Over this past month, I have been fighting some kind of low-grade cold and/or sinus thing. I blow my nose about 50 times a day! My ears pop and rattle when I blow my nose which makes me nervous. Anytime my ears clog up these days, I get nervous.
A couple of years ago, I had this same type of, whatever, and it turned into some problems with my ears. I have had ear issues my whole life – ear infections and blown-out ear drums. Then this one day, one of my ears plugged up. No matter how much I yawned, blew my nose, or chewed gum, it stayed plugged up. A day or so later, while trying to clear up the first one, the other ear plugged up.
Oh, I can not tell you how awful it was. Imagine when you get water in your ear after swimming. Ya know that feeling? Well now imagine that feeling in both ears! I could feel and hear sloshing around in my ears. It was a loud “whooshing” sound which made me hopeful that it would clear up, but then wouldn’t. I also couldn’t hear very well. All sounds seemed as if I was listening to them through a glass. I could hear the outline of the sounds, but couldn’t always make out what they actually were. At night when trying to sleep, I could hear my heart beating or maybe echoing. The pounding kept me awake at night.
After a couple of weeks, I went to the doctor. They cleaned out my ears and I thought that did the trick. However, the relief was short lived. About a month into it, I visited the ear, nose, and throat doctor. He told me it was fluid in the ear. He gave me some antibiotics to keep away infection but other than waiting for it to drain, there wasn’t a whole lot else for me to do, except possibly lance the area if needed. I decided to wait.
However, during the wait, it was making my professional life very difficult. I couldn’t hear the exact words that came out of my students’ mouths. I nodded a lot and said, “OK,” or laughed like I was understanding. In the staff room, my friends and colleagues had great conversations that I didn’t understand most of the time. “What?” became the most common word in my vocabulary.
My students were good about it though, even after about 2 months of constantly asking them to repeat themselves. One time, Jayson, one of my favorite students ever, had raised his hand to ask a question. He asked it. I asked him to repeat himself. He asked it again. Again, I had to ask him to repeat himself. At that point, he sighed and said, “Never mind.”
If all that weren’t frustrating enough, I had a trip to Germany and the Netherlands planned. My ears always tend to hurt with the pressure on the airplane so I expected that this trip would be so much worse because of the fluid. However, about a week before my trip my ears got better.
I had just walked my class in the classroom to start our day. We were standing for the Pledge of Allegiance and I got a little tickle in my throat. I coughed in between “and to the republic” and “for which it stands”. The kids’ voices suddenly got louder. I stopped the pledge for a moment and just listened, in shock. One of my ears had “opened up”. I moved through my morning very cautiously, not wanting to even move my head. Later that morning, I yawned, and the other one cleared. I can honestly tell you that that was one of the happiest moments in my life. To hear things loud and clear was amazing.
This past month I’ve heard some “whooshing” in my ear when I sneeze or blow my nose. Luckily they haven’t clogged up (knock on wood). I don’t want to go through that again.