A Bad Case of the “What Ifs” ~ by Sam

I have a long-standing chronic case of the “What-Ifs.”  Every time I see a new freckle, or dimple, or pucker, lump, or bump I’m thinking, “Oh, God, What If…??”  I can’t help it, there’s a lot of Cancer in my family.  Every time I fall, I wonder if something is broken, because 9 times out of 10, something is.  With a track record like that, you start to get nervous.  Every time I start to cough, and my chest feels rattly, I think, “geez, what if this turns into bronchitis, or pneumonia?”  Because, you guys, I don’t have time for that.  Nobody’s got time for that.  Look, I have asthma, and the chances that my cough is going to turn into something like that are higher than those of a person who doesn’t have asthma, so it’s not just totally crazy for me to think that.  When my kids cough, I think, “What if…??” FOR EXACTLY THE SAME REASONS.  And, like, they’ve already missed roughly three million days of school.  And that was probably just this week. There’s probably a truant officer at my door right freaking now.  I’d answer it, but I’m on hold with Kaiser because the automated system kicked me to the wrong option when I coughed.  It’s not my fault.  I might have pneumonia.

Basically, I’m a mess.  Pretty much always, and I know it.

Recently ~ and by recently, I think I mean since like the beginning of April ~ I have been chronically congested, and my nose has been sore and chapped.  It’s super attractive.  I figured it was probably allergies.  I have allergies.  I have never found a daily allergy medication that works very well.  Usually, at some point, I end up with a sinus infection, which I was dreading, and trying to avoid.  I also have a Eustachian tube malfunction in my left ear, which is not the ear in which I use a hearing aid ~ I hate to call it “my good ear,” because my other ear is just as good, despite being somewhat deaf ~ this means it almost always feels sort of plugged, and like it needs to pop, but it doesn’t pop.  Like, ever.  And this affects my hearing in that ear.  It sounds like everything is underwater, sometimes for hours, sometimes for days.  Anyway, it had felt this way, and I was kind of used to it, but it wasn’t terrible, to be honest.  I haven’t ever had any pain associated with the Eustachian tube thing.  Maybe, sometimes, it feels a little full, like a little pressure, but never pain. Then, last Saturday, as we were driving home from Accepted Student Day at Hallie’s college  ~ OMG!  Did I just say that?!!  My middle child is headed to college in the Fall!!  How crazy is that??!!! *deep breath* I’ll have to post about that later ~ my ear popped, just a tiny bit, but it HURT.  I mean, it really hurt.  I had to grip the steering wheel, and grit my teeth. Then, it continued to hurt through the day, and into the evening.

I figured, maybe that was sort of normal with the Eustachian tube malfunction; but, when I looked it up online, I couldn’t find anything about pain being associated with it. So I did the smart thing, and decided to wait a few days, to see what happened.  You see, by this time, I had decided, probably nothing was wrong, and I was worried for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

But…

WHAT IF…?

What if I had a really bad ear infection, and I didn’t get it checked out, and I permanently lost hearing in my left ear?  What if my eardrum was ruptured?  I mean…On the one hand, I guess, if I thought through both of those scenarios, I’d have to say, “So?”  Like…”So, if either of those conditions already exists, HOW IS NOT CALLING THE DOCTOR GOING TO HELP??”  Also, I do get that, if I were to lose some (or even all) hearing in my left ear, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.  It would just be a change from what I’m used to.  It’s weird that the idea freaked me out so much.  I think, maybe it was the possibility that something (like an infection, or ruptured eardrum) might be very wrong that was most upsetting.  I think, in situations like this, I still have a tendency to go into small-child-survival-mode. Like, maybe if I don’t call, it will go away, and then it will be like it never happened.  That’s how life works.  I’m so good at being a grown up, you guys.  Right?  I’m reminded of the time, when I was 5 years old, and a needle I’d stepped on broke off in my foot.  I just didn’t tell anyone.  That resulted in surgery, so you can see how this plan has worked for me in the past.  It makes sense that I’d stick with it.

Like the needle, this just wasn’t going away.  I couldn’t hear.  It hurt.  People would talk, and I’d ask them to stop yelling.  It was bad.  And you know how when something is wrong with your ear, your balance is off, and you feel sick to your stomach, too?  Yeah.  That, too.

So, I finally bit the bullet and emailed my doctor.  Emailed, because I didn’t even feel like making a phone call.

I got a phone call back from the nurse.  She was a bit taken aback that I had not called, and said that doctor wanted me to come in as soon as possible to be evaluated.  You guys, I was on the phone with this woman asking, “Are you sure?  We can’t possibly do a phone appointment, can we?” and she had to say to me, “No.  The doctor needs to see your ear, dear.”  I know this.  I know all of these things.  I know I needed to call.  I probably needed to call Saturday, let’s be honest.

*sigh*

Well, my ridiculous story has an equally ridiculous, but happy, ending.

I have really bad allergies.  And a Eustachian tube malfunction.  They don’t like each other very much, so they don’t work together well.  There’s no infection.  My eardrum is intact.  I’m trying new daily allergy medications, in hopes one will work.

Everything still sounds like it’s underwater.  And, sometimes, it hurts.  But at least I’m not as worried about it as I was.

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