It woke me up sometime around four this morning, less than an hour after being up to nurse: a dull sense of something not feeling right. I’ve had a sinus infection for two days, one I’ve been trying to self-treat with Sudafed because in the last 2 1/2 weeks, we’ve already spent $90 in doctor copays and $400 in hospital/ambulance copays and $55 in antibiotics, not to mention the sheer pain in the neck of taking multiple small children to the doctor repeatedly. I’m a grownup, I thought. Surely I can handle it.
The pain crept slowly upward until it settled in my ear about five minutes after waking. Dull pain, not that severe, but so pervasive that I simply could not get back to sleep. I tried what I had told the kids: put the aching ear on top so it can drain. Nope. With odd, groggy detachment I noted the way the ache radiated down my neck, the way it throbbed in my wisdom teeth and my eye socket. Must go to sleep…three small children to take care of. But sleep was elusive.
I got up, and the dark room took on a weird, distracting lack of balance as my brain struggled to process a world in which I can only sort of hear on the left side. I took acetaminophen and a few of the eardrops the doctor gave us for Nicholas. As the liquid trickled down the ear canal, I tensed against the tickle, remembering how he wailed and screamed about having to lie still, and I thought:
Now I understand.
These last 2 1/2 weeks, mired in the Realm of Sick, I’ve gnashed my teeth and wailed, Poor me! while my children suffered and I, I admit, did not sympathize. Now, at last, I get what they were going through.
And I am off to add to our accumulated copays and our tally of pain-in-the-neck doctor visits with multiple small children. Because now…I understand.