Friday, July 29, 2005

I turn to you in this sticky situation

and request your expert assistance on a topic about which I know little, but I am having to learn.

P has ear wax issues. It is often clumpy and dry. It tends to be profuse. And for a big guy, he has little ears, for what that matters.

Last Saturday as we frolicked in the pool, P pulled up and began wagging his ear. This continued all evening and we realized that it was clogged, perhaps with pool water inside.

His normal means if treatment is a Q-tip. This time, he pulled out a paperclip, too. I know, I know. Not the brightest bulb in the socket.

I declared a moratorium on both and pulled out the unopened bottle of Mack's I'd purchased months ago, however the box lacked the bulb pictured at the link. This stuff is very dilute peroxide (the O2 bubbles break up the wax) and glycerin (conditions the skin). P can hear the bubbles, but it hasn't worked well. I decided to up the ante and get the REAL peroxide, which rages bubbles and does a better job breaking up the wax.

B/c he has irritated the canal skin by messing with it so much, I suggested using some olive oil to help out the skin. Little did I know that it (or mineral or baby oil) is a prescribed treatment that helps the peroxide-broken wax get mobile to float out while it protects and conditions the skin.

P has had moments where he could hear since doing the Big Daddy Peroxide, but they were as fleeting as a premature ejaculator. The next step will be to purchase a bulb and flush the canal with warm water. I can see this one making him pee. I should try it while he's sleeping!

Too bad he doesn't have medical insurance. He'd be heading to a doctor with a microscope. Or I'll be making him so he'll shut his gob. Remember, my ear was clogged for unknown reasons from January to about May? I'm only so sympathetic.

Meanwhile, here are many links and gadgets I found that pertain to his situation. Although I tend toward the granola, I am confident that Ear Candles and Ear Cones are not lighting my fire, nor P's, any time soon.

Have you known of anyone to have problems to this extent? Have you known of someone with a compaction and how did they get it out? Anyone tried a prescription wax softener? Is it snake oil, too, or merely full strength peroxide?

Self Treatment For Earwax
Most cases of earwax blockage respond to home treatments used to soften wax if there is no hole in the eardrum. Patients can try placing a few drops of mineral oil, baby oil, glycerin, or commercial ear wax removal drops, such as Debrox®, Mack's® Wax AwayTM, Murine®, or Physicians' ChoiceTM in the ear. These remedies are not as strong as the prescription wax softeners but are effective for many patients. Rarely, people have allergic reactions to commercial preparations. Detergent drops such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide may also aid in the removal of wax. Patients should know that rinsing the ear canal with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) results in oxygen bubbling off and water being left behind-wet, warm ear canals make good incubators for growth of bacteria. Flushing the ear canal with rubbing alcohol displaces the water and dries the canal skin. [This is an idea I'd missed, so it's being incorporated now.] If alcohol causes severe pain, it suggests the presence of an eardrum perforation.
Ear candles:
or coning:
cons to candles/coning: and

EarClear Irrigation Syringe - more controlled than using a bulb, I guess

Ototek Loop - stick it in the canal to fish out wax

Murine System: fluid and bulb

AuraClear: fluid and bulb
More specific details:
An ear can also get plugged up with earwax when fingers or objects are used to clean the ear canal. The finger or object may push earwax deeper into the ear canal and compact it. The inner portion of the ear canal lacks oil glands, so the compacted earwax is no longer coated with oil and hardens. This may cause a sudden loss of hearing or ear pain. In such situations, a healthcare provider should remove earwax. Removal of an earwax blockage will reverse the hearing loss and pain that it has caused.

Never try to remove earwax yourself with any type of instrument, such as a cotton tipped swab, car key, bobby pin, toothpick [or paper clip!], or high- pressure water spray. Such tools often cause injury to the ear canal and can perforate the eardrum. They may dislodge the small bones in the middle ear behind the eardrum. They can even damage the inner ear, causing permanent hearing loss.

Cerumen [Earwax] Impaction
Genesis: Cerumen impaction can be a result of ineffective attempts to remove earwax. This results from a common misconception about cotton-tipped applicators. When the patient inserts one of these into the ear and withdraws it, the brownish discoloration typical of cerumen can be seen. The assumption is that the total mass of cerumen has adhered to the applicator. Unfortunately, this is false. While a bit of cerumen does discolor the applicator, the bulk of the more solid mass of cerumen is rammed further into the ear by the applicator.

Ceruminokinesis is unable to move this harder wax, and the impaction begins. Continued cerumen production occurs between the impaction and the tympanic membrane, adding to the impacted mass. Physicians may discover impactions so well organized that they appear to resemble a cast of the inside of the ear when removed.
A cast. That's what I'm expecting from him. An ear canal cast in wax. We can bronze it, even, in the lost wax sculpting technique. Posterity, I say!

Edited to add: This pages gets a number of hits each day. Join in the discussion. Please share what has or hasn't worked for you! There are lots of people who would benefit.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Another plug

Through the Reading A to Z website, I found an affiliated site for school skills materials. It is called and has worksheets for math, science, and language arts, any level. They sort things by topic and grade, so there are, for example, worksheets, science fact pages, and writing sheets all built on a given topic, like insects.

Further, they have books to download and/or print out.

The best thing about this site is that it is FREE after registration.

Guess what J gets to do while I have him this weekend?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A plug

As hard as J fought to get his reading skills, I did not want him to lose them over the summer. As I mentioned before, a kid gets to level 16 for a successful 1st grade around here. J made it to level 20, so 1/4 of the way into 2nd grade. For a non-reader to progress so well in such a short time was phenomenal.

Several months ago when I asked about J's teacher about choosing books at home that conform to his reading needs (too easy wasn't worth it and too hard or long frustrated him), she told me about Reading A-Z, a website geared toward guided reading, level by level. They go by a letter system, rather than a number system like above, but the conversion chart is here.

Each level has many books you can print at home. They also have worksheets (2-4/book at J's levels) which correlate. If you want to get fancy, you can use the lesson plans that go into greater depth for each book. The questions they ask remind me a lot of the stuff I do with Jr Great Books, wonderful for giving a higher order of understanding to the books and making kids think.

Or you can download them all for later use. The subscription is $30 and lasts 6 months. I plan to download all the books and workbooks for each upcoming grade before the subscription is up. Their system goes through grade 5.

If nothing else, they are reasonable length books that J can use for his summer reading lists. He'll be set for several more summers, too. Per his teacher's instructions, we are working on levels 16-20, so seeking maintenance of where he was, not progression. Second grade runs 18-30, third 30-38, fourth 40-44, and fifth 44+. This is so cool knowing the proper progress for reading and not operating in the dark. I plan to use them during the school year, too, to supplement the classroom.

As vigilant mom with an academically uncooperative (but highly structure-oriented) kid, this system feels close enough to the routines of school and is presented at appropriate levels of difficulty. He's shown decent levels of cooperation in return. His brain won't turn to mush this summer!