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Dealing With Unhelpful Doctors


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#1 Endure

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 12:27 PM

Finding a decent doctor is such a difficult challenge and I always seem to end up consulting the most idiotic ones.

The latest problem started after I went to my usual family doctor seeking treatment for a randomly occurring sound in my right ear. For the last 4 months I have been experiencing sounds in my right ear that resemble many little tiny soap bubbles popping or even more like the sound you hear when you listen to the fizzing bubbles inside a can of coke. The problem was occurring maybe few times a week. So my doctor takes a look in my ear and says it could be wax and suggests ear syringing/irrigation. He then uses a large metal syringe and flushes my ear about 4 times...

Immediately following the procedure I can tell something is not right...I have never had any problems with my hearing in the past and going into the procedure I had assumed my having my ears cleaned would make my hearing even better but instead my right ear ends up feeling totally blocked and water logged and everything sounds muffled, when I stand up to walk I feel dizzy, nauseated and every time I take a step I can feel a vibrational echo and fullness in my water logged ear.

My doctor tells me it would improve throughout the day but instead when I get home I spend the next few hours with ear pain and trying to unblock my ear by tilting to get the water out but with no success. The pain in my ear continues to get worse and by night time my heads spinning and I end up with a fever and continued nausea. I try to look on the bright side and tell my self at least getting the wax cleaned out probably fixed the crackling ear noises I have been getting for the last 4 months, but my excitement is short lived as the noise strikes back but this time much worse than before and now occurring every 30 minute intervals and lasting the entire day. When I try to pop my ears by blocking my nose and blowing, only the unaffected left ear pops but fails to unblock on the right.

The next day I wake up to a taping sound and find out to my horror the sound is actually in my right ear. I have a fever and the entire right side of my head is in pain and my ear feels like its going to explode from the pain and pressure so I head off the the ER and explained the situation about the noise and the other symptoms.

To my surprise the doctor blames the dizziness and nausea on the POTS which she can see from my history, I try explaining that immediately following the ear irrigation I haven't been able to walk in a straight line and the dizziness and nausea is unlike anything I get from POTS, she doesn't seem convinced and then she claims the crackling sounds is probably just tinnitus and its fairly common occurrence and nothing to worry. She fails to acknowledge my concerns that the prior to the ear irrigation procedure I was only experiencing the noise phenomenon a few times a week and only lasting a few minutes but now since the irrigation it was a lot more severe and frequent and appeared to be aggravated by the cleaning.

She then looks into my ear and diagnoses it as an inflamed and infected ear canal and gives me antibiotics and ear drops. I try explaining that I'm not so much concerned about my outer ear canal problems as much as I am concerned about the constant nausea, dizziness, and the worsening of the sound which to me all feels like an internal ear problem rather then the external ear canal problem yet she brushes it off and sends me home. I find that every time I use the ear drops she gave me my ears get waterlogged again as the drops of liquid fail to expel or evaporate and in the last 3 days of treatment my ears has no continued to get worse.

So I went to a different doctor today and explained I developed problems and ear infection following the ear irrigation and have been continuing to get worse but she laughed at me saying there is no way ear syringing could cause any ear problems or infection and it was unheard of. I explained my ear was blocked with water the entire day and my hearing muffled but argued there is no way water could get stuck and it would just come out when you tilt your head. She then began to act sceptically asking how often I get dizzy prior to the ear cleaning. :angry:

She then concluded my recent ear problems was all just a coincidence and I may have caught an air borne virus of some sort... :blink:

I am so annoyed right now, its not the first time a doctor has given me the "there is no connection between this and that and its all just a coincidence". That's as logical as claiming 1+1 = 99

I could stick my hand in a meat grinder and she would probably tell me it a coincidence I'm missing my hand because my hand was likely to fall of anyways due to unknown circumstances. T

I'm in my mid 30's and I've only ever had ONE ear infection in my entire life and that occurred when I was about 10 years old... Somehow according to her the very moment I decide to get my right ear cleaned for the very first time in my life a virus coincidentally chooses that exact same split second to invade my body, and mind you forget the immediate ear pain, dizziness, the water logged ear blockage I develop as a result of the cleaning, its all apparently unrelated coincidence and all the complications I have progressively and consecutively been experiencing these last few days since the procedure apparently have no relation to my current ill state. Furthermore the virus just happen to be effecting the very same ear on the right side of my head where I had the cleaning without causing any other ill effects on the rest of my body. Meanwhile I am stuck with constant nausea, my heads spinning, I cant drive or walk in a straight line and I keep hearing these stupid crackling noises now accompanied with ear pressure which seem to be getting worse.

#2 ~Naomi~

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 04:53 PM

Wow the exact same thing happened to a friend of mine recently! And there's nothing wrong with her - no POTS, perfectly healthy person. Something was bugging her with her ear (i forget what) - they did the same procedure they did to you and she had the same result as you. She was dizzy, couldn't hear, etc. She was SO upset. Thank GOD, it just went away on its own. I think it took several days though and she was really scared during that time. What is WRONG with Doctors?? Isn't it supposed to be First Do No Harm? I hope your problem resolves on its own and soon!

#3 Tachy Phlegming

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 04:58 PM

I don't know the various curricula med schools offer or courses they require all too well but I think some courses must teach special medical theories of probability which all students learn and which are extremely technical. Given the experiences of people even just on this forum, I think these theories must be tested on board exams and rarely discussed in public.

My minimal understanding is that medical students learn special (very special) cases of Bayes' theorem:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayes'_theorem

Here is a hint of how it is applied in medicine:

http://www.cs.ubc.ca.../bayesrule.html

When you factor in other things like each individual doctor's personality, whether you (the patient) are short, tall, or in-between, and whether you are 10, 20, 30 etc., you can understand that the precise algorithm for determining the etiology of something like an ear problem is quite sophisticated and similarly, the determination of the cause of the aggravation of the problem seemingly (but not actually) by the addition of more fluid to the ear, would have little or nothing to do with common sense.

Despite the unbelievable complexity of this type of analysis even for seemingly obvious ailments, I think you may well have a good understanding of how it works. So if in fact you were to get near a meat grinder and your hand were to come off, I believe that indeed a doctor would analyze it to have been likely to fall off from an unknown cause and therefore, the fact that you were near the grinder should be considered coincidental.

On a more practical note, you might want to take the antibiotic to deal with whatever is now brewing in there (which, according to the above obscurantist theory, was likely to have been exacerbated from unknown causes or known causes of other problems no matter what the doctor did). You also might look up some of the folk remedies (positional tricks, hopping on one leg with your head tilted) to get the fluid to come out.

#4 Katybug

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 05:11 PM

I'm so sorry the doctors are giving you the run around. Don't give up. There are good health care providers out there and they can be hard to find. You have to be your own best advocate because, unfortunately no one else will be. It took 4 years and 19 doctors before I got the POTS diagnosis this past February. It was only because I didn't give in to their nasty attitudes. ;) I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. It really just doesn't seem like it should be this hard, does it?

I hope your ear is better soon. It sounds like an inner ear issue....in the quest to diagnose my POTS they did vestibular testing on me because of the dizzy spells. Could you see an ENT and maybe request this? That would at least give them proof that this is an ear issue and not your POTS.

Good luck.

Edited by thankful, 20 August 2011 - 06:46 PM.
Removed quote - please use Add Reply at bottom of page


#5 Endure

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 01:00 PM

Thanks for reading my rather elaborate rant and I appreciate the support.

I am on antibiotics currently and in for a long wait to see the ENT, apparently could take up to 5 months with the horrible medical system in Australia.

Tachy, very interesting discussion there but I somehow don't think the doctors I saw were smart enough to consider all the variables you pointed out, they just seemed like clueless doctors. One was a fairly young female Asian doctor who couldn't speak English very well and I had to explain to her that it is possible to get an Ear infection from getting water into your ear hence the medical condition known as "Swimmmers Ear" which is a result of accumulation of water in the ear which becomes unsterilized and results in an ear infection due to bacterial causes. The Doctor also had no idea of the medication named "Serc" which I had to spell to her then explain its like "Stemetil" which is used for vertigo due to labyrinthitis or loss of balance due to ear problems.

In a nutshell my point was that I could see my ear problems were due to "cause and effect" however these doctors were trying to convince me otherwise. I find it offensive when you explain a problem with certainty because I was there when it all happened and they weren't, I experienced and watched complications occur progressively following an incidence that triggered it but within 1 minute of seeing me doctors try to feed you all this other possibilities that you know are not relevant.

Same thing happened to me when I developed POTS they tried to claim it was just anxiety causing the symptoms, when i got diagnosed with POTS and explained the overdose I had triggered it all they tried to insist it was something else, when I have reaction to medications and end up in the ER they try to insist it maybe another factor causing the reaction such as anxiety, when I develop overheating during summer and seek medical attention they try to claim the fever is probably due to a virus, doctors always seem to undermine my word on my own body, I can go with so many examples where I know my body well enough to realize the cause of the problem but these doctors try to insist on another factor. I find it arrogant and narcissistic on their behalf that they can conclude with such certainty when in fact I know they are wrong. In most cases I believe I know my own body better than them because I have had experience living in it for as long as I have.

#6 Tachy Phlegming

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 01:23 PM

Sorry Endure, that was supposed to be deadpan or dry wit. I thought your meat grinder example was delightful (i.e., extremely funny) and thought I'd elaborate on it for sport. These people couldn't think their way out of the paper bag they would have us breathe into... (and of course, any who might tell us we don't need to breathe into one in the first place might be able to).

#7 brethor9

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 05:39 PM

Endure

I completely agree with you! It really is insulting when these Dr's tell us how our bodies are feeling and reacting when we are the ones dealing with the symptoms everyday....it does get very tiring :( hope you get some relief soon...

Bren

#8 davidsmom

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 10:19 AM

Hang in there, Endure! My son had an ear problem (a semicircular canal went kaput)and we had a devil of a time getting anyone to listen to him. Because he had all the POTS symptoms, and that hadn't been diagnosed at the time (took over 5 years), most doctors assumed it was part of that. It was very difficult getting anyone to focus on his ears because the POTS symptoms were such a source of distraction. And we couldn't get doctors who might have been able to help get an accurate diagnosis for his POTS symptoms to focus because the ENT symptoms were so dramatic. You could see the doctors' brains going into overload. Apparently it's difficult for them if there are multiple concurrent conditions. However it was even more difficult for my son living with multiple concurrent conditions.

We finally found an ENT that could set the POTS stuff aside and focus on my son's ears. The guy had zero personality and no bedside manner, but he knew ears. He correctly identified the condition and came sort of close to identifying an effective treatment. When he couldn't get the treatment right, he successly identified someone who knew what to do. It took 4 months of treatment but it worked.

Hopefully you will get someone who can correctly identify the condition and the treatment!

Hopefully you won't get another dud doctor, but there are a lot of them out there. I know how frustrating this can be. When I get a dud now, I mentally say "next" and move on without a backward glance.

Hope you feel better soon!