Friday, August 16, 2013

An Earful - or Just - A Full Ear

Rob continues to fight a battle with an ear infection.  So, if you've seen him and he said 'what?' alot and/or looked like he's a bit uncomfortable, that is probably why.  I am now on round three of treatment.  But, perhaps the most important point is that IF you need to call one of us at the CSA distribution, you should call Tammy.  While the phone isn't usually my favorite thing, it has become somewhat useless of late.  If I do hear the phone ring the conversation is something like this  ->  "Hello?  Hello?  Hello?  Um... I think someone is there, but I can't hear you.  Could you send smoke signals instead?" 

The ludicrous part of this is how we tend to get so used to using certain 'sides' of our body for certain tasks.  The ear infection is in the left ear.  I have always put the phone up to that ear.  It is absolutely ridiculous that something as small as trying to remember to put the phone up to the other ear can be difficult.  But, it is also interesting to note that the right ear doesn't seem to be trained to listen  in the same way the left ear has.  The infection has gone on long enough that the phone call scenario is more like this:

Phone is pulled out of pocket and shoved up to the left ear.
Rob:  "Hello, this is Rob."
Person on other end of phone:  "mmrmphmrrsmwrrphff."
Rob: "Um, hold on for a second."
Phone is placed against right ear.
Rob: "Could you say all of that again?"

I can now hear just fine.  But, for some reason, the brain/ear doesn't always want to stay on task with the process of listening on the phone.  It's almost as if the right ear is saying "Hey!  This isn't my job, I'm supposed to get to spend my time shutting out other noises so lefty can do its job and help you concentrate on the conversation."   I must admit that I'm never quite sure what to think when various body parts begin speaking to me.  If you were all worried about my penchant for conversing with plants...

In any event, the resulting phone conversations probably make people think that I have absolutely no ability to concentrate.  I can only hope I haven't agreed to do something that I shouldn't have.  At the very least, I suspect some of my answers have been - to be charitable - confusing.

Other Person: "So, are you able to bring the frozen chickens we ordered to the Thursday CSA pickup?"
Rob: "Yes, we put all of our CSA produce into our pickup on a delivery day."

Sometimes the confusion can be hilarious.  I remember having a wax buildup problem in my ears when I was in elementary school.  I also remember that I had a vocabulary (whatever that is) that was greater that many of my classmates.  We had mandatory hearing tests at that time and a subset of students were called back for second tests.  Of course, our names were broadcast over the speaker system for all to hear.  And, also to be expected, some of the kids wanted to use this opportunity to tease those who were tagged to leave for a second test.

Other kid in standard taunting voice: "Ha ha ha!  You have to get your hearing tested again!" 
Rob in standard indignant kid voice: "No way!  I've already had my urine tested."

The good news - my classmate didn't know what 'urine' was.
The bad news - I heard 'urine' instead of 'hearing.'
More bad news - I hadn't heard the announcement well enough to understand what my name had been listed for.  So, I was actually pretty nervous about having to have my urine tested.
The confusing part - what's an eight year doing thinking he's being taunted about urine testing?  Is it possible he was worried about the spate of PED's in playground dodgeball?

I'm also much more aware of how much I use my hearing while I work on the farm.  A leak in an irrigation line is easier to locate when BOTH ears are working.  A chicken hiding in some weeds is easier to find with both ears operating normally.  Imagine how embarrassing it could be to be discovered poking around in the high tunnel in the cucumbers, looking for a leak, only to have someone walk in and point out a leak on the OTHER SIDE of the high tunnel.

Other Person:  "Hey, did you know we've got a leak in the drip tape over here?"
Rob:  "Um.  Yes, I heard some rumor about that.  Hold on a minute while I...uh... tie my shoes.  By the way, have you seen a chicken in here?"

  And, you can locate the frogs hoping around in the cucumbers more quickly, making it less likely that they can startle you with an unexpected leap.  But, I suspect even normal hearing would not have prepared me for the frog that made an err in directional judgement. This week's "cucumber yoga" session was highlighted by the frog that landed on my foot and then proceeded to jump so that it collided with my cucumber picking hand.

I am proud to say that I held onto the nippers AND that I was not startled into cutting myself with them.  On the other hand, I am not entirely certain I found all of the cucumbers I had in the crook of my arm at that time.  Although, I did find a couple of cucumbers over by the old pea row later in the week that I don't recall putting there on purpose.

Then, there is the issue of sleeping.  I am a "light" sleeper and I tend to wake up for odd noises, lights, etc.  For one example - check an older blog post about an event a few winters ago.  But, what happens when a person with an ear infection on the left side, rolls over to sleep on their right side?  With both ears effectively blocked, you might think I would sleep better because I would not hear *any* out of place noises.

Au contraire...  I have found it to be harder to get to sleep if I can't hear and I'm more likely to wake up.  It's almost as if my brain is operating on the principle that most parents with small children are very familiar with -

It's quiet.  It's too quiet.  I'd better go check on things.

The positive for me is that I just wake up, get my right ear off the pillow, open my eyes and assess things.  And, of course, everything is usually just fine.  Parents of small children typically discover that their 2 year old has just stuffed an entire roll of TP into the tub drain.  I think I can deal with this.

I also understand cats and dogs that have ear mites a bit better.  I've seen a cat with that affliction walk around with its head slightly tilted.  It would stop periodically and shake its head.  Now, the farmer walks around the farm with his head slightly tilted, stopping occasionally to shake his head.  I've finally trained myself to stop the head shake after I realized that some of the crew thought I was saying 'no' to one of their questions.  The reality was, I hadn't heard most of the question.  But, I will admit to being a bit surprised later on when part of a task I had set them was not done.  Apparently I told them not to complete that part of the task.  Oops.

And, of course, there is the crackling noise that comes from fluid and other junk in the ear moving around when I swallow or breath or.. well whenever it wants to make a crackling noise.  Imagine desperately wanting to listen to a program on an AM radio station that is barely in range.

And finally, there is the issue of intermittent hearing out of the left ear.  At times, the ear will clear enough to let sound in.  My poor brain is finally training itself not to expect much sound from that side, so when it does happen it isn't sure what to do with the signals it receives.  A sudden burst of sound on that side is sufficient to cause me to jump a bit.

Picture Rob walking in the field with an AM/FM radio up to his ear.  His head is cocked sideways and he occasionally shakes it from side to side.  Frogs are leaping onto the bill of his cap while he attempts to find the hole in the drip tape somewhere in the cucumber field.  His phone has annoyed him one too many times and lies at the end of the row in pieces.  Next to that are flint and steel he tried to use to start a smoke signal fire.  But, since he doesn't know how to effectively use them, they have been discarded.

*crackle pop* ..tom of the ninth, what a World Series it's....*crackle zzzt* are loaded and two ou....*crackle crackle*

*suddenly the left ear clears and the sound of crickets confuses the brain*
...full count and.. *pop crackle* comes the pitch and ...*zzzzzzt crackle*

 I may not hear it all, but at least I don't have to try to get the TP out of the drain.  I just hope I don't have to have my urine tested.

1 comment:

  1. For a number of years it seemed like I almost had a continuous ear infection (or swimmer's ear) like you describe.

    I had painful ears, drainage, trouble hearing and sleeping, and going to the doctor more than I wanted to.

    This summer someone suggested that I might be either allergic or sensitive to eggs, and that might be the cause of my ear problems.

    I usually ate eggs for breakfast and didn't really want to believe that simply eating eggs could cause all my ear problems. But, I was willing to try anything, so I stopped eating eggs and it seemed like my ear problems got better.

    I don't know how many eggs you typically eat, or if it's even possible to be allergic to eggs, but it might be worth considering.


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