In recent weeks, my hearing has been getting weak. Since so many people I know have been losing their hearing as a result of age and since I’m 75, I went under the reasonable assumption that I was losing my hearing because I’m getting old. Or, more accurately, have gotten old. Mind you, I haven’t passed my “used-by” date, but I’m not the lively youngster I was.
I’ve accepted the limitations of age. At some point in life, you have to see your limitations, figure out what you still can do. After which, you do more of the “can do” stuff and less of the “can’t do” stuff. Simple logic.
So, when I went to clean my ears which felt a bit grungy, possibly from airplanes, airports, and pollen, imagine my surprise when the Q-tips came out with blood on them.
I’ve had problem ears since I was a toddler. My ears infected when I was very small and antibiotics were not available, at least not to the general population. Maybe in a lab somewhere. That early infection settled in and never entirely left. Over the years, it caused me a lot of pain. When I was in Israel, they really went after it, testing and retesting to try and find an antibiotic that would work. While they didn’t clear it up completely, they got it down to a very low level and it hadn’t bothered me for the past 20 years. I’m also careful about Q-tips or anything one might stick in ones ear, including like ear buds.
Yet even a very gentle wiping out of the upper part of my ear produced blood in both ears and getting the tip close to the middle of my ear hurt. “Hmmm,” I thought. “Maybe it’s time to call the doctor.”
About an hour later, I had a prescription for antibiotic ear drops. Two drops four times a day or four drops twice a day depending on which set of directions I use. The pharmacist said really, it didn’t matter as long as I used the drops.
I’m not sure exactly how you know how many drops you have put in your own ear. You can’t see your ear and the little squeeze bottle isn’t designed to give you a measured dose. The real answer is put some drops in your ears. At least twice, but maybe four times.
The moment the drops hit my ears, I could hear better. How long had this infection been festering? It was probably flying that pushed it from a low-lying infection to something more. This wouldn’t be the first time altitude has done it. The important thing is, it never occurred to me to call my doctor, mention I was having trouble hearing.
I just assumed I was at “that age” and losing hearing was normal. That certainly could have been true, except it wasn’t. An ear infection can become serious quickly. I know at least one person who died of something just like this and hadn’t even realized he was ill until it was too late.
There’s moral to this story. If something is wrong and it’s medical, self-diagnosis should not be your first choice. Make sure that what you think is “no big deal” isn’t a bigger deal that you thought.