Wednesday, April 6, 2016

E is for Earache My Eye #atozchallenge

This won't hurt (me) one bit...

I was pulled awake before the alarm with a searing pain on the right side of my face.  I couldn't open my mouth or turn my head without feeling an electric shock rip though the side of my head.  I couldn't hear out of my right ear.  It wasn't just sore, it was brutal.  It was a Friday and there was a huge biology test that day.  The night before I was getting yelled at by my father who saw I was losing interest in college.  I wasn't the best student, often foregoing the classroom for the movies or the lure of the city.  My grades were plummeting faster than the ratings for the Batman Superman movie.   

I couldn't tell him my head felt like a missile test range at a midnight showing of Rocky Horror.  There'd be a flurry of obscenities, throwing of things and my grandmother coming to my defense with another wrestling match.  

I got up and tried to eat.  Chewing was an exercise in sado-masochistic tolerance. I took a very hot shower, downed four aspirin and snuck a shot of whiskey from my grandmother's stash. 

 IMPORTANT TIP: when trying to disguise alcohol on your breath, try a minty fresh gum.  Unless your face is awash in an orgy of frayed, inflamed nerve endings that when stimulated feel like Mike Tyson came over and went 15 rounds with just one side of your head.  

I popped a few pieces of gum.  My father found me in the hall curled up like a ball wincing and unable to speak.  He geared up for the tirade when he saw that I was almost unresponsive.  "Ok, what did you do?" He asked.   "I woke up" , was all I could manage through clenched teeth.  "Why didn't you mention this last night?"  "It didn't hurt last night", which I had to say twice because he didn't understand pain-tinged mumbles.  He pulled me up and we traced the pain back to my ear.  As soon as he touched it I screamed which required me opening my mouth.  It was then that I noticed the ceiling needed painting on my way to the floor.    

I found myself in an examination room with outdated furniture and harsh lighting.  An intern inserted a scope into my ear and pulled.  Soon after, he pulled me off the ceiling and I apologized for the broken tiles.  I was told it was pretty red and inflamed.  I commented that he could have probably ascertained that by looking at me from across the street.  By now there were tears streaming down my face and speech was impossible.  I remember seeing the doctor, a likeable man with the air of quiet expertise.  I remember my father getting defensive when the doctor approached with a giant needle intended for my inner ear.  There was an infection behind the drum and the facial nerves were inflamed.  He needed to numb the area, cut the drum and inset a drainage tube to let the fluids escape. 
I was on my side, the area was numb but I let them know our definition of numb was in serious opposition.   I heard, and felt, the slicing into my ear drum, the searing fire pain of the incision and the sounds of the doctor inserting the tube.  I was spent.  I was given antibiotics and a return appointment.   

I remember the ride home and the sandwich my father tried to offer but all I did was sleep.  However, the one thing I remember most, to this day, 31 years later is the moment I sat back in the waiting room for the doctor.  I was in so much pain I couldn't see or hear.  I knew my father was mad I'd be missing a few days of school.  He was always full of big talk about acting like a man, being a man, being macho, ignoring pain and an endless list of manly things I should be doing.  I was in such agony that I fell over and put my head in my father's lap until they called me back.  I expected him to shove me off but instead, he let me lay there, took the hair out of my face and wiped away the tears.   

A father's work is never done, is it?  He let me stay that way where I felt like a sick child seeking safety and comfort in the embrace of a parent.  "It'll be okay, T", he said and left his arm around my eyes, shielding them from the light.  

Thank you for visiting.  If you'd like something light and cheery, please visit my kid's picture book blog about an adventurous five-legged spider and the mischief he gets himself into at Ollie Bug's Blog , also part of the A to Z Challenge


  1. Thank you for the laughs. I shouldn't laugh at someone else's pain, but your references to the ceiling needed painted and breaking ceiling tiles cracked me up. (By the way did the ceiling ever get painted?) At the same time though, it is amazing what your father did for you. It is hard to explain, but parents know when you are faking pain and when you really are in extreme pain. Thanks for sharing. Cassie from Mommy, RN

    1. Cassie, thank you for stopping by and I'm glad to give you a chuckle. The ceiling eventually got painted but I picked the wrong color. That's another story. It was a moment that stuck with me and one I was able to repay when he was dying from cancer. Thanks for making me aware of your blog, too. I'm headed there now.

  2. I love this story! Well, not that you had so much pain, but that you got to see a soft side of your dad and had such a loving moment with him. Good things from bad things :)

    1. That's a great way to put it, good things from bad things. I'm glad you like.

  3. J here, stopping by from the #atozchallenge - where I am part of Arlee Bird's A to Z Ambassador Team.
    April is here and I'm excited about it. Best of luck to us both on meeting our goals of posting and hopping to other blogs.
    My blog has a giveaway. There's a bonus a to z challenge each day to encourage people to visit more stops.

    Aww. I'm glad that your father was able to care for you that day. I'm sorry you were in so much pain. Been there.

    1. Hi J. Thanks for coming by. The hardest part I think is blog hopping. So many to read but I'm hitting as many as I can and trying to comment because the best part is making new blog friends. I'm off to yours now!

  4. You always evoke such deep emotion. I'm in tears reading this. ❤️