After some time on my antibiotics, decongestant, and pain pills, it seemed that my ear troubles had all but left. I was still plugged up, but I wasn't in pain.
The pain came back with a vengeance. At this point, I was ready to stab an ice pick into my ear to relieve the pressure. To avoid a brain injury, I decided to visit the otorhinolarynigologist instead (you know, the ear-nose-throat doctor?). Of course, because I have crappy grad student insurance, none of the specialists in town would see me immediately without a referral. I finally found one that would (but they wanted me to pay 100% of the visit at the time of service) and made an appointment for 1pm on Thursday.
The doctor was really nice and very helpful. As it turns out, my left ear had a complete middle ear infection (meaning that everything behind my ear drum was filled with fluid) and my right ear was partially filled with fluid (meaning an ear infection waiting to happen). Of course, because I am such a freak of nature, the weirdest things happen to me. The doctor tells me that it is really rare for adults to get middle ear infections, and he wanted to check my sinuses for a blockage (i.e tumor). This means that he stuck a friggin' camera on a pipe cleaner up my nose and up into the sinus cavity. Thankfully, he numbed me. It still wasn't pleasant.
Luckily, there were no blockages and my adenoids hadn't grown back (who knew that they could?!). Of course, this means that there is no explanation for my defective head. He went on to explain that sometimes people with my history (chronic ear infections as a child, ruptured ear drums...) have "defective Eustachian tubes" and they become easily blocked and infected. (For those interested, the Eustachian tube is the canal that links the sinuses to the ear canal). And then he busts out with the funniest thing ever. "We may need to put tubes back in your ears." I was dumbfounded. Children, like under 5, get tubes in their ears. Not fully grown, almost-thirty adults. I had to stifle a laugh. I am so fucked up. I think my mom was smoking crack when I was conceived. It would explain a lot.
After the tubes discussion, he told me that he wanted to rupture my ear drum to relieve the pressure. I was game; he planned to use anesthetic so I wouldn't feel it. Of course, that was the plan. Turns out that my ear drum is so scarred and torn up (from all of my childhood illnesses) that the numbing agent didn't work. And, when he went to make an incision into my ear drum, the scalpel wasn't strong enough to cut through the scar tissue. I am not joking. The man had to get a bigger knife. Only in my world does his happen. Damn, that shit was painful, too!
Happily, the office decided to bill my insurance (yeah!), and I got a hearing test while I was there. Turns out, I'm not deaf. Unfortunately, the medicine he prescribed was $160.00. Not so much fun.
Here I am, a full day later, ruptured ear drum and all. I survived, but I don't feel 100% better. The pressure is gone, but I still feel like I am shouting all the time. The ringing has stopped, and the crackling has gone away. Hopefully, once my ear drum heals, I will be back to normal. According to the doc, the ear drum should be repaired in only a matter of days.
Keep your fingers crossed. This shit is getting old.