Picture from UCL
It started with a dull earache in the middle of the night. The pain progressed as the night wore on and when morning came, I was sure my right ear was infected yet again. At times, I even felt off-balanced because of the earache. My right ear felt stuck, and the sounds were muted. When I was at work, it hurt when I heard the other voice on the other end of the line. It is a habitual thing that I prefer to hold the phone receiver on my right side.
After lunch, I traipsed to the company inhouse clinic to see the doctor. She checked my right ear, viewing it internally with the ear device, and then told me that my right ear drum was perforated. I almost fainted from shock. The very word “perforated” had me reeling from fright because it sounded really serious! She told me that the top part of my ear drum was pearly white and perfect, but the bottom part had a tear in it, and she could even see streaks of blood! The injury could be caused by trauma (slapping of one’s face, which was obviously not how I got it), swimming or poking, none of which I experienced in the past day. The doctor promptly wrote me a referral to see an ENT specialist immediately.
I then called my hubby and told him about the whole perforation diagnosis, and he came to pick me up to go to the specialist. We drove to the nearest hospital, the Pantai Mutiara. I had already called the specialist from my workplace to let him know that I was coming, but unfortunately my company nurse gave me the name of the eye specialist instead of the ENT specialist there, so we had to reregister to see a Dr Zul, the only ENT specialist in Pantai Mutiara hospital.
The waiting room was mysteriously empty. No patients at all. And we were called in after about 5 minutes. Dr Zul used a device to look into my ear, and then used a probe with a humming sound to (I think) test the vibration of the ear drum. Then he announced that my eardrum was not perforated. Instead, there is some moisture/water bubble caught behind the ear drum. The news that my eardrum was not perforated was music to my ears, but Dr Zul told me that he might need to do some further investigations to ascertain what the reason for the infection could be caused by. He suspected it could be because of flu where the mucus moved backwards into the ear canal from the nose, or perhaps even an allergy to something, be it the environment or food. In order to treat my ear infection, I would need antibiotics, nasal sprays, antihistamines and throat medicine, i.e. treating the root of the problem. Because it was not the outer ear that was affected, ear drops would not help at all. Dr Zul mentioned that in order to perform the investigations, I will need to be admitted into the hospital, and of course, I didn’t want to do that. My hubby, sensing my resentment over the suggestion of admission into hospital, told Dr Zul that I would take the medicine prescribed first and see how it goes.
Dr Zul then proceeded to use a light-sensory probe to show me what my internal ears look like. He then continued to show me my nose canal, using that same probe. That was the highlight of the visit, really. It was the first time I had seen my ears and nose from that perspective. Eeek. My right ear definitely looked very swollen from inside compared to the left ear. I even got a printout!
However, after the nurse gave me the prescription, I noticed that Dr Zul’s fees were exorbitantly high! The consultation with the probe and the registration all cost more than RM400! And that did not even include the medication yet. I was in for a shock. The total bill was more than RM600, and although my company covered the expenses, there was a ceiling amount that was covered. Unfortunately, the total bill exceeded this amount and I will have to pay the excess charges through payroll deduction.
That was my most expensive visit to a doctor ever. That will be the first and last time I visit Dr Zul in Pantai Mutiara Hospital. No wonder there were no patients around. No wonder he wanted to admit me…if I had agreed, the bill would have been even higher, I reckon! I doubt my health insurance would even be able to cover it then.
Ah well…. at least I got to see my ears and nose…up close and personal. Today, my ear still feels slightly stuck and I can’t hear very well yet using my right ear, but I can sense there is some improvement. Eh? What’s that you said? Get well soon? Okay, thanks… 🙂 And oh yeah, please let me know if I am talking way too loudly, okay?