Thursday, March 27, 2008


File this one under Things You Didn't Know About Me:

For years, I was scared to blow my nose.

You see, when I was growing up, I had recurring ear problems. Two rounds of tubes didn't fix them and nary a year passed without me spoiling a holiday with a major, scream-inducing ear ache. It's painful just to type about it. I had to wear the dinner plate sized ear plugs during the summers and everything.

Anyway, things really crescendoed the summer before sixth grade. We were at the lake, hanging on to the innertube with all our might while my dad sped all over the water, trying his hardest to flip us. Eventually, he succeeded, and after I flew through the air, my head/ear landed perfectly flat on the water. The impact knocked my earring out of my ear. Later, back at the dock, we were swimming around and I realized that I couldn't stay underwater without the sensation that water, very cold water, was seeping into my head. I thought I just kept swimming into cold spots, but no one else was feeling them, and it was starting to hurt something fierce, so I got out and called it a day.

My mom took me to the doctor after I reported some pain in the next few weeks, and turns out, I had completely shattered my ear drum. Busted it wide open. Which meant one thing.*

I reported for surgery a few weeks before school started. Dr. Baldwin made a C-shaped incision behind my left ear, took some tissue from there, and then stretched it over my ear drum to repair it. It was an outpatient surgery. I remember coming out from under the anesthesia and my dad trying to get me to sit up too quickly, a decision he no doubt regretted as I promptly threw up all over his pants and shoes.

I left the hospital with a dome taped over my left ear (shut up, it was only for the first night). We took the dome off the next day and I was horrified to see they had shaved 2-3" inches of hair around my ear. WTF!? How was I going to start sixth grade with a half-shaved (okay, barely shaved) head? Our solution, once I finally was able to wash my head and leave the house, was that I pulled all the hair to the right of my part back in a bow, and left all the hair to the left of my part down, covering my ear and my funky haircut (if I had pictures, I'd post them).

Anyway, also included in our instructions were that I had to sleep on my right side for six weeks (why I still have to sleep on my right side today, in case anyone was wondering), I couldn't run or play or lift heavy objects for six weeks (effectively dashing my dream of becoming a professional body builder; settled for a new cat, Milo, instead) and most importantly - I couldn't blow my nose for six weeks, lest I bust the ear drum again.

Only, I ended up not blowing my nose for more like six years. I don't know how I got around it, how that logistically worked out, but I'm sure it's gross and we covered gross yesterday so let's not go there again. The point is - I was in college before I really would go for the gold in terms of blowing my nose. I would sniff into tissues, but it wasn't until college that I learned the true art - and satisfaction - of clearing one's nasal passages, with the gusto of a gale force wind, into an unsuspecting kleenex. One of my roommates suffered from allergies and was therefore arguably a professional nose blower, leaving a trail of pink tissues all over our suite. So I guess you could say I learned from the best.

So what's my point? Lately, since I have been dealing with a head cold, I am just really grateful that I got over that phobia. Blowing your nose is one of the quickest, albeit temporary, reliefs there is and I have been doing it almost every ten minutes. Anna, you'd be so proud.

*Actually, it meant two things. Surgery, but better yet, a year full of McDonald's ice cream sundaes from the McDonald's next to my doctor's office, since I had lots of post-op follow up appointments and my mom is a sucker for their soft-serve cones.


  1. sometimes I think we're actually the same person.

    I had two rounds of tubes myself, and a childhood full of ear infections. Mine cleared up earlier than yours though, and I never burst my ear drums, but I do have the distinct memory of picking dried blood out of my ears at the dinner table. yum.

  2. These posts are getting harder and harder to read. I mean they're great, witty, and smart. Surgery makes me squemish as well as dirty makeup brushes and pink tissues around your room.

    Great story though. I'm thrilled you are now blowing your nose.


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