Anticipated moments of truth often turn out not to be quite so clear cut. I saw the ear doctor this afternoon as a follow up to Monday’s appointment. It took him a while to clean out enough of the purple ink (gentian violet I’m told) to see what’s going on in my ear. And what’s going on is that the tissue is healing as it should from this latest sort of infection. After this course of medication, my ear should be back to where it was three weeks ago, but from there, who knows what will happen. I’ll see him again on Tuesday, but in the short term, I can still go away on the vacation that I now need even more than I did a few days ago.
But I still don’t completely understand what’s happening. I tend to think of myself as a pretty bright guy. I pay careful attention to everything the doctor says, I try to ask insightful questions, and he answers them thoughtfully and in detail, but every time I think something is catastrophic, it seems that it’s not. And every time I think things are okay, it seems that they’re not. I told him that the ear felt better on Tuesday, but that yesterday, it itched in the ear canal and that the outer ear was turning red again. He said that the ear turning red didn’t have anything to do with the infection (a statement supported by the fact the ear is now red, even though the infection is gone), though he wasn’t sure what was causing it. That was unnerving because it was only due to the redness that I decided to see him Monday. Had I ignored that, I’d be in pretty bad shape at this point. I’m having a really hard time trusting my instincts, but I don’t what else to look to between doctor visits. My sanity’s more than a little frayed.
I even mentioned my idea of giving up on the ear altogether to the doctor. He frowned a little and explained that that wasn’t really an option. At this point, he’s just trying to get the tissue to heal without infection. That’s independent of any attempt to restore the hearing. Giving up, at least in a passive sense, would just be allowing infection to spread. There is a more active version of giving up that might be available, but that would mean yet another surgery and another healing process. It may come to be justified, but not yet. It certainly wouldn’t get me out to Provincetown and taking pictures any sooner or more reliably. And so I’ll go on.