An "itis" and an "oid." Not to mention Eventually, Severe and a Warning…

Before I got married, I drove a 1984 Ford Escort. It was a real piece of shit. I called him Evenrude, after the dragonfly in The Rescuers, because it would drag up hills and fly down them. It rumbled and rattled everywhere I went. At least that’s what everyone told me. I didn’t know personally because each time a new rumble or rattle appeared I simply turned the volume of my stereo up another notch so I couldn’t hear it. I worked at Dunkin Donuts at the time, a job not particuarly conducive to affording car repairs, so ignorance was bliss. It got me from Point A to Point B, and occasionally to Point C, and that was all that mattered. But shortly after Dear Hubby and I started dating, Evenrude up and quit. DH’s brother–who is something of a mechanical genius–took a good, hard look at the poor thing, shook his head and told me there was nothing he could do for it but administer Last Rites and haul it to the junkyard. Before he did so, he gave me a lecture about Warning Signs and Taking Care Of Things before it’s Too Late.

When it comes to my body’s rumbles and rattles, I’m afraid I fare little better. I related an example of this, you may remember, a couple months ago with the story of my left sausage ear. Although the pain, itching, and swelling went away for a day or two (as reported here) it came back less than a week later (as not reported here). Did I–as promised–go to my doctor to inquire what the hell was causing the trouble? Of course not. I just turned the radio up a notch–in this case, by pouring alcohol into my ear on a daily basis, as recommended by Newspaper Delivery Guy. As long as I remembered my daily treatment, all was well.

Until last Tuesday.

I was sitting with my family and several friends, visiting and shooting the crap and generally having a good ole time, when I noticed something odd going on underneath my left eye. It was twitching. Visibly. Many comments were made about Working The Night Shift and Not Getting Enough Sleep, much laughter ensued, and the conversation reverted back to normal. Until a few moments later, when the left side of my face went numb.

Naturally everyone else assumed I was having a stroke. I suppose it’s the normal thing to assume when your friend or loved one’s face suddenly goes numb. Not me. I knew it had something to do with the abuse and neglect I’d been alternately subjecting my ear to for the past few months, and stated so as vehemently as I could with only half my mouth working.

Did anyone believe me? Nope. Not Dear Hubby or Concerned Friends, not the paramedics who were immediately called. (They got there in less than ten minutes. Beat that slow poke Sheriff Dispatcher!) Certainly not the kind and helpful nurses and doctors who greeted me twenty minutes later. They drew blood. I was given a CT scan. I was threatened with an MRI (fortunately, the hospital is so small that the machine was closed down for the night). Not once did anyone look inside my ear, despite repeated requests by me that they do so. I would’ve had an easier time getting my local Top 40 station to play me some Skynard.

Finally, convinced I wasn’t suffering from a stroke, the kind doctor sent me home. While I slept, the slides (or whatever they’re called) from my CT scan were sent to a doctor in Australia. He read them and sent the diagnosis back to my regular doctor, whom I wasn’t able to see until almost a week later (did you know doctors are allowed to take vacations???) The verdict? A rather severe case of Acute Mastoiditis – ie an untreated ear infection that retreats into the honeycomb-like air cells behind your ear called the ‘mastoid process.’ A few of the many symptoms of mastoiditis are pain, itching, and swelling of the affected ear, with later symptoms including weakness or paralysis of facial muscles.

My glee at having been proved right was short lived. The initial treatment for mastoiditis is a fourteen day regimen of very strong antibiotics. How strong? The pharmacist literally did a double take when I handed her the prescription, then called my doctor to make sure she’d written it down correctly. And before handing over the vial she said, with a sympathetic eye, “The benefits will eventually outweigh the possibly severe side effects.”

Nervous, I nonetheless took the prescribed dose when I got home. Nothing drastic happened and I was able to work my graveyard shift with no problem. In fact it wasn’t until about an hour after my third dose (the following afternoon) that the trouble started. I won’t go into great detail here. Those of you who’ve ever had a reaction to antibiotics know just what I’m talking about, and those of you who haven’t can make use of Google Search. Suffice it to say, if I can’t lose weight on the Antibiotic Diet, then nothing’ll work.

Hopefully it’ll work on the infection. Because if it doesn’t, a mastoidectomy might be required. That’s right. They might actually have to remove the honeycomb-like air cells behind my left ear, with the possible risk of permanent hearing loss. It’s apparently a rarely performed surgery nowadays, because most people go to the doctor when their ear swells up like a sausage, instead of turning the radio up a few notches like an idiot.

So, Dear Readers, please learn from my idiocy. Pay strict attention to Warning Signs and Take Care Of Things before it’s Too Late…

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.

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.

Reading Isn’t Fundamental?

President Bush’s 2009 budget calls for the elimination of the Reading Is Fundamental Program, which has provided 325 million books to underprivileged children since its inception in 1966. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. After all, both his wife and mother are literacy advocates, and have been involved with RIF in the past.

Barbara Bush served on RIF’s board of directors from 1980 to 1988 and then on its national advisory board from 1989 to 1992 (chairing the advisory board for three of the four years.) Laura Bush served on RIF’s national advisory council from 1996 to 2001.

-SOURCE PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

RIF’s website has a form you can fill out if you’d like to send an email to your elected representative, asking them to protect RIF’s funding.