By Stephanie Karfelt/LipreadingMom.com Guest Blogger
Mouse Trap (AKA Eustachian Tube Dysfunction)
It feels like a mouse crawled into my ear. It didn’t die though, because sometimes I can hear it swallow. Wonder what type of doctor specializes in that? Refusing to allow a stray rodent to keep me from my novel any longer, I got out of my sickbed and started moving some commas around. You don’t have to be able to hear from both ears to work on your novel.
Despite rumors to the contrary, apparently I do some housework, because the landscape sure changed around here in the last ten days. I didn’t have the energy to double check, but I’m pretty sure that every dish was dirty. My buddy, Zeus, stopped by for lunch. He was disappointed to find that my illness had kept me from keeping enough food in the house to satisfy a giant. Thanks to my loved ones though, there was enough canned soup for just that purpose. I told him about my ear mouse, and we tossed around the likelihood of medical intervention providing any relief. I’ve become a firm believer that, like in the case of a jury trial, you need to provide physical evidence of your complaint when you see a doctor. You know, like a missing or broken limb, oozing, or at least having the decency to faint a bit. I doubt I could provide the mouse. Zeus considered this theory, and said, “Look at you! Trust me – they’ll believe you’re sick!” Sometimes I worry that Zeus will never get married. For the record, I was planning to shower today – well – at least I decided to after he said that. Zeus then urged me to get some groceries, insisting that I’d blend just fine at Walmart. If he does get married, I’ll bet he disappears.
My General Practitioner did confirm the whole ear-mouse theory. Well, okay, she called it fluid in the Eustachian tube, but she can’t feel it!
She told me it might take three months to get better. Not satisfied with this prognosis, I looked for home remedies while brushing up on my sign language. I tried blasting him out with my iPod. I couldn’t hear it, and I suspect neither could the mouse because he didn’t even move, let alone dance out. Also tried running and yoga hoping to knock him loose, the only thing that happened after that is I needed a twelve hour nap to recover and I think he ate while I napped because I’m pretty sure he got bigger.
Six weeks have now passed since my ear mouse moved in. I have to say it has given me great empathy for anyone living with hearing loss. My husband wears a hearing-aid and I am thoroughly ashamed and regret every time I’ve snapped, “Never mind!” when having to repeat myself. It’s like living inside a box, or underwater, where all sound is garbled. Not only do I miss or misunderstand what is said to me, but I have trouble locating the source of sound. I took my ear mouse to see an ENT. Using a tympanometer he found that both Eustachian tubes have the same problem. (A tympanometer is a painless gadget that checks the pressure in the ear, generates a pure tone, and measures the eardrum responses to the sound at different pressures.) Apparently I have an infestation, ear mice, one in each ear. Fortunately one is smaller than the other because I can hear with it.
To date these have been the doctor’s recommended treatments:
• Mucinex at maximum dosage, and plenty of fluids, for six weeks and going. I wish they’d given me a saline IV drip to go with this med. It isn’t possible to drink enough fluid to compensate for the mucus drying drug. Luckily the only side effect has been from drinking gallons of water a day. I now know the location of every ladies room in a hundred mile radius.
• Allergy medications. These in hopes of clearing out the mucus blocking the Eustachian tubes. Unfortunately I happen to have chronic vertigo. Allergy meds take me from general unsteadiness to flat out spinning. I’d rather keep the ear mice and any brethren they may birth, than spin.
• Afrin nasal spray. The ENT insists I use it several times a day, applied with my head upside down (in hopes of reaching my ears). So far I think it has mostly cleared my throat. Spray becomes a stream upside down, eventually you stand up and gravity takes over.
• Steroid nasal spray.
My next ENT appointment is a couple weeks away. I have been very hopeful lately, the mouse feels smaller and I can hear some out of that ear. I noticed it yesterday, when the mouse began to sing a bit. He was practicing his high notes. Blessedly I’ve never been water-boarded, but I can’t help but think a couple ear mice would be an excellent way to extract information. I know I’d talk.
Stephanie Pazicni Karfelt loves laughter, writing Speculative Fiction, being a wife and mother, and dabbling in the high-tech industry for story-fodder. Find her humorous take on writing at www.TheGlitterGlobe.com.