Last night I developed an excruciating ear ache in my left ear. And I couldn't hear out of it properly either.
The pain was so bad it woke me up at 3am exactly and I just couldn't get back to sleep. A couple of ibuprofen helped with the pain but still didn't let me nod off again.
I'm the first to admit I do the wrong thing with my ears. I stick all sorts of things in there when I've got an itch to scratch; pencils, phone sticks, cocktail sticks, you name it. It's just the wrong thing to do of course. Sticking things in your ears compacts ear wax, can damage the ear drums, introduces foreign objects that get stuck and can, as has probably been the case with me, introduce infection. Infection leads to swelling. And I guess the swelling causes the pain.
As I was lying in bed in this what had become skull cracking pain I briefly thought about going to A&E (drama queen). Then I thought maybe I wait until the morning and bowl up at the doctors' surgery. By 5am I'd scaled back my ambitions to a simple trip to Boots the chemist on the way into work.
Eventually I dragged myself out of bed feeling dog tired and proceeded to do the one thing I really shouldn't have done. My only defence is that I was really tired. I stupidly decided to poke around my painful ear with a cotton bud. My thinking being I couldn't make things worse and I might actually get the infection out (ok I was really tired so not thinking straight). How wrong I was. As soon as I stuck the cotton bud in I howled with pain and hopped around the bathroom. What an idiot. That really hurt. My ear was now throbbing. Throbbing and angry. Waiting for me to make my next move.
As I was throwing the cotton bud away I noticed it was soaked in an aqueous black gunge. Yuk. So there was something in my ear I thought. Against all reason I decided I has to get it out by hook or by crook. Excruciating pain or no.
So I hopped in the shower and unscrewed the shower head. To the end of the shower hose I attached an empty syringe barrel. You mean you don't have syringe barrels lying around your bathroom? Once the water was turned on this produced a single small jet of water with the thrust of a small space rocket. I steadied myself. This was either deafness or bust.
I didn't want to go in all guns blazing as my painful ear was still smarting from the cotton bud folly. So gingerly I tried it out of my 'good' right ear first. And it seemed to do the trick. It blasted away all the ear wax, the crud, the whatever from my 'good' ear just fine. I shook the water out and I could hear out of my 'good ear' clear as a bell.
Right. In for a penny, in for a pound. I stuck the jet of luke-warm water into my painful, swollen, black aqueous crud-filled left ear and hoped for the best.
To my amazement it felt really good. Lots of crap came out and it tickled a bit right inside my head. But afterwards my ear felt way better. Sure the swelling was still there and a bit of pain but nothing like what it was. I shook my head. Finished showering and tried not to focus too much on what damage I might have caused.
That was about two hours ago and so far so good. My ear initially swelled up a little bit then calmed down. It's really painful now just aching a bit. It may just be a brief respite as the infection can't have been completely washed away. So I waiting to see what happens next. I might take a trip to Boots and see it they've got any drops to reduce the swelling.
Update: upon the advice of friends and work colleagues I agreed to see a doctor. Unfortunately my own surgery couldn't see me until next Monday (six days hence) so I went to the Soho NHS Walk-in Centre. They saw me within forty-five minutes and prescribed some ear drops called Locorten-Vioform to be taken twice a day for a week. I also got a stern warning about poking things in my ears in future!