Menopause, Marriage and Motherhood

I have this growing suspicion that sometimes I get sick just so that I can justify sitting on the lounge for a few days, talking to no one and not doing anything. I’ve been sick for a week now, including losing my voice so I can’t talk to anyone (good excuse, that!).

As you probably know by now, there’s always lots of drama and excitement in my life and I like it that way. To be honest, I consciously create it that way; life is interesting when there’s lot of stuff going on.

Bell’s Palsy

On Monday, after being sick for several days, I woke up with excruciating pain in my left ear. Obviously, the infection had spread from my nose and into my ear – it’s not unheard of. But where I went with it was a high drama from 19 years ago: I got a cold, it turned into a sinus infection, which turned into an ear infection that the doctor gave me painkillers for, I reacted to the painkillers and spent three days vomiting, ended up in hospital, had a grommet put into my ear and then developed Bell’s Palsy in the left side of my face.

Of course I did.

Everyone knows that a severe ear infection can spread to the nerves in your face, and paralysing the whole left side, right? Seriously, how does anyone get a cold and end up having to wear an eye patch and hold one side of their mouth closed when they try to eat or speak? The next time you’ve had an injection at the dentist, just try saying “Bell’s Palsy”. It’s not pretty.

And of course, I had a friend who’s a nurse, with a nurses sense of humour, who kept asking me to remind her what the name of the illness was. Mostly, I tried to say that it was called “P*** off” or occasionally “F*** off” but I couldn’t say them, either.

The past coming back to haunt me

All of this is flashing through my mind as I walk into the doctors’ surgery and I’m convinced that I can feel the left side of my face going numb again. The doctor, of course, thought I was completely mental and over-reacting as she’d never heard of anyone getting Bell’s Palsy from an ear infection.

She’s obviously never met my kids: they’re walking medical improbabilities. I’ll never forget the glee of the surgeon when he was called to try to figure out what was wrong with Ryan’s face and he realised the boy had Cellulitis. Getting Cellulitis in your face is rare. The surgeon took lots of photos for use in his lectures to the medical students, all while chuckling to himself and muttering things like, “They’re never going to get this one!”

The Ear Thingy

She stuck the ear-looking-thingy into my ear and stayed there for an inordinate amount of time, which all the possible scenarios of what she’d found were running through my head. My ear had been a bit sore for months, but I’d never done anything about it because it wasn’t really bothering me. It sounded like I had water trapped in there and despite being a lifelong expert at the Swimmers’ Dance, I couldn’t get it out.

The Swimmers Dance, if you don’t know, is the one where you lean to one side and sharply shake your head three or four times, followed by using your outer ear as a plunger to try to create a vacuum that pulls the water out. Repeat as necessary, possibly moving your feet so you change the direction in which you’re facing on the basis that the water might like to come out in a slightly different place.

The doctor finally finished looking in my ear (I swear it was several minutes later) and sighed heavily. I girded myself for bad news: I was surely going to end up with a paralysed face again and because I’m now 20 years older, I may not recover from it. It’s highly likely, I’ll end up with a permanently paralysed face.

The prognosis

“I’ve only seen this once or twice before,” she began, uttering those prophetic words of doom, “You’ve got a hair stuck in your ear drum.”

Sorry, what?

“It was probably from a haircut; the hair got blown or washed down into your ear, it’s embedded itself in the ear drum and irritated it. We’ll try to rinse it out.”

Really? How many people get a hair stuck in their ear drum? And it was truly stuck. Despite having a deluge of water forced painfully into my ear three times by the grumpiest nurse in the history of the universe, the hair stayed firmly in place. We’re hoping that ear drops will reduce the swelling and allow the hair to drop out of its own accord. Otherwise, it’s a trip to an ear, nose and throat specialist to get the thing removed.

I wonder if it’s covered on my health insurance? Personally, I haven’t seen “Removal of hair stuck in ear drum” mentioned in the PDS.

I’d better check.

K xxx