Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ow ow ow ow ow...

This is the full extent of my vocabulary for the past three days. I have a rip roaring ear infection. I don't believe I've had one since I was a kid. Thank goodness not, because the only thing that hurts worse, my friends, is labor. No epidural for this kind of pain, either. I have been eight kinds of miserable these last few days. It started on Wednesday, after the Bean (finally) got his 6 month (!) shots. Coincidentally (or not) he was also diagnosed with an ear infection. That evening, I heard a rubbing noise in my right ear, followed by an immediate sensation of fullness that did not resolve. I took and antihistamine and a decongestant and woke up the next morning at 4 am with severe pain. As I lay in bed, trying not to move, lest the fluid crackle and make my ear hurt even worse than it already did, the pager went off signaling the arrival of a labor patient. Grudgingly I got up and showered, finding my movement extremely limited. I couldn't even bend over to wrap up my hair in a towel without twinging my ear so badly it wrought a stream of curses.

I arrived on labor and delivery, caught a very fast baby about 10 minutes later, and started to move slowly through my hospital rounds. I stopped a kindly family med doctor, whom I begged to check my ear. (You see, I must relate that ears completely squick me out. The fluid, the hair cells, the little bones that *articulate*, the membrane...ick, ew, and gross. Funny, I know, coming from a specialist in one of the arguably more gross professions around. To each their own.) I was just *convinced* some wandering spider had laid eggs in my ear and they were getting ready to hatch. My colleague allayed my fears, but told me that, indeed, my ear was "cherry red" with fluid bulging behind the TM. Great. I got an Aug.mentin script called in, finished rounds, and did a post-partum tubal on my morning delivery patient. Then I headed to the office, where I proceeded to throw a minor hissy fit because I had 21 patients scheduled in roughly 3 hours (of which there were at least 3 new patients, 3 problem patients, and an I&D of a perineal abscess on the list). My hissy fit was for naught, however, as about 10 patients later, I was called to attend another delivery. I happily canceled the rest of the day and rushed back to the hospital.

As I sat waiting, my ear pain kept escalating, throbbing, and ringing. The nurse caring for my labor patient was forever messing with the electronic charting and not helping the patient (a primip) to push in any significant way. The baby kept deceling and the nurse kept ignoring the strip and focusing on the computer, and my ear kept twinging. I did the best that I could to encourage the patient. Her family stood stock-still, lined up against the farthest wall of the labor room, and her nurse hadn't even turned on the baby warmer. At last, in just a hour of pushing (would have been less, had my nurse been more patient focused and less documentation focused) I delivered the baby through a triple nuchal cord and placed her on her momma's belly. Then, I handed her a sterile towel to start drying the baby, since the nurse was still ignoring us both in favor of the computer. Thankfully the baby pinked right up and no resuscitation was needed. I finished sewing the lacerations, and held my ear and moaned all the way home.

Flash forward 'till today, I have had over 48 hours of antibiotics, have been living on m.otrin and sud.afed, and I still don't feel any better. The whole right side of my head is clogged, my ear feels full of fluid that shifts and crackles, and oh, the pain is still there. No real fever, just hovering around 100.0, and I still have to hold my head perfectly still or pay the consequences. Now I'm googling Mastoid.itis and generally being a hypochondriac about the whole thing. Oh yes, and I am also on call. I can only pray that the call gods are kind to my suffering soul.

In other news, I updated my CV and sent it out to a few "backup plan" opportunities. Mr. Whoo says my health is suffering because of the lifestyle I have been living the last 3 years. Maybe he is right, because I feel 100 years old right about now. Hope you all are having a wonderful, spring-like weekend, wherever you are. I'm going to hold a hot pack to my ear and whine about it some more.


Anonymous said...

Oh man, that sucks. Hope you are able to eat ok -- the one ear infection I had as an adult made it really hard to eat because it hurt so much to open my mouth. Hang in there.

Since it's Saturday and you still aren't better, I wonder if a different antibiotic might help? Also, aren't there topical anesthetic drops that can help with the pain? That might make things more bearable. Poor thing, on call with an ear infection :( *hugs*

Margaret Polaneczky, MD (aka TBTAM) said...

Being sick sucks. Especially when we have the kind of job we can't call in sick to.

Are you taking something for the pain? Also, if you're not any better and it's been 48 hours, maybe you need to talk to your doctor. Or change antibiotics.

Not that I know anything about ear infections. Wrong orifice.

Amanda said...

I had a terrible head/chest infection last week. I know exactly how you feel. My temp was 100.1 my head was pounding, it felt like my eyes were going to explode out of my head, my ear throbbed, it felt like I was swallowing razor blades, I could barely speak, and my chest ached.. My family dr. gave me a Rocephin shot, Z-Pack and Histussin HC scripts. Took me 4 days to feel better. I hope your antibiotic/decongestant/anti-histamine routine helps you. Get rest & liquids and feel better soon.

Amanda said...

I am so sorry you are sick. I get the same thing every time I get a head cold. The whole fluid sloshing around sensation completely grosses me out. I can't imagine having to take care of patients while feeling that way.

Anonymous said...

Try Similasan ear drops. They help alot with pain. Here is a link to their website:

Julia said...

I never had an earache, ever, until I turned 16 and spent the entire winter in pain. No infection, unfortunately, just blocked tubes and excruticating pain (I'll take just about any pain over that!) I almost got tubes in.

Thankfully, I've now moved to a lower elevation place where it's constantly stormy so there isn't as much barometer changes.

Hope you feel better!

Anonymous said...

Mamadoc FP say,Well, now you know why the kids keep you up all night when they have this.....quelle bummerre! If you don't feel better soon track down an ENT guy and let him lance the thing. They used to do this in the preantibiotic era (before my time, I'm not THAT old. Or maybe you just need a different antibiotic, though a tricky proposition with the nursing thing. Hope you feel better soon@

Anonymous said...

You are my hero! I have been reading your blog for a year and you rock. I can tell how great of an OB/GYN you are. I am the the mother of micro-preemie twins (one surviving) who later went to nursing school and became a NICU nurse(after saying NICU would be the last place on earth I would ever work). Anyway an additional 2 kids later 3 total. I am now a stay at home mom and amazed at all you do!!! I think I am busy with a 1st and 2nd grader and a 1 year old, but I truly respect all that you do. And your patients do too. Although many patients don't realize the importance of a good, caring,until some emergent or serious event I know that I am thankful for honest and good ones like you how have their patient's best interest at heart rather than financial issues! I hope that you are able to resolve your work issues! Take Care

Anonymous said...

Oh, so sorry to hear about your ear. I used to get ear infections all the time as a kid and have had a few as an adult. I truly feel your pain. Just keep taking the meds and you will eventually feel better. A heating pad can help, hot showers, as well as hot liquids. I also like to eat spicy food (hot and sour soup, Thai food) and feel it helps, if only in the "I'm doing something to make myself feel better" placebo kind of way. Get well!

MamaDoc said...

Hey, I just wanted to say that I love your blog! I'm a PhD candidate considering going to medical school to be an ObGyn. I've really enjoyed looking through your archives. In fact you've inspired me to start my own blog. Take a look at it at if you get a chance. I'd love to hear your feedback!

dr. whoo? said...

hi anon~ I know, poor me! ;) I could only eat soft things for about 4 days because crunchy was too painful (and loud!) However, I seldom let things get between me and eating, unfortunately for my expanding waistline. I tried the topical drops to no avail. The pain is better now, but I still can't hear. Bah. Thanks for the hugs!

tbtam~ Yes, it does suck to not be able to take a true "sick day." I was taking Motrin around the clock for the pain. I would have taken much more, could I have, but alas, had to stay functional for possible deliveries/surgeries etc. so nothing stronger for me.

I believed that I knew very little about ear infections, but really, the ENT didn't have much more to add. He did offer to lance the eardrum, but qualified that by stating that he couldn't guarantee it would relieve my symptoms. Er, no thanks, man. I'm all for lancing if it fixes me up, but not for a maybe. KWIM?

Thanks, amanda~ I'm glad you are feeling better. Thanks for the healing thoughts. Rest, ha! Good one ;)

rxpert~ Thanks for the suggestion, next time (god forbid) I will check them out!

julia~ Misery, is it not? Thanks for the sympatheic ear...hee.

Mamadoc FP~ I know! Poor babies! I passed on the lancing 'cause the ENT said the fluid would probably reaccumulate after 2-3 days. Now I'm having second thoughts. Thank you for the kind thoughts.

anon11:04~ Aw, thank you so much!You are so sweet! I needed some encouraging words, how did you know? I am glad you are enjoying the blog. Wow, micro-preemies and a mom to 3? I know you have a lot on your plate! I truly appreciate your kind comments. Thank you for reading. :)

anon5:42~ Hi! Thanks for the suggestions. The heat does seem to help. I've been using hot packs and the heating pad quite a bit. Good call on the spicy food, I hadn't thought to try that!

red~ Hi, welcome, and holy cow. A PhD and then on to med school and OB? You are kra-zee, ahem, I mean, a better woman than I! ;0) I will definitely check out your blog. I'm glad you are enjoying this one, disjointed as it is! Thanks for the nice comments.