Friday, November 28, 2008

Holiday Memories from the ER

I must be cursed on holidays in addition to my birthday (or maybe it’s just because my birthday is on a holiday that it sucks). Instead of looking forward to togetherness and family gatherings on the holidays I always look forward to the marathons that will be on A&E and sitting around in pajamas all day. Perhaps since I have this attitude the cosmos align on the holidays to punish me for being antisocial. I think it is genetic. If my family wanted to be social with each other then perhaps they would actually have a family gathering on the holidays. We always send each other a generic Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, or Happy Birthday text message on the day it is scheduled for in our planners so it isn’t completely unacknowledged. Nothing makes you feel more warm and fuzzy inside than a holiday text message! People always give me a sympathy invite to their holiday family gatherings but it is just too weird when it isn’t your family and you know that the only reason you got an invitation is out of pity, not because of your award winning personality. I gave up on sympathy turkey years ago. So this Thanksgiving I planned to embark on my reliable holiday tradition, sitting back in the recliner and watching whatever marathon was on. I especially needed to stay in since I had been fighting off a cold and something was wrong with my ear. It had been hurting for about two weeks; however since I would rather chew broken glass than go to the hospital I stupidly tried to treat my symptoms myself. A midwife I work with had looked in it and told me she thought it was a piece of wax that was down in my canal irritating it. Of course being that the ear is not the particular hole of the body that a midwife is an expert on this was not the best person to ask. Since I didn’t have a fever I assumed that she was right and I treated my ear as if it was the wax causing the discomfort. This consisted of home remedies of irrigation solutions of peroxide, warm water, heating pads, and just general stupidity on my part. I even bought an ear wax removal kit at the pharmacy, which I didn’t even know that they had before this. Yesterday my ear seemed to be hurting worse and in a vain and stupid attempt at fixing it on my own once again I ended up putting myself in agonizing pain and realizing that it was time to go to the ER , fearing that I had damaged my ear drum. Thanksgiving at the ER….. not the best place to be on a holiday and hopefully it won’t become a tradition. After going through the entire list of what I had put in my ear to the triage nurse she looked at me and asked why I hadn’t went to a doctor sooner and said that I should have known better. I told her I saw the error in my reluctance to seek treatment but thanks for pointing out what a twit I was anyway. I into the waiting room after being triaged to wait my turn. Just my luck the only seat available was between two men, one who I will refer to as the Witless Wonder and the other as the Geriatric Messiah. The Geriatric Messiah looked to be at least ninety, reeked of scotch, and was very loudly making proclamations on anything from gas prices to the end of the world. He kept tapping me on the shoulder to turn and listen to his pointless proclamations. The Witless Wonder was about forty, had a mullet, and a thick country accent complete with overalls and a John Deer cap. He wouldn’t stop talking to me even though I was obviously in a great deal of pain and he paid no attention to the fact that the ear he was talking to was covered by my hand and the fact that I wasn’t even looking at him.
Witless Wonder: You sick?
Me: No I come to the ER on the holidays to have some company and maybe get some free samples.
Witless Wonder: Really?
Me: No.
Witless Wonder: I got a splinter here in my thumb that I got from chopping wood. I tried to get it out but it’s a big one. You want to see?
Me: No.
Then the Witless Wonder, who is completely oblivious to my extreme lack of interest, held his thumb in front of my face to show me the splinter.
Witless Wonder: It hurts like a son of a bitch.
Me: I’m sure it does. (Then a tap on my left shoulder)
Geriatric Messiah: Lady, people can’t even afford food. We are at war. We are all going to die!
Me: Well isn’t that a lovely thought.
Witless Wonder: Don’t I know you from somewhere?
Me: No you don’t.
Witless Wonder: You really look familiar to me. Maybe I know your husband.
Realizing that this might be Witless Wonder’s attempt at finding out if I was available for him to seduce me I rolled my eyes and just glared at him.
Me: You might know him; he’s out there in a big truck with a big Remington on a gun rack. Why don’t you go out there and see?
At that moment I got up and started pacing at the opposite end of the waiting room. After what seemed like an eternity I was finally called back by the nurse who berated me once again about the fact that I should have known not to treat my ear at home. The exam rooms were full so she put me in this little corner and the only privacy I had was a curtain around the gurney I was sitting on which allowed me to hear everything that was going on at the nurse’s station. The doctor came out of an exam room to ask the nurse where he needed to go next.
Nurse: Over there behind the curtain is the girl with the ear. The pain has been going on for awhile but she decided to treat it herself instead of going to see someone.
Dr: The one that may have ruptured her ear drum?
Nurse: That’s the one.
Dr: Why did she do that to her ear?
I then started laughing loudly, thinking about the irony me being at the ER on a holiday with a self inflicted injury, looking like an idiot. They both got very quiet, probably thinking that I was completely crazy.
After a quick record breaking forty five second exam he determined that I had in fact hurt my ear (as if there was any doubt) and that I had swelling behind my tympanic membrane, a result of a massive ear infection, not wax, which was further aggravated by all of my home remedies. I’ll get a five hundred dollar bill for a forty five second exam. I even had to get more than the usual medicine prescribed for an ear infection since my ear in such bad shape. Then I had to go to the pharmacy to stand in a line. Why is there a line in the pharmacy on Thanksgiving? Aren’t most normal people with their families? Thankfully I didn’t get an ignorant pharmacy clerk this time. Then I got to spend the rest of the evening in a drug induced coma. Wonder what fiasco I will find myself in on Christmas.


  1. Well, your family sounds like my family. But I'm real sorry to hear about your ear. No pun intended. Owee. Poor you :(

    Hope the rest of your holiday is ok; though I have absolutely no clue what I'm saying as I don't know how long the holiday is for, when it started, when it ends, or what it even means. Really.

  2. Tess...I'm so sorry about your ear...and your Thanksgiving drama...but you crack me up. You need a stage, are a stand up act and a half.

    Feel better.

  3. the best thing for ear infection is the eardoc. it is a non invasive medical device for opening the tube naturally.

  4. well at least they left your ass alone.