For at least sixteen years, I’d been using the same medication for an allergy that made my ears itch like crazy. All I did was put a few drops on a cotton swab and run it around the outermost inside of my ear.
When I moved out of state, I had to see a new doctor before I could get a refill. After she checked my ears, our conversation went something like this:
DOCTOR: “Open your mouth wide and say, ‘Ahh’.”
DOCTOR, after shining her light and depressing my tongue: “So how many drops do you put in each ear and how often?” She turned away to jot down some notes.
My mind curled into a ball of confusion. Drops? In each ear? For the first time—in SIXTEEN years—I thought about that bottle. It did have that tiny hole at the end of its long neck—just the right shape to put in my ear. I’d never noticed. I went dumb.
When the doctor turned around, she laughed. Not only had I not answered her question, but my mouth was still wide open.
DOCTOR, still laughing: “You’re funny.”
ME, pretending I was doing it on purpose: “Liked that, huh?”
DOCTOR: “So how many drops and how often?”
ME: “Well, depends on what you mean by drops. A couple. Maybe. Not that often. Sometimes. A month or two.” I did not answer well.
DOCTOR, looking at me suspiciously: “You’re not sticking anything smaller than your elbow in your ear, are you?”
ME: “No, if anything, I’m conscientious about warnings.” I just don’t read directions.
DOCTOR: “Good. Here’s your prescription.”
PS: Whaddya know? Putting drops in my ears allows me to use them less often.
Fast forward three years. I’m in my office downstairs in the middle of writing a scene. My ears start to itch, but my drops are all the way upstairs. I look around my desk. A shiny, metal paperclip looks like a promising medical instrument. I half-unfold it and carefully stick the smaller, rounded end into my ear and scratch. “Aaaah.” My itch is relieved and no one is the wiser.
I go to remove the clip, but it hooks on a part of my ear I can’t see. (I can’t see any part of my ear, but you get what I’m saying.) I try again, but fail. I twist, it catches. I reverse the twist, it pinches. I pull, it sticks me.
For a while I just sit there breathing quietly with the paper clip sticking straight out of my ear. If only I can get my ear to relax, I think, the clip will fall out. How do you relax an ear? Listen to Yanni?
The doctor’s words taunt me, “You’re not sticking anything smaller than your elbow in your ear, are you?” I make an ugly face at the memory of her.
I climb the stairs and prepare to humiliate myself in front of my husband—who would never do anything this stupid because he is an engineer who reads and follows all directions.
HUSBAND, when he sees my face: “What’s wrong?”
ME, now crying, not out of pain but embarrassment: “I haa a prclip stck in m er.”
HUSBAND: “What did you say?”
ME: “I said, I HAVE A PAPER CLIP STUCK IN MY EAR!”
HUSBAND, sighing [pfft] like I do this kind of stuff all the time: “Come here. Let me see.” He performs the delicate surgical procedure and removes the offending object. Then he informs me that I pulled so hard I pierced the inside of my ear.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” ~ Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. ~ 2Timothy 4:3-4 (NIV)