I’m not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV


My left ear has been bothering me for a few weeks now. Nothing major at first…just that kind of irritating, itchy, waxy, full feeling you sometimes get. I spent a week or so doing a little bit of mind-over-matter therapy, but by this past Saturday the itching was pretty much unbearable, and I succombed to the Q-Tip’s siren song. Even though five-outta-five doctors will warn you against doing so, I had myself weekend long eargasm. I couldn’t help myself. And it was awesome.

By Monday, though, there wasn’t any real improvement and the inside of my ear was pretty damned raw. So, following the advice of a friend–who is also not a doctor–I poured a little bit of hydrogen peroxide into my ear. That’s right. I dipped a cotton ball into a capful of peroxide, tipped my head just so, and squeezed. It was actually pretty cool. It sizzled and popped and tickled and fizzed…kinda like liquid Pop Rocks. I bet my inner ear felt like it was tripping on acid. After about three minutes the feeling faded, and the itching was gone. Just for kicks I repeated the process a few more times throughout the day on Monday in between naps (I still work third shift).

Then I went to work Monday night like usual. My ear stung a little, like a mini sunburn, but it didn’t itch and that was all that mattered. Until the newspaper delivery guy showed up at about 3am Tuesday morning. He took one look at me and literally did a double take. You don’t see that too often outside of animation.

“Uh, Kel…what’s wrong with your ear?”

It still stung at this point, moreso than when my shift had begun, but I hadn’t thought about it too much until that moment. “I think it’s…it might be…why?”

“Well, it looks like a sausage.”

I ran for my purse, pulled out my compact mirror (shut up…yes I have one, and so should you), and took a gander. As impossible as it seems, a sausage is exactly what my ear looked like. A red, swollen, ear-shaped sausage™. (Yes, that’s a trademark symbol there…don’t get any ideas, Jimmy Dean.) Needless to say, I panicked.

“Oh my God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I shrieked, racking up twenty-one exclamation points.

“What did you do to it?”

I explained my predicament. He laughed heartily for quite some time. I wanted to hit him, but I didn’t. When he got control of himself again, he said:

“Peroxide makes bubbles. That makes oxygen. That holds water in your ear. That’s just what you don’t want.”

“Really?”

“Yep.”

It sounded logical. “So what should I do?”

“Alcohol.”

“Sounds like a good idea, but I’m not allowed to drink on the job.”

“No, dummy. Rubbing alcohol. It’ll dry it right out.”

I don’t know if you’ve ever worked third shift at a rural convenience store before. If you have, you know that–regardless of how many naps you might take during the day to prepare for and to recuperate from being awake while the moon is out in all its glory–by 3am you’re more than a little punchy. Mostly alone for four straight hours, slightly buzzed from the cleanser I’d used to scrub the Slush Puppy machine, hopped up on three cups of Shock coffee and a package of Swiss Cake Rolls…this humble newspaper delivery guy seemed like nothing less than a medical messiah.

“Alcohol…of course…and there’s a bottle in the first aid kit in the office.”

It didn’t take me long to set it up. I poured a little bit of alcohol into the cap, dipped in a wadded paper towel, tipped my head just so, and squeezed.

On my top ten list of Stupid Things I’ve Done, this is number one.

SUNUVA-FUCKING-BITCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Yep…it hurt. It hurt a lot. I’d rather revisit the thirty-seven hours of labor it took to produce my son than go through that again. I screamed in bold faced type. I lost count of the exclamation points. I’ll be honest, I saw stars…literally. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Because if you spend the weekend raping your ear with a Q-Tip, and then you pour one acidy liquid into it, you really shouldn’t follow up the process with an even harsher acidy liquid.

Newspaper Delivery Guy gave me a sheepish, “Um…see ya later,” then ran out the door. Smart man. When I going through the above mentioned thirty-seven hours of labor, I smacked my husband with the hospital bed remote during the this is all your fault, you did this to me stage. And there are a wide variety of easily-propelled objects to choose from at a convenience store.

I made it through the rest of my shift, battered but not quite broken. I drove home, slipped my sorry butt into bed, and slept until about noon. And when I awoke, would you believe my ear was back to its normal self? No itching, no stinging, no sausage-like swelling™. Was it the peroxide? The alcohol? The Swiss Cake Roll? A combination of all three? I’ll never know. Because the next time my ear bothers me I’m going to the damned doctor’s office.

—————————————————————
Check out Chapter 6 of Waiting for Spring at Readers and Writers Blog. It’s the chapter I struggled with so much last fall. It took me three days to write Tess down the stairs. Also posted is Chapter 18 of Gerard Jones’ Ginny Good (a truly great book…you should really read it), and an amazing poem–This Is Your Rock Opera–by Laura Elliot.
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About R.J. Keller

R. J. Keller is the author of Waiting For Spring. An avid independent movie enthusiast, she was Managing Editor of The Movie Fanatic website and created episodes of the writer-centric YouTube series, Inside The Writers' Studio, with author Kristen Tsetsi. She co-hosted Book Chatter with Stacey Cochran from 2011-2014. She lives in Central Maine with her family, where she enjoys gardening, collecting geeky memorabilia, and watching other people cook. View all posts by R.J. Keller

6 responses to “I’m not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV

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