Nice Words from New Friends

Starting out with Alison:

Hi I am Alison, from Cheshire England. had my surgery on 26th November, a tympanoplasty with new ear bones and also closing up of the mastoid cavity left by a previuos op 17 years ago. was extremely apprehensive beforehand, but surgery went well and I came home same evening. Sneezed that night and panicked as ear bled all night, went back to see my lovely surgeon following day and he checked it, all seems OK. Things healing nicely now it seems, but my hearing is odd – I can hear things at high pitch in my ear, which I couldn’t before, but they are on a slight time delay, almost like an echo. Does this settle down when packing dissolves etc? Back to hospital on 18th for another check up, still off work and will probably stay off for 4 weeks to ensure I don’t catch any infection or swine flu from work colleagues! Even if my hearing doesn’t improve, then I will be able to swim etc without fear of ear infection, something I have not been able to do since I was a child. Hope you are all recovering well too. Alison

Hello Alison! It’s been more than a month since your tympanoplasty and related procedures. I regret not being able to get back to you sooner; please accept my apology. Hopefully by now you’ve realized that waiting for the packing to dissolve is actually the entire endgame of this procedure. As time goes by, I believe that many of the odd sensations you’re feeling will go away. The packing does some weird things. I cannot emphasize enough how odd that packing can feel.

Please come back and let us know how you’re doing.

Christi wrote:

Thanks for the pics of the headgear! I was not expecting that. I go next Friday. It’ll be the 18th. I am hoping I feel better before Christmas!!! How long was it before you could exercise? Thanks

Hopefully you are doing well, too! It was a few months before I could exercise, unfortunately. Well worth the wait.

Jenny wrote:

I had tympanoplasty surgery the exact same way you did 3 weeks ago. My hearing came back within a week but the gelfoam and goop is still in there. Thats what I’m worried about. I had it check today and he still can not see my eardrum. I had zero pain with the entire experience but I’m a little sketchy about him going in and removing it. Is it extremely painful????

Although everyone has a different pain tolerance, I want to assure you that it isn’t extremely painful. Trust your doctor; he or she is a doctor for a reason.

Daniel wrote:

Hey Richard, I’m scheduled to get a tympanoplasty on January 5th and I’ve done a lot of research on it. Firstly, I’d like to thank you for posting all this stuff about your surgery and recovery. It’s been really helpful to me in understanding exactly what it is that I’m getting myself into. I right ear drum was perforated when I was about 14 and I’m 19 now, so it’s been a few years and I’ve had to deal with the ear infections and avoiding getting water in it for all that time. It’s really quite a bother in the shower and prevents me from swimming, which is something I love, as well as the girls in the bikinis (haha :P ). Anyway, seeing as how you went through all of this already, I was wondering if you could answer one of my major questions with a unique perspective, seeing as to how you had to deal with it (my tympanoplasty will be done by going into the ear from making the incision behind the ear, not through the ear canal, by the way). After your surgery, how did you manage to wash your ear and hair in the shower without getting water/soap/shampoo on or in the wound or your ear?

Daniel, you’re very welcome. It’s been my pleasure  to document the experience.

This is an excellent question! Similarly, my tympanoplasty was done with an incision behind the ear, which as you’ve already anticipated, can lead to some interesting complications with bathing.

For several weeks, my bathing experience was very different than what I was used to. For the first week, I didn’t bathe my hair. After that, my mom helped me wash my hair in a sink of our house. I put cotton balls in my ear, laid a sterile pad over that, and finally firmly pressed a cup over that sterile pad. It’s odd to picture, but think of the cotton ball as a last defense, and the sterile pad and the cup as a “sealed” protection layer from water. As I held that contraption together, my mom carefully washed my hair, avoiding the area close to my ear.

It worked pretty well for me. That is, I never got my ear wet. Please come back and let us know how your procedure goes! With a little time you’ll be back on the beach enjoying all there is to see and do.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone! I appreciate it.

There are 11 responses to “Nice Words from New Friends”


  • To Daniel and the dilemma about shampooing and showering…I had this procedure done in both of my ears-one ear in June 2007 and the other ear in July 2009. The first time-blood was left in my hair and it hardened. Awful to get out. I went to a salon (my mother in law knew the owner)and they put cotton around my ear and gently shampooed it out. After that, I followed doctor’s orders and used a cotton ball covered in vaseline over the opening of my ear to create a “plug.” Don’t insert the cotton ball in the canal. It’ll stay put in the outer ear opening using vaseline. Now the second time that I had it done…I had my longer hair cut short AND I ask the surgeon to please clean off the blood from my ear, face and hair. I told him how horrible it was for me the last time. He cleaned it all away and I was good to go from the start of recovery. I just used the vaseline covered cotton ball in the out ear and washed carefully. Follow the instructions of your doctor, but this is what I did and it worked.

  • Hi Richard,

    My name is Mick, I’m 46 and live in the UK just outside London. I’ve had a perforated drum for as long as I can remember, probably due to infections as a kid. Anyway, I’ve been sitting here bored, googling away, since Friday when I had my Tympanoplasty, mine was to fix a 30% hole at the edge of the drum which is apparently more difficult. My surgeon said it went well as he managed to fix some of the graft to the ear canal. I’m currently in the muffled hearing, numb jaw, worried it won’t work stage and I was wondering if you had any thoughts on things that can effect recovery? I’ve not sneezed but I did inadvertently “blow” my ears very gently and heard a few bubbles before I realised what I’d done, no pain though. I’m also “grinding” my jaw a bit from side to side to loosen it up, don’t know whether this can move the drum, is the drum able to move from facial movement? I guess I want to know how robust the fix is to external influences, I really want to go jogging but feel I should wait. Thanks for blogging your experience, it’s nice to get a “real” perspective. cheers

    • Mick,

      My apologies for taking so long to reply to this. Final exams were rough, and I fell off the “organized” train.

      From what you’ve said, I’m willing to be that you’re taking the necessary precautions to be safe. Just keeping be aware of what you’re doing, and ask what it could probably do to your ear. I think you’re doing fine. Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

  • Hi Richard,
    Hope the finals went well, best of luck.
    Stitches out now and the packing, surgeon happy with the way it’s healing so all looking good, hearing’s a bit muffled but coming back and the scars fading fast.

    One thing that was a bit weird, they gave me anti-biotic ear drops and for the first time ever they went in my ear then came out rather than going straight through, cool!

  • Always one to tweak the nose of medical convention I went for a run today, did a (brief) weights session then drilled a bunch of holes in a wall putting up a tv bracket 🙂

    All still fine, just shows how tough we humans are!

  • Hi there! So excited to find your blog, Richard! I’ve just undergone my 2nd myringoplasty to repair a massive hole in my right eardrum. I can’t stress how good it is to read about all you’ve gone through, and the good news at the end of it! Would you mind if I asked you some questions? I had mine over 3 weeks ago and I’m currently still getting my ear ‘popping’ which i’m hoping is a good sign as it means the eardrum is still in tact? but i’m not sure if you still answer posts so will keep it short for now! hope to hear back if you get the chance… thank you! lorelei, London, UK

  • Thank you for writing about your experience. It really helps me a lot as I did the same surgery 5 days ago. Btw, I have shared your blog in my Facebook account to help others who might be going through the same thing. Thanks again! Hannah

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