Tell Me, Doc…Is It Serious? No, It’s Serous


earphone.jpgYou know how some people feel like, when they walk into a church, they’re being judged?

That’s how I feel going into the doctor’s office. (I really didn’t want to go today…but after crying myself to sleep last night from the pain in my right ear…I decided I HAD to go.)

The doctor’s office is the worst place to be in my opinion.

Not only do you go only when you’re feeling like crap, but the process you go through once there is quite demeaning.

There is nothing more degrading than stuffing my fat ass in one of those uncomfortable waiting-room chairs…trying to balance that damn clipboard on my “lap” while filling out all kinds of information that you keep filed away in the back of your mind for days you REALLY want to be depressed.

Does your family have a history of heart disease? Yes

Does your family have diabetes? Yes

Does your family have high blood pressure? Yes

Are you sexually active? No

When was your last period? (Honestly, do most women REALLY know this off the top of their heads?) I guess…and put down two weeks ago.

Then some skinny red-headed girl with bright orange, flowered scrubs asks me to say my Social Security number out loud so everyone can hear it and tells me they don’t accept my insurance.

“And can I have a photo i.d.?” she asks.

I want to know why, but I don’t ask…I just give it to her…so they now have everything they need to track me down like a dog should I skip town between now and the time I leave the exam room. (It’s not like I don’t have to walk RIGHT BY Pippi Longstocking and the cash register on my way out the clinic door.)


Then an even skinnier girl…this one blonde and about 12 years old…takes me back to the “triage room.” There she puts an automated bloodpressure cuff on me. I want to tell her that, hey, I could have paid a quarter at the Wal-Mart to have this done…what’s happened to service…but I decide she probably wouldn’t understand and would only look at me and say, “Huh?” So I keep my mouth shut, as that damn cuff pinches and squeezes my arm until it looks like some bizarre balloon animal.

Then the little emaciated tramp tells me to get on the scale…which has this huge display MOUNTED ON THE WALL! I wanted to crawl in a hole. No, what I really wanted to do was ask how in the hell weighing me was going to help the doctor figure out what was wrong with my ear. But, again, I kept quiet, figuring that maybe there’s an epidemic of cellulite-on-the-eardrum going around I don’t know about.

After Twiggy writes down my weight and tells me my blood pressure is high (duh…I’m fat and being asked by a skinny stranger to weigh myself)…she takes me to the exam room, where I sit on the paper-covered table and wait and wait and wait and wait. (Luckily, I brought a book. Unluckily…the book sucks.)

Finally the beautiful, young, and thin Dr. Bennett comes in (just once I’d like a fat, ugly nurse or doctor…just friggin’ ONCE).

After exchanging pleasantries, she looks at me and asks if I had put anything in my ear canal. Apparently, she thought I was a two-year-old.

“Um, only a knitting needle earlier today…could that be the problem?” I say.

Just kidding.

“No…just Q-tips.”

She winces a little, and I immediately wish I had opened with the knitting needle comment so a soft, cotton-covered swab would seem more innocuous.

“Did you put the Q-Tip in your ear canal?” She judges me like a cheap reality courtroom show.

“Well,” I squirm and begin to ramble under the pressure of the persecution. “only to clean them. I have to clean my ears every day…but I never jab the Q-Tip down…just wipe out the canal. Honest. I have to…excessive ear wax runs in my family.”

Then I wince at that unintended pun…much like I’m wincing now at the realization that I’m about to announce to all of you that excessive ear wax runs in my family.

The shame of it all.

Then Dr. Bennett finally does what I had gone there to have her do…she actually, physically (albeit briefly)…looks in each ear. Then she promptly sounds disappointed to find them clean.

“Well, there’s no wax build up.”

I rolled my eyes (hoping she couldn’t see the backs of my eyeballs through her otoscope).

“Yeah, like I said…I have to keep ’em clean.”

With her face twisted with perplexity, Dr. Bennett then asks me to pinch my nose, close my mouth, and blow out, gently.

I did…and felt like a trained monkey.

“Did you hear a whistle?” she asks…in all seriousness.

“Um, no…but I heard the ocean.”


“No, but my right ear popped a little.”

“Good, then there are no holes in your membrane.”

I didn’t even know that was a consideration. I guess she was convinced I had been lying to her…and that I made it my hobby to stick sharp objects down in my ear. Truth be told…after this visit…I think I might just take up the sport…it seems like it would be a heck of a lot more fun than spending time with Dr. Bennett.

Ends up, I have what is called a serous ear infection, which, according to an online PDF file from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, is not truly an infection of the middle ear, but is caused by a build up of fluid behind the eardrum. It occurs because of a cold or the fluid that remains in the ear after an acute ear infection that has been treated with antibiotics…neither of which I have had. I mean, I have had some sinus drainage and itchy eyes…but isn’t that normal for this time of year?

(Anyone curious as to what a serous infection looks like…click here.)

Anyway, the “condition” is supposed to last for several weeks…SEVERAL WEEKS!!!! Geesh…I just got done with two months of going to the dentist for my broken tooth (Double D…I hope fixing your cracked tooth goes more smoothly).

Anyway, I’ve experienced all the symptons listed on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta online pdf…a feeling of fullness in the ear, decreased hearing, ringing in the ear, dizziness…plus, a fair amount of pain.

I’ll be on antibiotics and a decongestant for quite a while. Dr. Bennett also prescribed a pain killer on the order of Darvicet…but, the cheap S.O.B. that I am…didn’t want to pay for that on top of everything else. I’ll just deal with the pain.

In total, today cost me $90 at the medical clinic, $45 at the Walgreens, and all of my pride abroad.

However, today also provided me with a fun new tale to share with all my fellow Monkbots…so…there ya go.

Hope you enjoyed it.

On a side note…in my search for an illustration for this post…I came across this article about growing a human ear on a mouse’s back. WARNING…this could be upsetting, so don’t click unless you have a strong fortitude and DEEP appreciation for science (for the record…it even upset ME).


30 Responses to “Tell Me, Doc…Is It Serious? No, It’s Serous”

  1. nolagirl Says:

    I was Pippi Longstocking for Halloween one year … anyway, I digress …

    Shelley – I hate that your ear hurts, but I LOVE that you wrote a funny story. I need to go to the doc too for a checkup, but your weight-displayed-on-the-wall visual has me moving that task to next week … or month. 😉

  2. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Umm…I had to click on the link that had the warning…Why? Why do I do these things? The second I saw that pic…which, I’m still hoping wasn’t real…I closed that page. That image will be burned into my brain forever. Forever!

    I’m so sorry your ear hurts. I haven’t had an earache since I was a kid…but I hated those the most! I totally feel you on the doctor-phobia thing…

    Okay, another original Bama’s sad-but-true moments: A little over 3 years ago I got sick (I never get sick). Really, really sick. It came on very suddenly and I was running a very high fever and had a really bad stomachache and was in a lot of pain. Initially I was throwing up every few minutes…then I got to the point where there was nothing left. This went on for about 3 days. But there was no way in hell I was going to a doctor. I hate(d) doctor’s…am scared of them and I also don’t like the feeling of being judged. I didn’t want to go and have some doctor tell me I had a stomach flu and there wasn’t anything really they could do for me. So, anyway…After 3 days I started feeling a little better, I ate some broth (the first thing I had ingested since it had all begun) and thought “See, I’m smarter than a stupid doctor!”. However, within a few hours, my fever was over 104 degrees, I didn’t have energy to move. I was in so much pain (in my stomach) that even breathing was hard. By the next morning…I broke…I called my friend and started hysterically crying and telling her that I thought “it might be time to go to the doctor”. Well, turns out that my doctor insisted I immediately go to the emergency room at the nearest hospital…as I had appendicitis. At the hospital it turned out that not only did I have appendicitis, my appendix had burst the day before (the reason why I felt better for awhile) and if I had waited, even a few more hours…I would be dead today. Neat, huh?

  3. shelley Says:

    Bama…if anyone was going to click that link…I knew it would be you…you little sicko.

    Okay…about this…”I didn’t want to go and have some doctor tell me I had a stomach flu and there wasn’t anything really they could do for me.”

    I am totally and 100 percent with you, sister!

    I don’t go to the doctor unless I’m in serious pain…last night’s ear ache qualified because I was sobbing on my pillow.

    I feel like if we give the body time to heal…it will. I was PISSED when I left the doctor’s today and had paid $90 for her to tell me it would take two weeks to clear up. Part of me didn’t even want to get the anitbiotics (which I think are total CRAP and horrible things to put in your body). However, I also considered the devastion of NOT taking care of my ears. My brother, Ben, and I have talked about this before…if we had to choose loss of hearing or loss of sight…we’d choose loss of sight. I enjoy music to much to let that go (but, trust me, I be utterly devasted to loose my sight…don’t get me wrong.)

    Now, I’m glad you didn’t die because of you (our) stubborness and aversion to doctors…but I have to say…I would have done the same thing.

    One time (about 11 years ago), I threw my back out PUTTING ON FRIGGIN” PANTYHOSE!!! I ended up on the floor and called a friend to come help me. (She’s a nurse.) She wanted me to call the ambulance and I refused…saying all I needed was a heating pad. That was a fun couple of days.

    Then about 5 years ago, I had a cough that wouldn’t subside. It was so bad that it kept me awake throughout the night…and caused me tremendous pain in my left side. The pain got worse and worse to where it hurt to breathe, walk, talk, stand, etc. I finally DROVE myself (I have a stick shift) to the medical clinic and, when they told me it would be $90…I said I would find someplace cheaper. I found a clinic that cost only $60. The doctor said he didn’t see how I wasn’t in the hospital because I had TORN a muscle…not pulled it…TORN it. I was put under heavy sedation for three days…in my apartment…by myself. Nothing is better than trying to take care of yourself while on pain killers.

    I had to stop the pain killers two days early…just so I could bathe myself properly. Plus, I hated putting all those chemicals in my body (I know. I know…big talk from a fatty.)

  4. double d Says:

    Sickos unite…I clicked it to and was utterly disgusted. The only “serious” illness that I’ve had was when I was 21. I had a very BAD cough but it was Mardi Gras weekend with no doctors to be found, therefore, I had to tough it out until Ash Wednesday. When I went in, I had waited so long that it was pluresy. Took me years to get my breathing back to normal.

    On the deaf/blind thing. Interestingly, my sister is deaf and she says that she most definitely would choose being deaf over being blind. While she cannot hear the wonderful tenor voice of her splendidly talented son, she can watch him play and entertain people and see the absolute joy he brings people and the absolute joy it brings him.

  5. shelley Says:

    Ahhh…DD…great insight.

    My mother is blind in one eye and I know when she lost the vision…it turned her world katty wompuss. From learning how to drive a new way (being afraid to have the window down in case something blew in) to having to learn to guage depth in a new way, it was a life-altering event. Heck, even her family had (has) to adjust. I forget all the time that when I’m on her left that she can’t see me…so I end up having to lean forward from the back seat if I want to her see something…and I can’t always rely on her to help me clear stuff in traffic.

    You’re right…sight is a terrible thing to lose. I think about how hard it would be to try to learn to type or write without sight…but I know I could…music (my violin…my singing…hearing my brothers and family…) I would miss that terribly.

    Yikes…this is depressing.

    Truth be told…I don’t want to have to choose.

    Um…I’ll just have my taste taken…maybe then I’d lose weight.

  6. nolagirl Says:

    Shelley, only you would throw your back out putting on hose!! That cracks me up.

    I did not click on the link, and am glad I didn’t! Sounds very gag-worthy.

    Bama – I am going to be like a mom, and even though it is in the past … WHAT IN THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING NOT GOING TO THE DOCTOR??? I SHOULDA COME OVER THERE DRAGGED YOUR BUTT OUTTA BED!!!

    There, I feel better. 🙂

  7. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Shelley- I am so with you on the “medicine” thing. I absolutely refuse to take anything I feel I don’t need. I actually work for a bunch of doctor’s and yesterday our director was administering flu shots to everyone at work…it wasn’t really an “option”…guess who squirreled their way out of it w/an impassioned speech on “it’s my body and I should choose what I put in it!” Haha! It was hysterical! (Especially considering that I can eat fried chicken for breakfast.)

    I cannot stand taking antibiotics and refuse to take them unless I’m seriously sick and won’t get better w/o them…like your ear thingy.

    I do like my anti-depressant though. And the ocassional xanax “as needed”. 😉

    DD- I, too, think I would give up my hearing over my sight. I appreciate the sight of swaying trees, or a storm approaching…or my little dog trotting along, more than any sound in the world.

  8. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Haha! Nola! I needed you then, but I still do it now too!

    A couple of weeks ago I was sick as a dog…but I just kept working b/c I DON’T GET SICK!!! Finally, on Friday of that week, I couldn’t take it anymore…I made an appt. at the docs. I had an upper-respiratory/sinus infection and was rx’d antibiotics and a decongestant. I filled the decon…but never got the anti-b’s.

    2 weeks later and I’m healed! It’s a miracle people!

  9. shelley Says:

    Bama, now I’m thinking I won’t take the anitbiotics.

    The only thing is they cost $25 and I want to get my money’s worth.

    (P.S. I can’t believe someone feels the same way about this as I do…most people tell me I’m nuts when I get on my soapbox about the ridiculousness of medical care. I mean, don’t get me wrong, people need brain surgery and heart medicine…but stuff for regular colds and cuts and stuff? Nah! Just let it heal.)

    You know what totally pisses me off…is when people come to work sick and say they are on medication. I think that’s just stupid. If you’re sick…be sick. GO home. Rest. Let your body heal. Don’t spread your germs just cause you think folks are gonna be mad if you miss work. If they are mad that you’re sick…screw ’em. You do more harm by infecting others. Plus, when the time comes for your body to REALLY need medicine…you will have taken so much that your body won’t react properly to medicine.

    It’s like headaches. I wait until they are so bad that I can’t think or function. Sometimes, I can get them to go away with a nap or lots or water or a walk. If those remedies don’t help, then I take something for the pain. This means that I ahve to take less pain relievers…less often. (Be know, I’m talking about regular headaches…not migraines or chronic problems.)

  10. nolagirl Says:

    Now, now ladies, what would Dr. McDreamy say about you skipping out on your antibiotics???

  11. shelley Says:

    HMmmmm….very true. Okay, I’ll take ’em. 😉

  12. double d Says:

    I think the moral of the story here is “less is more”.

    We live in a hypochondriatic, over-medicated society whose natural tolerance for disease is being diminished by all of these anti-biotics and drugs that are not always necessary.

    I choose to “self-medicate” mostly, and I’m hardly EVER sick.

  13. shelley Says:

    wow…DD…I’m so impressed.

    I really didn’t think there were that many who shared my view on medication.

    (however, I will say, I just woke up from a nap and am seriously wishing I had gotten the pain meds…my ear is killin’ me.)


    i guess, sometimes, i’m a slave to science.

  14. patrickkadiddlehopper Says:

    Hey Shell, its okay to admit that your family has earwax problems. I guess Ill have to move to avoid the humiliation that came from this post. Just joking. Just be thankful youre not like me and had to have multiple doctor visits to get rid of my stuff. WAX PRIDE!!!

  15. double d Says:

    Shelley, this might make you feel better….

    And, remember, self-medication works! Little bourbon might do the trick.

  16. shelley Says:

    DD…LOVED the photo booth!

    Patrickadiddlehopper…I wasn’t going to say the ear wax problem was YOURS, you goober! 😉

  17. Ash Says:

    I hope you feel better soon, Shelley!

    A suggestion for future Dr’s Office or Emergency Room reading.

  18. shelley Says:

    thanks, ash…sounds intriguing! 😉

  19. Jan Says:

    I go to the doctor at the first hit of sickness because I can’t miss work. Your stories of how you didn’t go to the doctor because you hate going to the doctor or double d, worse, you could’t get to a doctor just prove that it’s better to go if you are really suffering. I have a doctor’s appt tomorrow and oh the joy. Unfortunately I don’t need to go to a doctor but I have to every 3 months or they won’t give my blood pressure medicine. I take it seriously though since my Mom died of a stroke at 63 and my father died of a heart attack at 40.

  20. Jan Says:

    I looked at the mouseear, earmouse pic. I see the medical potential but am somehow reminded of Futurama and Leila and the other orphans with appendages growing in unexpected places or too many eyes or too little. Disturbing to say the least.

  21. Quossum Says:

    Ooo, Shelley, sorry to hear you’re feeling bad–and just have to hunker down and wait it out–thanks a hellofa lot, Dr. Feelgood!

    Oh, and I clicked on the link. I find that whole thing fascinating. This might sound weird coming from the person who has nightmares induced by the “woman falling out of the wine vat” video, but the mouse ear thing doesn’t bother me at all. It’s Science!

    Chalk me in the column with those who don’t “do” doctors or drugs. Gimme my BC powders if the headache is killin’ me, but other than that, I’m pretty healthy and drug-free.

    I also confess to being a “drag myself to work even if feeling bad” person, unfortunately. This is probably particularly bad since I’m a teacher, with the possibility of infecting the children of America, but hell, it’s about three times as much work and hassle to prepare for a sub than it would be to just go to school. Totally not worth it unless I’m on my deathbed. Knock on wood, I’ve never missed school for sickness in my life (this is my 13th year to teach, btw. Yes, I’m that annoying kid who got a certificate at the end of high school for nine years perfect attendance).

    In fact, the only time I’ve missed school (as in, taken a personal day–being forced to attend a meeting during school hours for school purposes doesn’t count) is twice: Once to attend my sister-in-law’s wedding in Washington state…

    ….once to attend the WorkPlay and AI Concerts in Birmingham this year. Heh. Taylor Hicks: More powerful than the common cold!


  22. Phile Says:

    I am so NOT clicking that link. Nope. Not gonna. I’m a wimp.

    I’ve been lucky not to be injured or seriously ill (with the exception of breaking my little toe on a concrete shower stall running from my bathroom to answer the phone – of course it stopped ringing by the time I got there).

    But I did have one ear infection when I was 13 or 14. It hurt, but I didn’t get really scared until things started not sounding right. Long story short, they “lanced” my eardrum. Probably the most pain I’ve ever had (like I said, I’ve been lucky).

    I hope you feel better soon, Shelley, and may your next doctor be McDreamy or McSteamy (your choice).

  23. shelley Says:

    Q…I’m glad you can appreciate the beauty of an ear growing on a mouse’s back. And I’m also glad that one of the only days of school you missed was to go to B-ham!!! 😉

    Phile….my toe hurts thinking about your toe. My ear hurts even worse thinking of having to lance it.

    YIKES! 😉

  24. bamaborntxbred Says:

    How are you feeling today my friend?

  25. shelley Says:

    I feel like such a whiner, but I’m still pretty under the weather.

    However, I did make it to work…I figured I’d feel bad at home as much as I’d feel bad here.

  26. bamaborntxbred Says:

    You’re not a whiner, I asked!

    I know, if I’m not so sick I can’t fathom getting out of bed…I’d rather be at work. I don’t like being alone when I’m sick. Now, if I’m feeling great, I’d rather be at home than at work. 🙂

  27. shelley Says:

    So true, Bama.

    I’m usually aching to leave the office…but when I’m sick…BOORRR-RRRINGGGG!!!

  28. suzi-q Says:

    Whoa:) this is truly ironicallly sick, I’m using the same mouse pic in a powerpoint presentation on Chimeras and Mosaicism. It is kind of gross but the implications are one day growing needed organs for human transplants through the use of stem cells (not harvested from human embryos, am agin it:) Chimeras give a whole new meaning to the phrase “he’s beside himself” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, I crack myself up!

  29. Jan Says:

    Why do they ask you when your last period was when you go to the doctor? Why? I always wonder if one time I’m going to July 15th and they are going to put me in quarantine because my period start date does not conform to standards.

  30. shelley Says:

    I guess it’s to see if you might be preggers.

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