I’ve had this annoying little head cold for the past five or six days, but on Friday morning I began having sharp intermittent left ear pain which became more or less constant and severe by Sunday night. Ibuprofen and Tylenol #1 did nothing. I was waiting to see if would go away: I knew the vast majority of ear infections are viral (and won’t of course respond to antibiotics) and would resolve in any case on their own; also I didn’t want to be a bother, one of those people who runs to Emerg for trivial complaints.
But after a sleepless, pain-filled night enough was enough. I called my family doctor — no hope of an appointment today. So I had no choice: we trundled over to the local Emergency (Hi L.!), was mistriaged (of course), and waited three hours to see the physician.
My conversation with the doc went like this:
Me: I have a left ear infection, and the pain is so severe I can’t close my mouth.
Physician: It’s not likely you have an ear infection. I don’t like writing unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics.
Me: The pain is ten out of ten.
Physician: (looks in ear) Why, it’s all red and very swollen!
Me: (to self) Well, duh. (to physician) I haven’t slept in two days, the pain is so bad.
Physician: (defensively) Ear infections are rare in adults.
Me: Can you give me something for pain?
Physician: (writes script) Oh, just keep taking ibuprofen. (Leaves.)
Me: Gnarl slah grrr mutter roplph slnarl jackass.
All of which is a long way of saying that posts for the next few days may be erratic and/or non-existent while I de-distend my tympanic membrane and load up on Tylenol #1 (which, incidentally is OTC in Canada). Also, listening to your patients is a good thing.