An Earful

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.


  1. #1 by L on Monday 27 September 2010 - 1927

    Duh indeed, was the script fot antibiotics?? Hope they kick in soon. I recommend a hot water bottle to rest the ear on and inhaling the steam from Vic disolved in hot water -keep those tubes open!

  2. #2 by Simon on Monday 27 September 2010 - 1935

    Gawd. And I thought I had a callous doctor in the house. Under the circumstances I thought you were really polite. I hope you feel better soon. In the meantime, try to think about the bright side. If it spreads to your meningeal membrane, and you survive, then you can sue him… :)

  3. #3 by Cartoon Character on Monday 27 September 2010 - 1942

    What? Did you come to my local ER? Sounds like it…..
    I would have suggested Mersyndol (Like Tyl#1 only has an added ingredient of doxylamine succinate (one of the ingredients in diclectin-antinausea med for pregnant women) which -if you ever get a migraine – is a miracle drug…BUT – for ear infections – you want to avoid antihistamines like the plague…just go for the decongestant…. and a warm wet cloth/warm pack over the ear like L says….. :)

    • #4 by torontoemerg on Monday 27 September 2010 - 2340

      Haha. You are cheerful…. and not to mention mastoiditis :)

      • #5 by l on Tuesday 28 September 2010 - 0811

        I won’t even mention Oscar Wilde’s cause of death then…………..

        • #6 by torontoemerg on Tuesday 28 September 2010 - 0945

          I thought he died from ugly decor — “Either the curtains go or I do!”

          • #7 by l on Tuesday 28 September 2010 - 1327

            either the wallpaper goes or I do.

            Wallpaper not curtains!

            Galloping mastoiditis

  4. #8 by Maha on Monday 27 September 2010 - 2135

    Hope you feel better asap – ear infections suck! I got one two years ago and just thinking about it gives me the shivers.

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