Meg's Blog

Sick Day

So I thought I was getting better in Vegas, thanks to the tender ministrations of Dr. Michele Jaffe, who took me for several sessions of retail therapy, a practice of which I thoroughly approve, and also enjoy.

But the minute my plane home reached cruising altitude, it felt like the inside of my right ear was going to explode.

So I staggered into the cockpit area (you know, the place outside the door to the cockpit where the flight attendants gather to load up the drink cart), and I was like, “Water,” and they gave me some super hastily, because I guess I looked like death warmed over.

Then I gulped down some decongestants and Aleve, which now supposedly can cause heart attacks, but at that point I would have preferred a heart attack to the pain of my exploding ear drum. Then I swigged from the bottle of Robitussin I found at the bottom of my purse, and staggered back to my seat, where I sat for the remainder of my flight, clutching my head.

And that was just the first plane, the one from Vegas to Atlanta.

In Atlanta I headed straight for the gift shop and bought emergency ear drops. Also emergency Diet Coke and chocolate.

None of it helped. I even stuffed Kleenex in my ear. I didn't care if I looked like a freak.

Fortunately I passed out on the flight between Atlanta and Key West. When I woke up, we were landing, and the guy next to me had moved to a different seat.

I hope it wasn't because of the Kleenex in my ear. Or that I'd been snoring.

But I fear it was probably both.

As soon as I got off the plane I staggered into the airport and found Ben and made him take me straight to the Key West walk-in clinic, but it was closed. So then he took me home and gave me some hot and sour soup, which he believes has healing properties, and also some more decongestants, which I believe have healing properties, and I fell asleep.

I slept for thirteen hours straight and woke up still feeling like there was a bug crawling inside my head.

So then Ben took me back to the walk-in clinic, which is only open from twelve to two on Sundays, and even though we got there at five after twelve, every chair was taken by tourists who had either a wicked sunburn or a limb twisted from parasailing.

I got a chair vacated by a tourist in a bikini who was there with her boyfriend who had a twisted ankle. She got kicked out after getting yelled at by the nurse for talking on her cell phone in the waiting room, which you are not allowed to do in Key West's only walk-in clinic, apparently because the conversations people have on their cell phones there are so asinine they just make everyone feel sicker, and also annoy the nurses on duty.

It was only when I was seated that I realized it was going to be a long wait and I had brought neither reading material nor my reading glasses. So I sat there for an hour reading pamphlets on diabetes, which thankfully had really big writing. After I finished all of those, I seized, in utter desperation, a hunting magazine someone left behind.

An hour later, the poor doctor, looking harassed, said, “Cabot,” and I staggered into his office complaining about the bug that had crawled inside my ear.

He looked into my ear and went, “What have you been putting in there?” and I was like, “Ear drops,” and he went, “That's if you have an outer ear infection. I can't see anything in there because of all the build up. Hold on a second.”

Then he spritzed some stuff inside my ear that immediately began making very loud—and very painful–bubbling noises. Then he made me lay down on the exam table for a while.

It was hard to relax with all the painful bubbling inside my ear, but I tried to finish reading the hunting magazine. I was deeply engrossed in an article on what to do if a grizzly attacks you while hunting (hint: spray him in the eyes with your can of Mace. Don't have any Mace? Scream loudly and you might scare him away) when the doctor came back with a bucket and a spray bottle with a long nozzle on it.

This did not seem to me to be a very positive sign.

Then the doctor had me sit up, and he sprayed warm water inside my bubbling ear canal, while holding the bucket under my head to catch the water as it came out of my ear.

While this was extremely

a) uncomfortable
b) mortifying
c) painful

for me, it seemed like a lot of fun for the doctor, who kept saying things like, “Oh, yeah. That's the ticket.” And “Oh, yeah, now I see what the problem was.” And “Man, you should see this stuff.”

Then he got so excited to show me the stuff that he took the bucket away from my ear before it was completely rinsed, and water went all down my shirt.

But it was worth it because inside the bucket was stuff I won't even try to describe to you. It seemed shocking all that could come from one ear.

Then the doctor looked inside my ear canal, which he could now apparently see, and went, “You have a RAGING ear infection,” which seemed to delight him even more than what he'd rinsed out of my ear, I guess because I was the first really sick person he'd seen all day.

So then he wrote me all these prescriptions for antibiotics (for the infection) and steroids (for my voice, which is still all screwed up, causing Michele to refer to me as “Croaky” the whole time I was in Vegas).

Important note: It turns out if your ear hurts, you should not put drops for swimmers ear into it. All this will do is cause an icky coating inside your ear that will make it impossible for your doctor to see what's happening in there.

At least until he gets it all out. Into the bucket. Along with some other stuff that had been in there since…well, I can only imagine since the 10th grade, which is the last time a doctor sprayed anything inside my ear.

Anyway, then I asked the doctor how long it would be before I could talk (and hear) normally again, since I had twelve radio interviews lined up for the next day.

This caused the doctor to ask, in some surprise, why I had twelve radio interviews lined up for the next day. So then I had to tell him about my books, and it turns out his niece is a PD reader. So now I have to remember to drop a book off next time I go by the clinic.

The doctor expressed grave doubts as to my being healed enough in eighteen hours to do any radio interviews. He expressed doubts about my being able to RAISE my head in eighteen hours.

It turns out he was right.

So I thanked him and went next door to CVS where I had the prescriptions filled, and bought a copy of ELLE magazine to read in the parking lot while I waited for my drugs to be ready and Ben to pick me up (he'd gone over to work on the new house since he didn't want to take any chairs from any sick people in the waiting room), along with a Diet Coke, and some pecan turtles, to keep up my strength and help me recover from what I'd seen inside that bucket.

E. Jean Carroll, who is the advice columnist for Ask E. Jean in ELLE, has lyme disease. She, like myself, Amy Tan, “Ya Ya Sisterhood” author Rebecca Wells, and many others, is a co-founder of Literati With Lyme, a lyme disease awareness group to which I belong.

I bring this up because

a) I was reading her advice column ELLE, and

b) I am convinced the reason I catch any illness that passes even remotely close to me is that my immune system is screwed up from the lyme. This is why I had scarlet fever in December, and why I have gotten sick during every book tour I've been on since I contracted lyme.

Anyway, now I am on antibiotics and steroids and decongestants and chocolate and diet soda. Hopefully o
ne of them will kick in soon and I'll stop feeling so awful. Since then, I have been in bed, with my drugs, my chocolate, and Henrietta, who is being very nice to me even though I abandoned her for two weeks. I think she can tell I'm sick.

I think my TV can tell, too. How else can this plethora of very excellent made for TV movies be explained? Such as SUPERVOLCANO, the “docu-drama” about the caldera in Yellowstone Park (hello, remember how Michael talks about it in PRINCESS DIARIES 6? It could seriously blow at any moment. Well, we'd probably have SOME warning. But still).

SUPERVOLCANO rocked, as did AFTERSHOCK: EARTHQUAKE IN NEW YORK, which had a message preceding it that said: “CAUTION: Some viewers might find scenes in this movie disturbing.” This turned out to be because there were all these scenes of the New York City skyline on fire, like it was after 9/11.

Only in AFTERSHOCK, made in 1999 and starring then unknown Jennifer Garner, the Twin Towers are practically the only buildings in the city that REMAIN standing after the quake.

Anyway, that was some fine made-for-TV fare. Even in my weakened state, I greatly appreciated it.

Now I am taking a sick day. Or week. Everyone was very understanding about canceling the radio interviews.

And they didn't even see what was inside that bucket.

More later.

Much love,