Monday, July 20, 2015

My Ear Problem, pt. 3: Needle

I'm going to get all testy for a paragraph or two. You just focus on
this serene image of the Hudson River, and know that it's going to be ok.

With the regular application of hot onion, briney epsom salt baths, and the blessed passage of time, I'm experiencing more watercooler-type blubbling going on in my left ear every day now, which is good! No question about the goodness! Although along with healing comes fluid shifts in the ear that cause a tidal wave of vertigo from time to time! Also, (temporary, but significant) hearing loss! My ENT, Dr. Jill Zeitlin, said all of that with exclamation points, so I will, too! I need to say that if Dr. Zeitlin weren't so kind and decent and whip-smart, her waaay cheerful style might irk....

Since the first post about my Ear Problem, friends flooded me with suggestions, including more onion ideas--strap them to your feet and sleep with feet elevated-- and Bikram Hot Yoga. I've got restless legs when I sleep, so no, no thanks to foot onion.
I'll let The Friendly Atheist put an end to further onion suggestions for me

As for Bikram Hot Yoga: I live in New York and my air conditioner died juuuuust as the torturous summer heat kicked in, so I get to enjoy Bikram Hot Living for free.

Thanks, reactiongifs. I love Key & Peele so much.
No hot yoga. Sensitively Air Conditioned Yoga with a breeze that will keep me dry and refreshed? I will consider becoming a disciple of that.

But I did take one suggestion, and I am very glad I did. I got acupuncture.

After being clenched up for so long, I feared that I would need some radical intervention. Like THIS.

 You coax, "But, just look at how calm Hellraiser's Pinhead is, Badger!"
I say, "Yes, yes, I can see the appeal....I wonder if he does Bikram Hot Yoga?"
I'm not a total novice to acupuncture, but the last guy I visited a decade ago would check my pulse and look at my tongue, while asking detailed questions about my emotional state. Each time, he'd nod sagely (and I mean that as an insult) and serenely intone, "No need to tell me. I can see it all through your pulse and tongue." At what became my last session, I replied, "You tell me," to his question, "So, how are you feeling?" and he snarked, "Well, now WE KNOW how you're feeling!"

So, yeah, I'm cynical and jaded and a bit terrified of handing over money to someone who uses the Royal We when speaking.

Fortunately, I didn't let any of that stop me from visiting Hudson River Acupuncture, a community acupuncture venture which sits modestly on the ground floor of the Van Tassel Building on Beekman Avenue.
Store C, 95 Beekman Avenue, Sleepy Hollow, to be exact
 It doesn't look like a guru palace, inside or out. For me, that's a good thing.

First, I met Pat, who is there most weekdays. He took good notes and got me set up quickly.

This is Pat.
It should be noted that my photo doesn't show that Pat has the intelligent, hugely dark eyes of News Hour's Jim Lehrer.

I mean that as a compliment to both Pat and Mr. Lehrer
And there's Gina, who takes the weekends. She's also remarkably thoughtful, gentle, and kind.
The acupuncture area itself is quite large--you will not be alone, Visitor, but you will be ok--and looks a little like my kids tried to turn the zero gravity chairs into ghosts.

Pat settled me in for treatment. Be sure to wear something you can comfortably pull up over your knees.
"Ready?" he quietly asked.
"Yes, but first (sigh, 21st century problems, Pat)...let me take a selfie."
Selfie Footie. It's a long way to Tipperary, you know?

Needles in head, face, jaw, ankles, knees, wrists. Now, time to relax.

I'm not the first person to say how weird it is to trust your body to a stranger who pokes needles into you then walks away. But weirder would be if he hung around wanting to chat, right?

My heart rate slowed and the heart palpitations I've been experiencing along with the Ear Problem (more or less permanently) subsided. Did it drain the ear? Eh, who knows? The pain did subside, and the effect lasted for days. If it's a legitimate treatment, hooray! If it's the placebo effect, bring it on!

By the end of our first session, I was ready to recommend them to you, all of you.

But before you pull out the needles, Pat, sigh, let me take a selfie....

Hudson River Acupuncture
95 Beekman Ave., Store C
Sleepy Hollow, New York 10591
(914) 909-6360
First treatment: $40. Following sessions: sliding scale $25-40, suggested fee $30

copyright 2015, Tanya Monier

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My Ear Problem, pt. 2: Brine

Round #3 of antibiotics is done now. I feel like my colon has left the building, if you know what I mean.

Even though my ear feels mostly decorative, my ENT assured me that my infection is gone.

"But how long is this congested feeling going to last?" I whined.

Badgerette #2 NAILED my I'm-holding-my-shoulder-to-my-ear-because-I'm-a-wounded-animal look.
She's got a future as a wikiHow illustrator.

"Oh, your ear is still full of fluid. Your hearing is going to get worse before it gets better, too. Yeah, that can last weeks, even months!" (Why so excited to relay this news, Doc?)

"Ok, then I need you to put a tube in my ear."

"Ha ha. No." She looked at my face.
Look into my Angry Oscar the Grouch eyes, Lady. I am dead serious.
"Noooo. I'm not going to do it. You have really good hearing! I'm not going to cut your eardrum open."

"Well, then, someone better slap my ear with a cupped hand right now, because I can't sit around with a hot onion strapped to my head for weeks!"

I am taking my mostly decorative ear's fate into my own hands.

And other hands.

First, I've added massage to the mix. Susan Ward, best darned massage therapist and instructor at the Swedish Institute, worked on my neck and shoulders for an hour, teaching me about the tiny muscles in my neck that I've turned into steel cords and that could be cutting off the exit route for my ear fluids.

Susan Ward. Best darned massage therapist ever. I mean it.
I felt loads better, especially when I got to lay facedown because massage tables have that hole that allows breathing better than my two pillow method.

Tribble with a perm.
Sadly, Susan can't move in with me and work on my head and neck nonstop, so I'm now trying to remove the fluids from my ear through osmosis.

That's right. I've gone Homeschool Science Class experimenty on myself. With SALT.

If you're older than 18 and have ever eaten a couple slices of pizza, you know how salt on the inside retains fluids. Soooo, salt on the outside should draw out fluids....

I didn't make this up. Lots of people online tout the wonders of salt baths. Dead Sea Salt. Epsom Salt. Mediterranean Salt. Dancers I know swear by it. Yadda yadda yadda.

Thing is, I hate baths. I'm a power shower kind of girl.

Ahhh, energizing showers!
I'm bored in the bathtub. And since I haven't been able to get more than 60% of me into a normal tub since I was twelve years old, I resent them for freezing parts of me that just want to be warm.

But, whatever. If a salt bath helps to drain my ear fluids, awesome.

And it hasn't been so bad. I got rather ambitious with the salts the first time...sorta Dead Sea bobbed around for a half an hour. Felt good.

Also felt maybe two tiny burbles in my ear after, like the watercooler blubbing up when no one is near it.

So, I did it again. Only, I used all the bath salts up last time, so I had to improvise.

Any reason to make a trip to the Trader....
I wasn't sure I put in enough, though, so Badgerette #2 helped out by dumping the stoveside salt shaker in, too.
Badger Den now officially a low sodium meal provider
Hot onion on one ear, brining away in the tub, I thought about adding a cup of celery to my diet every day because it's supposed to reduce fluid retention.

Then it hit me: I'm incrementally turning myself into a Thanksgiving turkey.

Where's the peanut butter? Does sage have helpful medicinal properties, too?

Bon Appetit!

Copyright 2015, Tanya Monier