I sat in shock as the doctor, his face somber, informed me that I had Acute Eustachian Salpingitis.
Worse, it was accompanied by Labyrinthitis.
You can imagine my reaction. Why me? Why now? What is it?
Okay, the now was because I’d just started vacation. I have a lot of sick days saved up, because I only get sick when I was already scheduled off, anyway. That’s Hunter’s Law of Vacations #2. (#1 is: If you plan a vacation outdoors, the weather will be terrible. It’s a bit more obvious than rule #2.)
In a quavering voice, I asked, “Am I gonna die, Doc?”
“Yes, he said. Yes, you will. I’d give you maybe twenty to thirty years if you take care of yourself, and maybe late 2022 if you keep going the way you have been.”
Wait. three words I can’t pronounce, and it’s not fatal?
This is how Dr. Google defines it: lymphoid hyperplasia in or about the eustachian tube. You’d take that seriously too, wouldn’t you? I didn’t start making out a will right away, but only because I’ve always known my wife would outlive me, so she gets the house anyway. And there’s nothing she can do about it.
“I want you,” the Doctor intoned, “to perform the Valsalva Maneuver several times a day.”
“Whoa! That’s kinda personal, Doc–and I’m getting older. I’m not sure I could manage that more than twice a week.”
|At least I don’t have to do another sleep study.
After translating all that Latin into Lower Middle Class American, I discovered a sinus infection had spread into my ear.
Yeah. I had to cancel the fund raiser, the film crew stalked away in disgust, and all those people who spent the day wearing chartreuse in my honor were really upset.
|Turns out others have had worse days than I have.|
A few years ago I had sinus surgery. It reduced my sinus infections from two or three a year, to one every year and a half or so … but the ones I do get seem to be worse. This time around I decided to treat it myself; it’s not as though I didn’t know what was happening.
As you know, there are two kinds of men: The ones who retreat to their death beds at every sniffle, and the ones who cut off an arm, tie it off with a belt, and go back to work. I lean a little more toward that last kind, especially since my belt is old and needs replaced, anyway. So I didn’t go to the doctor until my balance was so affected I had to walk sideways to go anywhere at all. The room wasn’t spinning, exactly … it was doing more of a roller coaster thing.
|Say hello to my little “friend”.
And that worked out just fine, because my plan had been to stay inside and write. Other than those times when I felt too bad even to do that, the week went pretty much the way I expected it to, not including the awful neti pot. Where did that idea come from, anyway? North Korean torture chambers?
Oh, and the Valsalva Maneuver? You just pinch off your nose, blow in a little pressure, then swallow. Easy … although if it was a cooking recipe, that would have been one too many steps for me.
So the good news: I didn’t end up in the hospital as so many have this year, and I got to experience being drunk without actually drinking.