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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ten Thousand Cicadas and a Drummer Boy

Health wise, last year was my luckiest ever. I missed all the sickness and didn’t have so much as a cold. We all know what a difference a year can make.

Last week, I came down with a cold. I can handle a measly little cold by taking one day really easy. So, I spent last Sunday self medicating, fully confident that Monday would be full steam ahead.

I felt better Monday morning so I went to work at 7:00 a.m. as usual. About 10:00, my ear stopped up. I called the doctor and he penciled me into a 12:00 cancellation.

“You have an ear infection,” he said. He wrote a prescription for an antibiotic and sent me on my way. By now the whole left side of my face throbbed.

At Wal-Mart, I dropped off the prescription at the appropriate window and went to buy some chicken soup and green tea. While I shopped, I remembered the problems Jim had with his ears and how he couldn’t tell us how it hurt. Jim had aphasia and rarely spoke so it took observation to determine when he wasn’t feeling well. One time, his balance was off, and a nurse at the nursing home decided to take him across the lot to our family doctor’s office to have his ears irrigated.

“Does he speak at all?” the doctor asked the nurse as Jim silently sat on the examining table. The doctor visited Jim regularly in the nursing home and hadn’t heard Jim say anything in years.

“Not much,” the nurse said.

The doctor poked an Otoscope in Jim’s ear to take a look.

“Jesus Christ!” Jim yelled and jumped off the examining table scowling at the doctor.

“I thought you said he didn’t talk,” the doctor said.

“I said, ‘Not much’,” she replied.

I pushed my thoughts of Jim aside and got in line behind a woman with coupons and questions dealing with a novice checker. Ten minutes later, I paid for my few items and headed back to the pharmacy to check on my prescription. After I stood in another line, I picked up my medicine and headed home.

By now my ear sounded like it had ten thousand cicadas in it. Occasionally it would “thump” like the little drummer boy had given it a whack. After all these years, I began to think of an ear drum as a real drum.

After a short winter’s nap, I woke up and the pressure wasn’t as bad, but I felt liquid in my ear. I used a Kleenex to wipe out my ear and bright red blood covered it. I called my doctor at home. He explained how the pressure had ruptured my ear drum, but he was confident that it would heal. “I never knew of anyone to bleed to death from their ear,” he said.

Oh, crap. I hadn’t even thought of that! Didn’t the cowboys in TV westerns often bleed from their ears right before they died?

The doctor was correct, and I didn’t bleed to death and the ear eventually stopped hurting. I’ve become accustomed to the humming and the drummer boy has laid down his sticks. I can’t hear well out of the ear yet and my sound perception is askew. When I turn on the water, it sounds like it is running somewhere off to my right. My hearing has always been excellent and I thought God was compensating me for my poor eyesight. According to Google, my ear drum will probably heal on its own, but I have a few options if it doesn’t before I need to break out the hearing aides.

For now, it’s always summer in my ear, and it’s a good year for cicadas.
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