Ear Bones

I have an ear canal infection. I find this odd. And painful.

I think this is how it happened: A few weeks ago, I took a bath before bed. Then, because there was some snoring up in here, I wore some ear plugs--that smooshy silicon kind.

The doctor said this weird bacteria only grows in dark, damp places, and I think the combination of the bath and the plugs sort of sealed the deal, literally. Ha.

I don't want to think of how this bacteria got in there in the first place. My house is clean as a whistle, honest.

My ear started to feel funny after that night, but I just thought I had done the ear plugs wrong. I always do the earplugs wrong. You know how you're not supposed to shove them in there? I have no idea how they would work without a little shoving. I mean, I've tried the seal-it-off approach, but it don't do no good. And so I shove, and then it gives me a headache, and I wake up feeling like I'm underwater, and it's not pleasant.

Anyway, so the next day, when it felt unpleasant even after I had taken the little suckers out, I thought I had just stretched my ear bones. I mean, I don't know anything about ear bones except that they're tiny and delicate and funny-shaped, and I just assumed that I had hurt them when I shoved. And I was afraid to go to a doctor because they'd just tell me I was an idiot to shove and to stop shoving because I was hurting my ear bones. I hate it when I'm a dummy. I have nightmares about people telling me I'm a dummy.

Meanwhile, driving in the car, sitting on my couch, teaching, eating, everything I did, I could feel these ear bones sort of tugging on me, aching. I had fantasies about cutting my ear off, but then I'd think of Van Gogh, and realize I didn't have anyone to give my ear to except Sam, and he wouldn't want it.

Finally, on Saturday, after cleaning my house with my iPod earbuds in, my ear was becoming increasingly less friendly. I thought, again, this was because my little earbuds had stretched my bones, but I was also beginning to suspect that was a pretty stupid theory.

And so we got in the car and drove over to Urgent Care in Cambridge. It was a windy day, and on the way there, sitting at a stoplight, we watched all of these brown leaves blow down the street, turning corners in unison, flipping and skipping along with what seemed like precision, as if they had a destination, a little specific spot in the universe that was waiting for them. I suppose they did.

After three hours at the doctor, a woman who looked like a cross between a forty-year-old and a four-year-old told me about the bacteria and the safe, dark, damp place that is my ear canal. I sat in a creepy dentisty chair the color of rotten Pepto Bismal while she wrote up a prescription of incredibly expensive white drops to put in my ear.

Now, every morning and night, I take my glasses off and press my left ear to the couch and Sam drips the cold white drops into my right ear. Drip. Drip. Dripdripdrip. And then it gets so full it sort of closes up, and I feel like I'm swimming, and I pretend I am swimming, looking at my house sideways. My cats come up to sniff the white pool in my ear, and I watch the corner of a blanket and the lens of my glasses, and Sam's tall legs walking around our little living room.

I don't think my ear bones were involved at all, but I keep thinking of them, how small they are and delicate. How their names are beautiful and odd: malleaus, incus, and stapes.


Genevieve Beck said…
That sounds awful! I hope the white drops work effectively and quickly.
Veganmothering said…
I hate feeling like a dummy, too. And going to the doctor. But I'm glad you have some magical drops.

Hope your ears are feeling happy soon.
Mike and Emily said…
There are so many odd bacteria in this world. Who knows where they come from...
Stacy said…
Your description of swimming in ear drops sounds much more pleasant than my memory of ear drops. I have had many ear woes, and actually have prosthetic ear bones in my left ear. I was getting an exam once when the doctor was using a light to look around, and he burned me in my ear! It sort of reminded me of this fantasy novel I read once where these sadists performed their ultimate torture by shoving some tool down someone's ear. Good luck.
Tia and Amara said…
I'm a plug-shover inner too. they don't work otherwise. Sometimes I think about the ear police getting me too. I have some swimmer friends that regularly rinse out their ears with rubbing alcohol to keep the bacteria dead (earplugs in a swimming pool I guess).
belann said…
Glad you got that taken care of. But, now you will be afraid of the earplugs. Sometimes ya gotta have them.

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