Case of the Week - The Kipsigis Earlobe

Mzee (Swahili for respected, old man) was a sharp-looking gentleman with a hop in his step and a twinkle in his eyes. He had come to Tenwek Eye Unit with poor vision and had received sight-restoring cataract surgeries. He was quite happy with his new eyes.

Now he had just one problem that was keeping him down. His right ear was looking mighty fine by Kipsigis design, but the left had become the village joke.

He told me that a couple of years prior he had gotten an itch on his left earlobe. It grew thin and then fell off at one end. He desperately wanted to get it fixed. His voice lowered, "I can't tell you how impressed my wife would be if I came home with my earlobe intact and my honor restored." It had been tucked up over his ear for the past years like a dog running with its tail between its legs. She was going to be ecstatic.

How could anyone refuse this poor guy, a Kipsigis elder with a dangling earlobe? It wasn't a difficult surgery by any stretch of the imagination, even for an ophthalmologist. I decided to take a bit of lobe from either margin just in case he had any occult skin cancer causing his original erosion. He needed a good inch or so trimmed off anyways in order to make his lobe symmetric with the other side, so it was a win, win situation.

I hate to say it, but this guy might have been more happy about his earlobe getting fixed than getting his vision restored in both eyes!

Back in the day, ophthalmology (eye) and ENT (ear, nose and throat) used to be the same sub-specialty of surgery, EENT, so here's a toast to the glory days of yesteryear.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, creative surgery at its best! Your favorite John! :)