Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Deafened by a killer yukka (nearly)

Clogwog/Foter/Creative Commons
Last week I was nearly deafened by a yukka plant. It’s certainly up there, as odd injuries go. You may be interested to know that every year there are around 2,500 household plant-related injuries reported in the UK, though I haven’t been able to find out how many are caused by yukkas.
The overgrown houseplant toppled off the window ledge as I was trying to open a window, and it sent one of its sharp spear-like leave straight down my ear canal. The pain when it hit my eardrum was exquisite. My hearing started to go all buzzy.
The reaction of my doctor (and this is the reason I’m writing about this) improved my morale no end. As I told him what had happened, he actually grimaced (I think I was expecting laughter at my unluckiness). Then, taking up his otoscope, he looked in my ear. He delivered his assessment: “Ouch”, he said. I could have hugged him. 
What we expect from doctors is mild chastisement, or impatience, or bewilderment. What I got was a little bit of honest human empathy, and I didn’t feel such a fool any more. 
“You’ve got a huge blood blister on your ear drum,” he said. “But don’t worry, it should get better by itself. Even if the ear drum is punctured, it should heal over. Come back if it gets any worse.”
More plus marks for my doctor. “It will get better by itself.” That’s what I like to hear. Most things do. I remember another doctor at the surgery, whose first reaction to a mysterious and huge swelling on my daughter’s foot was to squeeze it to see if it popped. “First do no harm” indeed. I’ve never consulted him again.
I can hear fine how.  No buzzing. The yukka has been pushed into a safe corner. And my faith in medicine has been boosted no end by my doctor's well-judged squeamishness and inaction.