“Is this a swimming day?” Papa asked me as I finished up a slew of outside chores. Vigorously I nodded. We’ve not been to Slant Rock once this summer. As it turned out the Schriebers accompanied us and we splashed in the shallows of a more distant beach until Josiah and I headed over to the rope swing. Somehow it wasn’t as fun as sometimes. We both felt weak and tired, but we climbed the nailed-on boards to swing into the water anyway.
Often my ears will ache a bit after swimming, likely due to the less-than-clean water, but today proved a bit more frightening. As I hit the water the third time, I heard a loud pop and my ear began to burn intensely. “Pressure,” I thought to myself. “I got water in my ear. It’ll go away.”
By the time we got home and I had showered, I could barely hold my head upright. The pain spread through my left ear and down into my jaw and neck leaving me with an intense headache. Miserably I stared at my supper, my head tilted to the side.
And my family began to make suggestions. Josiah offered ear drops that he’d used to stave off ear-infections. Mom suggested alcohol. Papa offered an anti-inflammatory pill he had. I tried all of them, with no success. In fact, the rubbing alcohol felt like molten lead seething inside my brain. “You know,” Mom said. “Once Uncle Wayne burst his ear-drum and he tried putting alcohol down it and the pain drove him up the wall.” Great. Just what I needed to hear. Burst ear-drums? Do they ever heal?
I began paging through our medical books for info about earaches. And I discovered that using Q-tips and wearing earplugs can force earwax down into the inner ear and cause buildup of pressure and, guess what? Burst ear drums. And guess what I’d been doing that morning before I went swimming? Weeding. With ear plugs in. Oh yes.
There is was. I must have burst my ear drum.
The hopeful news? They grow back.
But in how long? I was beginning to feel like curling up in a fetal position and crying. Supposedly I have a high pain tolerance. My family began making more suggestions, but only one thing sounded good to me: heat. Wouldn’t heat relieve the ache?
So I snuggled the left side of my head against the heating pad on my bed and sat there. And sought to control my thoughts. I could tell I hadn’t lost any hearing. And it couldn’t be an infection—it had happened too fast. And burst ear-drums heal. Eventually, at least. “Please Lord,” I begged. “Heal it quickly. Because I’m not very patient with these things.” After that all I could do was read and I’ve been trying to limit my reading to the most important book, so I flipped open my Bible and began reading Psalms. My comfort book. I sat there reading the rest of the evening. At least three hours. Moving hurt. Turning the heat off hurt.
I don’t know when it quit hurting, but Josiah came in to chat with me and I sat up and waited for the shock of pain. It never came. My face still felt mildly boiled from the heat pad and there was a tingling in my ear. A good tingling.
Maybe it was just swimmer’s ear, but I’ve never had swimmer’s ear that incapacitated me like that. Never. At any rate, I rolled up the heating pad, put it away and closed my Bible.
And that’s just the end.