Nashville, TN, Feb 18, 2012 (Swimmer’s Ear Part II)

My ear was aching when I woke up after my amorous night with Marianne. Wait, there was a woman in my life, at this juncture? She came and went, a flash in the pan if you will, don’t worry about it. My head felt clogged up, my hearing was off. So after deliberating for a while I decided a trip to the doctor was in order.

I have been to a lot of doctors, all sorts of specialists, and for problems that were embarrassing more often than not, so I am seasoned, so to speak, at speaking with medical personnel. There’s a good tone to strike with them for the best results, I believe: firm and assertive, yet polite, and not lacking in sense of humor.

A medical assistant took my blood pressure, temperature, and pulse. I always ask how these figures are doing; the absence of commentary, for me, is not reassurance enough. She said my vitals were A-okay. The doctor came in promptly after that and took a look in my ears. Straight down to business. There was too much wax built up for her to see anything, so she called the assistant to flush my ears out. Fun was in store.

The first part of the procedure entailed putting drops of fluid into my ears that were left to soak for about 15 minutes while they helped break up the wax. Incidentally, the medical assistant informed me that the over-the-counter stuff I’d bought was useless, wasted money, wasted time. I ruminated over various things while I waited. I had the following Intimate Thought: if only neurosis could be cleared away as ear-wax can be cleared away. Maybe I should look into psychedelics, I thought.

The assistant used a syringe-like devise to shoot warm water and peroxide into my ear canals to break up and dislodge the wax. It was a violent procedure and it produced a strange sensation in my head, whirling, swishing, swashing, and swooshing. She had considerable difficultly getting out the wax. You’re one of the most difficult cases I’ve seen, she said. You don’t know the half of it, I said.

I was patient throughout it all, and though it was violent, in a sense, it wasn’t actually painful. The assistant was pleasant to talk to and she cracked a joke now and then. If only I was better at remembering conversations. As I said I pride myself on my manners with medical professionals. One has to have at least some points of pride. For her I aired on the side of reticence, but let fall the occasional humorous remark.

When all was said and done, it turned out I did have an infection—I was a victim of the common affliction, swimmer’s ear.