I’m heading into a meeting and think the rock in my shoe might as well stay outside. I lean against the building in the cool evening air, remove my shoe, tip it upside down, put it back on, and find the sharp, annoying pebble is still there.
I repeat the process. Only this time I really shake my shoe like crazy and suddenly…what was that? Did something just land in my ear? Oh crap. Is it possible I have just sent a stupid pebble flying into the air in an arc appropriate to land in my ear?
At least my foot is comfortable again. I go into the meeting. I tell them the story and they all laugh. Through the course of the meeting, though, I’m thinking that it feels a little weird in there. Maybe I should check this out. I sleep on my right side, I’m thinking. This foreign body is on the left, and it will run downhill through the night and settle in to some stupid place that will required surgery, or cause an infection, or block some critical vein in my brain causing brain damage, and then I’ll end up even more stupid than one who would throw a rock into her own ear.
The meeting is over, they’ve all had their giggles, and I’m heading for the ER. It’s about 9:30pm. I moved to small town Alberta a few months ago, and I’ve passed the Urgent Care building a number of times, so I know where it is. How busy can it be? Maybe just a nurse can have a look – after all, we just need the stick-a-light-in-your-ear thing and a pair of tweezers.
I’m impressed. This is a regular emergency room, with doctors, real nurses and patients – lots of patients. Instead of the dozy small-town operation I expected, I find a reasonable facsimile of Seattle Grace. Hustling, bustling, full waiting room, stretcher in, stretcher out, paperwork, triage – just like on TV. Huh.
They tell me it’s going to be awhile even before I check in. I sit in a chair at the admissions desk wondering what exactly I will say when they ask me why I’ve come in. “I threw a rock in my ear?” They’re going to think I’m drunk, or crazy. Now I need to be careful not to be found giggling all by myself, as that will support either theory.
It is now after 10:00pm and someone in a hurry flies by to ask me why I’m here – ostensibly to find out just how ‘urgent’ the urgent care I need is. (I’m sorry. I don’t know how to write that without the dangling participle or whatever it is, because now it’s after 11:00pm and I don’t even care to try.)
I simply say with the straightest face I can muster, “I believe I have managed to put a pebble into my ear.” She turns around and walks away instantly, dismissing my need for attention and returning to the more urgent tasks at hand.
Then I think, “What if it’s in my imagination?” Well I decide I don’t care. I still would rather know for sure it’s not there. But I feel something odd. And maybe that feeling is my imagination. Oh crap, if I find out I’ve stayed up late in this waiting room for nothing…
No Peg, it will be for peace of mind. Right. Well worth losing sleep over.
Okay – here she comes to take my information. When she asks why I’m here, I babble something about feeling like a two-year-old, but there’s a rock in my ear. I think. At least I need to know if it’s not there, babble, babble.
She interrupts to ask me what happened. When I tell her, she laughs – of course. Then she feels badly for laughing and apologizes. I say, “Oh no, please. It’s funny. Go ahead and laugh.”
On to the next desk, where I am appropriately admitted complete with wrist band identification. The women on the other side of the counter are amazingly efficient and friendly. Finally, I’m sent to wait along with everyone else.
As it turns out, everyone else begins disappearing quite quickly, and now that it’s 11:30pm, I feel hopeful that my turn will come soon. Sure enough, a nurse calls my name (my original kid’s name – Peggy) and in I go. The same nurse grabs a stick-a-light-in-your-ear thing and, obviously feeling the effect of having spent the evening playing whirlwind, she jams it into my ear so hard that I pull away and wince. This is followed by a grumpy, “I don’t see anything.” She turns abruptly and leaves the room, asking someone I hope is a doctor if he’d like to have a look.
A far gentler and calmer human being arrives, takes up the stick-a-light-in-your-ear thing and gingerly inspects the suspect ear. “The canal is clear,” he says. “There’s nothing in there now.” He was also kind enough to say that the rock could have indeed gone in, but there would be no reason for it not to bounce right back out, or if I tipped my head at the time to try to get it out, it likely did fall out. Okay then.
Lovely. I will sleep tonight.
Although I’ve waited for two hours, I get the answer I need in 30 seconds, and I’m home by midnight. As I cut the ID bracelet off my wrist, I notice that besides my name there is my date of birth, which just happens to be today’s date, and none of these people even wished me a happy birthday.
All images by Peg Ainsley
A rock in my ear on my birthday
My ER ID bracelet