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I had frequent earaches as a child. Miserable things. My father had them, too. He loved to explain what they did for earaches in his day, pre-antibiotics: they’d take a scalpel and puncture the eardrum to release pressure (otherwise they feared the infection would break inward, into the brain). They did that to him multiple times.

It was his favorite “walking five miles uphill barefoot in the snow to school” story.

Years later, as a teenager, he was practicing for the statewide cornet championships. He was at that point, he said, the third highest ranking cornet player in Tennessee. He said he was a master of triple tonguing. Anyhoo, you can see where this is going: his poor scarred eardrum exploded during practice (I’d like to think during a particularly enthusiastic triple tonguing session). Thus ended his dream of being…the second or first cornet, I guess.

Many years later, he had a surgical eardrum replacement. A tympanoplasty (technically a myringoplasty, since it was just the eardrum). They took a little piece of one of his veins and scraped it really thin and stuck it in his ear. These days it’s done with microscopes, but this would have been about 1966, so they probably did it with rocks or something.

I remember seeing him in the hospital with an enormous head bandage that made him look like a spaceman.

He got some hearing back, but he was pretty deaf and could never get on with hearing aids. This was unfortunate for my stepmother as he loved to make music and believed himself to be a great talent, but could only hear the loud instruments. Bagpipes. Banjos. French horn.

I’m not going anywhere with this story. I just wanted to talk about my father’s ear. Mine is a little better today, I think.


Comment from Pupster
Time: January 11, 2024, 10:34 pm

I never had ear trouble until I had kids. After Kids I started getting ear infections that have persisted for 30 years so far. At this point I blame Q tips, never had them around until there were babies about and I use them every day since. Hmmm..Q tips cause ear infections might be a lawsuit worth pursuing.

Comment from Tim Carlson
Time: January 11, 2024, 11:57 pm

Q-tips – the bane of ears everywhere.

Back in the ’90s, I had a severe loss of hearing in my right ear, and my left ear was slowly catching up to the right. I finally went to the doctor and after a lot of ‘uh-huh’s while looking in my ears, he proclaimed it was ear wax blockages. “We must irrigate and flush out the ear canals”, he said. Oy. He did the right ear first, and after about 20 minutes this huge wad of ear wax slithers out and plops into the drain pan. Same with the left ear, but the slug was only about half the size.

He asked if I used q-tips. He scolded me severely when I answered affirmatively. He stated that the q-tips where just pushing the ear wax further and further into the ear canal, creating the huge wads that were blocking my hearing.

I haven’t let q-tips near my ears since.

Comment from Veeshir
Time: January 12, 2024, 12:24 am

I had bad ear infections when I was a kid.
In the late 60s or early 70s, I had an ear, nose and throat guy pull crud out my ear with tweezers.
And then call me a baby when I said ow.
The first time I really wanted to smack someone not my brother.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: January 12, 2024, 12:28 am

Mother’s advice: Never put anything smaller than a basketball in your ear.

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: January 12, 2024, 3:05 am

I heard it shouldn’t be smaller than your elbow.

Now there’s an image eh? Try sticking your elbow in your ear.

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