05 Feb

It wasn’t a very pleasant night, but people tell me it was worth it just for the funny story.  That’s because it didn’t happen to them!  But I’ll tell you the story anyway…

I’ve been sick for a couple weeks with what is assumed to be a viral upper respiratory infection.  Compounded with my baseline allergies, I’ve been pretty congested which has led to inner ear problems as well.  My left ear in particular has been bothering me and last night at about 1am it decided to get really angry.  I woke up with severe pain that did not go away with the obligatory dose of ibuprofen and after an hour or so practically writhing in my bed, I got a little desperate.  Since complaining on facebook somehow seems more productive than complaining to myself, I posted a status about my painful ear.  A friend of mine from California quickly responded with this message:

“try an old school remedy my mom-in-law did to me. She rolled up a newspaper in a funnel shape, she put the small end into my ear canal and lit the top of the paper on fire. After about a minute or so, my ear popped and the pain was gone. She learned this from her Grand Mother when she was a kid in Texas. Her grandma learned it from her mom in Texas when it was still Mexico. Worked for me.”

I debated this in my head for a while because it seemed like a potentially dangerous activity to be doing by myself in the middle of the night.  Should I wake Carla up?  That seemed unnecessary and since I just couldn’t stand the pain anymore, I decided to try it myself.

Forgetting that Milouse had moved my bed a little when she last mopped, I stood up in the dark and turned to the right to leave my room and find some paper and matches but ran smack into the wall with my face.  My upper and lower lips were scraped like a skinned knee but my ear still hurt and I was on a mission.

It’s not like we get newspapers in Haiti so I found some regular printing paper, a box of matches, and returned to the bathroom.  I figured I should probably do this in front of a mirror, you know, so I could see when the fire was getting close to my face.  I rolled up my little funnel, placed it in my ear with my head tipped down to the right, and struck a match.  Unfortunately, 5 matches later, the printer paper would not catch on fire!  I remembered some paper that had been in a box we got in the mail last week that was more like newsprint.  That should work!  So I tore off a big chunk, made another funnel in my ear, and lit it on fire.  I was partly determined to get rid of the pain and partly afraid of what might happen if these little fire funnels got out of control.  So once the funnel was lit, I would be brave for a little while until I started thinking about whether the fire was traveling down the inside of the funnel more quickly than what I could see on the outside, and threw the paper into the shower, where it burnt out safely.  I’ve been asked if I pulled my hair back for these shenanigans…I did think of that on the fourth funnel of fire and dutifully took the precaution.

Once my shower was full of remains, my counter full of used matches, and my bathroom full of ashes, I resigned myself to chewing a piece of gum to attempt to ease the pain.  About 3 minutes in, I felt a cough coming on and during my pre-cough inhale, I swallowed that darn piece of gum!

I think I finally fell asleep somewhere in the neighborhood of 4am.  The pain was unrelieved but I think I just exhausted myself enough to doze off.  Today Carla was disappointed that I didn’t wake her up.  Not to help, mind you, but to witness my festival of misfortune and perhaps get it on video.  Thanks, Carla! 😉

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Posted by on February 5, 2013 in Life in Haiti


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