Aug 24, 2012

From Ear to There

I mentioned yesterday that I had earaches and felt off all day and a few days before I had some vertigo while going up and down the Wentworth stairs. Thank you for all your kind messages and concern on those two posts.

Last night, the pain in my ears was so severe that just my hair brushing against them was agony. Crazy, right?

I got very little sleep last night and I was popping Tylenol every three hours and it was not touching the pain. When I finally got up this morning and saw myself in the mirror I almost screamed. My right ear was twice its normal size and red and hot to touch, and the whole side of my face looked swollen and red. It looked like a rubber cartoon ear stuck to the side of my head. The lobe was so swollen that I couldn’t even see the diamond stud I always wear. I couldn’t turn my head because my neck was so stiff and even opening my mouth to talk caused my ears to scream in more pain.

I went right away to the Walk In Clinic and as soon as the doctor saw me  he said I had “swimmer’s ear”.  Then he did his exam to confirm it. Swimmer’s ear is normally caused by lake water, pool water or ocean water getting in the ear and causing an infection because of the bacteria in the water. I haven’t been swimming.

He said in the last 10 years or so they have also seen many cases of athletes who wear headphones while working out get swimmer’s ear because sweat drips in their ears and is trapped and pushed further into the ear canal by the ear buds. Yes, that would be me, folks. I thought I was imagining it when I felt sweat dripping into my ears, but apparently not.

The good thing is, this is fairly easy to treat. Antibiotics, drops and in my case some pain killers because I was feeling both stabbing and throbbing simultaneously. He said there is a marginally higher concern because I also have diabetes and this condition in uncontrolled diabetics can take a long time to heal and the infection could spread. Since my diabetes is very well controlled (A1C between 0.06 and 0.07), its not really a huge worry but he wants me to go back in a week just to check the infection is gone, or back in two days if it gets worse or does not dramatically improve. He said not to run, climb stairs, roller blade, bike, drive or do anything requiring balance for the next 48 hours as the drops can also cause some vertigo until the inflammation goes down.

Well I can tell you as soon I left that office, I took one of the painkillers and antibiotics and did the drops when I got home. Within 40 minutes my ear was back to it’s normal size, although still red and hot, the pain has diminished to a minor pulsing and I was able to turn my head and talk without pain.

Today is my tenth day of no rest and my original plan was to walk to the stairs, go down, and alternate running/walking 1k at a time to the 3k mark and back and then up the stairs and walk home. Since that wasn’t a good idea today, I went for a walk with my friend Guenther to Albion Falls which is at the other end of the Escarpment Trail that I have been doing the last week. We did a 5km out and back but spent the first 20 min or so just walking around looking at the falls from various angles.

The trail is 8.5km from end to end and I have it in my head that I want to walk it starting from the bottom of the stairs to the falls and back.


Tomorrow the plan is to go hiking at Mount Nemo and although it has a little bit of rough terrain, its mostly easy paths so I think I’ll be ok.


  1. Hoping for a speedy recovery for you! I just stared whering ear bud while working out, now I am worried.

  2. Wow who of thought that can cause swimmers ear.Thanks for the heads up.

  3. Eeeek! Sweat drips into my ears all the time, but so far, all it's done is short out my earbuds! Hope you feel better soon. Nice photos!

  4. Oh those trails look beautiful! I've had swimmers ear from swimming many times, it is horrible!!! I had no clue you could get it from wearing headphones!! Crazy!!! Hope you feel better soon!

  5. Oh, Lord! Swimmer's Ear is THE WORST! I had it all the time when I was a kid. I'm so sorry! I hope you're on the mend soon and I hope it's feeling not so terrible ASAP. :( Poor thing.

    That trail looks fantastic. FANTASTIC! Man...I miss hiking BIG TIME. I used to go into the state parks in PA and DE and disappear for hours and hours. That place looks amazing.

    Also, I wanted to comment on your post the other day about the blisters on the bottom of your feet, but I think my kids starting fighting and I had to go referee. I get them all the time. They're painful and awkward as anything. I hope you can get your shoes adjusted so they happen less frequently and/or not at all. For me, I get them because I have the most oddly shaped feet on earth. They're called "Peasant Feet" in the ballet world. While they're the ultimate desire of every ballet dancer, they're a curse to me. Haha!

    Hang in there, dear!

  6. Ouch, ouch, ouch! I hope you are so much better now. Ear pain is so awful!

    Nice job on the hikes...hope you aren't melting out there.

    I am going to have to check out Albion looks lovely.