M has been sick for the past two weeks. Coughing like a hardened smoker, sore throat, the works. Small Z and I thought that we had missed out. We thought wrong. This is DISEASE! This is THE PLAGUE. Yesterday morning, after a bad night, I went and laid down next to Small Z and it felt as if my ear was filling up…
This is not good, I thought. This is not good at all. I sat up, but it was too late. My ear started to stab me with tiny pickaxes whenever I swallowed the wrong way. I was beyond soldiering on. I called the medical centre on redial until they opened at 8am (this is what you have to do to get an appointment) and booked in for 11.10am, barely believing I’d got one of the two doctors I’d asked for.
I was a zombie. The pain in my ear, coupled with the shovel-loads of snot in my head and my chest along with a cough that sounded like advanced emphysema, all gathered together to put me beyond speaking. Except for the yelping I would do when one of the swallows struck my ear. M (the best person to have on hand during a crisis) drove us all to the medical centre, where we had to wait for one of the longest hours of my existence because they were running over time.
I comforted myself that this was because the doctor is thorough and doesn’t kick you out when your 10 minutes is up. Small Z and M did so well. An hour is a looooong time in a crowded waiting room. Small Z would cough herself silly every now and again, and then bleat sadly, “Take my temperature? Medicine?” Finally we got in to the doctor. I cried at him. He, in turn, looked in my ear and then showed us all pictures of lookalike ears in a book – and then, for further comfort, scarier pictures of what ears look like when your eardrum bursts.
“It probably won’t burst,” he said, “But just in case it does, you’ll feel a bit of a gush and the muck will all come out. And if this happens, don’t get your ear wet for a month.”
“When you use the words ‘burst’ and ‘pop’ in the context of my eardrum, is that what I will hear? Will I hear a ‘pop’?”
I was so glad when he shook his head. Eardrum disintegration I could probably deal with, but building up to a big bang wasn’t in my increasingly limited repertoire. “Don’t worry,” he said kindly, “You’re not being a wimp or anything, this is a really painful thing.” I nodded mutely. Then he heard me cough. “I know you’re not smoking now with the pregnancy, but did you smoke before?” “No! This is the worst cough I’ve ever had!!” Then Small Z coughed almost in unison…
He examined her and said that if she hadn’t improved by Friday then to give her some antibiotics. He was impressed that she had never had any before. He carefully explained what I could take and I almost kissed his feet when he prescribed me some antibiotics that were in the same class of ‘this-won’t-harm-the-unborn’ as Panadol. Diagnosis? Bronchitis* and infected eardrum. Gah. We took the prescriptions straight to the adjoining chemist, where I gave them Small Z’s instead of mine and cried again when I realised I’d have to wait another ten minutes.
Finally it was sorted and M came over to where I was sitting with Small Z. He began gathering things together. I could take it no longer.
“M,” I said, in a tone that sketched a sledgehammer, “GIVE. ME. THE. DRUGS.”
He looked at me blankly, handed me the bag and then watched as I ripped open the box and threw back the first capsule. I was as desperate as a junkie.
The rest of the day I spent in bed trying not to move my head too much. The drugs didn’t really kick in until mid-morning today. It’s really hard to blow your nose without disturbing your ear. And the ear is weird. Crackles and pops and, if Small Z is being particularly loud, I get a little echoey kind of reverb. This has been the most hideous sickness that I can remember ever having. The ear pain took me back to 1992 when I had an infected wisdom tooth, but was worse than that. Oh god.
Obviously I am going to have to think of something lovely to bestow on M, as he has coped stoically with much sobbing in stereo from Small Z and I, as well as mountains of scary tissues and short tethers. And he’s going to have to stay home for the rest of the week as I haven’t been able to do any work yet and need to get two days worth in. If someone could send their private jet to take us all to Bali for the week, it would be wildly appreciated…
* – an umbrella term for a cough that sounds like a death rattle