Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Swimmers Ear

So. Last November my right ear blocked up. You know, you feel the movement of some kind of noxious liquid in your ear canal followed by a complete blockage. Blowing my nose didn't help. Taking a variety of the liquid nastinesses that pass for 'congestion medicine' in my wife's storage cabinet didn't help. Even sticking a dirty finger in and stirring it around didn't bring relief (go figure).

But, being a guy I ignored it as best I could and carried on. In a Manly way of course. I am in fact that proto-typical guy who doesn't go into the doctor's office unless something is actively falling off. Drives Lu nuts but hey, that's my job.

Fast forward to a week ago. It had gotten to the point that even my extreme manliness didn't allow me to ignore the problem anymore. Lu called the Doc and away we went.

Now, I like my doctor. He's a friendly guy who dispenses simple remedies and doesn't cause me too much pain or embarrassment. He's got a dry sense of humor and isn't a lecturer.

When we got there and informed him of the issue he made muted comment on the passage of time. "3 months?" with an arched eyebrow. Not exactly an admonition but enough to let me know that he hadn't missed that little factoid.

Me. "But Doc. You know how I am." This was followed by another raised eyebrow. "Yeah, I know how you are." But again, no lecture. I love this guy.

He stuck the instrument in each ear and said, in a tone of triumph I must say, "Yep". He then called Lu over (she always goes in with me to make sure I tell the doctor everything that's going on. She's experienced too many times of questioning me about a visit only to find out I wasn't exactly forthcoming about symptoms to ever trust me again). He told her to look into the instrument he had cemented in my right ear. Yes, he actually let her look into my body! This isn't the first time either. When I went in for an endoscope for ulcers a few years ago, that doctor let her watch the screen and see my innards in all their gastro-intestinal glory. Just a tip here ladies. Guys insides are disgusting. You really, really don't want to see that.

Back to the present. The doc said "You see that cottage cheese looking stuff? It's Swimmers Ear." Lu dutifully looked, made some comment like "Hmmmm" and then quietly went to the corner to try and hide her dry heaves. And shame I presume.

Now when I heard "cottage cheese looking stuff" I started to panic. What had heretofire been only a mild discomfort became a throbbing, aching pain as visions of alien goo in my ear caused an entirely reasonable panic. I began to imagine the stuff nefariously working it's way through my ear and into my brain where it would slowly dissolve away all that is Me and suck up the juices to feed it's voracious appetite for World Domination! It would then pop out of my now empty skull (Now???) and have to be killed by Kurt Russell with a homemade flame thrower. That's what happens when you say things like "cottage cheese looking stuff" doc so in the future lets try and be a little more descriptively subtle alright? He even made it worse by giving me the worst case scenario. "Oh, it could go into the bone and cause real problems." See? Alien goop.

He told me to "Favor the other ear for a while" (he's a funny guy, my doc) and gave me a prescription for antibiotic drops with the admonition "This goes in your ears. You don't take it orally." You gotta tell guys these things. Trust me on this.

It got me to thinking. Swimmers Ear? Really? But hey, I don't swim. Oh I'm not saying I can't swim as long as your definition of 'swim' is very broad. Very, very broad. Like weakly dog paddling around while desperately trying to keep ones head above water and thereby avoid drowning. If that's swimming then yes, I can swim. It's just that I don't, or at least I haven't in, oh I don't know, like 10 years! Where in the hell did I get swimmers ear? And if it's not (as I suspect) caused by actual swimming only, then why call it Swimmers Ear? Is it like Tennis Elbow or Plantar Fasciitis? (There are no Fascist Farmers Planting things involved in Plantar Fasciitis and you can get Tennis Elbow from weight lifting. It's all so confusing).

Did I get it from a toilet seat? A used Q-tip? Did an infected person surreptiously stick their tongue in my ear when I wasn't looking?

Here's a thought. How about simply calling this what it is? Obnoxious Alien Ear Goo. At least then you won't have to be told the worst case secnario. That'll be all too obvious. In the meantime I'm taking my drops and staying watchful for the first sign of Imminent Alien Cranial Expulsion.

Where the hell is Kurt Russell when I need him?



Doohickie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doohickie said...

I hate to share beauty and health tips with another guy on a blog, but next time, after the first week, tip your head sideways, absorb some rubbing alcohol into a tissue, hold it over your ear and squeeze so that some of the alcohol goes into the ear. Stand that way, looking st00pid, with your head sideways, for about 3-5 minutes. Feel the alcohol absorb in. Ew.

Then tip your head back up, wipe up the alcohol that drips out with clean tissue, and go about your day. Repeat daily. Eventually, after a day or two or three, your ear will clear up. If you're really lucky, you'll notice a nice little glob of dried up cottage cheese fall out of your ear at some point.

I had frequent swimmers ear in my teens. I've been doing the above ritual ever since (for thirty years or so). Works like a charm.

eric said...

Thanks Doohickie. I'll give that a try. And hey, I appreciate the guy health and beauty tips. Why should the chicks have all the fun?
Love your blog.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 63 year old male who's never had swimmers ear. After some deep thought and consideration I think I know why. Here it is when I sneeze I hold my nose. I know that sounds strang but I've never been invaded by any alien goo and I've never had any cottage cheese fall out of my ear. I did sneeze one time and blew out one of my hearing aids.

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