For those that follow along with me on social media, this will be a re-hashing, but I wanted to put everything out there in one spot for my own memories. Normally, I don’t share a lot of personal info about myself and my health. I’ve talked about my anxiety in the past, and some of my orthopedic stuff, but in general I don’t go into a lot of medical stuff. However, I decided to make a break with that this time, because of how much this entire event impacted my life, plus I think there’s a couple of interesting nuggets in here about how doctors work with each other.
In my last post I detailed about my unexpected adventure getting home from Nevada. Due to my ear issue, I decided not to fly back, and instead took a multi-day train/bus/shuttle/car journey. When I got back I tried to get back to things as normal, however, my ear still wasn’t back to normal. My plan though was to head up to Arrowhead on Sunday and keep on going as planned.
On Saturday we ran an errand to drop off some things, and on our way back I decided that I needed to call the CareLine because of how my ear didn’t seem to get any better, and it was actually causing me some numbness on my face. Well, as soon as I said numbness on one side of my face, the CareLine nurse insisted I go to an ER. We headed to the hospital near home and they decided to do an MRI to check things out. I ended up being in the MRI tube for about and hour, which killed my back. Those are not comfortable tables to lay on.
The results of the MRI came back and the doctor said that it appeared that I had Mastoidites. Meaning that the ear infection was also in the bones behind my ear. He consulted with an ENT doctor and they sent me to a different hospital to get on some IV antibiotics instead of the oral ones I was taking. Thus began the very first time in my life that I’ve had to sleep in a hospital as the patient.
We got me settled on Saturday night, and waited around for more doctors to visit. Eventually the ENT doc came by and took a look. He felt that it wasn’t too bad, but that I should continue on the antibiotics for another day and that if things weren’t improving they could drain the ear of fluid to help move things along. The next day came and went and went, and it wasn’t until afternoon that we decided that I would be discharged on Monday to head to the ENT clinic to get my ear drained. The infectious disease doc also wanted a culture of the fluid to see what type of infection it was and better target antibiotics if I needed it.
Monday morning we head to the ENT clinic and the doctor there says that my ear actually isn’t that bad and that he doesn’t think there’s any more infection, just a bunch of fluid. He said that medical docs tend to overreact when they see inflamed mastoids and that from the ENT perspective, this is all normal and will heal in time. He did offer to drain the ear though if I wanted, to try and get some relief. I opt’d to try that and the entire procedure took no more than 5 minutes. It probably wouldn’t have even taken that long, but he had a medical student with him and he was showing her everything he was doing.
They suctioned out all the fluid, and we opt’d to just let it heal instead of a tube. I left the clinic, and I could tell right away that the drainage helped a ton, even though my hearing wasn’t quite back to normal. Now, a day later, it’s back to having some fluid built up again, but it’s not quite the same level of pressure. According to the ENT doc it’s going to take weeks to resolve, but since I don’t have a fever or anything like that, I should be fine.
The interesting thing for me was how the different docs viewed this situation. The ER doc went into immediate action mode, wanting to fix the problem. The infectious disease doc was focused on the root cause and identifying the specific infection that started all of this. The ENT’s were the least concerned and felt that no one knew as much about ears as them, and so everyone should just relax and not worry about it. The entire dynamic between the different disciplines was fascinating, and shows that medicine is not a single monolith.
So now, I’m back at home, and going to try to just keep doing life as normal. I’ll have a follow up with the ENT in a few weeks, and hopefully by then everything will have resolved and I’ll be back to 100% normal. I’m ready for normal.