fine but he moved really fast, didn't explain what was going on, didn't show his tools to the boy and explain to him what was going to happen. He just dropped the boy's chair to horizontal and began to dig out the wax. It was AWFUL. My son screamed and sobbed and begged him to stop, begged me to make him stop, just screamed and screamed and screamed. It was like watching him being tortured, and I did my best to comfort him and calm him but eventually I was a complete mess, too. The doctor swore to me he'd barely touched my son, in fact he said he hadn't yet begun the extraction when he started screaming. I have never in my life seen him react like this to any procedure. Granted, we knew it was going to be a bit painful, but he is SO GOOD at the doctor's office. always. He didn't even cry the last time he got a flu shot.

So finally the doctor says "Okay, this isn't working. We'll have to have him come back - someone will call you to set that up - and put him to sleep to complete this procedure." By then I'm a wreck, too, and the guy is like, "Uh, nurse, give her a tissue, will you? We don't want to traumatize the little guy any further, do we?" Obviously referring to my tears.

I wanted to kill him, but I was so shaky my brain wasn't working well, and GOD FORBID I feel like a "bad mother" because I'm "scaring" my child (by showing empathy and compassion for him). Next thing I know, I'M apologizing to this guy and his nurse for crying!

*sigh*

The doctor asked me if there was any reason why my son would react this way, and I said he has mild to moderate autism, and he said, "Yeah, I thought I noticed a bit of that when I came in." I don't know what he meant by that. And if, as he claimed, he suspected my son was autistic pretty much as soon as he met him, then why didn't he take it easier on him?

I just felt like he moved way too quickly, didn't give my son (or me, for that matter) time to understand what was happening, didn't explain anything, and didn't stop (soon enough for me) when it was obvious my son was in full meltdown mode and was genuinely terrified. I know he was busy that day, lots of patients backed up, but...it was just awful.

Later, after some questioning when things were calmer, my son said it did hurt a bit, and at one point it hurt a LOT, but mainly he was just really really scared, and didn't know if it was going to hurt even more, or how long the pain would last, or what the man was doing, or what was that tool he used, or what were those drops for, and since the doctor didn't stop when he begged him to, he was afraid of him, too. He was just terrified, and then got completely hypersensitive to any touch and especially to pain, and just lost it. It was like a waking nightmare, for both of us. He's happy that next time they plan to put him to sleep for the procedure. I guess I am, too...I just wish it hadn't come to this.

For what it's worth, our son seems fine today. I, on the other hand, am still haunted, and my eyes well up every time I think of it. I swear, sometimes I think I have PTSD, specifically associated with children in distress. It just KILLS me, tears me up so badly inside, I will do ANYTHING to make it stop.



EvilTeach
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12 Feb 2008, 1:56 pm

Delightful.

I bet he can't wait to go back again.

Try letting him sleep on a heading pad, on the waxy ear side.
You may be able to get it to soften enough, that it will come out with a qtip



sinagua
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12 Feb 2008, 2:10 pm

We're using Debrox in the bathtub (it's a peroxide formula for ear wax) and some nights we put a few drops of olive oil in his ear with a little bit of cotton ball to keep it in, all in an effort to losen or soften the wax. Of course, he doesn't want to do this stuff every night - just getting him (or ANY kid, I guess) to brush his teeth regularly is a bit of a battle.

But yeah, I'm sure he can't WAIT to go back. :(

At least he'll be unconscious the next time. *sigh*

Thanks for your suggestions - maybe I'll see if he'll tolerate the heating pad.



Last edited by sinagua on 12 Feb 2008, 2:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

katrine
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12 Feb 2008, 2:19 pm

It sounds awfull!
Here in Denmark you can get something called "remowax" - you put it in your ears at night, it softens the wax so you can rinse it out the next day. Still not nice, but it beats what you went through.
I find it really hard to get doctors to explain what they're doing - they're often so busy. It creates a frustrating or petrifying visit.



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12 Feb 2008, 2:23 pm

Many kids react to medical procedures when they don't know what to expect...don't be so hard on yourself.

The doctor could have been more understanding and patient if he really felt he detected a bit of Autism in your son before you
told him. However, many doctors are rushed for time when they have a waiting room of children and adults to see.

Should you decide to follow up and make another appointment with this doctor, why not schedule the appointment later in the day just before the doctor ends his day at the office? Things should be quieter at the end of the day. In addition, before the doctor does anything "invasive" to treat your son's ears, make certain that the doctor gives him a small amout of a sedative to
calm your son's anxiety. It will help to lessen any severe pain he feels while the doctor treats him...and will only make your son feel a little sleepy.

Good luck!



sinagua
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12 Feb 2008, 2:30 pm

Zsazsa wrote:
Many kids react to medical procedures when they don't know what to expect...don't be so hard on yourself.

The doctor could have been more understanding and patient if he really felt he detected a bit of Autism in your son before you
told him. However, many doctors are rushed for time when they have a waiting room of children and adults to see.

Should you decide to follow up and make another appointment with this doctor, why not schedule the appointment later in the day just before the doctor ends his day at the office? Things should be quieter at the end of the day. In addition, before the doctor does anything "invasive" to treat your son's ears, make certain that the doctor gives him a small amout of a sedative to
calm your son's anxiety. It will help to lessen any severe pain he feels while the doctor treats him...and will only make your son feel a little sleepy.

Good luck!


Thank you for your suggestions. Actually, it was toward the end of the day. Our appointment was for 3pm, but we waited until 4pm before he was finally seen.

I will definitely make sure that the next doctor knows about his condition in advance, and request whatever accommodations necessary, including sedation if it comes to that.



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12 Feb 2008, 3:59 pm

I have to say I'm really surprised you didn't pass on your son's condition before you saw the doctor - that's one of those things where I'd expect a parent to tell the receptionist, and probably also ask for a quiet room away from the waiting area if he's sensitive to noise/chaos. The doctor may have suspected, but also thought that as you hadn't said anything or given him any warning, that your son wouldn't have an issue, and once he started thought that trying to finish quickly was the best thing to do.
I think the learning experience here is that you should always make sure a doctor knows about your son's condition ahead of time.


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12 Feb 2008, 5:06 pm

Ear wax removal is dangerous and intrusive.

Unless you have no choice, don't go to the doctor.

You can buy drops which soften the earwax considerably. They're really expensive but not as expensive as years of therapy due to childhood trauma.

Get the drops... Put some on your son's finger so he can feel them, look at them etc.. Get your son to lie down on his side and put the drops in.

If he's feeling anxious, put some drops in your own ear and lie down next to him - they won't hurt him or you.

You should be able to use a cotton bud to remove the wax after it has softened.



sinagua
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12 Feb 2008, 5:57 pm

mmaestro wrote:
I have to say I'm really surprised you didn't pass on your son's condition before you saw the doctor - that's one of those things where I'd expect a parent to tell the receptionist, and probably also ask for a quiet room away from the waiting area if he's sensitive to noise/chaos. The doctor may have suspected, but also thought that as you hadn't said anything or given him any warning, that your son wouldn't have an issue, and once he started thought that trying to finish quickly was the best thing to do.
I think the learning experience here is that you should always make sure a doctor knows about your son's condition ahead of time.


I guess I assumed his dx would accompany him when they referred him, but I see now that obviously isn't how it works. I've never had to take him to a specialist before, and he's never ever reacted like this before. I also never spoke to the doctor beforehand - I just called the number our pediatrician gave us, and made an appointment.

I will definitely make sure the next doctor he sees is fully informed beforehand. A painful learning experience, to be sure - but we're learning.



sinagua
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12 Feb 2008, 6:01 pm

gbollard wrote:
Ear wax removal is dangerous and intrusive.

Unless you have no choice, don't go to the doctor.

You can buy drops which soften the earwax considerably. They're really expensive but not as expensive as years of therapy due to childhood trauma.

Get the drops... Put some on your son's finger so he can feel them, look at them etc.. Get your son to lie down on his side and put the drops in.

If he's feeling anxious, put some drops in your own ear and lie down next to him - they won't hurt him or you.

You should be able to use a cotton bud to remove the wax after it has softened.


I appreciate your advice but am very confused by it, as it's mostly directly oppositional to what our doctors tell us. We by "Debrox," which is recommended for softening and flushing out ear wax. We will now be using it every night, and the dr recommended we use it twice a day when we can. Also trying olive oil at night to soften the wax.

I've always been told to NEVER EVER use Q-tips to clean my son's ears. They say it compacts the wax even more, and we should never probe inside the outer ear with anything.

My brother and his wife use those ear wax candle things, but I've also heard they're very dangerous. I don't know who to believe anymore. :?



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12 Feb 2008, 7:40 pm

People have been using cotton buds on ears for years.

You shouldn't push them deep - in fact it should be sliding gently only. Get to the earhole and rotate slowly.

If there's pain then stop.

They tell you not to use cotton buds because some people think they're supposed to be used as scrapers.

Better yet, if your son is old enough, give him control.

Oh... and don't use them if the ear is infected.



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12 Feb 2008, 7:53 pm

Ask your doctor to refer you to a different ENT. My husband was referred to the worse ear specialist ever...we won't go back to him again...and I had the worse virocose vein specilist ever.And I let him know I wasn't pleased. Do let the new one know ahead of time how to best deal with your son....but I gotta tell you, based on what you've told us here, I think ANY child would have had a problem with that doctor. Maybe you can go to a pediatric ENT since they are trained better on how to handle children.



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12 Feb 2008, 11:43 pm

Quote:
He just dropped the boy's chair to horizontal and began to dig out the wax.


Whoa....Am I missing something here? Typically don't they do a ear wash procedure to remove the wax? Not that your son would like that any better.....But "DIG"ging it out? Sounds a little intrusive to me.
8O



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12 Feb 2008, 11:51 pm

sinagua wrote:
My brother and his wife use those ear wax candle things, but I've also heard they're very dangerous. I don't know who to believe anymore. :?


BTW, those ear wax candles are a hoax......Check the internet for all kinds of info on why they don't work.
I'm sure there will people that disagree....But do the research.
:eye:



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13 Feb 2008, 10:49 am

Boy, things have sure changed since the 70's. When I was a kid, I had similar issues with my ears, but my family doctor took care of the wax during regular office visits. No referrals to ENT.



sinagua
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13 Feb 2008, 11:42 am

nitramnaed wrote:
Quote:
He just dropped the boy's chair to horizontal and began to dig out the wax.


Whoa....Am I missing something here? Typically don't they do a ear wash procedure to remove the wax? Not that your son would like that any better.....But "DIG"ging it out? Sounds a little intrusive to me.
8O


Yes, there's a tool they use that's like a little ring on a stick. I forget the name right now. Yes, it is a bit "intrusive" - and in the case of very hard, compacted wax, it can be VERY painful, as the wax must be pulled away from the canal wall, almost like a scab, and the tissue is very delicate and sensitive in there. It can continue to be sore for a bit even after the procedure is finished.

The first time we saw our pediatrician, he used an irrigation device that was like a bottle with a long slender tube and they ran water through it and flushed out the compaction. It was painful, but our son was very brave and did not cry, even though he was obviously hurting. But when we went back a couple weeks ago to have it done again, they said their irrigation thingy was broken, so they had to use that little scrapy tool. When that proved too painful to my son for the doctor to continue, he wrote down the name of an ENT and a phone number to call, saying "They'll have much better tools than we have here, and it won't hurt as much." :?

I didn't even recognize whatever tool this ENT guy was using. It looked like a long, thin, curved steel straw. I don't know if it was for scraping or sucking or what. He never even tried the water irrigation, assuming he was equipped for that, surely he was.