posted Fri, 23 Jul 2004
I’ve had this earache for a couple of weeks now. I thought it might be connected to sinus congestion, as seem to be all of my ills. Migraine-like headaches – sinus, earache – sinus, bad molar that ended up having to be pulled – sinus. OK, there’s no proof for the last one, but the oral surgeon did think it was possible.
But it could also be its own problem. Two years ago, I had an inner-ear infection. That is not something you want to have. I was dizzy and disoriented for days before I realized there might be something physically wrong with me. (No one has ever accused me of being a dizzy dame – just a cold, efficient, and intimidating one, which apparently is not complimentary.)
When I called my doctor last week about the earache, he prescribed a strong decongestant. Good thing – it’s getting harder and harder to get Sudafed, if you haven’t noticed. Apparently, pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in homemade methamphetamines, so drugstores are starting to limit the quantities you can buy – that is, if you can find it on the shelf at all.
So I have been taking my histavent, but the earache has not disappeared. The other night, I awoke at 2:00 a.m. with an ear that was sore to the touch. I got up and took some aspirin (and had a little snack, of course, because food consumed between midnight and 4:00 a.m. has no calories), and called my doctor in the morning. I have an appointment to see him later today.
I don’t want to go to the doctor. In addition to the obvious reasons for disliking it – $20 copay, time away from work without a reduction in the amount of work to be done – I hate that the first thing they always want to do is separate me from my blood, which I consider to be a rather essential bodily fluid. I don’t like having those vampires extract it from me. Also, I have the tendency to pass out when blood is removed from my body, although I have managed to remain conscious through sheer force of will the past few times they have taken samples.
I don’t like that they weigh me. Who wants to know what she weighs at the middle of the day fully dressed? If I am not sick when I go into the doc’s office, I sure feel that way by the time I leave.
The other thing I struggle with is how much to tell them. It occurred to me last night that I might have swimmer’s ear. I haven’t had that since I was on the swim team in high school. I lettered, but mind you, to be on this team, all you had to do was show up to practice. We had some really good swimmers, with times in the 40s for the 100-yard freestyle. My best time was 1:12, which is a time good swimmers use as a practice interval – one allowing them several seconds to catch their breath before they do the next 100.
The reason I don’t want to suggest that it might be swimmer’s ear is that they might tell me to stay out of the pool. I swim every morning before I go to work. I have been doing this for seven years. (And no, I do not get to eat whatever I want as a result. Indeed, I am noticing that my skirt is a little tight today, which makes me think I might have been enjoying life a little too much recently.) It’s not that I love exercise so much – I pretty much hate every minute of it – but it’s like writing: it’s something I like to have done.
When I don’t get to swim – out of town, Jewish holiday with the gym closed – I feel yucky the entire day. It’s amazing what your body can get used to. Exercise really makes a difference in how I feel. Do people who never exercise know how bad they feel? So if the doc told me to stay out of the water, I would be bothered.
I’m back. My appointment was at 10:30, but they didn’t have me in the exam room until 11:30. I can’t complain too much because they did work me in, but I have learned always to take a book with me to the doctor’s office.
I didn’t get any drugs. The nurse practitioner, Mary, told that the earache and my vertigo were all related to sinus congestion. I have to get rid of it. That’s what the histavent is supposed to do, but it’s not doing the trick. I am starting to think that this just might be a chronic thing with me. Twenty-five years of sinus, headache and earache problems and I am just now figuring it out.
But at least they didn’t take any blood this time. The nurse who took my history, Shawanna, took my pulse, my weight (up) and my blood pressure (also up, probably because of the weight). I had her check my height, but I have not gotten any taller. Just a few extra inches and I would have the perfect height-weight ratio. Well, not perfect, but a lot closer to it than I am now.
Shawanna asked if I drink or smoke. I don’t know why they ask that every time. It’s not like someone usually starts smoking at the age of 40. But each visit, despite what’s already in my chart, they ask those questions. I asked why she didn’t ask me if I use any illegal drugs. That would be covered under smoking, she said, but I said what about intravenous drug use? Or cocaine? She told me that she has had patients volunteer that information. She wanted to know if I would I volunteer that information if relevant.
I had to think about it. I know Harpo would say that of course I would tell on myself, I am the Class Factotum, Miss Goody-Two-Shoes, Miss Play-by-the-Rules, Miss Always-has-to-be-Right. But I think I would be so ashamed of doing something like that that I wouldn’t want anyone to know. But maybe not. I don’t have a moral problem with drugs – it’s just that they are expensive and make you act stupid and ruin your health. I can act stupid in front of a VP for free; I don’t need any help from controlled substances. Maybe I would tell – as long as I wouldn’t have to stop.
The end of the line
11 months ago