Monday, July 1, 2013

World in a Barrel

Trey Smith

About a decade or so ago, I experienced a circumstance that I fervently hoped I would never have to experience again. For nearly 6 months, I couldn't hear very well out of my right ear. It is not that I experienced deafness; it was more like the world had been dropped into a deep barrel and I was standing several feet away from the cylinder!

It all started one June with a bad cold. I am one of those individuals who doesn't merely sneeze politely -- my sneezes tend to be sudden and violent. One of the dangers of constant violent sneezes is that one or the other of the Eustachian tubes adjacent to the ears will become clogged and the unfortunate soul will be unable to get the ears to pop (i.e., equalize the air pressure). That's what happened to me and it took nearly 6 months for the problem to rectify itself.

And here I am again in a very familiar situation. As with the first episode, my right ear has clogged as the result of a June cold. I have tried and tried to get it to pop to no avail. I went to the doctor last week and he prescribed a steroidal nose spray and a decongestant. Neither of these medicines will directly address the problem is almost impossible to gain access to this small part of the body. So, you try to alleviate the congestion in the sinus cavity in the hope that it will relieve some of the pressure on the Eustachian tube.

Mind you, my sinuses aren't that congested and the area around my ear doesn't hurt. There simply is a lot of pressure behind my eardrum and this pressure, of course, interferes with the mechanism of the eardrum.   What this means is that the hearing in my right ear is very muffled plus I must deal with tinnitus (ringing noises in the ears). In addition, I am plagued by waves of vertigo. On the positive side, I probably will lose a few pounds since vertigo has a tendency to make one's stomach queasy and my gut certainly has been feeling queasy.

But the worst part of my current ordeal is that I know from past experience that it is likely that this annoying problem will not go away anytime soon. This is not to say that my current experience will match my former experience precisely -- it's more than my previous experience INFORMS my current one. I understand the physiology far better and I know that such things generally take a good long time to remedy themselves.

As much as I find my current situation distasteful, it is what it is. My wanting the circumstances to be different will not magically make them different. So, I'm just going to have to muddle through as best I can. The same can be said for much of our lives.

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