I can’t remember that I shared here even once the medical condition that I have been through for years now. It’s called conductive hearing loss on the left ear. I thought it was just a minor or somewhat temporary condition which would cause relentless buzz and struggle hearing soft sounds, but it was recently diagnosed as severe, with 65dB pure-tone audiometry threshold level against the normal 25dB (right ear).
 I had an ear infection way back 2018. I also had already a few ENT consultations and follow-ups. I was given some antibiotics and ear drops until such time that my ear stopped producing fluid. I had these in a small clinic somewhere in Cainta, Rizal.
 In 2019, I had a follow-up consultation (or a second opinion) at Delos Santos MegaClinic (SM Megamall), and it was my first time using the PhilCare health card issued by the company I have been working with as a regular faculty member. Prior to this, I visited the PhilCare clinic just on the same floor and was given a letter of authorization (LOA) for the consultation. I just had an ear microsuction and was not advised any meds nor follow-ups, although I was told that my eardrum was a bit retracted. I paid nothing though for this.
 Pandemic came, and I had no chance to visit any other clinics due to the strict restrictions and personal health safety preferences. Then, I had the annual physical exam (APE) at school in November 2021, and so I got honest about the condition with the physician. Soon after, I was advised by our HR to make a follow up on this, and I should present them back a medical clearance.
 I sent a chat to PhilCare via their Facebook page and asked for ENT clinics within the area. I was grateful for their instant reply, and so I got to know about the accredited Medical City clinic just on the second floor of SM East Ortigas. I had the first visit, and the consultation went well with my health card presented. However, I still needed a hearing test (PTA or Pure-Tone Audiometry). As I was told, it’s available in major hospitals, and so I was referred to the Medical City Hospital.
 I scheduled a day for this and filed for a work leave. It was my first time going to the medical facility and was lost for about thirty minutes. I then checked in at the ENT Institute on the second floor, scheduled the test at 03:30PM (came at around 01:30PM). I was also told to go downstairs at The Medical Concierge for the processing of my LOA. I simply filled out a slip, presented the health card and ID, and waited for the approval.
 It took about two hours when I finally had the call from the PhilCare representative. I was informed that although the test was covered by the health card, the medical facility for such was not (rather just for emergency hospitalizations). I was then given a list of other accredited facilities around Pasig via email. While my test schedule that afternoon already lapsed due to the long wait time downstairs, I cancelled it and decided to go home.
 On my way, I dropped by at the Mission Hospital along Ortigas Extension and chanced the availability of the test as the facility was on the received list. It wasn’t available that time though so I just got the details for scheduling the next week.
 It was a holiday then when I had the visit, and thankfully the clinic was open. The audiologist asked me about some medical history and other details and soon had the otoscopic examination (first phase). He told me that my eardrums were still intact though the ear canals appeared reddish. Tympanometry (second phase) followed to measure the air pressure in the middle ear and the tympanogram revealed absence of peak on my left ear. The pure-tone audiometry (last phase) was conducted in a soundproof room, where I was just asked to click a button upon hearing a sound over a headset. Sounds came in different levels. Then the tests were over. I had the printed results in around thirty minutes. By the way, I had to pay PHP1,200.00 for the hearing test since it was not covered by the health card.
 I went back to the Medical City East Ortigas for presentation of the results to my ENT doctor. He explained to me the details, and provided two alternatives — the use of nasal spray for ear decongestion for a month (which I hope would work), and minor surgery for the small ear tube. He advised that I should have the first alternative first and so, I have been using a nasal spray everyday for half a month now. So far, I have been feeling a bit of an improvement, however very minimal.
 Before I left the clinic, I also asked about the cost of the said surgery, and accordingly, it would cost around PHP20,000.00. The prescribed nasal spray, by the way, is available at the Mercury Drug Store for around PHP900.00.
 So if you’ve been experiencing hearing loss, then it’s good to visit very soon an ENT doctor and have some remedies and treatment. I’ll write another article as soon as I have my next ENT visit. I really hope I won’t be referred for the surgery.