I remember being 8 years old when this happened before. They didn't call it otitis externa then, they just said I had an ear ache and put drops into my ear and massaged it til i yelled from the pain. Thinking back, I suppose I got that ear ache from swimming. It was a summer camping holiday with my family at the remote Hicks Bay high on the West Coast of New Zealand.
We were having a really nice camping holiday on a friend-of-dads farm. Camped by a nice little stream and there was a big horse to ride. I don't remember getting the ear ache, just having it. So painful, I clenched my teeth against the pain. The place was too remote and small to have a full time doctor but one would show-up every now and again to hold clinic and we had to wait for him. When he finally arrived, he set up shop in a tent down the road and when we got there, there seemed to be a lot of people waiting to be seen and treated. Finally it was my turn and he looked at my ear and pressed my face - which hurt and made me clench my teeth even more. Said I needed ear drops and he showed mum how they should be applied and then massaged under my ear to make them go into my ear canal. I still remember the pain of him doing that - the rough bastard. I doubt I let my mother get that close to my ear when we got back to out campsite. Eventually, the ear ache left and I was back to normal, apart from a very sore jaw from clenching for so long.
Last week, in Sydney, it happened again. I went to the Doctor every day but it just got worse and worse until the pain was making me vomit and my face was swollen and tender to touch - they said I shouldn't fly home but I did because I couldn't think beyond knowing I had a flight and I couldn't stay in my Hotel room any longer. The night before the flight the pain was so intense I was trying to call for an ambulance but my brain wouldn't let me remember how to use a telephone. I made it to work the next morning - as I had managed to do every morning since I had arrived in Sydney - and to the women's toilet to vomit thank goodness, before catching a taxi to the airport. I managed to get my head out of his cab before throwing up again.
Checking in I was trying to look healthier than I was, hoping no one would notice the clammy skin and vomit flavoured breath and extra-pale complection and make me stay on the ground. Or think I was smuggling drugs or something. I was at Gate 61 early and slept the 90 minutes before my flight. I was wondering how I might handle the flight if my ear caused pain for the entire 3.5 hour trip. Gauging how much pain I have had in the past and if the ear pain fell within that zone could I manage for the entire flight. What would I do if I couldn't, being stuck in a plane at 35,000 feet there're not a lot of options.
But luckily, the flight was okay until the landing. That was, as the doctors had promised: excruciating. But, I made it to terra firma in Auckland. I went straight to Accident and Emergency in Botany, where I promptly broke down and queue jumped my way into Dr Happy's surgery. He put that wick thing in my ear that they'd talked about but not actioned in Sydney. He also topped up my drugs and gave me stronger ear drops.
I came home, exhausted and still in a large amount of pain but slept the entire night for the first time in nearly a week, and woke to a reduction in the pain in my ear. It's slowly getting better, the pain in the bones of my face recedes with each day. I'm sleeping an *awful* lot right now and dreaming about tellmes/showmes/checkmes *insert blank face here* and eating chicken noodle soup when I wake up.
The kids still managed to give me a very nice birthday yesterday. They bought a scrumptious looking carrot cake with fat teardrop-shaped-creamcheese mountains of icing on top with gold candles and they even sang Happy Birthday. They wanted to take me out for brunch this morning but I asked for a raincheck for when I'm feeling better.