My right ear is throbbing but at least it doesn’t hurt anymore. Yesterday the ear/nose/ throat doc said I had a “nasty” middle ear infection. He sent me out of his office with a bunch of prescriptions, calling into the hall after me, “So you’ve had no surgeries? (I hadn’t seen that question on the informational sheets. I’m not sure why he asked.)

“Oh, I’ve had two, both with local anesthesia,” I told him. And I had explained — probably repeatedly — that I didn’t like taking pills.

Recovery Day One: I’m not one to lie around but here I am, hanging out on the couch. Not worrying about the debt ceiling or work or whether someone wonderful will rent my house for the winter. I’m taking a break from regular life. Maybe I’ll lose some weight in the process. All because of the meds.

One of my goals growing older is not to take a lot of pills. In just one day I can see how they rule your life: ear drops 4x a day, antibiotic twice a day one hour after a meal, and a weird schedule of some kind of steroid that was supposed to reduce the swelling of my Eustachian tubes (I’ve already gotten the ent man to let me drop it after a day, made me dizzy and nauseated).

Pills can rule your life. Antibiotics make my stomach hurt. Then take a probiotic supplement. More pills. I’d rather eat a mango.

Good clean water is the best medicine. “Drink plenty of water” may have been some of my best parenting advice. At least I know it was heeded. I recall Brook directing a play when she had a bad cold during her senior year at Wesleyan. She sent an article with a photo of herself looking very directorial, with a scarf around her neck, gesturing with her hands, telling a reporter, “I’m drinking plenty of water like my mom told me.”

Not having enough water on the plane must be how I got this ear infection. Flying cross-country last week I also didn’t splash water on my face every half-hour. Reading “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” commanded all my attention. I remember thinking later, “Hmm…I probably should have tossed more water on my face.” This technique — especially under my nose — has worked  to keep my ears safe in the past.

When I was younger I got lots of sinus infections. My former ent brother-in-law told me I had “kinky eardrums.” I pop my ears in the shower daily, as he advised. Next time I fly I’m taking one of those spray bottles for plants. Saving a lot of money on doctor’s visits and pills — so that I can go on more trips — is always a good thing.


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