Exostosis is abnormal bone growth within the ear canal. Irritation from cold wind and water exposure causes the bone surrounding the ear canal to develop lumps of new bony growth which constrict and eventually close the ear canal, causing loss of hearing.
What was that? Yeah, I didn’t hear anything either. Carry on.
The condition “Surfer’s Ear” is so named due to its prevalence among cold water surfers, but it is actually far more common with whitewater kayakers. Growing up on the frigid rivers of the Northwest while not wearing protective ear plugs all but guaranteed my current condition.
Most people diagnosis this problem when their ears are around 70-80% closed. At the time of my diagnosis 2 years ago I was told that my ears were at 95%. My mistake was thinking that I could ride the last 5%.
(Stevie, not one word from you… NOT ONE! We already know my list of weaknesses, and yes, denial is at the top of the list, right after stupidity).
A couple of weeks ago my right ear closed up for good. I started taking the steroid ear drops my last doctor had given me, but they didn’t help this time. After 10 days Stevie finally forced me to see the local ear doctor. He looked in my ear and the first thing he said was…
“Practica surf? No debe surfear. Tiene Exostosis”
Translation: Do you surf? You shouldn’t surf. You have Exostosis.
What was that? Could you speak into my good ear? Oh, I don’t have a good ear?
He tried to blast a small hole with his “tool”, but that didn’t work. It did hurt though. So at least I got my money’s worth out of the visit.
The only cure for Exostosis is a surgery where they make a half-moon incision behind your ear, pull the whole ear forward, and then drill out the bone growth. Easy tick. Sign me up. I’m all in. I got this.
I was ready to rock it out right there on sight with my new Peruvian Doctor. The office was a little primitive, but I figured at least we’d have Jesus on our side. He’s very active here in Peru.
Stevie asked the Doc when he could do the surgery. He laughed. He said they didn’t have the right tools in Peru and that I should go back to the United States. At least he was honest.
Well, it looks like an emergency trip to the USA is in the cards for Sprinter Life.
At least this comes at a time when we have hardly anything else on our plate. 🙂
Since I’m deaf in my right ear, we’re going to move fast. On April 22nd we fly from Lima to Los Angeles. We’ll be there for two weeks and the plan is to have one ear surgery done each week.
And so, a moment of reflection…
Outdoor sports have been a huge part of my life. They’ve given me the most amazing experiences imaginable. But they’ve also taken their toll. Kayaking left me with two bad shoulders, two bad ears, and several near death experiences. Rock climbing left me with two bad feet, one very, very near death experience, and an irrational fear of heights. Surfing has been one fractured sternum, multiple line-up confrontations, several scratch-n-dents, one shark sightings, zero near death experiences.
What does all this mean?
In a couple weeks I turn 38 years old. My maturity level will be 18, and my body is turning 60.
What the F#ck? I’m not sure this is how millions of years of evolution was meant to unfold.
My frankenstien x-rays, post rock climbing accident. Can’t wait to see the ear photos. 🙂