Wax on Wax off

Keep it Real Wednesday

Wax on, Wax off

May 26, 2021

Today’s message is a bit more educational but not for the queasy. 

Consider yourself warned.

One of the things I have learned about caring for an elderly person is the problem of wax buildup in their ears, especially those with tiny ear canals. Wax can get compacted and very hard and can really be a barrier to hearing. During the last few years, Rosemary has had her ears cleaned during her regular medical appointments by squirting water into her ears and hoping the wax finds its way out. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. Most of the time she just got wet.

One day I was talking to a friend of mine (thank you Laurie) whose mother is about the same age. I expressed my concern about the constant wax build up in Rosemary’s ears that I believed interfered with her hearing. Laurie said she had the same issue with her Mom who has tiny ear canals and lots of wax build up. Laurie explained she takes her Mom to an ENT office each quarter to get her ears professionally cleaned.


What? A scheduled professional ear cleaning?

What the heck, let’s try.

The office visit was life changing.

Amanda, the PA at the ENT office positioned Rosemary in the large chair, leaned her back and then elevated the chair to nearly chest height. I stood on one side of Rosemary and Amanda on the other.  Amanda reached for a special microscope looking device and pulled it towards her so she could position herself for a peek in Rosemary’s ear.  A quick look confirmed the wax build up. Next step, Amanda rolled up her sleeves like a warrior going in for battle, pulled out a drawer of gadgets she carefully removed from their sterile cases, and dove in to fight the stubborn, hard sticky and stuck wax.  

Amanda smiled proudly at each chunk that surfaced as she carefully placed it on a gauze pad. She was a woman on a mission, a treasure hunt for wax to help unburden Rosemary of her inability to hear well.

I am one of the few non-medical people in the family and I get queasy very quickly but for some reason, I was not queasy. This was fascinating. Little by little, Amanda was removing CHUNKS of hard wax pieces, one was the size and shape and color of a honeybee and as hard as a sticky piece of Bit O Honey. I took pictures to text to my brother and sister in case they wanted to share in the wax bounty hunt, but they didn’t seem nearly as eager to receive the pictures as I was to send them.  (You can thank me now for not attaching pictures of the golden nuggets. I know not everyone would share my enthusiasm).

After the procedure on both ears, Amanda showed Rosemary what was removed from her ears and Rosemary smiled and stated “I feel 10 pounds lighter!”


On the way home, I glanced over at Rosemary sitting in the passenger seat, tapping her fingers on the seat to the beat of the music. She could hear better. I could see her interacting in life with the precious sense of sound.

Her world expanded again. She had been living with wax ear plugs, which only made her already poor hearing, worse.

Moral of the story is this…

None of us have all the answers in caring for someone. We stumble through and do the best we can. Share your journey with one another, someone is bound to have an answer to your dilemma like Laurie did for Rosemary.

Rosemary left with a new friend that day,  Amanda PA, the warrior princess of wax removal. Okay, maybe that is a bit dramatic, but she IS a hero in Rosemary’s eyes and mine too.


See you in August Amanda.

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