Hypochondria Note:
Negative Tension in the Eustachian Tubes
2 May 2019

ΒΆ After a very nice lunch with a law school friend who is in town for the Ring cycle, I made my way down Park Avenue to the office of the ear, nose, and throat doctor recommended by my internist. 

I mentioned my ear problem last week, I believe. Suffice it to say that I had no idea what to expect from a visit to the specialist. Would this pressure in my Eustachian tubes have a malign cause that required hospitalization, perhaps immediately? Or would I be told, somewhat patronizingly, that I was suffering from a head cold? I never know what to expect anymore. Last fall, I thought that I had a blister on a bunion, but it turned out to be a serious foot infection that didn’t start swelling until I developed a fever. Only last night, in the middle of an after-dinner chat with Kathleen, my right eye, lately cured of corneal ulcers, launched a bit of a light show. It didn’t hurt, and it didn’t really impair my vision, but the dim shooting stars and suddenly fuzzy peripheries were both distracting and worrying. Another trip to the ophthalmologist? After four or five minutes, the activity subsided, and I haven’t been bothered again. More than ever, I take my overall health outlook from Homer Simpson: I have fallapart.

The ear doctor anaesthetized my nostrils and then had a look into the tubes. He found nothing out of the order. He surmised that a “negative tension” was responsible for my discomfort. Ordinarily, he would have prescribed a nasal spray to straighten this out, but I had told him that I was taking a blood thinner, and this, it seems, contraindicated use of the spray, which might give me nosebleeds serious enough to put me in the hospital. So he prescribed a hearing test instead and suggested, as for the feeling that I had swimming-pool water in my ears, and an intermittent but unpleasant sense of muffled hearing, that I “live with it” for a while.

Better than immediate hospitalization, eh?

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