duck-shaped pain


12 August 2001
Pointless Medical Talk

I haven't been able to hear properly out of my left ear for, I don't know, a couple of weeks now.

It's not that I can't hear anything out of it, really -- it's just that I can only hear very low tones through it, and everything else sounds really tinny and distant. [1] The right ear seems to be fine, and has been taking up the left ear's slack so that I can perform important tasks such as answering the phone and complaining about endless Drunken Horseshoes going on next door.

It started a few Saturdays ago. I was attempting to clean out my ears. I couldn't find any Q-Tips, so I went with the ever-available little finger. I rooted around for a bit, and then things felt a bit funny in there, and I stopped. When I was done, my ear left a big clogged and the sound was muffled, but I figured that this was part of the Putting Your Fingers Where Your Fingers Don't Belong Penalty and would go away after awhile.

But it hasn't.

This is not an uncommon situation, however. I have pretty messed-up ears. My ear canals are crooked, which equates to all sorts of fun and ear-related mishaps. Earwax often gets built up in them, right behind the crink in my ear canal, and the best thing to do, I've found, is chew a lot and talk a lot and just wait the situation out. Crooked ear canals contribute a lot to my ongoing motion sickness. Ear infections are more common (although, thankfully, not as common now as when I was a kid).

I'm hoping this situation will clear itself up sooner or later. Occasional expeditions with a Q-Tip in there have helped things along, and it's better today than it has been. There's no pain or nausea or discomfort [2] involved: it's just weird to not be able to hear well out of it.

[1] Television, people talking, my dog barking, everything coming into that ear sounds like it was produced by Steve Albini.

[2] Which is why I'm sure it's not an ear infection. All the ones I've had before have been extremely painful and obvious. The last one I got was especially fun. It during my waning days in Oregon, and my ears felt angry and wrong. I went to the emergency room, and they decided to clean out my ears by flushing undiluted peroxide down my ear canals with a big turkey baster-like object. That was indescribably painful. Peroxide -- going in your head. So I was wailing and screaming and not making anything better. Eventually, though, it went away with the help of antibiotics. Ick, though.

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