For years, when I would complain of not feeling well, Dave would listen to me the first or second time and then suggest I not focus so much on the ailment. Although he meant well, this usually did not go over well with me. Whether it was my inflamed sinuses or a migraine headache, a shooting pain or blurry vision, or my favorite – my fuzzy ear, his solution almost always involved positive thinking. I accused him of not caring. He said if I cared I would get it checked-out and not just complain about it.
So a few years ago, I did just that. And after two rounds of a heavy-duty antibiotic, I got the “all clear,” yet I still felt something going on in my ear. My doctor was puzzled, so she sent me to an ENT specialist. I just knew it was going to bad. I had gotten my ear infection after swimming in the Gulf when there was bad bacteria there, before we were aware.
So the Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist looked in my ear, and simply said, “Quit using Q-tips.” I sat there a little dumb-founded, wondering if this statement was an aside, or if this appointment was now over.
“That’s it?” I asked.
He replied, “Yep. Your ears are trying to heal themselves and you are not letting them.”
No, something else is going on, I thought. Does this guy even know my plight?
Trying not to seem like the hypochondriac my husband has insinuated me to be lately, I inquired about the feeling of cotton moving around in my ear and the associated pain I felt. His response – “The ear canal is supposed to have skin.”
Yeah? And? I sat there a little confused. The questioning, and almost angry, look on my face prompted him to explain that what I am feeling is skin trying to form, and the lack of it means I have nothing protecting my ear canals. “Quit using Q-tips and go enjoy life,” he instructed, as he walked out the door.
I was definitely dumbfounded.
The first thing I did when I got in my car, was cry. Is this guy for real? What if he is wrong? These were my immediate thoughts. Next, my thoughts revolved around the amount of money I had just spent to be told I was fine. I felt happy about this, being fine, yet scared of the notion that he could be wrong. And although I was sure that Dave would be happy to hear this news, I was just as sure he would not be thrilled about the cost.
I started thinking of ways I could spin this, to make it seem like less of a waste of money somehow, and after a few different scenarios went through my mind, I laughed at myself. “This is no excuse to go backwards,” I said to myself aloud, and when I got home and Dave asked, “What did the doctor say?” I sobbed and said, “Quit using Q-tips.”
The doctor’s words rang around in my mind for days. “Quit using Q-tips and go enjoy life.” Why did this make me so mad? No – he’s wrong, he has to be, I kept thinking. Doctors are wrong all the time. And then it happened. My “light-bulb moment” or “burning bush,” if you would, of how what I think, really does create the life I have – physically, socially, and of course, mentally. I could clearly see that I had two choices – I could go on a mission to prove the doctor wrong or I could go on a mission to enjoy life. Damn-it, Dave had this all along, for which I called him a “moron” many times.
The following days and weeks, whenever I felt that feeling of cotton moving around in my ear, instead of thinking it was some antibiotic-resistant bacteria multiplying close to my brain, I imagined my own skin cells, diligently organizing all the tools needed to repair my inner ear. When I felt pain associated with the process, I visualized Dave hitting his finger with a hammer while building a beautiful house. “It happens,” I said to myself, “building beautiful things is not guaranteed to be pain-free!”
Two and a half years later – a full 30 months after that appointment with the specialist – I am happy to report that my ear issue seems to be solved. All by not using q-tips, and I have no doubt that changing the way I was thinking about it helped. I do have other sinus issues for which I have also found a solution that does not include decongestants, and I will be sharing that soon. Also look for future posts on how I came to realize that yes, I always had to have something in my sights to be “all freaked out about” and how I am turning it around, using perspective.
Until then, may our perspectives positively develop into something good!