In my younger days, I had the opportunity to travel to Florida with my parents and my new fiancé. My aunt and uncle lived on the Gulf, so we stayed at their house and went to the beach everyday for a week. It was great memories, a full house, great meals, and I learned how to swim for the first time in salt water. It was amazing at first until about the 3rd day my ears were all of a sudden in pain deep within the ear canal. Generally, I can withstand a lot of pain, but this, this was pounding. Eventually I was lying on an available bed with hot packs on each side of my head, eating aspirin like candy, and crying like a toddler.
My father even felt sorry for me. He was a “rub dirt on it and walk it off” kind of guy. He was born in the 30s and decided he was going to help with some remedies that he remembered as a child. First, he warmed some oil and poured it in my ear. It felt ok at first, but it did not help. Then he went out and bought an earwax candle and tried that. It ended up being nothing more than a fire hazard, had some wax on it, but the pain remained.
I was becoming a wet blanket on everyone’s good time to say the least. My father was frowning and telling everyone that he was out of ideas around the dining room table that afternoon. My family, and my fiancé didn’t know what to do but feel sorry for me. Aunt Barb suggested a 24-hour physician service that was in the area and maybe they had a treatment.
Heavy footsteps walked into the bedroom and Dad let me know in his fatherly voice to get up and that we were going to a Rapid Response…it hurt to stand up, but you didn’t argue with his fatherly voice.
When I eventually saw the doctor, I shared that my ears were killing me. They hurt deep in the canal. He removed a scope from the wall and looked in my ears.
“You been swimming in the gulf?” he asked as he looked in the other ear.
“Yes,” I replied. “How did you know?”
“You are tanner than anyone that actually lives here, and both ears are more red than your tan. Must be painful.”
He walked over to the cupboard and returned with bottle. He put some drops in each ear and it was instantly better. “You have swimmers’ ear,” he said. “It happens when you swim in the gulf that has bacteria.” Then he handed me earplugs and smiled. “You should be almost good-as-new by this evening. Put a couple drops in your ears every hour. I am going to give you a prescription for antibiotics to speed things up but keep the bottle. You can get it at any drugstore without my signature.”
I looked at the bottle. I laughed. For swimmers’ ear was labeled right on the bottle.
I was almost normal by that evening, and I wore my ear plugs the rest of the vacation. It was wonderful. I learned that it is better to find a professional to help you. I learned about swimmers’ ear, in which none of my family had heard of. I learned that it is better take the time to protect my ears than to be a wet blanket. No one wants to be a wet blanket.