Friday, May 6, 2011

My Poor, Unfortunate EARS!

No, I don't hate my ears. I don't think they are ugly or need reshaping, and for the most part they serve me very well. In fact, where I work the clients repeatedly ask me if we have recording devices hidden because I always seem to "know" what they've been talking about, to which I reply, "I hear everything." This is, of course, hyperbole. It's more basic social constructs. When you walk into a room and the group suddenly falls silent, or you see a series of knowing glances, it's pretty obvious they've been talking about you or something they shouldn't. Usually both.

But this week, my poor, poor ears are suffering. Which, in turn, causes me even greater suffering. My body fought long and hard against the spring cold that's been circulating. I was bombarded at work, school, and home. For three weeks I resisted. But then it was just too much. Within days I had gone from stuffy nose, coughing, and sore throat to eyes weeping mucus and a raging ear infection.

So bad, in fact, was my infection that my left eardrum "perforated." The most common question I get was, "Ooooh, didn't that hurt?" The idiotic YES seems a bit rude, thus I prefer, "Oh no, it was like a little french-tickler just snugged up inside my head until I couldn't take the pleasure anymore and my body just had to release the exuberance somehow." In reality, it's mostly annoying up until about three hours before the explosion. Then it is the most unbearable, excruciating pain that pounds through your entire head, down your neck, into your shoulders, it even makes your teeth ache. And there's not a thing you can do to stop it. When the eardrum finally breaks it just feels like a little "pop", then the ear continues to crackle, and fluid seeps out. This may sound like terrible news to those of you who don't routinely experience inner-ear problems. For those of us more familiar it's no big thing. Just a month or two of feeling like you're constantly walking around with an earphone in one side, and then it's right as rain again. However, the perforation of that eardrum did nothing to relieve the suffering in my right eardrum.

When I finally made my poor, college student, insuranceless way to the Doctor (you know, about three days too late) she told me that I was, "really, quite sick" that I had congestion in my sinuses and lungs, I had white stuff on my swollen tonsils, my left eardrum had a nice little hole and was still swollen and red, and that she wouldn't be surprised if my right eardrum perforated as well in spite of the 875mg of Amoxicillan she prescribed me to take twice a day for ten days (anyone else seeing a yeast infection coming? Yeah, that'll be BLISS for the honeymoon night--the same day I finish the Rx). She also recommended OTC Ibuprofen to possibly help with the inflammation. Well, I've had my fourth full day of antibiotics. The cough is drying up (and consequently hurting my chest more), no more goopy eyes, and my sinuses are even drying out. Alas, the ear has remained in a strange state of congestion. There are periods when I can hear more, but by about 5pm every evening it's as though someone has inserted a stopper into my "good ear" (if you can call it that), and I become instantly hard of hearing.

Well, I'm tired of not being able to hear. So I'm trying yet another homeopathic remedy that has been recommended to me by a friend. I say "yet another" because, in case you couldn't tell, I've had my share of ear problems.

One of my earliest childhood memories was throwing a tantrum on the landing of our apartment stairs while my dad was babysitting because my mom wasn't home and I just wanted her to fix my ear. I remember the pain was excruciating. I even knew that my kicking the wall was irrational. I just didn't know what else to do because it hurt so bad. I honestly don't recall my dad trying to stop me, and it was probably because he felt helpless.

An ENT (Ear Nose and Throat specialist) in Cincinnati told me, "Let's face it. You're a girl with ear problems. You've always had them and you always will. Your eustachian (pronounced ess-station) tubes don't drain correctly, and as a result you get ear infections." When I asked if there were any preventative measures he grimly shook his head "no." As a result of my many ear ailments I have been given a whole slew of home remedies. They range from the simple "put heat on it" to the ultra bizarre. Here is a non-comprehensive (albeit most memorable) list:

- Sleep on the other side so the stuff will drain out of your ear
- Put sweet oil in your ear
- Don't use a heating pad; find a nice smooth, flat rock and boil it. Wrap it in a towel and lay on that (this is from a man named Mark who says that "Doctor's don't know shit.")
- Use your own urine and put a few drops into your ear
- Mix equal parts water with vinegar OR hydrogen peroxide OR rubbing alcohol
- Clean your ears more regularly (despite the warning from any ENT NOT to stick anything into your ear, including cotton swabs, I do clean out my ears)
- Sleep sitting up

And now, the one I am trying tonight (no, I have not tried everything on that list--mainly the sweet oil because I've never located it, and the urine because that just be nasty), put a clove of garlic in your ear overnight to draw the toxins out.

Besides the general annoyance I have some added incentive to get my hearing back in say, oh 6 days 18 hours and 30 minutes because I'M GETTING MARRIED and I want to be able to hear and enjoy every minute of it. Hopefully this garlic works...