This week, I have been hit with the Earache of All Earaches. I've had some earaches in my life; as a girl, I had tubes put in my ears, and my left eardrum burst a couple times. Maybe I am becoming less tough as I age, or maybe I am out of practice (my last earache being 7 years ago in Kolkata), but this one is just about to plum do me in.
It's funny to me the way you start to think when you're sick. I have always had a penchant for melodrama and a few teensy-tiny traits of a hypochondriac, so maybe the mental slippery slope I careen down when sick shouldn't surprise me.
The awful thing about being in constant pain - well, besides the pain part - is that you lose all sense of time. The antibiotic your doctor prescribed is a five day dosage, so you take heart and console yourself that in five days, you will surely feel better. But, then you realize that you can no more fathom what "five days" means than you can wrap your head around heaven being eternal. Your normal, healthy life feels like a fiction story you read long ago. "Did I ever take a walk with my daughter when it was sunny?" "I used to cook dinner and then sit with my husband on the couch?"
Your husband, being the genuinely kind and compassionate person he is, will try to help. When you wake him up at 1 in the morning with the news that Tylenol isn't cutting the pain anymore and you think you have a fever, he will feel your forehead and say, "Go take your temperature!" You'll feel both justified and championed for, and when you return to say, "I have a fever of 100.6", he will bolt up in bed gasping, "One hundred and six?" You'll whimper, "No, one hundred point six", and he will sigh in relief and promptly fall back on the pillow.
This is why, at some point during your sickness, you will need to call your mother. Your husband, although a genuinely kind and compassionate person, has never been a mother, and his ability to sleep through dire emergencies is honed to perfection. You will, of course, think about calling your mother at 1 am. You'll remember that she has trouble sleeping these days, and you'll realize that if you call her at 1 am, not only will she think when the phone rings that one of her children has died, but she will never be able to go back to sleep. You'll then think of calling your doctor. "Hello! I know I probably shouldn't be calling you in the middle of the night, but the antibiotic doesn't seem to be helping, and I'm afraid I'm going to overdose on over-the-counter pain medicine..." Thankfully, some last shred of judgment will float to your mind's surface, and you will put down your cell phone and instead, google home earache remedies.
About the home earache remedies. On day two, when the antibiotic IS CLEARLY NOT WORKING, you'll turn your attention to internet health forums. You will think about putting a hot iron as close to your ear as you possibly can, because someone out there swears it's the cure-all to ear infections, and you will actually press a garlic bulb and rub it on your neck and earlobe. Your husband will make jokes about vampires, and you will not even care because if CIPROFLOXACIN AND GARLIC BOTH FAIL YOU WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR SURVIVAL ANYWAY????
During the third sleepless night, you will try to rise above the situation. You'll pray for anyone you can think of who might be in worse pain than yourself. This will last for a few minutes, but invariably, you will become distracted and begin to think about The Magic School Bus episodes you watched when you were little. You'll imagine the tiny yellow bus swerving down your ear canal, and you'll hear Ms. Frizzle yell, "Oh yes, Ralphie, this is a serious infection!" You might wish Ms. Frizzle was real, because if your husband, doctor, and mother are not available for middle-of-the-night morale boosting, Ms. Frizzle would certainly be a fine stand-in.
And on the fourth morning - well, that brings us to today, where I am sad to say, the exciting resolution of good health is not yet found. The earache remains. But, I did just remember that I haven't yet skyped my sister to tell her about my misfortunes, so...that's something.